Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Game Bowl 2

Thanks to the flood of comments, E-mails, and carrier pigeons, I know that you have all been waiting to hear about the outcome of the second Collins College Game Bowl. Well, I actually didn't get any such messages, but I'm sure I would have if I hadn't already called most of you to tell you about it. Nonetheless, here are all the vitamin-enriched details.

As before, the competition had three "secret ingredients" that had to be present somewhere in each game in order for the game to be eligible. This time the elements were: a 1980's boom box (you may know it as a "ghetto blaster"), rainbows, and an audio clip of the phrase "say hello to my little friend," (the clip did not necessarily have to be from Scarface, however). To my surprise, I was one of the first people drafted this time around instead of being one of the last as I was before. Like last time, however, I worked with a team that I had never met, with the exception of the instructor whom I actually have for my third class of the day. Being drafted early combined with a win from the previous Game Bowl made me feel pretty confident about the week ahead.

When we met for our pre-planning meeting after the draft, we had 8 people counting myself, but we only had about an hour to plan the entire game that we would spend the next week on. Looking back, I probably should have considered that a bad sign. We had a decently productive meeting and by the end of it I had volunteered for the Producer role, meaning that I recorded everyone's contributions and kept everyone on track. Originally I was not going to do any of the art. Keep that in mind.

One person had already quit the team by my third class the next day, but I had already planned for it so we weren't too worried. Most of the team members met on Skype that night and we had a fairly productive session, although two team members did not attend and one was two hours late. I began to worry at this point, but everyone promised to have assets turned in to me by Sunday night and so I settled for that.

By Monday morning nothing had come and I still had not heard from two of our team members; the one responsible for the bulk of our character design and the one who was solely responsible for our game's levels. At the end of the day I was legitimately stressed out; it was a very different experience from the team I had worked with before. During this time I sent out several E-mails trying to keep everyone together and explained that the majority of the assets had to be done by Wednesday so our programmer could program them into the game.

I had not heard anything by Wednesday afternoon so I panicked a bit and called Abigail to explain the situation and say that I would be staying late to do what I could while I was still at the school. I found some of the people from my team (including the main character artist) and most of them had done essentially nothing, so I persuaded a few artists from another team to come help us out. Don't frown, they were already done (at least for the moment) with the other team's work, and were a huge part in our finishing the game on time. The other important factor was the competence of our sole programmer who had essentially made the entire game using stick figures and squiggles in place of the art!

Once we had put the time into the art, I felt a lot better. I ended up doing the user interface (all of the screens and many of the icons in the game) and created the level that went into the final game. I also recorded the "say hello to my little friend" line, which we then distorted and played whenever the final boss came out. The final boss, by the way, looks like this:

I think one of my artists had a little fun with him. Incidentally, the boombox was used as a weapon by the main character, and rainbows are found in several places including "cassette tape" power-ups. Anyway, the game was due by noon on Saturday and after a long session Friday evening we finished and submitted it a full 13 hours early! Once again the scope was not nearly as much as we envisioned, but I was just happy to be able to turn something in!

A week went by, and we got to look at the other games submitted for the competition. While there were a couple that did not work or were unfinished, there were more quality games this time and I was definitely nervous about one of them. That one took home several awards, but our game, Boom Box Blast, still won the overall competition! I'm not sure if anyone has noticed yet, but I am the only student at the school to have been on the winning teams for both competitions.

Most of the students from Collins will never read this, but I do want to recognize Mike and Carl Potter, two of the artists I borrowed, for their invaluable contribution to our game's success, and a huge thanks to Josh Chilton for being an amazing, hard-working programmer. I know Carl reads this blog on occasion so I definitely wanted to put that out there. Future employers: if you read my blog, hire those guys too!

That's about it for now. We're in week 8 of 10 for the term and then I get a week off, yay!


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