Post-Mortem

Date: Friday, December 3, 2004, 10 am to 12 pm
Who Attended: Chris Swain, Rick Nelson, Todd Furmanski, Mike Brinker, Glenn Song, Vince Diamante

What went right?

Good Process for Production

  • Schedule added structure that helped productivity
  • Weekly task reassessments maximized efficiently, especially at the beginning

Strong Team w/ diversified skills

  • Clearly defined domains for team members (based on meetings each week)

Prototyping: key to our success

  • built foundation for the whole production (psychologically and functionality)

Engine soundly designed

  • Worthwhile learning experience (for Rick and Glenn, especially)
  • Tech limitations defined up front, set expectations

Prototyping play mechanic valuable for team mindset

  • paper model
  • Director model
  • in-engine game

Todd’s vision statement communicated clear mission

  • Explained play mechanics
  • Grew into spec
  • Became the game "key"
  • Everyone contributed
  • Kept everyone on the same page

All contributed to design: leaders w/in each domain

  • Game is fun!
  • Game is original and unique
  • Creates interesting social play
  • Music and sound effects good
  • Art, Tech, and Levels are all soundly designed
  • Packaging, Rules, Flyers, and Posters
  • Ghosting effect is cool, significant for usability and ambiance

Hard deadline of Sept 14th drove production

  • high profile event acted as a motivator
  • need for high quality product
  • setting the precedent for the department/first impressions
  • Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, Don Mattrick and Bing Gordon as motivation
  • allowed for playtesting with gamers and non-gamers

Being able to work FULL TIME in summer helped

  • focused environment
  • no class or schedule hassles

What went Wrong?

Usability issues: not accessible enough to casual gamers

  • Needed process for flowboard, interface wireframes
  • Need to do early user testing on wireframes and add to vision documents

Lull after September 14th derailed production a bit

  • 50% class responsibility
  • 50% crash after 14th event
  • funding problem
  • scheduling issues

Underestimated time to build levels

  • needed to make them playable (iterative)
  • heavy maya time constraint (no toolkit/editor)

Network code difficult and needed more time for it.

  • no prior experience
  • user friendlyness important

Levels smartly designed but could be more finely tuned

  • Needed more time to play test and refine each (10 hrs/level, multiple testers)
  • Needed time to add unique set dressing to each level (3-4 hours/level for Jenova)

Story felt tacked on (it was tacked on!)

  • not fully realized in pre-production
  • Embedded narrative elements underproduced (could’ve been written into vision materials)

3D camera problems

  • needed fully functional camera unique to the environment
  • second camera added but removed due to network functionality

Needed more time to add DirectInput for joysticks

  • would have added usability to game
  • needed universal; feel good controls

IGF package needed polish

  • proper installer

Higher production values

  • needed 1 more artist
  • needed 1 more coder for networking

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