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Unseen: Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @NeoBlue)
Thursday, September 12th, 2013 5:56 am

Unseen Title Screen

(http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-27/?action=preview&uid=24994)

Work on our game has been finished for a couple of weeks now, but I wanted to go back and take a little bit of time to review the ups and downs of the project.

 

What Went Right

 Top Ideas

  • Brainstorming Session  I think our brainstorming session on the first night of Ludum Dare really helped us to get off to a great start. Once we knew what the theme was going to be we set one rule: “no ideas can be rejected during brainstorming.” This led to some really fun discussions about ideas we might have initially dismissed. This was key to our success with the project because our ultimate idea “counting to 10 perfectly using your internal clock” was one that we were about to pass on were it not for the brainstorming rule!
  • Project Scope Management  When we were in the process of narrowing down our concept list we made it a point to factor in the estimated work required to reach the core vision for each idea up for review. This helped us to eliminate a few ideas that the team was really excited about, but didn’t feel we could fully execute in the game jam’s time span. This actually caused us to pass over one of our top game concepts involving a Street Fighter parody where the player needed to avoid an opponent that they had a life lead over for the last 10 seconds of a match. (Maybe we’ll revisit this one later!)
  • Visual & Sound Design  We knew that our basic gameplay concept was really simple and we’d have to work hard to sell the game’s atmosphere with our visual and audio design. I feel that we were ultimately able to succeed at this. In a game where the player character spends most of the game’s duration with their eyes closed, a lot of the experience has to be carried by the audio. Holly did a fantastic job on this with an ultra-creepy sound design accentuated with 3D audio positioning. This, combined with the creepy introduction laid out by our artist Mieko’s artwork created the nice “ghost story” atmosphere that helped to sell our really simplistic gameplay mechanic.

 

What Went Wrong

Language set to anything other than Japanese or English? NO INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOU!

Language set to anything other than Japanese or English?
NO INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOU!

  • No Time for QA!  In our final push to wrap the project up before the deadline, we did essentially no QA on the game. As a result, the very first build that we uploaded still had a bunch of debug features turned on and included a pretty nasty bug that prevented the game’s text from showing up properly for anyone whose system language was set to anything other than English or Japanese. Not only that, but anyone that was savvy enough to mess with the WSAD keys in our first build would’ve found that they could simply turn around around run out of the haunted house!
  • No Time For Cool Stuff!  Running short on time led to us having to cut some of the ideas that we had from the original concept. While we were able to get a core set of six endings in, we had to dump several other planned outcomes for the game. Since the core gameplay is so simple and success likely requires several re-attempts, we were planning to have a large number of different endings to keep the player entertained while they retried the game. Some of these even included fun joke endings for when you hit very specific finish times. Ultimately, all of these variants were dropped from the project and failing to get these in was probably the biggest letdown for the team.

 

This was the first ever game jam for our entire team and the whole experience was pretty amazing. We’re all really proud of what we were able to create together. There’s nothing quite like taking a crazy pile of ideas and actually bringing something to life. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by to check out our game and congratulations to everyone who participated in Ludum Dare 27!

Ludum-Dare-27-Complete

Ludum Dare 27 – Game Complete!

Posted by (twitter: @NeoBlue)
Monday, August 26th, 2013 7:41 pm

It’s been a crazy weekend, but we made it!  Our Ludum Dare 27 Game Jam project “Unseen” is finished!  We have OSX, Windows and Web versions available for play:

Unseen

Unseen Title Screen

It’s a super-simple idea that we tried to build a lot of atmosphere around.  We tried to use 3D sound positioning and audio cues to create a constant, ominous feeling.  This really shines if the game is played while wearing headphones.

It was a long road and I’m sure a bug or two probably slipped by, but overall I’m really proud of what we were able to put together in just three days.

Thanks a ton to anyone who took the time to follow our progress or try out our game.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in Ludum Dare 27!

Ludum Dare 27 – Day 2

Posted by (twitter: @NeoBlue)
Sunday, August 25th, 2013 9:12 am

It’s been a long, busy day, but we’ve made lots of progress!  The fact that I’m just now getting around to writing our Day 2 summary well into Day 3 speaks volumes about our efforts.

Our main goal for today (yesterday) was to get a basic Alpha build up and running; all of the core gameplay elements without any of the bells and whistles.  I’m happy to report that we were able to get that and then some.

