Mastery Journal Month Seven

Reflections on the prototype Fluidity – 2D Side Scroller

The prototype our team made this month was called Fluidity. Fluidity is a side-scrolling puzzle game where the player controls a blob of water that can change its states of mater to get through each level. As a team, we were split into Dev and Design, consisting of six people in each group. In Fluidity, I was responsible for making the trap designs to hinder and assist the player in progress through each level. I put my full effort into working on the 2D trap models. I did add animation to assist the 3D and found out that it was not necessary. I had made a total of five usable models consisting of spikes, a fan, heat vent, crusher, and a buzz saw.

The prototype created by the team was viable. This venture allowed learning and utilizing Unity. The learning curve was steep with Unity compared to Unreal. The coming months will be focusing on Unreal.

What Went Right

  1. Balancing multiple ideas.  Over the month, everyone on the team put forward ideas that were implemented in the final prototype. A team of ten plus members with various backgrounds quickly came together around this idea. As a team, wanting to find a larger audience, we decided to make a game for a younger demographic.
  2. The game based on water. The synopsis of the game is a sentient blob of water named Como that can transform between the three states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) to manipulate their form to complete puzzles. As a team, we came up with the idea so simple; it should not have worked; however, when putting this idea into a puzzle game, it worked perfectly. The controls were simple enough for almost anyone to grasp, and the puzzles made enjoyable by the fact you can change your state of matter.  

The player will be able to change between three states of matter, Liquid, Solid, Gas.

  • The Player will use the liquid state to squeeze into tight spaces.
  • The Player will use solid-state to push objects and click buttons.
  • The Player will use the gas state to float up.

3. Art direction.

It did not take long for everyone to understand the atmosphere of our game. This premise of an escaped lab experiment allowed for some very creative traps and environments. The team played with lighting traps and generated fans to enable the player to float. All the traps are set in a 2D modern laboratory.

What Went Wrong

  1. No in-person collaboration.

The most significant drawback of our game was that we could never meet in person due to the current state of affairs, pandemic. This led to some fatigue and a lack of communication.

2. Split the workforce.

Around week two, we decided to split into two teams, team A and team B. Team A was working on a prototype where the environment changed your state of the water. Team B was working on a prototype was that the player changed the state of the water. The problem was that team A was still working on team B prototype due to miscommunication, which led team A prototype unfinished for presentation. Team B prototype was polished by the presentation.

There are two prototypes that we focused on.

  • Team B- Button press to change state- this prototype has the following button map to change the state.
  • Team A- Environment Triggers- this prototype has only the basic controls and require points in the map that will change the state of the player.

3. Sick

Around week two, I got sick with the Covid19, which significantly impacted my ability to work.

4. 3D to 2D

My background is primarily in 3D, so it took me the better part of two weeks to catch up with the other 2D artists. I tried my best to keep up with what was required for the project. I faced two major obstacles during this course. First was working in 2D and an engine that I did not have experience in. The second was being sick, both things withstanding, I did everything I could to contribute to the level necessary for the project to be successful.  

Where Does Fluidity Go From Here?

I do hope our team brings this game forward to Roy’s next class. I can see this game being fleshed out and finished if most of us put in the effort. I will personally continue to learn Unity and practice my 2D art, so when or if we go back to Fluidity, I can contribute more than I did this month because I believe this prototype. 

See you next month,

Dylan Smith

https://www.nerdzgarage.com/

https://www.artstation.com/nerdzgarage

Mastery Journal Month Six

This month was building on the skills from the Production Management Principles course, the Game Production Tools Course equipped me with tools used in the processes of software production and project management. I was familiarized with and conduct applied research related to project management software that aids in the management, workflow, and documentation of projects – including Microsoft Project, Visio, asset management systems, defect tracking systems, and much more.

We are still learning remotely and this class worked well via Zoom. A main focus this month was the outline for my Thesis. I changed my topic a bit and then had to do more in depth research. I did get a mentor for the rest of my time at Full Sail and she is the head of the Mastery Program. My game in is moving forward with new concept art.

This month was crazy hard and I am glad it is done.

A high point this month was my interview with Bill Howley. He is a Lead at Indie and about to graduate. Below if the YouTube interview where we talk about the Mastery Program and how a dream idea turns into an actual game.

See you next month!

