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GDC Lessons

8 Mar

More than anything gained at the Game Developer’s Conference, I believe team Katastrophe has come away with a great deal more understanding of the game industry and bringing finished products to the market.  One of the biggest problems I can see with student developed games is scope.  The UAT projects were all very ambitious, but we need to face facts and realize that we aren’t as experienced or knowledgeable about game pipelines or asset creation as we’d like to believe.  That knowledge is gained through seeing a project through from start to finish, from concept to completion.

We are in a customer driven industry.  The experiences a game developer creates must, in the end, be consumed by game players.  Yes, everyone at GDC loves games, but none of us can afford to develop games for 10, 20, 100 people…in the long run there are millions of people who enjoy and consume games on a daily basis through many forms of media. For student projects, success means turning a critical eye toward our concepts and maintaining a sense of scope that is focused on providing an experience for an end user within the constraints of budget, personnel, time, and energy.

Delirium has gotten so much from this experience!  When we return to Phoenix, the team is going to focus our efforts on the development and polish of a colorful, interesting, and FUN game.

I’d like to thank all of the professionals that helped us grow and improve this week.  You come from many companies and projects, but every bit of advice, encouragement, and criticism has been a welcome experience.  There are too many of you to mention by name, but I hope you will all look forward to Delirium’s eventual release and the satisfaction that you were part of its success.

Mike Broadbent

Producer

 

 

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Delirium at 2012 Game Developers’ Conference

6 Mar

The Delirium team would like to thank John and Steven at Indiegames.com for taking the time to speak with us today!  The team took time to browse the new GDC Play pavilion and appreciate the game industry’s newest games, ideas and developing technologies.  Everyone’s looking forward to the opening of the Expo tomorrow – if you are there, look for Delirium and grab a demo of the game!

 

Mike Broadbent

Producer

 

GDC 2012

4 Mar

Thanks to everyone who has been following the progress of Delirium, a game I am very excited to show off at the 2012 Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco, CA.

February may have been a quiet month on the blog, but a lot of hours have gone into polishing our puzzles and interface over that duration.  Some of the best advice I have received while picking the brains of more experienced producers has been to deliver a quality user experience, even in a demo.  Anyone who looks at your game needs to be able to “jump in” through the UI and controls, and if these elements are not reactive and intuitive, you have lost time and possibly your audience.

We brought some new members to the team, reorganized a bit, and spent a lot of time working on our marketing materials.  We now have a DVD/CD pack with some enclosed materials which include the demo, team information, and important info about our concept.

We’ve set some goals for GDC and are motivated to put ourselves out there.  In order to realize the original concept of the game in its entirety, we’d like to get publisher support.  Although we have put many hours and a lot of creativity into the game, some things require more time and money than can be achieved as a purely student endeavor.  I believe our concept showing will be strong and this is a very achievable mark for us.  Our other focus is to market our talent.  GDC is a gathering of industry professionals that is hard to access outside the conference, and it is an excellent time to show off portfolios, meet and greet, and get our names out there.

Look for more updates coming soon!

 

Mike Broadbent

Producer

Delirium is going to GDC!

21 Dec

Congratulations are due to the fantastic team we have working on Delirium!  The University of Advancing Technology has notified us that they will be sponsoring our game to participate in the San Francisco GDC in early March.  You can find more information about the conference here:  http://www.gdconf.com/

What does this mean for us?

There is a lot of work that has to be done.  Design gets to start shifting its focus onto more detailed things, like puzzle testing and evolution, game play pacing, and really focusing down to the player experience.  Music needs to be added; sound is a piece of the game we have not implemented yet.  Art still has plenty of items, placeables, and environmental aspects to work on, but they have given a wide array of really top notch work before this holiday week so we are in a good position.

We will need to begin a lot of testing as we get toward the end of January, and a great deal of my time right now is spent developing a testing plan to make it as painless as possible.

Once we finalize our itinerary for GDC, the team will begin putting some attention on our presentation and public image, such as logos, dress code for the conference, display necessities, etc.    It will be important for us to have a unified front of quality from both a gaming and a presentation standpoint, since more than the game is really on display; each one of us is there to network, learn, and advance our own careers and this is a big opportunity.

Special thanks to UAT, Politically Incorrect Games, LLC, and all of the team members who have put so much work in to make this possible!  Remember, you can learn more about Delirium or follow us:

http://www.indiedb.com/games/delirium

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Delirium/231546430236593

We will be updating both more frequently as we move into January, with media, art, and gameplay!

Happy Holidays, gamers!

Mike B.

GDC Pitch at UAT

7 Dec

What an exciting day for the Delirium team!  Today we pitched the game to senior administration at the University of Advancing Technology, looking for sponsorship to attend the Game Developers’ Conference in March.  A lot of work went into it – especially putting together a trailer and quality visuals for the panel to view.

