4th Year Journal in Journal

4th Year Journal

Final Journal Entry

This is just a quick update to inform what tasks I have completed in the sprints since my last individual ca submission.

Sprint 10

  • Add shrubs
  • Add tree roots and branches
  • Add leaves and rubble 
  • Add tree stumps and large branches
  • Fixed tree LOD bug
  • Added decals for moss on stones

John wasn't very happy with the tree roots and leaves so that was changed for the next week.

Sprint 11

  • Removed leaves and roots
  • Fixed bug with decal applying to character
  • Added more and better long grass

The track is really shaping up now and looks much "dirtier" and better.

Sprint 13

  • I added additional decals that look like tyre tracks in the level.
  • Removed and replaced some rocks that didn't look as good as the others.

Again, these really help dirty the track.

Sprint 14

  • Made a visualization for the  crash analytics
  • Took many screenshots for Mahara and Presentation

Week 10 - 4 Apr

Product

This week consisted mainly of working with mark and trying to integrate his new trees and models before our alpha presentation. 

I also made a few adjustments to the textures with Shane later in the week and we removed the black and white LUT too.

We replaced the old bike model with the newer one with the arms on it.

Process

We added a new backlog to scrum which will be the base of our beta release, we haven't made the release yet as we want to wait and see how our presentation goes first.

Issues

Only issue is that I think the models are lacking in quality and quantity.

Presentation

As far as I can tell the presentation went very well, we didn't receive and negative comments as far as I can remember and everyone performed very well.

Ronan has documented all the feedback from the Q&A and we will use that to structure our beta release next week.

Week 9 - 23rd March

Product

This week my main tasks consist of getting models and textures from Mark, checking to make sure everything works and placing them in the level. Basically every model and texture received had some issue with it and because I was dependent on Mark being finished before me. This led to some issues which I discuss below.

Nearly every model and texture I received from mark had at least one issue with it and led to a lot of back and forth between us trying to fix each individual pieces. It would be better if Mark was able to check his models in Unreal Engine before sending them on to me.

Process

The sprint this week didn't go very well, I was dependent on Mark to finish his tasks before I could even start. Mark was not finished on time and I got seriously delayed, then some of the models and textures didn't work and that led to tasks not being completed at all. 

Issues

The main issue this week was waiting on Mark to finish before I could start, that means both of our sprint time should have been cut in half leaving us with not enough time to get everything finished. In reality though I was left with one evening to do everything, which didn't work out because the assets sent to me didn't work. I hope by the end of next week the models and textures will be completed and I can then include them in the game.

This issue should not have happened, we should have never had one member of the team reliant on another work earlier that week. In future I will try my best to avoid this scheduling error.

 

Week 8 - 16th March

Product

This week I Built up the area of the track where the player starts. I added some extra railings, dirt and rocks to make it look more real. 

I had to go to surgery this week so I knew I wouldn't get too much done, that's why I only took on a small amount of work. 

I am happy with how the starting area has turned out. I think It would be nice to fully block in the area or show how the player has gotten to the top of the mountain, but that's not essential for now, once the track is completely finished I will worry about the surroundings a bit more, maybe more towards beta.

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Process

Nothing to report here, The scrum train is running smoothly.

Issues

After surgery this week I might be incapable of completing everything I set out to do for alpha, It may be ok though. 

Week 7 - 9th March

Product

This week I focused on fixing some areas of the track, I fixed the length of the large jump and changed the ramps to be made from rocks. I removed the second rock garden and rebuilt it a short distance further in the track. After getting the go ahead from the rest of the team I implemented the lighting plan, building up from the prototype from last week. 

I had to adjust the levels of fog and the intensity of lights in the level. I also added light beams that were available in the unreal engine blueprints demo, they really add a lot to bring the level to life. I think once we have a few hero objects and the correct trees in place the level should be ready for alpha.

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Process

Issues

No issues to report.

Week 6 - 2nd March

Product

This week I started work on the Lighting and Lighting document. I am not fully sure what is required fully, I plan on contacting Niall before next weeks tasks and I can try to complete the lighting then. For this week I have experimented a little bit trying out different tools in unreal engine that could be used. For example I added an extra skylight which softened the harsh shadows of the forest, I added exponential height fog which could be used to assist in the scene and I dimmed and added more clouds to the skysphere. The helped dim the level, I can use this prototype to show the team and see what they think and then move on from there. 

For the lighting document I have added some images into various sections to try and capture the look and feel we want to achieve from the lighting in the level.

This week my individual tasks were based around specific track features. After the first turn of the track I added a small double jump section which leads into the next turn and the lane section, here I added a big ramp up that the player can take, or they have the option to avoid it and go around the side instead.

I replaced the first rock garden with a more realistic and more dangerous one. I was able to take a rock asset from the unreal engine blueprints demo, where the texture on it updates dynamically so it can be used in a very modular fashion.

Finally I added some more berms and fixed some of the terrain in some of the corners.

Screenshots:

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Process 

This week we set up the release for our Alpha release. In order to fix the problems that have arisen we have set out to have no vague tasks and be much more specific with our stories. 

We plan to aim for 30 points each for the release, giving us three weeks or 10 points each and a little bit of wiggle room in the last week.

Issues

Right now I think the biggest issue is how we will have to decide which features will have to b e cut as we don't have time for everything.

Week 5 - 24th Feb

Product

This week is the build up to our proof of concept presentation and the sprint is based completely around that. This week there was very little development done and most of our focus was on getting ready for the presentation and submission.

