The first Monday of Journeyman was mostly a blur, as not long after our first lecture on Monday ended, we had all our team members in our newly created Team Discord, with our chosen game, Castlevania, following shortly afterwards.
In my first 2 weeks, the predominant goal was settling into the team dynamic and getting a feel for what this team is going to be like, this was generally important to me as an individual, as I am the Art Lead for Team 6, to this end a Lead Meeting was quickly set up for the 28th Jan at 1pm, to allow the TeamLeads to introduce themselves to one another, this was a good first step in getting the team all sorted, as if we could get everyone in the top sorted, we could let that arrangement naturally seep downwards to every other team member.
We then waited till after our first practical on Friday, as this would act as a natural catalyst to bring us together easily, so after that session concluded we naturally fell into sub-team meetings, for me this was leading the Art Team meeting on the 29th Jan at 11am , where we mostly discussed the lab session that had just happened and I allocated roles, so people would have a general idea what they would be doing in this project.
Leading on from some initial discussion and brainstorming that took place in our Team Discord, the Leads came together for another meeting on the 29th Jan at 3pm, where we started to finalise our ideas, to create a solid idea for us to move forward with. This Idea was that we would have the playable character of Dracula’s Wife, Lisa, exploring Dracula’s Castle in the same Metroidvania genre of the pre-existing games.
For this reason, over the weekend, I started my research into Castlevania games by playing Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Castlevania’s spiritual successor, a game created by the game creator most associated with the franchise, meaning this would be perfect reference for our project, as it is the most update-to-date entry into the Castlevania series in all but name. Overall, after playing it I was sure this would be a great reference for our project, especially in art style as this game has the most current iteration of the classic Castlevania art style, it was also particularly useful with it being a 2.5D game, the layout we were looking to make ourselves.
Also, over the weekend I set the Art Team’s first goal to accomplish, to conduct visual research that would be collated and refined into the Art Guide for this project, it will be important to get this right, as this will be the central document for the Art Team, as it will ensure consistency throughout the project, if done right. Additionally, it was around this point I suggest we added a Current Idea Tab to our discord, so we could clearly communicate our current ideas to every team member, without having to search, the reason I suggested this was to allow for better unity among the team, as knowing what we are all working towards makes that journey a little bit easier.
On Monday, at 3pm on the 1st Feb we held our first whole team meeting, with the main purpose being to allow a period of open discussion for the team, where any member could ask any question they had, or share any ideas they had about our team game, as leads we used this session to gauge what the popular consensuses was towards our idea, and overall it turned out pretty favourably.
After our second Journeyman Lecture, we held an impromptu meeting between the Design team and all Leads to discuss certain ramifications of newly revealed information from the lecture, in short, our idea would not cut it, so we need to quickly rethink our idea into something more unique. In the end we decided to change our game location to hell, inside a replica of Dracula’s Castle, where Lisa must escape by running away from hordes of demon to fend for her own life, the overall game gameplay direction changed from exploration to escaping with speed.
Shortly after that meeting wrapped up, the Art Team held a meeting to discuss 2.5D, a crucial element to this game that we needed to get right, to this end I booted up Bloodstained and started playing for the team, as we started to dissect the world, to figure out how it ticks, which we did, as we made a few crucial discoveries like general scene construction, that we needed to replicate.
On the 2nd Feb at 4pm we held a quick Lead meeting, so we could be introduced to a special MS Teams groups for our project, which would act as the formal hub for our interaction, compared to our informal hub of discord, its primary functions for us will be data storage, synchronised calendars and a bulletin board for task that needed to be completed.
In my capacity as Art Lead, I took some time on the 3rd of February to create a bespoke spreadsheet for all my needs as Lead, in its current state it has 3 tabs: an Asset List Template which will be used later into the project to organise asset production, an Art Team page, where I breakdown each member, and keep rudimentary notes on the team, so I can better manage them as lead and a personal task page, where I keep track of each of my individual tasks that I have done for the project so I can more easily write this blog, and in turn the reflective essay.
On Friday 5th Feb after our Lab session, we held a Lead Meeting at 3:30pm, where we cleared up our Idea’s Blind Spots, as at this point there were a few things we had not considered yet as a team like what exactly we needed from the outsource team.
The weekend starting on 6th Feb was a busy one for me, as for my personal tasks were difficult ones to try and complete, so much so, my first task is still ongoing, due to its complexity, this task would be my task of collating and refining the Art Guide, this has been difficult so far, as I have struggled to find any useful reference on what a guide should be like, which has resulted in it being hard for me to find the tone needed for this document, however I have made headway into this by refocusing on who the audience for this document is, which is my art team members, by remembering this I should be able to write a useful guide for them.
My second task was to submit the animation list to the Animation Outsource Team, which in itself was fraught with difficulty, with the main culprit being their form, as it was in no way easy to use. Overall I found it hard to give them the information they wanted in a useful manner, as their form wouldn’t allow it. I also had the issue that the information they wanted to know isn’t fully known to our team yet, as we are still working out the minutia of what we need, overall, the short deadline, while understandable wasn’t entirely workable.
My latest meeting was conducted today (as of writing.) on the 7th Feb at 3pm where me and the Design Lead figured out our 2.5D Camera, as this crucial element needs to be got right otherwise the whole project will fall apart, as we won’t be able to frame the game properly, as we would lack that crucial information we need, before this meeting I did some research into 2.5D scene construction, and made a blockout to explain how we will set out levels, which is important, as it give a good idea for what we were looking for in the camera.
Overall, I think this project is going well so far, with our major success here being the team dynamic, as so far, the team has been working very well together, and I think we will make something good.