First I’d like to thank everyone who contributed (the whole team!) and the other games that were pitching today.  There was some quality stuff in that room and it’s certainly an honor to be in that kind of company.  As far as Delirium is concerned, I’ve put together a little “Pitch Postmortem” to recap.

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It was obvious from the first pitches that we were in a category all by ourselves.  Some of the projects pitched today had been in production for over year, all the way up to two or three years!!  We started in…September.  On top of that, we had, by FAR, the smallest team.  I thought Pralie might have been a bit intimidated at first, but like the rest of us, she knows that it’s not the size of the dog, it’s the size of his ego.  I brought enough for everyone.

In all seriousness, I did feel a knee jerk reaction of doubt seeing other games throw around a spiel about how close they were to making a ton of money, but reality set in and the rest of the waiting period went by with a growing sense of satisfaction.  I need to point out here, that Delirium is a special game.  It contains the same kind of magic that some of the first PC games had, games that I could come home after school and play for hours, wondering what kind of mystery and mayhem might be involved!  That kind of thing translated into my business part of the pitch, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

Things we excelled at:

Our leads were so money!  We looked organized and unified in vision, a significant hurdle not all of the games could overcome.  Instead of “bells and whistles” we came with concept and substance that stand apart.  Brian put some of the bigger games to shame simply because he could tell you in less than two minutes why XNA was chosen, what he has done with it, and how our game pipeline is set up for success.  Believe me, it was awesome.  Outstanding presentation, Brian!

Will was able to convey a real sense of purpose for the art even beyond the concept work.  From colors to textures, he outlined the thematic elements of the visual Delirium and supported Pralie’s design themes with professional quality direction and style.  He was probably our most confident presenter today – he’s said before that this game is his baby, and he takes great care of it!  Thanks Will for not shaking the baby.

Pralie got a little shell shocked today!  As soon as I put the spotlight on her, I think she needed a moment to gather her thoughts (I didn’t take as long as I told her to intro everything….sorry about that boss!)  As flustered as she may have felt, the rest of her presentation was on the money.  She didn’t sound subjective and overly in love with her concepts; she came across instead as a designer who has carefully and purposefully designed something magnificent.

Ryan and Cody – special thanks for your help in the presentation and preparation!!!

Stuff we could have improved:

First off, I was rushing on the intro.  It’s very important to introduce yourself, your product, and your intentions right off the bat.  Clarity, brevity, and honesty are cornerstones of my theory of pitching, and I wasn’t as clear as I’d like to have been.  Thanks to Pralie, the rest came out just after I handed off the stage.  I covered the greeting, the enthusiasm, and forgot completely to mention any of the boilerplate or promo tags we had developed for the game.

As a team, I feel we were all a bit gun shy at the presentation in terms of taking our time.  We rushed a bit to pass back and forth…and I don’t think any of us is innocent of this charge.  While regrettable, especially because everyone spoke with passion and purpose today, it wasn’t a big deal.  We aren’t all hired to give speeches, we can leave posturing to the politicians.

At the end, I almost forgot to introduce our trailer!  I also rushed through my business portion.  I covered the market analysis and a bit about the magic of the genre, but I did leave out mentioning this blog and other resources where the panel could learn more about Delirium.  I forgot to thank David Wessman and Politically Correct Games, LLC, a factor I’d like to remedy right now by extending my sincere gratitude for all of the support they’ve given our team.

I can’t find fault with our current stage of development, even though many of the pitches today had working games and footage, they have months if not years of dev time ahead of us and (unfortunately for them) I don’t think any of them did market research about the sales potential of their games.  If you are pitching a game that requires 10 million to finish and you still have to compete with a saturated market full of 30 million dollar FPS franchises….well, you’re in trouble.  (You guys still did great, but good luck with selling – that market is BRUTAL.)

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Where do we go from here?

Well it’s time for our team to take a break for a couple of days and celebrate!!  We presented an excellent pitch that included every department and showed a unified plan for aesthetic and financial success.   I couldn’t be happier for my team and want to congratulate them on the fruition of all of their hard work on this pitch and the game so far.

When we recover from the inevitable binge that will start in about 20 minutes, we can look forward to the second part of our alpha phase.  Brian has set up our infrastructure so that assets will be able to easily slide into the code framework and this will allow the design team to really start having fun.  There is still so much work for the art team, but they are on such a roll that we’re going to start seeing them open up stylistically and move the game toward the more “delirious” levels and parts of the game.  That’s going to be exciting to see!  Design is working hard on puzzles – criminally challenging puzzles!  I’m going to be buying a few whips for Pralie to use on her design team as alpha goes on, so she can demand things like “make it harder!” “make it evil!” “make it MORE demented!” “get me some pie!”….maybe not that last one.

