Updated: Apr 7, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Digital Delights developers blog for our senior capstone project Run N Gun. My name is Taban Lewis and I am the Gameplay Designer and producer of this project and will be writing weekly updates about Digital Delights Capstone Game Run N Gun.
Digital Delights Team consists of
Taban Lewis - Producer/Gameplay Designer
Carlos Ruiz - Programmer
Sally Le - Artist
Tommy Christ - Level Designer/VFX
Collin White - 3D Modeler
We are senior game Design students at DePaul University and over the next 2 terms will be developing a Game for our capstone class. This game is meant to highlight all of the skills and lessons that we have learned over our 4 years at DePaul.
In week one we knew what genre of games we wanted to make, none of us are familiar with first-person shooters (FPS) or first-person games in general. We pitch a variety of ideas at each other and decided that our game's core features would be shooting, skating/ice skating movement, and an arena player vs environment (PvE) game. Taban then started to work on the Game Design Document our bible for this game it when through many iterations but we finally settled on an X statement describing what we want our game to be the X statement states. Skate and shoot your way through waves of enemies increasing your firepower along the way to destroy the heart of the arena. From there we were able to work on the GDD Summary, Gameplay Narrative, Concept Art/Themes, Marketing, Design pillars, and, Core mechanics. this allowed all five of us to be on the same page about what our game was. The catches to our game are that we want the player to be skating around having fun while shooting hoards of enemies, picking up loot in the form of new weapons and gun mods that alter gameplay. However, if the player ever stops moving after a set period of time it will result in a game over. (update 9/20 this mechanic of death when movement has stopped has been removed the GDD has also been updated as well as the X Statment and summary) Game Summary Welcome to the arena you have one goal to destroy the heart of the arena and finally be free. It won’t be easy you the player starting out with just a pistol in a circular arena will have to fight the defenders of the arena. The defenders will try to protect the heart and kill you the player at any cost, defeating defenders will earn you bigger and better firepower to take on the challenge before you. Pick your gun modifications changing the way you and your weapons interact with the environment to increase your chances of success. However, you are not alone you have a bad feeling in your gut, and all you know is that if you stop moving it may mean the end for you. With me writing the GDD Carlos our programing started to do research on getting our games movement to feel good for our prototype, Sally started to work on concept art, Tommy was sketching out the map layouts, and Collin was modeling the Assault Rifle. For the first week we started out strong and that would continue into week 2.
As seen in the image above we really started to work on art in the second week. We had a good foundation with or GDD and it was just about tieing up loose ends and finding solutions to small problems. our art talks which are still ongoing have taken up a good amount of meeting time and the image above is our level layout. As I and Carlos continued to do paperwork and research Sally come up with two pieces of concept art.
From the start, we want to use a bright color pallet and so sally came up with concept art 1. and with lots of discussions about themes, inspiration, enemy/level design, we came to the conclusion that we wanted guns, enemies, gun mods and the heart of the arena to stand out the most. So Sally went back to work and returned with concept art 2. as seen above the overall level is less colorful the enemies, gun, and railings stand out at first glance we also discussed the User Interface (UI) look. why this is still a work in progress Collin produced the models for the Pistol, Assault Rifle, and shotgun.
Above are different versions of our assault rifle, Collin has done a fantastic job with his work and why it is not yet textured you can see the progress from v1.0 to v2.0 as well as the feedback to add more detail to the weapon like the CSGO/Valorant images shown. meanwhile, art talks will continue and we began preparing to pitch the game to the class.
In week III we were preparing for our pitch and finishing up art conversations for the time being. For our vertical slice, we lowered the scope from what it was originally. The original scope was 5 guns this has been reduced to 3 guns the pistol, the assault rifle and, the shotgun. The shotgun has been debated heavily and has taken many iterations. we settled on two versions of the shotgun for the time being so keep in mind this is all still not finalized. In the case of enemy design Sally come up with the concept art, we knew we wanted them to look like Boston Dynamic robots and use the color pallet we had settled on.
In the meantime, Tommy has been blocking out our first arena making sure it holds up to the original concept as well as making sure the size and scale of the arena line up. Carlos and I continued to work on documentation to make sure programming and design are on the same page. we also prepared our pitch having a total of 18 slides to make our game goals, design, mechanics and, art style as clear as possible to the professor, class and, whoever else we pitch our game to. We even made an X Video (video above) to display the core concept and feeling we are aiming for just like our X Statement. The pitch itself went very well boosting morale within the team as we are proud of the product we have developed thus far.
