By: Rob Moreno (3D Artist)
During the winter quarter of the DePaul Game Studio I was assigned the main task of diving into play testing aspects of the current build. While pieces were still coming together it was a great opportunity to give some of my own feedback as well as receive and pass on reception from people outside of the DePaul Game Design program. Throughout my play testing routine it was important to keep in mind the tone, mechanics, affordances, and obstacles (etc.) for Shadow That Pervades.
With that, it was also important to keep track of what was happening moment to moment in the game space:
- Was everything in the scene consistent?
- Were there any moments that I or others who had played the game enjoyed or disliked?
- Were there moments where it felt boring and people were taken out of the experience?
It was important that I noted down recurring critiques of the space:
- Were obstacles or mechanics broken?
- What was the factor that caused the players to fall out of the immersive experience?
- Were there things they would change or wanted to see implemented that would provide a more enjoyable experience?
Gathering this feedback also helped me later on in the course. While my main task was to focus on play testing aspects of the game, I was also given side tasks throughout the quarter
such as: Quality assurance/ bug fixing, 3D Modeling design, setting standards and guidelines for pushing up to the main server build, and lastly camera volume implementation inside the level/ play spaces of the build.
In the previous autumn quarter of Studio I was strictly in charge of modeling the 3D assets that filled the original three separate distinct levels. During the first couple weeks of this quarter I also aided in 3D modeling to help the Art team and level designers populate their space early on in hopes of reaching a “beautiful corner” by the end of the quarter. This also tied in with Quality Assurance of the Main server build. Allen had noted that there were a number of submitted FBX files, textures, and materials (etc.) under a variety of different names. This led other designers to become confused as to what the actual file was. Allen had assigned me the task of making sure that whatever the art team had pushed up onto the main server had to be named appropriately for the given asset that it was. As a part of play testing, Allen also wanted me to note any bugs that I stumbled upon in the current build, as well as making sure that whatever was pushed up to the main build was also not adding more bugs/issues
into the mix. It was imperative to get the latest revision as often as possible to make notes and discuss with members of the team some of the issues that needed fixing if I had come across any.
Lastly I was assigned the tasks of going into most of the levels from the previous quarter and this quarter and adding camera volumes into the space to adjust the angle of play. I considered this a design task where it was important for me to think both as a player and as a designer. It’s this constant battle back and forth of what I instinctively want to do as a player, versus what or how the designer has intended me to navigate throughout the space. Also something I’ll add in is that cameras add so much to the visual experience and tone of the game. Setting up cameras correctly have the potential of visually communicating to the
player the next obstacle in front of them, evoking a tense atmosphere where every move you make has potential risk, showing the larger picture around the player of the world that they’re in. It’s something that’s powerful and has the potential to break the overall intended experience of the game. Again it’s this back and forth with designers and players. The level designer might have a specific intended way of going about the space, but also the player understands the affordances that they are given and sometimes wants more or less freedom in how they move throughout the space. It was my goal to make sure that I am both meeting what the level designer wants in their space as well as what the player expects.
This has been my second quarter with the studio, and I think a lot of progress has been made when you look back at where we started. As time went on you started to see the fruits of the labor of everyone in class. Those sudden little sparks of “Wow, I can see the pieces coming together!” It makes you want to strive for more in my opinion. It’s a unique and rich experience where you can gain so much, not just to say that you worked on a full-fledged game, but to obtain a piece of that game development experience similar to what is happening every day in commercial studios. I think those who have been here since the start have become a small family, and when you have that level of communication I think it only can benefit your work. It’s an opening environment where we are willing to help each other when needed. Personally I still favor the 3D Art section of our game, it’s a place where I can not only work on my craft, but also help to understand more of the world that we are
building day by day. There’s a bigger story happening than what’s in front of your eyes and I take it as a great opportunity to push for that interesting experience, not just for myself, but for the player.
If there was one improvement I would like to make it’s establishing a new pipeline which we discussed later in the quarter and moving forward. I experienced this last quarter as well where I had these three different styles of scenes I was developing assets for at the same time and granted I was the only modeler at the time, but it was a constant back and forth to push for modularity where the assets I created could be used for all three scenes being developed. I think the better alternative is having these small groups of designers and artists working specifically on one scene for the entire quarter. You have a consistent theme that you are working on for 10 weeks. You don’t have to reach out and find a dozen
people to ask a question. These compact teams where everyone knows their role, their playing off of each other and gradually throughout the quarter building to make these beautiful corners. When you finally reach the end of the quarter you now expect to have multiple scenes that should be vibrant in color, rich in game play, well-structured and almost bug free to allow for a smooth immersive experience.
This leads into next quarter, I hope to be able to take lead on one of the scenes we have and push it to be its best going forward. I believe I have what it takes and what is expected to lead a small team into developing a crafted, finished, and overall just fun to play in play space. That’s what I love about games, creating environments that visually make the player want to explore and feel a part of something that is bigger. I believe that a lot of my fellow classmates who are returning also have this fire in them to want to make something that they’re proud of. At the end of the day if we as a class are happy with the content we created, then that is only going to be reflected in our work, and I believe moving forward we are only going to get better!