Let's Not Die
Not all games make it to gold, and one of my senior projects, Let's Not Die turned into quite the cautionary tale.
Our senior studio project was three consecutive 10-week classes. By the end of the 30 weeks, our goal was to make a finished game or tech demo.
Our proposed project, Let's Not Die, was a third-person survival/shooter game where four players had to cooperate to survive waves of enemies, while racing against each other to complete a few objectives and escape the game's apocalyptic map. Aliens, zombies, and eldritch abominations prowl the streets - survival would depend on learning their unique, exploitable behaviors.
Sounds like a lot of work for 30 weeks, right?
We were overconfident and over-scoped. This lead to several other problems further down the road. We poured our hearts and souls into the project, but in the last 10 weeks it became clear that we would have to make drastic cuts to finish the game on time. In the end, the game we turned in was a twin-stick shooter with the same basic premise, but local co-op instead of online multiplayer. All four player characters made it into the game, but other elements - 6 of our 9 enemies, unique character abilities, most of the enemy's complex AI and several items - had to be left on the cutting room floor.
Let's Not Die was a humbling, but extremely educational experience. For the first 20 weeks, I was the project manager. I learned more about leadership and organizing a team in this project than Starmada and Wilderlands combined. I also served as a level designer, system designer, and writer for Let's Not Die. Every group member was pouring hours into the game and juggling several roles in order to make the best game we could. Let's Not Die did not come out as we intended, but each of us gained an arsenal of new skills and techniques that we may not have learned, if we had pursued a less ambitious project.