Project CATAM Pt.4

The first week of official, full-time work on Project CATAM has come to a close. It was a very productive week, but it doesn’t make for much of an interesting blog entry. Rather than go into detail about what I worked on, I’ll touch on it briefly and then talk further about working with investors.

WEEK #1

I setup some milestones for how I’d like the project to come together. The first milestone is coming up in a little over a week (things are moving quickly). Basically, I want all player functionality to be in a somewhat final state. If by the end of the game, Crown can double jump…that needs to be implemented by next Friday. Same goes for block pushing/pulling, swimming, shooting arrows, etc. I also want the animations for all of that to be out of the way so that I can focus on making the game FEEL good.

This week we focused on movement: idle, walk/run, jump, wall jump, roll, backflip, swim, etc. Next week we’ll focus on actions: sword swing, bomb throw, block push, etc. Whatever else we come up with.

In a nutshell, if you follow me on Twitter, you’re probably up to date on what we accomplished this week.

Investor Setup

Alright, I’d like to dig into to our work with the investor(s). I think it is the more interesting topic for people following this. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about creative freedom, unneeded stress, and things along those lines.

To clear things up, YES, working with other people does compound the stress put on a developer while creating a product. I have had a few moments where I was worried about deviating from the original path and “scaring away” the people who have the power to make this happen. However, the people that I am working with are pretty laid back and we have a mutual trust. I think it is important to work with people who you have already former relationships. In my case, we met through the Game Maker Marketplace and outside contract work.

Dropbox

Working in groups allows me to stay on task because I feel obligated to be organized and to keep the rest of the group informed on my progress. The first thing we did was to setup a project Dropbox folder.

The Assets folder belongs to Jonathan and Dylan. This is where they’ll throw all of the animations, backgrounds, sound effects, and tracks. I can upload GIFs and .png files directly into Game Maker Studio, as well as .wav files (my preference).

The Builds folder acts both as a fact checking tool for the investor (“What did Zack even do this week?!”) as well as a repository of sorts. At the end of every week, I put a new build into that folder. I think it’s just called PlatformerGame or something, at the moment.

The Info folder is mostly just various documents that change from day to day. This includes things like a pitch document, a design document, a projected timeline, and milestone details.

The Zack folder is just what it sounds like. This is my folder for basically anything that I want to become visible to my team and the investors. As of now, I just have programming to-do list and another sub-folder. The second folder is a bunch of daily change logs. I use these to update everyone and to keep me on task. I don’t type out every detail of my day. I’ll show off a sample:

January 6th, 2015

-Update Milestone/Timeline doc
-Create Pitch doc
-Plot/lore stuff
-Rolling into walls no longer cancels roll
-Rolling doesn't move push blocks (treats them as walls)
-Implemented Crown sprites/animations (idle, run, jump, slide, and roll)
-Controls are now mapped to currently equipped set of items rather than having keys for each item
-Block pulling to compliment pushing

It’s mostly just a bullet point list of things I worked on throughout a day. If a day looks unproductive, I usually take another shift after my girlfriend goes to bed. I like to be consistent from day to day. At the end of the week, anyone with access to the Dropbox can compare the new build to my change logs, if needed.

Trello

We also have a Trello board setup, but I feel as if it is already obsolete due to the sheer amount of stuff that I like to put in the Dropbox and the amount of communication that takes place via Skype. Originally for asset/to-do lists, the Trello was quickly replaced by other methods of communication. Perhaps we will revisit this though.

Creative Flow

As for everything else, we can revisit the mutual trust topic. I trust the investor to deliver and the investor expects the same of me. I have complete control over who is on my team and what we create. I feel blessed to have worked out such an open-ended deal. We’re certainly going to make the most of it.

More CATAM visuals coming very soon!

-Z

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Project CATAM Pt.4

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