Game Designer & Programmer

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Senior Project - PPJ #19

This was a bit of a slower week for me on SrProj, but definitely busier in other stuff. This week was spent mostly having a ton of discussions about where we are headed going forward. After I got the arm anim blending working on the most basic level, I decided to start a conversation about rethinking our idea of using the character arms as the aiming sight. From a functional standpoint, I just don’t think it’s enough. The arm just isn’t big enough to read well and doesn’t act as an accurate representation of the shot path. This is without even accounting for any jitter and arm displacement that occurs from the character animations. Even if I keep the direction the arm is pointing in accurate during the idle/running animations, the fact that the shoulder moves with the torso just confuses the aim, even if the hand is ultimately still pointing in the right direction. All of this also doesn’t account for one major issue which is the shoulder offset. The “shot” originates from the characters origin; dead center. Even though our characters are small, the offset from the shoulders is enough to make the aim incredibly inaccurate. I would have to account for the offset and cheat the arm rotation toward the character center, but then this would effect the line-of-sight that the players see from the straight arm, making the aiming unreliable. I hope all of these issues can be clearly seen in the gif below.

Now, I could probably fix the offset and anim jitter issues in a way that alleviates some of these issues, but that still wouldn’t change my opinion that the arm just isn’t enough and would still need a supplementary UI element. I care much more about function over form, and I don’t see any possibility where using the arm wouldn’t just confuse the players. I shared my concerns with the UX group as long as Gabe and Jess for some art team opinions. I expected to have to make a case, but the entire UX dept unanimously agreed that we should refocus on making aiming as clear and easy for the players as possible. We landed on going back to the drawing board for a more finalized and polished UI aim to replace our current white line renderer. I’m extremely confident that this will make our game much better in terms of game feel and usability while also opening up the doors for more involved animations since this was a big technical constraint on what we could do with animations.

The other big thing I did this week was participating in a massive playtest that we held this Sunday! I helped with the set up, but then had to bail before the first test to go talk to incoming freshmen about the program. This was super cool, but more importantly, I got to plug our project a bit and got a large amount of the incoming freshmen and their parents to come play Groundless. The entire incoming freshmen group didn’t play, but they did all come in and view our project, so we got to plug our website and Twitter and ultimately gained a ton of new players and exposed a lot of new people to the project. It was all very exciting and we got great playtest results that you can likely read more about in Arden and Kyle’s PPJs for this week.

So yeah, I didn’t do much in the build this week which is always a personal bummer, but we made a ton of decisions and got a great playtest session in. My next big task coming up is implementing all of the numerous character textures and allow switching base on your character customization.

Hours:

Design meeting: ~2 hrs
UI/UX meeting: ~3 hrs
Animator work: 2 hrs
Sunday playtest: 4 hrs

Total: 11 hrs

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