This next phase is so exciting to me because the game really begins to take shape.  Seeing our teams put the game together from a production standpoint is like watching a composer put together a symphony.  I don’t understand the intricacies of every single task, but I look at the big picture and just marvel at the individual parts.  I hope that all of you who desire to make games will get the experience someday.

Mike B.

Producer

Thanksgiving Week Update

22 Nov

The new artwork is absolutely fantastic!  We are entrenched in Alpha part 1 at the moment, which means infrastructure, hours, and energy drinks.  Brian’s team has been extremely efficient, and has now shifted focus from the first level structure to behavior which is a very exciting leaf to turn over.  

This is where the initial concept begins to breathe life and hard work sees a little reward.  Everything is starting to be mapped out, from item locations to monster types, to the facial expressions of the main character.  It’s fun, but there is definitely a lot of organization involved…you wouldn’t believe how many items one can put in a game.  

(I can only speculate about how hard teams work for big games like Fallout…)

This new section brings me to our design team’s new focus, which has turned to monsters and puzzles, the nefarious means to thwart our players!  Muahaha…ha …haha.   Ahem.  Trust me, there will be some challenge involved when this game hits your consoles.

We have also put together our teaser “boilerplate” as we get ready to pitch for sponsorship to attend the next Game Developers’ Conference!  Check it out:

You are your own worst enemy in Delirium, a psychological horror game and 2d platform puzzler!  A divided mind has turned on itself, in a twisted, bitter attempt to quell the darkness of a sinister past.  You are the last sane piece of a broken man, and must avoid and outwit your inner demons through a wicked series of puzzles, challenges, and hidden nightmares.  The confrontation approaches…can you pry yourself from dementia or will the vestiges of fear and regret cripple you forever?

Now I am all jacked up and ready to play this thing!  Are you?!?  

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us on the Delirium Team to all of you, our fans!  

Mike

Sprint Retrospective – First Playable Build

5 Nov

We are finishing the first playable build today!  This last sprint had a lot of organizational change and refocusing, and it will be exciting to see the positive results of our first playtest over the weekend.  Looking back at the sprint (and my first sprint with the team) I learned a lot and saw some positive trends emerging.  There is also some things we can improve on!

Pre-production work is so critical, and so often it is overlooked or just skimmed over because there is always such pressure to create a game quickly.  I can vouch from experience, though, that longer pre-production equals less headache and more success down the line.  As a team, we are still catching up on things that may have been better accomplished before all of the “work” started.

Design is spread a little thin over many tasks, and had we approached things differently, we might have given them better tools to work with and an increased chance of timely success.  Right now, design is still catching up a little with story elements and character arcs.  With a new sprint approaching, these things will end up backlogged and will definitely put a little extra pressure on them.  Pralie continues to impress me with the number of hats she is wearing, while still managing to organize her design team and keep them on task.  A strong leader is definitely a valuable asset to any team, and we are fortunate to have her.

The art team is absolutely crushing their tasks right now.  They are pushing the envelope toward our alpha build, and have taken a lot of initiative to flesh out how the artwork impacts the emotional flow of the game.  Delirium should be pretty eye catching, based upon the current style and I look forward to art as one of our key strengths competitively.  The real challenges the art team faces are waiting for specific assignments as design approves new game elements.  Lucky for us, there really is no shortage of things for them to work on!

The engineering team had to spend a lot of time this sprint on basic mechanics.  The character animations and menu work have been big for them, but Brian’s team is ahead of the curve as well.  They have been well organized and thorough, and are awaiting some more artwork to move forward past the current build and toward a much more involved and robust Alpha build.

If I could change anything about the current process, I would have joined the team in September and helped Pralie organize her pre production timeline.  Operating without a producer is something that does happen in the gaming world, but when you work so closely as creative types, designers, etc, quite frequently there are logistical details that get overlooked.  The design team needed a little more time during the first sprint to develop feature lists and define the exact nature of the game experience.  While it is much clearer now, as a team we could have worked much more effectively during the previous sprint had we already accomplished that level of clarity in the beginning.

One of the biggest improvements we have made as a team has been implementation of a more exact work process than before.  The tasks have a more defined beginning, middle, and end, can be checked and approved quickly, and are easily moved from one team to the next.

Motivation is something I haven’t had to worry about at all with the Delirium team – the enthusiasm for this game is extremely high and I can’t thank the team enough for staying so positive.  I really want to thank the team leads for their focus and communication; without such a concerted effort my task list would be a lot longer!

Mike