It’s been an intense week of concept arts and prototyping for the Prediction Error team.

 

Our art team met on Friday evening to discuss aesthetics. They assembled moodboards, discussed art style, specific requirements for concept art to be finished this week, and worked the rest of the week on creating concepts and making sure the whole team was aware of the visual direction for the project.

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unknown (4).pngPinterest boards created by the art team.

 

Programmers (and Chris) were hard at work on crafting tech demos and prototypes to be shown in Tuesday’s public pitch. Chris completed a demo for our camera mechanic, which both ‘takes’ pictures and recognizes the objects in front of it. Samara inegrated her database work into Unity and set up a complete conversation interaction with two separate conversations. Erin worked to blend these prototypes into one scene. This is in preparation for a complete greybox with all interactions included – the camera and conversation this week, plus one prototype puzzle, teleportation around the room, and a murder board for next week.

 

Chris’ camera prototype.

 

Samara’s conversation prototype (which also includes a second conversation if the player walks away and returns).

 

On Monday, our team sat down with Dr. Frank Lee to discuss lessons learned from last year’s project Shadow of a Doubt, so we may avoid some of the pitfalls that team ran into. Corey Arnold, Program Manager for the Entrepreneurial Game Studio, was also present in the meeting and helped the team a great deal. We discussed the shortcomings of many senior projects: organization, project management, and having someone there to make final decisions. We also talked about why we were working in VR instead of other mediums.

Dr. Lee stressed the importance of creating visceral emotional experiences, especially when it comes to VR, and suggested some other ideas as examples of what we could do. Corey, also present at the meeting, facilitated plot discussion. He explained that if we were going for high emotional reactions to situations, a detective is the cool detached persona and might not evoke the reaction we want in the player. He also suggested that we think about having the body of the victim in the room with the player. We left the meeting with several ideas on how to improve the player’s experience in our story, and how to continue to scope down to manageable level.

Finally, the team and leads spent time refining the new narrative idea and preparing for our second public pitch on October 16th. Next week, we’re looking forward to lots of new concept art, a GDD overhaul, new mechanic prototypes, and a full greyboxed room with all these interactions!

 Paper Weight

Here’s a camera mechanic that Chris prototyped. I worked this week to bring it into the same scene as Samara’s conversation prototype (seen with the stand-in humanoid), and did video capture of both for inclusion in our pitch deck.

 

 

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Lots of tasks getting put into the Hacknplan

 

 

Tasks:

  • (Informal) Meetings: 3h
  • Blending Prototypes/Fixing Repository: 5h
  • Team Website/Deliverables: 2h
  • GDD Updates: 30m
  • Public Pitch 2h

Total Hours: 12h30m

 

Positives: It’s been really nice to dig my hands into the project as a whole this week. I had an exciting time pulling Chris and Samara’s hard prototyping work into a single project, and it’s wonderful to see a really solid showcase of all of our mechanics start to come together. Getting to attach the Polaroid camera to the same object that sparks interactions made it finally feel like all of the individual work we’ve been doing feeds into one whole. Additionally, I got to work on our second public pitch deck, which helped both me and the team solidify our plans for the new direction. It’s so validating to be able to show off our technical skills to the world and introduce our new direction!

 

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Conversation and camera in the same scene.

 

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The pitch deck.

 

Negatives: EVERYTHING BROKE. And never at opportune times. I was all set to go to a fraternity event in a dress and heels when our TechDemos branch (which contained the work of Samara, Chris, and me) suddenly had seemingly endless merge conflicts and the project broke the compiler. Nothing like endlessly pushing and pulling when you’ve got somewhere to be. Fortunately, I was able to get the issue resolved before I left the house so Chris and Samara could complete their projects in a functional Unity file. Finally, working to begin bringing the prototypes together felt excellent, but the VRTK hand controls in the scene no longer work. However, I had to give up on fixing that for this week in order to make sure all of our team deliverables got done and submitted. Finally, the whole team this week struggled with clearly communicating deadlines – I didn’t have materials I needed when I needed them, so a major point to improve on in the upcoming week is delineating very clear times and dates when tasks need to be finished and sent to those who need them. These tasks took me off of the puzzle prototype I had planned to work on this week.

