Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Team PPJ - Sept. 27 - Oct. 4

This week was spent prototyping and greyboxing as much as possible in order to flesh out our idea in preparation for next week's faculty pitch. Several team members prototyped the various gameplay mechanics we plan to integrate, including gravity spheres, grabbing and throwing a ball, and scoring. Others worked on a GDD and brainstormed to flesh out the game's aesthetic and setting. These brainstorms included arena layouts, gravity orb layouts, and AI character concepts.

While a lot of progress was made, there were snags along the way. Our meeting times have been revised, as not everyone was present for most meetings this week which hindered progress on prototyping. Communication faltered and, as Mike mentioned in his PPJ, we have a tendency to get sidetracked (myself most of all).

Going forward, we plan to create a functional prototype to demonstrate our game's core mechanics as well as produce concept art to introduce people to our game's aesthetic. As well, we will produce a GDD that is as fleshed out as possible so that everyone on our team is 100% familiar with our game concept and how it works.

Total time spent for all team members: 70 hours

  • Increased familiarity with developing in Unreal
  • Prototype sessions generally productive
  • Lots of good brainstorming in areas that needed it
  • Lack of concept art in the first week
  • Some team members were not present for some meetings
  • Tendency to get sidetracked

Michael DiLucca - Sept. 27 - Oct. 4

Reviewed ways we could better our presentation from the feedback we received. (1)

Discussed development of first level (Setting, Art style, Models). This happened as the same thing below was going on.(1)

Started development in the VR_Template scene on score keeping and updating a 3D text object to update when the score changes. (2)

Took notes and watched the Unreal live stream concerning the new VR_Template. Was able to ask a lot of questions and have them answered by the developer. Also led me to some great resources regarding VR in unreal 4. (2)

Met with Mike C on Friday and helped as he developed a base level for what the arena would look like. Also took this time to read up on a lot of Blueprints resources and how to better debug with VR. (2)

Setup a Trello for Agile Scrum development. Looked into finding as many free resources as possible to use for Gantt, Burndown, and Task management. Trello ended up having a lot of free addons that can help. Updated Trello with appropriate tasks. (2)

Total: 9

Positive: I was able to search every crevice of the internet for the resources we need to complete this project. I was able to get my hands in deeper with Blueprints. I got to communicate with the creators of what we will be working with. Mike and Andrew are extremely hard workers, I will now have to step away a small amount from management to developing as to not fall behind. Mike was able to bend his work schedule to accommodate Wednesday to meet.

Negative: Not everyone has really gotten the experience they need with unreal yet, the starting gun has gone off and not everyone seemed to hear. Developers are in the lab on all different days from one another making for a difficult time for programming. We are often sidetracked for extended periods of time on stories and what-ifs.

Upcoming: GDD will be due soon and we really need to put as much into it as we already know about our game. We will be integrating a tech demo soon combining Mike and Andrews systems. After that we can than start to integrate scoring. We need to start grey-boxing asap. Backlog will soon need to be populated with tasks that I will have to lay out.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sanjay Balaji PPJ 1

The past week has mainly been about getting myself established and familiarizing myself with everything the group has done so far. I spent time learning and becoming familiar with the game engine we will use, Unreal, and also attended some meetings regarding new game designs for new ideas.

Meetings on new game design - 2h
Familiarizing myself with Unreal Engine and following online tutorials - 3h

+ Am caught up with the group for the most part (since I joined in late)
+ Become proficient with the game engine

- Not much work starting off the game from me

Notes for future:
I'm going to help out Andrew and the direction he is going with this since he seems to have gotten a solid framework going that we could use to go forward.

Total time: 5h

Andrew DiNunzio - Sept. 27 - Oct. 4

Over the past week, I spent some time prototyping a "gravity orb".

I attempted to model the gravity orbs after "real" gravity, where the acceleration applied to the ball would be the sum of all of the forces divided by the mass of the ball. I based it off of the equation

F = (g * m1 * m2 / (|| v || ^2)) * v

However, this force was not strong enough, so I tried increasing the constant by many factors of 10. This resulted in strong forces applied near the center of the orb, but rather weak forces near the outside. To make the force decrease less with distance, I used || v || * sqrt(|| v ||) instead of squaring it. This made it better (after decreasing the constant again), but it still needs a lot of tinkering.

I found that the gravity orb makes it extremely unpredictable as to where the ball will go when thrown into it. For it to be a skill-based game, the player's actions should have predictable consequences. Therefore, I changed it so that instead of adding the sum of the accelerations to the ball, I first take the dot product of the unit vector of the acceleration and the "forward vector" (temporarily hard-coded as the direction normal to the wall behind the player), and I multiply that by the acceleration before adding it (or by 0 if the dot product is negative).

This made it much easier to predict how the ball would respond to the gravity orbs (especially when multiple orbs are present). However, it also meant that it lost a lot of the "hook" from the orbs. Increasing the gravitational constant didn't give great results either, since it hooked more, but also resulted in ridiculous hook when the ball goes through the center.

I also tried making the "outer" part of the orb have the most gravitational force while the center has the least amount (so sort of inverse to how gravity actually works). This had a much more desirable effect, but it was difficult to gauge how far from the center the "ideal" (or strongest) point was from the orb. To fix this, I changed the orb to have an "inner" sphere, and an "outer" sphere, making both of them transparent. This made the "strongest" part of the orb much more obvious, since there was no gravitational forces on the ball outside of the outer sphere. An issue I came across with this approach was that two gravity orbs in close proximity to each other resulted in the ball either behaving erratically or simply going straight.

These mechanics will require a lot of tinkering.

