Unreal Student Journeys | Inside Unreal

>>Amanda: Hey, everyone! We’ve been hosting a special week-long celebration of education and learning here at Epic with Education Week 2020! Across our pages, enjoy spotlights on the work of educators, students, and self-taught developers around the Unreal Engine community, explore valuable teaching and learning resources to accelerate your success, learn from experts in the industry, and find guidance on developing a career in interactive 3D Head over to the Unreal Engine feed for a one-stop shop of inspirational stories and exciting resources available to you! It’s October – and that means it’s time to fill up your goody bags with new free Unreal Engine Marketplace content! Gothic knights, remote polar facilities, spooktacular music, and more are now available in the monthly rotation Find your way to the Marketplace and treat yourself to the ten free products before time runs out While you’re there, rake up unbe-leaf-able savings on over 1,000 Marketplace products, now 50% off! Find scary good deals on fall and Halloween-themed products, in addition to spooktacular sound effects, modular characters, realistic VFX, and so much more Not to scare you but the the sale ends Friday at 11:59 PM Eastern, so don’t miss out! If you’d like to try out the latest features and updates coming to Unreal Engine, download Unreal Engine 4.26 Preview 2, which is now available on the Epic Games launcher and GitHub See the full list of changes and share your feedback with us on the Unreal Engine 4.26 Preview forum thread We are excited to announce the Unreal Engine Human-Machine Interface initiative, debuting first in the GMC Hummer EV Leverage Unreal Engine’s powerful real-time featureset to create best-in-class HMI, infotainment, and digital cockpit experiences Step in the driver’s seat and get started today at unrealengine.com/HMI First making headlines with its standout title Raw Data, Los Angeles-based VR pioneer Survios recently collaborated with AMC to realize their biggest title to date, The Walking Dead Onslaught Visit the Unreal Engine feed, where the team details the great lengths they went to ensure that players feel they’ve stepped right into an episode of the hit TV show And over to our top weekly karma earners! Many, many, many thanks to: ClockworkOcean, Everynone, Tuerer, MMMarcis, EvilCLeric, Chatouille, expose, herb64, chrudimer, and LunaNelis Jumping to our spotlights, the stunning short-film you see here is Pantheon! Created by Han Yang, a CG Supervisor with credits on Hollywood hits like Logan, Aquaman, and Detective Pikachu Pantheon tells the story of a battle for the power hidden in The Pantheon Watch the full video on YouTube, and visit his ArtStation for a look behind the scenes Next up is a beautiful survival game set in feudal Japan, called Lost in Ready Valley What you see here was created in 4-months of development–if you have feedback and want to follow Alex’s dev journey, follow them on Twitter and join the Discord! And to cap off this week, be sure to check out Manor Lords, an upcoming medieval strategy game from Slavic Magic Developed by a solo dev, Manor Lords combines realistic city building with large scale, tactical battles Wishlist it on Steam today! Thanks for watching this week’s News and Community Spotlight! >>Victor: Hi, everyone, and welcome to Inside Unreal, a weekly show where we learn, explore, and celebrate everything Unreal I’m your host, Victor Brodin And today I have a merry bunch of people with me who are going to help me talk about the student journey First up, top left, we have my co-host today– I almost can say that you are– Luis Cataldi, our Global Education Evangelist Welcome to the stream Next we have Alaetheia Garrison Stuber Weston Wong, Lead Producer for Rhome From SMU Guildhall, Jaime Tous, Project Lead for Malediction From the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy we have Kait Baird, Creative Director for Excalibots, studied at DigiPen Institute of Technology Mary Dvorsky, Co-creator of Ozias, from Ringling College of Art and Design And last but not least, Milo Smiley, Lead Writer and Producer for Ginkgo, studied at University of Southern California All right, that was a mouthful To kick off, today, we have a little bit of a special video that I wanted to play, which is the fall student sizzle reel And so without further ado, I’m just going to go ahead and kick that off

[VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] [END PLAYBACK] >>Victor: All right I hope that excited everyone It’s really cool to see what comes out of all of these schools and all these amazing students All right, without further ado, we have quite a lot to cover today And so we’re going to start off with Mary, who is going to talk a little bit about size Do you want me to start playing the trailer? >>Mary: Yeah, sure That works >>Victor: All right Let’s go ahead and show off the trailer [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] – I was told this ancient story about a dragon that lives up in the mountains So now I want to know if the story’s true [WHOOSH] [WHOOSH] I am Ozias [END PLAYBACK] >>Victor: All right, and right as we’re about to come back– there we go Mary is back Welcome back to the call >>Mary: Hi Sorry >>Victor: [CHUCKLES] That was great timing >>Mary: Thanks >>Victor: It’s a super-impressive trailer I’m going to give the floor to you This is your time do do your presentation >>Mary: Thank you Yeah, so Jo Rodriguez is my partner And there were only two of us making this game We started in our junior year, spring semester And we started with preproduction We went into game design, which led into visual development, and then we started our prototype for the game and all the mechanics that were going to be in it It was a lot of fun We took the summer to kind of cool ourselves off after junior year And then we came right back senior year And we finished the game in about eight months after that >>Victor: Wow >>Mary: It’s a lot of fun We became really close from this project as well We worked together really well on our junior-year project, and just decided that our strengths really went well together and we wanted to be thesis partners >>Victor: And out came Ozias >>Mary: Yes [CHUCKLES] He’s our son

We’re super proud of where this game got us It seemed to get us a lot of exposure We had no idea it would get this big And yeah, it’s been a lot of fun Yeah [CHUCKLES] >>Victor: Cool Did you want to go ahead and do the slide deck? >>Mary: Yeah >>Victor: Or sorry, the gameplay walkthrough >>Mary: Sure I’m sharing my screen for this, right? >>Victor: Yep, yep >>Mary: OK, awesome OK >>Victor: All right, I think we’re good >>Mary: OK, cool So this is our title screen We put a lot into every single part of our project We wanted our HUD to look really good We wanted our UI to look really good We worked really hard to achieve our visual fidelity I’m going to skip through this beginning part, just to get to the gameplay So in our game, you start off in the village area Ozias is a young boy whose parents were killed A nomadic tribe took him in And they moved around from place to place And when his parents were still alive, they told Ozias about a legend of a dragon that resided in the mountains And after all of this time, the nomadic tribe finally came to the area where the legend supposedly began And Ozias figures– he’s 14, he’s old enough to go off on his own now So when the nomadic tribe goes hunting, he sneaks off and he goes into the mountains to see if this legend is true We did everything from visual effects to modeling, texturing, dialogue Jo is actually the voice of our character She did a voice mod so that her voice sounded kind of deeper, kind of like a young boy would sound And we also incorporated a lot of cinematics in our game We wanted our story to really show and be a big part of our gameplay And yeah, it was a lot of fun It was crazy, though Jo actually worked on our character And every time his scarf moves, she actually did that That’s not something that just kind of happened She did it in the Blueprints which Unreal, has which are awesome You can kind of see like character wheel right there, with all of the animations she did He backs up, and he turns around when he backs up For his jump, he crouches, and then he springs into the air She had to do all of that She went into the animation depot and put all of these animations together It was crazy And I’m not very good at animation So I was so thankful that she was So she did the mechanic where he jumps So the crouch that you’ll see soon, she worked on And then I decide to do the particles for it So I did the VFX for the wings And for that, I actually had to go into Maya and rig the wing system I had to model them, and then rig them And then we took them into the Blueprints That’s actually where we incorporated them, if you see that right there, crazy Blueprints [CHUCKLES] But so we did a lot of collab on everything There’s my wings A lot of fun And our HUD system, she worked on But yeah, there was two of us And it was a lot of work But we had a lot of late lab nights And we got through it [CHUCKLES] >>Victor: That’s a great video, showing off the game and then some of the components of how it was built >>Mary: Oh, thank you. yeah, we had to do it for a different competition And we weren’t going to be live anymore So we wanted to make sure it was perfect And we took a whole night just trying to record it And we were laughing And oh my gosh, it was so fun >>Victor: I think the amount of sleep-deprived cinematic trailers that have been recorded in the game development industry is fairly large >>Mary: So we don’t have a very risky game There’s nothing that is too crazy There’s nowhere where you get killed or anything But there is a ledge that you can fall off of So we had to go into the Blueprints and make sure that you respond with a cute little animation that you can see in the top corner So if the player falls off the ledge,

