That Final Week of our Project

And it’s officially okay to panic!! It’s been a busy week seven for team Molamola… so busy in fact, much to all of our dedicated followers great disappointment, our weekly blogpost was woefully neglected. We’ll do our best to make up for your loss, honored fans and followers, by presenting an even better zombie crawling experience by the end of this week. 😉 Along with all the other groups in our class, we had our game beta-tested and evaluated last week. It was a nail-biting experience as you’d expect… Once again, we were given the all clear to continue working on Zombie Crawler and thus, we’re going to be presenting it to you all on the Gotland Game Conference this weekend! 🙂

Speaking of the GGC, you’ve booked your tickets to come see us right? 😉

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Our treadmill-controller is basically complete, we’re still making a few improvements to prepare it for whatever challenges it may face when encountering particularly hungry and enthusiastic zombie-players. Our Producer has been working day and night to present our game in a shiny new trailer, have a look for yourself, get totally hyped! (Because we are!)

 

The final week our programmers are hard at work getting all of the remaining animations and sounds implemented as well as fine-tuning the final fight with that juicy-looking human. A big inspiration for the fighting-sequence has been Nintendo’s game Punch Out. Hopefully we will be able to provide the players with an equally enjoyable experience. Our artists are spending their time with touchups and further improvements on feedback provided through gameplay. Just a little secret between you and me…. they’re still drawing on the ending-scene!

We’ve obviously got another busy week ahead of us, better get to work… We’ll keep you posted. Well… probably…..we’ll try okay!

In Production: Week Six

It’s been another busy week for the Zombie Crawler team (the Overwatch open beta this weekend hasn’t actually helped either ;)) though we’ve managed to get a lot of things done and are basically on schedule. The two wooden frames for the treadmill controller are pretty much both complete, however, our technician still has a lot of work ahead of her with getting the actual treadmillband attached and adjusting it. We are hoping to have it all finished and ready to be used for our beta-release. We imagine the jury would be mighty disappointed if it wasn’t as a lot of our game’s success depends heavily on the innovative controls.

We’ve finished up most of our game’s artwork and animations; our environment textures have received an update for what seems like the hundreth time and the player’s Zombie arms are being spoilt with extra work. Our human victim in game is still just a dummy, however the spites will soon be replaced by actual human ones; loaded with horror-movie references, see if you can spot any! We are still debating the color scheme on the environment.

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Our programmers have mostly spent their time with fine-tuning the level; Both graphics and gameplay-wise. Shaders now make the hallway feel like a ramshackle house and darkened edges with a tint of red around the borders of the screen aims at giving the player a proper zombie-like view of the surroundings.

The obstacles on the way towards the human were previously only chairs (no more poking fun at our chair-filled corridors). Now they include both broken tables and falling moose-heads! There’s even particle effects when you break chairs and tables. 😉 Obstacle placement has been revised with the overall level layout feeling more open in the center as a result, which is necessary to show the player their destination.

The end battle with the human is still seeing some issues. It does not update correctly and there is no way to evade the target’s attacks, we are looking into it as of writing: The fight-sequence needs tuning-up anyway so it may just be totally revamped, at least structurally.

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This is what our game looks like at the moment!

Last friday we had our second open playtesting session. We reckon it went pretty well, we received a lot of good and useful feedback which has helped us with making a few important decisions. A lot of players mentioned we have a lot of work to do when it comes to providing our players with feedback, it’s deffinitely next on our schedule for this week! We are also going to focus on adjusting and balancing the Zombie stamina as well as the final fight with the human. Patience our young zombie-fans, we wont fail you!

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Our lead tech Linda is starting up “Zombie Crawler” before the playtesters are allowed a go.

In a week’s time we’ve got our Beta-deadline, in other words we’re really starting to feel the heat. The trailer for Zombie Crawler is also currently a work in progress, seeing our comrade teams (and competitors! ;))  who started last week is really putting some extra pressure on us… Work work….

That’s about it for now, wish us luck this week!

Production: Week Five

This has been a good week for our team, we’ve gotten a lot of things done and we’re feeling rather pleased with what we’ve accomplished this week! Most of our animations are actually pretty much finished. Granted some of them may need some re-work but in general, Zombie Crawler’s assets are nearing completion. In other words, we’re on schedule with our project and remarkably, we seem to have eough time for touch up and can even spoil some of our weaker artwork with some TLC. First in line would be our game and group’s logotypes as well as the avatar; The zombie hands.

Over the past week our programmers have gotten familiar with the Gamemaker engine and things are really starting to come together. However, the advent of being able to properly test the mechanics and art assets of the game has meant that many gameplay elements need to be reiterated with many tweaks and fixes coming down the line; At the moment, our human victim is a proper badass warrior that takes one hell of a beating and is developing a pretty good set of zombie-killing skills. Then there’s the chair bugs… We don’t even want to go there.

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This is what you’ll see in the Alpha version of Zombie Crawler, mind the chairs!

The stamina system in particular is one that causes us a lot of headaches; zombies may be slow, but aren’t they supposed to be tireless? Having to stop for a breather isn’t something that sounds particularly zombie-ish, now does it. Not only that, but is it fun?

New features added for the alpha include a tutorial room which is meant to teach the player how to Zombie by wrecking a door and munching rats. At the end we’ve included a fighting-sequence involving a scary floating torso with color-coded attacks and blocks.

