Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Final Major Project: Critique From The Professional

Despite the current state of the alpha build, I had already agreed to show my friend, a professional at a local game studio for feedback on what there was to show.

Firstly he was fully understanding that the build wasn't close to how we wanted it to look like and still wanted to give his critique. He also stated he'll be avoiding giving positive criticism to make us focus on what we should work on. Below is an abridged collection of his critique of Gutsy's Quest alpha version.

The first thing he noted on was the animation of the characters. Both Gutsy and the Skeleton need to be more dynamic in their actions and carry more weight about them and need to be controlling their swords rather than currently the other way round. The animations should be simple and quick but also coded in such a way that allows them to react quicker to the player rather than playing out the whole animation before it will register the button being hit again. The movement of the characters need to be adjusted slightly too as they look like they're on ice, to fix this the movement speed of the handle should be capped and the walking animation has to be scaled into place. He also noted that the animation should have two separate entities, the lower body and the upper body, basically the lower, the legs should always be moving and when the player need to use the sword the top body animates. He also suggested that there be different attack animations, for the hero atleast, relating back to the problem of the input making the player sit there and watch the whole sword slash animation.

Whilst the animations were some what standard he did say they were strong but just lacked character.

He then commented on the enemy AI, commenting that he liked the way it follows Gutsy around be it needs some "AI lag" when it's further away from the player. for example, when the player is being chased then turns around and runs past the enemy, the skeleton should take a longer time to turn to start chasing the player again.

Concerning the textures the first thing he noticed has a white line around the alpha'd texture trees, apparently this is known as "haloing" and the solution is to basically turn the background of the texture map from white to black (of the corresponding colour for the texture). He also suggested adding a black gradient to the bottom of the tree to help it fade into the scene better. Next because of the fixed position of the camera he suggested that all flat polygon objects (such as trees and grass) should always face the camera ala old RPG games from the 90s that way you don't see that they're as flat as they really are and it helps.

Next for the objects placed in the game level such as the tombstones, he suggested using a technique of giving them a slight slope made of quads at their base with a gradient between the edge of the object and the new quads as this would make everything look much better apparently but it takes some practice to pull it off to an industry standard. Looking at the skeleton he personally didn't like the use of black on the skeleton and suggested alpha layers, he also suggested  bolder graphics on the face, perhaps even with an animated texture on top.

Returning to the grass, he noted that there should be two or three variants for the grass textures and gave me a very good time to get rid of the top white line that appears in unity without the need of clamping. He also gave me a formula to create the Toon Shader effect with a texture and a method known as "Pushing" to create a black border around models without the other effects of the shader (which can be a pain). I'll definitely give this a try for the Game Republic version.

For the ground texture he suggested that texture details be modelled instead of just texture with a bevel effect to make them pop out and that Gutsy's face needs to be re-coloured and that the lighting needs to be adjusted to include the equivalent of colour screens to up the saturation and make the models and textures pop.

He suggested and assured me that the current GUI can be adjusted to look like the ones in the example shots and concept art and suggexted methods round that by either coding more, use GUI pixels for the numeric values or, make the number fonts and add code.

Overall he commented that as it stands it's not a bad effort and creates a good vibe with nice art direction but it also needs to be more of a full package with fully working menus, code and GUIs. Even just a start screen would make a difference in presentation.

This kind of feed back is invaluable as it's rare that we can it from an industry professional and without a doubt we'll be applying these suggestions to the next build of Gutsy for the Game Republic Showcase.

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