he’ll come back and just start over again And we have a lot of vista areas I don’t know if you saw, in the beginning, Jo has a really nice scene in her village area But yeah, all of our skills got so much better from this project We were in ZBrush, we were in Substance Painter, Designer, Maya And I learned to love Unreal We also did a puzzle mechanic that you see right here So every time Ozias goes to one of the spheres, the writing on it lights up And he has to match it to one of the dragon statues And so if you go to the wrong statue, it doesn’t really do anything It was a lot of if statements in the Blueprints, where it was like, if he goes to this one, nothing happens A lot of testing out And we just wanted to challenge the player a little bit We wanted, again, our story to be the best part of our project But we wanted something kind of fun, like to trick the player So this part is the highest challenge for Ozias, to have to jump on the pillars We got really used to the jump mechanics So we were like pros Every time we went through the game, we were like, bam, bam, bam But we had play tests And people were like, oh my god, I got it It was so fun watching them try to jump So we really did want to have a boss battle kind of final scene with our dragon However, we just kind of hinted that there was a dragon in our end cinematic, which you’ll see in a minute But we just wanted there to be some sort of mystery element, maybe like in Ozias II, where he comes across the dragon finally And yeah, we were just brainstorming at that point But it was about a 10-minute game, I believe, or something, if you’re a new player >>Victor: Someone was wondering if the game is available to play somewhere >>Mary: Well, we have the packaged game So we could send it to anybody who really did want to play But we don’t actually have it up anywhere We should probably put it somewhere, now that I think about it >>Victor: Yeah, itch.io >>Mary: H– yeah [CHUCKLES] >>Victor: itch.io is great >>Mary: Yeah So yeah, this is where he comes across the dragon egg, which is huge I just figured– I mean, you always see dragon eggs in movies, and they’re really small I’m like, well, if it was a real dragon egg, wouldn’t it be gigantic? And our vis dev teacher helped us so much throughout the project And he was like, you don’t want scales on your dragon egg No, that’s in everything You want to make it crazy different So yeah, we had amazing staff, amazing faculty They really pushed us farther than we thought we would ever go >>Luis: So I remember seeing this project a couple of months ago in one of the competitions, and just really being impressed And then I found out that it was just a couple of you that made it, and was even more blown away Because the amount of animation, the puzzles themselves are really, really impressive And you guys have Niagara in here You’ve got a ton of animation You’ve got the cinematics, the blending All of it was just a tremendous amount of work, and the level of polish How did you guys pull all that together with such a small team? >>Mary: Thank you I appreciate that We spent a lot of late nights in the labs I remember, freshman year, coming into Ringling And one of the heads of game art told us, you’re going to be here Sunday nights, past midnight This is not a joke This is serious And we were And it was fun We had a lot of fun sharing critiques with each other in the labs, and a lot of good people just helping each other out Honestly our friends really gave us a lot of help And we would give them help And it was a really good community in our game art class, for sure >>Luis: So how did you divide the work? >>Mary: Oh yeah, sorry Yeah, we just figured out our strengths from junior year We had to do sort of biome environment And we figured out what we really liked I found out I really liked textures and materials And so I decided I’d do some of the VFX things– waterfalls, particles And Jo really loved characters and wanted to bring them to life So she took on all of the animation and everything that really brought our Ozias, which is awesome >>Luis: And then somebody had to figure out the puzzles, too Because I mean, that’s the other thing that I remember watching it for the first time, is that you’re like, OK,

it looks really cool But then you start watching the gameplay, and then you’re starting to realize that it actually is a well-designed game on top of that Because sometimes you can get sort of captured in the visuals, and you’re like, it probably looks great, but is it a good game? And then you’re like, this looks like a good game too, something that I’d like to play So you guys did a good job of designing puzzles that seemed compelling And it looks like something that could have life after school So who designed the puzzles? >>Mary: Oh, thank you, yeah So we broke our area up into two sections And during preproduction, we figured out, OK, we’re going to have a puzzle here, we’re going to have a puzzle here You’ll take on this one, I’ll take on this one And so Jo did the shrine area, where the bridge was And she just wanted to make sure that the player knew what the mechanic was So immediately she said, this is going to be our cut scene This is how we’re going to tell the character what he’s doing And she took on that whole area That was her focus Our game design teacher kind of guided us in the right direction And then my area was the second kind of shrine area And I was like, OK, I’ve done this before, sophomore year, junior year I kind of know how to do a three-key puzzle And so I just kind of took on with guidance from our professor as well But yeah, they had taught us so much sophomore year, at this point it was like, OK, we got this It was a lot >>Luis: So clearly you’re making it sound a lot simpler than it actually was >>Mary: I know I’m going back, I’m like wow– [INTERPOSING VOICES] >>Victor: And I think everyone on this group here knows that after you sort of put it together, you have to play-test it, and then say, is it fun? And it’s hard to remain objective Everyone here who makes games and has been through this process goes through the process of testing something, and they’re like, I don’t know I don’t know if it’s pretty, I don’t know if it’s fun, I don’t know if it looks good I have no idea After you spend x amount of time on something like this, it– But then you show it to people And then they test it a little bit Did you have a testing process? Did you have a process by which you were able to vet your ideas, and thoughts, and work, even before you put a ton of artwork into it? Or how did you go through that, especially with such a small team? Because how can you be objective with a small group? >>Mary: Right Yeah, so our junior year, that was when we got out all of our ideas and we said, these are our three ideas This is what we’re thinking of So we got one that was chosen And we had to make a prototype for it And it had to be approved And other people had to play it and make sure that it was fun and it made sense And so we came up with the jump mechanic And we just had a whole blocked-out level And we just kept going around and testing and testing And we actually had our friends to do a play test And they were jumping off of walls, into the sky And we were like, OK, so we need collision here And it’s really helpful when you get insight from other people who don’t know how your game plays Because we were constantly going through We were making sure the player couldn’t go over here, here But since we knew our game, we needed that outside help from other people So yeah, we definitely had a lot of sessions where we were like, hey, can you test this? So that was super helpful But yeah, two people just– [CHUCKLES] >>Luis: Right >>Mary: It’s a lot >>Luis: Right And I’m going to have some of these same questions for the other guys on the group And Victor, I don’t by any means mean to have all the questions But here’s another thing that I think is really important, is that when you’re making something of this scope and scale, there’s a lot that you don’t know There’s a lot about Unreal you don’t know There’s plenty about the development process that you don’t know How did you guys go about the process of figuring out the things that you don’t know? Because there’s a lot to that, right? I don’t know about, whatever, Niagara particle systems I don’t know about how to make this Blueprint I don’t know how to finish my master material I don’t know how to get this puzzle to work How, in your process, in your junior year, sophomore year, senior year, do you address the things that you don’t know? >>Mary: That’s a really good question So I think everyone in our year– because our class was really small in game art It was about 30 people by senior year Each of us developed strengths that we really knew so much about So somebody knew a lot about textures, someone knew a lot about particles and animation And we would kind of share knowledge back and forth, and say, hey, I’m working on this wing material Do you think there’s anything in the Blueprint that could fade this out better? And so I would get advice from someone who had been working on that a lot Because the teachers knew so much But since we were the students actually doing this constantly, you knew that your peer knew so much about that they were going to give you an answer like that