Welcome to week IV this week was a pure work week as we are now out of the concept phase and we began work on the prototype, which we will show off and talk about next week so look forward to it. At this point, I have met with each member of Digital Delights to check in on them, talk about their role and, my plan/mindset going forward with that everyone knows what the plan was and what they need to be doing. I did some research playing shooters like Doom(2016) documenting mechanics and tweaking the movement of our prototype alongside the usual task I have. Carlos worked hard programming the prototype implementing movement, gunplay, UI, and, enemy pathing. There is still a lot more to add but for the prototype I wanted the movement and gunplay to feel good so we have a solid foundation for our game since we are doing an FPS with a priority on skate/smooth movement.
Sally has impressed me the most this week. After our meeting, She has worked closely with Collin and Tommy to make sure our art direction is prepared for our first playable. Drawing up concepts, coloring and, Logos so Collin and Tommy have a blueprint to work off. Tommy has been designing and adding/removing iterations on our first level which is meant to teach the player the mechanics of our game and act as a playtest arena for the player. Collin has been looking into rigging for one of our models and he has been doing second passed at exiting models. Overall I cant wait to show what we have next week as we get closer to our first playable and as a side note talks with the audio team have been proceeding as well.
This week before you continue I recommend watching the video above that is because I want the prototype video to speak for itself. over the last four weeks, we have talked about mostly art and design and Carlos has not had his moment to shine. Well, here we are Carlos has made a physics-based movement system, enemy pathfinding, basic shooting, and, sliding all in time for our prototype. Now before we talk about the technical side of things I want you to remember what our X Statement states in Week I why watch the video if the X Statement meets the expectations of the prototype then everything is on track. Why most of Carlos's time went to making the movement system was probably the most challenging thing to prototype since he had to make it from the ground up. Even now we are still perfecting this system in terms of programming for example in this build movement is tied to the camera which means the player has to move their mouse to control their momentum. Now it is tied to the player's hitbox moving the control from the mouse to the keyboard making it feel more responsive. Movement is the only thing that is a work in progress(WIP) as you can see enemy pathfinding and gunplay needs work but our goal for the prototype was to implement our core mechanic of movement to give the player the feel of skating around.
With a prototype comes new answers and problems and one big problem we encountered was our use of space. The original level concept was too enclosed players did not have room to explore the movement it was also very vertical where players had no real reason to take to ramp up. So it is back to the drawing board Tommy has worked with sally to make a new concept for the level taking inspiration from a roller rink and skate park to make the space wider and think about with our current movement how the player will interact with the level. For now, it's a good first step, and I will talk about other answers and problems in the coming weeks as we move to the first playable.
From the lessons learned in week V, Week VI was all about improvement and implementation for our first playable. Carlos has not only fixed bugs, and improved the camera and player movement but has also developed 3D pathfinding for our Drone enemy. Now as seen in the video below the Drone now follows the player in a manner that prevents it from going through collision and stacking on top of each other. Why I am unsure about the technical engineering behind Carlos will be making a more in-depth blog post at a later date.
Sally is currently working on our art bible to show what our game will look like and all the concepts we have developed. Why a lot of concepts are posted on the blog this art bible acts as a GDD for the art rather than the design. Tommy has added special effects/ particle effects to the project as well as modeling the 2.0 vision of the level. Collin has modeled and textured the Walker as well as a prototype of a walk cycle animation. And for me, I have been having discussions with the sound team and got the first rounds of sound effects for the game. Along with the sound, I have also made sure the project is still in scope for our first playable and I have been developing strategies to promote the game and make sure it feels balanced for playtesting.
This week was all about putting what we had together and with that adding new problems. First, the level, why this new design is miles ahead of the first iteration we found that the way the geometry was modeled gave birth to a number of issues. Movement and pathfinding would not work correctly based on how the levels face/collision interacted with the code this also would break pathfinding. since then Tommy has gone back to replenish the geometry of the level. Why we have yet to test the new level it's much more polished and will probably be in the first payable next week. I am happy we are able to discover issues like this before players have a chance to experience our game because first impressions matter. Programming also has encountered its fair share of issues that has set us behind our original schedule. Pathfinding introduces a performance hit (something to do with unity, not utilizing CPU cores this causes the game to freeze and FPS drops) that has since been resolved and our Carlos can focus on adding the last couple of features to the game.
