And we are off

TASKS: 

  • Meetings: 6h
  • Sexual Assault Research: 3h

 

TOTAL HOURS: 9 hr


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.


LOOKING AHEAD: 

  • Deliverables for week 4
  • fleshing out puzzle gameplay and story
  • conceptual art (if possible)
  • Dialog prototype

 

Tasks:

  • Meetings: 7h
  • Sexual Assault Research (Anecdotal): 3h
  • Paper Prototypes (Dialogue): 1h
  • Website Bio Writing: 30m
  • Meeting Notes Formatting: 30m
  • Early UX wireframe: 1h

Total Hours: 13h

 

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.

Looking Ahead:

  • Further story development
  • Puzzle design and mockups
  • UI mockups for:
    • murder wall
    • object interactions
    • character interactions
  • Dialog prototype

 

IMG_20181008_191338
Roundtable Discussion of our new story

Tasks:

  • Meetings: 6h30m
  • Polaroid Camera Prototype: 2h
  • Oculus SDK/Avatar Prototype: 1h
  • Co-op Summary/PPJ: 1h

 

Total Hours: 10h30m

Screenshot_1.png

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.

 

Looking Ahead:

  • 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

 I Pick Things Up and Put Them Down

Tasks:

  • Meetings: 8h
  • Prototyping: 5h
  • Team Website/Deliverables: 2h

Total Hours: 14h

Positives: This week marked a large pivot for our team. After a discussion with our advisor and some intense soul-searching, we determined that there isn’t enough time in the senior project development window to adequately handle the extremely sensitive and complex topic of sexual assault. We had two intense meetings, the second of which focused on our new direction. We have decided to create a different virtual reality detective game, focusing on tactile interactions while still hinting towards larger questions.

Sydney and I met with the sound subteam separately, where we discussed sound components, instrumentation, and the logistics of what tracks need to be created as well as how they will be recorded and saved.

Additionally, I completed a small prototype puzzle. It’s nothing fancy; in fact, it’s effectively a virtual version of a color matching exercise one might give to a toddler. However, I wanted to jump in as early as possible and get used to the third-party VR tools we are using: SteamVR and VRTK, both free assets available for Unity that will assist us in developing virtual interactions without getting bogged down reinventing the wheel. This included importing the assets, drawing prefabs from included example scenes, utilizing package functionalities such as “Set Up Interactable Object” and “SnapDropZone,” and integrating them with the simple test puzzle.

This week’s proof of concept allowed me to prepare interactions for picking up objects and snapping them into locations; handling events in Unity (I haven’t used events and delegates since I worked on rail design software three years ago, so a refresher was in order). The success of this prototype leads me to believe that we will certainly be able to develop the necessary interactions for our product.

Negatives: Many of the issues the team and I ran into this week are issues that will likely persist through the project, particularly difficulties in scheduling (we have folks from three departments, one person on a varsity athletics team, and two individuals who play in Drexel music ensembles). This will likely be a challenge up until June; however, the team is willing to be flexible in their schedules and is very good about keeping up with online messages, so I am hopeful that scheduling, while an issue, will by no means be debilitating. We had some minor repository issues, though this should be resolved relatively quickly as each team member gets used to our Git workflow. Finally, it was difficult, for me at the very least, to let go of our original hopes for what this project would be. We are passionate about designing meaningful play and tackling significant topics, so to stray from the original vision was tough. However, I am also excited about this new direction, and I look forward to seeing how our plans unfold in the next week.

Looking Ahead:

  • Renovate GDD to reflect new game concept
  • Prepare for second public pitch
  • More prototyping, greyboxing
  • Plan regular weekly meeting time

 

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Tasks:
  • Meetings: 6h
  • Database Planning: 1h30m
  • Repository Work: 30m
Total Hours: 8h
Positives: The team met two times this week and had meaningful discussions. I helped come up with more specific ideas in terms of utilizing VR and scenes for the original game. Additionally, I mocked up a table schema for the main database tables we would need, which should be able to handle the more complicated dialogue logic we were originally going for (shown below). In the second meeting, the team decided to pivot the game idea in order to scope down, and I contributed to the overall new idea and some more specific puzzle mechanics.
Negatives: Unfortunately, since the team decided to pivot our game idea entirely, most of the database table schema I came up with is now no longer necessary. However, on a more positive note, the pivot means that the dialogue and overall gameplay logic should be less complicated than what we had originally.
Looking Ahead:
  • Research on integrating SQLite with Unity projects
  • Adding blank database to repository
  • Going through Unity and SQLite tutorials
Database Schema