Back from Hibernation
Meditation Island 2019-01-30 10-22-11-06.png

It’s been a while! I’ve been busy job hunting and working retail and I’ve let making games slip by the wayside. My goal is to release something small each month now. Starting with this, Mediation Island. I recently built my first PC to VR specifications, and have been messing around with VR games to see what the current landscape looks like. I didn’t find very many games that were purpose built for just… relaxing. That’s where Mediation Island steps in. Beyond being a quick test to get an understanding on how VR development works (using the incredibly useful VRTK toolkit), I wanted to really create a space that was inviting and exciting to explore. Using Gaia’s incredibly powerful terrain and foliage generation and placement, I was able to craft an island I was happy with, and then tried out Derelict Computer’s DroneMachine to create some peaceful, low, grumbly ambient drone, that acts as a breathing guide.

Beyond this project, I have an idea for a VR toybox, as well as a 2D Puzzle game I’m quite excited about working on. Keep an eye out for them. Also, I will be attending GDC 2019, so if you want to meet up, feel free to contact me using the contact information seen here.

Luca Hibbard-CurtoComment
Senior Production Blog 13 (4/21/2017)

And here we are, a week before our final build is due, and my hands are off the prototype. Eric is not letting anybody add or change things anymore and it's bug finding until the end days now.

I helped Emily run QA (and I will be helping her again tomorrow) in addition to adding a few polish pieces to the game: two particle effects that can be seen in the current build. A dew drop explosion for when a flower bursts open, and a rain effect that can help sell more emotional segments of the story. Speaking of the story, additional tweaks and changes have been made up to the last minute based on the artists needs. We lack the time to get every character and location in the game, so to avoid overworking the artists various changes have been made, moving characters from location to location, adding some clarifying pop up boxes, and more. All these adjustments have been added into the game's dialogue scripting files by me, and are final.

At this point there's not much I can do beyond some bug finding, and recovering from a brief cold I developed this week. Next up, senior show!

Senior Production Blog 12 (4/14/2017)

We hit beta! That means we are officially design locked, meaning that I don't have much to report for this week. I made more changes to the story based on feedback, and at this point I largely have two tasks:

Find as many bugs as possible

And make some particle system mockups. In a last minute attempt to give the game more "juice", it's all hands on deck coming up with various bits of art and polish that can help the game feel more alive. I plan on getting to work on particles this weekend, but they might not be something that ends up in the final product. In the meantime, I'm playing the game and will be helping to run QA this weekend to try to find as many bugs as possible to make sure that the game is a smooth, polished experience from beginning to end.

Senior Production Blog 11 (4/7/2017)

With the completion of the story last week, this week was fairly light. I made some edits to various parts of the story based on team/peer/and professor feedback, but the team also asked me to come up with various sketches for improving the level select screen once more.

We have 3 game modes, and 10 levels. Each level has all three game modes, one for training, which introduces you to the kanji, one for a challenge, which challenges your training, and one for battle which is the final test of your training. Each of these previously has been selected by selector arrows and is slightly clunky. I created 5 variants for how changes could be made. Each one is slight variations based on different ways we've talked about how player interactions could be improved. 

Our artist, Maddie took these variations and improved them to what will possibly be our final iteration of the mode select screen:

You click on the mode you want to choose, it contains images of the kanji used within, and then you click the begin button. I personally am pushing for a double tap system, as having extra buttons on a touch interface is clunky and cluttered, but I am receiving push back from the team on this front. These reasons include "it's fucking annoying", and that the space where the begin button is would have to be replaced with another art asset that we don't have time to create. These are somewhat vaild concerns, but just about every mobile game I have on my phone uses single or double tap systems without confirm buttons just fine, so this will be something I address with the team in our upcoming meetings.

This Saturday, we are meeting up to have a work meeting, and I'll make the final touches on the tutorial, after a "will we/won't we" debate on removing the undo button, and write tutorial sections for our other two aspects of our game: Kanji Drop, our flashcard like mini game, and the Kanji Guide, a book with every kanji you've learned so far with the ability to pick any number of kanji to practice. As we head into the final stretches, it's a lot of polish and making sure players have a perfectly smooth experience.