TL;DR: Lab was really fun and educational. 11/10, would do again.
Impressions - Jonas
We're done, we're finally done. Or as i remember saying to someone on demo day: "Oh man, there's still so much i'd like to change and add to this game: nicer models, nicer animations, all the features that we're still missing... but if i think about it, i'm not too sad that it's over!" I have to say, i really have mixed feelings about the end of this project, for one most of the work on the project didn't really feel like work at all, just sitting there, adding cool stuff to a game, seeing the progress that you made over the last hours, i spent countless evenings doing it. And it was so much fun, that i didn't even mind sacraficing my gaming time to instead just hang out in teamspeak with Paul, work on the game, test some networking stuff together and so on. But you might already see the problem here: We didn't really make our lives easy with the game idea. Yeahhappy that i don't have to." I remember saying this to someone on the demo day and if i think about it, it pretty much sums up my feelings right now.
This project was huge, fun, stressful, rewarding and frustrating. It was my biggest game project so far, if not my biggest project ever. And no one can say that the final product is anything but awesome, at least no one did so, the feedback on the demo day was overwhelming, ranging from "Did you guys really make all of this by yourself? How long did you work on this?" to "So when do you want to release it, i want to grab a copy!". In addition, just working on the project itself was really fun. This is pretty much my 9th semester programming with Unity, and while this gives me the luxury of having a pretty routined work flow, there was still so much new stuff to learn and implement. It was so intrinsically rewarding at times that sometimes i would just happily sacrafice my private gaming time to hang out in team speak and just do some coding with Paul. Sometimes i wasn't too happy about spending my nights working on the project and that's kind of the biggest problem we had in general.
From the very beginning, we had very ambitious goals. Yeah, sure, let's just make an online VR game dungeon crawler game with procedurally generated levels, what could go wrong?
For one, quite obviously our goals were a bit too high right from the start. And for this mistake we had to pay, on one hand we had to give up some features, on the other hand I probably ended up spending just a bit too much time trying to stick to the original project plan. In addition, having to implement the VR part, that also needed to work for other clients on the server, i didn't have too much flexibility. VR is still not too portable and thanks to the latter, you also need two distinct PCs to test the networking. Throw in the normal chaotic communication and a team with very diverse technical backgrounds. All in all, working on the project sometimes became rather stressful and/or a pain in the butt. But oh well.
Enough of the negativity, because one thing is for sure: we made a damn fine game. I never worked on a games project of this magnitude before. During my bachelors, i worked on countless small games project as part of the curriculum but most of them were really just small prototypes slapped together at the end of the semester. This was big though, working one the same project over months and being able to look back at the progress we made since our first networking test setup is amazing and it's really hard just to stop now.
For once, the outcome is also actually kind of impressive. TO BE CONTINUED OR DELETED OR WHATEVERAs a consequence of this, i feel like i sometimes had to spend a bit more time than it might have been intended for this project even when making quite a few compromises on the features of our game. Add in that the nature of our game makes development and testing quite inflexible and sometimes just a pain in the butt and communication with a team of various backgrounds and expectations complicating stuff at times.
But oh well, all of this just leaves me with mixed feelings, for one i'd really love to keep working on the project, on the other hand, it's probably good to just do something else for a change, especially given that fixing everything that bugs ME about the game right now would just be such a huuuuuuuuuge task.
All in all, i think we still managed to produce a solid and polished, hi-fi game. Compared to both other projects in this lab course and anything we saw on the demo day, there's nothing we need be ashamed about.
To give some feedback on the course organization: i think this semester's theme was brilliant. "Together" definitely gives some food for thought, but there's still so much freedom of interpretation in it. For us it meant to create a coop game and it made us think about what we could do to set it apart from the masses: VR! I'm still really proud of this idea, since i'm also not aware of any other game that tried to do anything similar. I also really enjoyed the concept of going through a typical game developement process, it definitely helped us to stay focused throughout the project span.
There were two things, that i wasn't much of a fan of though, for one the need to set up a detailed schedule for the entire project right at the start really seemed a bit unreasonable. Given that teams only formed a couple of days before and with a generally limited understanding of how long what kind of task would take due to a lack of experience, setting deadlines and milestones 4 months ahead just felt like throwing darts on a calender. The other thing was the paper prototype, i understand the motivation for a prototype and for some (, simple) games a paper protype might also make sense. But in our case it seemed like quite a mission to map this very chaotic and open game idea to the constraining space of a paper prototype. The final protoype ended up being really awkward (we had 3 maps and a really big devider) and thus not too fun to play while it felt like most of the core aspects of our game got lost somewhere along the way. Even worse, i caught myself and other team members still thinking in the constrained and simplified game mechanics, that still lingered in our minds from the prototype phase, much later on in the game.