Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Student Project - Post Mortem

It is about a month after the completion of the first student project for the Games Academy. I had some time to think about the whole process and have to say that even on a team with five people work can be hard to coordinate. We had no producer in our team who would try to keep the team together and the project on track and we had no one to try to do that job and the result was that we changed the engine without checking the new one and just because some team members thought that some features were not to their liking. The engine switch resulted in a massive crunch time and some small sparks flying but fortunately we could work out a way to finish a playable version and there were only small difficulties between some team members. They will not work together again but they are not trying to kill each other.

The project itself is playable but not bug free (just like some rushed commercial titles) so we are not really disappointed with it but with better management we could have delivered a better game with all the features we had planned to implement and also without bugs.

It was the first  student project I worked on and even though not everything went according to plan I have learned a lot. In an earlier post I said the the first project is doomed to fail but that was just some students in higher semesters trying to ease our minds. As a matter of fact it was mostly about the teamwork and learning to keep a schedule than really delivering a great game. We managed just that and are content if not happy with it.

In the previous two posts I talked about engines for 2D games and after having worked with Torque2D I have to say that it was a bad decision to switch to it because there are some kinks (or bugs) in the engine that are not really fixed and the whole documentation was outdated and in some cases just wrong. So working with it was mostly tapping in the dark and hoping to find the right command and that the engine logic was compatible to my own. After some research I found out that Torque2D had no real support anymore and that there were two different 2D engine based on the Torque engine and we did choose the wrong one. The other one uses XLA and therefore has a lot of tutorials and is up-to-date but using c# is a little bit more complicated than TorqueScript because it is much more powerful and more object-oriented which could have been a problem for the second programmer (not sure though).

The biggest problem was and always will be communication between the team members. Not just the coordination of work but smaller day-to-day problems that could ruin the working relationship in the long run.

As a conclusion I could say that the next project will be better and that I will not make the same mistakes as before but I have to be realistic and just try to do a better job next time and if something is amiss I will talk to my new teammates...

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