If given the opportunity to carry on with this project there would be various changes and additions I would make.
I would first and foremost add code to tell the topics to disappear once the player has reached the end of each dialogue tree. However, this would require a major addition to the length of the trees because as the game is now I feel they all end far too soon.
When it comes to the narrative, implementing the next character would be a priority. Also, with the second character we could start to weave a subplot into multiple character stories. This would give the game a hook and keep players more involved from one interview to the next. This alongside expanded dialog for the first character would help deliver a more compelling and lengthy story that better communicates the aims for the whole game.
Visually I think creating more animations would be a priority. The background and prop assets would also need to be edited so that they were separate images to help when arranging the scene and the UI.
Another improvement that might be more ambitious and require more of a rework of most of the programming work I have done would be to restructure the XML files to include more data so that I can better handle the dialogue in Unity. I think if I put some effort into planning out my data structures better I could create a more efficient program that would be easier to add content to in future.
I would also like to add the interactive radio feature I planned as well as several other interactive elements in the office scene to make it feel more alive.
Another addition would be the documents on the interviewee with their basic information could be implemented into the game and the UI somehow to help the player put the interviewee into context in their mind.
A simple and important addition would be to add the opening cinematic to the start of the game. This was something I didn’t get round to adding for the deadline but would like to work on for the arcade.
More sound effects would have been a welcome addition as well. I would have liked more ambient sound to make the office feel more alive and some vocal effects would have been nice. Some “umm” noises and “ahh” noises for when the dialogue appears would have been great to give the player some idea of what the character sounds like without full voice acting.
The one other thing I would have liked to implement would have been scrolling text that reveals itself one character at a time. This would have helped make the game look a lot more professional and appealing but I didn’t have time to try and program it.
I started developing the project by building XML files for the interviewee responses and the questions that can be asked. I inputted all the dialogue that Jen gave me into these files. The questions and responses needed to be in the correct order and linked up with each other via the ‘link’ value.
I then developed and worked on the UI in the game. I went through a few iterations before I settled on something I thought looked good enough to work with during development.
There were three scripts that managed the dialogue at this point. One called ManageDialog attached to an empty Game Object called DialogManager. This script handles the UI elements and interactions.
Another script held the class for Chris’ dialogue in particular. This class read the XML files for the dialog.
The third script was just a small class that held the string variable for the question text and link value.
I next added some basic effects to get the game looking a bit better. Particle effects, lighting and a mouse cursor were the key editions.
Here is the simple script for the mouse cursor sprite.
I implemented the animations a few different ways throughout development. At first I fiddled around with animation states with transitions and booleans that could be changed.
Later on I just animated by calling for a specific animation state like so:
Next I created a back button that would only appear when the player reached the end of the dialog tree. I did this by creating a script containing a dictionary of all the topics and the responses from the interview that ended the dialog tree. The script would then check the current topic and current response to see if they matched anything in the dictionary. If so then the back button would appear and the player could return to the topic menu. I used a short script to manage loading the scene on the button press.
When it came to creating the topic menu I started by building separate scenes for each topic.
I also made a tiny script to change mouse sprite when the player clicks the corresponding buttons to the correct button press sprite.
When I built the topic menu I attempted to implement the unlockable topics by creating a class that held a few booleans. I then checked for certain responses and altered these variables. These variables would be checked before they were set active on the topic menu.
However, this method caused me issues with permanence between the different scenes. The boolean would not stay true when returning to the topic menu.
I decided to rebuild the project without using different scenes and instead using multiple camera perspectives in a single scene for the dialogue section and the topic menu. This way there would not be a problem keeping things the same from scene to scene.
Once the project was all altered to work in this new way I needed to code a decision button so players can decide where to send the character. I simply created a new scene and had it load on a button press. I also added a little rollover effect so the button scrolls in from the side by changing the position in the script.
After this scene the buttons link to a scene that thanks the player for playing the vertical slice.
Now that this semester’s project is concluding I can reflect upon how it went. I know there are a lot of things that I have learned over the time I have spent working in this team on Dead on Arrival.
I chose to be a team leader for this semester for the game Dead on Arrival. I wanted to be able to take Dean’s game forward and attempt to achieve something he would be pleased with. I liked the game and wanted to see it done well.
