Project 3 Post Mortem: Doggo

For Project 3 we were given the task to create a game that had home as an underlying meaning. We had 3 weeks to design and create the game, and then we would exhibit the final product to the public. I was partners with Jake Andrews and were referred to as Jake^2 (squared). We were going to create a game called Doggo Cribz, where you played as a dog, and you wanted to pimp out your kennel to make it your own. We were aiming for the feeling of home to come from being able to choose what to decorate your crib with. We had a gangsta theme to the game to make it more happy and lighthearted compared to the other 2 games we made this trimester, which were both heavy and had strong personal meanings behind them.

After the pitch, we had a lot of valuable feedback about the game. A lot of people liked the idea of doggo, but not so much the theme. Another common question was how were we going to give a feeling of home. After some redesigning, we tried aiming for home as a sense of community. With this pivot, the game moved from an entire neighborhood, to a dog park, where you are playing fetch with your owner and making friends with other dogs. 

What Was Successful 

Overall, the project was fairly successful. There were definately hiccups along the way, but we still presented our game at the exhibition to the public. Here is what went well with the project.

Collaborator Material

In this project we had a large group of animators making 3D models for our game. Because of the level being set in the dog park, we wanted a lot of different assets to put in our dog park to make it feel very interactive. Unfortuneately we didn't get as many assets as we wanted, but we got a whole heap of fantastic models that we used in our game. One of these models was the main playable character "Doggo", which turned out really well. 

Project Pivot

As explained before, the original idea for Doggo was completely different. Our original pitched idea was great, but didn't quite hit the mark when it came to the feeling of home. After a week or so of dicussing the game and how we could change it, we decided to pivot more towards home as a community, rather than home as a place you live. I think in the end, this was a good decision and this version of the game hits the brief more than what the original idea did.

Team Communication

In this project, we had a fairly hefty team of 2 game designers, 1 programmer and 6 animators and an audio student. For me atleast, this was one of the bigger teams I have worked with. From experience with other collaborators in other trimesters, I know how important it is to keep in contact with the entire team and keep everyone in the loop. In this project, we had a few meetings in person, where we caught up with everyone and talked about progress, we also used gmail and Slack to communicate quickly as well. I made sure that every couple of days, I would send out a group email to everyone involved in the project to let them know how the game itself was coming along, and to also keep in the loop with what everyone else was doing.

What Was Unseccessful

The project, even though was an overall success, still had some hiccups along the way. 

Animations

Even though we had a handful of animators working on our game with us, we never managed to get animations for the playable dog to work in our game. This was due to a couple of things including miscomunication, scope and time managment. Firstly, we wanted multiple dogs in our dog park, all of which would be doing something, whether that was playing with a ball, or just idling. Either way, we needed multiple dogs rigged, and never having animated before, I wasn't aware of the actual size of the task we wanted completed. Secondly, the miscomunication between myself and the person doing animations pushed us back a week later than we wanted. After recieving the animation a couple of days before the exhibition, we realised it wasn't working properly and we couldn't get it to work in Unity. By this time, it was far too late to reanimate our dog, so we did without.

In future projects, setting a clear deadline on when we want assets such as 3D models and animation will help remove the last minute crunch. Also, asking collaborators how long it takes them to do certain things will give me a better idea on when we would be recieving our assets. 

Scheduling 

For this project we had a project plan and schedule set up so that the team knew exactly what needed to be done and when it was due. Unfortuneately the schedule wasn't updated enough to be useful. At the start of the project, we filled in what needed to be done for the first week. These things were the Game Design Document, the Technical Design Document and High Concept Document. After these were completed we, updated the schedule so we could see what we needed to do next, but after that we stopped updating our schedule. I think this had an impact on time management and overall scope of the project. To help aid this in future projects, I could use scheduling apps like trello so that I can access it, add and remove tasks and resolve tasks from my phone, rather than having to log into my google drive.

Asset List

Our asset list for this project was something to be desired. When we first had our animators come up to us, we started creating a list of assets that we wanted made for the dog park. Some of these things were houses, dogs and toys. Both Jake and I updated this regularly to see what animator was doing what, and when they were aiming to have it done by. Unfortunately, the animators forgot about the asset list, and some didn't even put there name done to create some of the assets. For future projects, I would make the asset list a more important document, rather than something that people can fill out if they feel like it. This would help us keep track of how our assets are doing, and it would allow us to manage our animators better.