Most of the gameplay takes place at the entrance to a creepy house in the middle of the night.  In order to create a more immersive experience, the game takes place in first person.  We wanted to use depth and perspective to help establish a sense of place in the scene, but none of us are actually 3D artists.  We came up with the idea to just use a set of 2D assets, a bit of parallax, and a couple of simple textured cube mesh doors to achieve a somewhat pseudo 3D effect.  I think what we came up with looks pretty nice!

The house's interior is just a flat quad behind the front of the door, but the difference in depth creates a nice parallax effect and makes the room feel bigger than it actually is.

The house’s interior is just a flat quad behind the front of the door, but the difference in depth creates a nice parallax effect and makes the room feel bigger than it actually is.

In addition to the art assets, we have a nice suite of really creepy ambient and effect sounds ready to go.  Our plan is to play around with 3D positioning of the sounds that play so that you feel like you’re really in the middle of a tense situation.  We may have to add a splash screen after the title card that recommends using headphones!

After knocking out our core gameplay, we finally got to work on fleshing out the storyboards for our ending sequences.  If we’re able to do all of the work we have planned, there will be six different endings.  The ending the player gets is determined by their performance and we’re hoping to have some really interesting sequences play out.  Currently, this is our top pick for points to expand on.  If we have some extra time at the end of the project (yeah, right) we’ll probably put some time into a few extra endings.

Storyboard sketch for one of our game's endings... Hopefully we have the time to actually get these in.

Storyboard sketch for one of our game’s endings…
Hopefully we have the time to actually get these in.

Sunday will be mostly about trying to wrap things up.  Our biggest tasks will be getting the ambient sound placement working, and implementing our ending sequences.  If all goes well, we may even have the game submitted at the end of the night for everyone to play!  For now, we’re all gonna crash so we can get up in a couple of hours and do it all over again…  Almost there!

Ludum Dare 27 – Day 1

Posted by (twitter: @NeoBlue)
Saturday, August 24th, 2013 4:29 am

After a busy evening of brainstorming and idea crafting, our first day of the Ludum Dare game jam has drawn to a close!  Before I go into what the process was like, I think some introductions are in order.  In addition to the regulars over at Neo-Blue, we have two special guests participating in the game jam with us:

Satoko “Holly” Young, Music Composer / Sound Designer (@SkittlegrlSound)

Skittlegirl

Holly has found the time in between her work at SkittlegirlSound.com to join us for Ludum Dare!  She’ll be creating the music and sound effects for our game.

 

Mieko Haire, Artist / Graphic Designer (@Sadomin)

Mieko

Mieko has taken time out of her busy schedule to lend her artistic talents to our Ludum Dare project!  She’s going to be taking care of all of our environment and character assets.

 

At 6:00p.m. PST, the Ludum Dare 27 theme of “10 Seconds” was announced.  We immediately started work on coming up with ideas for fun game concepts that would match the theme.  After creating an initial set of about 18 different concepts, we set to work trying to trim the list down.  Most of the weaker ideas fell off naturally as we removed concepts that didn’t adhere closely enough to the theme or didn’t inspire a lot of interesting discussion on ways to expand on the idea.

After a fair amount of time, we were able to get our concept list narrowed down to a collection of our top eight ideas.  From there, we set to work trying to plan out the design specifics and work requirements  for each of the remaining concepts.  This was really helpful as it allowed us to identify the ideas that were hard to lay out gameplay specifics for  or were a bit too ambitious for the 72-hour game jam.

In the end (around 1:00a.m. PST), we finally narrowed things down to the game concept that we’ll be working on for the game jam.  We actually ended up choosing an idea that was initially unpopular, but sparked an interesting design conversation late in the process.  I don’t want to give away too much yet, but I can say that the idea we came up with is much… creepier than anything I’d thought we’d work on.

After seven hours of brainstorming game concepts we came up with this...

After seven hours of brainstorming game concepts we came up with this…

 

Check back with us tomorrow (later today?) when we’ll hopefully have some of the first screenshots of the actual work in progress to share!

I Dare You to Jam!

Posted by (twitter: @NeoBlue)
Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 1:49 am

Hey hey,

We’re in!  This is going to be the first ever game jam for our team of three.  Between us we have an artist, a music composer and a programmer.

We’re planning to use Unity 3D as our primary development platform with all of the game code written in C#.  For music, our composer will be using Logic and our artist will be using Illustrator.

We can’t wait to see what everyone creates!  Good luck and have fun jammin’!

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