I have learned a lot about leadership and managing a team from this project. At the beginning of the project I intended to ramp up the amount of work assigned to the team somewhat gradually. I thought this would give people time to get accustomed to the project and the work they were doing. It seems that it would have been more appropriate to have set a standard for how I managed the team from the very beginning. This way I would have spread the work more evenly over the time we had for the project and there would not have been any surprises when expectations changed as the project neared the deadline. Over time pressure increased, deadlines became more important and more work was needed from each team member which led to disagreements and minor upset within the group. I feel this could have been avoided had I been more consistent with my leadership and what I expected from the team since the beginning of the project. People seem to have different work-flows and I have learned the best way to deal with managing people is to be consistent and organized. The biggest issue in the team dynamic occurred because of a misunderstanding over a deadline on a week in which neither me nor Jen remembered to record the tasks assigned in a meeting. We did end up with a lot of delayed deadlines over the course of the project and, looking back, it would have been helpful if I reevaluated each task with the group when it was not ready on time so that we could better identify how to handle it. This would have limited the risk of a task getting ignored because we didn’t pay enough attention to what was preventing it from getting finished in case that was something that could be helped.
With this game, I intended to focus on the narrative aspects and provide a more complete story than it seems we did in the end. I had high hopes for expanding the story with an extra layer of subtext by exploring what the location that all the interviewees lived in was like and hinting towards connections between characters that the player had interviewed. To achieve this I thought it would be appropriate to create multiple characters. I tasked everyone with writing unique characters at the beginning of the project so that we could start with a good narrative foundation to build the rest of the game and its story upon. In hindsight I think it would have been better to start with a single character and expand further once we were in a good place with that character. With the approach we took we lost time that we could have spent focusing on all the different aspects of the project such as art, music and programming. We ended up starting late with these things which meant there was less time to deal with whatever issues and difficulties we had with these areas. We would have also been able to produce screen mock-ups sooner and get some feedback on them and other game assets earlier during development when we could still make changes easily. We kind of ended up with a waterfall approach to the project which was not intentional and was not preferable. In the end when it came to programming and implementing, a lot of work came my way which could have been spread further across the project had we been better organized. I also feel like a lack of motivation and enthusiasm present within the team could have been improved had we gotten to a more finished and ‘exciting’ stage of the project much sooner. This might have led to a greater drive within my team members to work harder to improve the overall experience with their individual input.
The programming I had to do for this project was quite daunting as I hadn’t had much extensive experience or confidence in Unity or C# before this project. The game is quite limited in scope but I knew it would be a challenge to create something compelling and professional, bringing together all the different aspects into a cohesive whole with what little experience I had. I am, however, pleased with what I learned and how I managed to work with a Unity project and code in C# to create working vertical slice. I didn’t manage to implement the second character we did work on because it was finished too late and it took a lot of time to implement the first character and there was still programming work to be done. Exploring the programming side of development has opened up new paths for me to take in future. I have a greater understanding of the whole of games development and I have more knowledge of the programmers role in future even if I were not to take that role again.
Another area of development I ended up exploring was art design and animation. I didn’t expect to take such a large part in this side of developing the game. I created some rough designs to communicate what I was imagining for the character aesthetic and explored the process of rotoscoping at the beginning of the project. I had an idea of the scope that I wanted to aim for since we decided to rotoscope the characters. I knew that there were a few limitations when it came to what we could do with the art style so I created those rough designs to communicate the kind of things I estimated we could achieve with the time constraints as animation is a time intensive task. There are also certain things that don’t often or easily translate well into animation such as sketchy lines and brush strokes. After the Easter Break we still didn’t have a definitive and achievable style guide from Rubi so she suggested I take on the task and let her focus on the background art as I understood the animation side of things more. I agreed to do this and created a style guide after some iteration and exploration of styles. I am pleased with the look of the style I created and I didn’t expect to have even done much art at all on the project as it isn’t my area of expertise and I have little confidence in my art and visual skills. I learned about how to make rotoscoped animations look effective, how to better use various art programs and I improved my drawing skills. I also enjoyed reading the book Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud when I was trying to improve my understanding of how to simplify a character effectively.
