I know it’s been longer than two weeks since my last post, so to start off I want to apologize for that! Between online classes taking up a lot of my free time, and Capstone really coming down to the wire I’ve been really busy these past few weeks! That’s not to say they weren’t productive however, some incredible things have happened since the last time I checked in with you all! Aside from the massive content deliveries that the team has been making, our team was lucky enough to have the chance to demo our game to a group of developers from Rockstar! I’m excited to discuss all of the new content and features that have made it into the game, as well as the details of the Rockstar demo, so let’s jump into it!
Sprint 23 + 24 Changelogs
Since It’s been around three weeks since my last development update, I’ll be combining the changelogs for both sprints into a single bulk list so it’ll be easier to sift through and see everything laid out. I’ll be condensing the amount I write about each feature since there’s a lot of them, but you’ll still get a good idea about how these changes impacted the game I hope! Here’s what’s changed since the last time we spoke:
- Mission Maps / Functionality
- Mini-Boss Implementation
- Motorcycle Implementation
- Map Visualizer (in Player Van)
- UI / UX Implementation
- Enemy Armor
- Sling / Sling UI
- Unique Enemy Weapons
- Schmola! (Player Health)
- Completed Game Loop
- 1st Mission Implemented (Survival)
- Completed Gun Catalog
- Completed Time Trial
- Enemies / Animations
- QA Build Ready!
Like I said, that’s a lot to cover and I can only type so fast, so we’ll be doing a speed round on all of this content so we can get through it at a reasonable rate. Let’s start with Sprint 23’s content deliveries and show off the work that went into all of this awesome content.
Mission Maps / Functionality
The old version of the Procedural Maps was a good start, but clearly had some issues with the intersections and some of the tile placement. Josh and Emmett worked hard on a solution, which we can see in the New Maps!
Thanks to the hard work from Josh and Emmett, the maps are looking like a real city now! The solution was simple enough, a lot of tweaking and some TLC from Emmett to get everything in a polished looking state.
Mini-Boss Setup + Functionality
Like any good boss fight in games, you have to make the enemy formidable and challenging to the player. Cam was on the case and helped to set up weak points on their vehicle that had a set amount of health. Once a player damages or destroys these targets, the boss will take damage. The boss will also chase the player at a set pace, keeping pressure on them until they are defeated! The level will end if the boss character catches up with the player, making for some urgency to take him out.
On the technical side, it’s as easy to spawn this guy in as it is to do with a regular enemy, making it easier for our designers and programmers to place him into levels.
I know that I’ve mentioned the motorcycle enemy before, but for a quick recap here’s what we wanted the motorcycle to do:
- Be fast and agile
- Rush the player
- Enemies have CQB weapons (Shotguns, etc)
- Be weak and easily defeated
Luckily for us, Cam and Joe were on the case so it was a pretty simple addition after they got it’s brains hooked up in the back end! Looking groovy, next we just have to adjust the scale and make sure the enemies poses are correct so it looks like they’re actually riding it.
The Map Visualizer is essentially a mini-map that tells the player where they are in the map at all times. This information will help players know how far they are in a level and their progression, and will be a quick reference for players to know their progress.
We plan on adding more features to this system soon, like enemy placements, the route you’re taking and the start and end points for that route to help give the players more information. So far though it’s looking really good! Good work Michael!
UI / UX Implementation
UI and UX (User Interface and User Experience) are extremely important in any video game, but carry extra weight in Virtual Reality development because of the constraints of the platform.
We wanted to convey as much information as possible to the player without them having to read lots of small text and numbers, so we had Lauren whip up some concepts for the catalog buying system, where players will be picking up their arsenal.
This page is updated whenever the player switches to look at another weapon, and all of this data is handily stored in our Data Manager, making it easy! As you can see on the SMG page to the left, it shows off the basic information you’d want to know about a weapon, all in an easy to read and interpret format.
In order to spice things up, we wanted to include different enemy types such as those with some military styled body armor! Kaylee was on the case and whipped up some very groovy looking body armor that’ll keep the enemies safe (for now)!
