Saturday, 8 February 2014

Shun Goku Satsu Assignment: Production Management

 Production Management

When designing our final major project we need, as a group, to effectively plan what strategies and weaknesses we share within in the group, what the game is going to be about and how we go about building it. It also means that some people work for more than one group so methods of building the game are completely different to another team’s method. Personally I’m in three groups, freelancer for one and trying to see how far I can get with my personal game on the side. My reasons for this are showing that I can work in groups as well as I try and be independent at the same time. Here in this assignment I will discuss what could happen to most groups as a whole and then discuss what’s been done in each individual group.
Constraints within a Group
There are various constraints within a group that can either help the team grow stronger for break them and the project apart. Money is probably one of the biggest factors as in the gaming industry, it can costs millions just to make one game like Legend of Zelda, Grand Theft Auto or even Final Fantasy which are all created by big gaming success powerhouses meaning money isn’t really much of a problem and workloads and be equally distributed. Compare this though to Indie Gamers where they basically are starting from scratch, having to find the money themselves with very heavy workloads and may not be a huge success leaving them bankrupt. As students we are going the Indie way, meaning we will have to pay for licensing, programs such as the Autodesk collection (Maya, Mudbox, 3D Max), Photoshop, Renpy, UDK ect, all of which can costs thousands to pay for. Then there’s also the price of getting travel and paying for your food and maybe extra materials, for example if like myself you’re a concept artist for the group, it will mean must pay for your own tools like pencils, inks, paints ect Then there’s also having to pay for food, this may not apply to everyone though as some people may bring lunch with them or simply buy food from nearby retail places. When piecing this altogether it will cost a heck of a lot of money, luckily all members of the groups all attend the same college (Confetti Studios) which supply the programs and can allow us to download student versions of the programme for free, giving us more time to work on projects at home.
Another good thing is some of the group members may already have programs such as Photoshop or even hardware like Wacom Bamboo tablets, so they don’t have to fully relay on using college meaning work can also be done at home.
There’s also the matter of how many responsibilities each individual have, this can be a huge problem in the group as some people are going to have more time to work on things than others. For example I personally carry a lot of responsibilities outside of college such as my jobs. My main job is helping my Mum with running our family dog business of walking, retraining and boarding them. Another one is keeping the house/family business going if my Mum’s had to have surgery as there isn’t anyone in our family/ we trust that can take on her roles in the household other than me. This also includes looking after my little brothers and all our other pets which in itself are demanding tasks. For hobbies I take in unwanted and mistreated birds, train them and get them back to their full health and keep them as family pets (I have also done this with two tortoises and six terrapins), I think my last major responsibility is looking after my horse Cleo. Having a horse can be very demanding- especially in winter! Then as she was a ride and drive, I have to have lessons on how to make her a riding horse and myself a better rider to take part in jumping, endurance riding and Yabusame (horseback archery).
With all these other things that I have to see to it can be hard to get the work done before the deadline, meaning I stay up most nights, going into early hours of the morning, working for the teams which is ok until it starts affecting your health.  One of my major downfalls in sometimes taking on too much work and trying to finish it in a short spaces of time which leads to serious consequences later, for example I haven’t been able to look at the screen for long periods of time as my eyes instantly start stinging and over-watering. The ways in which I can help this situation is effectively plan my workload for a start, keep up on taking vitamins and make sure I take my Optrex when my eyes begin to sting so it doesn’t lead to them ‘leaking’.
