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Capstone Week 3

Baby Steps

The first week of coding for my actual capstone project is coming to a close!

In case you didn’t catch my last blog post, I have finally received the group and project assignment for this term: The Escape Room Challenge. This was the project I had wanted all along, so I’m as happy as can be with this arrangement (see week 2 blog post for a more in depth description)! So happy, in fact, that I did a bit of overachieving in my excitement to work on this game.

It isn’t hard to imagine what overachieving looks like in a group-project setting… but I’m going to paint a picture for you anyway.

It was Wednesday, and my group and I had already met once or twice to familiarize ourselves and get started on the assignments early. The next assignment due was a Project Plan Report, in which we would all solidify our roles in the group and the expected workload (what each of us would be coding) for each week until the submission date.

Being the most experienced Unity user in the group, I had a fairly good idea of the scope of the project we had taken on and what people would need to work on their parts efficiently. Regardless of what kind of puzzles and rooms my teammates eventually decided to build, every person would need to test it with a player character. After all, if there was not a character to ‘play’, move around, and interact with their work, it would be impossible to see if their ideas actually functioned as intended.

So, before anything was officially assigned, I took it upon myself to create a playable character. This included the keyboard controls/bindings for walking and running, appropriate animations for movement, and a way to control the camera so the user can look around the game. Not only that, but I crafted the start page, a character selection screen, and a basic test floor the player’s character would be transported to after selection.

It was my hope that in getting this out of the way quickly, everyone else’s life would become a bit easier.

If you’re interested in seeing what I made for yourself, you can play the bare bones ‘demo’ of our game here: https://stephabeni.github.io/Dungeon-Break-Out/

This link will be the same for all builds, or ‘versions’ of our game. So, feel free to check on this link throughout the coming weeks to see what progress we’ve made on the game firsthand! Eventually it will contain much more than my small starting area and code. There’s still a whole lot to do (i.e. adding proper gravity to the player), but I feel confident that before long we’ll genuinely have something resembling a real game! For now, please enjoy these first ‘baby steps’ on the path to a cool game.

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Capstone Week 2

Project – Escape Room!

If you’re continuing to read my blog from my first post… thanks for returning! If you’re reading my blog for the first time, hey! Nice to have you here.

To get everyone on the same page, I am a Senior at Oregon State University writing about progress on her Capstone project. Until recently, I had almost no idea what that would look like since we had not been assigned groups or a topic yet… but no longer! And let me tell you, I couldn’t be happier.

As a little bit of backstory: at the start of my class I needed to pick a ‘Top 5’ list of preapproved projects that I was interested in, and then I would be placed with a group accordingly. There were all sorts of project options from fictional products, actual rocket science, to stock market algorithms… but I was determined to do something related to video games. Why?

For starters, the love for games and desire to develop them was the entire reason I went back to school in the first place. As such, developing a video game from start to finish for my Senior Capstone would be an almost poetic end to my time here. Secondly, and arguably most importantly, games are cool!

So, after starting up the project browser and filtering by game development/Unity Game Engine tags, my options looked a little something like this…

screenshots from: https://eecs.oregonstate.edu/capstone/submission/pages/browseProjects.php

Now, all of these seemed like potentially fun options, but I was definitely passionate about some more than others. To make a long story short, I put the ‘Escape Room Challenge’ as my #1 pick, and I got it!

The requirements were fairly straightforward for this Escape Room game:

  • 3-5 different rooms or environments to escape from
  • Each room has 3 or more puzzles
  • Some puzzles should build off of other puzzles
  • Some puzzles should be physics-based
  • There’s some sort of display for countdowns, prompt, hints, etc.
  • There are introductory/transitional screens (no plopping your player directly into the game)
  • And lastly, it must be hosted on GitHub Pages and playable on the web

There were a couple of ‘stretch goals’ listed like making it multiplayer or utilizing Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality instead of 3D only… but I’ll be honest. It’s probably going to be hard enough to get the base project done in time without the extra challenges (haha).

My group was of the same mindset, thankfully, so we’ve planned to stick with 3 rooms, 3 puzzles each, in 3D. Easy to remember, right?

We were permitted to use Unity or Unreal for our game engines, and since I had prior experience with Unity I pushed the group towards it. It wasn’t difficult, since no one else really had experience with either engine. They just figured they might as well go along with the person who kind of knew what they were doing.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to get started on this new project and have something really cool to show off at the end of it. I’ll be posting a link to the playable game in the future once we have something ready if anyone is curious to see our progress firsthand!

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash
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Capstone Week 1

The Beginning of the End (In a Good Way!)

As of this month, I’ve started my final quarter in Oregon State University’s Post-Baccalaureate program (a fancy way to say I’m stacking a new Major onto a previous bachelor’s degree). What was my first degree, and why did I decide to jump headfirst back into the hell-scape that is college, you may be wondering? Sometimes I ask myself the same thing…

Joking! I’m joking. I recognize that I am incredibly privileged to be able to pursue two degrees at all. That being said, the last 3 years have undeniably been busy and stressful, and I’m looking forward to moving on to the next adventure.

But, to answer the original question, I received my first degree (Business Management) from Azusa Pacific University in December 2016.

Here’s 21 year old me

To make a long story short, I ended up landing a management position a few months after graduation and found out quickly that I didn’t have the right temperament for it. Oops.

It wasn’t all bad though. After all, I happened to meet my husband while working there!

Romance aside, instead of looking for more management roles, I used my degree to shimmy into the corporate world doing an HR-type job instead. That progressed into an accounting/tech role at that same company, and then I decided I wanted to try something a bit different.

I’ve always loved computers and technology–especially video games. Like so many others in this field, the lure of game development sucked me into the pursuit of a Computer Science degree. But again, like many others, I found the love of video games alone could not sustain me through the rigors of an engineering education. It certainly helped–I was able to pick up C# and the Unity game engine to make games in my spare time–but when you take a class like Computer Assembly Language or Operating Systems… you need to dig deeper.

Screenshot of the character creation screen of a game I’m working on currently

Thus, I found a new love for software and software development. The way that apps are built, how they talk to each other, the way they connect to databases, how everything is interwoven together–I find all of these things borderline magical sometimes. This passion has been the thing to carry me through both to the end of my second college journey and also into my first software development job.

A few months ago I managed to land an entry level coding position through a contracting company, and it’s been a blast so far! Genuinely, I find myself looking forward to the projects I’m working on when I go in for the day, and that’s a completely new experience for me. My only hope is that as I grow my career in this field, this sense of wonder and joy continues to mature alongside me.