[Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

GameLab specific topics and discussions.
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130034
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 130034 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:38 am

The idea:
112103 wrote:So what I would suggest: D&P and IGD students can participate in a voluntary 3 credit class every block B and D, which creates a prototype for the next Gamelab. Those who finish a prototype get 3 credits, thus have to participate in only one block of the next Gamelab.
When Gamelab starts, teams are formed around existing prototypes, and team leaders are students who did not take the prototyping class, thus will be in Gamelab both blocks.
The Issues brought up by others [Shortened]:
  • - Year 1 Gamelab (A+B/C+D) is worth 4 credits,
  • -
    Isn't this also taking artist and programmers out of the conception phase?
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    - [quote]Last thing, if you have a solid team leader, even on day 1 everyone will have more than enough work to do and no one should be working at 30%.[/quote]
  • -
    What, exactly, is preventing designers/IGDers from doing this themselves? Don't you think it is kind of the designer's job to come up with an initial plan, and therefore kind of unnecessary to lure them with 3 credits?
  • -
    I see the logic behind needing a pre-production phase, but personally I'd be worried about problems in practice due to inexperience.
  • -
    This is wrong, I can tell from experience working at multiple AAA studios that every person in the team is involved in the design process.
  • -
    Gamelab has always been doable without overtime
Analise of the idea

There are two different groups that come to IGAD, those with experience in their area, and those without. Gamelab mixes these groups up and from week one you are put in to a working environment where the team them self are responsible for there own mistakes, and are challenged to spend the remainder of that course [2B] creating a game. [First year].

From the few weeks I'v been at IGAD working in a team I have fount little issue with the task given, however that is largly due too the team them self and the variety of skill that the team has. In the first year getting a good team in game lab in each department: [Programming] [Art] [Design] with at least one person in each area having some prior experience is almost vital.

The issue is a lot of the students come too IGAD without prior experience, mostly out weighing those that do, and with that comes other variables such as personality and other potential issues that happen within a team. This clearly isn't truly Representative of a true working environment in industry, where the entire team would have experience behind them.

So then I can see the reasoning for a "Pre-Production" course, however the execution of this course has to be on the mark for it too work.

Looking at the challenges this brings, such as the split between Game Lab and PP does mean additional staffing/scheduling, the ratio of students as well as others.

The Second year actually do something akin too this oddly, they in Block A & B create two prototypes, which if selected are continued in Block C & D. While they may be in the same environment, and are expected somewhat too have the same level, if not higher as a first year:

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First year are meant too have an Alpha Done by the end of Block A 
Second year have a prototype done by the end of Block A
So while the second years are aiming to have a prototype done with in a single block with a years experience, and the first years are met with a similar challenge, yet with less experience, and more than often lesser quality games, does it make sense for them to do the same?
Project and Deliverables Timeline:
Block A - Day 1 Team Formation - Assign roles, sign for responsibilities, chose a concept, decide on game idea, start writing game design document, draw concept art, start research (tech, art).

Block A - Day 2 Concept Pitch - Proceed with initial game design, write game design document, proceed with research, decide on middleware & tools

Block A - Day 3 Elevator Pitch - Present game design document. Adjust documents based on feedback. Start prototyping: build placeholder assets, code experimenting.
This is the schedule taken from the course documentation.

Day one starts with a team coming together and assigning roles, coming together as a group and deciding on a concept for a game (not the final project), start writing some documents, draw concept art and doing some research.. Essentially on day one teams are given an entire day to just come up with an idea, and look in to it, Not much experience needed there as a whole.

Day two resumes from day one, but than allows the supervisors to give feedback on a game, help address issues and potential flaws that might have been brought about from either having too much ambition with the lack of information on execution, or simply inexperience in design and production.

Day three gives the team time to address the issues in their game, and than present this readdressed ideas too the supervisors using the research, concept art and perhaps even some programmed mechanic examples, and get even more feedback and support.

