This has been the toughest and most rewarding year for me so far at Champlain. I loved working on Speed Scoop with Rachel, Tim, and Jay, but I just didn’t frontload enough effort over the summer and in the fall to get the game past the end of the semester cut. I’m still immensely proud of our comeback and that we were able to present it to our peers.
I would’ve been thrilled to work on any of the ten projects that moved forward because they’re all fucking incredible games. Pardon my french, it’s true. That being said, I wouldn’t have it any other way if I could go back and pick which team I was assigned to. Sword of the Sorcerer was a perfect fit and I’m thrilled that my name is on it. The art, code, sound, and project management were all top-notch the entire semester, but the people were what really made it all come together.
No one on the team ever showed up with a negative attitude. No one started drama or attacked anyone else, even when stress levels hit a record high. Everyone did good work, listened to my input, and gave me all the help I could ever ask for when it came to diving into a new codebase. At the end of the day, making a great game is important, but being happy and kind are too. I saw some other teams and peers forget this as the senior show creeped closer – which is understandable – but our team stuck together through thick and thin.
I had a rough start in Production this semester. I’d never used Unreal Engine, SteamVR, the HTC Vive, or Unreal’s Blueprint system before January. Completing the smallest task meant reading through dozens of webpages and files for hours. This was frustrating for both the team and I. But practice makes perfect, and after a few work sessions I really started to get the hang of our programming pipeline.
After becoming comfortable with the codebase, Sword really opened up for me. I prototyped a scoring system, created the core wave spawning system which drives gameplay, built an immersive VR environment in the weapon room, learned about menus, motion controllers, navmeshes, and more, fixed endless amounts of bugs, and then finally polished the game into something that the entire team is proud of.
Setting up our booth in the CCM gallery and watching people play the game were extremely rewarding experiences. A little girl sat and watched six people test, mirroring their movements the whole time and jumping up and down with excitement. A grandmother strapped on the headset and shrieked with surprise when she turned around to find an army of skeletons. The entire gallery erupted in applause when Eva beat all nine levels after several hours of no one being able to. This has been a great year, and it’s been about so much more than just the academics.