Professional development and practice
How well your skills matched the tasks required
The creation of a fully functioning SHMUP within a limited time frame requires a broad range of skills across all aspects of game development. Personally, my training and minimal experience has been focusing on game design, with a minor in software technologies. While this has been incredibly useful in both the design and playtesting stages of the SHMUP, it has caused a few issues towards the building stage.
My lack of abilities in the art/animation department has meant that I have needed to use pre-made assets that are available on the unity store and other areas of the internet. Since the game has only reached a level that is considered a testable prototype, the skins on the objects are not too large of a concern, however it does take away from the feel of the game. This reduces the amount of useful feedback that is received from the playtesting, as the testers have less of the ‘finished product’ available to judge.
While not having skills in the arts department is a bit of a hassle, it doesn’t compare to the pain caused by not being able to program effectively. I have an understanding of the basic principles in a variety of languages, however beyond that I am still very new to the area and am unable to implement interesting and unique mechanics into the game.
I was able to create a testable prototype that has gone through an in depth design process, however the mechanics and art style that were developed in the earlier stages were unable to be put into practice in the ‘finished’ product.
What kind of additional skill and knowledge development you’d like to engage in to fill identified gaps
It would be highly beneficial that I invest more time into learning how to effectively program, as it is a skill that will be useful across a wide range of both employment and training opportunities, including the next two games that are to be completed in this class. Having a broader knowledge of programming would allow me the opportunity to create original features and mechanics, instead of just making a vanilla game that is based off generic tutorials.
Having some more experience in the various arts areas would be useful both from a design and animation point of view. As a designer, it is important to be able to sketch to at least a limited degree so that I am able to convey my ideas across to the animators with ease.
Working in a team
Effective strategies for managing team activities
Managing teams in a university environment is difficult, as it is up to each individual to make sure that their contribution is up to the standard of the group, as well as being completed on time. Since everyone is on an equal level it makes it tricky to ‘police it’, as no one is effectively in charge. Everything must basically pass a group vote before it is implemented. While this is an effective way to ensure that everyone in the group is content with the path of the game and has their say, it is quite a time consuming process. In the future it may be more useful to work out where each person will compromise up front so that the design process travels along more smoothly.
Currently, communication between group members is purely through messaging on Facebook. This is a solid method of communication, however there are many other programs that are more ideally suited for professional level group work. For the next game, it may be a good idea to use Slack or a similar piece of software to help keep track of the tasks, both completed and in progress. The method that was used for the SHMUP, of simply talking and verbally splitting up work, was effective for this particular game but should be improved with some of the upgrades mentioned.
Balancing individual work in a team-oriented environment
Being in a team environment while maintaining individual work is a difficult balance. While all of the assessment is being marked individually, it was important to make sure that each member of the team created their contributions in a timely manner as to not hold up any further progress that the team needs to make. This means that instead of taking my time with my work, I had to make sure that I completed everything according to the timeline of the group.
Working in a group was also a little frustrating at times simply because each person would have our own ideas and paths that we wanted to take the game down, however we each had to come to a compromise in various areas for the good of the whole group.
The personal or societal impact that the game you developed might have
As with any game with some level of violence, there is always the possibility that a person may react badly and become upset by what they are viewing, giving the game a negative impact on that individual. This is not the planned purpose of the game though, as its design reflects a more calming style, with easier enemies and warm colours. While is it difficult to accurately capture the essence of the game, the intention is that this SHMUP will have a positive impact on individuals, allowing them a way to relax without becoming bored.
The game will have little impact on society as a whole because it doesn’t contain any particularly positive or negative content that hasn’t already been under intense scrutiny. Since the nature of the violence is fantasy yet involves at least one children’s’ toy, it may make certain members of society uncomfortable. This, however falls under personal impact, not societal.
Overall the first game was designed relatively smoothly, with hiccups only occurring around the building and programming of the physical game. Having severely limited time while being thrown into a new group caused some unnecessary time pressure but most of the issues should be ironed out in the next development process.