lundi 20 avril 2015

[A Grim End] Media School, or Global Game Jam as a Game Designer/Project Manager

Hello there ! Here's my post mortem from the 2015's Global Game Jam (done ine Media School in Auckland).
I won't talk about the game itself (I'll wite an article about it when the game will be playable), but more about the organisation and team leading, as it has been one of my roles in this adventure.

About choices

A new year, a new Global Game Jam! For the 2015's edition, I was in Auckland - New Zealand.
A great occasion to test my professionnal english level, and meet some videogame guys from Auckland. So I went to Media Design School, standing firm on my feet, and ready to "fight"...without any computer and any team mate, haha!

I made my way to the building, took the elevator to the 5th floor...The gates opened. I was there, facing two closed doors. A dude was there, waiting. It was my future mate.
That's how I met Jethro, a 2D animator from Media Design School. We talked for about an hour, and he decided to introduce me to the other members of his team : Yen-Ju Lee (concept artist) / Hypnic Jerk (Lead Artist/Chara-designer), and Min Tien (Dev).
They were all there for their first Game Jam, so we talked quickly about my few other experiences in this exercise.
I also had to describe what was the role of a Game Designer (actually, it was the first time I had to do this kind of stuff in english!), and we finally decided to team up for the Global Game Jam. We were starting a story-driven game, based on choices!

Let Start a Game 

Our team was a bit unexpected, as we were 3 artists for 1 game designer and 1 developper. As the dev-guy was a beginner (2 months since he started to learn code), I submitted the idea that we should focus on simple mechanics, great art and a nice story.
It's kind of a challenge when you're in a Jam to make a story-driven game, but anyway, we had enough art-guys to make a great bunch of assets, and the mechanics were simple enough to create the engine quickly.

So we discussed a bit with Hypnic about the characters of the game, and I started to design the game.
At first, all was going well. We had beautiful landscapes, the game was profiling good and I had made a few prototype to help our dev in his work.
Let's take a break, a coffee and look what will happen next...!

Art is going well, but...

At the beginning of the second day, we had a working prototype (powered with Fusion 2.5), and artists were polishing their art, adding some animations.
Actually, the problem was more on the Dev side, but as a Team Leader, I failed at discovering our issues early enough. Indeed, our developper was alone, facing some troubles with the Unity version of the game. 

We were enjoying our beautiful art pieces, working with Hypnic on the Art Direction of the game, as the concept was finally locked and described in the GDD's final version...But the game itself was far from be ready for any presentation.
What happened is, at the end of the first day we still didn't had any playable version of our game.

On my side, I was in a deep state of tireness, and talking and leading in english, which isn't my mothertongue, was harder and harder. I remember moments where I wasn't even aware of what I was saying...



Doing this Jam was an unforgettable experience. I met there some awesome people (you guys were perfect!), but also difficulties I had to out do.
It was the first time I actually led a team alone, and I partially failed at it.
Our only dev was staying aside, saying that all was going well, certainly because he didn't want to bother us at the moment, but I should have been more available to help him with his tasks (even if I couldn't help so much, thanks to my pitiful code level...).

On the Game Design side, working on a story-driven game for a Jam was really exciting, but also a bit ambitious. The idea was to create a story repeating itself indefinitely, but each time in a different way, depending on the player's choices.

Hopefully, the game will be done at the end of the year, as we have all the assets and specs in the box! 

Here is the Game Design Document :

mardi 3 mars 2015

End of a journey

Hi there! Finally a new article is coming around! It’s been a long time since I wrote my last post on this blog, and there are many reasons why. In the middle of other things, some family troubles came in the picture, and I had to deal with them before going back to my professional life.
Anyway, here I am, coming back from New Zealand and Australia with a lot of stories to tell. Each story will come in an article. Here is a quick list of what’s coming in the few next weeks :

  • -       Meeting Julien, French Economic Designer at Gameloft Auckland (NZ)
  • -       Media School, or Global Game Jam as a Game Designer/Project Manager
  • -       Analysis about the « backpacker » way to travel and meet people

I’ll also leave France again in a couple of week, flying to Japan. First, I’ll visit some other towns (like Nara, Kyoto, Osaka…), and then I’ll stay for more than a week in Tokyo.

samedi 17 janvier 2015

Auckland - first days

Hello there !
Sorry for the lack of communication these last days, but plan the kind of trip that lead you to the other side of the planet is kinda tricky and occupying !

Anyway I made my way to the Middle-earth country and here I am in Auckland, ready to discover a brand new culture and new peoples :)

Today, the first activity was going for a run for a little hour to buy some supplies. This afternoon, I'll visit Davenport and climb to it's best point of view with few friends I just met at Ponsonby backpackers.
Next few days will be dedicated to tourism, though.

See ya tomorrow !

mercredi 10 décembre 2014

Ludum Dare #31 and Post-Mortem

The 31st Ludum Dare was made at home, and the theme was "Entire Game in one screen".
I decided to give it a shot in 48 hours, in order to work under pressure. I also wanted to work on an actuality subject, which was censor of the website The Pirate Bay in France (my country). The experience was great, and I'm quite satisfied with the result.