And they knew, giving you an answer, you would help them anytime as well It was definitely a mutual– [INTERPOSING VOICES] >>Luis: And you develop that collaboration through the process >>Mary: Yeah And critiques– we had so many critiques that we learned how to critique each other, and kind of give each other advice, and build each other’s projects up I don’t think, without my peers, our project would have been as good as it was >>Luis: [CHUCKLES] It’s hard to say that, isn’t it >>Mary: Yeah [CHUCKLES] >>Luis: [CHUCKLES] That’s good >>Mary: Yeah We were super proud of it Because junior year, we liked our game But then senior year we were like, wow, OK, this is awesome I didn’t know we could do this >>Victor: Someone mentioned in the chat– I thought it was pretty accurate– they said that you utilized the tools of Unreal to their full potential And I think that that can be seen, considering that there was only two you Someone else was asking how long it took you I think you mentioned eight months? >>Mary: Yeah, so we started blockout for two months, I think And we had the mechanic kind of down And then, after summer, we came back and started, in September, actually working on the art– or September, August And then our game had to be done by May, kind of April So kind of like eight months-ish, nine months But preproduction took a few months too So I guess, as a whole, maybe 10, 11 months– a little under a year >>Victor: Someone was wondering if you did all of the programming in Blueprint, or if it was a mix of Blueprint and C++ >>Mary: It was all Blueprint Jo did so many character Blueprints And she would show me And I was like, I have no idea what this means And I was like, oh, but look at this And I would show her all my notes and material stuff She’s like, I don’t know what that means >>Victor: [CHUCKLES] Well, it seems like you played to your strengths then And that’s a really good point Something I think it’s easy to forget when you start on a project– you want to jump into the mechanics real quick, you want to see your idea come to fruition as soon as possible– and it’s easy to forget that it’s going to take you months to produce this And so a little bit of planning can go a really long way Same comes with the one-day prototype or any of that sort of first things that you can do And it can be difficult, especially when you first start making games You just want to make your game And then you forget that, oh, this framework that we need for the gameplay loop hasn’t been built But we have all the mechanics And now they don’t tie into that So it’s cool to see Someone else was curious if– so the question was, are all the meshes baked? I assume, with such an environment, you would either need to use lots of culling or mesh-baking for low polycount >>Mary: Yes So we did have a lot of culling in our game And we were testing that too, because we didn’t want popping in our game We didn’t want you to walk over and see a tree just appear So that was a big part at the end We just kind of tried to optimize And all of our dragon statue assets– Jo has one and I have one– we had to bake them And they were giant meshes So we were like, OK, this cannot be in our environment But after school, I learned a lot more about the foliage tool and a lot of things that we could have probably optimized with So there’s so much about Unreal that you’re just constantly learning It’s such a great tool But yeah, a lot of baking >>Victor: Last question for now– they were curious what your process to do the lighting was Did you use any special plugins? Or is it all just default Unreal? >>Mary: Yeah, we did a lot of post process And we messed with the settings a lot, and have a lot of light scattered here and there to fake a certain mood But yeah, mostly it was just the Unreal default We had a sky sphere put in We had a panoramic photo And we just kind of like Photoshopped it and made it look more fantasy Yeah, mostly Unreal >>Victor: Awesome Was there anything else you wanted to leave our viewers with? >>Mary: No Just I want to thank my family, and friends, and everyone who helped us with this super-awesome journey, and my amazing partner, Jo I know she’s watching And she’s awesome That’s all >>Victor: Yeah, I’ve seen her in chat Well, that’s awesome Thank you so much for your presentation I know that you mentioned that you have to leave a little earlier So feel free to dip out when you have to And with that said, we will move over to– and I need to make sure I look at my notes properly here– it’s time for Kait Baird to present Excalibots Do you want me to start off with the trailer?

>>Kait: Yes, that would be awesome >>Victor: All right, let’s do it [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [CRASHING NOISES] [ROAR] [BIRDS CHIRPING] [MUSIC PLAYING] [ARMOR CREAKING] [ROAR] [DESCENDING WHISTLE] [THUD] [CLATTERING] [SILLY WHISTLE] – Yah [CLANGING] – Yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah [FOOTSTEPS DEPARTING] [CYMBAL CRASH] [THUD] [GROAN] [MUSIC PLAYING] [END PLAYBACK] >>Victor: Excalibots! That’s an awesome trailer I love how you cued the sound cues with the animations to make it feel really impactful >>Kait: Yeah That was a really interesting process that we had to undertake Two of our teammates, they had to figure out how to transfer– so one of our animators, he wanted to animate all of it just in Maya, because that was the way that he was most comfortable animating And then we had to find a way to connect it all, and transfer it into Unreal, and then use the film aspect that Unreal has And then we exported the clip, handed it over to one of our audio guys, and then he went in and added the audio cues so it could all just come together just for the trailer So that clip actually isn’t in the game We made that specifically for the trailer But it was awesome that we’re able to do it in Unreal so that we could kind of maintain that look of the game in the trailer >>Victor: That’s awesome Do you want to go ahead and share your slide deck? >>Kait: Yeah All right, can you guys see what I have up here? >>Victor: It’s still loading Ooh, we might have– >>Kait: Uh oh >>Victor: OK, I think you’re back, Kait >>Kait: Should be OK >>Victor: OK, yes >>Kait: Yeah >>Victor: All right, cool We see the slide deck >>Kait: Hello? OK Awesome So I just wanted to start off by showing a little bit of the preproduction work and kind of what led up to it And this will be peppered with just some awesome visuals from our game that you can see prior to playing the game if you’re interested So yeah, here we go We started with– we have a pretty large team We ended the whole project with about 17 people working But if you look at our little Special Thanks section, we had plenty more people participating in creating this project, as well as help from all of our wonderful professors at DigiPen So for our gameplay inspiration, we wanted to start with key things that we wanted to achieve with our project And so we drew a lot of inspiration from Stories: Path of Destinies And so one of the main things was the camera And the reason we went with that was because I experience a lot of motion sickness with a lot of games And that kind of led us to pursue and look to other games that are more friendly to casual gamers that don’t make you motion sick And so we wanted the camera to be far so that you could visually take in the environment

when you’re in Exploration mode And then, when you’re in Combat, the camera would zoom in so you could focus on the characters and the awesome action that we have going on >>Victor: Would you consider that to be– oh, sorry, please go ahead >>Kait: Yeah, no, you can go ahead >>Victor: I was just curious, often, when we design games, you don’t find yourself in a situation where you have those problems At least I think most don’t So how do you approach– what’s the difference there? How do you approach it, since you are actually a great test subject for those who do get motion sick from– >>Kait: Yeah, so that took a little bit of finessing in Unreal So we had our engineers kind of build these levels and set the camera to be kind of in the same place to be in the same place Sorry about that So there was a lot of testing back and forth that we had to do Like, oh, the camera had to be at a certain tilt and a certain height, make sure nothing clips in front of the camera We had to figure out all of those things that kind of caused the motion sickness in order to kind of combat it and find solutions to be around it So that was really good for us to learn and use for moving forward with other aspects of the game Yeah, and then a lot of Excalibots came from a creative place We definitely started the world with characters At the beginning, we knew that we wanted to make these kind of robot knight characters And we had a lot of sketches and things like that, just to build up that world And then we ended up making all these characters And so we have about five non-player characters that are good guys And then we have plenty of other enemies, including the final boss So it’s very interesting to see you like all these first little doodles and sketches that we made kind of turn and make their way in Unreal And so these shots were rendered for my portfolio in Unreal And so it’s just cool to see how they would be shown in-game, et cetera >>Luis: It’s a beautiful style >>Kait: Oh, thanks >>Luis: Who sort of helped develop and sort of lock in that look and feel? >>Kait: So, as the creative director, I was kind of the art lead And so the way that our project went about was we had a first semester with a very small group of people just to prototype the game, figure out mechanics, and then also figure out the visuals And so a lot of it just came from sketching, finding references We were inspired by just a lot of other stylized art And that’s what we knew that we wanted to make, was a stylized game, even if it was in Unreal Because I know that a lot of things created in Unreal tend to be very realistic And Unreal is really good at rendering realism and things like that But then there’s other games like Fortnite, obviously, that take on more of a stylized look And so we wanted to go down and kind of discover how much stylization you could achieve in Unreal >>Luis: Sure And one of the other things I noticed is you guys had a lot of programmers on your team What, like five or six? How many did– the first slide seemed to have the team– >>Kait: We had about five or six I can’t remember Everyone just kind of felt like a big family to me So it was– >>Luis: Seems like a wealth of programmers for a student team That’s a really healthy amount Which would lead me to kind of the question of, when you have such a good number of folks that are capable of being utilized as programmers, did you have a lead programmer? If you were sort of the lead artist or the lead creative, did you have a lead technical director who was able to give a lot of direction? And with that many programmers, did you guys generate a lot of custom code in C++ and integrate that? Or was it mostly Blueprint? How did that part work? I know that that’s not particularly your area of expertise But there was a lot of– I don’t know if you have the capability of going back to that slide But that, to me– I [AUDIO OUT] a whole lot of student projects with that many programmers, in a while anyway >>Kait: So the way that DigiPen is set up, we have a certain population of computer science students, we have art students So our school is just largely programmers and things like that And a lot of programmers and designers tend to go to work on their own projects that