This week my main task was to work on the team mahara page alongside Michael. We worked on it for a couple of days over hangouts and a bit in person too. The objective was to capture our current progress and design a nice page to show off our game. I think we accomplished this well and the page looks great now. In future we will continue to update the page with our progress and also focus in on some of the marketing side of it too. 

The proof of concept presentation went well overall. I think everyone was impressed with the work done so far, and we were complemented for our co ordination and planning in the presentation itself. Personally I need to improve my own presentation confidence and was told I was talking to low and they cant hear me, I hope I can improve this with time and practice. 

Enda had mentioned that we need to focus on certain aspects or features of the game which is completely understandable but I hope that this doesn't take away from the "game". For example I would value recorded times and camera controls as important as any feature in the game because they are the elements that make it fun and competitive. I understand the "focus on the bike" argument but, we do have two dedicated team members working on it and I am not sure that point was picked up correctly.

There were comments about the excitement in the level and this one effects me the most. For alpha I really need to focus on making the track more exciting and diverse.

Overall I think it went very well, better than I had expected. I think it's obvious that our only let down is in the process department.

Process

This week we had a complete overhaul of our scrum methods. We have started using planning poker again, but more so that everyone is clear of the complexity of each task and everyone is on the same page. We are no longer making large vague tasks like "Continued track development" and now are focusing on the exact features that need to be adder rather than the "sandbox" approach we had used before. Overall I think we have a lot of making up to do but we are definitely on the right track to improvement.

During the proof of concept presentation, I get the feeling that Gerry thinks we wont improve even though we had clarified that we would. I think this will improve over time as we prove that we have changed our methods for the better.

Issues

The only issues I see this week are that our scrum is still improving and we've yet to prove ourselves, and I think time will become a huge factor for our alpha release and we may have to cut a few important elements.

 

Week 4 - 17th Feb

Product 

This week I added features to the track. I added a rock garden, and a jump, I also continued placing the railings down the track and fixed some areas of the terrain that were rough. I added a few berms along the wider turns in the track, some of the are good and some are a bit rough but they are at the very least good placeholders for now.

Process

Michael was scrum master this week as usual. My work was made up of one single thirteen point task to continue track development, and two points to get to grips with git. 

Issues

In our group project class this week both Michael and Shane had a long talk with Gerry and John, who were not happy with the methods we were using in terms of process. They both had a long talk with me afterwards outlining any problems that John and Gerry have addressed and fix our weekly group meeting we have come up with a strategy to hopefully get us back on track and those issues.

Week 3 - 10th Feb

Product 

This week I spent nearly all of my time working on the level design. This is not a very complex task but is quite time consuming and in some areas can be a very long process with only a little output compared to other tasks.

This week the main changes I made are:

I added some stakes, tapes and collision bounds to the track, this means the player will be contained within the track and wont be able to pass by the tapes.

I removed all of the trees and replaced them with long cylinders. The idea behind this was that now it is much less expensive to tun so hopefully everyone should be able to work on the level and game without that being an issue. This also allows me to represent the density of the forest more accurately and as you will only see the trunks of the trees most of the time, I see it as a perfect representation for proof of concept.

A lot of my time was spent trying to get the track gradient and surroundings right. I think it looks a lot better now and John agreed that it looked more like the real thing now. Placing the ropes and tapes is a very slow process, I'll try to think of a way to speed it up in future.

Process

This week Michael has been delegated to take care of scrum. We all set up the sprint together but it's up to him to make sure we keep on track. 

Issues

The biggest issue this week comes in the fact that git uses binary files for Unreal Engine projects. This means we can't resolve conflicts when we try to merge our branches. Because of this it means that only one of us can work on a certain file at a time. Myself and Kevin both have to work on the level file and will have to sort out a schedule where we don't clash.

Week 2 - 3rd Feb

Product

This week I spent my time working on the track for our game. I looked at some videos of tracks in Ireland and hopefully will be able to replicate that feel in unreal engine.

I learned how to use splines in the engine. This allows me to set out a nice flat(ish) track, adjust the height of each segment and morph the terrain to match that track. In theory then it should be fairly easy to sculpt a nice landscape around the track and then populate it with props and foliage. 

Unfortunately it is not so simple. Using the current set up, I can easily build a track on the side of a cliff, but that doesn't represent what we would see in Ireland. The problem comes when tight turns turn the track back in on itself. Its hard to have a bank on both sides of a track when one side drops down to meet another section of the track. I think for proof of concept this should be grand but for our alpha and beta releases this is something that will take a very long time to get right. 

I spent a lot of time this week getting used to the tools, using splines and different sculpting options for terrain. 

I had some problems in that the models I was using to populate the track were to high quality. Some of my team members had trouble running the project and were unable to work. I overcame this by adding a prop low poly tree and replicated it about the level just to show which areas will have trees, and simple blocks for start finish and other areas of interest.

I also got some practice with landscape materials this week. I was able to build a small tool that allowed me to paint dirt and grass and add a nice grass mesh to any area painted with grass. I will explore this more when I get a chance. 

Overall I feel fairly confident that given the right amount of time I should be able to build something that matches the quality and efficiency that were looking for.

Process

This week I decided that all scrum master roles will be delegated to Michael from here on out. He has done a fantastic job so far and I don't see any need to change that. This I feel takes away from my role as Project Manager but I think my role organizing meetings, addressing any issues, and trying to keep a smile on everyone's face should suffice.

Issues

So far the issues I have are:

- Level design takes a lot more time and work that I previously expected. 

- Use of high quality models and textures will have an impact on performance so we will have to choose weather to use lower quality models or sacrifice some performance.

- Current methods are not good enough to correctly represent what we need, more research is necessary.