The art I did was not limited to the style guide as I also worked on a storyboard for the opening. Storyboarding is not something I have done for anything important before so I was hesitant about this. I knew I wanted to do it though as I had a vision for how I wanted the opening to look and I wanted the opportunity to explore and research some cinematic techniques even if the final product was just an animatic. I am quite pleased with how it looks now that I have compiled Emily’s finished art into a video with the music I created. I tried hard to communicate a lot about the world and the protagonist of the game in as short an opening as possible. I wanted to condense a lot of information and use cinematic techniques to communicate information and emotion more effectively.
The music I created for the game is an area I feel I could have developed further. I am fairly pleased with the pieces I did make, however every time I hear them there is another thing I want to change but due to the time constraints I have had to put those issues aside. This is another reason why I think an earlier focus on iteration and asset production alongside the research would have been beneficial as it would have allowed a lot more time for gradual development of certain things.
Another small role I had on this project was developing a twine prototype for the dialogue. It was good practice and I am quite pleased with what I did even though it didn’t get used in the end. At least, I had the opportunities to feed my ideas forward when we built the dialogue paper plans as a group. Also, I learned the basics of programming in twine and that might come in handy at some point. That was back when we were planning a comfort system for the dialogue. This being another example of an idea too ambitious for us to manage when we got behind schedule. The dialogue system went through multiple design changes before we got to where it is now. It was kind of a compromise as I needed to start the programming stage.
I think the design changes we went through with dialogue are a good example of how early on in this project we focused too much on contemplating design and narrative decisions and I wasn’t decisive enough to make final choices before the pressure started to build. In future I aim to be more decisive when it is called for as I don’t want to let my indecisiveness affect my leadership or a project in future as I realise now how important it is for the leader to make decisions on the groups behalf. This is not to say I wouldn’t discuss things with team members in future but I would remember to focus on ensuring the team has a definitive direction and decisions are not left up in the air for too long whilst contemplating the options.
Overall, this project has provided me with a lot of opportunities to explore and gain experience in almost every aspect of developing a game and it has increased my confidence in each area. Although, I feel we could have achieved more for the final vertical slice, I am proud of what I personally managed to do on the project as I feel I stretched myself and learned a whole lot in terms of leadership and individual skills. Maybe I could have produced more developed and professional work had I only focused on one area of the project but I am pleased with what I achieved and learned. I feel like I have broadened my knowledge and will be a more valuable team member in future because of this.
Today we had a quick team meeting. We should have all the animations I requested by the end of the day. Jen should be finished with the blurb for the team blog by the end of the day as well. I will be working on rebuilding the project today after James suggested replacing the scenes changes with camera changes. This means all the scenes need to be rebuilt and located in a single scene with separate cameras for each one. The camera should switch seamlessly allowing the topic to be changed all within one scene. I have stopped working on implementing the second character as I do not believe it will still be possible to get this character working well in the game as well as do all the other work I need to do to get the game ready with the first character. My team will be working individually on their blogs this week as there is no work left to do that isn’t working on the unity project.
Looking back at the project overview it has become clear that the aims for the art side of the game were adjusted quite a lot over the course of the project. The styles of the characters, props and backgrounds were all changing frequently so we don’t have extensive style guides for the background stuff even though we do have assets for everything now. I also ended up deciding not to go for specific typical emotions and just work on getting a range of footage when filming the live actor so that the best of what was filed could be used. This often ended up being when the actor was not being directed but the camera was still rolling. These animations could then just be used when appropriate throughout the dialogue.
Today the priority has been to rebuild the project in unity and get the basic mechanics functioning. I have also updated the team blog to be a bit more appealing and display some more content we have made. I also worked on editing the frames I received from my team members to work as animations more smoothly.
I have also started thinking about the sorts of sound effects that would be good to include in the game. Ambient noises from other rooms such as doors closing, footsteps and conversations would go a long way towards making the game feel more alive. I could probably acquire these sound effects quite quickly from royalty free databases. This might be easier and more appropriate than attempting to record unique new sounds myself, especially this late in the project. It might also be effective to include sound effects for UI interactions to make the game feel more responsive to the player’s actions.
I have the basic mechanics functioning in Unity as of this Tuesday evening and I am working on making the game look a little nicer. I have added reworked animations for all the topics on the menu. I have also adjusted the particle system and added improved lighting. I needed to work on implementing most of the visual effects after the rebuild but I have added slight adjustments and improvements whilst doing so.
