Train2Game News: Student Diaries – 13.12.11

There are a few Train2Game students on work placement at DR Studios. Below is some diaries of how they are getting on.

Amanda Blatch week 12

Soooooo…. Diary this week. You know.. I think it’s kind of slipped my mind what I did last week, it passed by so quickly! There was a lot of work to do and that got done as we are sticking more strictly to our deadlines of getting  a new build out every Friday so we had a game to play over the weekend. With the latest build you can really tell the game is starting to come together and a couple of new features have been added into the game that helps move the game along at a speed that would be enjoyable for the player without being too easy. Overall, it’s looking very good atm with all the updates and changes to the game.

On top of that I have had more of a break in my usual UI making process, creating a couple new characters for the game which will form part of an exclusive content pack on release date. The splash screen itself has also had an almost completely new do-over and is much more polished and finalised, ready for promotion.

But apart from that there is not much more I can say, the game is close to being finished, we just need to keep pushing that little bit further to make the game the best we can make it! So, again, till next week.

Craig Moore Student Diary Week 55

What day is it?

It’s been a pretty intensive week here, trying to ensure that two builds go out a week while constantly improving and bug fixing is certainly akin to juggling cars. It’s been a smooth one though with very few hiccups and the build is going from strength to strength, I think our big focus next week will be to crush some of the gameplay blocking bugs that are really getting in the way of heavy play testing.

As with previous weeks I have been working closely with Tim to ensure new features get in to the game, it’s a really effective approach that ensures we are working on the same thing but each to our own abilities and insures rapid iteration and turnaround of features.

It feels like we have had this game under wraps for ages now, and in reality it is, it’s been a good six months and I cannot wait to show it to the world! I feel like we have taken everything that made My Sea Park cool and turned it up to 11 while adding some cool little features that I genuinely have never seen before in games of this genre.

Also don’t fret! This one is coming to both iOS and Android.

Getting this kind of experience and exposure is something I could never dreamed of getting 18 months ago, but here I am. It’s a lot of hard work but I would not change it for the world.

Craig

Matty WS week 53

This week has been quite busy again as usual; I’ve been remaking a few assets here and there and redoing some older animations that weren’t up to scratch. Over the weekends I’ve been playtesting the game as well as other games for ‘market research’. I’m finding Hayday pretty fun annoyingly. I’ve also been playing chess more lately because of Social Chess on the iPad, but before that I used to play a game a day or more sometimes, so now it’s just a case of playing multiple games each day over time. I also caved and bought things on the iPad, Red alert and LSAW (land sea air warfare, tis an RTS). The store is so expensive though! Everything on android is cheap or free, cannot see why it’s not the same for iDevices.

The next project (although still up in the air) is starting to sound pretty awesome now and I really cannot wait for it to start!

MattyWS

Train2Game News: Student Diaries – 06.12.12

Amanda Blatch Week 11

Another diary, another week! Not really sure what there is to say. It was a very long  week full of hard work and more UI! Fortunately I have had my week mixed up a little by being given some new characters for additional game content to design, vector, cut and rig. They’re coming along very nicely now and I’m just about to finish work on my second of what I believe to be at least four new additions to the final game. Friday was very exciting though, we all had a big group meeting with everyone making the game to have their say about what we have achieved so far and how to improve on top of that, we did more work, went home then went out for a meal with everyone.

Unfortunately not much else on the in-studio stuff to talk about and I haven’t been working on too much in my spare time since I reignited the desperate need to get through Section 2 of my course so to remain on track and continue learning other game-making techniques that I may not see in the studio on a daily basis. But that’s it for now.. Maybe next week I’ll have something new to chat about. Tarra for now!

Craig Moore Week 54

It’s Friday, and everything is a bit of a blur!

Firstly work, it’s been an incredibly busy week; the pressure is really on to get the many aspects of the game finished and the time left to do them is getting ever so smaller.

We have had a really productive week bouncing between myself and two of the other guys to crack down a certain element of the game and get it well and truly finished. As with the way development goes, I guess, we just fell short but we did get a lot done and it is much better for it.

Next week the plan is to continue this three pronged approach and hit two more aspects of the game on the head. It really is at the stage where there are a few elements that just need tying together to really make it shine!

In other news I managed to snag myself a brand new Wii-U yesterday, a day before release; thanks to Shopto.net’s awesome pre-order service. I got the ZombiU special edition, but have only managed to play it for an hour or so. My Initial thoughts are positive, I’m certainly looking forward to what they come up with and the underlying potential is incredible! I read somewhere about Unity being a developer option and would love to take advantage of that somewhere down the line.