are more experimental or with other programmers But then there’s some of the larger teams– which ours would be one of them– typically just involve a lot of artists And so when we have a lot of artists and programmers working together, that’s when we had a lot of fun to discover those things To answer your question, I’m not exactly sure how much custom code went into all of those things I think I was just kind of like up to my eyeballs in managing all of the art expectations and things like that But I’m super grateful for all of the programmers that we had on our team Because a lot of them, they were also kind of hybrid game designers as well And so a lot of their expertise also came in with the level design, and narrative design, and being able to apply those in a technical way >>Luis: Yeah, so now that I look at it, it looks like that group of devs is really using a lot of different roles– producers, and designers, and one of them is the full-time programmer But you’re saying a lot of these guys and girls did a mix of roles, whether they– >>Kait: Yes, a lot of design work as well >>Luis: Yeah, that makes more sense Because I saw dev, I was like, wow, that’s awesome >>Kait: [CHUCKLES] Yeah >>Luis: Yeah, I’m sorry Please continue I just was like– [INTERPOSING VOICES] >>Kait: Yeah, that was a really awesome question I appreciate that So one of the biggest things was to kind of create the world and use all of that And so Chien-Chia, he was a really awesome teammate that we had And he was our environment technical artist And he put together this toolkit of things that we could use to build houses And so just using a kit like this to put it together and kind of make all these different variations kind of helped us populate our world He also used a combination of Houdini plugins with Unreal to create these spline tools that we could use for set-dressing purposes and things like that, which was really awesome Sorry, do you have a question? >>Luis: No, I said, nice That’s great >>Kait: OK, OK, cool And then so we have these kits of things to help build our environment Here’s some of our prototypes of what that would look like And then we turned out with something like this And I don’t think I’ll be the first one to say– or definitely not the last to say that lighting and set dressing really takes it the whole nine yards, the rest of the way So it was really awesome to see and use Unreal set dressing tools to achieve this look in a lot of our levels And lighting was a big factor in being able to change the setting of the world so that it looks like you’re progressing through and going somewhere else, even though a lot of the assets are reused And the only thing that’s really different is the lighting and a little bit of particles But it was neat to use it to create just kind of like a fuller environment A lot of the environment work that we did was pretty crazy for this And just, if I may, I wanted to show a little bit more of some of our super-special little details that we wanted to put in our game So we came to a Eureka moment eventually where we were like, well, what is our character fighting for? Like why is he fighting these goblin characters? And we were like, well, maybe he just really loves swords And we kind of took that and ran with it We wanted to make the whole game kind of more about this guy that wants swords And that’s kind of how we led to our opening cinematics and things like that But I think using that as the humor helped a lot in creating these things And then we did put a lot of love into this And so we have these little details of paintings in the Throne Room And the Throne Room wallpaper is actually a pattern with the little king on it And then also his special sword, which is really important, because that’s the first thing that gets stolen, which is why you have to go out and find it And even like just taking that style that we had and echoing it in a lot of our UI elements kind of brought it all together So that’s something that I wanted to share with you all And then that was kind of the end of my slide deck And I just wanted to say that Excalibots is free to download on Steam >>Victor: We pasted the link in chat earlier We can get it again Thank you so much, Kait That’s really exciting Makes me want to play it I will probably play that after the Zoom today since it’s easy to access Let’s see if we had a couple of questions for you

I can go ahead and deal with that first Someone was curious which game inspired you most or has inspired you the most Oh, I think we lost Kait OK, are you back? >>Kait: I’m– >>Victor: OK, yes >>Kait: –here >>Victor: Yes, we hear you now >>Kait: OK Yeah, I just stopped screensharing >>Victor: Did you hear my question? >>Kait: No, I did not >>Victor: OK, so someone in chat was wondering which game has inspired you the most? >>Kait: So definitely Stories: The Path of Destinies, because it had a lot of narrative moments and ways to tell the story through funny dialogue Obviously we didn’t have the audio capabilities to just record unique narrators and things like that So we used text boxes in the game to go through that That, and just kind of like exploring the world, and then combining it with combat was kind of it one of the main things that we loved about that game And so that was pretty much our biggest inspiration there >>Victor: Someone else was curious, in which stage of development is this game? Are you adding more content to it? >>Kait: So, no, this game is finished It took us three semesters, which is 15 weeks each So that’s about 45 weeks total, as a whole team Granted, different team members filtered in and out depending on who graduated and things like that– not if they graduated, just we had seniors on our team, and then they graduated And so we started our junior year And so we kind of kept working on it as the project progressed So this game is finished We’ve gotten some feedback and comments on Steam saying, oh, this game is too short It was little But that was kind of all we had time for considering that we were students and we were working on this game part-time >>Victor: That’s awesome >>Luis: I’ve got a couple of questions So this is a very different kind of production experience compared to Mary and what her experience with Ozias And you had many more developers on it, significant amount of time So in a situation where you had people coming in and off of it, did you guys use some kind of revision control? Is that something that’s taught at DigiPen? >>Kait: Yes So we used Perforce for pretty much the entire project Obviously our school had some issues with Perforce And then it went down a couple of times And so that was kind of a stressful thing to work with But at the same time, it was just a big learning experience to learn how to work with that And that’s helped a lot going into the professional world and using that in the professional setting And so that was really a big learning experience, of just being able to work with those and the engine >>Luis: Right Now, did you guys know, going from, say, semester one to semester two, that it was going to be a multi-semester thing? And then you had the ability to sort of do some documentation that allowed people coming into the project in the second or third semester to know what they were picking up from either an art or a code perspective so that you had a good clean handoff? Or was that something you had to learn and figure out, oh, we better prepare this material for someone else? >>Kait: So we knew that our project was going to be at least two semesters long, so depending on how far you get and whether you get the green light for your project And so that’s something that our school kind of takes on as a review process near the end of the semester And that’s kind of like similar to how, in the industry, if your project gets greenlit or is in a certain place So that was a big factor in getting ready and meeting those deadlines in order to move on So we were never absolutely sure if we were able to get past that point And there were a lot of projects that started in our cohort, and then the devs decided that maybe this isn’t the right way to go And then so a lot of teams chose to abandon their project or to disband their teams and things like that And that was actually kind of fortunate for our team So our team didn’t start off as very large But then some other teams chose to disband or were not able to support their artists and stuff like that And so that’s where we got a big team of artists So a lot of them came from another team >>Luis: So it’s built into your processes is to– [INTERPOSING VOICES] >>Luis: And then to succeed, semester after semester So you accumulate team members And your producers, in essence, have to help carry on the practice a little bit? >>Kait: Yes >>Luis: Do your producers persist?

Or they don’t persist either? >>Kait: Not necessarily We actually had our producer switch the last semester that we were working on it And so we made it to a place where we were able to polish And that was the main semester that we got a lot of our work and final work done So even in that case, we had to make sure that we had everything documented But from the very beginning, we were expected to have technical documents, and technical art documents and practices, file structures I mean, granted, a lot of it got messy Because that can happen sometimes when you’re making games and you’re in a rush and things like that But it was kind of built in to our process to make that documentation, kind of onboard new members, and make sure that they have everything that they need But granted, that wasn’t always the case Because it’s hard for us who are still learning Some of us were very new to Unreal Engine And so it was very expected that we weren’t supposed to have all of the answers But we were able to work around it >>Luis: So just one more question If you had one tip to give a cohort coming into a project like this, in some class, later on, at DigiPen, what would you give? >>Kait: I guess the main thing– >>Luis: Get your sleep the semester before >>Kait: Huh? >>Luis: Get your sleep the semester before? >>Kait: [CHUCKLES] Yeah, I think that a lot of it would come down to just doing as much research as possible I think the reason that we were able to get as far as we did was because we had different specializations of our different team members Granted, we had a couple different hats For example, I was in charge of most of the character rigging and things like that And so I had to work with the engineers about animation blending and doing research into that part But obviously just little me didn’t have the bandwidth to delve into lighting And so we had someone go and do a lot more research on that environment, things like that And so being able to have a team members that are interested in looking into their specific area, and seeing how they can learn those skills Because Unreal is a very vast engine And so it’s hard to have one person know everything, like Mary said earlier And so having and divvying up those responsibilities and education on your own helps a lot >>Victor: There’s one more question that came in from chat And then we’ll move on Projects in a school environment must be fun Do you feel like it help you develop on a budget for future projects? >>Kait: Yeah I think the time constraint definitely brought a lot of realistic experience to it Because in the industry, you’ll have publishers, and you’ll have people who are investors and things like that just kind of like expecting you to know how to estimate your work and helping you scope your project And so being able to have that time constraint in mind, those pre-existing deadlines, helped a lot in making sure that we stayed within scope or made sure that we had enough people and resources to achieve what we wanted So I think that that helped a lot going into the industry >>Victor: And there you go, folks Excalibots is live Out on Steam right now Go get it Exciting Well, thank you so much, Kait I know that you also said that you had to leave early Feel free, when you have to, to just do a little wave and dip out Awesome Great Next up, we are going to show off Rhome, which is Alaetheia’s project– or among others, I would think Ooh, now it’s time to fix the thirds here But let’s get started First off, want me to go ahead and play the trailer? >>Alaetheia: Yes, please >>Victor: All right [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] [THUNDER] – Derek, where are you? [THUNDER] Derek? Seriously, cut it out This isn’t funny anymore Where are you? [SCARY NOISES]

