It’s kind of difficult to remember specific things we did on Super PAC Bros! in order to prepare for the greenlight presentations, though a large part of that may have been due to a lot of the stress that we were under. It was emphasized by our professors that having our team pass the cut wasn’t the goal of the course, but it was something we were actively trying to accomplish. It wasn’t just an issue of getting a good pitch presentation together, it was having our game be solid enough for our professors to play it during “Demo Night”.
Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law started taking effect, snowballing small communication issues that were present previously in the semester into large issues we had to either scramble to fix or work around for the time being. I think it was inevitable that these sorts of issues would occur, but they were rooted in issues with understanding some things that were integral to the game. I do want to stress here, though, that I’m not intending to blame my teammates for these problems; most of these could’ve been avoided had I been more diligent in explaining things.
The most prominent example came from how the debate mode and campaign mode interacted- as a refresher, it was intended that each debate would take place in a state, and players could invest in each state at any time during the campaign mode. A peculiar thing that had been present for a while, though, was that the game was disabling states from being invested in after a debate took place in them. When talking with my programmer about this, he said that his impression was that the player with the highest popularity in a state at the end of a debate would “win” said state, making it unavailable for other players to influence polls there.
The last system flowchart for Super PAC Bros!‘s campaign mode
Apparently the main thing that had set off this confusion was that I hadn’t established that players’ funds they invested each state every turn would reset to 0 when they entered the debate, either verbally or on the system flowchart. Another thing that mislead them was when I had told QA testers that the person with the highest polls in a state won the debate. This was at a time when we hadn’t implemented the campaign mode, so I told this to QA testers in order to give them a goal for the play session. Unfortunately, I didn’t establish before or after the session with my teammates that this was a bit of a white lie, so when they overheard this, they took it at face value. Unfortunately, changing this in the scant days we had left seemed too risky, and we decided that we would make do with what we had.
Another problem arose from my team’s artist and I making different UI mockups for the same modes- this largely rose from ambiguity about whose job it was to handle this. As greenlight approached closer, our artist took over more of that responsibility, making many minor tweaks to the layout for both modes. Unfortunately, there was some oversight, and what she made ended up looking like this:
The Campaign UI Mockup our artist made
Which is a pretty great layout. Unfortunately, there were two huge issues with it: first, it showed a bar graph on the states instead of a pie graph, as we had previously decided to use. Second, and more importantly, an entire graph showing how much players had invested in the polls of each state was missing.
The Campaign UI Mockup I made, with two pie graphs per state
Unfortunately, our programmer had implemented the new UI based on her mockup instead of mine. Stupidly, though, I didn’t notice this issue until the night before the professors would play our game. Obviously we didn’t have much time to change it, so that stayed in the build as well.
Again, I feel that the blame for these issues is largely on me- had I noticed these problems or acted on them earlier, the experience of the game would have been a lot closer to what we were trying to accomplish. I feel like I now know what these problems look like, so in the future I hope to be more proactive about addressing them.