In the evening this Tuesday I have also been working on cutting the opening video together in Vegas using Emily’s slides she created using my storyboard and the music I created to accompany these slides. I added some pan and zoom effects to make it feel less static and I made sure to time cuts with the changes in the music to add to their effect.
I also offered to edit some sound effects for the Bugs Ahoy team today. I found there was not much I could do to help make one of the ocean sounds loop effectively. I then tested the other two ocean sounds sent to me to see if they looped well. One was fine but the other needed some editing to loop effectively. I also edited a sound effect for the sail flapping in the wind to make it loop effectively. I sent these sounds through to Dean to use in the game when I was done editing and testing them. I also sent through the two soundtrack pieces I made to Dean today for use in the game.
On Tuesday night I also managed to implement a few sound effects into the unity project for certain UI elements. I recorded my mouse click sound for the UI button presses and I used a subtle mouse over sound for the topic buttons. I also implemented the soundtrack piece I created. Currently it just loops endlessly.
Today I finished up the functionality of the project. The basic mechanics have all been implemented. The player can now work through all the interactive dialogue unlock new topics and make the final decision for the character. I decided to use separate scenes for the decision page and the ‘thanks for playing’ screen. I also used Photoshop to edit some of Rubi’s buttons and added text to use in the game for the decision buttons. Today, I also worked on smoothing over any issues with the dialogue in the game. I changed a few colloquialisms to better fit the character, altered a few clunky bits and removed a reference to smart-phones since the game is set in the late nineties. Here is the game as it is now.
Dean contacted me requesting .wav files instead of the mp3 files as he had encountered issues with the file type. I sent the sound effects in this format but ran into an issue with opening Cubase because of authentication issues so I couldn’t change the soundtrack pieces quickly. I will attempt to fix these files sometime before the arcade for the Bugs Ahoy team to use in their game.
This weekend I started working on some quick ideas for the Bug’s Ahoy team to use as background music for gameplay.
I started with the idea of using bowed guitar to create a sort of hurdy gurdy sound because I thought that would fit the pirate theme. I used an electric guitar with some distortion because I found it somewhat difficult to create enough sound otherwise. This created quite a creepy sound on a low string. I wanted to build upon this for the tense section of the vertical slice in which the player sneaks past a large praying mantis into an abandoned futuristic building. I ended up using the high E string on the guitar bowed very slowly to create a trebly buzzing sound. It sounded to me like some sort of technology malfunctioning which I thought was appropriate for the abandoned futuristic buildings the player would be exploring. The intermittent quality of the bow slipping over the string made the sound feel almost like Morse code, like it was a message of some kind.
I ended up using a pretty out of tune kalimba for the foundation of the piece and the bowed guitar sounds gave it a bit more texture. The bowed guitar sounds on their own were a bit flat and felt like they needed more structure, especially for a futuristic setting.
I let Dean and Emily from the Bugs Ahoy team listen and provide feedback whilst I was working on ideas and developing the piece. I would have spent more time developing and mastering the piece but with little time left I have focused on creating something usable for the game.
I also started working on a piece to be used in the settlement location in the vertical slice. I spoke to Emily and Dean about their ideas and preferences before I began the process. Dean had suggested that it feel warm but somewhat uneasy or unsettled. He suggested I listen to this piece from the Majora’s Mask soundtrack.
After listening to this with Emily, she suggested something more akin to the Faron Woods theme from Twilight Princess. A little more minor and creepy sounding was what she said.
I started working on creating something similar to these two pieces. I noticed both pieces had an arpeggio that was consistent throughout the whole piece. I listened to the Faron Woods track and tried to create a similar arpeggio with a minor sound.
However, after accidentally selecting a drum sound for the arpeggio I created, Emily gave it positive feedback and suggested I keep developing something with that sound. I worked on adding a melody too the drum section, I ended up using an accordion sound as it sounded appropriate and a little jolly. I then added a low organ sound to fill out the bass of the track. I used my didgeridoo for a low drone effect but decided I didn’t have enough breath to hold the note long enough so I used a pulsing sound instead. I pitch shifted the recorded sound to make it feel more like a bass line to the song.
I then added a different melodic section to the song in which the melody was played by a flute type MIDI instrument. I also added vocals which I created by recording my voice multiple times in different ways. I pitched the vocals slightly to give it more of a chorus effect. I wanted the vocals to sound like a group of sailors cheering or chanting to the music somewhat like sea shanty. I thought it might liven up the village location a bit by making it feel like there were more people there to be chanting along.
