Thursday, 7 May 2015

Alice In Wonderland - Project Post Mortem

For the Off the Map Alice in Wonderland project, we created a 3d, first-person adventure puzzle game in the style of Fable.

This assignment was a 6 person group project, with the group being assigned by the tutors. At the start of the project, each person in the group listed themselves as a specific role – e.g. I was listed as an environment and engine artist. Our group was made of 1 character artist, 4 environment and engine artists, and 1 dedicated technical artist.
The project lasted 14 weeks, starting on February 2nd until May 8th.
We used Unreal Engine 4 to build the level. We didn't set any strict triangle or texture budgets, instead choosing to "just do what looks good", though none of our textures were over 1024.

The first 2 weeks of the project were dedicated mostly to concepting and planning, though during the second week I also modeled and textured 4 chairs and table.

During the third week, I modeled and textured all of the cups, plates, teapots, ect. for the tea party area, as well as the sign. I also was made to change the wood texture for the table and chairs from a unique texture to a tiling texture. This week, I also modeled and textured all of the food for the tea party, including the cake, and concepted the potion.

For the fourth week, I finished making the potion, and I concepted, modeled and textured the bridge. I also began modelling one of the oak trees.

During week 5, I changed the bridge, adding steps up and down, and giving it a bit of a 'curve'. I spent the week focusing mainly on make the 2 oak trees.

I finished 2 oak trees and the blackthorn tree during week 6. This was the week I also concepted the archway and began modelling that, though it was scrapped the following week.
For the seventh week of the project, I decided to re-work all of the tea party assets, as well as having to re-do one of the oak trees.
Over Easter, I re-made all of the textures for the tea party area and concepted a broken cart to go in the forest area. I also came up with possible designs for the team logo.
During week 11, I modeled and textured the broken cart and a wooden barrel. I also designed the logo.

Week 12 was the week I made a few texture masks to use as emissives in the 'dark world'.
During week 13, I animated the logo. I also made a couple of things to hang in the trees of the forest area, though they aren't used in the level.

There was nothing for me to do in week 14.

There were a few things that worked well with our project. Firstly, we did manage to keep  to  a fairly consistent style, which meant the game in general looked quite good and cohesive- the style guide basically being 'Fable'.
Secondly, I feel like the lighting in our game is pretty effective, as it's a sort of late afternoon light that gives everything a nice feel.

Thirdly, I definitely feel like our level has a lot of good gameplay elements, making for a fun and definitely interactive experience. The range of puzzles and challenges we have varied, making the gameplay much more interesting.
Fourthly, it did feel to me that the team got on pretty well, which no major disagreements about anything.

As well as the good things, I also feel like there were some not so good things about the project. Personally, my main problem was with communication because, although mostly everyone was in labs a lot of the time, I don't think we were that well organised with work.
As well as this, I also feel like work wasn't divided up evenly, as I feel I spent a lot of time when I could have been working doing nothing, as other people effectively had 'dibs' on certain things. 
Another thing that annoyed me about the project, though wasn't something that didn't necessarily 'work well' was that I wasn't allowed to touch the engine file at all, which I feel slowed down the work flow quite a bit because I couldn't quickly import my own assets and build my own materials the way I knew they were supposed to be.
Lastly, although I do think the gameplay elements are fun and varied, I'm also not sure how well they really tie together. To me, the game does feel more like a just a string of mini-games than anything else.

If I were to do this project again, I think I would definitely try and be more involved and make sure I was always involved. Generally, I don't feel like I was really a part of the team most of the time, which is likely to be reflected in my marks. 

In conclusion, I think that although our project outcome was good for what it was, I personally don't feel like I was a very helpful or productive team member. Perhaps it's because up until this point I have been used to working non-stop all day, everyday, but the fact that there was quite a large chunk of the project where I wasn't working, or wasn't constantly steaming ahead at full speed, I think I was pretty useless.
That being said, our outcome looks nice and plays well, which is really all anyone wanted, and although I don't feel like I learnt anything from this project, it was indeed an experience.