A Rat Betwixt Blog Post #6 – The Final Post and Additional Insight

This final post will be a long one, so Buckle Up!

So, it finally came. The end of what took up the complete majority of the last 2 months of my life. The initial release of the vertical slice of the game design studies game project – A Rat Betwixt.

So for this final blog post I will talk about the project and my final insights on the project as a whole and my involvment in it.

If you want to see the trailer, then you can find it here V

 

Adapting work to the need of a project

So when it comes to the final parts of working on a project pretty much all work has to be adapted to what is needed above all to achieve the results you want to present in the end.

Throughout an entire project such as this there is a constant discussion about what is wanted in the project compared to what can realistically be achieved. Grandiose thoughts and ideas about what we can achieve is fine and all, However, is it realistically possible to achieve, and will it be for the best of the project?

What to prioritize

From what I have learned throughout the various projects I have been part of over the last 2 year of my game design studies is that you should value quality over quantity. Meaning that it is a lot better to have fewer things that all work exceptionally well together rather than to have a ton of things all of which are subpar.

To create as good an experience as possible you have to make sure that what you have at hand all seem to fit in well in tandem. This is because people take greater notice of what is wrong rather than what is good. It is because bad aspects are more easy to take note of and explain rather than figuring out why something is good. The fewer things to complain about, the better a perception people will have for a project as a whole. It is quite easy for people to say “everything is good, except for A, B, C etc.”. If you ask me what I would describe games as, the best word I can use is to refer them as experiences. Be that positive or negative, you should focus to make the game into the sort of experience you want the player to have whilst playing your game.

Final workload

For the final parts of a project it is important to know what you have achieved up until that point and what you still need to do before the final deadline to make the best experience from it all. All the things you have discussed and thought about throughout the project, it is now up to you to decide what of it to do and if you can finish those things in time or not.

The best example of this comes from a goal we have had since the beginning of the project. The idea was that the project is going to have multiple different playable characters for the players to choose from. All with their own unique character designs and abilities.

The game originally had planned for:

  • 4 Playable Characters
  • 1 Modular enemy character (Meaning that you can use the same model for multiple characters with some alternations)
  • 1 Boss Character

We decided early on in the project that in the worst case scenario that we at least would have 2 different playable characters and 1 enemy character.

Near the end of development we have finished two out of these characters that you can see in 3D form in my earlier posts. Those being the Troll Boss Enemy in A Rat Betwixt Blog Post #1 and #4 as well as the “Dyrkare” in Blog Post #3. This was with only 1 week left of development! You couldn’t possibly create the rest of the characters in 1 week, right?

wrongkiddoorigin.jpg  – Meme by dajo42 on Tumblr

Optimization for sake of saving time

If you recall me talking about modular design where you can use the same model for multiple purposes. That’s exactly what we did to get the 3 missing playable character models into the game on time.

Meet the “Female Standard Mesh”

Female Standard Mesh.png – Model made by another member on the team

We figured that we did not have much time left but that we could squeeze in the rest of the characters if we are efficient and clever enough. Not all the characters are female, but thanks to the way the characters are designed we thought that we could for the most part hide the more feminine aspects if we wanted the character to be male.

A Rat Betwixt Characters.png

3 Different characters all based on one single mesh.

Alright, so the main character 3D artist figured that we could do this for the models of the characters. But what about the other parts, those being UV Mapping, Rigging, Skinning and Animating? Those parts still needs to be done from scratch, right?

Well, not necessarily. As the base mesh for all these characters is the same, all of them could use the same rig. One size fits all. As for UV Mapping, the character artist took care of that. Animations were made rough by the animator, so the animations were not the best due to time constraints but they worked well enough. Same rig also meant that certain animations could be used by multiple characters for the time being.

When it comes to skinning, that was most likely my biggest breakthrough for the final part of the project. I was told by the lead design that I had to suck it up and reskin everything from scratch. But since skinning is by far the most boring part of 3D characters in my opinion and takes way too much time for what you get out of it, I would have none of it.

After some digging online I found what would enable us to have all these last minute characters be acceptably skinned on time without driving me absolutely insane. I found out about SkinUtilities. This nifty tool would allow me to transfer skinning between characters using the same base. So then all I had to do was fill in the new stuff on the characters into the skinning such as the pieces of armor and different head gear. I saved at least 10 hours of character skinning for each variation of the characters doing this!

The more I work with 3D the more I realize that I still have so much left to learn. I’ve only barely just begun!

End of a chapter

So yeah, our 2 months of work on this project is now over. We presented our game at the Gotland Game Conference, people liked the game but we were not awarded any prizes nor nominations. Also no one in the group seems all that keen on continuing this project any further. It was a nice experiment, but we all have different goals to strive for and different things that we all want to do.

But I’m still happy, I do not regret this time I’ve spent. I feel like I got a ton of work done over this period and I feel like I’ve gotten better and more efficient at 3D. I had a good group of fun people who were all more than willing to work to get the job done.

We had good use of our game design knowledge and previous experiences when it comes to time management during a game project. We knew when we got over our heads and we knew how to fix the problems we faced with the time that we had. This is a huge change from earlier projects I have been on.

Signing off

With all the newfound knowledge as well as all the experience I have gathered, I am now ready to tackle new challenges. I will do my best to continue my studies and I will work hard over the summer trying to improve myself in any way that I can. Just gotta keep working my way towards the top!

This “additional artist” will now become hidden once more.

Until next time, I hope you have a great summer!

 

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