Public Release – Final Updates

Right now, we’re rushing to put some final polish on the game for release on Wednesday, November 30th. The key problems that we’ve been having is essentially that we created the actual duck graphics as vector files, and placing sixty of those little guys on the screen at once seems to be a little more than Flash can handle.

After consulting around the studio with individuals a little more familiar with Flash than our team, our belief is that reducing the vectors will significantly increase performance.

So right now, Christian and Karratti are planning to just rasterize the files, and redo the layers in flash with PNGs, so that the bitmap images will be static, and not require as much memory. If that all works the way it should, then we should see an immediate reduction in “chugging.”

Otherwise, things are looking really good. We’re excited for the public release, and look forward to seeing our game being played by museum guests!

Post-Mortem – Final Presentation and Reactions

And after a long night of final tweaks, game testing, little adjustments, final compiling, and all kind of extra stuff that finally burned us out at about 4AM, we’ve got a complete and finished game. After an excellent presentation that seemed to garner a very favorable response, the client seemed exceptionally pleased by the final product.

While we were still initially worried that the game might be a little too abstract for the museum, we were pleased to find that the addictive gameplay and unique presentation won over any real criticisms that they might have had. There were a few minor adjustments that the client asked about, but for the most part, they were things that we had initially thought about, including adjustments to the water bar.

(As an aside, the water bar had been one of our chief concerns, primarily because we needed a chance to see the game played in action before we could get an actual bead on the right depletion rate. Hopefully that data can be accumulated as the game is tested over the next few weeks.)

As the chips fell, the client was quite happy with the product, and chose to accept the game, and will be displaying it in a rotation with other exhibits over the next few weeks. We’ll have to go in and take a look to see how it’s received by the general public.

So good job everyone, and congratulations on a finished and published game!

A Mathematical Concern

Currently, we can move our shots from one screen to another. The balloons move fine. The problem that we’re currently dealing with, however, is that the game plays more like a version of digital shuffleboard than of shooting balloons out of a slingshot. So, it’s kind of back to “the drawing board,” but this time we’re hoping to implant a new system directly into the new game.

Pace and Jorge have been cracking the math together as quickly as they can, but the chief concern is that the two screens on the far end,(especially the one on the far right), are not going to be able to translate their launches as easily as the screen in the center, which may not make the game as fun for them.

Hopefully, though, we’ll be able to work out the math. Otherwise, we may have to make some sacrifices in order to create an actual deliverable.

Narrowing Down the Design

After debating and arguing and laughing and crying over the past couple of hours, we’ve now narrowed down the scope of our game significantly. (Or, it may be more accurate to say that we’ve narrowed down exactly what we’re going to make – I would say that the actual scope was fairly narrow from the beginning, and that it’s remained fairly unchanged since the beginning.)

We’ve decided to go whole-hog with the “shooting gallery” theme, and use the wild west-era style midway games as our base. The cities will become targets moving slowly across the screen. The gallery itself will be made of wood, and we’re hoping to make it feel as much as possible like a pioneer-ish device. Though, we’ll still be launching water balloons.

One thing that we realized, though, was that if we were to cut off one side of the main screen or the other, we’d end up giving the two edges an unfair disadvantage. Our remedy, however, came as we looked through the pictures that Jorge had taken, and realized that the screen was designed for an actual SIX touchscreens below, so we could put any extra information and score stats on the far left side, and no one would be cut off at all.

In any case, that’s what we’re looking for, and what we’re gearing towards. Things are progressing well, and we’re looking to be on track.

The Client-Server System Works!

Well, props to Pace and Jorge, we’ve got a server working, using a mix of Flash and Actionscript. Being that this was one of the most difficult challenges that we were anticipating, it’s actually a pretty huge relief that this part has been figured out. Hopefully, as we move forward, we’ll be able to improve on this sufficiently enough to emulate exactly what we’re trying to do.

Again, props guys – You really slammed that out fast. I added a video of me trying to catch the movement from one computer to another, but I was never quite fast enough. But still, you get the idea.

We Rocked This Pitch!

Today, we did our pitch for the clients at the Natural History Museum, and it seemed to go quite well. The board seemed to enjoy our concept, even offering several suggestions that may be implemented into the game to make it stronger. We were careful to caveat our statements, explaining that while we are very enthusiastic about this concept, we’re tentative about our excitement, specifically because we’re not sure exactly how it might fit within the research that has been done, as well as within the hardware parameters that we’re still unsure of.

We did get to look at the server room, but without a tech on-hand to answer our questions, we’re really only left with knowing that, “Yes, there is a Server Room,” which isn’t extremely helpful. Ms. Menlove, however, has assured us that we’ll have the technical specs soon, so that we can expect those soon.

In addition, Pace and Jorge have begun server tests in anticipation of the actual specs, and have been successful in creating a flash-based server transfer of information packets. Things look promising, and we should have more details soon! So, we’re in good shape for now, and things look good!

[EDIT: I'm also going to include the pictures that Jorge took of the actual installation as a reference for us. While the sketch is all well and good, it's much better to have a real sense of what we're working with as opposed to a practically blind "Artistic Rendition." So, thank you Jorge!]