Dylan

*art by Wenhao Liu

https://youtu.be/awwlmnEfP3U

NewGameMonday ~ Humanity SaVR

Host~ Dylan Smith

Guest ~ Bill Howley

Developers

Travis Richardson, Ronnie Savage, Tristen Howk, Francis Young, Donald Thatcher, Doug Pfeiffer,

Kishore Boopathi

Artist

Corey Lustig, Brian Winschel, Ozgur Kaderoglu, Ahmad Haron, Isaack Acevedo, Christen Miranda-Boulay, Dylan Smith, Gabriel Rivera Negron, Sangeet Chonkarathil

Technical Art

Rahul Yerramneedi

Designers

Rohit Lad, Sergey Mysin, Brandon Ferrentino, Sowmya Ragi

Production

Bill Howley, Mark Pointer, Nivedita Rajesekaran, Vafajeet Singh

Writing

Cody Ray

Audio

Cynthia Long, Wes LaChance

Thank you!

Full Sail Mastery Program

Reflection Month Five Full Sail University

This month we focused on Methods and the User Experience. The course involved applying human psychology to the research of video game user experience. The science of tracking human behavior via eye movement can predict a person’s interest by the length of time they gaze on the subject.  The improvement of sustained gaze on a subject can lead to better menu systems and in mobile games, which can manipulate them to click on an item.

 The use of a pretest interview and a post-survey involving different scenarios in the narrative can decipher what the player wants to see or play more. There is a conflict of opinions on whether a narrative in a game is supported. If the research shows that the new players are tracking higher in the narrative games, there is a credible statistic for adding more narrative in games. My research topic of the importance of narratives in video games is heavily documented in the AAA industry; therefore, my focus is on the smaller market mobile and VR games. I found the MEX experience helpful in reducing the scope of the research topic. My Mastery Plan is to build a D&D based video game for PC platforms. When I get to the point of testing my game, I will have the knowledge and research to implement my own testing.

This month the refining of my research topic was added by the MEX experience.

I am building a Dungeon and Dragon type game in Indie. The elevator pitch is that it is a simple way for new players to understand D&D by playing a video game.

See you next month! Halfway!

Dylan

Mastery Journal Month Four

The subject I have chosen for my Masters Thesis is “The Importance of Narrative in Video Games.” After watching a documentary on the making of God of War, I was impressed by the amount of effort in developing the connection of Norse mythology and the game’s mythology. I began research on the subject and found various articles for and against the use of nonlinear narrative in video games. Over the past four months, I have gathered multiple sources that will provide defending evidence to my theory that immersive narrative enriches the gaming experience.

There is documentation that nonlinear narrative will bring newcomers to video games. I plan on researching for more supported corroboration that the theory is substantiated.

I am continuing my work on my animated story-based series based in an alternate history, New York. If this show comes fruition, the Nerdz Garage wants to make a video game or board game based on the series.

Next month at Full Sail, hope to pitch a story-based RPG game in my capstone in the style of Dungeons&Dragons.

The two companies that I hope to work, 343 Industries and Larian Studios, have many heavy on the narrative games with multiple player choices. I have always been a creator of stories, and I hope to use that ability at work.

See you next month.

Dylan Smith

Mastery Journal Month Three Project and Team Management

There is a choice of how to be a project manager; you can be versatile or rigid. There is no one methodology to be a good project manager. I learned what worked for to succeed in the current project.
My project was to make a PM Plan to get investors for my animated series, Half Note Bridge.
These guidelines broke down the timeline and feasibility.
I feel like I have started to break ground on an idea that will be a reality.
Let me share about my series, Half Note Bridge.

Sketch of Half Note Bar

Half Note Bridge takes place in the roaring ’20s of the township of New York in a world where the Revolutionary war was lost. The Half Note Bridge is a speakeasy in Brooklyn nestled on the waterfront beneath the Brooklyn bridge. It is an unassuming storefront of old brick that yields a glamorous, marble pillared, velvet-covered chairs and a long mahogany bar. The jazz records are continuously playing until the band hits the stage.
The Half Note Bridge guarantees service and safety.

Two main Characters


The two main characters are:
The owner is a tall and slim man who is disheveled. His skin is pale, and wavy blond hair partially covers his sunglasses that are always worn. A typical twenties style suit with a vast difference; the button shirt is patterned flowers and designs, his bow tie is undone in two strains, his pants fit well but are wrinkled and paint-stained, and lastly, his elegant shoes are muddied. A shiny golden chain of a pocket watch lingers out of his left pocket. His sunglasses are expensive and clean.