In a lot of games of games nowadays you’ll see various advertisements being displayed, that the public don’t really give much thought about them. My opinion to this at first was they use advertisements to make games that revolve around cities or include a city, like Bioshock and Judge Dredd, more realistic to public’s eye- not to actually advertise their services to the world. Also even though it’s not legal, loads of young children play over-aged games like Call Of Duty, Borderlands and again Bioshock where sometimes in games like these you’ll see an advertisement for the military. This can actually plant a seed these young children’s minds because they haven’t been exposed to what war is all about, to them because they play first shooter games ect, they themselves think it’s a game and don’t look at the bigger picture that going to war is all about being blinded by your country’s conscience, and having to fight the battle between life and death ultimately becoming survival of the fittest regardless of your comrades or even your family members- emotionally scarring you for life. I don’t think these kinds of advertisements should be in any games because of this reason. Stopping under age children from playing these kinds of games at home is impossible and not something that can be easily done but refusing money from local business when designing a game can, even though it could mean a lot of money is lost in the industry- yet it would mean not a lot of people will be the delusional thought battlefields are playgrounds in a sense.
Advertisements are literally plastered everywhere in technology these days sending a lot of people into an ‘outrage’ because we can’t go somewhere technological without being swamped in advertisements. Take Youtube for example if you’re not a heavy gamer. Before you could just watch any video in peace without your computer freezing or crashing and full concentration would be on the clip- but no! Now we have to suffer like we do when watching the tv, viewing advertisements that are taking away at least 30 seconds of our precious time and life to try and sell people more goods, when all we want to do is watch that wonderful video clip- dream on! Also I have noticed since the advertisements plagued Youtube and other movie like Animecrazy, Animeoan, BBC I Player, a lot of the time the hardware does slowly down adding to fuel of making people go berserk. Now on online gaming they’re injecting more and more advertisements into these things sending gamers into frenzy. It’s not ethically right to be continuously pestered by companies we don’t like or don’t want to buy from  because their sales have gone down, don’t get a lot of recognition or like the ‘Go Compare!’ person wants to annoy you with their horrible music and rhymes.
It isn’t fair that our gaming experience is going to be ruined furthermore by advertisements.
The patent, filed July and granted November of last year, goes into more detail about how this would affect the user experience. The filing suggests that gamers could be warned of an impending advertisement by a warning message, or by slowing down gameplay. The filing also suggests that game content could effectively be rewound at or prior to the end of the ad, presumably in an attempt to ready up the player in case the gameplay broke off at a critical point.
Online multiplayer games are specifically mentioned, confirming that Sony is at least considering the approach to both online and offline games. During online games, the patent has clauses for the display of the same advertisement to all users simultaneously, and different adverts for one or more players.
Taken from James Holloway, ‘Sony patent could see games interrupted by compulsory ads article’
The responses to this advert were:
This is the worst idea I have heard of lately, as a gamer if this were to take off I would boycott the game!
Is there no sanctuary left where we are free from blatant advertising?
Advertise somewhere else, do not interrupt any games!!
Quoted from-Michael Simpson
Sexuality is another big conflict in games because designers don’t appropriately display the sexually diverse characters correctly through image, or their role in the actual game isn’t ethically correct to begin with or they just don’t have a proper depth meaning they don’t flesh out in the game like they should. Developers don’t necessarily think about these things and go with the stereotypical white, powerful American/Asian guy that’s a Mary Sue with possible fetish for maybe ‘cuddly cat’.
In Persona 4 the antagonist who’s gay actually has a better back story then most other homosexuals in other games. It talks about his struggles as teenager on whether he’s hetro or homo and to some it can be difficult to realise what you are personally, eventually making you sympathise with that character. This is because of public’s stereotyping with males being gay are actually weak minded or suffered from something horrific in that past to make them that way, this isn’t the case. The character in Persona is rebel, one who proves and fights or his freedom listening only to himself when in reality he’s actually scared of what other people think about his orientation- which is true in real life for both male and female. In order for him to become stronger person he overcomes this fear of showing that he’s gay to public and gives off the vibe that he doesn’t care what they think, thus making him mentally stronger and again it happens in real life.
Another from the same game actually wants a sex change from a female to a male because she believes that her world is male dominated so to speak. Sometimes in certain hobbies or things I’ve done I have felt it’s overly dominated by males because a lot of the females tend to go for other things making out your weird female and suppose it happens to males as well. Even though the girl doesn’t change gender it gives another thought to public about how we treat people like this and how it fits into ourselves and how we feel about the sexually diverse issues.