Time spent: Total: ~5 hours
  • 30 mins - Creating basic gravity orb
  • 30 mins - Modifying the "BP_PickupCube" from the UE4 VR template to be a sphere instead.
  • 1 hour - Making the PickupBall respond to a gravity-like force from a gravity orb, then changing it so it is a sum of forces from all gravity orbs nearby.
  • 2 hours - Tinkering with gravity values, applying dot products to try to limit the gravitational force to be more predictable.
  • 1 hour - Attempted to "flip" the influence of gravity so it's strongest on the outside. Worked semi-well, but needs a lot of tinkering. 

  • I have an idea of how to apply gravity to the objects
  • I have identified new issues when it comes to the gravitational force, such as: the ball orbiting around the orbs, unpredictable movement, and incredibly high skill floors to get the ball where I want it to go)
  • I am not quite sure how to go about lowering the skill floor without taking away from the skill component (thereby lowering the skill ceiling). As it stands, it's incredibly difficult to throw the ball and hit a target on the opposite end of the room.
  • There are some issues I have no idea how to resolve, like the ball sometimes rolling on the ceiling (though I have made it less of an issue by including an "angular dampening" on its movement. It may be a non-issue though once the players have options to pull the ball towards them.

Tyler Schacht - Sept. 27 - Oct. 4

Early on in the week, I spent time working on the stadium concept art and model mock-up.  However, my concepts slowly became irrelevant due to progression of the game concept over the week.  I had to miss a meeting Saturday where group members fleshed out the stadium in bit more detail.  The following day, we started thinking about the theme that our world would follow.  Currently, we have decided on a "Cyberpunk" aesthetic.

Two stadium wireframes from the beginning of the week

Total Hours: 7
- Original Stadium Sketches: 1 hour
- Wireframes of Stadium: 2 hours
- Meetings: 4 hours

Positive: We are really fleshing out our game ideas with more of the smaller details

Negative: It's hard trying to gauge how well a stage will work without being able to test it while our coders are still working on the main gravity and throwing mechanics.

Johanna Oberto PPJ 10/3/16

Over the past week I was present at every meeting and helped work on the overall game planning, world building, and mechanics. We discussed what potential stages/arenas could be made, and narrowed it down from everyone's ideas to a cyberpunk theme. We planned the mechanics to be a gravity whip-like interaction to allow the player to manipulate the direction of the ball and how it will be thrown. We also prototyped gravity fields in the arena that would affect the motion of the ball.

Time Spent:
Wednesday planning meeting: 2 hours
Planning mechanics/overall: 4 hours
World building: 3 hours

Total: 9 hours

Meetings were productive
I feel that the game is headed in a clear direction

Meetings felt excessive
Lack of communication as to who would be present/when it was necessary to be present

Cory Zicolella - Sept. 27 - Oct. 4

For this week, I met with the team across our normalized meeting times on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Between each we dove further into our idea, fleshing out many mechanics within VR itself (instead of being strictly conceptual). Our goal is to have a fully working Greybox environment by next week with functioning grab-throw mechanics using a gravity whip as well as some example gravity wells in the arena.  This week we got mostly there, perhaps a strong 60%.
Aside from that, I worked with the team specifically on the weekend to hammer down our environment direction so I can start helping with making concept art moving forward.

- Met with the team multiple times to touch base
- Took a vote on the tip two desired environment directions for the game

-Didn't do much work outside of meetings this week
- Didn't get to meet with everyone
- Didn't start concepting like I wanted to

Hours spent in meetings: 9
Total hours: 9

Daniel Ingman - Sept. 27 - Oct. 4

During this week, I spent a good amount of time meeting with the group, finalizing an idea, and doing a bit of concept art and brainstorming our game's world. This coming week I hope to create a few environment concepts as well as player and AI character sheets in order to flesh out our idea even further.

  • Fleshed out idea further
  • Settled on thematic setting for game
  • Didn't do as much concept art as I hoped
  •  Several people were absent from this weekend's meeting

Time spent:
Meeting: 8 hours
Concept art: 2 hours

Total: 10 hours

Ryan Badurina - Senior Project - Sep. 27 to Oct. 4

My first PPJ for senior project.  Sigh.  Well, here it goes.

I met with my team during the weekend for a prototype session, although I'd count it as more of a "GDD Session" if anything.  Concept art was made, and we did mess with Unreal and starting on the mechanics, although it was only minor.

Tyler and I met by chance after class and we decided to discuss about possible level design ideas.  I advocated the idea of "Non-90 Degree walls" because of the worry that the ball could get stuck.  Plus, it would make the level look a little more "lively".  It also helps us in preventing future problems with level design.

Andrew (One of our CCI teammates) and I were discussing earlier in the week the mechanics for our "grapple beam."  We were debating whether to make it a linear beam or whether to make it feel like a whip.  I decided to experiment a little by creating a makeshift whip and applying rigid body physics to it inside of Unreal.  Results were "pretty good."

But it is rather underwhelming at a glance.  Plus, I never found a way to have the whip "Retract" and "Extend" like an actual grapple beam.

Meeting(s):  7 Hours
    -Prototype Session: 5 Hours
    -Discussion w/Andrew: 1 Hour
    -Discussion w/Tyler: 1 Hour
3D Modeling: 1 Hour
Physics Application: 1 Hour

Total Time this Week:  9 Hours

  -Prototype sessions and discussions were "pretty good" and also productive.
  -First few pages of the GDD finished.

  -Not much development was done in Unreal Engine.
  -No conclusive solution to the whip mechanic.  No retracting or extending function.

Mike Cancelosi Sep 27 - Oct 4

This week, I met with the group for 4 hours on Saturday. On Friday I messed around in VR and tried to shape out a level concept that felt good. I also did some concept art for the level.

Meeting : 4 hours
Prototyping : 3 hours
Concept Art: 2 hours

Total: 9 hours.