Game Postmortem

I was given the task to make multiple prototypes then choose one to develop into a small-scale video game with two other people in 13 weeks’ time span. I chose my team very easily and we had no issues picking what roles we wanted as we each are very skilled in our own department and flexible to learning new skills, we also had an understanding of not sticking solely to our roles and could aid in other tasks and this meant even in a small team we stayed very productive. This means I ended up doing audio, level design, environment and asset design which allowed me to try multiple new jobs. When coming up with ideas we had a group meeting in person where anyone could share any thoughts to keep things fresh and also to save time with not just one person dictating the ideas as we only had a week to come up with the ideas for all of our prototypes. The prototypes went as such: Prototype One was to resist blinking where monsters are chasing you and you have to manage your sanity by blinking and escape the office, Prototype Two was to resist dating the suspects on a case you are in charge of, Prototype Three involved the player resisting looking at flashing TVs in a rhythm style game and, finally, Prototype Four was about resisting infection as you have to collect vials to keep alive and fight off the infection.

BLINK (Prototype One) was the best game to take forward as it had the most potential since with the others we would have struggled having an interesting hook. BLINK had very unique mechanics with the sanity bar and blinking that, from the start, had our play testers very interested and engaged as you cannot play our game lazily due to its being a very hands on tense game with managing the sanity. When I next make a game I will start the planning set around a main theme or mechanic, like with BLINK and the resist theme, as it gave us a strong starting point and also helps keep the game on theme and not go off theme and lose sight of the key component of the game.

To keep on track with scheduling, we set up a HacknPlan and had weekly check ins where we would see what the other members did the previous week which kept us all in check. With my creative process I would get a list of all of my tasks, then break them down into importance and what is needed first, then split them up weekly so I would always have work to do and would be able to feed back to my team what was essential each week, such as giving Kuba room assets so that they can make the corresponding floors. Throughout the project I managed to stay relatively calm but would have moments of being overwhelmed by the project as we had such a short time to make a full game. Usually these would be feelings of doubt and struggling with the asset design as it was my first time making a tile set so there was a learning curve of how to create consistent asset size and colour to ensure the scale works. To manage these feelings, I would consult the HacknPlan and my teammates to reassure myself that we were on track as these feelings of doubt where making me work slower as I would waste time worrying instead of working. I feel as though I picked up many new skills from this project with now having a good understanding of making tile sets for games and how to adapt to new styles. Audio in Unity was another skill as I had never tried coding audio into interactable objects and there was trial and error with bugs of SFX playing every frame, but I found myself near the end able to debug on my own without consulting a guide and able to read the code I was typing.

I believe one aspect that went well was making the tile assets. I was able to make a sizeable amount of tiles including; walls, floor, doors, elevators, tables, chairs, kitchen, bathroom, rugs, lights and other miscellaneous decoration. These all matched in colour pallet, scale and style so when they were put into the levels, they looked cohesive. One aspect I admit was poor was my choice in background music as the loop on it was obvious due to there being an audible pop when the track looped which was very immersion breaking. However, I was unsure on how to fix this as when I looked online this seemed to be a Unity issue, but I didn’t have the time to fix it as audio was left a little last minute. Next time I will not use YouTube to find music and instead use an online sound library to ensure our music is of a high quality and loops well. Our high ambitions were a small issue as we had many ideas for our game that never came to fruition due to running out of time, I don’t think it was an issue of time management but more thinking too grand with our game. We wanted to add a boss fight and have eight floors, but due to only having two weeks left, and no boss in sight, we cut these features so we could focus on finishing the six levels we had and bug fixing, which took a while.

Looking more into our flaws when first planning the game, our scope was too large and we could have done with taking a step back during the first weeks and laid out a more solid plan of what to do and time scopes for them rather than allowing jobs to pile up near the end and needing to cut content. As the deadlines came closer I began to crunch the work and this caused me to be working until 3 o’clock in the morning, then getting too little sleep which meant my quality of work was taking a hit, meaning I had to go back and fix up any mistakes meaning the task took even longer than if I just went to sleep. Regarding the art style, I was able to quickly learn the pixel tile style after doing some light research online. I think my assets I made were all high quality and, when used in game, looked very effective at giving a retro game look with a modern twist.

This was the first time I have worked in a group project where we had to rely so heavily on each other, and it taught me to be able to adapt to having multiple roles and how to handle them and split the time we had equally between the roles to ensure things kept moving at a steady pace. I find myself more open to ideas, as we were all able to suggest ideas to each other to help build off one another and this made me have a more open mind to others helping me as I can be closed off and a little stubborn, so this project broke those negative traits in myself. I enjoyed using HacknPlan and found that it helped in ensuring we all were aware of what our tasks were, and going forward I will continue to use this software as having the ability to leave comments under teammates tasks is very helpful, especially if you cannot meet face to face which some weeks we were unable to do. Play testing proved very valuable as it helped us find many bugs we did not know, such as audio looping and one of the key cards not working as intended, so I will definitely continue to get a wide variety of play testers.

When I next work in a group setting, I will be sure that when we first start, we will look at the time we have to complete the project and make a list of necessary jobs, what would be good to add, and the time it would take to complete them to ensure we didn’t overset our goals. Making a gannt chart could help us make sure our time management is on track so we don’t fall behind, and it will allow us to look back on the project once complete and better evaluate what tasks we had more difficulty with, as harder tasks take longer to complete. I will also have a cut off point where I will not work past. 11pm would be a good idea, as this will stop burnout and ensure that I stay healthy, getting the right amount of sleep, which improves my work quality. I am happy with the game overall as it fits the theme well and during the making of this game, I learnt lots of skills that I will take forward into industry and future projects. The game had a good reception when being play tested and they seemed to be able to figure out all the mechanics and beat it fully after only a few tries which is what we wanted; a balance of being difficult, yet still fun.

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