Monday, May 27, 2013

PUNCH: Post-Project Reflection

PUNCH (Punching Ungentlemanly No-gooders and Cleaning House) was a game created as a group project for my university this year. The game is a four player smash-'em-up using Xbox controllers where players must break the furniture in the house to gather coins. The first to five coins wins. Players can also temporarily stun each other, making player interactions more interesting.

You can see a video demonstrating gameplay below. Unfortunately, only one player was available to make the video so it doesn't quite capture the manic, fast-paced feel of the game. Additionally, the rest of the art assets and the power-up mechanic didn't make it into the build used for the video. It's possible we'll get an updated video later on, and if so, I'll post it here.

PUNCH prototype gameplay.

The engine used to create the game was Havok. I have to say, it was the absolute worst experience with an engine I've had to date. Nothing was intuitive, the documentation was hard to navigate and often altogether wrong, and the game ran significantly different outside the editor as opposed to inside. It was a mess, and our team could have accomplished so very much more if we hadn't been constantly fighting with the engine. Given the choice, I will never work with Havok again, especially when there are amazing free alternatives that flat out work better, such as Unity.

This was the largest team I've ever worked with on a game. At first things were a bit rocky, as we forged ahead without nearly enough planning and communication. Coding standards, a planned program structure, and a better estimation of everyone's strengths from the beginning would have been very useful. We also had a rather imbalanced team, with seven programmers and only one artist, designer, and producer each. Better use of online communication and version control, and sitting closer together in the lab in general would have helped a lot as well. But this is the environment to make mistakes in, so I'm happy we made them and learned from them. By the end of the project we were operating much better together as a team.

Overall, while I found this project extremely frustrating, I feel we learned a lot and produced a fun, if simple, game in the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment