Game development is an art. The work a game designer or developer does bear some similarity to a sculptor or a painter. You start by creating the major features, making sure the proportions are right and that the work has the overall look you want. You then start looking at things with a much finer eye, getting all the details exactly as you want them. This fine-detail stage is where we are with the development of Firewall. Our major features are done, and they work well together. Now, we are in the process of tuning the details to craft the experience that we want for our players, and we are playtesting constantly to confirm we are making the right decisions.
This week, we did some tuning and tweaking of the numbers behind the game to make sure everything in Firewall feels balanced to the player. Alex Schneider led the charge to balance the unit health, base health, and weapon damage to provide a better overall game experience. Another part of providing a great experience is ensuring that the player is alerted to important events in the game. Ryan Andonian and Nick Ferro have been working this week on providing visual and audio alerts for game actions that the player needs to be aware of, like the base being attacked or enemy AIs escaping cyberspace. Ryan has implemented a flashing directional alert that points the player toward these important events. Nick has taken the sound effects recorded by our sound designers and tied those to in-game actions, as well as implemented voice alerts (recorded by members of the engineering team!) to provide audio feedback of the game’s state.
Firewall’s tutorial level got a lot of excellent testing and tweaking this week and is very close to the point where a player can just pick up a controller and learn the skills necessary to play Firewall. Our tutorial currently takes players through moving the Hero, firing the hero weapons, the workings of cyberspace, moving the Hero in cyberspace, hunting down enemy AIs, and placing towers. Sam Wolpert, Mark Escobedo, and Alex Schneider have done some really fantastic work on completing the tutorial, and Dan Rogers has provided some very cool tutorial-specific resources to make that part of Firewall look great.
So where do we go from here? For the next couple weeks, we’ll be finishing up the game for release and preparing for our final presentation. Our final presentation will be at the Sammys. The Sammys is the awards ceremony for the entire Game Design department at UCSC, named after the beloved UCSC mascot, Sammy the Banana Slug. If you’d like to attend the ceremony (and we encourage you to do so!) please follow the link here. We’ll be presenting along with the other Senior game design teams on the projects we’ve been working on. The ceremony represents the culmination of the entire year’s worth of work from the entire Game Design department, and showcases not just the senior design games, but notable projects from the other department courses.
The next couple blog posts are going to be entirely dedicated to showing off Firewall. We’re hoping to have game footage, screenshots, and more details about what will happen after the Lumberjack Commandos graduate. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!