Introduction

Two weeks has gone quick! Last time I made a post was one week after we had gotten back, and we had just started getting ramped up for the semester. A lot has happened in the past two weeks, with each sub-team and their respective developers working hard on their tasks. For this post, I want to go into some detail around the milestone process that we’re following as well as go over some of the QA Results that we got from the labs. These past two weeks had a lot going on for me (especially since I got a surprise bout of the flu), so let’s get started!

What Are Our Milestones For Cash Force?

Like any video game, Cash Force is going to take a lot of meticulous, detailed planning and lots of hard work to make happen. In order to keep the project on track, we are required to follow a set of milestones brought to us by the faculty. These milestones chronicle each major deliverable that we will need to hit before the end of the semester. These milestones (with their direct description from the course syllabus) are as follows:

GREENLIGHT – Week 5 – (2/13/20)
Greenlight is a list of requirements you need to complete prior to being allowed to move forward into full production. This list of requirements will be generated based on your own team’s analysis of what you need to complete from the conceptual phase as well as what your Executive Producer requests. 

ALPHA – Week 8 – (3/05/20)
Alpha is a system complete deliverable. While systems might be modified post alpha, no new systems should be added. Art and sound should have all pipelines complete and the artistic and audio direction of the game should be emerging in-game. The goal of alpha is to have a complete game loop, fully testable, and a robust enough player experience to get reliable QA feedback.

BETA – Week 11 – (3/26/20)
Beta should have all systems locked down, and the majority of all art assets in place. This should be your transition to polish.

RELEASE CANDIDATE 1 and 2 – Week 13 and 14 – (4/09/20 and 4/16/20 respectively)
The game should be fully complete with no bugs that prevent the player from completing the game. It should be  final asset complete. You are testing and polishing these two builds.

FINAL RELEASE CANDIDATE – Week 15 – (4/23/20)
Your publishable final release for the Senior Show (this is the thing that we show to everybody!)

Greenlight Criteria

After some work identifying some areas of the project that need some extra attention before full-scale production begins, the team has outlined the following criteria as the needed components to be completed for Greenlight: 

Design

  • Grabbing Systems Re-Designed

  • New Guns Planned + Designed

  • Upgrade System Planned

  • Narrative/Scenario Structure Established

  • Determine Enemy Units

Programming

  • Grabbing System Re-Designed  + Supporting Architecture Implemented

  • Improved AI System Planned + Supporting Architecture

  • Procedural Level Generation Technical Plan

  • Gun Manager + Supporting Architecture

Art

  • Lighting Implementation

  • Character Concepts (Player / Enemies)

  • VFX Visualization

Production

  • Oculus Start Application Submitted

  • Taxes Filed for Fellow Humans, LLC

  • Milestones and supporting deliverables planned for future development

That’s a lot of criteria that we need to hit, and that’s not even all of it! Worry not though, I figured that some of you may want to read through everything that is needed – so I’ll include a button below that’ll show you the full Greenlight Criteria Document for Cash Force! Let me know if you’d like to see more of my documentation in these posts as well, I’ll be sure to include it more often.

QA Testing - New Concepts

For the First QA Session of the new semester we wanted to gauge interest in some new concepts that we had in mind for the game. The team is looking for new weapons to put into the game, so we wanted to ask players what they’d like to get their hands on out of the list we narrowed down.

Players really want to bring the boom with the Special Weapon Types! It's also 12 o'-clock somewhere with a revolver holding down the second most desired spit!
A wise person once said 'Heavy Action, Big Boom'. What an Icon.

When asking players why they might like those weapons in the game – we got a varied array of answers. Some testers like that weapons differentiate gameplay, some just like to blow things up and want to deal massive damage by any means.

Either way, we know what our players like and want to see more of, so we’re making sure to cater to that!

Currently, the UI in Cash Force (according to the team) leaves something to be desired. When a player gets hit, money is deducted with a red pop up on the upper right of their HUD. When a player blows up an enemy car or takes out an enemy by shooting them directly – they gain cash indicated by a green pop-up.

We want to make it easier to read, simpler to understand and streamline the UI. To do this, we asked testers what we could do to make the UI easier to use.

Although I can appreciate the positive feedback from this group of testers, we need some critical testers to really nit-pick these systems! Still got some good feedback from them through!
Visual Feedback / Combat VFX are high on the priority list for the team - so it's good to see some testers feel the same way!

The last question from our QA Test that I wanted to touch on was in regards to VFX. We wanted to ask players what sort of effects that they may want to see (in terms of player feedback, combat, etc).

This feedback let us see where the testers loyalties towards VFX lie – more towards combat, player feedback or environment. It’s an even mix, so we have a lot we could work with!

Final Thoughts!

With the final week before the Greenlight criteria needs to be met coming soon – the team finishing up the last of their documentation needed before they can begin working towards their Alpha deliverable. As the Lead Producer, I have no negative concerns with where the team is currently, as we’ve been in a good place thanks to the shared effort being put in by the team leads and Louis as the other producer on the project.

The team has had extremely productive retrospective meetings where we have iterated our process each sprint since the start of the semester. We intend on keeping this system going and continuing to develop our methods throughout the course of this project.

As for myself personally I’ve been feeling under the weather for the past few days like I had mentioned at the start of this post. A surprise bout of the flu came out of nowhere and incapacitated me for three days with a high fever, fully body aches and chills, sweating and really, really strange dreams. Now I’m stuck with a cough and a lot of backed up homework.

Wish me luck! I’ll be back here again in two weeks to give another update!

Talk to you next time!

~ Austin

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