I think an interesting feature to implement in the game would be an interactive radio. Players could click on the buttons to alter the soundtrack to their game. We could also have radio host vocal content that could be influenced by the player’s decisions when it comes to the interviews.
Many games feature customisable soundtracks that add an extra layer of context and character to the world.
In our game I think a combination of these types of features would be very appropriate. If we implemented virtual buttons on the in-game radio it would add another little layer of interactivity to the room the game takes place in. This would go a long way towards making the game feel less static and lacking in interactivity.
When it comes to the voice content we could implement we would have to think carefully as it would probably be unwise to reveal too much about the afterlife in this way as it would lessen the mysterious and otherworldly feel that we hope to achieve. At this point in the project, though, I feel that the setting is quite familiar and quite grounded in reality, which means it might be beneficial to add a few aspects to the game itself that highlight the fact that the game takes place in the afterlife. I am thinking if it were limited to small announcements in between tracks that give a perspective on the state of the world outside Keith’s office, then it would not be too distracting.
The player would simply locate the buttons with their cursor and click to switch channels or turn off the radio.
On Monday I held a group meeting. We discussed the continued production of rotoscoped frames as a group and I have assigned another week for Rubi and Cheng to produce frames for the second character. I received a twine document over the weekend from Jen containing her dialogue work so I will begin to implement that over the week. We also discussed the production of marketing materials to use on the team blog and at the arcade event. I have tasked Jen with producing these materials and compiling the work, screenshots and assets we have into things that can be used for publicity. I will be continuing to program and implement all the assets into the game.
After the meeting concluded on Monday I spent the majority of the day trying to implement a way back to the topic menu that only appears after the player has reached the end of a dialogue tree. I ran into lots of difficulty whilst trying to program this and am currently struggling to find a way to do this effectively because of the way that everything else in the game is programmed. In between doing this I started work on inputting the dialogue into new XML files for the next character. I also wrote a short script which I will use to control the character animations. I intend to have the animations linked to certain lines of text in the character dialogue. I have implemented one animation as a test but I will need to put some time and thought into the most appropriate places to use each animation when it comes to the narrative before I implement the rest of the animations in the game.
My plan for tomorrow is to create a class that holds various booleans and a script that manages the conditions for all the topics and whether or not they are available in the topic menu.
On Tuesday, I spent most of the day working on the Unity project. After downloading the project to work on at home I ran into a number of issues with the game which took a while to figure out the cause of. It turns out it was an issue with the file path of the project being too long as a result of my moving the project into folders for uploading and downloading from the cloud. Once I moved the project elsewhere the problems with the game not loading certain files were solve. After the project was working again I started working on implementing the script I created yesterday into all the scenes. I figured out how to keep the script persistent throughout all the game’s scenes and I kept this in mind when writing it so now this single script manages the endings for every topic. I then Identified all the key responses that would need to be inputted into this script to ensure the button only displays when the player has reached the end of the dialogue tree for the each topic. When searching through the XML files for these lines I noticed there were problems with the flow of the ‘Parents’ topic. I spent some time testing and fixing this tree so that all the dialogue and questions lined up appropriately. This has made me think I need to spend some time at some point later in the project testing all the dialogue to ensure there are no more issues. I am also aware that I will need to go back through all the dialogue and remove the labels such as ‘END OF PASSAGE’ as they were only intended to help with the development of the game. I plan to carry out these tasks around the same point in time after I finish some more key aspects of the programming. I know I will also need to make some changes to the dialogue as whilst programming I have noticed a few areas that might be a bit clunky and could do with altering as well as a few lines that might not be consistent with the story world, such as the mentioning of smart phones since they were not invented in the 90s.
I have also spent time this Tuesday working on programming a way for the topic buttons to be enabled once the player reaches the correct piece of dialogue. I created a class to manage the booleans for whether or not the player has discovered the topic but have run into issues having these variables correctly interact with the code I used in the topic menu to control the activation of these new topics. I have decided to leave this for today as I am struggling to make progress.
I also picked some new frames out from the huge folder of images we have from the footage of Alex the student in the first year. I flicked through to find individual frames to use for rotoscoping and created another two folders which I assigned to Rubi and Cheng to complete over the next week.
