This will be my final post regarding my work on our project Overkill. It's going to cover my role within the project, how the game turned out in the end and what I would recommend other people to do if they end up in my seat. Enjoy!
Our vision for the concept was a co-op hack and slash type of game, with over the top cute graphics mixed with extreme amounts of Violence. We had envisioned an overload of epic gears and achievements which the players would collect as they played through different levels, using a variety of skills as well as a “free-flow combo system”.
Early mockup of Overkill, made by me.The scheduled time for the project was 10 weeks, starting in March 2011 and ending in late May. Besides working full time and more during these 10 weeks I had been developing skills and tools for this project since last summer.
The outcome of the project did not match our vision for the final game, in several areas. The most noticeable being the absence of multiplayer. The game was designed, and built around 4 player cooperative multiplayer. The day before GGC (www.gotlandgameconferece.com)and our deadline, we decided to remove the multiplayer all together. This was mainly due to us having extremely little time for play testing the game properly, ending up with a ton of bugs which we just didn’t have time to fix. The number of bugs was severely reduced when the game was played in single player so we chose to go with that option instead.
Besides this we had to leave out a lot of planned content for showing of the project. We had two secret events that we had to cut, one larger area of the level and another playable character which we just didn’t have time to implement correctly.
One of our main features, the combo system, also took a pretty severe beating from not having that many combos for the players to unleash. This, in combination with poor tooltips and a pretty steep learning curve made it hard for players to catch on to it.
All in all the game did not turn out horrible, but it could have been so much more.
Gameplay from the final product.My Role
My main work areas during the project were character modeling and animation. I have 3D modeled all the playable characters and enemies in the game, as well as rigged and animated them.
Considering my previous experience within 3D animation and rigging (zero) and the amount of content I actually managed to push out within the time frame we had, I’m rather pleased with my contribution to the game. I’ve done closer to 130 animations all in all, with an entire character (20 animations) not making the final cut.
A quick video showing my pipeline a few weeks into the project.
What we did present at GGC was a decent product in my opinion. Much of the graphic content was there; I just think we needed another week or two to polish the gameplay part.
With more work and polish put into this project, I think it could’ve turn out pretty great. The short amount of time, poor planning from our side and broken promises from the HGO (not delivering unity pro license until the very last weeks) made it turn out way below its potential.
The Jester, the character I think turned out best in terms of animation.My improvement
Before the start of the 10 weeks we had dedicated to this project, I spent months teaching myself how to rig and animate characters in 3D studio max, since we’ve had very limited lectures covering those areas at HGO.
In time for the start of the project, I had gathered a solid ground of 3D animation knowledge but never really tried it out in action so to speak, with exporting animations and trying them out in an actual game engine.
The animations I had been doing prior to the project start were all pretty small test animations with no elaborate motion such as body rotations and such.
This is an early test animation I did for one of our playable characters.
After a few weeks into the project, with me improving in all areas, this is some animations for the same character which we ended up using in the finished project.
For anybody taking on the role of animator/rigger/character modeler I have a few recommendations.
First and foremost, put the necessary time into it. If you are running on a very short deadline (like we did) then you need to work a lot. Don’t be discouraged if you have to work 14 hours a day for weeks in a row. Sacrificing your spare time now might result in a great job in the future!
Second, don’t be afraid to reuse animations instead of making completely new ones for everything. Sometimes it might feel like cheating, but if no one knows you’re cheating then no harm done!
If you have four different characters that all needs running animations, use the same one as a base for everyone. It’s much easier to change and add personality to an already established animation then making a new one from scratch.
Third, exaggerate your animations. Don’t be afraid to go over the top with your motions. We have a tendency to go the other way around. If a guy is swinging a sword, then have him really swing it. It doesn’t really matter if the motion is impossible for a normal person to perform it, as long as it looks like it’s possible.
Finally and maybe most importantly, don’t be afraid of criticism. People will not love everything you do. You will have to redo stuff a lot of the time. This is what’s going to make you learn, become better and probably what’s going to separate you from the people who don’t land a job in the future.
As for overall project recommendations, make sure you play test your game as early as possible. Have a working prototype of everything the final product is going to have AT LEAST a few weeks before the final deadline. Don’t wait until the night before, because not everything’s going to work as you intended. There will be bugs, there will be balancing issues and gameplay changes.
Focus on quality before quantity. Instead of adding more content and features, focus on what you’ve got and polish that until it’s perfect. It’s the little things that make all the difference.
Once again, don’t be afraid of criticism. Receiving it as well as giving it. If you think something could be done better or in a different way, don’t be afraid to let your team members know.
By not just settling with the first option you have, even if it’s great, will make your game stand out from the crowd.
Overall, this experience has thought me a lot. Mainly working with 3D, but also understanding the importance of group dynamics and roles within a team. All in all, while the project did not turned out as I had envisioned it, I'm taking a lot of knowledge with me into my next project. Which I'll be reveling sometime soon.
With that being said, thanks for reading my blog, and I'll see you guys around!