Craig

Matty WS Week 52

This week has been a bit mad, lots of things to do. I’m now going through all of the images in the game and “unifying” them, making them all the correct sizes and removing the background solid colour. We had a late night on Thursday and had some takeaway. Suffice to say there are a lot of images in the game so I’ve been kept busy. I still need to continue on Monday morning to get it all done.

In other news, I got hold of an iPad mini this week which is very nice indeed, it means I can play the games we make regardless of what devices I have or if they aren’t compatible, and it will help me see what competition is out there. So I am a happy Matty this week!

I went home to Southampton this weekend and played many games (including our own). The game we’re making as we speak is plodding along nicely and will be out very soon hopefully. I’m sure you’ll all be just as excited as we are when the game hits the metaphorical shelves. More next week!

MattyWS

Train2Game News: Student Diaries – 22.11.12

Amanda Blatch

So this week (I am going to repeat myself from the last time I’m sure) I am still plugging away at the in-game UI. It’s been taking a long time to get it right but it’s starting to get there as everyday we’re finding things that need improving upon or can be done differently. Again, some things that may seem simple… never are. Or they are, but you do them in a million different ways (ok, maybe a dozen then.) to try and find that ‘perfect’ one. Most of the work has now been done for the game art-wise as far as I am aware, it’s just a matter of putting it all together and getting it out there for testing so we can try and ‘break’ the game to find all its weak spots and improve upon those issues.

The new project has been confirmed, however it’s still in the early stages of concept so it’ll probably be another couple weeks or so before any work can be done for it. So far the concepts are looking good and it’s on a subject matter I love! I’m hoping I can stick around here long enough to see that game all the way through and done in a way that has been talked about briefly. Exciting stuff..

Anyways, that’s it from me now.. this diary has taken me nearly four hours to write as I am working at the same time as doing this because… distraction!

Same time next week munchkins.

Craig Moore

We took some major strides this week in the look and feel of the game and it, thankfully, really is coming together. As much as we all learnt from the creation of My Sea Park, I feel that we have learnt even more from this one and it just means the next one is going to be, yet again, even better!

With the game coming together and Art having more free time, work has been going into promotional activities, icons, and the like as we gear up towards early artwork for the next title. The desire is to almost be working on two titles at the same time, as one comes to a close another one starts up so that we are constantly working on something with no downtime; it really is the best use of our time and makes the office like a little beehive.

I have a fun weekend of Train2Game work prepared this weekend, I am pretty much on my final portfolio piece, a behemoth of a document that will take me a few weeks but I am aiming to get it done before Christmas; and then that is me done. It will be weird feeling that I have actually come to the end of the course and hopefully I will pass, maybe more. Fingers crossed my experience here at DR along with my new qualifications should set me up for something bigger!

In yet other news, for those not aware, the Wii-U launches in the states on Sunday. I am incredibly interested in it having not had chance to give it a bash at Eurogamer and am particularly interested in consumer reception of it, particularly certain games like ZombiU.

Till next week!

Craig

Matty Wyett Simmonds

This week has been busy as usual, I’ve been mostly changing and editing the games ‘world’ this week which has been a very heavy job (I made the world myself, just didn’t make it easy to edit). I’ve been remaking and adding a lot of things to improve on the users experience with the game, making some things more obvious for the users where needed. Other than that I can’t really say much, as this is the only thing that’s taken up my entire week. I stayed late on Thursday on my own this time, ordered me some takeaway and blasted music on the sound system. I had to get things done for Friday morning!

I think my week has been pretty quiet to be honest. I’ve had goals to work towards and have been trying my best to get things done as fast as I can. Planetside 2 Beta is now closed and the game is being launched on the 20th! It’s free to play so no one has an excuse not to get it and play the game with me ^^. I’ve enjoyed the game so far and plan to continue playing it. Comparing it to another FPS such as Blacklight for example, I found that Blacklight was easier, people have less health/the guns have more damage than planetside2 and it makes for some pretty epic fights where you won’t die instantly and you won’t be able to kill anyone easily. If you do play the game before to drop me a message first to see what server I’m on ^^

Anyway, that’s all for this week as I need to get back to work now. Plus I’m running out of virtual ink.

MattyWS

Train2Game News: Student Diaries – 12.11.12

Amanda Blatch diary – week 8

Another week, another diary.. I think I may actually be running out of things to talk about. Doesn’t mean the work has stopped, it just means I am still working on the UI and it would seem a little tiresome to just repeat myself about the same thing as last week so I will keep this brief for you guys reading this.