Here's the link of the game on the Ludum Dare website

Here is also the link of my post-mortem, in case you can't read it directly below.

samedi 22 novembre 2014

MiG : Montpellier in Game | Masterclasses review

Last Friday, I've been to the Montpellier in Game event (MiG). The whole afternoon was dedicated to masterclasses for Game Designer students (and other Video game professions).
The journey was pretty complete, as each masterclass concerned a unique subject. Here are the four subjects approaches :

- Child of Light | Global Game Design in a small Ubisoft team (by Aurélie Debant)
- Watch Dogs | UI Design, modularity and "presentation team" (by Kaermack Polewska)
- Bioshock, Tomb Raider... | Narrative Design - an Emotional journey (by Susan O'Connor)
- Mobile Games | Is the freemium business model a solution ? (by Christian Dussart)

The aim here is not to make a detailed report of the four masterclasses, but actually to take the most important advices I heard, and add them to the creative process I try to set these days.
I'll approach the Mobile Games masterclass (by Christian Dussard) in an other article, as it's less related to the conception process than the three others.

Child of Light | Global Game Design in a small Ubisoft team (by Aurélie Debant)

1 - The research part is as important as the preproduction itself
You'll always have to precisely get the core of your game. But creation rhymes with documentation. Look around. Play. Read.
Inspiration comes with curiosity.

2 - Gamers are friends, not enemies.
Ubisoft use planty of datas during de production. And they also include the playtesters opinion in the creative process.
Who more than gamers could tell you if you're going in the wrong direction ?
Associate playtests with iteration, and you have kind of a magic formular to make games.
Of course, there are Design choices, and you have to hold them strongly. But if they're not fun, what's their purpose ?

3 - Small teams have better communication...
You can more easily work with other devs, level designers, a small team, and as a Game Designer, you have to make the link between these guys. Seems obvious, but always good to hear.

4 - ...but smaller team means multitasking
As a Game Designer in a small team, you'll have to be multitask. Modify variables in the code, place the enemies in the level, test the game to get a global point of view, enter values in excel sheets...Fun and less fun tasks, but as important as each other.

- Watch Dogs | UI Design, modularity and "presentation team" (by Kaermack Polewska)

1 - UI Design needs to be involved in the conception process
We often make the mistake to treat the UI separately from the rest of the screen. But GUI plays a role in the immersion of the player.
Indeed, UI is what sends feedbacks to the player, and if it's way different from the game, the immersion will be broken. 

2 - Use UI as a lens
I never thought it that way, but when Kaermack said it, it was pretty clear to me.
As we said, GUI sends feedback. So it's one of the better tool to see if there's something wrong with a feature.
The screen is too overwhelmed with informations ? There's a problem in the design.
Two infos break each other ? There's a problem in the design.
And so on...

3 - In UI Design, work on the container first...
...and only after on the content. If your container works, then the content will follow easily.

- Bioshock, Tomb Raider... | Narrative Design - an Emotional journey (by Susan O'Connor)

1 - Emotional journey trumps plot
During the production of a game, many changes happen. The plot can change a few times, and the narrative design with it.
That's why emotion is important (I'm already hearing some "David Cage" haters, haha!), if your game has a scenario and isn't focusing on gameplay.
The Emotional journey will stay and get directly into the player's mind, no matter what happen to the plot (GD/LD reviews or cut).

2 - Know what everybody wants
Avatar and player's desire lines have to relate, even if they're not the same. Adventures, revenge, power, exploration...Analyze the player to give your avatar goals that will match with the gameplay and the player.
The player is the one fullfiling the story, the one who actually influence the story. It's important to share a connection with him through the avatar.

3 - Make the enemy your friend
The antagonist matters, and he's the one you can fully control in your story. As the avatar "is" the player, you have to face him with the antagonist. In fact, the antagonist could help you to lead the player where you want him to go !


vendredi 21 novembre 2014

Retro Game Jam and Post-Mortem

Hello There ! I'm back from my first Jam since the beginning of the G.A.M.E. project ! 
It was really challenging, and my mates and I enjoyed the two days in Montpellier. I was doing the Game Design/Level Design with my mates, and Art on my own. 

After a few days of personal reflection on what went good and what went wrong, here is a little "Post-Mortem" of the project.   
You will find soon the pitch and video of the game in the Meetings & Jams part of the blog !  Then, just in case you can't see the pdf file below, here is the google drive link :
Click here to see the Post Mortem !

mardi 28 octobre 2014

Welcome on the G.A.M.E. project blog !

Hello there, and welcome on the G.A.M.E. project blog !
This blog is kind of a travel diary, which will follow me around the globe. 

Feel free to take a look, and contact me if you want to hear more about this project.
I'll do my best to keep this blog on activity at least once a week, with Game Design articles, games I'll make, or review of my masterclasses/meetings.
There also will be pics of my journeys, and feelings about many things around Video Games.

Well, have a good time here !