Final Presentation

We did it! Finished the semester out strong with this project being my last final presentation of my undergraduate career at RIT. I was reminded that I had not updated this blog with the latest build now that I have finished the semester.

Here is a link to the final presentation I exhibited on May 19th, filled with links to the latest build, the high-res one page design document, and the short teaser trailer showing off the game in motion!

 

Still Alive

The final progress presentations went well! Got a lot of great feedback on the current progress of my thesis, at this 90% (or so) mark in production. I was able to get a lot of what I wanted implemented, thanks to power of will and my continued genuine interest in this project. While it may be very time-consuming, I am always thinking of things to change and add, especially when I’m not working on the project. Looking forward to the polish and improvements I will be making in the coming weeks.


For now, here’s the slide deck I presented with on Thursday, complete with links to the current build file (53mb Android application), and a high resolution version of the design document I decided on creating for a more succinct presentation on my efforts thus far.

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Title Slide

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Slide re-iterating the main goals I set out to accomplish with this thesis. Accompanied by some captures of various menus in the game, as they are not included in the project sheet, but still help to demonstrate that the game is a complete experience including striking visuals.

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Slide outlining the deliverables of the project. The two I have proposed all along being the build file itself, and the demonstration of the application on my smartphone. The current build, complete with 20 levels and all player colors unlocked can be found here. I have also now confirmed that I will be also providing a project sheet/ design document for the final game.

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The final slide culminating the work I have done all this semester. The full size project sheet/ design document (16 x 10 in, 300 dpi) can be found here.

I did not include a video in the presentation this time, because the methods I have been using thus far simply do not represent the game as cleanly as I would like. I will definitely be capturing some gameplay for an additional final deliverable, a stretch goal I have been outlining for a while. And I will be looking into better capturing methods to ensure a smooth and hi-res demonstration of the final product.


I am very proud with my progress thus far and eager to move forward, polishing everything from the level visuals themselves to the layout of the design document. Next up is finally implementing the character animations into the game itself – something I pushed off for far too long, in pursuit of more engaging design challenges. And what better way to show that off than getting a clean capture of gameplay? Stay tuned!

Final Burst

These past couple of weeks have been a bit…dynamic, in terms of my schedule. No complaints or excuses here, unpredictable workloads are what keep life exciting. So while I have been very much continuing to work on this project, I have neglected to spend some of that time to update this here blog.


I made some really crucial progress this past week following my burst of production during Spring Break. I finished all of the assets to be imported (tunnel images, projectile models, character rig and animations) and have redesigned some of the collecting mechanics and visual cues. Here are gifs of the looping animations – which I’ll be interpolating between and rotating in-game based on the player input.


Also, it’s not the easiest thing to convey in visual form, but I have implemented the framework for having the entire application update visuals based on the player’s selected color (title screen, menu text color, and in-game outlines, etc.) Along with other runtime optimization tweaks, which I continue to make throughout development.


Looking forward, I plan to finish up the various menus pages the player might look for more information (credits, game rules, and personal color selecting). Plus, I have finally come to the decision that I will be producing a design document for Paradox Pursuit that I will pass around during my final thesis presentation, next Thursday. Let’s do this!

Break’s Over, Back to Work

Back from Spring Break, wanted to quickly update my progress before I start getting completely back into the groove of these final weeks. I decided to dedicate my time over break completing all of the external asset production which I will be incorporating into Paradox Pursuit. Following the level design plan I laid out over winter break, I produced all 20 unique tunnel card images, completed modeling the final 7 interest projectiles, and finished setting up the character rig. Check it out below!

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Last Interest Models

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Character Rig in Maya

Next up is animating the rig with the 5 separate loop-able animation states the character could be in during gameplay. As I do not want the character model to deform, I will not be binding the geometry in Maya. Instead, I will be importing it into Unity, separate from the rig and parenting pieces to their corresponding joints in the game object prefab. I will also be working to address the great feedback I got about the latest build, as I work toward completing the game itself. Got a good amount of work ahead of me, but I gotta admit, I live for these final moments working on a project I truly care about. Stay tuned!


Oh, and here are the slides I presented before Spring Break, that I meant to put up a bit earlier. The last page is the thumbnail to a youtube video showing the latest complete build of Paradox Pursuit, which you can check out here.