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Don’t be fooled by appearances…

To be honest with you, we were rather intimidated by the jury consisting of our mentors and educators, had they disapproved of our work so far we would have had our project shut down! Needles to say, we weren’t so big and tough when we entered their lair.

Luckily for us, we survived the nerv-wrecking Alpha-evaluation of Zombie Crawler! (I say survive but we did actually manage pretty well in the end) Our next big date with the judges are on May 13th when we’ll be presenting our Beta version.

We’re eagerly looking forward to it! …in a sort of masochistic, terrified way. 😉

Build in Progress

Many, many blueprints later, Construction on the official Zombie Crawler controls have begun! The last couple of weeks we’ve sent our lead technician on a hunt for materials all around town (She did mention something about having to “saw by hand –on a bench made for giants- a 3.6 meter long wooden plank in order for it to fit in her car”), this thursday we’ve finally been able to get to work in the workshop in Fårösund.

Lead Tech Linda and Producer Anders were sent on the mission to build our treadmill. Even though it was a bit of a sacrifice for us, sending two from our team at once, it was a good thing we did as it probably cut the build-production time by half!

Linda begun her work by sawing up the wooden planks while Anders found a suitable wooden slab to use to support the treadmill fabric on which the player will be dragging herself forwards on.

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Our Producer Anders in action!

We pre-drilled the screw holes to prevent the wood from cracking later on. We’ll be placing two thick metal pipes on each end of the frame where we’ll attach our treadmill fabric. We’re constantly being told to mind the somewhat more viol… I mean eager and enthusiastic players, the build needs to be steady and strong to withstand all kinds of abuse. 😉

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Our treadmill-frame is taking shape.

 

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Violà!

It’s starting to look like something right? The build is only half done in fact. The fabric and metal pipes are still to be attached, as well as one more of these kind of frames will have to be constructed, thus enabling our tilt-function! More on that next week, stay tuned. 😉

 

Highlights of the Week

So, you might be asking yourself what the MolaMola group has been upto so far? In today’s blogpost I’ll give you a personal update from our team members.

Until the near end of this week, our programmers have been building Zombie Crawler from scratch, engine and all in C++. However, as it turns out… it might have been a case of biting of more than we could chew, considering our given time frame. In a bold move, our programmers decided to switch over to GameMaker as a platform for building Zombie Crawler instead, salvaging what code they could from the previous build. The final decision to use said engine was taken as a result of a demo of our core gameplay, produced in GameMaker at an impressive speed which also went above and beyond our expectations. According to our Lead Programmer, project synchronization of assets will be much simpler in a GameMaker project, but there might be some issues following changes to code, without some more advanced knowledge of GameMaker’s own source control. So far the change has filled the dev team with renewed energy and confidence!

As for our game art department, we’re steadily making progress. As always, turns out there are a lot more to do than we originally accounted for. Zombie Crawlers artstye is heavily inspired by comic books such as The Walking Dead and Jonah Hex. Our intention is to go full out with this artistic view in the game, as if Zombie Crawler plays out in an actual comic book on paper pages. So far our work appears to be cohesive, next week we’re planning to have our avatar completely finished with all of it’s movement patterns. We’re also aiming for having all of our game’s animations complete, at least in a first draft stage.

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This thursday MolaMola’s Lead Tech and our mighty Producer, along with a gang of other groups, have taken a roadtrip to Fårösund on Gotland where they’ve visited the workshop and prop depository of a film studio. They were able to secure a few of the required materials for our treadmill-controller, which is awesome as it trims down our budgetcosts by quite a bit. In the coming week we’ll be sending them back to the workshop to begin our ambitious build!

Up until now our lead tech has put together various 3D models of how the actual construction is supposed to look like along with a rather daunting looking shopping list of all the bits and pieces of materials we’ll need for the build. We’re aiming to have our controller completed and ready to be manhandled within two weeks time. Wish us luck!

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Week Four in Production: Playtesting

We are now halfway through development of Zombie Crawler. To be completely honest, this week hasn’t been one of our best, the beginning of the week in particular as things were looking especially grim with no actual gameplay to show. I’m not going to lie to you, we’ve struggled slightly with motivating our team and getting things done.

Don’t get me wrong though, we have a group of passionate and dedicated students, eager to learn and improve. We have resolute faith in our game concept and we’re convinced it will be a roaring success at launch! Surely, everyone is allowed “one of those days”? Towards the end of the week we had already picked ourselves up and managed to present an actual prototype of our game for the playstesting session this Friday.

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We’ve received a lot of useful feedback from our playtesting subjects and were able to get a somewhat clear understanding of what our players are going to be expecting from Zombie Crawler. Naturally, the controls are still under development, meaning the players had to make do with a trackball and a keyboard (to some of our players disappointment).  None of our textures, animations or images have been implemented as of yet. You can however, claw at chairs, crawl through the corridor, dodge incoming bullets and munch on human flesh at the end.

We now have exactly one week until our Alpha is due, meaning this week will be a busy one! We’re intending to finish off all of our animations, add sound, implement the stamina meter and establish a Punch-Out-esque fighting sequence with our unfortunate human victim upon reaching the end of the level.

More updates to come within the next few days, aren’t you excited? 😉