A lot of games from 7+ revolve around the protagonist taking part in violent scenarios which many parents feel this has an impact on their children and other people. Yet developers have set our punishments if the gamer were to commit too much violence, like killing people that are innocent or just killing to many living creatures. In Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time if you kill too many chickend or pick on one for example, all the chickens in Hyrule no doubt appear out of nowhere and come to kill you. Assasin’s Creed makes you start from the beginning of the mission if you kill innocent citizens or too many of them and in other games like Grand Theft Auto and Simpsons Hit & Run, the legal forces will be on your tail to hunt you down until you pay or up or the game ends. I think it’s a good idea for making sure there’s a consequence if one was too kill just for sake of bloodlust on a game. It gives the parents a peace of mind and media will stay of the gaming companies backs for longer instead of trying to sell out a story that’s full of rubbish.
When buying a new game that’s finally been released after so long and you quickly run home in order to play it, you don’t really want to find out the game you’ve just spent all your money on has disk-locked content that will only be released if you go to a certain place, spend more money or just won’t be released at all. It’s really annoying and not ethically right. As the public you pay for your franchise then all of sudden you can’t have part of it- even though you’ve paid for it? This would then lead to piracy in the gaming industry that does burn holes in their sales. In order to gain a little more money is to stop this disk locked content nonsense allowing more people to enjoy the whole game- hopefully decreasing piracy.
Copyright nowadays is a huge issue and it’s because of a few reasons. Mentioned before about disk-locked content if you download a game illegally, then all the content might be available to you whereas in the shops it not- not a legal reason.
The games are too expensive, fair enough they are in some respects as one game could cost £40 but then look at how much money had to be put into the game. Designing games costs billions to do not to mention the staff like developers, producers, animators, testers ect have to go through hell because of the workload to finish these games in time, so it’s only fair they get a decent amount for their work. Whatever excuse we use to commit copyright with games it’s never right. One exception could be copying old games that no one can gain money from or you can’t find it anywhere no matter how hard you look.
As students we need to take both ethical and legal issues into consideration. Ethical would be to not offend anyone (or as little people as possible), as well as keep our game rating down to no more than a 16. For legal issues we would have to disclaim anything that is not made by us but other parties (like music and voice actors), not to steal/copy anything from existing games and to not sell our product as we do not own a license to do this.
Contingency Plans
In any group we need to have a back-up plan in case something happens where a member of team becomes frequently absent, or can’t get into college to hand in work or simply the files on our memory stick is lost or broken. For the team members part if something were to happen to the team leader, my job in a couple of groups is to take in everything the leader has said/wants then distribute it to the rest of the team members if need be- this way if something were to happen to me, everyone would know what to do and how to carry on. The internet is also another way we can all stay in touch other than relying on meeting up at college or other places in town, on sites like Facebook, Google and IM messengers- plus in some groups there’s an online meeting held every week for the group to discuss anything and everything that concerns the game which is a brilliant idea.
Now if we were to lose work or couldn’t get in to college to hand it in, the teams usually have a storage place on the internet for other to have access to and retrieve like Google drives and Dropbox, which if anything did happen to your memory stick you can get your work from there also. It may also help if someone else has a copy of your work just in case of this situation of well but the internet would be much better.
The Groups
Drastic Studios~ The Depths Between
Drastic is the first group I joined as it contains people who I class as my friends since the first year. The good thing about this group to begin with is we all share similar interests in games and opinions on what we want in a game. Our group started before the summer holidays began last year and it’s where the game ‘The Depths Between’ began. At the start we didn’t have a leader so I decided to get the group going by taking everyone’s original game concepts down and then merging them together so that they became one whole concept. As no one decided to take notes during this I said I would begin the GDD for the group and spent my holidays doing this. To be honest I believe this is where most of the troubles started in the group as I stepped down from being  leader due to my responsibilities at home (it wouldn’t be fair on everyone else as I can’t always be sat at a computer screen). When the new leader was elected I was still planning things for the group like meetings, homework and bulking up the GDD.. So I posted the GDD  on Facebook so everyone had a copy. To be honest I thought that was all the trouble over and I promised to leave the leader more to it. During that couple of weeks though, communication seemed to have been lost as some people didn’t have a clue what the game was about, others didn’t know what work needed to be done for what and then I personally felt as though whatever I suggested on the group chat for the group was shot down in flames and that I wasn’t respected for the amount of work I had already done for the team.
Finally I confided in a couple of close people on what to do and organised another meeting during one of lesson’s breaks to get everything sorted and my thoughts across to leader. To be honest the meeting did clear a lot of things up like what we should be doing for this assignment on our group work (e.g surveys, moodboards,mind-maps), what our game/team is called and how I’ve felt about all this. After the leader personally changed my GDD without consulting the entire group I did feel a little angry as it was my work that’s been changed without my consent.  After again speaking to the leader and explaining to the members of the team we are allowed to change the GDD and add more depth to it so that we are all happy with what’s going to be done. Nowadays I still work for the group and I’m stepping away from leading the team when it gets into sticky situations as it’s not fair, but that doesn’t mean the leader hasn’t been much better since that meeting and I feel more confident to voice ideas I have and feel appreciated for what I do.
In this group I’ve completed:
~Intial notes
~Intial GDD
~Research Survey
~Moodboards for the game and all my characters
~Finished a section in the game where my character meets the main character
~Finished NPC Quest and script
~Completed concept/final image art for my character, done two mock images for her design as well as finished her backstory and bio.
~Completed an enemy concept/finished image and a short description
~Finished final images on two NPC as well as short descriptions.
All of these can be found under the section marked ‘The Depths Between’
My next steps for this team is to melding my NPC quest into the GDD, alter pieces of the new GDD that contains my character and start animating her a little bit (like cycle runs). Other things I can be doing is gathering voice actors for character’s that people don’t want to voice, design a mini-boss that appears in my NPC quest and write a description on him; I believe after all this it would be to model assets and my character.

