School Assigmnent: Recap of the project: Hero’s Call

14 06 2011

The  Concept Hero’s call has been an idea floating between me and Jonas Trapp since (2010.08.31), from a course called Advanced Game Design.

We believed so much in the idea so we pushed for making it real. We began actual production 2 weeks before the Big Game Project-course itself, by Henry Helin was enrolled in the project.

So the total development was 12 weeks, with the first 3 weeks just brainstorming. All our members worked together at Pirates vs Royalists 2010, so we knew each other before.

We worked with the Computer game project in 6 weeks, but we could not get any further so we switched to a board game platform and worked with it 4 weeks. Since it was a physical board game, it was easy to alter changes during Gotland Game Conference 2011 to improve the experience for the visitors (2011-04-28).

High Concept

The question that spawned the idea was:

“What if the player gives the quests?”

I got the inspiration from numerous of classical fairy tales that the protagonist got rewarded half the kingdom and the princess’s hand. The king seems to randomly give away half his power to anyone who kills something.

Vision

The project had it’s ups and downs. We were lucky to have “failed” in a learning environment and not in the game industry. The experience will be valuable when facing the real deal.

  • Rewards: Improved self confidence, get to know my limits, experiencing failures and comebacks, speed painting, board game experience, knowledge of managing big projects in small groups. The last one is particular important, since I’m not a managing person myself.
  • Abilities gained:  The ability of priority, faster painting and colouring.
  • Challenges encountered: Balancing the game and delivering art on time. Blogging and putting up a regular schedule was a challenge too.
  • Strategy deployed: Allowing oneself to fail, but never give up. Help others in need. Kill your darlings.

My role in the project

My main titles were producer and 2D artist, but I also was responsible for marketing.
Producer, marketing, 2D artist and web master. I took the liberty of creating a homepage: http://www.echostudios.tk/ and maintain a  facebook page.

Main activities

  • Producer: Since I was the group’s producer, I decided what would be marketable and setting milestones. My job was also to inspire the group.
  • Marketeer: I was also responsible for marketing. I maintained a homepage, facebook page and a small webcomic documenting our adventure.
  • Artist: I was a very producing artist: I rendered the ideas of my companions and produced the final art.
  • Mentor: Since my skills at the pen was a tad above the rest, I educated them with the tricks I knew to speed up and deliver quality. I handed out tasks for learning and provided with support when needed.
  • Rat handler: I brought ratties to our studio. Cute things cheers up.

PERSONAL assessment of my results

I know I can do better. This isn’t my best. But if I had help to plan my time better, I would have done miracles. I’m not pleased with my efforts, but still proud over the results. I would not have been proud over it if not Henry and Joppe were. But if I was given a second chance, and actually spend a day on an artwork instead of 1 hour, things would have looked much more awesome.

PERSONAL assessment of Hero’s Call’s results

There were some moments in the project that I just wanted to throw everything out and escape in to the woods. But I was determined to follow the ship down if it would sink. Because I knew the road can NEVER compare with the goal.

I did recognize the situation before. You felt worst during the end of the project, but you still manage to produce something. And it was good.

It is always awesome to present a finished game, and it’s super awesome when that game is FUN!

I am saddened that it never became a computer game like it was originally planned to, but it was a nice surprise  to see how many “non-gamers” actually enjoined the game.

Our main focus of the board game version was to make it easy to get in for beginners. During the Gotland Game Conference, visitors replaced each other without interrupting a gaming session.

Skill set improvements

I can say on a personal note that my art hasn’t visually improved that much so people will see a huge difference, but I can get the same quality picture on a much, much shorter time. And I’ve starting to overcome my fear of colours.

Existing skill set upon project start (Before)
Before Hero's Call
PERSONAL project outcomes in relation to skill set (After)

In short, the project was the biggest learning experience I’ve ever had. Since we’re were undermanned and couldn’t even plan a parade, we made every mistake possible. And now we know how that feels and hopefully will avert it in the future.

Recommendations of personal best practices

Henry Helin is a talented and hard working programmer gone artist. He took the role as the Lead Game Designer and steered things up. That means he has a broad perspective of the requirements of different tasks.

He is also a very down-to-earth person that complemented well my aiming-for-the-skies-personality and dared to tell when things started to get ridiculous.

Everyone needs a person that can pull the brake before things goes hay-wire. When you meet him, you will get the impression of a solid guy. If I am the unstoppable force, he is the immovable object.

Viktor Lundmark is the producer of Carnage. We had previously worked with him as the producer in our first year project, Pirates vs Royalists. He also had the experience of being an arbitrator between conflicts and offered his help.

Adam Mayes. His help has been invaluable and helped turned a project doomed to failure to a success, where others had lost hope for us.

Project recommendations

One person do all the talking. Have one person doing ALL the PR work. Marketing your project is a MUST if you wish to succeed/get famous/get feedback.

That people person talk to people and manage marketing. He’ll blog for the members and project, update the homepage for the group and document progress.

If it is for some reason that all members MUST blog individually, have the main blogger go and interview said persons and write in their blogs for them and let the poor members WORK.

Kill your darlings.  Too complex game? Cut back features but keep the core. Core design  is still retarded? Scrap it and start over. Just because YOU like it won’t mean it will work.

NAME everything. Wise documentation is the key.  When working in a group, that means everyone will work on the same work files. There is no greater source of annoyance, confusion and time-stealing than unexplained and unnamed features.

Just because you have memorized that layer 23 contains a snake won’t mean the next person will know what it is (and where it is) if he get to choose between 50 different layers with numbers.

No coders, no computer game. One of the major problems in our project. If you don’t have any (skilled!) programmers and limited time, don’t go for a computer game. Hero’s Call is a prime example on how things can go into the wrong direction.

We spent 6 weeks just experimenting around, getting frustrated over how difficult working in editors are. Suddenly we had nothing and 4 weeks left of the project time. We could only bring out our scissors and cut ourselves a card game.

Have a day off. You CAN work 20 hours a day, all week, with a project. But that will get you fed up with it all too fast. Allow a break where you can just loiter, sleep, watch a movie, play your favourite games. Your brain needs to relax and cool down.

When the pressure is getting too much, people achieve nothing and they leave. We don’t want that. At the near end of the project time, I was so exhausted, I didn’t produce anything for A WEEK. I didn’t even play my games. I just stared at the screen and my mind was blank. I felt so bad about it, but couldn’t muster the strength to do anything.

But thankfully, I got enough rested to get my speedy workflow back, 3 days before deadline! And by golly, we got it!

Face the consequences. You WILL fail at something; miss a deadline, disk crashes,  break your mouse or snap at someone. But it will NEVER be the end of the world. Just bounce right back up and move on, you still have a job to do. You must not quit!

Be ready to study. Sometimes you get a task you don’t have the skill for, and you’re the only hope. So man up and find out how to do it, ask people, cheat, do anything. If that fails, check “Kill your darlings”.

Test test test! You’re making a game? Cool, can I play it? No? How do you know it’s fun?
When developing a game, people seem to playtest it in the last few days before delivery. That is a bad idea. A good game is clear, balanced and FUN.

It can be the ugliest of the century, you’ll live. So test your game several times. Did you change something? Play it! You can never have enough testing. This is the way of perfecting it.

That’s all for me.
Have a nice summer!
Bexy out!

//Cecilia Bexander

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One response

15 06 2011
Roland Bexander

A very good summary of the project.
Splendid english, reflecting and interesting to read.
Very wise conclusions. Nice work!

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