4 Hugues Ross - Blog: Capstone Update 5: The Great Culling
Hugues Ross

10/13/15

Capstone Update 5: The Great Culling

The deed is done! After weeks of discussions and back-and-forth, we have decided on our final prototype. This post is a bit late because there hasn't been much to write about apart from this decision.

The Options

We made 4 prototypes for stage 1:
  1. Dungeon Restocker, a game about going into old dungeons and restocking the chests/resetting the traps just ahead of the heroes.
  2. Rowdy Crowdy, A rhythm game where you have to balance conducting an orchestra with dealing with a rowdy crowd.
  3. Corn Maze, a puzzle game in a corn maze, with a focus on perspective puzzles.
  4. Sports Game, a party game where you play soccer but with shifting mechanics. (You can read more about this one here: 1 2)

The Decision

This was a very difficult decision for us to make, and we're quite a ways behind everyone else as a result. Rowdy Crowdy was the first to go, because no one had much interest in the game.
In a surprising turn of events, Sports Game was the next to follow! This actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it the way we did, however. We spent a while together figuring out what each team member wanted to get out of this class, and the general consensus was that we wanted something that could challenge us and (hopefully) make it through to next semester. Sports game is certainly too simple to accomplish the former. In addition, if you've been at Champlain for a while then you'll know that every year there's that one Capstone game that goes through. It's a quirky team sports game involving one or more balls. This happens just about every year. We figure that the teachers are sick and tired of the genre, and thus Sports Game would be at a serious disadvantage. On top of that, the design professors tend to be rather... touchy about random elements in games. These factors together make Sports game an unappealing choice for us to continue with.
The last two, Dungeon Restocker and Corn Maze, have been butting heads for well over a week now. It was only last night that we reached a final decision on what to do. To explain what exactly happened, we need to look at the pros and cons of each:

Dungeon Restocker

Pros
  • Plenty for everyone to do
  • Fun idea
  • Clear design direction
 Cons
  • Practically no prototype
  • Built on AI (In our programming disciplinary review, prof. Lawson was not particularly worried about this, but we'll see how this goes.)
  • Practically nonexistent tilemap support in all major engines

Corn Maze

Pros
  • Tested well
  • Interesting design
Cons
  • Almost nothing for the programmers to do
  • MASSIVE amounts of design work (With a 1 designer, 2 programmer team setup)
  • Somewhat murky design direction

 The Final Decision

During yet another long meeting of trying to choose between Dungeon Restocker and Corn Maze, we came to a startling conclusion: Making Dungeon Restocker into a 3D game would actually reduce our workload. This seemed rather unintuitive, but correct. Moving to 3D would make most of the major things we needed to implement for a working prototype absurdly easy to integrate, because we could use built-in engine features instead of writing our own. It also gives us an opportunity to make more interesting and complex levels, which is always a plus. The best part? We can build the dungeons out of modular parts and hook up our level creation to a tilemap editor like we were planning to anyway! In other words, we can have all of the pros and far fewer cons.

Suffice it to say, we're making Dungeon Restocker now. Even better, we have to make it in Unreal because Unity is missing certain features in the AI department that we sorely need. This makes me very happy, because frankly I'm not a huge fan of Unity's dev tools. Our new goal is to make a new prototype and attempt a Stage Challenge on Wednesday. We'll see how it works out, but I think we might just make it if we put enough effort in.
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