Mind Fighters: Update 12 – Postmortem

As a last post, I have decided to write a short postmortem of the game. This game started as a task for our Advanced Games Development module in the last year of the Games Programming career in Teesside University (2016/2017). The idea of this module is to put students (without experience) in a group to conform a multi-disciplinary team to produce a small video game in a couple of months. I would like to give a general view of the final product; however, I am going to focus on my perspective, my experience and work during the development. As I have said in previous posts I have been working in a company for some time, I am still working there, and I have also produced games in these conditions before; thus, here is my impression:


What went right

I separated each global task and assigned them to each team. Each team had its own liberty to work as they wanted to. Artistic decisions were only up to the artistic team. They created the style, the personality of the characters, their background and they defined the visuals they wanted to achieve. The programming team has been in charge of the technical decisions, we decided the engine to work with (by technical reasons, based on game characteristics) and we quickly developed a prototype to work with and test some of the mechanics. Choosing Unity for our game was a good decision. Our first option was to work with Unreal Engine 4; however, my experience with that engine made me think that Unity was going to be a better option. Implementing a local multiplayer system and the way UE4 handles the camera system would have taken us a really long time to create a good framework to develop our ideas into the engine; however, Unity allowed us to prototype quickly and easily implement those ideas.


What went wrong

Since the very beginning, there was a lack of communication that was sometimes fixed and sometimes not. Also, there have been delays in terms of art deadlines. The character models, the environment models, textures and most of the art assets arrived late. In the same way, the animation work took a really long time to be finished. Our animation team was conformed by two members and half of the team sent the animations 2 days before the final deadline so those animations were not included in the final build; also, the mechanics implementation depended drastically on the animations because of the type of game we were producing so in most cases we were not able to develop most of the mechanics because we had not got animations to work with. Final animations were not working properly at the end and some of them were replaced by old animations. I have been working in areas that I am not supposed to be working on, only trying to help and accelerate our development and it worked but it delayed me in my programming work. Our decision to make a fighting game was probably wrong since the beginning. The developing time we had was not enough for a game of these characteristics with the inexperienced team we conformed. The big delays we had ended in lots of wasted time waiting for the assets to arrive. Designers did not have anything to work with because most of the mechanics were not implemented; however, most of the mechanics were not implemented because they needed the animations and the animations were not there. I am not sure if we should have used placeholder animations from the Unity assets store or from open internet sources but it is my first year in this university so I was not sure about that decision. Probably as team leader, I should have been looking after the other members of the team more, but I was really focused on finishing the work with the things we had. I implemented the basic mechanics we had; although, I was only supposed to develop the damage system, the camera system, and all the graphics programming work (particles, post process, materials, shaders, etc.).


Conclusion

In conclusion, our biggest problems have been the delays and the lack of communication. I do not want to blame anybody for the delays; however, every team has had its delays because some members were not working or not working on time at least. About the communication, I suppose that half of the team members not being English has been the principal fault. Lots of initial ideas were discarded, we were probably too ambitious and these delays did not help us. At the end, we developed a game with pieces of every team which complete its purpose of instructing inexperienced students about the problems of teamwork.

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