[LIGHT BUZZING] [BANGING] – Hey, did you hear about what happened? – Where the hell am I? What the hell is happening? [PANTING] [FOOTSTEPS] – That’s just the way it is sometimes [WHIMPERING] – (PLEADING) I just want to go home [UPBEAT MUSIC] [MUSIC SLOWS DOWN AND STOPS] [END PLAYBACK] >>Victor: [CHUCKLES] All right Super cool little trailer there I will let you go ahead and start your screenshare if you’re ready >>Alaetheia: I am Thank you Give me one second All right See everything all right? >>Victor: Let’s see I’m not seeing anything yet >>Alaetheia: Oh, yep, that’s because I clicked a button There we go >>Victor: All right >>Alaetheia: How does that look for you? >>Victor: It looks good >>Alaetheia: Cool So yeah, I’m the lead producer for Rhome, which was our capstone project And I’m just going to give you guys a little bit of overview, and then kind of dive into the process of making Rhome Rhome tends to have a play time of 45 to 80 minutes, though if you’re a more experienced gamer and you kind of blast through it, I’ve seen it done in like 15 Our genre we were aiming for was psychological horror And we developed using agile with scrum as a methodology We had about 16 weeks, with 15 hours per week And we had a team size of 14 members And I just wanted to show off my gorgeous team So we had five leads, three LDs, two SDs, and four artists And I have no idea how we got as much done as we did I had an incredibly hardworking, and passionate, and talented team to work with And that was really incredible So I just wanted to show off all of the people who were behind the work that you’re about to see So a big thing on Rhome was that the design of the game and the art of the game were actually really interlinked, to a point where we had to kind of break away from some of the traditional ways we had learned of how to do game design independently in our disciplines, and had to kind of come back together, and regroup, and figure out how we were going to design the space And I’ll delve into that in a minute So when Rhome was first pitched, when we were in preproduction, it was going to be a scary house game, with monsters, and demons, and like a phone mechanic And as we were going through preproduction, it wasn’t fun It wasn’t turning out how we wanted it to be And our game designer had been playing around with– so we had played a bunch of different horror games, especially games like Simulacra, and we played more traditional things like Outlast, and then things like the PT, Playable Trailer, and The Eight Pages, and all of that And he came to me and he’s like, look, I’m really vibing with this idea of doing kind of like a non-Euclidean tech, like an MC Escher nightmare world, where the actual world of the house and the world that you’re in is what’s threatening, rather than having some sort of monster chase you or some death state that’s a threat to the player And that way, as they’re exploring it, it feels like the environment itself is combative against them And so we started playing with this idea And one of the things that we noticed is that we really like to lean for a more modernesque house and world rather than a traditional Victorian or Craftsman that you see in a lot of typical horror games, so that we can have these sharp edges and boundaries And one of our artists, Soon, came up with this concept piece for us And we saw it And we immediately fell in love and knew this was the style that we wanted to go for And part of that was we had this idea of the world needs to be as normal as possible when we first start so it’s really drastic and you can tell that we’re breaking the rules So this is one of our second concept pieces of kind of what the world might look like when things started to break, and looking wrong, and with the geometry starting to be off So you have these really tall chairs in the front, impossibly tall, and staircases from nowhere and nothing’s quite right in the image, but you can tell it’s still a base image of a house And then kind of playing with, what are more ways to twist the world, make it more threatening So this is almost like eyes peeking out with the lights,

and how bright they were And how do we get that across? So what that ended up with is a really realistic-looking art style Here’s a shot from in day of the kitchen, before the world kind of goes crazy And here’s another shot of one of the offices, with one of the interactable models we have in our game And then we wanted things to be flipped So this is the art gallery in one of the portions of our game where the world gets a little bit more crazy And you can tell that the benches are on the ceiling and the paintings are all across the floor Because we really wanted it to be a first moment of, wow, something is wrong here So because of how we did the design on Rhome, we really needed our artists, who were making sure that things were realistic as possible, to work side by side with our LDs who were making things kind of crazy, what is wrong– our team called them chaos moments– and have them be side by side So we ended up actually pairing artists with LDs so we could specifically have the mod kits placed in ways that followed the design that we had Because our art had a really well thought out, really well done design document And still keep it stylized correctly while allowing the LDs to have these kickass moments built in that they had designed So alongside that, we also had to build a lot of the non-Euclidean tech for our game in the world And so I just wanted to show off what that looked like in POCT, and then what that looked like in the final game So one of the first things we wanted to do was this hurricane hallway– I’m just going to pull that up– that would literally move around the player as you walk down it Because you want it to feel like the whole world and house was moving around the player in different aspects And then one of the next pieces that we did was this growing door So basically one of our SDs made this door tech where it’s really small when you first get to it, and then it would grow larger as you got closer to it And then it would freeze after you’ve triggered it to become larger So for us, that would look something like this So this is one of the parts– I believe it’s in level 2 or 3 So you come through, and the gallery is messed up And this is one of our in-game puzzles, So a lot of Rhome has these miniature versions of larger objects that exist in the world that correspond And you have that growing in– we ended up refitting that mechanic so rather than it being the player is triggered by walking closer to it, it was triggered by the puzzle, [INAUDIBLE] blows up so the door can pop in And then, along with that, we had portal technology, which you can see some of here You’re falling down what’s supposed to be a very long tunnel But it’s not as game world because we basically made portals for the game And I’ll give more into that in a second And then here’s that rotating hallway in-game And you can kind of see, moving forward, what those small pieces that we did within the first few weeks of development look like once they’re all built in together So one second here Looks like the video is breaking the slides I’m very sorry So with portal tech– here is one of our initial tech demos– we’re just showing off that we basically created an object where, once a different object falls into it, it’ll shoot off in a direction set by our team Which for us really– pairing with the artifacts, our art lead made this fisheye lens, basically, where it would warp everything in the world when we went through it, which has allowed us to hide any hitches in the portal effect So when you walk through that fisheye there, in the game, you’re actually getting portaled to a different place in this labyrinth that [INAUDIBLE] made that allows you to kind of walk through and doot doot doo, and jump in different places of the game So that’s just kind of pieces that we made, and how they click together The other thing I wanted to talk about was we actually got a lot of external help outside of our team So I wanted to point out some of those places that existed So for us, our sound effects, we used a lot of Creative Commons as text recordings, especially a lot of ones that are produced and released in conjunction with GDC And then we also had several team members doing recordings, myself included I know at one point, my game designer came in, and he had a recording on his phone He’s like, I want something that sounds like this And I was like, well, why don’t you send me that file, and we’ll just put that sound in the game for one