... So than with all this extra help, time and a considerable less amount of pressure compared too the second years, having two blocks on a game with support. Even that sounds like a lot of help considering the level at which we are learning, where there is indeed a need to DO work outside of assigned time, IF each Credit for game lab is worth 28 hours of work, meaning 112 hours of time expected, than once you subtract the presentation times, the hand in times and others from game lab, you are actually left with some missing time, and you do actually have time outside of gamelab to do these jobs. Honestly, the first year get's a lot of lee way compared too the higher ups, so I don't think the issue is with "GameLab" or needing another course, I think the main issue is not even the lack of experience, but instead the lack of realization that at this level of education, the given tasks are not meant to be impossible, they are very achievable. So instead I think the main focus should be on addressing those students who believe that the task is asking too much of them, and getting to realize they might actually have underestimated what it means to be doing this level of education.
Samuel Gilbert - 130034 - IGD11

131042
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 131042 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 11:22 am

130108 wrote:I completely disagree with you and see this as a waste of time.
I am a programmer myself and love game design. This meant that I will be involved in the complete design process as well.

The problem with the Gamelab projects that I see is not that the design are too weak, it's the scope of many projects. Especially right now in the first year everyone has a way too big of a scope. They expect to be making FPS' and RTS' as their first game.
The solution is, and this should be thought at the beginning of Gamelab (and elaborated on in DP and IGD lessons), to learn how to keep the scope of your game within range of your skill level.

Also, you mentioned that this "pre-production prototype" should be a DP and IGD only thing. I also disagree on this one. You said yourself, usually at the end of the first or second day there is a democratically decided design which doesn't have a unified vision.
What if I, as a programmer, completely disagree with the "pre-production prototype", think it's boring and think it will never work. Then I am stuck with this design because they just spent a shitload of work on it and probably got 3 credits for it. Meanwhile I am working on a project that I hate.

Last thing, if you have a solid team leader, even on day 1 everyone will have more than enough work to do and no one should be working at 30%.
This.
Mitchel Disveld - PR

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112103
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 112103 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:31 pm

dini wrote:This year we are trying two prototypes in one gamelab, because we really want to see a strong prototyping mentality.
Sounds like a great idea. I would still argue that artists and programmers will be underutilized in day 1 and maybe day 2 of each block, but at least Gamelab 4 should be much stronger for it.

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by dini » Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:56 am

Not really. When the artists and programmers are underutilized at the start of prototyping Game Jam Style (uhuh) , you are probably not doing it right.

Artists can be making concepts, programmers can be designing their architectures. Both can be getting familiar with the tools they are going to use, and if you really have spare time then you can use it to do a bit of R&D. There is a ton of stuff you can do before the design is settled, getting ready to implement the design. And in a lot of cases, the design and the programming should happen, initially, at the same time, when prototyping.

090004
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 090004 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:10 am

I roughly read over what has been said on the topic and I just want to give my opinion on this:

Although I do understand what you are aiming for, I do not fully agree with everything. Purely talking about pre-production and not throwing in (design) ideas during the production phase.

I am not sure how much has changed, but during the relevant gamelabs (more on that later) this is already the case, mostly. Let me explain:

I mentioned relevant gamelabs because in my opinion GL1 is nothing more than a reality check for every direction on IGAD. "Let's make the next best "insert game/genre" for our project!" and this needs to get out of your system fast, because you will need to learn how to scope with the resources you have. Next to that, you don't know anybody (or just a few) so you don't have the time to have a pre-production phase anyway.

For GL2, you (hopefully) learned a lot and know how to scope a bit more proper, but the first year is precious, so I wouldn't dedicate a lot (if any) time on pre-production and just learn how to work as a team, get familiar with the fundamentals of making a game in itself.

Now for GL3/4 I would like to see some kind of pre-production phase. The thing is, back when I did these, the projects were already in place. Be it proven games from GL2 (or even GL1) that can be fleshed out, pitches made by other students to the teacher that got picked out or concepts made by teachers.
So this means that, with the exception of teacher made concepts, there has been already a pre-production phase before gamelab, purely on initiative of the students that were willing to make that sacrifice. Even if the concept is that of a teacher that acts as the client, you have enough to start off with and flesh out the initial concept. It might not be the most ideal situation for a pre-production phase, but guess what? Not everything can be done in favor for everyone.

GL5 is pretty much the same deal as with GL3/4 but with higher expectations on what you are going to deliver.

This might all be different than how it is now though, but this worked pretty well in my opinion. You will always bump into obstacles one way or another. A dedicated pre-production phase might lift some stuff from the designers, but it will still not guarantee success.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.
Joey Fladderak
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