Josh Healy PPJ Personal Post Mortem

Yikes, where did the time go? I remember starting this team with Kevin back when we worked at Skyless, and suddenly we’re a 10 person team at the end of our senior year. A lot definitely happened both good and bad, so lets just jump in to it:

Things that went good:

  1. We managed to take on a huge project with technology we weren’t used to. Before making our senior project team, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who had ever touched Unreal (and that was one time in UDK, not UE4), and all of us had no idea what we were doing. We took the independent study to learn the engine over the summer, and somehow managed to make a pretty good senior project in it despite this being our first real game in UE. It was an absolute beast of a program to tackle compared to Unity, which we’d spent years in.
  2. Designing a game we could be happy with. It took a long long time to get there, and with a 10 person team it was impossible to make one cohesive design that everybody loved. Despite that, we managed to get something in there for everyone, and it’s a concept I’m happy with.
  3. So much working experience. To be honest, I don’t really intend to be a programmer in life, despite being one in senior project. I’d much rather work in animation. Still, I came to Drexel to learn to make games, and this was the ultimate project to test if I really could do that. I’d say it’s a solid yes.

Things that went not so good:

  1. Communication was difficult fairly often. With 10 people on the team, even with slack, facebook, etc. it could get hard to communicate with everyone consistently. Making meeting times that worked for everyone was pretty much impossible, especially when we also needed to meet with our adviser.
  2. Getting work done. A lot of us put a ton of effort in to this project throughout the year, unfortunately some did not. By the end, everyone has a lot of work in the game, but the amount per person is very imbalanced. The very start of the year was also a little slow for everyone, though. Outside classes also made it hard.
  3. Networking. Dear lord, networking. We knew networking would kill us when we went with it. We had heard of the problems past senior project teams had and thought we learned from their mistakes and were ready. We had also heard Unreal networking wasn’t that bad. Unfortunately, that second part was wrong. The stress of networking on an engine we were unfamiliar with is 100% what held our game back. Features in our game could take 1-3 weeks to make, then 1-3 months to get replicated over the server. Even now, we still have plenty of networking issues hurting our game.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Networked games are hard. Don’t try it in engines you aren’t proficient in.
  2. Stay organized! My Rider blueprint became a mess, which made it harder to work in. In retrospect, though, a program that big really shouldn’t be in blueprint.
  3. Does Unreal count? Unreal was something I definitely learned.

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