Senior Production Part 1 - New Year, New Hopes

With a new year, a new team, a new game and new goals, there’s a lot to be excited for. As the semester rolls along, I’ll once again document my journey, in my final few months of college. The newly expanded Tales from Space team only came together two days ago, and work on this week’s tasks has barely begun. Still, I’ll take a look at what’s going on this week, in addition to how I see my role on the team, and where I see this semester going in general.

The one thing that clearly stands out from a programming perspective on Tales from Space is that it’s far less of a patchwork than other games made in Capstone. Systems need to be tweaked, and expanded upon, but there are functioning gameplay and production loops. On one hand, that makes my life a lot easier, but it also means I can’t just come in an fill a specific role from day one. Instead, I’m spending my first week with bit of mix of tasks, as the team figures out the specific areas of need.

I started my week by a reading over design pipeline documents, which should expedite content production, using a few tools made by our lead programmer. While it’s also good for me to understand them, my job was mostly to ensure they make sense for other people new to the system. On the topic of the design pipelines, one of the things I’ll be doing this week is testing those tools. It might just be cause there’s not much else for me, but I’ll choose to believe it’s because I’m the only team member who’s actually taken a software testing class. Later in the week I’ll be pushing the map and building creation tools to their limits, finding every minuscule edge case, and doing everything I can to break them. Honestly, writing it like this makes software testing sound incredibly fun.

The most important thing I’m tasked with this week is starting to build out the player progression system, and adding to the gun customization system. I think I’m doing the testing because I’m the “Testing Guy”. I know I’m working on this because I’m the “Math Guy”, and I’m damn proud of it. A lot of the exact specifications are still up in the air, and throughout the semester, I’ll be working closely with the design team to turn their visions into reality. I assume this process will continue throughout the year, as we adjust to feedback from weekly testing.

My last major piece of work for the week is getting started on the game’s cel-shader. Shaders aren’t really my preferred area of work, but there are some things to be excited for. I won’t be going anywhere in-depth this week, but ultimately, there should be a ton of values that designers and artists can tweak. As I’ve seen in previous projects, the same shader doesn’t work for every object. Different shadowing, different line thicknesses, etc. I’m sure this will leave me feeling dumb often enough, but hopefully it’ll also be rewarding to see how far I can push myself.

So, that’s what I’ll be doing this week. Well, and all the work I’m putting into my engine project, which I’ll be writing about in due time. Oh, and I should probably give a quick introduction to what Tales from Space actually is. I’ll finish by leaving the small trailer the original team put together back in November.