(Late) New years resolutions

This post is a little late, but I didn’t find time during the game development phase to write it, so here goes nothing!

New Years Resolutions

I’ve never really made New Years Resolutions, and never thought about making any, but there were some things I wanted to change about myself anyways, so I might as well call them New Years Resolutions.

Say thank you more!

Being appreciated is so important to people (or at least to me), and I realized that I didn’t always show my appreciation enough. I decided to do that, and saying “thank you” is an easy way to do it, so I want to say it more!

Be more motivated!

I started work on the Prototype for QR relatively late, I only really worked on it for 4 weeks, which I heavily regretted during the final two weeks.
But it wasn’t only QR, I’ve always had major problems with my motivation, I rarely did my homework until the last 3 years of school, and I wouldn’t think of learning something outside of school either. I still don’t do that a lot. I started a couple of projects to work on just for fun, but didn’t spend more than a few weeks before losing interest in them. This is something I should really do more of!

Do a Gamejam!

Ever since I heard of Gamejams, which was probably in the first semester, I was really interested in them! I have yet to participate in one though, my main concern is that I am too slow to be useful to a group, and I would hate to drag anyone down. However I got a little more confident in that aspect during the QR Project, and thanks to Extra Credits! I wanted to participate in this year’s Global Game Jam, but there really was no chance, considering the timing, 10 days before the final submission date. However I plan to participate in at least one Game Jam this year, and maybe I can find the time to participate in the GGJ next time!

Read more!

I used to read a lot of novels. My mother and sisters as well, someone would find a new series, show it to the others, and we would all read them within a month or so. Nowadays I rarely ever read books anymore, and I feel like my eloquence suffered from it. I do actually still read a lot, but it is almost only Mangas/Webcomics or on web forums, which are all fun and interesting, but the level of the written language is clearly lower (usually). So I plan to read more books again! I have enough books lying around at home, and there are new books from some of my favourite series, so I have a lot to catch up on!

Learn Git!

This is a pretty specific one, and therefore doesn’t really fit the list, but I have to put it in here to make sure I remember it! In the first and second semester we had two people working on the same code all the time, and it could be really annoying to deal with it, so I want to remove some of the obstacles of working like that! During QR development I could work almost entirely alone on the prototype, except for the QR-Scanner scene, which we implemented like a plug-in, making things really easy on my end. Working alone was a lot more comfortable in many ways, but at the same time, I had all of the responsibility for it, which was quite stressful, especially since I was so short on time towards the end. Either way, I know that I will definitely need to use Github or something similar in the future, so I might as well learn it now, while I have the time for it!

Be more patient!

This one is the newest addition to the list, I only thought of adding it yesterday.
I am well aware that I’m impatient, I need some kind of distraction, I need enough of my senses stimulated to feel comfortable. I need to listen to music while working, and I need something to do (like watching streams) while playing slow games, or inbetween my own turns (eg during Civilization games) to not get bored. I realized that it can be problematic, it could be seen as impolite, or I could miss some important details because I am distracted by something else. I honestly don’t know how I can improve this, but maybe I can just remember this resolution, and think of it, and get more patient, little by little.

See you in a year!

I set myself a reminder for the end of November, to check whether I was successful. I will still have a month left then to try and do whatever I didn’t do before, so I think it’s a fair date! I will report back here when it is time 🙂

Semester Project BA3: Q®

QR Logo
Q® (“QR”) is a Collectible Card Game / Outdoor Card Hunting Experience for mobile devices. It features an original card game with a corporate theme, faction VS faction metagame, and physical-space card hunts. You are recruited by one of the eight corporations as an area manager to increase your corporation’s profits and public appearance. Win card games against players from other corporations to increase your corporation’s power. Team up with other players of your faction to find powerful cards to add to your decks, and become the megacorp to rule the world.

Q® was the third Semester Project I did in the CGL (Nov 30th 2016 – Feb 2nd 2017). I worked with Andreas Gefken, Caterina Böhm, Matthias Siegel, Owen Franke, and Sarah Engelhardt on this.

You can download the android apk, a PC and Mac build HERE.
You can read about the development process HERE.

Home Stretch! (Week 8)

JAN. 23 – Feb. 2

The final stretch, there were nine days until the presentation, and another day until the playtesting day, so I had to hurry and get everything to work! I had never in my life spent so much time working on something, I must have accumulated about 120 work hours in those days, in addition to the presentation itself, and discussions with teammates. I don’t think calling it a death march would be an overstatement.
I knew that death marches can happen in studios even if managers try to avoid it, so I’m actually glad I had this experience. I would like to never experience this again though, so I absolutely plan on starting on a prototype sooner from now on! To be honest, I did still enjoy it though, I wrote code, fought with UI, made sure the Art assets were all properly aligned to fit the game and it was a real blast.

I also had to keep working on prototype after the presentation, since I still had to implement the deckbuilder and staff cards, as well as all of the card effects…
I managed to implement the first two, and got started on the card effects, but I could not stay awake any longer and only managed to finish about 7 card effects. Implementing the deckbuilder however was well worth it, it felt really good to look at your card collection, and being able to change the cards in your deck!

