Capstone Reflection – Step 1: Picking Up Momentum

After 3 full years of hard work on many, many projects and assignments, it’s finally time for me to work on the culmination of all I’ve done in my capstone project. It’s strange already being at this point, but I’m extremely ready to get to work. This semester, I am working alongside my lovely team that I started Production II with, in addition to Jacob Biederman, a very talented programmer who fit right into our team from the first meeting. We spent our first week getting ourselves in gear and preparing for the upcoming semester, as well as presenting those preparations to the class and our instructors. In this reflection, since I spent almost all of our sprint working out the concepts we were going to move forward with, I’m going to analyze the major things we had to do to get from random ideas to presentation and talk through our process.

Over the summer, the team and I wanted to simply brainstorm a ton of ideas for us to sift through when we got back to school. We dropped the ideas in a group message and I later compiled them all. We then gave a hard look at them and decided which we’d like to see through a bit further. This was when I went in and actually created design sketches for all of those ideas. We then analyzed those ideas and what we did/didn’t like about them, and then decided on a second round of brainstorming that was more informed by our interests.

I believe that this process was actually beneficial for us, as we were able to be creative without focusing too much on whether the game would fit ourselves yet; it was just pure brainstorming. By doing this, we were able to put the game ideas first without constraining ourselves to what we thought we wanted to make, and alternatively we also more closely figured out what we wanted to make by seeing game ideas that we didn’t vibe with.

I also gained more experience in compromising at this early stage, as I attempted to get the whole team involved in the concepting process instead of just pitching ideas to them and seeing what stuck. I had to give in on concepts that I enjoyed but they did not, but at the end of the day I want to work on something everyone enjoys to work on, and finding a way to make that happen is really the first design hurdle. In addition, I worked on simplified design documents for the major concepts we were interested in, which helped solidify the direction of the concepts and think about aspects of the games I accidentally ignored during the brainstorming sessions. This ultimately led to the games being more thought out in their early stages.

We ended up with many ideas that fit into our skill wheelhouse, so a big question is why we decided on the three explorations that we did. When developing these concepts, I have mainly been focusing on the direction that the game will go and what interesting possibilities they hold, rather than trying to iron out a solid concept from the get-go. This allowed us to really hone in on why we liked an idea, and I believed that we would use these bases to explore and expand in interesting ways that would make the games stand out. As a recap of our concepts that we are looking to further explore:

  • Single player game playing as a modern-day witch looking to start a delivery service around town, where players will navigate the city with arcady movement and have to plan out their days to maximize their profits. They will also explore the city to find new customers that will expand their influence in town, unlock new spells, and hire new employees that will make the company more money.
  • Multiplayer magic-themed kart racer with a focus on accessibility for newcomers alongside advanced techniques for veterans to make use of. The game would also use spells and a Mana system to give players strategy and options in the race.
  • Multiplayer fighting game set on a theatrical stage where players attempt to die on the weapon of their enemy. The audience, whether in game or in person, would have a say in who is performing well enough for them.

So like I said before, we didn’t end up compiling a list of our interests and making a game based on that. Instead, we let the ideas flow freely and tweaked ones we were interested in to more fit our style. However, by looking at the three concepts we have, there are definitely commonalities between them. First and foremost is that they aligned with our general skills of needing major systems design and environment art. However, we also decided on these games because we felt they held a lot of potential for where we could take them. My favorite fact is that they all involve interesting movement systems that have lots of room to go off the walls.

Hearing the feedback about our presentation that the games felt safe at first made me worry; we thought we were only supposed to have rough directions at this point and if the directions are too safe, maybe that means they’re boring? However, I thought it over more and realized that this was actually a very helpful comment. Knowing that we have a solid, vague-enough base that feels safe means we have the go ahead to get crazy during Step 2 and really try to find some innovative fun. I personally think that there’s so much room for these concepts to go, and I’m excited to play around with them as both an individual and as a team to find something special.

That’s it for this time! My next update should definitely have more specific information as we move into Step 2 and I spend a lot of my time developing our WITCHCRAFT concept, but for now, I am confident that our team is working together well!

One thought on “Capstone Reflection – Step 1: Picking Up Momentum

  1. Pingback: Capstone Reflection – Step 2 Part 1: Rapid Prototyping | Tim Carbone

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