 

Looking Ahead:

  • Finish greybox scene with all prototypes:
    • Camera
    • Conversation
    • Murder Wall
    • Teleportation
  • Prototype a puzzle
  • Lay out distinct deadlines for team projects this week

 

 

On Our Way

Tasks:

  • General/Concept Art Meetings: 3h
  • PPJ: 20m
  • Concept character art: 2h

Total Hours: 5h 20m

Positives: And we are in full swing! we have discussed at length what we wanted to do with the game and had a wonderful meeting about what we wanted to do for character design. I have a wealth of different resources to help me on this process and have plenty of ideas due to the wonderful inspiration that the art team came up with during our meeting. I feel much more comfortable with this idea, as cybernetics and the like are things that I think are really interesting and cool. I say this because they feature heavily with our character design.

Negatives: I wasn’t able to get as much done as I wanted to this weekend for concept art. Time management is going to be a large thing that I will need to focus on in the future.

Noble_Concept_Art

 

Tasks:

  • General/Concept Art Meetings: 3h
  • Polaroid Camera Prototype: 5h
  • PPJ: 30m
  • Moodboard/Research: 2 hr

Total Hours: 10h30m 

Positives:   Full steam ahead prototyping! Almost all of the main components of the camera and image capture mechanic have been developed. It now renders to the viewport, identifies items (like what evidence a player is photographing) in the scene, and prints photos taken to a model, which was exactly the goals set out for last week. Character concepts and art styles are coming into focus as well after meetings this week, and we have a cast of 3 potential suspects with their own backstories and designs. Moodboards have also been heavily developed, with a large volume of images and references compiled into a team Pinterest.

Negatives: This week was actually pretty smooth sailing. There were some merge conflicts in our scenes, but actual development met the goals defined for last week, and the combined demos in our new VR scene work nicely. By necessity the Polaroid object requires an extra camera rendering and saving out textures, which will need optimization best kept in mind now rather than waiting until later. Making an effort to keep the Profiler open during development should hopefully keep this out of the ‘bad’ section in future PPJs. Another negative I can think of is that though we’ve made great progress with concept art and moodboards, the majority of reference for what we’ve found is 2D or painted, so the next wave of reference should include examples of lower-poly assets from games. 

Looking Ahead:

  • 3D Style Tests and Moodboards
  • Preparation of Week 5 Deliverables
  • More testing and prototyping in VR
  • More concept art

Tasks:

  • Art Meeting: 2h
  • Story Meeting: 1h
  • VR Game Research – Puzzles, Interaction, Locomotion: 3h
  • UI storyboarding: 1h 30m
  • Meeting Notes Formatting: 30m

Total Hours: 7h

Positives: Lots of meetings! The art team got together and honed in on a style that we all felt was visually interesting and usable, while our faculty meetings provided us with some great insight into what we could do to improve our project. Prototypes were made, too! Object interaction, photography, and speech were all coded up into unity and merged into one branch. This means that I can start working on player controls and actions within our game world, tweaking our existing prototypes to feel better for their next iteration. We also have a master asset list, and a timeline that will significantly aid in our workflow and generating assets quickly.

Negatives: Unfortunately, I felt unable to provide meaningful feedback on our early prototypes, or how player interaction should have been handled this week. It is one thing to be able to mock up 2-dimensional UI elements, but it’s another thing entirely to hone in the user experience. I went back and played some VR games in order to study how they got around certain problems, and began a taking notes of common solutions, along with what I thought these games did right or things that could be done better given the medium. I will be using these notes to try and create a document of player interactions, complete with storyboard sketches and marked up environment art as a section of our GDD. 

Looking Ahead:

  • Pivot Considerations?
  • Player Interaction Document added to GDD
  • Developing UI further for:
    • murder wall
    • object interactions
    • character interactions
  • Creating a custom slide deck for our next presentation

 

Art Meeting References
A small handful of posts from Joseph Brown, Chris Lucas, and Sydney Oswald. Not pictured, Dan Shalalalala.