Tomorrow I plan on implementing some more of the animations for Chris into the Unity project.
Today I planned to get more work done at home but was delayed considerably by issues with my home computer. Every time I turned it on it would crash after about ten seconds and would need to be turned off manually. After a few hours had passed I gave it another try and the problem seems to be gone for now. I am uploading things to the cloud and I think I might keep my programming work to do at uni where there is less risk of losing work on the game project due to my PC crashing. Since the project is fairly large it would be difficult to keep backing it up to the cloud so I have decided to spend my time on other tasks for today.
I ended up working on some more music for the interview section of the game. I wanted something melancholic that somewhat reflected the orderly side of the afterlife since the gate where Keith works is pretty orderly. I looked into minimal music some more and listened to an interview with Steve Reich(https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vf056). He spoke about the importance of phase shifting in his pieces so I decided to try and recreate that effect in a simple piano piece as I felt the idea of two pieces weaving in and out of unison reflects the balance between order and chaos pretty effectively.
I had some difficulty setting separate tempos for the two versions of the same melody so I just offset each loop of the second melody to achieve a similar effect. I plan on looking up a way to do this efficiently in Cubase but in the meantime I quite like the effect of the melody ticking over to a slightly different rhythmic relationship to the first melody every so often. It also feels a bit more regular which somewhat goes with the orderly feel a bit more.
I planned on using a different instrument to the piano eventually but I received positive feedback from Emily so chose to leave it as is for now. I also tried applying a telephone type filter over the whole track and adjusting it to emulate the sound of a song playing on a small radio system. I thought it might be a more grounding touch to have the music play as a diegetic sound in the game world. Also, I liked the idea of doing this because of the radio which will be present on Keith’s desk and I wanted the player to have the option to press buttons on the radio to change the channel or turn off the music. I just thought it would be a cute and fun addition to let players discover and give them control over their soundtrack. Eventually there could even be different songs for the time of day or even radio content like hosts and talking stuff. That could be a really interesting layer to the game that expands upon the story world in a natural way. We could even use it as an opportunity to provide some extra context to the world and your position within it as well as to detail, to some extent, the consequences of your decisions through news stories or something similar heard on the radio. At this point in the project this is probably a bit too ambitious as we would need multiple more songs and scripted voice content as well as voice performances, but I will plan it out a bit to see if we could manage any of it within the time we have left. If nothing else, I think it would be cool to at least have a couple songs and give the player the ability to switch through them or turn them off by clicking the buttons on the radio.
I wanted to keep the piece gentle and drifting so I didn’t add any percussion. The melody that enters about half way through the piece is the neck single coil of a guitar with the tone knob rolled all the way off to remove treble, plugged straight into a PRS V9 amp simulator with a fairly high gain setting and a good amount of plate style reverb. I chose these settings because I wanted a smooth, soft tone to this solo-ish section to keep it from distracting too much or overpowering the other sounds. The piano sound is just a basic acoustic piano with the sustain pedal pressed most of the time and no reverb. Most of the melodies are eighth note triplets so I quantized(which means to lock notes to the selected time signature) a lot of the MIDI performances to keep it all tight and rhythmic.
This Thursday I am focusing on fixing the errors I am encountering with the script for enabling the extra topics.
So it turns out I planned to work at home on Thursday but my PC has died and refuses to start up anymore. This meant I was unable to produce any work on the project on Thursday.
I mostly worked on blog stuff this Friday because of issues with computers and problems with the unity project.
I just finished a quick design for the character of Andrew Morgan. He is a somewhat pretentious and entitled rich guy type of character. We took some footage of a first year who Rubi selected today. She decided he had the appropriate face to suit her original designs and preferences for the character. He had a strong jaw and the right kind of hair and haircut so he was a clear choice to make rotoscoping a character that was similar visually easier.
My focus this week is to work on animations as well as compiling everything into a more complete and polished vertical slice.
On Monday I added some frames to the basic Idle animation. I also added lighting to the background. Next, I added some particle effects to look like dust in the air. I kept the amount of particles emitted quite small to keep the effect subtle and I had their speed colour and direction change over time to keep them varied. I also added a small gravity effect to have them fall slowly. I think the effect is quite appropriate now along with the lighting so I am fairly pleased with these additions.