of the dripping effects we had early on And then we actually were really lucky, SMU Meadows school has a master’s program for voice actors And we were able to work with two really, really talented voice actors in their program to voice both our main character, Haley, and her husband, Derek, and their lines So we had a mixture of people I myself went down one day And one of our artists, Jason, went down to do recording sessions on our main campus with them, and then did all of the audio editing back in our own team And we actually worked with a sound school in Mexico for all of the main background noise and music All of the composing was done by them in the game And basically we met with them, I think, once every two weeks And our game designer was emailing with them, I think, almost daily, just kind of adjusting things, and tweaking things, and getting tracks built And they built us a track, I believe, for every single level of the game So that was a really fantastic experience And then, lastly, we actually were able to work with the Frisco ISD Career and Technical Education Center to talk to some architects who were willing to work with us and give our artists some advice on how to get our dimensions right and how to get the layout of this really stylized modern house that we wanted to create correct So we used a lot of external resources for what we wanted to get done in our project that we just couldn’t handle ourselves as the team that we were And then– my wheelhouse– I was just going to talk to you a little bit about the production that happened on our team So we kind of have it broken up Task tracking and planning, we used Hansoft in conjunction with Perforce, which we used for our software for– I’m forgetting my words But basically Hansoft lets you do project management inside it And then I did daily meetings before we had what we call our core hours with my leads And we set up worry boards, just to kind of track what we were worried about getting done the project, and how different assets are moving along the pipeline, just to make sure that I could keep track of all of that And then we actually found, with my art team, that they really liked having just an asset list worked off a check box off of So I worked with my art lead to make sure they always had a generated asset list alongside of their tasks in Perforce, just to help them track things easier on their end And then we also had what I would call stakeholder feedback meetings So for us, we had about 1 and 1/2 to two-week-long sprints And afterwards we would need to present to a team of stakeholders that worked with us And they would give us feedback, live, during our capstone presentations But we would also get a written list of feedback documentation And one of things that really helped our team with tracking and planning was going through all the feedback we got from stakeholders and from team members on our own team about what we felt where the project was at, and what style it was going, and kind of our trajectory And meeting before we did any planning for the next sprint, and going over those lists, point by point, so we could talk about what was going well and what we needed to pivot on, if anything, and how we needed to readjust our expectations as the game went on And then, on what I call the soft and squishy end of things, one of the things I tried to do is make sure that I had a one-on-one meeting, about five to 10 minutes long, with every member of my team each sprint, just to check on them and see how things are going with them, and what support they needed, or if any part of the project was stressed out for them And then we actually had full-team retrospectives after every milestone And we brought those into our stakeholder feedback meetings as well when we were about to do pre-planning to make sure that we were incorporating some of that advice And then, lastly, one of the things I was responsible for was trying to do some team and morale-building activities with my team So one of the things that I tried to do after alpha is a actually made a bunch of piñatas, because our game was developed mostly in fall, and had the team do kind of– having one person blindfolded, and having the team lead them to be able to hit the piñata And one of the things I tried to do was make sure that the team had kind of a role reversal with the Leads team So for a while, we put the team in charge of all of the leads And I would tell them to walk anywhere they wanted, or just swing at things, and just kind of give everyone a bit of stress relief You get to whack at stuff And there’s candy and a little bit of just working together and team bonding And then, lastly, I was just going to talk about a mini post-mortem of the entire project, kind of things that went really well for us, and some stuff that didn’t go so well, and what we learned from it to move forward

And hopefully it can help other people in their own projects So for us, pretty early on, after we pivoted in our direction, we had a really strong art vision and a really strong lead artist who kind of push and drove the team in the correct place, and had a really well done [INAUDIBLE], and was really detailed in what he wanted We also had a lot of work– Like I said earlier, working with external contractors, and just having really good people to help move along our efforts I mean, the communication amongst the leads in particular was really well done I loved working with my entire Leads team They were all incredibly hardworking, and incredibly passionate, and probably incredibly patient– in my opinion– people And some stuff that went wrong with that for us, as I noted in the beginning, that we really had to redesign the interaction and the rules with artists and level designers And I think it took us a few sprints to actually develop that kind of properly to the level that our team needed for that support Because when we first started, we’re like, yeah, and you’ll work together, right, and didn’t really give any support or guidance So as a team, we sat down and figured out how those roles would be divvied up a little bit better The other thing that was a challenge for us in the beginning is we would get a difference in what the Leads team were receiving as feedback and what the full team was getting in feedback So during our capstone presentations, our stakeholders are very open about just kind of like anything they see So if like a doorknob is sized incorrectly, it’s going to be pointed out If there’s a hitch, it’s going to be pointed out And it’s just kind of off-the-cuff, as-you’re-going responses But then, when they step more into a teacher role– because our stakeholders are faculty and teachers at school– we would get a more cohesive report of what they really liked or didn’t like, and what expectations we had met as students Unfortunately, when we first started, the full team was getting kind of off-the-cuff commentary And our Leads team were getting kind of the more positive, like, hey, you guys got this far This is excellent So our Leads team would come back to the team and be like, we’re doing awesome And our team would be like, but we just got kind of torn apart for an hour, calling everything that’s wrong with our game, when we think we’re doing great This is part of the reason we started really strongly incorporating the ring documentation with feedback And we asked our stakeholders to include stuff that we were getting at our Lead stakeholder meetings in that documentation so that our team knew it was passed down, and it wasn’t just their leads team being overly optimistic And then we also had a lot of issues both our lighting and our portal technology breaking, especially as we got towards the end of our project We managed to fix that, thanks to having revision control And using Perforce was a big help for us But we often had our lighting maps break And when we were trying to build, they would break, just because of how complex everything was in our game It was one of the second or third games that our lighting team had lit And you had both LDs and artists moving lights around and then rebaking And so we had some issues there And then we also had our portal tech hitch sometimes And we ended up doing things like that fisheye effect on different portals so that even if the game world hitched, it made it feel more like an effect So we basically took our bug and made it a feature as much as possible And then, for us, I think one of the biggest takeaways for our team was using RACI more I think, halfway through, we started really aggressively using RACI to help with that kind of “we’re in pairs, who’s doing what” kind of divvying up work And then how to pass on that feedback that I said earlier, getting that positive feedback back to our team And then, for me, it was working on how to create multiple ways of cache tracking on project because I was worried about splitting up where everything was being tracked too much But doing things like creating the asset list or creating just a quick run-up board where people can see what assets and what different components of our game were done made it so that even though they were still using their tasks in Hansoft, that they have a quick, easy way to look at things rather than digging through a bunch of tasks in that application And then the last lesson I had was don’t be your own placeholder voice actor Because before we got our very talented voice actors from SMU Meadows, I was the place voice actor for the game And during meetings, people would joke that if our audio would mess up, I could just say the line under my breath really quick, and hope our stakeholders wouldn’t notice in the middle of it But I think, by the second spring of having my voice in there, I was ready to never put the damn volume on ever again So yeah, that’s kind of the overview of how we built Rhome And as our team says, Rhome wasn’t built in a day, but over 16 weeks And yeah, you guys can download it on Steam for free

And I think that’s everything I have >>Victor: That’s awesome Super impressive Quite surprised that you all decided to dive into the realm of non-Euclidean spaces in a student project I was a little bit curious what games inspired you and made you sort of aware of the non-Euclidean level design >>Alaetheia: So I would say– I am blanking on the name of the game that I’m thinking about right now, and I feel so bad It’s a horror game with paintings in it– a lot of paintings I know Control came out about midway through our project And we did look at different elements of it But we had already kind of decided on that direction Layers of Fear, that’s the biggest gain that inspired us Sorry, it took me a minute Layers of Fear was a huge one for our team and our GD in particular, because it had that kind of– scary stuff is happening, but not an absolute monster in the world, and nothing really aggressively chasing you, not one main villain type of game I know we also looked at games like Soma And we looked at the layout of also like Amnesia– The Dark Descent and Wishing for Pigs, just as kind of a weaving through spaces where you can kind of do laps Because in Rhome, there’s a lot of places where you can loop around And the house is really big And players can choose to go on a main path or to kind of meander about and find all the little pickups, and items, and story moments if they want to So we really tried to hit on, if you explore, you’ll get rewarded for it There’s little tidbits But if you go down just the main path to get out of the house, you won’t lose anything >>Victor: Yeah I’m sure some folks would be interested in the tech Maybe if one of your developers who built that wants to chime in, feel free to do that on the form announcement thread where we announced the stream I’m sure some folks would be interested to hear how you were able to accomplish that >>Luis: I know that, for me, I watch this trailer– and I think I’ve seen some more in-depth trailers on the making of Rhome And at first you watch it, and you are like, I’m not sure what I’m seeing Because you are moving through the space, and you are like, this could be– if you don’t know what you’re watching, you’re like, is this an architectural visualization piece? And then, as things begin to change, you’re like, what exactly am I seeing? And then as you– because I think that, in some of the early trailers or some of the trailers that I’ve seen, you don’t really divulge exactly what’s happening And so if you sit and watch, and you watch things begin to change, and things get a little bit more chaotic, you start to go, oh, what is going on here? And if you watch some of the gameplay, it really becomes extremely fascinating And what you’re actually doing technically is mind-boggling And it becomes incredibly compelling And I was really blown away, both technically and artistically, and in a design capacity, what you were able to pull off You said it’s almost 80 minutes of gameplay if you really play it slowly, right? >>Alaetheia: Yeah >>Luis: And I think it was an amazing accomplishment for how uncomfortable you can make people feel in this game, considering how much is changing and how you are making what was familiar a minute ago unfamiliar all of a sudden, again, in Unreal Engine, in a student game But also you guys are master’s students there at Guildhall So you are investing a tremendous amount of time But it’s also not an undergraduate program You’re there for two years? How long are you there for? >>Alaetheia: Two years >>Luis: Two years And you undertake a tremendous amount You clearly iterated a lot on this game And then you’ve got a significant team But then you’re biting off a lot, and trying to create an experience that is not standard, not typical, that you could maybe not pull off But if you watch it– and I haven’t played it yet, but I think you conveyed, in the gameplay footage that you released, that it is very uncomfortable, that it’s very dynamic, and that both technically and from a design perspective, you are achieving a tremendous amount When, in my opinion, with what you watch at the beginning,