The game itself is getting cleaned up pretty well now and we’re so close to completion, trying to beat the clock and get the game submitted in time for the end of this month for release. Alongside that one of the in-studio artists is starting to work on the concepts for the new project so it’s something we can see it breathed into life in the next week or so, all quite exciting here at DR! We have also seen the departure of one of the T2G students who will be missed in the studio, we wish him the best of luck in the future with his career as an animator!

So apart from that, there isn’t much else to talk about soooo… till next week again.

 

Craig Moore Student Diary – Week 51

This week has been another incredibly busy one, adding polish and “fun” to the game is much more difficult than you would expect when it relies heavily on the balance of numbers as well as a lot of subjective reasoning. It does however feel like it is making some headway and the game inside what we have made is slowly rearing its pretty little head and hopefully it will blossom soon.

Tutorials are probably the bane of my life right now; they are so incredibly hard to get right. This really fine balance between hand holding and making the player feel like they aren’t on a linear path, you just kind of need to say “this is what you need to know to play the game, therefore I need to tell you X,Y,Z”. Balancing that and pacing it seems to be a fine art though…

It is Eze’s last week this week, he has done some awesome work for us while he has been here and it will be a shame to see him go. He has a lot of opportunities ahead of him though and I look forward to seeing what he gets up to in the future.

Time to get back to the grind!

Craig

 

Matty Wyett Simmonds – week 49

This week has been a bit of a bug fixing week for me, no real sprint, more just doing what I can to fix any issues, there is still lots to do though of course! There is always lots to do but never enough time, but now I’ve been given some freedom to work on the things that have been bugging me for a long time ^^.

During the weekend we had a small gathering at hour house to say good bye to Ezekiel who has just left. He’s been here for 6 months which is a long time and a lot of experience, so hopefully he jumps right into another decent job somewhere quickly.

Over the weekend I finally got some free time to do whatever! I played some planetSide 2, some halo 4 and even worked on my own project for a bit which is slowly coming along nicely. I was using GameMaker 8 to make an RTS game called Data Wars, however due to some annoying issues and limitations I jumped ship and have moved to Unity where I need to start from scratch. Nothing is salvageable because they are both very different programs (one being 2D and the other 3D for starters). I moved to unity because although it will be harder to work with, it will give me more freedom and potential features that could not be done in Gamemaker, which seems to be a terrible program for RTS games. 😛

Anyway, more to do at the studio now, till next week!

MattyWS

Train2Game News: Student Diaries – 07.11.12

Matty Wyett Simmonds 5.11.12

Week 48! Not much change going on at the moment, we are edging ever so closer to the release of the current game and things are tightening up here, people are staying later and the game itself is starting to look pretty good. I’ve not been so much making art over the last week, I’ve been doing more putting stuff together which makes a change, and playing more with particle effects which is so much fun! I went crazy and started adding lots of cool stuff like ripples in water and sparks flying about. Not too detailed though but still fun.

My phone recently updated to jellybean (have an SIII) and it’s been awesome! It’s already guessed where my house and work place is and gives me travel times without prompt as well as recommending places to go eat or visit around where I am. It also showed me cute pictures of puppies as I went past a dog kennel, I think it knows me too well.

MattyWS

Craig Moore Student Diary Week 50

So after my “emo” week last week I feel a bit better about everything, having had a chance to talk through things with a couple of the other guys and step back a bit and refocus things feel much clearer and we have been able to iron out some major bumps which is a fantastic feeling.

I suppose it is something that comes only with experience, that ability to pull yourself back from an intense project and try to notice the problems, reassess them and then dive back in correct them and continue on with the same vigour and determination.

Suffice to say it ended up being a good week, we made some major changes and the project is better for it. I still can’t believe how close we are to getting this released but still haven’t announced anything, it feels incredibly covert, but maybe it’s for the better until we have something we are incredibly proud of.

In other news, I managed to get another Portfolio Project done at the weekend, really putting me in good stead for getting the course finished by the end of the year. It leaves me with one more to do before I am done, if it wasn’t absolutely humungous it wouldn’t be too bad.

Anyhow, I have stuff to do and not a lot of time to do it!

Till next week

Craig

Ezekiel Morris – Final Developers Diary

This is my last developer diary, so, what have I learned since starting work experience, well I have learned about production workflow, collaborating with other members of the project team, animation layers in 3d max and maya and also shotcut keys in photoshop.

I feel that all of these new skills will help me in the furutre, my next step is to develop the skills and keep getting better, so my main priority is this, stay focussed and progress, never lose site of what you really want, concentrate and study. I say knowledge is power and with great power requires the right knowledge to keep it, so when I say focus I break up the words.

