Woohoo! Just got back from the first meeting of the quarter of the Game Dev at Davis club. We were supposed to do pitches to recruit people at the third week, but today, we pretty much did pitches anyway. Ended up getting a handful of new volunteers to help out over the quarter with the nitty-gritty work. This quarter’s already looking a lot better than the last one.
LOOKBACK: Being an Effective Manager
Managing a team of student this past quarter has been a huge learning experience. Before the start of the quarter, I planned on working on this game part-time along with 16 units of courses, and was aware that for student volunteers joining my team this was just an extracurricular activity. I hoped that my enthusiasm, the game concept and the idea of joining a start-up would motivate them enough to launch this game off the ground.
My brother and I prepared as much as possible. We used a google drive approach, where I had a task list, complete with details on the task needed to be done, and linked it to all our members. There were additional design documents that they could look at for more reference. I would also dedicate a couple hours each week for office hours to either guide the students in the right direction or to tutor them on the programs we use. We even created a special google site for the team.
The opening pitch turned out to be very successful: we garnered a bunch of students interested in helping out. From there the challenges came…
Students floated in and out, were not coming to meetings, and provided us artwork or code 2-3 weeks after they said they would. Progress was really slow.
Admittedly, we were a bit disappointed. Halfway through the quarter we reflected on what happened and realized we really needed to change our management style.
Forget the google site and the tasks breakdown document. Nobody looks at that.
Let’s use a Facebook group to post tasks that need to be done. 2 minutes later…Wow, people are already signing up.
Let’s do a pizza dinner ice breaker sometime to get the team together and thank them for their efforts.
We are an ambitious studio. We need to emphasize the benefits of joining a start-up and how it could boost their resume/portfolio.
For the rest of the quarter, everything became more efficient. Our team members were more responsive and provided results in 1-2 week’s time. Although we didn’t have a complete prototype by December, we had enough to create an awesome teaser that you all will see in the next couple weeks. Our efforts are not perfect but we’re getting there.
TL;DR: Aside from being personable, a manager must adapt to his/her team’s individual personalities. Communication is key and has to be tailored.
Having an Artist Makes a HUGE Difference
This past week we’ve been extremely fortunate and lucky to have our cousin come from Canada and spend a good chunk of her winter break helping us out with concept art. Despite being only a sophomore in high school, she had this huge appreciation for what we were doing and immediately jumped on this opportunity.
The next thing you know, within 2 freakin’ days we were able to pump out a Behemoth and character (including 3D model, animations, textures, AI and basic mechanics). It was absolutely unbelievable how much progress we were able to make with a “full-time” artist.
Look forward to our first teaser coming out in a couple weeks. It will feature concept art and gameplay footage.
Her name is Rachel Chang and her talent for art is really inspiring. Check out some of her work here on her tumblr page and give her a shout-out!
In Progress: Prototype Video Teaser!
Today is an exciting day. We’re working on our first Ruin prototype trailer with our friends from the videography studio, Friendship Club. The trailer will be used only for the opening pitch during the UC Davis Winter quarter Game Devs club meeting to promote the game and to engage more student involvement.
This time around, especially after 3 months of hard work from the Dissonance team and our Fall quarter student volunteers, we want to show off a new face of the company that really demonstrates the seriousness we have for finishing this game.
The trailer will be released around the second or third week of January.
For those interested in why we’re doing this from a business perspective, this is a marketing tactic to experiment how much more engagement we’ll get using a purely visual-audio presentation. We assume the sample size and distribution (what major, undergrad vs. grad) of students is roughly the same each quarter.
Last quarter, we presented a PowerPoint and our game concept alone was able to carry us into second place in terms of number of students interested in working with us (2 programmers, 4 artists, some floaters). I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to see a Journey + Shadow of the Colossus combo?!
A well-rehearsed speech and clean colorful slides unfortunately were not powerful enough to beat out the first place team, who had an entire PowerPoint designed to mimic an in-game UI. It had “buttons” that you could press to simulate a character selection screen. It was beyond jaw-droppingly awesome.
If this video teaser deems successful in grabbing more top notch talent or social media followers, then we’ll invest in more video productions throughout the game’s development lifecycle.
Tortured in DayZ
I’m sure a lot of you have seen this video by now.
Imagine the Walking Dead as a mass multiplayer online game. That’s DayZ. You are placed into a zombie-infested world where you must learn to survive by finding food, forming alliances, and even hunting down other players. In fact, there’s not even that many zombies. It’s all one big psychological experiment.
Now go watch or play Journey by thatgamecompany. What do you think is similar about these two games?
That’s right. They both test a player’s morals and values in a virtual setting.