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An Android Application Appears

Having gotten to a stable point on the project itself, I’d like to  share the current build of my game, Paradox Pursuit. Allowing anyone with an Android device, who’d like to help me out in playtesting this iteration, to do so from the comfort of their own internet connection. Here’s the (50MB) APK file for you to download, thanks to Dropbox!

1. Download the .APK file to your device. (USB transfer, SD card copying, browser download, etc.)

2. Locate the .apk in your device’s file storage. (“My Files” app, download history, etc.)

3. Click on the file, and accept the installation. (Device might block installation for security reasons. And prompt that user must explicitly allow installation from an unknown source – as opposed to the Google Play store. Allow the installation for this file only)

4. Accept application permissions – vibration control – and allow installation to finish.

5. Locate game in applications menu as “Paradox Pursuit”, select it.

6. Play!


After following the steps above for installing the application, it’d be awesome if you could send me any and every piece of feedback you have after trying it out.

  • Did you find anything in the menus to be unclear?
  • What did you think about the gameplay visuals?
  • Did you have a clear goal that you were working toward?
  • Taking into account the levels would be encountered sequentially with no less than 5 levels between each, how appropriate did you feel the difficulty progression was?
  • Do you feel that the loading prompts were too obscure or informal?
  • How did you feel about the sound effects?
  • Was it fun?
  • Did you feel there was anything specific that could be changed to make the experience better?

Please answer these questions – and definitely point out any perceived errors or glitches – in an email to me after you’re done playing. I can be contacted at jjp7583@rit.edu, and you can have the subject line be “Paradox Pursuit playtest”.

Thanks a ton, stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to “Jarell attempts to get his undergraduate degree”!

Present and Future Progress

Time for another update on the latest and greatest goings on with the development of Paradox Pursuit. I have been making many tweaks and subtle changes to under the hood functionality, as well as continuing forward with production and design changes based on feedback from playtests.

One design/workflow breakthrough I had was the implementation of a loading screen to signal to the player that a button was actually pressed, and to distract from the next scene taking a bit long. With this, I found it convenient to title each level, and have each one have a unique loading screen complete with gameplay “hint” (or new mechanic introduction on certain levels). These are loaded at runtime from text files to allow more customizability on my end, and front load some of the performance costing resource reading. Here are those some caps of those text files in Visual Studio so far.


 

I have also been hard at work designing a new moment asset, and modeling more of the planned interest projectiles for variety in the full game. The moment mechanic has been redesigned as a means of immersing the character in the tunnel more – by removing the band altogether – and to provide more of a timing based incentive – by having the moments now included in the projectile spawning. The moment now gives the player a speed boost for the rest of the level on collect, but will invert the controls on miss. Check out a capture of the models below.


 

At the recommendation of my thesis advisor, I will be attaching a link to a downloadable file of the current build of the game (.apk for Android mobile devices) in the next blog post. Since I am constantly updating and building the game anyway, it will also serve to allow me to remember which version is currently up at the moment. Stay tuned for that, I’d love the feedback!

The Oft Rumored Post-Break Presentation

Last week I had the opportunity to present my work thus far to my thesis peers and professors at one of the most stressful progress checks in this whole process,in my opinion. The first week of presentations in the second semester, intended for the primary execution of one’s project, is super important. It is the opportunity to test your skills presenting your goal and current progress to an audience with virtually no recollection of your project as thoroughly and engangingly as possible, in around five minutes. It is also the chance for professors to gauge each student’s current progress (if they lost steam over winter break), and advise them to re-scope or seriously ramp up their output in effort to produce some form of a complete project. It is lastly, like with any other progress presentation, a way for presenters to get critique and feedback on their work.


 

Without further ado, here’s what I presented – minus a live demo of the current build from a mobile phone connected via HDMI into the ceiling projector as hastily as possible so as not to cut into my presentation time too much.

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I feel that the presentation went virtually as well as it could have. I am currently almost perfectly on track with my revised schedule, and got a great amount of feedback from peers and professors. The one thing I am still looking into improving is the hectic setup process involved with connecting my phone to the projector. For the next presentation, I might play around with having animated gifs or a video of captured gameplay in my presentation, with my phone just being given to anyone interest play it themselves.