it’s almost like a bait and switch You’re like, eh, I’m not sure what I’m watching Is this an architectural visualization? No, there’s something really wrong here And then you are like, ah, this is quite compelling And I really want to explore this world, but I don’t know if I want to Because it’s not like, like you said, a monster jumps out of the closet and stabs you with a knife It’s much more subtle And I love that subtlety about what’s happening, until it becomes less subtle And then you’re like, I don’t know that I wanted it to be less subtle >>Alaetheia: [CHUCKLES] Yeah, I know, for us, one of the things that our team really debated on was what and how much we wanted to show in this story Because the game is really designed to kind of unfold out in front of the player But we did struggle with, OK, we want them to be interested We don’t want them to think, great, you have a house We didn’t want to give away too much early on And like you said, there was probably a bit of time, up until first playable, for us, where Laura Stigler was like, are you sure you guys know what you’re doing? Is this the right direction to go in? Especially because a lot of the other games that our program tends to produce a lot more mechanical or puzzle-heavy, and ours is a lot more about building an experience So we did get a lot of feedback, like, are you going to put in more puzzles? Are you going to put in these elements? We’re like, nope >>Luis: Yeah, you have to be patient You have to expect your audience to be willing to mature with the experience And I think that that’s impressive if the audience enjoys that or is willing to go for the ride, which I think a lot of really good experiences are worth that So yeah, I thought it was amazing >>Alaetheia: Yeah, and I think we got very fortunate in having some of those extra– like I said, the people we worked with externally, like when the voice acting came in, I think I saw our team take a deep breath of, like, oh, this is going to be good, especially after having to listen to my terrible placeholder on loop for weeks, and being like, our game is terrible We’re going to fail out of grad school, and we’re going to be one of the game designers digging ditches So just all of us were kind of– there was a moment for our team where we really hit our stride, when we saw the pieces starting to click together Because for a while, it was really challenging for us Because when you’re designing horror, you get numb to it So our game isn’t scary anymore Our game isn’t interesting It’s not fun And actually seeing play-tester footage I think was what really helped bring us back We had an external producer who was in charge of both QA and play-testing/usability for us And I was talking to that producer And they’re like, OK, I’m going to come in, and bring some footage, and bring feedback for your team And that has really helped bolster the experience and let us push forward that bit more So I’d always say, if you can get play-testing done, it can be really, really helpful, not just for– in the beginning, it really helped us change up what we were doing mechanics-wise But later on, it was just a huge morale boost for the team >>Luis: Congratulations >>Victor: Yeah, big congratulations Do you have any advice for people that may work with voice actors in the future? >>Alaetheia: Yeah, I would say have examples of what you want, slash have a really well-thought-out idea of what you want [INAUDIBLE] came into one of our sessions We asked voice, can you just make, like, demonic noises? And our voice actor kind of looked at us He’s like, what do you mean by that? Like, what do you want in full? And fortunately we kind of wrote some chanting on the fly And he did a great job with it But I felt so bad The other thing I would say is, do a lot of different takes And if they’re offering you the time– like our voice actor offered to do a bunch of B-roll takes with us And some of those ended up being pieces that we cut a chunk out of and are actually in the final game, rather than a line that we did at the first point of it I would also say, save your voice acting until the further end of your project, just because you’re going to go through iterations and changes And it sucks to have to rebook and rerecord everything because you’ve gone through narrative changes We even kind of– he had done the bulk of our narrative changes before we did the voice acting But even post voice acting, there was a few changes that weeded to make And we kind of had to either supplement with having some lines that were just on objects which don’t have audio in our game, or trying to kind of Frankenstein a few of the clips so it said what it needed to

>>Victor: Did you also use onomatopoeia for sound effects? >>Alaetheia: No, I don’t think so >>Victor: That’s one of my go-tos So at a game jam, I just sit and record weird sounds for half an hour, and then I put them in the game so that everyone knows there’s supposed to be audio there >>Alaetheia: Yeah I actually– my undergrad background was an audio recording design So I did a bunch of recording for our team on different effects and noises for them to put in as a placeholder, early on >>Victor: Awesome Thank you so much, Alaetheia If you can, please stick around, and we can do a little bit of a Q&A section at the end, once we’re all done Next up, we have Jaime Tous And I think you know where we’re coming I’m going to start off with the trailer as long as you’re good with that >>Jaime: Let’s do it >>Victor: Cool This is Malediction [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] [BANG] [GRUNTING] [WHOOSH] [BANG] [SIZZLING] [SIZZLING] [GUNFIRE] [END PLAYBACK] I love the music in the trailer Someone in chat said that as well Super cool >>Jaime: Yeah, that was done by a very talented composer at a FIA, Aaron Senton He did the music for all the capstone games that year So he was a busy guy >>Victor: Wow, yeah, I bet [INTERPOSING VOICES] >>Jaime: Yeah, so I don’t have a PowerPoint So you’re going to have to look at my ugly mug for the next bit But so for Malediction, it was an interesting process We had a pretty big team We started with 16 people We had four programmers, two level designers, five artists, which included two tech artists, two 3D modelers, and an animator We had two technical designers, a project manager, and myself as the project lead And from the beginning, we tried to create a very cooperative environment so that even the game design was something that we had the whole team take a part of We started off by asking everybody what kind of stuff did they want to work on We had some people say they wanted to do physics puzzles Others wanted to do an eccentric character that was in third person Others wanted to work with lighting And we got a big list, compiled it all together, handed it to the team, and said, OK, here’s what everybody wants to do Make a game design pitch We’ll see if there’s any recurring trends that everybody seems to draw on And everybody did their pitch The design lead went through and picked out elements that were common in all of them And eventually we came up with this puzzle platformer that we wanted to have the physics elements of telekinesis and time control Because we thought that would be a good combination of stuff to put together, and would make for some really interesting mechanics As for the visual style, we drew inspiration from late-’90s, early 2000s platformers, particularly Sly Cooper, for those of you that are familiar with that And with those in mind, we started rolling And we made pretty good progress But just so that nobody gets discouraged, even several months into the game design process– Victor, could you pull up the first video for me, please? >>Victor: Yeah, I got you Here, let me make sure I do my screenshare so that you can actually see what I’m showing everyone else here

And there we go >>Jaime: So this is about three months into the design process You’re still going to be working with prototype elements This is when we just started doing the second level And we’re testing our telekinesis, our material effects on that, as well as you saw a bit of the time going on there And when designing the levels, we were very careful to ensure that levels were designed in a way that the player would, if not know what to do, be able to learn what to do in order to progress, and then have another tool in their belt for future puzzles And the level design process was also something that was open to the entire team Yes, the level designers were the ones that eventually implemented it But for the level planning, there were four of us that were really in on every single one of them It was me, two engineers, and our mechanical level designer And we would sit in a room for two to four hours, depending on the day, and just go to town, trying to combine all of our mechanics together in as many unique ways as possible, and then come up with different ways that can be used for puzzles, and then try to put them in a sequence that makes sense For instance, OK, does the player know how to use the push game mechanic at this point? No? OK, how are we going to teach them to do that? So we’ve taught them how to push How do we make this more complicated? How can we throw a wrench in the whole program to make it so that they have to apply it in a different way? And we did this several times, and did this for each of the three levels Eventually, once you get through all that planning, you get to the polish stage Which, Victor, if you could do the second video for me >>Victor: Coming right up >>Jaime: So at the polish stage, you’re making things look pretty You’re trying to make things more performant And you’re learning new tools And as you saw there, the fountain disappeared because we were experimenting with level streaming And– OK, interesting We’re back to the first video >>Victor: Oh, yes we are This was the interesting VLC thing that I discovered Just a little moment Had a similar thing last week Did you get me to repeat that video? >>Jaime: Yeah, yeah So if you’ve never worked with level streaming, you have to make sure that the objects are set to the right volume for streaming Otherwise, once you get out of a certain space, it’ll disappear, like that fountain did So that was a good learning experience And I think, by doing level streaming, we ended up saving a good five, 10 frames for that section And eventually you get to the point where you’ve got a good product that you’re proud of The last video, please >>Victor: It’s coming right up >>Jaime: At this point, we’ve got– >>Victor: I’m not sure why it just stops playing Hang on It’s like when I pause it, it doesn’t like that at all Nope Sorry about that, folks I’m going to have to close VLC and open it again Oh, oh, it is– my bad Please go ahead [CHUCKLES] >>Jaime: So at this point in the game, we’ve got all of our visual effects in We’ve got our enemy AI We’ve got our character the way we want it The environments and the lighting are looking the way you want it to And it’s just a really good feeling seen it all come together after starting from gray boxes, which for the middle duration, it’s really rough looking at gray boxes, knowing, hey, we’ve only got a few more months before we’re going to get this out the door Now, an important part of all this is, of course, play testing, as many of the others have spoken about Because you need to know– and especially in our case, we need to make sure that what made sense to us, particularly for the puzzle design, made sense and was intuitive to people who never experienced our game before And we did play tests with high school students, with students from the undergrad program, from other student teams And it was always a good feeling to,