The Untold Tale:The Tale of Davy Jones
I’ve recently joined this group as well, as I know and have worked with all the people there and find them great to be with as well as Drastic. The story so far revolves around pirates and takes on an art style similar to Saints Row, where the imagery is semi-realistic with a hint of anime, in the group, so far my job has been to create 5 designs for NPC characters that will appear in poor docks. After this my next steps would be to choose a final design and put it up on Photoshop with the leader’s consent and move onto more concept art for the team.

Malaman Studios
For Malaman Studios I work as a free-lancer and do pieces that desperately need doing for the team-leader. So far my job’s been for concept art where I’ve designed the character, Malawoman, with 3 different hair and clothes styles. Working closely with the leader it’s been decided that the woman version should have some type of hair, to distinguish the difference between the Mala sexes. The hair itself will be the colour of someone’s veins and either braided or plaited, whilst the clothes style may be something similar to Grand Theft Auto. When the concept art for Malawoman is done along with a final image, concept art for Malaman will be next as the leader has already asked me to do this.
Elemental Wolves
Finally my last and personal game that I’m trying to work on, Elemental Wolves has been a story that has stuck with me since Secondary school, and after playing around with Renpy I believe I might be able to turn my story into a game rather than an animated series whilst at college. This game already has a lot of stuff done for it, as I used it a lot during my first year at college so it’s literally ready to start building with models and scripting in Renpy. However I’ve concluded that as I’ll be busy modelling for other games and that is game is one to be done on the side, the images will be 2D and the gameplay will be more like MMORPG and RPGs such as Clannad, Kanon and Sukisho.
What I’ve done for the game:
~Full GDD
~A couple of story chapters
~Couple of manga chapters based on the story
~Bios,backstories,mind-maps, moodboards on the game/characters.
~Storyboard on beginning of story/start of first chapter
~Various concept art/mock scenes
~48 Characters been designed (5 years ago), few have been re-vamped
~Got some voice actors for the story
~A few old animations.
~ Primary Research for the game

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