As promised in last post, here are some gifs of Paradox Pursuit gameplay to demonstrate the current state of things as far as visual interest and maximum mesmerizing…ness go. Check them out!

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Correction & Prepping for Prototype

This week has been a lot about implementing audio and configuring the scripts for maintaining game data for use in updating the level UI. The post will be lacking in visual content, as I am prepping for finalizing the prototype that I will be demonstrating at the next round of thesis presentations.

But first! I noticed an error in the dates of my original timeline for this semester, which upon correcting gives one less week of production. Regardless, I feel confident in getting everything done and delivering a finished product by the end of this semester. The revised version is on the right; as you can see, the middle area has now been consolidated a bit

Focusing on the audio of Paradox Pursuit, I have turned to the plentiful library of copyright free music by Kevin MacLeod. I decided to focus on only instrumentals with strong synth and bass components, to maintain a consistent mood throughout the game, keeping players immersed in the overall crafted world of visual stimulus and trance-like auditory ambiance. Check out Kevin MacLeod’s youtube channel for visual representations of his most up-to-date songs, maybe find a few you could use in your next project! Everything’s royalty free, only requiring attribution; with the encouragement of donations. Stay tuned to the blog, there’s gonna be a good amount of pics of the updated…everything. And definitely GIFs of the new and improved gameplay!

Revised Timeline, Production Begins

It has definitely been a little while since I’ve update the blog. While I did get all of the final process and concept stuff down – in the form of sleepless nights spent thinking, sketching, and taking notes – I neglected to post frequent updates. Chalk it up to being busy, disinterest in sharing, or just laziness – either way, I’m not about excuses. As I am back now for my final semester at RIT however, these posts will return to their weekly updated format starting today. Onto the “stuff”, here’s a brief overview of what is/has been going on with Paradox Pursuit since the last update:

I was able to convert all of the main processing heavy methods into C# coroutines further optimizing the gameplay. The original prototype gameplay itself was running on my four year old laptop at anywhere between 85 and 90 FPS. After the conversion to co-routines, that same scene was consistently running above 115 FPS. I of course do not need such high metrics at runtime, but this is to make room for the character model – displayed below; the highest poly geometry at just under 900 tris – and also to ensure that the game runs relatively smoothly on most current-gen Android devices.

CharacterModel_Cap

springTimeline

I have also recently adjusted the timeline for this project in light of the various mechanics and design changes made last semester. It is broken down into the weeks of the semester, with production concluding on Week 12 where the seniors all present their final work. The timeline also includes a round of playtesting of the game next week, while I also make some more 2D card designs for the 22 different tunnel setups. I’m very excited to get the feedback of many different minds when they get the first glimpse of a three-level prototype of the game complete with mechanics progression and goal completion, that I will be finishing up this week.


LevelSpreadsheet_presentation

Over the break, I also managed to thoroughly map out all the various permutations and specifics of each level in the game. As you can see, they are planned out from the color schemes, to the rotation speed of the tunnel cards, to the individual projectiles which will be spawned within each level. I’m very eager to fully configure all of this, and finally see these mesmerizing visuals come to fruition! Stay tuned, I’ll definitely be updating everything with examples of mainly production work as the template has already been laid for this project all last semester.

Fonts and Functions

Here’s my first check in for thesis progress over Winter break. Been attempting to maintain a good balance of “leisure” and productivity while being away from my preferred working environment over at my apartment in Rochester. I am spending most of this time finalizing any conceptual ideas still yet to be realized in the game, so that the moment Spring semester starts, I can go straight into production of all the assets, sprites, and level permutations.

The first thing I felt I must nail down is the official name of the game and the universal font I will use in any of the text. I have finally all but settled on a name; Paradox Pursuit. I feel it neatly encompasses the meaning behind the gameplay in an intriguing and alliterative way. Here is a sheet of some of the font options I’ve found that have full commercial license potential at a one-time fee or no cost.fonts01

Up next is the conversion of most of the preliminary scripting into the more efficient form. Going to be primarily switching constantly running functions into C# coroutines to achieve this. Will be posting an update on the more optimized stats at runtime once this process is finished for the current state of the various scripts in the prototype build.