Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Dream.Build.Play: Dreamt.Built.Submitted

At time of writing this post, the Dream.Build.Play competition officially has just under 7 hours left until the metaphoric competition doors are closed and every single game is ripped to pieces by the judging panel. Not wanting to leave it to the last minute, but still very late at night considering I had work the next morning, I submitted my project and it has been officially approved!


I have done what I had set out to do...actually submit something to Dream.Build.Play. Am I pleased? Could I have done better? Well, that's for another blog post. But what did I do in the last remaining weeks since my last blog post? I did what I said I would do...polish the crap out of the game (so to speak). Or at least try to. I started off by applying textures to all of my models and by also creating a studio that my gameshow would live in instead of a big black void of nothingness. This took forever. So long in fact, by the end the textures were more just slabs of colour to make everything not white. If you've been following me on twitter, you may have seen the following pics already, but these show the progress I made in the first week of polish.

It's amazing what a good, or perhaps average in my case, texture can do to make the game feel that much more complete. Once I got to the part of texturing the studio, I decided I wanted to have an interactive back-drop. I played around with scrolling questions, fading questions, but none of them worked as they became too distracting to the player, especially when answering questions. This meant I effectively lost a few hours work, but it needed to be done.

So I instead decided to have a wall of text which resembled questions that could be asked throughout the show, but this too was too distracting as this made the backdrop very busy, which took the players attention away from the game at hand. In the end I settled on a reduced version of this and had questions "splattered" on the backdrop.

The next thing that was needed was an introduction sequence to the show. I already had the host making his way down to the stage, but there was nothing to lead him into this position. This looked weird, especially with my loading screen supposedly representing a television channel's "splash screen". But for this I was drawing a complete blank for what I wanted. So in the end I salvaged some of the question fading code I had developed for the stage backdrop and created a logo for the show which fades itself in. The background then pans away and we have the scene of the studio in the background (as seen below). This would probably have been better to show in a video, but since I have no way of capturing my gameplay my brilliant descriptions will have to do.

And you can tell, this lead me to choosing a name for the game show (and the game). Do You Know? is the official title. I had chosen it a while ago, but didn't want to display until I was comfortable with what I was showing before "unveiling" it.

However, the game was still lacking something...music. So I scoured the web in search for free music that I could use in the game. I went immeditately to Kevin MacLeod's website, as half of the XBLIG community mentions it when talking about free music. But there was nothing there I could use, or at least for the game show. I managed to find something that was nice and relaxing which I ended up using for the main menu, but was still without some "theme" music. In the end I ended up spending around £20 on a theme pack that I found at Shockwave-Sound. To be honest, at this point in time I'm finding it a bit annoying, but that's because I've listened to it to death during debugging sessions. Despite this I'm really pleased with the sound, and it makes the game show feel that bit more complete.

Another part of the game that needed actually finishing was my start screen. You may remember I wanted my start screen to resemble a sort of infomercial, but until last week there was nothing informative about it. The end result is something that looks very budgety, but I think is still effective. Only a few playtests with other gamers will tell though. However, because the "host" needed a voice and I'm the only one to provide any voice work, I looked to Audacity for altering my voice. The end result is someone who sounds like Kevin McCallister using that voice recorder in Home Alone 2.

The final stages were finishing off voice work for the game, adding on screen prompts, and general bug fixing; along with a last minute addition that was introduced because my girlfriend was rightly confused by the highlighted correct answer thinking the game thought that was her answer. My bad. All in all, the game is further along than anything else I have produced. So what's next? Well, just because Dream.Build.Play is over doesn't mean that I will stop work on the game. The first port of call is having a week off because I have been a very bad boyfriend as of late. After that, I am going to go through the rest of my to-do list that I wanted to get done before I submitted the game, which still has over half of the original items left. Once they have been implemented I'm planning on putting the game into playtest to see what other people that don't have to say good things have to say. I'm also going to go through my code and clean it up a bit, as it got very sloppy during the end. I'm currently aiming to get this done by the end of the month. I've still got a long way to go, but at least I've passed one major milestone.

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