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Balthazar Auger

M.A.Z.E. - The roughly one month in pre-production update

student game, game design, maze, prototype2 min read

Ok, so it’s been more-or-less one month since we started working on the game. What’s up?

First of all, it’s nice to see that there has not been any conflicts covert or open, SO FAR. Of course, it would be foolish to hope for peace and love during the whole pre-production period. This is (SPARTAAAA) the video game industry we’re talking about, after all. What has happened is a healthy mix of rational argument, open speech and open confrontation.

The design team (Yvan and me) is trusted for now and no-one tries to intervene if not asked by us first, which is in turn reassuring for us. We seldom brainstorm, for example, and when we do it’s for very punctual issues. The reason for this is that we decided that we didn’t like brainstorming, and believe that when you have a rather solid concept, they do more harm than good. What we have done is encourage everyone in the team to come speak to us whenever they feel like, because we’re just ten feet away and something said to us will be heard by the whole team anyways.

The concept has matured over the days. We’ve identified the role we want the player to take (a trainer of heroes) and managed to give ourselves a mantra for the game design: “sweet spot”. The whole game will drive the player to minmax his heroes progress by finding the best point in his trajectory around the maze to place a challenge, so that he can beat it and get the most (gold, experience, whatnot) out of the encounter. Each and every gameplay mechanism has been designed with this in mind, and the player will score the most by staying in the “sweet zone” (around the sweet spot).

We’ve also had some meetings with the school director and teachers, who act like some sort of “management” figure. They have advice, you can listen if you want, but sometimes you’re expected not to. No money transactions involved here, so no pressure, which is another benefit of prototyping in a academic environment. The only thing everyone wants to achieve is a good game, because a good, fun game will bring publicity to the school and the students involved. And according to some professionals, a fun game is a game designer’s best portfolio.

According to our project manager, we’ll have another of those presentations on December 3rd, and by then we’ll need to have defined most of the gameplay and how the graphics will look, and knowing that I’ll be attending this year’s e-magiciens during nearly a week (not as much attending as manning the school’s booth, actually, so if you’ll be attending, feel free to drop by and have a chat!), that leaves us with very little time.

Ah well, “Que será, será!”

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