Robert Fernandez PPJ Personal Postmortem

Wow… I can’t believe we only have 3 more weeks left of college and that I’m writing this already.  I still remember joining this team over a year ago at this point and our first brainstorming meetings that we had.  Of course as always things didn’t go to plan, our ideas changed, and from what started as a racing game with a dynamic environment turned into a huge splitscreen networked giant mix of king of the hill and capture the flag.  Even though things didn’t go to plan we were still able to get so much accomplished in 9 months and because of that I’m proud of the team.

Things that went right:

1:  I went into senior project with one huge goal.  I wanted our game to us motion capture for the human animations, and I can proudly say that we were able to accomplish this.  What is even more of an accomplishment for me is how much I was able to learn and figure out myself from spending the endless hours working on looping animations.

2:  We were able to work within UE4 which is something that isn’t taught at Drexel.  A large part of that success lies in the fact that 6 of us did an independent study with Rob Lloyd the summer before senior year so that we could dip our fit in the UE4 wadding pool before we had to dive in head first during fall term.

3:  We were able to incorporate all of our work together into one game. Even though some things took longer than others we have a game where both of our characters have animations, attacks, and an objective.  Our rider character even has taunts which is a little added bonus!

4:  We were all able to learn new things which is the main reason of senior project.  Even though this project has had its ups and downs, it will be the project I remember the most from my time at Drexel.

Now time for the things that went wrong….

1:  First, I think the overall communication within the team didn’t start off on the right foot.  I don’t think it’s one persons fault, it just took a while to find the best way to communicate with each other.

2:  When I went in I only had worked with motion capture on one game before so I was constantly learning along the way, which left countless hours basically wasted when something messed up, I did a wrong step, or simply just couldn’t get clips to loop.  That happened quiet a bit with the walking and running.

3:  Having such a large team (the biggest all DIGM team that has gone through senior project afaik) made finding a good meeting time for everyone almost impossible.  There were always scheduling conflicts, some weeks one member couldn’t make it, the next week another, and so on.  I don’t believe this had any effect on our game, it just is something we really should have accounted for at the start of this process almost 9 months ago now.

 

And now the lessons I’ll take from this project for my future projects….

1:  Being organized is essential.  We have one spread sheet containing all the motion capture takes we did throughout the entire project and that sheet was essential for Ricardo and I when it came to who cleaned up what, and the progress of all the animations.

2:  Things will get cut, you might not like it, but you need to be able to let things go.  We went from having two human characters, each with their own custom animations, to having just one character.  That would have been awesome but 9 months simply isn’t enough time when you factor in all the other classes and work we have to do at the same time.   It would have given us so much more practice with motion capture and would have been awesome to have two characters for the human player to pick between, but oh well.

3:  You might not have the same views with people on the team, but everyones opinion on everything counts.  We are all going through the same thing, and we’ve all spent the last 4 years together living in the urbn labs and getting barely enough sleep to not go permenently insane.  In order to have a good team environment everyone has to be treated equally and any tension should be brought out and talked about as a team.  This project is our baby and it we’ve literally carried it for 9 months like a real baby and will be what we will hopefully use to show off our time at Drexel.

4:   I know we are only suppose to have 3 but I think this is the most important lesson I’ve learned.  I know that I want to specalize in motion capture now and that love and passion for that medium is what helped me through a lot of the hard times while working on the project.

I came away from this project knowing exactly what I want to do in life and that is something I’ve been looking for my entire time at Drexel.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

 

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