Another thing I added on Monday was a mouse cursor. It is just a quick placeholder asset with a subtle pulsing animation. I felt the game needed a different cursor to feel a bit less like a prototype. The one I made will do until further notice. It does match the colour scheme so it is suitable enough for now.
I also just adjusted the UI to be more transparent to keep it from grabbing too much attention. I just added a drop shadow under the character the same way as before by simply duplicating the character and adjusting the colour values. Another thing I just did to improve the look was add a shadow component to the UI objects mostly to make the response text more readable until a dialogue box is prepared. I also added a small lens flare effect in the room at the light source in the scene. I think the lens flare helps sell the dust effect I added a bit better.
A larger addition I made was scan-lines. We are playing with the idea of building a more convincing technologically dated aesthetic so I decided to try and create a scan-line overlay with a vignette and a highlight in the center to simulate the look of an older monitor. I think the effect is somewhat appealing but I will bring it to my group to see what they think. I also tidied up the arrangement of the UI a bit as well.
On Tuesday we held a team meeting to discuss our progress. The animation is pretty much on schedule. We had a discrepancy in the aesthetics of the frames produced by Cheng so I sat with him on Tuesday for a while to talk him through all the tools I use to create frames in the style I created. After taking Cheng through the full process of creating a frame in Photoshop I am more confident the frames he produces from now on will be more consistent with the style. The dialogue for the next character has not been completed so we will now be expecting the dialogue this Friday coming.
After designing the character called Andrew Morgan I started work on splitting the video footage into frames. I then skipped through thousands of photos again to pick ones to be used in the game. I sorted these into folders and uploaded three folders to Trello, one each for me, Rubi and Cheng to animate. It is a slow process, animating the frames, as I want each one to look appropriate and have no noticeable faults. When trying out the style and estimating times, I did not foresee the time I would take ensuring consistency between frames and polishing up any issues within each frame. This is what the idle animation looks like as of Wednesday.
I did some work implementing the assets Rubi gave me into the Unity project on Thursday. I need to ask Rubi to separate some of the assets into their original layers as separate assets to allow me to layer them in the game appropriately. I also rearranged the UI and edited some of the parameters of the buttons to ensure text looks appropriate and always fits within the boxes no matter how long the passage.
Another thing I added was a clicking mouse whenever the user clicks their own mouse button. I added a new object with a sprite then used a script to disable its renderer on a mouse-click. This was because there is already a mouse as part of the background so removing the image of the mouse with the button pressed reveals the usual one. I created my own rough mouse-clicked asset to put into the prototype but I will need to ask Rubi for the finished asset as well as a clean background without props to make other animations easier in future.
Friday I spent time working on the topic menu for the first character. I ran into a lot of hiccups getting it working how I wanted and had an issue with uploading the file to work on at uni and then another issue when I went to upload it to work on at home. This has meant that I have spent time combining the two projects I have been working on this weekend. I also held a meeting with James and Rubi in which we discussed our progress. Rubi will need to create assets for the topic menu buttons. We have decided to just have all the key words floating in the air to choose from. I think I will animate them slightly to give it that BBC Sherlock vibe that Rubi suggested.
The topic menu is a separate scene that links to other scenes through buttons. Each topic is now a separate scene. I used a manager script and a script with a class that can be called to load a scene when an argument is passed to it. Each button holds a different argument for this reason.
I have also redone the animation script quickly for the mouse clicks now that I have the assets from Rubi. I have decided that the position of mouse and really just it’s being there is confusing. To go along with the old office aesthetic, whilst the final UI is still somewhat up in the air, I considered having some of the game take place on a monitor on the desk. As if Keith(the player) was sending questions through the computer to an interviewee in another room. I asked Emily about it and she felt it added another complication to the premise and made the game less intuitive as a concept.
Even if we don’t do this I still want some way to justify the mouse being there as more than just clutter. Basically, it is irritating me because I realised it seems out of place after programming it into the game. Em suggested just having a monitor visible at the side of the desk. This is probably what we will do.
Over the weekend I have had issues with unity importing any asset packages so I guess I will have to leave out the small lens flare effect I used from the default effects package. I have searched for a solution but I just cant get unity to decompress packages. I need to work on implementing the different character animations as well as a way for the individual topics to link back to the topic menu. I have also had to recreate all the topic scenes with an improved layout and design changes which took a little while.