Creating Coherence in a Team

This post is going to address a serious concern with creating games in a team. Maintaining coherence between a large volume of people is key to crafting visual flow.

It’s crucial to have an Art Bible, Programming Bible, or whatever other highly regarded reference you’d like. Each artist and programmer has a unique workflow, naming conventions, etc. Without a solidified method of content production, miscommunication is inevitable.

Let me give you an example. Say an artist does not rename any of their objects and forgets to freeze transformations/delete history. When that is imported into Unity, the people working in engine are faced with a mess of pCube1’s and 2’s as well as a slew of other problems. If another artist also forgets to rename all of their pCube1’s and 2’s, and those assets are imported into Unity, they will overwrite everything the previous artist has done. See the importance of naming conventions? Naming conventions/comments are also important among programmers in order to improve legibility and reduce time wasted trying to interpret other programmers’ code.

Pipeline

 

Not only is the Art Bible important for the asset pipeline, it’s also important for the artists to understand the color palette and style at a quick glance. This document is meant to be a reference and is best to have open at all times. Have an art question? Check the Art Bible, it should be addressed in there.

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For anyone looking to get started on a reference document, here are the areas we covered in ours:

  • Color Palette concepts plus reference photos
  • Environment scale
  • Architectural proportions (door sizes, etc.)
  • Object modeling and texture standards
  • Time period references
  • Commonly used material references
  • Other art/movie/game references
  • Technical guidelines for exporting
  • Technical guidelines for naming
  • Modeling Pipeline, tips, and standards

Huge shoutout to William Falk for putting the Art Reference together. I’m confident to say that confusion has been lessened among the artists because of this document.

 

‘Til next time.

Ronnie Smith

Part artist, part programmer

Find The Truth

Building 37 is filled with documents that hold all sorts of secrets, the only issue is the heavy redaction… As Ellis you will need find these documents and find the connections to piece together the story and help you find your way out. We here at Two Hat Games have been heavy at work creating and piecing together this information for the maximum puzzle experience. Each one of us became someone new: a janitor who’s seen to much, a scientist working on secret projects, even the test subjects who used these weird objects in hopes for a better understanding… We’ve done this in order to make sure our characters are unique. Each one of these characters has a unique background, and their findings and sightings will help you to understand the objects you encounter while you play, as well as help you discover the truth…

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So, get ready for the puzzle/adventure/exploration game you didn’t know you needed to play. Building 37 is fast in development, and shrouded in a mystery you don’t want to miss out on. Just pick up some papers and figure it out! Happy hunting, and good luck!

Playroom: The Mechanics Sandbox

One of the biggest features of Building 37 is its unique gameplay mechanics. They are about as crucial to the game as the story is, and thus require a great deal of work to make sure they are done well. We have spent a great deal of time perfecting the abilities of the paranormal objects. The player is able to use the paranormal objects in conjunction with each other to create some interesting results. While we can come up with puzzles that would make use of the abilities, we don’t know how the user will interact with the objects, or how the player will combine the objects.
Just last week, we had our first, semi-public play testing. At this play test (which you can read more about here: https://twohatgames.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/play-testing/) we were able to watch how the players played our game. We discovered what they had difficulty with, and where we needed to add more instruction. We also learned how players interacted with the objects, and what they wanted to be able to do with them. This gave us an idea, in our next play testing session we should have a room dedicated to these objects. In this playroom we will have all of our paranormal objects usable in their current states so that the player may try all of them and we can see what is and is not engaging. We’ll be able to watch what they do, and how they make they objects work together, and from that, come up with new puzzle ideas that best incorporates what we learned in a unique way. We expect to be surprised and see our mechanics play together in ways we could not think of on our own.
The paranormal objects are a very central part of the game. In a previous blog post, the origin and story behind the objects is discussed in more detail. (you can read more about this here: https://twohatgames.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/paranormal-objects/ ) Now, let’s go into more detail regarding their abilities and usage from a gameplay standpoint.
The first object the player encounters is the Lektrax. This device is focused on giving and taking electricity from environmental objects. For example, if you come across a door that isn’t able to be opened, but you see a nearby security panel that is cut off from power, using the Lektrax, you’ll be able to take the power from a different object, like a light, and give it to the panel to open the door.

Playroom Planning
The second object is the Tohi Ganet. This device is focused on changing the direction in which gravity effects an object. This isn’t as simple as choosing a direction and the objects sticks to that wall, it will be setting the direction of gravitational pull in a certain direction causing the object to fall in that direction. All normal physics will still apply. This can be used in many different ways. One primary use will be the ability to clear heavy obstacles from your path, or create paths that would not normally be available to the player.
Lastly, we have the F0-110-W Sphere. The Sphere acts like a companion to the player, following the player around and performing tasks the player isn’t able to accomplish on their own. One of the most common uses for this object would be to enter small areas the player can’t fit, and reach isolated areas where it can then interface with controls to do many useful tasks, such as turning off security or opening a doors.
We have many ideas for how these objects can be used, as well as how they can be used together, but we know there will always be ideas we never thought of. This is where our playroom comes in. We’ll be able to watch what players do with the objects, and ask what they would like to do, and with that, we can improve on the mechanics, and make the game more fun overall. Besides all that who wouldn’t like playing in a paranormal sandbox?

Kyler Emmerich
Mechanics Designer/Programmer

Play Testing!

This past Monday we had our first official play test. Play tests are a vital facet of game development. They give us the chance show others what we’ve been working hard on and they allow us to see how players perceive the game. When the testers were busy playing the game, members from the Building 37 team traversed the room observing how testers were playing the game and watching out for things that disrupted game play.Playtest2

Watching your game being played is tough! For programmers bugs and glitches in the code become apparent. Artists are able to see how their work looks in game and gather feedback about aesthetics. Designers watch the player experience the narrative and UI aspects. The play testers help us see these areas of opportunity.Playtest1

After the players were done testing, we asked them to fill out a questionnaire, which our QA team developed just for the occasion. Questions covered a wide range of game content from aesthetics to sound. The constructive criticism from testers is absolutely priceless. The feedback we get will help us improve the game and make it that much better!

Stay tuned for the next update.

Ally Schultz