Positives: We met twice this week and put the pedal to the metal when it came to pivoting. We agreed that with the time frame we had, the idea we all loved was not do-able. Our hard pivot has landed us in a much more comfortable position, especially with all the prototypes that have been worked on in the last week. We’re focusing in on why it is important that our game is in virtual reality and how we can make it fun that the player is placed in the world instead of sitting on their couch.
Negatives: Not really a negative but I attended a wedding over the weekend which ate up a lot of work time. Also, the pivot has rendered work we’ve already done useless, but our meeting Monday made up for a lot of that.
Concept art for the main room and wall panels
Concept art for the cast
Writing some dialogue for actor auditions
Week 4 requirements
Starting to plan a new murder with new motives and NEW alibis
This week marked large changes for the Prediction Error team. After a meeting with our advisor, Dr. Muschio, we determined that it would be in our best interests to pursue an idea of smaller scope for our senior project. This determination led to a Monday evening work session, where the game development and programming teams met to discuss a new idea. We decided to shift to a puzzle detective game, still in virtual reality, without the weight of discussing such a delicate topic as sexual assault, which would require a larger team and more development time to handle appropriately.
Our new direction focuses on the murder of an esteemed local inventor, who is killed during a public expo of his works at his mansion’s laboratory. Suspects are trapped in the laboratory via a “panic button,” and the player must uncover the gruesome truth behind the inventor’s experiments.
This week included a great deal of work creating asset lists and other elements for our new direction. We, as a team, explored the questions and interactions that we wanted to guide our game. We listed the types of puzzles we’d like to include around the room, placing particular emphasis on those that would be interesting in VR and make the best use of our medium.
When you run out of handy wall space, improvise.
Documentation and concept development continues to be a priority as we prepare for our second public pitch next week and begin work prototyping…
Ah yes. Prototyping. The other main task for the team this week was the beginning of proofs-of-concept and interaction prototypes, which were created and added to the repository. Two prototypes were created: one demonstrated the “camera” mechanic we plan to include and tie into our player’s “murder wall,” and the other modeled a very simple puzzle that featured VR interactions, including grasping objects, snapping them into position, and event handling through VRTK, the virtual reality toolkit asset we will be using to aid us in developing interactions for VR and handling input from various headsets and controllers.
There’s still lots of work to do. From completing our Gantt chart and refining our asset list to beginning to block out our scene in the Unity editor to drafting artistic concepts and meeting with our sound team and writing dialogue, we have plenty of good work to look forward to.
POSITIVES: The group met two times this week and I can say that I believe that each time was time well spent for the group. We realized that our idea may be too much for us to accurately do justice in the way we want to right now, and because of this we have decided to change our idea to something more manageable. The group has strong vision and good chemistry, and now that we have a solid idea of what we want to do, I think things will become a great deal easier for us than it was before. The idea we are going for, while not what we initially wanted, is still enjoyable and interesting and exciting. This is great because we have many odd and strange objects we can model and add to the game.
NEGATIVES: Well, unfortunately, our idea changed completely, we are no longer working on the interesting and heavy subject of female on male rape, rage, and attempted murder. The story we were weaving around these topics was something that everyone in the group really wanted to tell, but we were terrified that we just couldn’t get it right. We understand that scope will prohibit us from doing many things that we want to do, and because of this we need to make hard decisions.
Positives: Lots of collaborative work was finished during meetings this week! It was great to be able to bounce ideas off of each other and develop those ideas into more substantial designs. Early tech prototypes were produced, along with early puzzle discussion and dialog tests. I was able to get some good feedback as to what we were looking for in terms of core gameplay loops, and began brainstorming methods for implementing that gameplay in an engaging way, with special consideration given for the virtual reality environment.
Negatives: We had to have a serious discussion about scoping down, following a discussion with our advisor. Over summer, we had scoped and timed things based around a 30 week project, and when we dropped down to 12 weeks, we realized that we weren’t going to be able to tell the story that we wanted to tell in a respectful way, and had to make some changes. That said, we used this downscaling to really hone in on what we knew we could achieve in those 12 weeks, and spent a considerable amount of time reworking our story into something that we would still be proud to tell.
Positives: One of the great things about using games to tell stories is that the player can experience the world through the game’s mechanics. We had two meetings this week, and in both of them we spent time making sure we could take advantage of that, also taking into account how to make the best of VR. I think our gameplay loops and mechanics we’ve thought of for investigating scenes are organized, tactile, and flow together in a way that will hopefully. feel natural.
I’ve also begun working with the Oculus SDK in unity to make a polaroid camera object, since in all cases of what we’ve talked about we want the player to be able to capture images of clues they find for their “murder wall”. So far I have a viewfinder on the back that displays what a camera at the front of the gameobject is seeing. The next steps I’d like to take involve saving out frames as photos, as well as getting it to recognize what objects it’s looking at.
Negatives: We realized that a lot of what we want to do is quite overscoped, and since we wanted our game to tackle a sensitive subject matter (male sexual assault), we also had to take a moment and think about if it was really something we could do justice – or wanted to risk handling quickly – in a short time frame.
Ultimately we decided that wouldn’t be fair to the subject matter, but we still want to make a detective game that deals with a serious subject through investigation and also keep the game loops we’d workshopped previously, so we’re pivoting into more escape room focused gameplay about the murder of an inventor, and using that to pose the question “is murder ever justified” as we reveal his story. Cutting things you really wanted to make for a project can be difficult, but I think this is something that we’ll benefit from in the long run.
Style Tests and Moodboards
Preparation of Week 4 Deliverables
More testing and prototyping in VR
Fleshing out the gameplay and story of our new direction