F -stands for Follow

O – stand for On

C- stands for Course

U – stands for Until

S – stands for Successful

Doing this has been a good experience and I would like to say thank you to everyone for guiding me and also giving me good advice, this experience has opened my eyes.

The experience was stressful but I went thought it and the end result is I finished all of my sprints, so once again thank you Train2Game for arranging this and DR Studios for having me, much appreciated.

Amanda Blatch week 7

Soooooo…. this week’s diary. Not too sure what to say to be honest, I have finally gotten through all the characters that are needed in time for the deadline so far  and have been focusing almost entirely on UI this week. My job has been to clean up and ‘prettify’ it where needed, adding additional bits and bobs that could help improve the gameplay and user navigation. It’s strange how UI isn’t as easy as it would seem, I have a folder load of disused ideas and sketches of UI which wouldn’t make it to game and, still, two days later I can’t come up with the perfect button that can be universally used across the game. Hell, I even have a few versions of a ‘X’ all of which are un useable in-game as it doesn’t really fit in.  UI is not really my strong suit but still good practice and helps work my brain around a different way of thinking. With any luck I could turn that around today and come up with something that makes everyone happy!

Oh and the splash image has been completed and the font bought for the game so now we have something that really fits in and looks good. Hopefully that will be unveiled to you guys very soon. We are so close to the end (and yet feels so far away), some of the DR team are slowly being funnelled across to the next project which is being unveiled to us today so the transition between projects is easy and swift for everyone once this one ends. It’s all quite exciting!

Again, till next week where I will probably have more exciting things to write about for you internet munchkins.

Train2Game News: Student diaries – 06.11.12

Amanda Blatch week 6

So for my diary this week. To be honest with you my memory is a little bit shoddy, especially when the cold weather hit and my body seems to have started shutting down into a weird state between wanting to hibernate, and needing to stay functional. However despite needing to do that, in the few minutes it took me to write that opening paragraph in my morning-daze, I have been sipping at my coffee and recollecting my thoughts of the past week.

I do remember finishing off some work from the previous week of a couple of characters who just needed to be cut out, rigged and imported in game. Luckily I was able to finish that lot in an hour or so before moving onto daunting and important piece for the game; The Splash Screen. As most of you know, the splash screen is a pretty bit of artwork that advertises the game and is one of the first points of call for the player when they load their freshly download game from the app store. So to me that is pretty important task as an artist and I, admittedly, often judge a game based on its opening. To me it shows that if developers are putting that much care and attention into an opening sequence and/or image for a game, then the rest of the game would surely receive that sort of treatment as well. So daunting. But I got to work and got a lot of input from everyone in the studio to find that ‘perfect’ medium that would make the majority happy. It took a little while to get right, but we got there in the end and were able to create a splash that seemed to sit well with everyone. And that was pretty much my week! It got rounded off nicely with another bit of character work for our tutorial guide which I managed to get all done in about half a day (whooo setting new records for myself!) to our designer’s standards. But that is about it, so enough of this writing thing for now and back to the work!

Craig Moore

Student Diary

Week 49

Not a great deal has changed since last week; it’s been a heavy week of work and a weekend of T2G coursework, to come, for me.

We had a big push in regards to presentation of the game this week, title screen has gone in and work on the font has happened. I have also begun adding music and sound which helps to make the game more fleshed out and actually feel like a *thing*. The biggest hurdle now is really improving the players experience within the game.

As it currently stands things are a little choppy, there are some key elements missing that enable the player to know what they are doing, where to go, what to do etc.. And these all need going in and making clear and incredibly approachable. The biggest hurdle is making sure everything is represented, and with mobile devices it all needs to be done with little real estate.

Getting this done is a major hurdle for me, I’m really pushing myself to do everything that’s being asked of me and it is incredibly stressful, I don’t want to let anyone down and failing is my worst fear. I just have to try my best not to let it get the best of me and fight through the pressure.

Never Give up

Craig

Ezekiel Morris – Developers Diary

Well this week I’ve been animating again, all of my character animations are complete so

at this point I wasn’t sure if there was any work for me. I have finished my tasks for the week and I thought there was no more animation left to do but that’s a lie because there is more animation and animation always takes time, you can’t rush it.

When you start to see what’s needed it looks simple at first but it’s not, I find it annoying when I’m working on these animations for hours and hours and it looks the perfect in your eyes but you get told that the animation is good but it’s too short so add a bit more or it’s getting there keep working on it, so I pause and do this in my mind Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Rage quit.com. I can’t wait to finish the game particularly can’t wait to relax and chill but hold on I can’t chill I’m working late again yayyy!!!