Collin has been working on the walker, while Sally has finished up the art bible. Why I think we are a little behind at the moment due to us having to adjust some things I think we are still on a good track. Adding art is the next big step and with the introduction of unity URP, I think it will be a fun time for my artist to mess with post-processing and SFX. at this point, the next week is going to show whether we can meet our goal for the first playable or not, and will probably have to re just since we only have three weeks in the semester left. However, I think during the off-session of December we will see a huge boost in progress. next week we will talk about the first playable and what type of feedback we will receive, we currently have a lot of questions we want answers to since this project has yet to be played by others.
Art Bible PDF Download
Let's jump ahead a little bit, week VIII and in reality week IX (Blog posts are a week behind) has been a real grind. making huge jumps in progress due to having the game's Alpha ready to be playable. We have been working hard to polish the game and bring it up to our standards. Carlos has introduced our second enemy the walker as well as improved upon old code, fix bugs, and ensured everything works. I have been also been working closely with every team member to make sure we are on track and within scope. As well as solving issues to do with Unity's URP, lighting, integration, balance, bugs and, the playtesting form. the build in the video above was recorded on the 28th but since then the video does not do our alpha build justice and you can download and play our alpha build here. All I ask is to please provide us with feedback.
Like I said the video does not do the current game justice. Sally has worked on a very detailed Art Bible which you can download above. the Art Bible covers in detail what we want our game to look like, inspiration, concept art, and, the overall philosophy of the game's art style. Collin has finished up texturing the shotgun and modeling some other assets he has also been working with Tommy to get our levels geometry fixed. the level has been a constant challenge and is still evolving. one thing we did not take into account was that because our movement is physics-based the geometry needs to be as smooth as possible. Tommy has also made some cool shades and special visual effects. Next week I will talk about what we have learned from our playtesting and the feedback received, and what is next for Run N' Gun.
We finally have a chance to show off what we have been working on for the last nine weeks. this week I want to talk about the feedback we received, what type of information we were looking for, and, the state of the game so far. let's start with the game so far, since the first playtest of our Alpha build we have implemented the feedback and added our final system for this semester/sprint. Augments are now in the game and will be visible in the Beta Build. Augments will act as a way for the player to change up their gameplay for example there are three types of augments that change gun stats, player stats, or allow the player to double jump. with this in we can also add gun drops and pave the way for future updates. in short, what we have come to realize is that we have all the pieces it's now about putting them together and polishing them.
Moving on to feedback let's talk about my goals. I ask a lot of yes-no questions or 1-5 (1 being bad 5 being good) because I want very specific information and find that open-ended questions receive responses like "Taban is Very Handsome" Not to say open-ended questions are bad we do ask 5 open-ended questions to let the player express their thoughts and give us a general idea of things. With that said I won't talk about our open-ended questions. The feedback we received was very split but overall The player wanted to be able to move faster. Speed was on the slow side in the alpha build so we increased the speed to let the players move faster around the map. that was the major feedback we received from players. However, we also discovered that players felt weak and were unclear about aspects of our game. since then we have added lots of clarity and feedback to let the player know what is happening. For example, guns now have a recoil animation, and enemies project sparks when hit. with all the improvements we are looking forward to our beta playtesting in the coming weeks.
This is the final week and we can finally show what we have added since the alpha in our beta build. a quick note this week's blog post will include our progress from November 15-23 since that is when the term ends. Anyway, for our beta build, we polished up the game some more, level updates, UI updates, added weapon drops, lighting passes, and, adjusted the balance of the game. The feedback we received was on the positive spectrum with most of the criticism going to the balance of movement, enemies, and guns.
Although the sample size is not exact you can see that players are enjoying this build of the game a lot more than the alpha and the criticism of balance is not an issue number can always be changed. one system players got to experience for the first time is the augment system. players felt that this system was underwhelming I think part of the reason they felt this way was the drop rate of augments being too low, not knowing they had an argument/what it does and, them being on the weaker side in terms of balance. We only had 6 augments for this build and all except one just changed the player's stats rather than giving them new tools to play with. The player's favorite Augment was the damage up and I think this is due to the high HP values of enemies.
So what's next for RnG? well my goal for the first term was to build out a solid game foundation so that we can add content in the second term and make a full-fledged game and that is what we are going to do. Over winter we will polish systems and experiment with new ideas while also taking time to reset our batteries over the holiday. When we start our second term in January it's all about adding content and flushing out the gameplay loop. We will supposedly also team up with the playtesting team and having A QA team to test our game will help speed up production. Some things we want to add will be more weapons, augments, enemies, level, co-op, and a boss fight for example so look forward to it because I cant wait to show off our skills.