PPJ #8 – Brodie Kelley

Personal Postmortem

3 Things that went right:

  1. Expanding my role: During Workshop I, I was the primary 2D artist for Unexpected Allies, and as I said on the very firs day of Workshop II, I wanted that to change. While I still worked on some 2d assets this quarter, I was happy to have branched out into other aspects of development. Level design in particular was something that I really wanted to try out, and after having designed the game’s vulture level, I can say that I wish I had taken on a larger design role long ago.
  2. Story: I have a lot to say about the role that story played in development, though I’ll get that later. What I think is important to mention is that the game’s story itself really came into its own this quarter and improved far beyond what I had ever imagined. That is all thanks to the story team and their awesome ideas and contributions. It wasn’t perfect and we could have communicated a lot of the story to the player a little better than we did, but they helped push this element of the game to the next level.
  3. Teamwork: We had a really great team dynamic during Workshop I, and luckily that didn’t really change during Workshop II. While the doubled team-size was a bit of an adjustment that forced us to focus much more on project management, we all worked well together. I found that most of team members I worked with were very reliable and willing to put in the necessary amount of work and effort, and that’s all that you can really ask for.

3 Things that went wrong:

  1. Time management: I’m not sure if time management will ever not be some sort of issue for me. I think that I definitely improved in this area compared to last quarter, but there were more than a few times near the end of this quarter where I found myself making some submissions on Sunday. This was true even when I had begun working earlier in the week, though I think that some of that was due to the fact that I had been working in Unity a lot this quarter, which was definitely time consuming as I didn’t have a ton of experience with it before.
  2. Design: The game’s design improved a lot over last quarter and I think we made good progress toward a cohesive vision that clearly communicated concepts and mechanics to the player. The design was by no means bad, but it’s something we could have pushed a bit farther I think.
  3. Communication: Like my last point, the team’s communication was not bad at all. Most of the team was certainly active in the group chat on Slack, though there were a handful of miscommunications that probably could have been avoided. Quantity does not equal quality. Also Trello, something that I found to be extremely helpful and personally tried to use as much as possible, was not being used by the team nearly as much as it probably should have been.

Lesson I learned:

  1. Stay focused: This is a very personal lesson for myself that does not in any way reflect on the team or their efforts. While I was happy to have been able to expand my role, I feel like I should have put more focus into specific areas of the game. I had conflicting expectations of myself, which brings up something I don’t think I ever told the team: Prior to the first week of Workshop II, it was my intention to cut back on the game’s story if not cut it out altogether. While I was proud of the work I did on the story in the original incarnation of Unexpected Allies, it was clear to me even then that the game itself needed more work. I felt like I shouldn’t have been focusing on something like the story or art when I could have put more effort into helping to refine the gameplay or design. When the quarter started and the teams merged, I found that others were interested in the story and were looking to expand upon it. At that moment, my plans changed and I figured that some new perspective might be just what the story needed. I wasn’t wrong about that as the story turned out great thanks to the new team members. That said, I think we fell into the same trap of giving that story too much attention. It got in the way of the game at times, which is something that I said I wouldn’t let happen in Workshop I. Putting some of my effort into level design  just wasn’t enough for me personally at the end of the day. I should have committed to it fully and not been so tied down by this somewhat conflicting commitment to the story. Player’s may be drawn to a game for it’s story or its art, but they keep playing because of the gameplay.
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