During the summer months, much of my work consisted in preparing some little surprises for this autumn and managing the started project with enthusiasm and good mood. I’ve put myself more in a manager’s shoes and I’ve made more solution and validation than creation.
Much of my work was dedicated to the setup of tools of community communication, starting with a community roadmap. It seemed important to give people an overview of the progress of the project for those who don’t have the time (or the energy, or the wish) to read the poetic blogs we prepare every other month. Audrey, a multitask person like me, first began to think about ideas to purpose a map that summarised the advances. A map that will be updated each time there is a major progress.
We’ve also prepared a little nugget for the end of October, we don’t tell you more about it but we’re looking forward to seeing your first impressions.
One of my hats is a “human resources” hat, the team was growing at the return from the summer holidays and we were going to recruit in several fields. In total, 4 persons will join us between late August and early November, in 3D, cloud and communication.
Recruitment period are always really stressful, I need to work fast while being careful not to make an error about collaborators with whom we will have to compose. The more the team grows, the bigger the constraints are, integrating oneself with 3 persons starting a studio is always easier than integrating oneself in a group of 10 who’ve been working together for a year. It’s also a lot of operational work, organisation, ordering and taking notes. A job that doesn’t overjoy me much, as it’s a repetitive and, paradoxically, not a very human work.
If the job interviews are my favourite part in HR, they’re also the part that turns the working rhythm upside down.
This period is over (for now), we don’t recruit anyone before a long time et I’m not unhappy to leave this all behind me and welcome in the team Lucie (3D), Adrian (3D), Johan (Cloud Admin Sys) and Flora (Community Management). The office is getting filled and the atmosphere is all better !
Once the project started, remain… everything that remains. Validation, problems, solutions, precisions. My summer objective was to re-motivate the troops in particular, to progress as much as possible with the mid-term vision to bring everyone’s perspectives out (and see our tasks further than one or two weeks).
I understand that, for you, supervision is less glamorous than creativity, but for me, the “human” is a really passionate part of my work. I’m each day more impressed by my collaborators, their way of seeing things and their creativity. I’m really happy to lead a team in which I’m confident in for pointing out problems and offering me solutions.
During these months, I made a bit more of the variety of things I have to produce, and it was really not unpleasant !
As aforesaid by Diabalzane, we wanted to make a community road map. I didn’t find a lot of references, what motivated me to explore non-conventional trails, even quite shifted from the few 2D elements made so far. We’ll speak about graphic consistency later, when we’ll have a global overview of dWARf.
I inspired myself with 4-5 trails and restrained myself from finishing them all to optimise my time. Yes, I’ll have to live with the doubt of neglecting a trail potentially better. I submitted them to the team and some changes were made.
For Dionysos’ needs, we started to think about the next arena : Poséidon. The pedalo sketched by Solune needed a relooking. It was the opportunity to explore this “quack-quack” fauna; I tested different shapes, and different levels of realism. I simplified their head with some lines that had to be legible in volume.
I wavered between profile researches (rather to give an appearance) or three quartered ones (rather to give an idea of the spatial influence). Finally, it was the most expressive profilesilhouette that convinced us. Little wings, long neck with a rather high head that will brush past the embarked dwarf’s head.
To leave nothing to chance, I thought about a propulsion system somehow ridiculous with rotating legs. I imagined the webbed feet going out and “crawling” on water in little splashes. Ah, I think toys that represent the idea exist, look !
Now imagine the presence… It’s quite the idea!
Then, having taken a step back, we realised that a more manufactured beer source, as a little altar, would be more judicious. I also draw the much-vaunted magic mug which will transport the gentle liquid, whose final version will be a mix of 2 proposals.
Every moment was the good moment to better organise ourselves. So we didn’t avoid a bit of methodology with our quality producer. The files’ nomenclature and their organisation started to show their limitations. We started again on a sound basis, I took the time to re-organise my hard disks – without losing any data !
Even if, at Unexpected, we always want to share most of our work, some ideas have to stay little surprises. One of them already needed a good part of the summer dedicated to it. This time, it’s essentially my work that will be put in the spotlight, so I’m really anxious. #pressure #responsibility
Early in the summer, we’ve made the last playtest of Héphaïstos, and validated the map. It was time to go on the new map ! We had to start from scratch to create a new scene in which dwarves will fight each other. Not to repeat the same mistakes made on Héphaïstos, we decided to review the pipeline and reorganise the way we work.
For a same arena, we work on 3 different scenes at the same time:
The first is the prototype scene, it’s the prototype of the arena containing all the scripts. It’s a playable version, but it does not have any graphic element, it only has simple shapes created by Solune in Unity.
The second scene is the Block Out : every graphic element is there schematically (simple shapes) but allowing us to realise scales and distance of the objects before their final version (see work of Héphaïstos Block Out of March’s blog.
Finally, the third scene is the final scene, in which we import little by little the final 3D elements as soon as they’re created.
We were many to work on these Unity scenes. We therefore decided to create prefabs (instantiated objects) for each object present in the scene (3D objects, scripts, FX, etc…). Yes but, what’s exactly the point of using prefabs ?
When a change is made on a prefab, this change is made consequently on any instantiated object, wherever it is. So when Solune makes a modification on a script prefab from scene 1 (for example, for the UI), this correction is applied automatically on every other scene. This way, every scene has the latest versions of every object, updated with the last changes made. Also, our new arena was filled with many plant elements. We therefore had to create different plants, but each one copied multiple times in the scenery.
For this same plant, we simply use the same object, but if we duplicate it to place it elsewhere in the scene, it causes a problem : these two plants will have different properties, and a change on one will have no effect on the other. It simply is a duplicate of this plant, changeable independently from the other. Or, as they are the same plant, we want them to keep the same properties (scale, material, etc.). So we made a prefab of this plant and every change made on it was applied on all the instances. Therefore, we didn’t have to reproduce the same correction on each copy of the object. However, if needed, it was still possible to edit independently the instances created from this prefab.
Once we’re used to the process, we started creating the 2nd arena : Dionysos. As for Héphaïstos, we started with a Block Out. Then we modeled 3D objects one by one, integrating them in our 3rd scene as and when. So, at the end of the summer, final objects were almost all in the scene, and we could start texturing : adding a bit of colour in this environment !
A little more complex on the other hand, the friends management required bug fixes and coordination between our two mates concerning the bugs raise.
Major problems were raised, both at the level of API and the Libs allowing interactions with them. It was mainly thanks to a pre-prod that we were able to test all services in a fully connected way.
First, a change of the synchronisation protocol and notifications sending had simply broken everything. It required a week of heavy debugging to be able to repair any residual problem.
Similarly, on the Libs side, several problems of functioning were noted and fixed.
The objective was mainly to put all this in real conditions, to check that everything worked and that all the functionalities were present (and while I was at it, starting the implementation).
For this, a simple UI and quite a lot of code to deal with all the necessary information and their display, the hardest being to ensure that every “real” information, memorised information and displayed information were always synchronised :
After 3 months of work, we finally had what we wanted : a game client that supported the connection of the account, the friends management and the chat between friends!