Far Far from the Best

Brains Eden 2018 - 13th-16th July.
Project Summary written by Chris

It begins

Once arrived at cambridge the team went and got ourselves registered. We dropped our belongings off in our dorms, and set off for lunch. After lunch we attended some industry talks from professionals.

These talks werent exactly enthusiastic about being able to get a job in the industry. One guest speaker event went as far to show us the hundreds of emails he recieved whilst looking for an internship, and how to quickly identify if you got the intership or not,

But it did raise good spirits too, as the same gentlemen went on to work at Ubisoft Massive, so it makes you still hope that with enough work you too can get the dream job.

Theme announced!

After our industry talks it was time to get the theme. After a very eharty drum roll from all teams the theme was announced.

Unreliable!

Instantly the hall became a buzz with all the speculative ideas flying around. And with that Brains Eden 2018 started.

Ideas Brewing

So to start off our Game Jam we decided that we would spend a couple of hours brainstorming our idea, we started with things that could be considered unreliable so we matched the theme. Once we had decided on a few meachanics that could be used for unreliability, we started the process of choosing what style of game it would be.

We decided on a First Person Shooter (FPS), in a western style theme. As guns couldn't have been all that reliable during that part of history. We opted for a low poly model style of aesthetic, so that scene objects were easy to make and texture.

List of Core Features

During the industry talk earlier in the day, we ended up hearing an ingenious idea for how to make sure your games dont over scope. And it was called the cut game. The main idea of this game is to list all the features you want to have in your game, then order them in decending order of "core-ness", or how important they are to the actual game running. Then once this is done, each member of the team gets to move one feature in the list either up or down. Once this is done then get rid of the bottom half of the list. And now you have your feature list that is relatively in scope.

Here is the list of the core features we decided we needed for this game to be a Minimum Viable Product(MVP) after playing Cut!

  • GUI for Menus and Gameplay
  • Health System for Entities
  • Shooting For both Player & Enemy
  • Third Person Style Movement
  • Third Person Style Camera
  • Enemy AI, that could Follow, Shoot & have Line Of Sight (LOS)
  • Unreliable Weapons that jam and backfire
  • A destructible Enviroment where parts would break to spite you
  • Ammo PickUps
  • Health PickUps
  • Collision Camera
  • Exploding Barrels
  • Throwable Dynamite
  • Slow Motion Camera
  • Quick Draw Mechanic
  • All small objects are throwable

This list is obviously very extensive and in the end not all features actually made it into the game. But we started to develop these ideas and get them onto the screen. So the first set of features that were developed were: AI by Filippo, Health System by myself, And Movement was done by Erik. During this time Andrew worked on the main player model, whilst Laura started working on terrain objects like the buildings.

After I had finished the ability to kill npcs and enemies i moved onto working on a night day cycle to give the feel of time passing in the game. Erik then moved onto working on making interactable objects that could be picked up and thrown. Filippo was still working on the AI to make them wander randomly, and then track towards the player.

In the blink of an eye time had flown past and it was time to leave the labs. And we all spoke about what we had achieved and decided we would push all out work together and have our MVP. So we went back to the dorms and decided we would get some extra work done in the communal kitchen, we ended up staying up until 2am just to try get ahead of the curve.

Beginning Of Second Day

After a fantastic breakfast provided for us, we marched back up to the labs. We sat down and got the features we were currently working on finished and pushed all our work together. By lunchtime we had out MVP, we had AI that wandered around We had shoooting mechanics, we had a small mock town for testing purposes and a temporary player.

At this point we really needed to crack on and get our list of features finalized and implemented. So we played another game of Cut! and removed more unneeded features from the list. One of the first things that didnt make the cut was the destructible terrain. It would have made the development process much longer so we decided that in the end it would be best to cut it. Slow Motion Camera and Quick Draw mechanics were also axed, as they were not detrimental. The last 2 features that didn't make the cut were Collision Camera and throwable Dynamite.

So with our new slimmer feature list we carried on working on getting our game to a good standing. Erik started to work on throwable items, Filippo was working on AI still. Laura and Andrew were still both working on props and the Enemy model respectively. And I was working on getting the heads up display working.

Once Erik had finished the throwable objects, we merged them into the project. Now you could pick up items tagged as items and throw them about the scene. And the beginnings of a score system were added.

As you can see in the picture, the camera style has changed, its no longer an over the shoulder look, but straight up FPS style. This was decided after we had a meeting with our mentoring session where we pitched our game ideas. We were advised that an over the shoulder cam would require more animations to make it look right when things happened and this would add strain on our artists Laura and Andrew. So we decided that this was probably a good thing to consider and changed the camera. We were also asked about ourr art style, the low poly aspect of the design was loved but our mentors said that we may have been better off doing a Sci-Fi scene as we could have got away with more things. But as we were already committed to the Wild West theme there was no going back.

We carried on working until we were once again asked to leave the labs as they were closing for the day, this was when Erik, Filippo and myself decided taht we would stay up later to push the game close to finish. At 3am Sunday morning we decided it was time to try a build of our game. It was a good thing we did try to build the game as this was when we noticed none of our shooting mechanics worked during the release build. After about one and half hours of debugging, we found the problem. it turned out that we had a non-assigned sound file trying to play in a coroutine, this was causing the coroutine to hang and not complete the shoot behaviour. This was not present inside Unity. So after fixing this we had a much more finished product.

At this point we had a fully fledged shooting system, with a reactive Heads Up Display (HUD), reload mechanic and killable enemies. We had our finished terrain which was like a shanty town, made by Filippo. The enemies would also shoot the player once they had reached a certain distance from the player.

Final Stretch

The next day we were on the home stretch, Erik and Filippo worked on getting the Menu's set up for the game, and the game over screen. I was working on the exploding barrels making sure they interacted with enemies and players properly, after this I started working on all the prefabs that we needed for the scene such as Ammo Box's, Health Tonics, Lamp Posts etc. Then we all started work on getting the Scene put together so it resembled a wild west scenario. Once we had a good looking scene we went back to finalise a few other features. I added an Item Spawner to make the pickups spawn correctly, while Filippo and Erik worked on the enemy spawner so enemies would continuously spawn to a maximum quantity of 20 enemies.

At This point we really had to upload what we had as we had run out of time. So we packaged everything up and built our final revision of the game.

Conclusion

So across the course of 48 hours, we managed to get a FPS game created with AI, nice graphics, animations, explosions and fun gunslinging action. But it wasn't perfect... We had a few bugs that escaped us at the end, which hurt the quality of life of our game. The bugs that we discovered once the final submission had been made were:

  • The mouse was not released on game over, so you can't navigate after game over.
  • AI was shooting too fast, so it was really difficult for the player to fight back.
  • Enemies were spawning too fast, so players were quickly overwhelmed.
  • You could fall out of the town, but there was no way to reset back to the town.

Overall we were very pleased with what we managed to achieve but it was just a shame that the final game was submitted with these bugs. We do not intend on leaving this game as it is however, we are going to fix all the bugs and balance the game so its a better experience for players. And possible add the missing features that we wanted originally but we cut out for the Game Jam.

Collaborators