I am now into the second year and with it, a new unit – Game Development. For this unit, I need to build a complete single player game prototype which is playable on Microsoft Windows and addressees seven different key specialisms in game development. These are game design, programming, narrative design, art direction, animation, level design and sound design.
I have very little idea what I am going to make for this project. The problem is I feel very stressed and although I have learnt something over the past year, I do not feel confident enough that I would be able to develop something that is made to a respectable quality and is playable by the end of this unit. I barely have any level of programming skill and I have not attained any proficiency in any game engine.
I have found that the structure of each unit being orientated around getting a project complete in a short time frame, coupled with the workload which in my opinion is too much for a part time degree course, which has meant I have found myself frequently resorting to seeking quick, short term solutions in order to get a project done, rather than taking the time explore any area of game development in any depth. Although I am aware I have access to Linkedin Learning and other resources which go into really great depth, I found I was unable to engage with these because I always felt time pressured and I never felt I could take my time to learn something properly because of time constraints.
Anyway, I will attempt to remedy this with this new unit. I initially wanted to do something with VR, but I have decided I am going to have to play it safe for most of this unit given my own lack of confidence. I am probably going to stick to a PC game of some sort.
For this unit, I am considering making a game with 3D graphics. I have not decided on the type of game but I would be keen on making an RPG. I have decided on 3D graphics as one of my goals for learning is to develop proficiency in 3D graphics and to become fluent within Blender. Across previous units, I had set myself a goal to become proficient in Blender and produce 3D assets using the package, however, due to technical issues and other external circumstances that arose within these projects, this did not happen.
Another one of my goals for this unit is to develop proficiency in at least one game engine. I have had some experience in Unity (Unity, 2021) and I explored it across several previous projects. While I have an understanding of several of the basics of Unity, I have zero confidence in being able to design, program and build a game within the project. While I think Unity is a great game engine, I have started to consider learning a new game engine for this project – possibly one which is more accommodating for non-programmers such as myself.
As a warm-up exercise, we have been asked to take each of the disciplines of game development above and score them according to how confident we are in our skills within those disciplines. I needed to think about the skills required for each of those and also why I may feel more confident or less confident in these disciplines. This is in accordance with the concept of T-shaped people – that is someone who has expertise and a depth of knowledge within several areas, as opposed to a specialist who has a lot of knowledge in one area or a generalist who has some knowledge in several areas (Heuer, S. 2012).
Here is a graph to illustrate how I have scored my depth of understanding across each of the seven disciplines of game development.
Game Design: I did some research into the role of game designer (Stefyn, N., 2019.) and I have come to understand that is a pretty broad role that encompasses a range of areas of the game development process and also ties in to two of the other disciplines – narrative design and level design. I believe I have a lot of potential to improve in game design, as I have experience designing levels for a game and I also have experience developing concepts for games, as well as the coming up with mechanics, hooks and feedback loops. I also have experience designing the UI for games, considering how players interact with them and also how the game looks to appeal to its target audience. However, this is still at a very early stage and I am not fully proficient in all these areas. Furthermore, I have no fluency in any game engine which is crucial to the role, so for now I can only score this a 3.
Programming: I am by no means scared or averse to learning scripting at all, but I have no proficiency in this area. I have no fluency in any programming language that is used within game development. I have attempted to teach myself programming languages before but to no avail. I usually have had to rely on either contacting another developer for help or copying and modifying code that I found from a tutorial online. Lack of programming skills has been the source of several of my previous projects not being completed. I realise I need to consider the programming behind any game I make as part of this unit but I will need to look into ways that I can pick up basic scripting and use it to make a complete game. Possible options could be to consider game engines that allow me to visualise the programming, such as Blueprints in Unreal Engine (Unreal Engine, 2021) or possibly a game engine which has its own specific programming language, such as GameMaker (GameMaker Studio 2, 2021) or Godot (Linietsky and Manzur, 2020). I have very little proficiency in scripting but I have found ways around it in the past for small projects, so I have scored this a 1.
Narrative Design: As a multidisciplinary artist, I have a lot of experience creating narratives for different media, including short animated films and comics. I have drawn storyboards and written scripts for comics. Along with coming up with storylines, I enjoy drawing characters and coming up with backstories for them. I have done this for my own creative projects and I have also played D&D, where I have come up with characters that have detailed backstories. As for game projects, I have some experience coming up with game narratives such as the Woodland Chaos project and the Construct project from the first year. I also created a narrative for a text based adventure I made a few years back called ‘I’M A BEETLE‘. My narrative design skills are fairly good, although I have not had much experience in tying this into games, so I will score this a 5.
Art Direction: Along with game development, I am very keen on illustration and I feel confident using my artistic skills to realise and visualise various projects. I have had experience creating concept art, as well as in-game art for a few previous game projects. I also have skills in various media and I am able to adapt to different styles of art. Over the past few years, I have mostly focused on 2D art, although I am fairly keen to move into 3D art. As I feel my 3D art is lacking, this will reduce my score for this, but I will give this a score of 7.
Animation: I am experienced in both 2D and 3D animation and this is one of my core skills. I studied my bachelors degree in animation and I have experience using a wide range of tools and techniques within animation, which I have applied in both my personal and professional work. I also understand the basic principles of animation. I have an understanding of how to create animation, both character and environmental for Unity and putting them together using the Animator tool. This is an area that I have a lot of experience in, so I will score this an 8.
Level Design: I have some experience drawing up designs for levels complete with obstacles, which I have done for two projects during the first year. I have gained experience sketching the level out, blocking it out in a game engine and then visualising it. While I have done fairly well with this and I think there is potential here, my skill here is still basic, so I will score this a 3.
Sound Design: I play a guitar from time to time and I am an alright musician, but I don’t really have any music production or composing skills. However, I have had experience picking out music to use for short animation projects, as well as sound effects. I also feel confident editing sound or mixing sounds together. I would be keen to discover new methods for creating music and sound for games. As I have some basic skills in sound design, but by no means advanced, I will score this a 2.
Our weekly challenge for this week is to complete a skills audit (Learn.falmouth.ac.uk. n.d.), which is where we are presented with a set of statements stating various skills and we have to response with one of two answers – CONFIDENT or NOT YET CONFIDENT. I also need to provide a resource link for each statement to show that I know where to go to help me with each skill. I am going to hold off on doing this for now until I have chosen a game engine as the resources that I would use for some skills would be specific to the game engine I choose.
Learn.falmouth.ac.uk. n.d. Challenge Activity – Skills Audit. [online] Available at: <https://learn.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/251/discussion_topics/4482> [Accessed 27 January 2022].
2021. GameMaker Studio 2. YoYo Games.
2020. Godot. Epic Games.
Heuer, S.,2012. ’Building Square-Shaped Teams With T-Shaped People’ [online blog], Agile Sean, 30 April. Available at: https://agilesean.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/building-square-shaped-teams-with-t-shaped-people/ [Accessed 26 January 2022].
Stefyn, N., 2019. What is Game Design and How to Become a Game Designer | CG Spectrum. [online] Cgspectrum.com. Available at: <https://www.cgspectrum.com/blog/what-is-game-design> [Accessed 26 January 2022].
Unity Technologies. 2021. Unity (2021). [Software]
2021. Unreal Engine. Epic Games.