A study showed that when you place people into a virtual world, real-life rules do not apply. It is your job as an indie developer, especially in a mass multiplayer game, to define the news rules that they must abide to.
In the DayZ video above, the other player displayed true characteristics of a psychopath. The game allows this to happen by giving players the power to do things such as breaking legs, tying up their hands, and removing their clothes.
Now take Journey. Founder Jenova Chen said himself that based on initial prototype testing he would strip all game mechanics down to the most basic forms of collaboration. He introduced rules into the game such that people would only be able to “help” and talk amiably to each other.
In either case, these games were able to create the ultimate personalized experience by allowing players to convey their own values to other strangers and build a unique relationship (whether it be friendly or torturous).
Both these games are major inspirations to Dissonance for those reasons. Our portfolio of games will provide a personalized experience that challenge your individual values.
Designing a Logo
Kenneth here. This past month I’ve been focusing on creating the company logo. What you saw previously (the golden sun) is just a filler.
It’s been tough! Logos are supposed to be simple yet memorable. When you look at a logo like Pepsi, Apple or Nike, you’re probably thinking… “that took like what… 10 minutes?” And how wrong you are. It takes hours and hours of research, doodling, understanding how the general public would perceive it. At the end of the day, this logo will represent you as the founder and the company and everything you stand for. It is THAT important to make sure your logo is perfect.
This logo was designed to reflect our commitment to unbound imagination and to challenging predisposed social values.
At the logomark’s core is a young child wielding a sword and posing in an iconic power stance resembling that of Link’s in the classic Nintendo game, Legend of Zelda. The child reminds us of a time when our imagination was unopposed by the limits of reality, and that we can all be who we envision in our minds. The pose conveys courage, strength and progressive thinking.
In the background is the child’s shadow, a towering demonic monster. Shadows are commonly symbolized in storytelling as one’s darker self. They are an irremovable entity that you must either overcome or succumb to.
The child is colored black, yet the shadow is not. That undoubtedly begs the question: who is the true monster?
Progression of designs:
So as you can see, the logo has evolved quite a bit. The pink jellybean warrior was cute, simple and memorable. The pillow boy was an attempt at low poly art with a little more detail.
I draw on on an iPad mini with a Musemee Notier stylus. The Adobe SketchBookX app was used for doodling ideas, while the Inkpad app was used to create the official vector version of the drawing.
When we were kids, we used to draw purple dinosaurs with tentacles flying on saucers attacking rainbow colored planets dimpled with flowers. Those were the days when our imagination ran wild, untainted by the elements of reality—nobody to tell you that it could never happen. Overtime as we grew older, we began to accept the limits of reality and so our imagination dwindled.
The entrepreneurial spirit is the inner child that screams to get out and show the world where unbound creativity can take us all.
At Dissonance Entertainment our passion is to expose that hidden potential and stimulate creativity and innovation.
Our first team?!?!
Chris goes to UC Davis and is a member of the game developers club. In a couple weeks members will have a chance to pitch a game idea and create a team to develop a working prototype by the end of the Fall quarter.
EXCITING! Chris and I are currently working on a presentation for our game Ruin. If we get a team that will be a blast, as any help would be greatly appreciated.
It’s also an exciting opportunity for me personally as I have always been passionate about personal development. I hope to share my experiences so far with opening an indie studio and teach them the business essentials for running a company.
I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes.
- Model created by Chris and imported.
- Purchased 3D cloud models from Quantum Theory
- Created using terrain editor in Unity
- Added fog. Color of fog is chosen to match that of the clouds’ shadowed, darker region.
- Lens flare created by adding a sphere gameobject attached with a Lens Flare component. Used the “Sun” lens flare material that comes with Unity. Interesting note: The fog greatly affects the intensity of the lens flare. Fog and lens flare must therefore go hand-in-hand.
- Still trying to figure out how ambient light works.
- Play with other types of terrain (jungles, snowy mountains, beachside cliffs, etc.).
- Test out sun shafts (aka God rays). Learn how to code the rays such that it follows a player’s movement. Need Unity pro
- Learn how to create clouds using particles. We want the Behemoths to pass through the clouds seamlessly.
- Work in Blender to create cliffs, boulders, and trees. Learn how to paint (texture) them in photoshop.
- Learn how to apply toon shading.
- Play with wind zones
- Glow effect, Bloom effect
- Music: use loud reverberating instruments commonly found in Hans Zimmer’s work
Modeling Practice in Blender
Look what I made in Blender after only a couple online tutorials. Fun stuff. Blender’s veeeery different in comparison to the stuff I’m used to (Autodesk Inventor), a lot more about manipulating vertices, edges, and faces. Anyway, look forward to seeing some cool 3D models being posted on here. The original design for this golem is from this link:
I take no credit in its design.