We been working with the game concept Umibozu for now two months and much has happened during the development of it. We have both had ups and downs during this period but we have pushed through and managed to make a game. A playable one at that. I am happy and proud of this simple fact because this is my first game and the first game for the rest of my team aswell.
I have learnt a lot in a very short period of time. I have learnt to use photoshop more efficiently but I still have a long way to go before I master this software. I have also learnt to make animations, a UI, GUI, HUD, spritesheets and the process of iteration. Indeed, most of the assets had a starting state and went through a couple of changes before getting the final approval.
Most importantly, I have realised we should always playtest our game and question our concept and our mechanics, which I know we have not done enough in my group.
Our end result is playable but somehow mediocre and I think that is mainly due to the fact we didnt question the concept enough and try to fix or improve the mechanics that didnt work or didnt add anything to the game.
On top of that, I have realised that a game is only playable and enjoyable if it gives both sound and visual feedback to the player. Indeed, that is the only way the player learns about the challenges and actions offered by the game.
In general I am happy with the art style of our game because most testers have given us praises and positive feedback on it. What im generally disappointed with is that our art and our mechanice might not have fit together and we didnt manage to communicate well the challenges and actions to the players. In fact, many didnt understand how to win, what made them die or how the powerup works. These problems could have been avoided with a better communication within our team and more meetings.
My goal is to improve my productivity and the quality of my art aswell as my communication during the next project.
Supplementation on the end result :
Our game is an exploration type of game in which the player roams the foggy waters in order to find and save a fisherman that has disappeared at sea. The player fights off the creatures coming at her in the fog. We have got 3 different ennemies and the boss. They come towards the boat in different patterns and speed. The player can either try to avoid them or use his harpoon to kill them. We have 3 pick ups : one to repair the boat, one to increase the life on top of the boat and one to increase the speed. The 2 boost effects only last for a few seconds. We made the pick ups look like bright shining flowers because of the traditional chinese art in which one can often see lotus flowers.
The aesthetic goal “mystery” was supported by the story of the fisherman going at sea to discover the mythical creature. It was also supported mechanics wise by the ennemies being hidden in the fog until the light of the boat touches them. The same mechanic was used for the pick ups. Finally, the mythical creature keeps a shadow form even when the boat comes across it and its attacks are underwater aswell as placed randomly so the player can not predict what will happen next.
On the top left corner the HUD in form of a parchemin with 5 boats drawn on top of it, lets the player know how many lives she has left. Being hit byt an ennemie or an obstacle results in losing one life.
The ending boss, mythical creature Umibozu, appears as a dark black shadow with red eyes, the music changes from a calm melody to an upbeat challenging one. The umibozu has two attacks, one of which is hitting with tentacles while the other one is whirlpools.
Both attacks have visual effects before they happen so the player can anticipate them and avoid them.
In conclusion, I am proud to say that we have a playable game even if the balance on the pick ups and the ennemie spawning does not feel right. People have praised the black and white look of the game but mentioned a lack of visual feedback to understand the pickups effects. Going forward, I will keep in mind that balancing, visual information and feedback aswell as communication within the team are critical in game development.