We decided to make our armor have several different tiers, meaning that some enemies will be wearing weaker armor that can be broken easily, while others are going to be wearing heavy duty combat armor! Either way, you’ll be shooting these goons a lot more than the unarmored ones.
The helmet can keep enemies safe from head shots, except when you hit them in the face, take aim and shoot true to take them out in one hit!
Just like the helmet, the body armor can sponge shots and protect the bad guy wearing them. Take aim and break the armor in order to effectively damage the person wearing it.
The sling is one of the most useful tools that a player has at their disposal! Rather than make players set weapons down in order to pick up new items, we decided to implement a sling players can put their weapons on to for ease of access. The sling also allows for players to grab and buy magazines for their weapons, making the whole process of reloading completely streamlined.
Weapons can also be stored on your hips, and on your shoulders making it easy for you to slot a weapon and grab another one quickly if you want to switch up your attacks, or just want to try out the other weapons you brought with you.
Unique Enemy Weapons
Initially conceptualized as a player weapon, we realized that having a bolt action weapon that required precision to aim didn’t fit well for the pacing of our game. Now in the hands of the enemies, the snipers will deal large amounts of damage but take a long time to aim. Take out the snipers first before they take you down!
Explosive weapons are unique to The Family thanks to their deep pockets and inclination for collateral damage. The Rocket Launcher shoots rockets that can blow you sky high, so take out the enemies carrying this quick unless you want to meet your maker!
A weaker explosive weapon, the Grenade Launcher still packs a punch! Although it delivers a smaller payload and explosion, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for bad guys carrying this. They can reload faster as well, so stay vigilant and take them down before they barrage you with grenades!
Are you thirsty? You might be after you get pumped full of lead! Schmola is the healing item in Cash Force, a zesty, moist and refreshing cola that helps you regenerate health. Initially, I created Schmola during my Fall Semester abroad in 2018 when I was in Montreal for a game jam that I participated in.
Somehow, the team (comprised of Emmett, Karl, Josh and Myself) though that it was a worthy inclusion to Cash Force, so we had Adam create an asset for it. Now you can get health back just by grabbing the can and putting it up to your mouth, which is pretty easy and useful!
I’ve also had the opportunity to record voice lines for the game, many of which are radio advertisements for Schmola which are some of my favorite pieces of content I have created. You’ll have to wait and play the game to hear them for yourself!
Sprint 23 Overview
This sprint had a lot of great content updates that were directly player facing, which is awesome to help show off the new features! The level work helps to give us a playable level, and the enemy updates allow us to actually have enemies that are engaging to shoot at. This sprint was helping to lead into our Beta Milestone, which is the next sprint I’m about to cover – Sprint 24.
Let’s take a look at Sprint 24 now!
Sprint 24 (Beta Milestone)
Sprint 24 was our Beta Milestone, where the team had to deliver a more or less ‘feature complete’ build of our game. This means that all of our core functionality needed to be implemented and the game could be played in full. Since the team had a good content delivery push last sprint (Sprint 23), this sprint went very well and had even more player facing content delivered. Let’s take a look at what the team did!
Mission Maps / Functionality
Like I mentioned for the last map update, these maps had their intersections and tiles fixed, and were functional / ready to be played in level. All that was needed was for the path to be laid in the map, enemy spawn placement!
Here’s the map in the game scene, with environment art assets as well as the skybox helping to give some life to the world! You can see the white line on the road, that’s the player’s path – and the red squares are where enemies will be spawning and engaging the player. Looking good!
Mission Select UI
A while ago I mentioned that we had several different mission types that we were working on. Now, we can finally allow players to choose which one they want to play! Currently the only one we have hooked up is the Assassination mission, where players take on a powerful boss enemy (the one I mentioned in the Sprint 23 recap).
Choosing a mission is easy, just pick up the clipboard that has the mission you want to play, and then get into the van and be ready to take on the mission you selected. This allows for players to choose what mission they want to play, allowing for them to pick their play-style!
