Game Development

Problematic Problems

As seems to normally be the case, here I am on Sunday night, trying to get everything done that needs to be done, and there is so much more that could be done. However, it feels like a rhythm is starting to develop in our workflow, decreasing stress and panic greatly. Communication in the group has been great this week.

I was required to write a problem statement paper for our VR Rhythm game, which was particularly difficult to me. What world problem is solved by creating a video game? How can a problem statement be written for the creation of a game? I decided to try to explain that there is a demand for new games, and so the creation of our game would help meet that demand, and thus solve that problem. It was a stretch and flimsy at best. Receiving an 80% with notes saying that I didn’t properly hit the prompt, I decided I would resubmit.

So, after many hours of debating with myself, some guidance from the professor, and forcing my wife to listen to my complaints, I selected a new approach and tried again. Unfortunately, my original could not be salvaged. I needed a complete rewrite. And it paid off! I have now received full credit and glowing comments from the professor.

My advice for writing a problem statement for a video game project:

  • Look internally for the problem! The problem should not be something external to the game, but instead should be a problem that you expect to encounter in developing the game.
  • Look to other developers for solutions! Chances are other games have faced similar problems to your own. How did they address the problem? Would that work for your game?
  • There may be multiple solutions! My whole team ended up addressing very similar problems, and we all came up with different ways to solve it. Ultimately, combining portions of all of our solutions will create more novelty than any singular solution.
  • The whole project is not the solution! You don’t need to find a way that every piece of your game is tied in to solving the problem. It could be solved by a single system, or it could be many, but don’t try to force your entire project to be the solution to one problem.

Writing problem statements, and requirements documents aren’t very fun to me. However, I can already see the benefits of having these available when we start developing in earnest. Looking to the future, developing plans for how to address problems, and outlining specifications: it’s all making me excited to make something!

Game Development

Project Assigned

So, this week has been a crazy dash to get things done. Midweek we were assigned our capstone projects. I was hoping for something in game design, and I can’t be happier with the results. I will be working with a team of two other people to create a VR Rhythm game.

So far, communication with the team has been somewhat difficult. One of our teammates is in a different timezone, but I’m actually glad because I want experience working with people around the world. I like the idea of working remotely, and this is an excellent opportunity to develop teamwork skills. So far I have learned that it is very important to have the whole team decide on a method of communication as soon as possible, and a standard for how frequently people should response. We decided on a 24 hour turnaround on any communication, meaning if someone sends me a question, they can know that I will respond within 24 hours at most.

The contact for the project happens to be the professor for the capstone class. This simplifies things in many ways, but at the same time I would typically communicate with a professor in a very different way than a client. For instance, I may talk to a professor for advice on how to communicate with a teammate if they are not being helpful, but that sort of communication would be very inappropriate and unprofessional to send to a client.

We had our first client meeting just earlier today to discuss some of the specifics of the project. To my surprise, it is extremely open to our own creativity. There is no specific look, or game play loop that is required, other than for it to be in VR, work on the Oculus Quest, and be a rhythm game. My mind is buzzing with possible options. With only 9 months to build the game, it is going to be hard to implement too much. I can already tell scope creep is going to be a struggle. It would be easiest to make some sort of BeatSaber clone, but we want to take it in a different direction, doing our own thing, developing something new.

I’m excited! Let’s have some fun!

Game Development

Undeclared Identifier

Video games are still a relatively new medium. They are different from books, paintings, and film in that the people observing the art created (the video game) interacts with it and feels as though they themselves are the ones engaging in the story. You may hear someone mention that at the end of a game Mario saves the princess, but you are more likely to hear them say “I saved the princess!”

I have been fascinated with video games since I was young and our family purchased our first Nintendo Entertainment System. I believe this medium of expression opens up new modalities to play, learn, and grow. Through video games, we are able to put ourselves into the shoes of someone very different from ourselves, in a way we would not be able to in our regular lives.

So, I love games, and the vastness of experiences that they can offer. I am currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science, with a focus on video game and simulation design. As I go into my senior year, I will be chronicling my experiences with my capstone project. I am hoping to work on a project that directly relates to game development, but if not I will be trying to see how what I am working on and learning can be applied to game development. It should be a wild ride, lets have fun with it!


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