Senior Show

Our game is officially on the app store! It is a surreal feeling to see it available as an early access game. The semester is truly coming to a close! I would say most of our objectives were met, though of course I always see the places where we could have done better. I could have went harder with the marketing and app store optimization. We are also lacking in some animations and sound effects, but I am still incredibly proud of what we have accomplished! I’ve actually learned a lot from our game about Japanese, which is amazing because that shows that our concept worked! We are able to introduce English speakers to Japanese in a game setting that is both fun and educational.

Right now I’m in the Maker Lab at our college’s Emergent Media Center which has a 3d printer and various other tools to aid students in creative projects. Glynis suggested we create some sort of memorabilia to give out to the recruiters and others attending the Senior Show this Friday. Glynis chose 5 Kanji that we are engraving on small wooden sakura flowers with our website address on the back. I think these souvenirs will be a great way to help recruiters remember us! This just means I have to make sure our website is up to date and looks super awesome by this Friday!                                                                                                
Although on Friday we are presenting our games in front of recruiters, somehow I am less nervous than I was in November when we pitched our games formally to go forward into spring production. The stakes felt higher then, because our team may have been cut. This time, however, it feels more like a celebration of what we have accomplished together as a team! I’m excited to introduce our game briefly and then introduce my fellow team members. I must make time this week to research the recruiters who are going to be attending. I’m so happy my name is finally in the credits of a published game, which I know will be the first of many. 

Reviewing Beta

Today our beta build was due, and we met all the requirements! Mostly. As predicted, art did fall short but I have been assured by the artists the final death animations and two sensei portraits will be implemented by tonight. Despite the art shortcomings, I am still very proud of the game my team has created! In the midnight hour our lead game designer assisted our animator in creating the last of our attack animations for the player. I think one of the problems was I wasn’t stern enough in expressing our need to keep on track with art. Often, art tasks would have to be carried from one sprint to another. Perhaps if I were more vigilant in pushing reminders on my team, we would have more of the art polished by now. I’m still working on finding that balance between being helpful and being a nag.

For me, the majority of this week has been quality assurance and ensuring we were on track to meet all the requirements for Beta. At quality assurance this week, I planned it out so each tester would test two of our ten levels. The purpose of testing now is purely bug fixing. I’ve been taking videos of all the bugs in the Kanji testers encounter. We are going to test again tomorrow using the same format, but this time instead of a google document I’m going to use a spreadsheet and have testers mark down each Kanji that didn’t recognize their input properly as well as taking the final survey at the end. This coming Tuesday is the official due date for our game! I just hope we can ensure our Kanji recognition is in tip top shape before then! 

Our game’s poster was also due today. Our lead artist put it together. Some minor edits are still to be made.KanjiPoster


As deadlines approach, we find ways to cut down on our tasks by altering certain aspects of the game. For instance, we’ve decided to axe one of the senseis and her corresponding environment and reuse the old lady sensei from our tutorial along with the player’s village. This frees up the artists to work on other, more pressing assets and forms a nice narrative circle. Time is running short so it’s imperative our backlog is prioritized properly so all disciplines are focusing on the tasks most imperative to our game’s core experience.

I’m worried about making the game “juicy” enough in time. That’s the word our professor used last week to describe what our game needed to really pop. We need more little animations and special effects to really sell the player experience. Our programmer has managed to do some fancy things with the grid. Now the flowers have a cool animation when they re-spawn, and the artists are working on new features to make the game more “juicy” such as subtle movement to the flowers. Design lock is this coming Wednesday, but we have two more weeks to implement all art and sound. I added more to the sound document and ensured our sound designer knows what his responsibilities are. If I could go back in time I would have nagged my team about getting their tasks down more regularly. Although I thought I had made it clear where to find his tasks, my sound designer expressed some uncertainty as to what he needed to do, so next time I’d devote my time to reaching out to each member individually more often to ensure everyone is reading the planning and asset documents I send them.

This Saturday was Accepted Students Day so before our meeting myself, Eric our lead programmer, and Connor, one of our artists, and Glynis, our lead designer attended to show off our game to the incoming freshmen. It was fun to meet the incoming students and get feedback for Kanji Samurai. It really took me back to when I was a freshmen. I was happy to see a lot of incoming production majors, some of which were women! One of the student’s feedback sparked an idea as to conveying stroke order for the Kanji. We are going to have a small sword depicting the direction players should go with their stroke in a compass like format on the top of the screen. We’ve been trying to figure out how to convey stroke order to players’ for ages, but I really think this new UI element may solve all our problems in player’s understanding stroke order. I love interacting with people and hearing their feedback. Feedback has been invaluable in designing Kanji Samurai.                                                                                                                                                   
A fellow senior played our game too, and he approached me about making our senior reel. I told him I didn’t have any compensation to offer him, but I would greatly appreciate it if he did make our reel because I know his video editing skills are superior to my own and will ensure our game is depicted in a better light. We re-recorded all the interviews this weekend as well so now the sound quality is on point! I met again with this fellow senior to discuss my ideas for the video and I sent him all the footage I’d organized. We’ll be meeting again soon in a couple weeks to see what he has come up with so far. I’m very excited to see what he comes up with.sprite_oldlady Old Lady Sensei character art by Connor Chapin.