GUI and Game Mechanics

I had finally started to work on the deckbuilder and the help overlay in the main menu. With the experience I gained with the UI Canvases from the game scene, it took me about 5 hours to implement both of them, although the deckbuilder only visually. I spent another 2-3 hours on the functionality on the deckbuilder later.

I talked with Andreas and Owen about implementation of the card collecting, and we got to the conclusion that implementing it online, with the website and user logins, would not be feasible in the remaining time. Instead we went with Emergency contingency plan Beta23.05f that we would scan codes with our in-app scanner, and save the collected cards locally on the device, through player prefs.

I also had an intense discussion with matthias about our core game mechanic, profit = cashflow or profit = accumulation of cashflow (check this post for more info). I felt that the game at its current state simply wasn’t fun enough, so Matthias and I discussed whether it was still possible time-wise to change it, and whether it would improve fun!
Matthias slept over it and weighed the decision as well, and eventually agreed that it would probably improve the game to change, so we pitched it to the rest of the group, and they agreed.

Best Intentions

I realized that people sometimes have very wrong ideas of how long it would take to make something. People suggest a mechanic or idea, with the intention to save you work, but not realizing that another (possibly even better) option takes just as long, or even less time to program!
Things like this were why I had decided to be extremely blunt about suggestions. Especially with artists, because I honestly didn’t have much of an idea about their work process. I would also try to present all options I could think of, with an added explanation of what I would personally prefer for Game Design reasons, and what would be less work for me to implement.
I sometimes felt that this was not received well but in this group, I had the feeling that the others appreciated it!

Assets and Production

I made a new Dropbox folder for Final Art Assets and a google doc folder for playtesting, documents for  known bugs and expected bugs, with color coding for status.

known bugs key
The known bugs doc. the green and teal are not easy to read, but they aren’t really necessary to read anymore.

I also made a final “Template/Example” XML file for Matthias, so he knew exactly to write in the XML file.

I once again realized that I often find problems, or something no one has thought of before, while working on the protoype, and wonder it was my responsibility to think of that beforehand… I try to plan a lot before I start working, but I’ve found that it doesn’t really help me so much, but maybe I would have to plan even more?

I had to update two of the Testing-Android phones for them to work with the QR scanner Owen implemented. The oldest one took about 2.5 hours to update, with at least 6 reboots!!

I realized how important it is to make a prototype ASAP, to make a build and to make EVERYONE test it, so everyone is on the same page about how the game works! In this case, someone had a different idea of how the menu structure worked. Luckily it wasn’t problematic, but it could have been!

Code Mood

Sometimes during coding I have to concentrate a lot, and need to turn off my music, lest it distract me from thinking. That was the case while I was implementing the multiplayer aspects, because it was new and unfamiliar.
When I was finally back on familiar territory, working on gamelogic, I could finally put on headphones, turn on noisy music and really crank it up!

Writing bad code was… liberating. I always build some errorcatching functionality, to check for human (my) error, but while I had so little time left, and the goal was only to make it work somehow, I learned a lot of new things!
And it was relaxing somehow, not having to think of how a certain case would be handled. If the player does something totally unexpected, the game crashes, or some undefined behaviour happens, I didn’t know, but it didn’t matter because it was only a prototype!

Also, here is a quick guide on how to finish a game for a tight deadline:

me on the right

#poweredbychocolate #dontneednocoffee

Mini Gamejam

We held a Mini Gamejam at my house on the 29th featuring Owen, Andreas and myself. Unfortunately didn’t get a lot done on my end because there were a lot of uncertainties about how we would implement the mixed reality and how we would compile it, in order to present it at CGL! I thought the time was worth it though, also to make sure the QR scanner is working as it should! After Andreas left and Owen crashed at my place because he missed the last train, I could implement the discard phase from start to finish, which took up only around an hour! After that I went back into the matchmaking scene and made that a little better but annoyingly, the final button the player had to press was still too small…

Division of Labor in QR

This is a short summary of who did what during our game development phase.
(Everyone gave input on pretty much everything, but this is listing everyone’s main activities.)

Andreas: UI design and art assets. Mixed reality and card collecting aspect and quest design. Major input on card design (visually). Game mechanics and card design (mechanically).

Caterina: Card visual design. Faction Logo design. Finding suitable images for all cards and start working on fitting them for the card assets (first half of the art pipeline).

Matthias: Card-Game mechanics and Card design (mechanically), cardgame balancing. Input on Mixed reality and card collecting aspect.

Owen: Narrative and definition of the factions plus aptitude test. Implementation of QR-Scanner, Quests and cardlist into unity. Website design and creation. Final Presenation.

Sarah: Card design (visually) including icons. Factions and QR Logo design, input on all UI. Fitting Caterina’s images on the cards, and setting name, effect text and flavour text on the card assets. Intermediate presentation.

Me: Unity Prototype except QR-Scanning and saving collected cards. Cardgame mechanics and input on card design (mechanically). Production bits like creating art asset list, or starting docs for presentations and playtesting, Writing down and bringing up stuff that needs to be talked about during meetings.