Some Assembly Required

Finally something I can show off because it looks good. This year the focus has been mainly on the “Prototype Game Development” module – AKA Group Project. I don’t have to do art so things start looking good.

Early on our team decided to adopt SCRUM and have stuck to it, starting with the recommended two week sprints but cutting them down to one week when we realised that with the size of the project and team, it was harder to plan for that much.

We are working with the BBC on a game that is supposed to explore the ideas of interactive narrative. We discovered fairly soon that unfortunately in the timescale we were given this was unlikely to be an intrinsic part of the game, however we did research as to how it could be used for a game like ours.

The concept of the game was pretty straight forward, the gameplay would focus around the well known platforming style with no direct combat, in fact in the final demo we had no actual enemies as such. The puzzles would be based on the interchangeable parts for the robot main character.

The first semester was almost entirely design and programming work started after Christmas. The BBC wanted a working demo for the 27th March and we had a “Show and Tell” demonstration 2 weeks prior for the class.

For the class demonstration we prepared a video of the demo as it was with the majority of features implemented but very little in the way of polish and not many art assets added. (Apologies, I haven’t had time to transcode this into flv, for now a wmv will have to do and yes I made it on Windows Movie Maker, I was being lazy)
EDIT: The video title screen is spelled incorrectly and I was _very_ tired when I put the video together, so I actually got the name of our game wrong, I will fix _soon_ (don’t kill me Hazel!)


With the deadline now less than 2 days away we’ve almost got everything done. All the art assets are in and the level is practically built. Until it’s done I only have screenshots. We started adding in particle effects and compositor effects (like bloom!) to give cheap enhancements to the feel of the gameplay and it now looks like an “actual game” and we’re really happy with it.

How awesome does this look
How awesome does this look

To begin with, when designing the level, around this giant robot, we created a temporary “teleport” command (that later became a game feature) that we would just set to the area we were currently working on so that we wouldn’t have to climb halfway up the level to check that the one platform you just added is in the correct place. Because of this none of us saw the full level progress until we ran it for the first time properly, came out of the entry room and looked up at the giant robot, resulting in a “wow” moment that was instantly screenshotted (is that an acceptable word?)

Unlikely allies
Unlikely allies

Secondly, while messing around with some compositor effects, we found the “Old Movie” one that is an Ogre default. With a little tweaking we made a nice looking family photograph of some of our characters in the game.

Looking up... not always best
Looking up... not always best

Finally there’s looking up… maybe not the nicest sight (a robot’s derrière can be called many things but pretty is not one of them) but it shows some of our many many many platforms. There will be more to come including a few more videos and hopefully a demo shortly but for now, I’m shattered 😛

I have neglected to upload the demo for a while, but finally, here’s an installer. Tested to run on both Windows XP and Windows Vista. Will need the “Nvidia PhysX System Software” installed first. Supports Xbox 360 controllers. No promises with anything else.

Members of the team:
Me – Programmer
Ian Copland – Programmer
Hazel McKendrick – Programmer
Andrew Glass – Programmer
Kieran McGrory – Programmer
Thomas Finlay – Artist
Ross Catto – Artist
Daniel Zamorano – Sound Production
Ross Gourlay – Manager
Paul Hastie – Manager

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Diary of a Slacker