We redid a lot core concepts in the final sprint along with play testing to ensure people enjoy it!
Behind the Scenes
We kicked off production for DistresseD in the first week of April 2021 and wrapped the game at end of July 2021. We built the game on Unreal Engine 4. The team I working with to produce consisted of one programmer, one 2D artist, one UI artist, and one sound artist. I took multiple hats for this project designer and blueprints programmer but majorly I was ensuring everything is as per schedule. We used JIRA(free version) from managing the project and tracking the progress. I also ensured everyone was on the same page by making sure we had at least 2 calls in a week to discuss the status of a project or if anyone was stuck with something.
The game was developed as a part of the “Issues in Game Studies: Cyberpunk” project, but thanks to the time we had, to work on this project we really wanted this to be something more than just a University project. Therefore the game went through multiple sprints. Each sprint was to be 15 days long as everyone was working on this project part-time.
The scope for the project never seemed unrealistic. I divided the backlog into four categories in order of their priority are, “Basic” which was the core gameplay functionality, then “Must have” which was part of core design, then “Bugs” and “Nice to have”.
First, two sprints were to get a playable prototype ready to test out the game. Then we ran a short sprint to get the game ready for our own university’s Game Lab session on twitch. Then we had a cooldown sprint lined up with the exams at the beginning of June. After the cooldown sprint, we had one sprint for the Final Project submission at the end of June.
This part of story needs a different section of its own, while the game was ready with less bugs. It still wasn’t fun! As this was university project.
We had one last sprint that started mid July to get the game ready for submission at various events and competitions. This sprint was really crucial we had a lot of play testing and iterations done.
We had to do a lot of rework just to get the game to the state of fun. I had to ensure the quality of the game was good enough so that the people who understand our concept and enjoys the experience DistresseD is try to provide. We had to add little hacks to ensure that the players are curious about the game at all point.
As it’s rightly said, last 5% of the game takes 95% of effort!
During these sprints, I got a lot of playtesting sessions done as well. With the first playable being ready by the first week of May 2021, I started conducting play tests to get feedback from the players. These sessions provided us with insights and issues that we as developers have become blind towards. Some of these issues were very critical. I observed the playtesters reading their behaviors and reactions, asking them questions.
Still at the end of the project when we did a post mortem we felt that the playtesting sessions conducted were less compared to what the game demanded.