Three Thing Game: And now, the Obligatory Retrospective.

I was thinking of making a Three Thing Game Retrospective post, about the TTG of March 2012. In fact, I have been writing and rewriting it for months (with a whooping 18 revisions), as I was dreading us being hated even more (that is Rob Marshall and me). Since the next TTG is getting close fast, I figured it would be a good time to finally post the draft. Here it is then.

Well, here we are, the Three Thing Game is once again over. And something happened too…

Oh, glee! We won again.

I figured I would do like all the other bloggers out there and tell the tale of how the whole thing went.

THE AUCTION AND THE IDEA

A few thoughs about the original game idea.

Since the words were going to be in a bid, my initial thoughts were that we could come up with a vague game concept before receiving the words themselves. That is, just a game concept. If we had some really mismatched words, we’d have to find something else. One thing NOT to do is building the words around the game. Since the PSVita had analog sticks on both sides, the idea was to take it sideways, and use it as a cooperative game. For once, I wanted to make something different, that would appeal to more than the shootey-stuffey satisfaction. If there was a word I desired most, it would have been ‘love’ or ‘union’, as I really wanted to capitalize on the relation between the two characters on screen, and having their interactions being meaningful. This is mostly when the ideas for a ‘life-regenerating hug’, and the ‘the closer, the stronger’ came into play. Though these mechanics were being thought as part of a cooperative game, they are still part of the final product.

Rob and I also came up with an interesting concept of betrayal. Players would originally share a heart-shaped life bar, which would split into two separate life bars at the moment of betrayal. The player killing the other would gain some bonus mutiplier for his final score, but it would make things harder, of course, since he/she is now alone.

…And then came the word auction. We failed at most of our bids, which resulted in the words being

… BOY, CONTRAPTION, HIGH JUMP

 Which, in all honesty, was not that bad, although it clashed with all of the ideas we had for the project. So we decided to alter what we had in mind to base the game on the words. The coop game became a twin-stick solo game, where a ‘link’ between two characters would help destroy enemies. We focused our attention on the backstory and making the game feel organic, mostly by establishing links between the words and the game that were more than dimensional. For instance, we brought forward the concept of the contraption, by imagining a stick which essentially absorbs starlight and creates the link between the two characters. A boy finds this contraption, which sends him flying into the sky with his teddy bear to rid the sky of a swollen darkness that ate the stars.

And there we had the Pocket Starlight. (In retrospect, it looks awfully like that mirror from Ocarina of Time)

Most of the work during the week was spent porting our game libraries to the Playstation Suite. Since basic classes such as Rectangle were not included, and drawing had to be done with vertex buffers, there was much  that had to be made (and remade). When we came in to the final push, we had the two characters moving on screen.

THE FINAL PUSH

As everyone knows, the week-end is mostly spend on working overnight make the game. And the whole thing just feels like a blur to me now. A blur full of C#, shortcake, pizza and foam darts.

All I can say, from what I remember, is that it went flawlessly. No SVN problems (thanks a bunch Rob -Miles- and Rob -Marshall- for both setting it up in your own rights), and no bloody computer failure at 1 in the morning! For those who did not know, I had to cope with having no working Visual Studio last time, as it decided to BSOD my laptop when updating to SP1. Fun times.

Fenner labs was actually a whole lot more enjoyable than I expected. See, before the event, I was dreading how being in Fenner would feel “like I’m still doing that Neural Nets coursework”. Thankfully, the overall cheerfulness of people really made up for it. Fenner also allows to express the full potential of the long-ranged motorized Nerf gun. I apologize to the people 40 feet further. I made it rain. Lindsay, I do not apologize. You shot me in the privates.

Then, there was the point where I got tired. There are two stages to me being tired. Stage #1 is me running around like a madman and being generally overly energetic and happy. Stage #2 is the absolute opposite. I am stressed and angry, and I start shouting at things. I am sorry I shouted at you Rob Marshall!

THE REVEAL

Personally, our victory was a surprise for me, as I found the whole reveal to be quite funny. First, the finalists were selected and got the occasion to showcase their game in front of a large audience, comprised of the other teams and a jury (including a guest from Sony Liverpool!).  Being part of the finalists, I knew we somehow stood a chance. But in my mind, there wasn’t a possibility of them letting us win for a third time. I tried to take on the audience during the demonstration, and ended screwing up on several occasions due to the deadly combination of stress, tiredness and energy drinkness. Then, it became increasingly clear in the countdown. When at each spot we heard the name of the team that was not ours, we had that doubt increasing in our heads. Is this possible? Did they make us win again? Well, turns out they did. And it is under a sea of (friendly?) boos that we went on stage and collect our prize, a dedicated poster of Wipeout 2048.

I am preparing another post where I will get together a couple of pieces of advice acquired through personal experience. I hope it will prove useful to some first timers!

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