Finally I found something that will make my life easier and that’s iclone5, it’s a real-time animation program. I want my workflow to be efficient and simple no worries, no stress and doing it in iclone5 is the real deal I don’t use iclone5 at D R Studios and it wouldn’t work for this project, animating it manually is a skill to learn.

Matty WS week 47

Week47 went by very fast, got a lot of work in, and stayed late a few times again. The weeks are merging together now and time flies by, its winter time now essentially! That would make it my second winter here, so I’ve been here a long time now. I think I’ve been exposed to a lot of hard work and late nights and I’ve so far gained a massive insight in to what it’s like to work in the games industry. Even now every single thing I’ve done has been a learning curve, I’ve used many programs that I’ve not used before and I’ve done a lot more 2D work here than I have done in my entire life, albeit that isn’t much. 😛 Either way though I’ve also learned that it’s not an easy job. I also haven’t only worked on games since I’ve been here, there has been a few other projects that weren’t to do with games at all!

Since I started in September last year it’s been a great experience that I hope will continue for a lot longer. I could never go back to working in retail or any other boring/manual labour job after working here, I can only see myself going forward and getting better with every game asset or document I produce, slowly but surely working my way up the ladder of what seems to be my choice of career, chosen when I was still in school. I’d like to think I’ve done rather well considering I haven’t gone to uni and even dropped out of college, and it’s just proof that you can do what you want regardless of official education, it’ll just be harder to get there.

Anyways, I’m gunna go home and play some games. Till next week!

Matty WS

Train2Game News: DR Student Diaries – 22.10.12

The latest student diaries from Craig Moore, Matty Wyett-Simmonds, Ezekiel Morris and Amanda Blatch can be found in the link below.There has been more hard work and the return of an old friend.

Train2Game Student Diaries Dateline 22 October 2012

Train2Game News: Matty Wyett-Simmonds – Week 45

Week 45! Weeks are getting faster and faster I think. I’ve had a pretty awesome weekend as it was my birthday. I went out in Southampton for the night and hung out with some friends and my girlfriend flew down from Leeds as well which was cool! One of my birthday presents is a trip to Sea Life centre! Since I was only little I’ve always liked sharks, they’re awesome! Also it’s shark week there so bonus!

PlanetSide2 has been awesome too, Craig got a beta key as well now so we’ve been attempting to play it at the same time but Craig has a crappy computer at home and the servers are down every day during lunch time at work so I’ve still been playing on my own. If anyone actually has the beta come join in!

Not too much to say about work yet, sorry! It’s been the same as always, tight deadlines and what not. I had two late nights (10pm ish) and got my work done pretty quickly so that I could go home early on Friday to get home to Southampton. The release date for the current project is set and it’s very soon so you’ll all get your hands on it soon if you have a smart device of some sort. It’s a very tight deadline and we are probably going to be working nonstop to get everything done on time!

We have a new person coming to work for us soon that used to be here before, I think he’s jumping right in to this project asap which will be good! This project will be a bit bigger than My Sea Park hopefully, as it will be for a wider audience and a wider range of devices.

So yea, more late nights, more takeaway food and less sleep for me over the next month or so I think.

Til 46!

MattyWS

Train2Game News: Ezekiel Morris student diary – Week 18

So what have I been doing this week? Well I’ve finished animating characters and now I’m going back to doing vector art again. The project manager wanted me and Amanda to change our roles, my task for this week was animating characters and Amanda’s task was to create character costumes in vector art, so we mixed up, she does one animation and I do one character costume.

Matty and I were helping Amanda to use the tools in Maya so hopefully she will pick it up, I will be there to guide her if she needs any help.

I was knackered working late on Wednesday and also Thursday but the end result is that all the animation for this week is completed and now I’m starting to create one costume for the character.

I know there’s a tight deadline coming soon but I feel confident that all my sprints will be done before the deadline hits. I’m glad that I’m getting my work done and I’m learning a lot since working at DR Studios.

Train2Game News: Craig Moore student diary – week 47

We now have a date for when this next title is due to be available, and we have a lot of work that needs doing. I’m not going to let it slip yet, but it’s still coming on in leaps and bounds edging closer and closer to a releasable game.

Due to the nature of the title release will be a minor milestone. We are looking to further support it after release and add content, modifications and updates as we go.

I keep saying it but work is still incredibly busy, I would never lie to anyone and say this job is easy because it simply isn’t. There is no slacking, no twiddling of thumbs, if work isn’t done it is your fault and everyone is responsible for their own work and workload. It’s great as long as everyone knows this, thankfully everyone here does and it seems to flow pretty well.

Next week we have more work to do, polishing, fixing, tweaking, updating, and balancing. All the fun of the fair!

Craig