Buying guns is super easy now as well. Head over to the armory and use your cash to purchase whatever weapons you’re interested in! You’ll be able to see a miniature version of the weapon above its page in the catalog to give you an idea of what it’ll look like!
These pages are also an update from the previous Catalog UI / UX, and they now include a profile of each weapon, the price as well as the updated weapon statistics. Turn pages by pressing the buttons on either side of the catalog, and push ‘Purchase’ when you’re ready to buy it!
Once you’ve made your purchase, take your weapon out of the weapons case – it’s yours to keep now! Before you get into a mission, you can check out some of the new features that the Safehouse has to offer, like the Time Trial!
We wanted to add more intractability and activities for players to do in the safehouse, so Kelly got to work with Emmett on the Time Trial. Once you shoot the start target, the clock is ticking and you have to hit the targets as fast as you can! Once you’ve hit all targets in an area, teleport to the next carpet and repeat the process until you’ve completed the course.
So far, our best time is Karl at 18 seconds. That time will be going on the leaderboard soon, where players will be getting cash rewards for beating best times!
Enemy Animations / Update
Jonah was hard at work fixing our enemy animations and poses. Now enemies have the proper seating pose and weapon poses, they just need to sit properly on the vehicles.
As you can see on the Left enemy, the armor is also implemented and flies off enemies when it’s depleted! The armor is color coded to its strength, with UI elements that correspond to the armor being hit and broken.
I wanted to combine the production updates for both Sprint 23 and Sprint 24 since I was up to the same tasks for both weeks. I transitioned our Social Media outreach from Facebook back to Twitter since we created a new account, where we’re posting content related to development updates, new features and showing off the game through gameplay!
That social media outreach continued into the next sprint, with content being posted on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin to cover all our audiences, with Facebook and Twitter being focused on the players and fans of our games (Simple Sandwich, Cash Force) and Linkedin being focused on the business aspect and the LLC, Fellow Humans.
Rockstar Demo Session
Daphne Walker (Champlain College’s Assistant Director at the Career Collaborative & Game Studio Career Coach) worked to get all of the Senior Game Production Teams a time slot with a panel of Rockstar Games developers to give us feedback on our projects! The team met with the panel for a little over 2 hours, and demoed the game live over a YouTube livestream. After the demo, we had a critique and feedback session as well as a Q&A session that was extremely informative!
Not only did the game demo run well, which was a concern due to streaming – it was received really well by the Panel! Hearing the people who made Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption II say “wow, that looks fucking cool man” made me extremely proud of the team and what they have been able to accomplish. Being able to have our game be seen by people who worked on games that influenced not only my taste in media, but the industry I’m entering was unbelievably cool.
The feedback and things that were either suggested or mentioned were features or assets that the team had discussed attempting or wanting to do, but had to be trimmed back due to time constraints. It was interesting hearing the perspective from developers who have actual years to work on projects, while we have a little over 8 and a half months to deliver a final product. Regardless, the feedback that the Rockstar team gave to the team was invaluable and was spot on for the vision that we actually had for the game from its inception. Nearly everything they had mentioned was a case of “That’d be so cool! If only we had more time”.
I’m not sure if any of the developers that were on the Panel will ever read this, but if they ever do you have my gratitude for taking the time to speak to the team. It helped not only boost morale but motivate them to work their hardest for the final push towards the senior show! You’re Rockstars for a reason, right? Thanks for all the feedback and input!
What a crazy few weeks! With the end of the semester and my college career coming up fast, things have been coming quickly. Between figuring out team logistics for the Senior Show, creating a Demo Reel for my portfolio and managing the project and other classes I’ve been relying on caffeine more and more often lately…
I’m really happy with where the game is at currently, especially given the circumstances that have impacted development this semester. I know that next week I may do a quick update on the project, but in all likelihood the next blog post will be the final blog post in regards to this project’s development since the semester will be ending. I know at the very least I want to have a proper retrospective and postmortem blog post about the project, so if you’re interested in that, you have that to look forwards to!
For now, the team just needs to finish everything for the Senior Show and finish the game. There’s only two weeks left, so let’s finish strong! Talk to you next time,