Post Mortem: A Wizard Did It!

For the past 13 weeks I’ve been working on an asymmetrical action/ strategy multiplayer game called A Wizard Did It! We have completed pre-production and are ready to go into production. AWDI is game designed for four players split into two teams. Three players will be the heroes defending the castle and one player will be the wizard trying to destroy it. The three heroes play in a 3rd person action/ brawler style with different abilities and combos to encourage team work. The wizard plays in a first person isometric top down view of the map and can summons enemies and use abilities on the heroes and surroundings. The goal of the wizard is to have his minions destroy a large crystal at the end of the level and the heroes job is to stop that from happening.

We spent a lot of time on design for this preproduction and I am glad we had to the time to come up with and toy with many ideas. The design has going through several iterations and we have looked at other games that do something similar in order to try and find what works and what does not in these types of games. Although the range of games that play somewhat like this are limited but we did go through many iterations and style changes.

We were working with a large number of people on this project and suing services like Slack and Trello really helped to keep track of who was doing what and setting up a pipeline for autonomous work. Each member of the team knew what they had to do and when it should be done by and if there was any doubt they could easily contact the group or any individual member.

As mentioned before we spent a lot of time working out the design before starting implementation and for early builds we were using asset packs acquired through the Unreal Store. These assets were really helpful for early grey boxing and finalised the level design but because we spent so much time getting to this point there wasn’t enough time to replace all of those assets with custom made assets. Although much of those assets left in where level decoration the team had planned to have all custom assets for the final build. Hero assets including models and animation were made by the team and we were glad we didn’t have to resort to using store assets for our main character. There were some doubts that the assets wouldn’t be ready in time but out animator came though and we were able to show exactly what our hero looked and played like.

The networking turned out great and we could show off a player playing the wizard with a top down view of the map and having another player playing the hero in 3rd person and fighting the minions the player controlling the wizard spawned. This was a really key feature and the team was really pleased being able to show that off in the final build.

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Week 13: Post Mortem

In the end I was very glad I had suggested we make a smaller scoped project and make a card game. The group is very good at working together and by using services like Slack and Trello we were able to set up pipelines for communication and for anything we needed done. We did have an issue with team members being ill and around this time of the year it is almost unavoidable. We could have planned better for this because there was some key programming features that we were unable to get completed in time. But Although the digital game may not have been fully completed we were able to print off the cards and have a fully working set of cards to demonstrate the game and theme. During our final presentation we handed the cards around and everyone really liked the cards and had a good laugh which was the intended response.

With the game being so close to completion I think the team will be able ti finish it on our own time and even if the digital game falls through we have plans to work further on the physical card game try and get some additional play testing at places in the city.

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Week 12: Let’s Get Physical

It turns out we could get the cards printed locally and for cheaper than we originally thought. In the end I didn’t to rush so much to get all the art done but it was still good to have it done. The game was coming along nicely too with most of the programming being completed and with still networking to go but you could play against the AI. We had also got some voice actor from a lecturer and that whole process was great. Our audio guys had come up with some great theme music and the game was looking very nice as a whole. We also had the physical cards and that was awesome to see the art I had done being printed into a physical game that we could play. We also had great menus screens up, the deck construction screen was not fully functional but looked great.

We exhibited a game but I was unable to attend the exhibition, here are a few words from one of the designers present.

” It went okay, the real problem was that the venue stopped us from getting proper test data. Only three players played there and nobody played the physical version because there was no room, but those who did play it found it fun and understood the mechanics without me stepping in.” – Rowan.

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Week 11: Busy hands

We were pretty happy with the mechanics of the game but were unsure if we could get every mechanic programmed into the game including the networking. We were presented with the option to physically print the cards so even if the game weren’t completely finished we could demonstrate our game at the upcoming exhibition. We started looking into places and some websites we found looked great but had some shipping and so we needed the art done on all the cards so they could be printed.

I took the set of cards that had been made and tested and tried as best I could to balance out the cards and make sure certain mechanics were tied to play styles and colours. I also then had to do the art for every card. For the insult cards we were thinking of just text bubbles with the insults written in them. For the rest, such as gentlemen and utility cards I tried to get all the art done and have the art and characters somewhat relate to the mechanics of the cards. I was in  rush because I wanted to get all the cards done so they could be  printed before the exhibition. I was rushed on some art and eventually ran out of ideas with a few but was overall happy with the art and themes.

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Week 10: #Deep

Looking over previous entries I realised I was going to write something extremely similar again and almost repeated week 3. I suppose its a testament to well we work together if we are falling into patterns. We paper prototyped with some rough cards made up and we were able to find out a lot about the game. First of all, it was fun, everyone had a good time playing the game and I think the theme had a lot to do with that. The game was simple enough to pick and play but there was an element of strategy with deck construction and playing. I have a lot of experience playing cards games and using that I was able to win most of the testing matches we played and I was confident our system had sufficient depth.

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Week 9: Working Well

With the project starting up we divided up the tasks and started going to work. I thought that the scope of the project was small and all the working parts we needed shouldn’t be too difficult to make happen. We delegated tasks and everyone went to work. We had programmers working on the details of the card game mechanics and a designer working on the design of the cards. My task was the art for the game.

I intentionally repeated myself here from week 2 as I was about to write something really similar to week 2. I think this is a good thing if we can all work together well and get started early. I feel like I am doing a lot of art work and not working enough in Unreal actually putting the project together, but don’t think we have much other choice because no one else has any artistic talent. Although I don’t feel like I’m missing out too much, I try to follow what everyone else is doing and haven’t come across anything that I’ve needed to have explained to me because I wouldn’t know how to do it.

Week 8: Gentleman’s Gambit

So this was the time to start a new project and the group had originally had the idea to do another Oculus Rift game based on investigation and preparation. While the project sounded great and I rarely pass up the opportunity to work with VR, I noticed we were slightly out of scope for the last project so I wanted to do something a lot simpler. I suggested we make a card game and everyone was on board so everyone went away to come up with some ideas and met back to pick the best one.

While trying to think of ideas for the card game I wasn’t trying to think of card game mechanics but game mechanics in general and then translate it into a card game. I was trying to think of a simple system that anyone could play but also had depth to it. I immediately thought of the Poke’mon games and how simple they are but how much competitive strategy is also involved. I basically broke down those games into created a small deck of creatures and a larger deck of attacks and moves. With that in mind I translated that into a card game where players choose a few creatures and construct a deck of attack and moves and play cards at the same time. I also though that since ‘creature’ and ‘attack’ were very vague terms I could splash any coat of paint I wanted onto it and have it play the same. I thought it would be funny to make a game about English gentlemen insulting each other and that’s how “Gentleman’s Gambit” was born.