The bartender is a tall slim woman with jet black hair pixy cute and a bit messy.  She wears black eye liner and red lipstick. Her suit is well made and pressed. High waisted black suit pants with black suspenders. A crisp white button up shirt long sleeved and a black velvet bow tie.

The bar is long with a polished mahogany top and dark marble front with tall black seats with a high back. Behind the bar is two massive arched pillars, each with five shelves. In the center of the two has two rows, one has wine bottles, and one has liquor. At the end of the bar, there is a coat hanger that hangs the bartender’s black jacket with the inside pocket visible that shows a long blade handle.

This class was instrumental in getting my project from paper to reality.
I look forward to giving Lester updates on every milestone along the way.

Nerdz Garage

https://www.nerdzgarage.com/

Dylan Smith

Mastery Journal Reflections Month Two

Research and team dynamics facilitates team member self-awareness by engaging in teambuilding that helps people understand themselves and others as they work together.

Our group project was to make a game. We chose to me make a first-person shooter tower defense game. We were being very ambitious. My role in the group was producer. This role was not by choice, but by default of no one wanting this position, I stepped up. Producer is my goal to achieve during this program, though it was early to try this position, I did want to start the road of learning the skills of producer. My job in the group as leader was to keep teammates on task and be available to assist them when they need it. The system that we used for the game was unfamiliar to almost all the team, therefore most of my time was delegating to filling in the gaps that was needed in hopes to keep the project on track. It was challenging for me to keep the team on track with the deadlines.

My Experiences

During the month as my role as producer, I faced many challenges. The first week I had to familiarize myself with the basics of Level Design and the interface of Unity. Knowing this I was able to guide the level designer and writer inside of Unity so when they came across technical issues, we were able to fix swiftly and then move forward. During this week I used information from chapter six, communication, Communication Skills for Team Meetings. Levi (2018) to get communication between the coders and the level designers to a point where they could communicate the issues, they to each other, about the Unity interface issues.

 The end if the second week we hit a roadblock due to the lack of assets. I pivoted to Unity Hub to find free assets that our level designer could use. I was unable to find assets needy within a reasonable price range. I then asked a fellow Full Sail student, whose has assisted master’s students in similar situations. He made modular units that the level designer was able to use to make pre alpha layout to then give to the coders to work on AI and mechanics in Unity.

Our third week I tried alleviating some of the stress from our tech lead by learning how to set up walkable floors in Unity. Those five hours of coding lessons were enjoyable and eye opening, however that would be the last time I would be team leader because my decisions threw our team into turmoil.

The team disgruntlement paralyzed any further development in the game. Our team was fractured beyond repair. Levi (2018) Chapter 8 Power and Social Influence, I had been using the Passive Power style to that point, which is polite and deferential, but then a team member used the Aggressive Style which is, forceful, critical and negative.

Summary

Going forward I am going to learn more on how to effectively be a game producer in the industry. My current focus is inner team communication, which was my weakness link this month. I will never forget this month, not because of the negatives, but for what I learned. I have heard that failure is the greatest teacher. I learned a lot from the dynamics of this past month and know I can do much better next time. I understand that taking the leap to leadership this early and learning on the fly was a risk, but it was well worth it, despite what can be considered a less successful outcome.  I will carry these lessons with me on my journey through the master’s Program and continue to learn. Levi, D. (2017). Group dynamics for teams. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Till Next Month! Dylan

This Where I get to Work

The Emmy Award-winning sportscaster and radio personality Dan Patrick partnered with Full Sail University for the Full Sail University’s Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting.

The inaugural students of that program graduated at Full Sail the same day as my program. Our commencement speaker was Dan Patrick. His speech was brimming with witty stories and knowledgeable advice. His last words to us explained how he decides who with or where to work and it resonated with me.

This is where I get to work.

That is now my mindset for this coming year and when I am seeking a place to work.

Dylan Smith

Month 1 Mastery Journal

Month 22 Reflections

I made it!!!

My final class for this degree was, The Project and Portfolio VII: Computer Animation. This course uses progress monitoring to evaluate my discipline topics by reinforcing production deadlines and constraints. The course encouraged me to use higher-order thinking to create quality assets based on compiled reference material for use in their student portfolio.

The DemoReel required three assets. I continued to add textures to the ScyFy hallway scene, and I am pleased with how it turned out.

The CityScape was my most praised scene at the Portfolio VI viewing.

My third scene was a Valley. It received positive comments at the viewing and they thought the scene was reminiscent of, Lord of the Rings. In that scene, I focused on Color Correction.

Below is a link to my Art Station and DemoReel.

