Greenlight Reflections, Starting Your Forever Home Beta
Recently I had to make 1 prototype each week for 3 weeks. I had a team of 4 (including me), which consisted of an artist, two designers and myself (the programmer). While it was a big task to make so many prototypes in such a short amount of time, I think my team handled it quite well and we all learned a lot about what we're capable of making in such a short amount of time. It was nice practice, since I feel more confident in making prototypes really quickly now, as well as having a better understanding of what I can feasibly get done in a week.
There were a lot of really cool games shown off during the greenlight presentations. It was nice to see what teams from other classes had been working on. While I think there were a lot of interesting looking games (some of which I think would be really cool to see in capstone), I was glad to see our game go through. People also seemed to really like our presentation video which I was very happy to see since we spent a lot of time trying to set the mood right while still giving a clear vision for our game. (You can watch the video here.)
Being told to make a prototype in 1 week for 3 weeks sounded really daunting and like it'd be rather difficult, but it ended up not being that stressful and difficult as I originally assumed. I think my team did a good job of keeping our prototypes for our games in scope. We were able to focus on what things we definitely needed to get into the prototype while also keeping a list of things that we'd like to add-on if we have time or if we were to be greenlit. I think I was also able to make good use of the concept art our artist made for us, since I think it helped other people (and those on the team) visualize the final idea for the game more. While it was hard to choose between our 3 games, Pogumono, Cat Mafia and Your Forever Home, I think in the end we chose the right game to go forward with. While Pogumono and Cat Mafia were really fun (I especially liked our Cat Mafia idea) the games felt a little too small for their to be enough work for a big team to do for a little over 2 months. We felt we might've ran out of things for people like the programmers or designers to do, so we decided to go with Your Forever Home since their was much more we could build upon in it. Since we also needed to have some sort of 3D aspect to the games in the end, we also thought that Cat Mafia wasn't a good fit since we think it fits best as a 2D game. While Pogumono probably could've worked in 3D, we think Your Forever Home was the best fit for the requirements and everyone was super into the game idea as well.
Starting Your Forever Home Beta
Getting all the new members on the team up-to-date with the game and our plans was pretty simple. There was still a lot of room to build on the design of the game at the time so we had a meeting working on hammering down some of the smaller details. With such a big team (9 people), making sure everyone got a say in meetings was a challenge at first. We ended up deciding we would use Google Meets feature of the "raise hand", so anyone that wants to talk would raise their and so we know they want to say something. Our producer would call on people to talk based on who raised their hands first. So far this has worked out really well to make sure we're not talking over each other and everyone gets their idea in.
Another issue was finding times where everyone could meet at the same time became quite the challenge. We decided to go with a "3 meetings a week" approach, where we have a full team meeting during class on Tuesday where we go over what we want to get done that week, and one on Sunday where we go over what everyone got done that week. There's another meeting on Fridays for representatives (lead programmer, artist, designer and our producer) where we bring up any concerns others our area had as well as where everyone was at. We also have extra random meetings when the team feels like it's needed. So sometimes programmers will have their own meeting to go into more detail about what they need to get done, who will do it and how. If designers feel the need to discuss with just the programmers about certain things, extra meetings will be set up for that as well.
The first week was a bit slow, especially for programmers, as we had to wait for designers to make final decisions before really being able to do much. So while the first weeks been a bit slow for some (besides the designers, it's been quite busy for them) I'd say we're making good progress. We have a list of what we definitely want to be in the beta game, as well as a list of things that'd be nice to get to if we have the time. I think the list is also quite doable.