Capstone Reflection III: Talk It Out, Plan Ahead
This reflection was written for the Champlain College Game Studio Capstone course on 11/2/19. The goal of each of the three reflections is to reflect on the work done, the decisions made, and the challenges were met and overcome, or learned from. The third reflection focuses on the value of communication and scheduling as we built our demo for Box Voyage.
This past week saw my team and I challenge to move into step 3. We’ve spent the past months diving deep on Box Voyage, crafting our first puzzle room and projecting our plans for the future.
Looking back over the past month, one of the things I think we’ve done a great job of is communicating between the various disciplines on the team. I was able to work very closely with Isaac over these past few weeks and our communication during our three weekly meetings and on Mattermost has really helped us sand down the rough edges of the puzzle production pipeline we’ve created. On the flip side of that, it’s clear that we have some leg work left to do to really make the pipeline from design work to art block out to puzzle implementation. Going forward I really want to try and take note of what works and what doesn’t in our development process in order to ensure we are doing our work in an efficient and optimal fashion. I feel this is important because if our workflow is better than our end product will be stronger, and our collective workload will become much more manageable.
I’m also really proud of the work we have all produced up to this point. It feels like even when our team is met with bumps and snags in the road we manage to figure out a way to push forward and do our best work. It feels like our first puzzle is strong in terms of art and polish and it’s been really rewarding to hear as much from some of our peers. I think our decision to move forward with this project was a good one. Box Voyage has allowed us to use the skill sets of our team, such as audio design, to craft a play space that while small in scale, strives to feel detailed and dense in its feeling of liveliness and intractability.
One thing that has been a challenge working on our first puzzle has been the design aspect. Fine tuning the difficulty, interaction density, and overall readability has been a constant focus of our iteration over the past month. We’ve noticed that design iteration and concepting is a very speedy process while implementing and refining those designs is anything but. Towards the end of Step 3, we received feedback that our puzzle felt a little too short for both an introduction and a pitch demo. Going forward, we will be revisiting the design of the puzzle, and hopefully we will be able to take the lessons we’ve learned thus far into account. Another facet of the past month that I personally wish had gone better is my own work with some of the game’s systems. Specifically in regards to our cursor implementation, I feel like my work in that area has been functional, but not necessarily effective or meeting the mark in terms of our team’s design goals. I want to focus personally on getting more input from designers on implementations up front and also try and improve on my ability to make a strong first pass at the systems and features that our game needs. I think if I can improve in that aspect that our workflow could see some improvement.
Above all else, the two biggest things that I want to us work on as a team are timeliness and communication. Those two things are mentioned both in regards to our workflow on the game as well as our logistical work outside of it. Around the time of Fall break, it felt like our team began to get away from some of the little things that had helped us perform so strongly up to this point. Meetings began to later than scheduled, communication about dates and tasks became jumbled. We were able to tighten it up as we got back into the swing of things after break, but I think those issues cost us some time and productivity for sure. The second hurdle our team is still working to cross is staying on target with our milestones and weekly sprint plans. We’ve outlined a plan for the final month of the game’s development this semester, but by the end of Step 3 the dates in that had begun to slide.
Going forward I think our team can improve further still by being honest in our scoping of milestones and sprint planning as well as being willing to to cut features and ideas. If we can keep our lines of communication open, think consciously about our workflow and scope frankly. I believe we can reach the finish line with our project in a state worthy of being selected for next semester.