Thanks for the support and taking the time to read my stories. Graduation is on Friday at two, and I am number 91 in the walking order.

There is a live stream link on the Full Sail website.

https://nerdzgarage.artstation.com/resume

https://go.fullsail.edu/about-graduation/live-stream

Till Next Month! Dylan


Reflections Months 20 & 21

Been busy so here are my last two months reflections.

Portfolio 6

PROJECT AND PORTFOLIO VI: COMPUTER ANIMATION
The Project and Portfolio VI: Computer Animation course combined hands-on learning experiences. This encouraged me to use higher-order thinking to create quality assets, with a focus in compositing, based on compiled reference material for use in a student portfolio.
This was my best learning experience at Full Sail. I started by filming a hallway at a Disney Resort, hoping it had enough tracking to use for my project. Unfortunately, it did not have enough tracker points on the wall. My concept was to take a present-day hallway and turn it into a Star Trek hallway with 3D models. Entirely CG for walls and doors.
My teacher found a hallway that had defined corners, lights, and tracking. I worked for hours and hours to create CG elements. I had my friend, Adam, create a Star trek Turbo Lift that I added and textured. The tracking proved to be difficult to complete correctly. I went in off-hours to get guidance from my teacher, and it seemed that I had learned the hard way to fix things, and he showed me the easy to do everything.
I feel pretty good about how it turned out and will continue to work on it for Portfolio 7.

Demo Reel Sept 5


The second-class this month was ANIMATION PRODUCTION.
The Animation Production course develops the ability to plan, coordinate, and study assets, using traditional methods to demonstrate my strengths as 3-D artists. Working from a photograph and video reference, I learned how to develop characters, environments, vehicles, rigs, and animation ideas.
I had a verbal prompt that was 6 seconds that I had to build an animated scene to match.

This class was fine, and teachers were helpful, it’s just that animation is not in my field, and it was taking time away from my Portfolio project, which goes on my demo reel.

Raw Mo Cap Data in Cortex
Final Product

Last month I had MOTION CAPTURE learning techniques to digitize motion, edit sequences, and develop an understanding of simulated motion. I explored motion-capture setup, shooting, data tracking, skeleton retargeting, and animation correction and enhancement. I loved this class, this teacher and wish I had taken it sooner because I love working in Mo Cap. We designed a scene that included three actions, then filmed it in the Mo Cap room, (my teacher was my actor) then I take the data from the performance and clean it. Once it is clean, I assign it to a skeleton, then a rig which is the character and then animates it. This could only be done at school in the motion capture room on their computers. Did I already say I love this class??

Raw Mo Cap Data on Cotex
Complete Scene


Also, this month PRODUCTION MODELING which course is making model development as it applies to production in the animation industry. I explored a variety of topics, including developing surface flow, anatomically correct models, and pipeline techniques. It was a long, tedious process using a completely different workflow then I am used to. All and all, it was fun, and the people in my class were amazing.


Next Month Last Month!
See you at the end of the road!
Dylan

Historical Archetypes and Mythology Reflection Month 18

The Historical Archetypes and Mythology course introduced me to the connections between history, mythology, and iconic archetypes and the influence these relationships have had on classical and contemporary cultures of the world. Color symbolism was also explored to better appreciate folklore, heroes, and monsters of various cultures.

This month was incredibly interesting. I love mythology, and I thought I was versed in the subject; however, this class had about seventy-five percent new material that I did not know. Specifically, the Egyptian mythology I had learned about in high and had done my own, but I never knew it was so censored in high school.

I feel that I have a clear perspective on how to find and describe the Hero’s Journey. In fact, I cannot stop seeing it when I watch TV. I think that my paper on The Magicians was very thought out and my favorite essay I wrote this month. The paper on spiritual creatures was adventure into Japanese folklore. I love everything Japanese so picking a creature was difficult because there are so many to choose from. I ended up writing about the Tengu. He had an interesting evolution going from villain to hero over the centuries of verbal legends. Someday I hope to go to Japan and see the statues of Tengu in front of temples.

I did watch the required video on The Journey RA and then binged every video they offered. I found them so interesting.

This class had made me curious again. I have been so focused on the art that I have not read or watched anything for just fun on my own. I will remember to take time in the next months to do that because it was good for my mind and soul, like therapy.

This course has helped me delve deeper into the back story or mythology of the series I am writing. I have made myself a goal to write the Hero’s Journey for my show “Half Note Bridge.”

Till next month.

Dylan Smith