Nosferatu was developed start to finish in 7 weeks, 3 weeks of planning and 4 weeks of development. The game was conceived after determining that we wanted to sharpen our skills with Networking and 3D art.
We went really big on this project - adding networking, 3D, modeling, animations, procedurally generated mazes. We scoped this poorly.
When we played the game together, this game seemed to just be naturally fun. We’re getting better!
The huge scope also paid off - we did a great job considering that with Whiskey Business we were completely stealing 3D models and just slapping them in the game. The networking issues were complicated but fun to resolve. It was great exposure.
Free assets from the store were incredibly valuable. Network lobby was pretty, learning how it worked helped understand networking and lobby systems. Likewise, using 3D models, rigging, and animation helped to understand animations and the animator.
Pitfall of custom assets - they may not be updated to the most recent version of Unity (in our case, the animator for the skeleton NPC).
Custom assets were created! One procedurally generated maze, extruded to a 3D model, and textured in the game. Also a custom model for the treasure chests that has multiple textures and components that was made from scratch.
Proper testing of a multiplayer/networked game is rough.
Two Month Project Cycle
The extra time was valuable because we could take the time to study the topics (such as networking) and implement them correctly.
The planning cycle was probably a bit too long by maybe a week.
With the extra month invested in planning, the project and momentum really fell off the last few weeks. I feel that most people did their complicated thing, then looking at whatever was left it was “man I already learned this other thing, I don’t have time to figure out that thing”.
Late in the cycle, it would be valuable to make an intentional effort to document all known bugs in git, so that we or others can come back to the project later.
Take notice/tell somebody when you feel like there is a decision to be made but no direction on how that decision should be made. This will be extra important when our teams are separate and might not have been in the conversation when a decision was made.
Take notice/tell someone when part of the game design was overlooked. Even simple assumptions like WASD controls and E to pick up items should be documented.
The game design document was useful for many people for Hearthome, a few people for Whiskey Business, and there basically wasn’t a GDD for Nosferatu. This could have contributed to the lack of direction, and is also a large potential pitfall for when we have multiple groups in multiple cities.
This game was fun to play and make! Perhaps having an intentional month (or other period of time) to go back and revisit our old games would be a good exercise (or just to laugh at ourselves).
The idea of some sort of internal training came up again. That would look like a brief video, or perhaps sharing something that you’ve learned about Unity (top of my head - networking, 3D modeling/rigging, the animator). Videos are easier, but presentations using our project would be more engaging.
Fan games are big! Ultima games are being remade, and other fan games.
We could even make a board game one month!
For the next project, we’re going to do planning for two weeks, then setting the planning aside for two weeks to focus on making the game. Then, we will go back to planning for two weeks, then two more weeks of game development. Ideally, this will help our team members take the time to learn about the topics that they wish to study and take the time to implement them. Also this should help prevent fatigue from extensive planning and extensive stretches of coding.
Github includes tools to help us plan better, so we should focus on using the tools available. The Wiki feature should be tested to serve as the GDD. Effective communication must be a focus in order for Games by Moonlight to grow into new cities.
The trial run for internal trainings will be during the second two weeks of planning. Each of those two weeks, one person will share what they made during the first period - what it was, how to use it, the problems they ran into while making it work. This should help people discover new passions and new opportunities in the games we’re working on to help prevent burnout and maintain momentum.