after having sat in that those puzzle design meetings for several hours, to see that, yes, what you designed, the order that you put things in made enough sense that players would grasp what you were putting down If there are any questions, go ahead and throw them my way >>Victor: Let me go ahead and do a quick– I’m sure Luis has a couple >>Luis: Yeah, so did you tell us– so you were the project lead And I know FIA has been using Unreal for a long time And I was there just recently And the process is fairly standard? Or do you guys develop your own process for building a project like this each time? I know that, because they’ve been building games in Unreal for a good amount of time, do you inherit process from– >>Jaime: So, it’s a little of both A lot of it is– you do get taught good practices Like we used scrum to organize our work We were organized in sprints We did retrospectives We did our sprint planning and all that But we also did stuff of our own volition For example, we were using Jira to track tasks to start with And Jira is great for engineers, not so much for artists It’s an ugly spreadsheet So for artists, the development director was like, OK, if this doesn’t work for you, rather than trying to make you fit Jira, we’re going to find something that fits you And we got them a physical Kanban board And the development director would manage the conversion from Kanban to our Jira layout But that was something that worked for them, and improved their process, and also gave us better feedback on what was going on with the art side of things >>Luis: Right And there’s multiple teams Because FIA is a pretty sizable group of people there And so you’ve had Malediction there, but you also had other teams working on other game projects So would you say that there are a variety of different methodologies trying to accomplish– because what you’re showing us are your iterations of trying to get the game mechanics to work And you have other teams working on other things And were they doing things completely different? Or had they learned in other ways? Because I know you’ve got a whole team of faculty And they’re not prescribing how you achieve things They’re advising in many cases They’re teaching you things, but you’re also a fairly mature group of developers and students at FIA University of Central Florida is one of the largest academic institutions in the country You have a huge, huge population of students, and then you have an undergraduate program that also has a game group there But you guys are thrown into this beautiful facility, which I think is fairly new And there’s large desks, and pods, and rooms of students So you’ve got other teams over here doing things their way, and your team doing things And I think it’s fairly similar at Guildhall, and USC, and many institutions So I guess that the interesting thing and kind of question is, at this point, are you all figuring it out, and benefiting from other groups, and saying, well, let’s benefit from it? Or are you kind of carving your way– because one thing that I know from development in studios is that, many times, you throw out the baby with the bathwater and you kind of start again And sometimes you learn some stuff, and sometimes you don’t And you start again And there’s many studios that complain from the same lack of carry-through And some are very good at carrying over their best practices And I’m kind of curious how much you guys benefited from the teams next to you to the right, to the left– >>Jaime: So going back to the Kanban board, one of the other teams– there were three other teams creating games at the same time, each of about 15, 16 people in size– they had Kanban pretty much from the get-go So that’s where my development director got the idea and said, hey, you know what, that seems to be working for the artists of their team, let’s try using it for ours So yeah, we got to see other teams put stuff into practice and get lessons learned from them And they learned from us We made it a practice to talk to each other and just keep up with what’s going on with other teams, and any obstacles that we may have come across,

and how we dealt with them >>Luis: The reason I asked the questions is because, once again, I watched a lot of footage of this game And the play is really fun, and the mechanics are really fun And you can see that people enjoy the combination of gameplay, environment art, design And all these things don’t come together by accident in my experience They come together through testing They come together through good choices They come together through effective teams And most of those things– every once in a while, it’s luck, but most of the time it’s good iteration, good practice, good collaboration And a lot of things that come together, sometimes it’s good leadership, and sometimes it’s things that are well taught in academic institutions And one of the things that we have here is, you know, USC, we’ve got Guildhall, we’ve got FIA, and we had DigiPen, and we had Ringling, all very good programs, and all amazing outcomes and great games So it’s great to see that you’ve got these projects that turn out to be fun, and really well-designed, and really engaging, and these products that turn out to be, in many cases– and I think one of the reasons to have a stream like this is that you could see these games released– and they are, in many cases– on Steam, and could be released anywhere And so it’s not luck in many cases, it’s good execution And so the question, and I think a good thing to convey to this audience is that it’s not luck >>Jaime: No, no, it’s not luck at all One thing that was very important for us early on was to delineate responsibility for different aspects of the game And sometimes it’s pretty clear who’s responsible for what A gameplay mechanic? That’s engineers But art and design is a little trickier sometimes And there was a point where there was a little muddy water between the two teams, where they both felt that they had domain over the character Because the artists are the ones responsible for how the character looks But Design was like, well, we’re the ones that design the story and all of that behind the character So it was basically getting the two groups together and making it clear who is exactly responsible for what and who has final say And once you get that settled– and this isn’t to say that other teams can’t contribute Because we had engineers helping us with gameplay puzzles But more that, once Design has made a decision on something that’s design-related, the other teams are supposed to support it Once the engineers have said, no, we can’t do that, Design can’t keep trying to push that particular aspect Once Design says, we want a spooky Halloween environment, we can’t go high Gothic, that kind of thing >>Luis: You know where else that works really well? When you’re cooking If you’re making a lasagna, and that lasagna’s got to get into the oven by 4 o’clock in order to serve by 5 o’clock, it better not get in there at 4:30 or you’re not serving lasagna at 5 o’clock And for those of you who’ve taken my class before, you know I’ve used that example quite a bit [CHUCKLES] So you have to design it And sometimes, it’s just got to be in the oven long enough And you have to decide what you’re making And you have to get it in the oven, right? >>Jaime: Right And it doesn’t help to have uncertainty >>Luis: That’s right >>Jaime: But we developed a good culture of respect Everybody on the team respected each other’s disciplines And whenever somebody gave input from their discipline, it was taken seriously So that was something we definitely learned from other teams Because not everybody gets along all the time And you try to avoid issues as possible by streamlining I mean, that’s basically what my role is as project lead– how can I make so that people have what they need and have as few obstacles as possible, including each other? >>Luis: Good stuff >>Victor: We had a few questions come in from chat as well Let me– >>Jaime: Sure >>Victor: How did you navigate matching the effects with the aesthetic of the overall game? >>Jaime: Matching VFX with the– well, we had a technical artist who was all about VFX So I’m not much of an artist myself,

so I can’t go too into the details But we knew we had a certain palette that we were going for You’ll notice that telekinesis was purple There’s a lot of purple in the game Time control magic is blue We also have a lot of blue in the game So we had a strong art direction and an art guide from the very beginning So we know what would contribute to that aesthetic that we were going for >>Victor: And then did you have any problems fitting what was gameplay mechanics, and need to be more informational with the player, and what was entirely aesthetic? Did you apply any particular way to sort of look at that? >>Jaime: I’m sorry, could you repeat the question? >>Victor: The question was, since you had a lot of blue that was time mechanics and a lot of purple that was the telekinesis mechanics, and you also wanted to apply sort of similar color concepts or themes to the game in general, did you have any approach towards making sure that, hey, this is a gameplay mechanic The player needs to be aware what’s going on And we’re using the color to inform him of that And then how do you sort of match that with the general aesthetic that sounds like, at least the design from the beginning, was supposed to be fairly similar to these mechanics? >>Jaime: Right So for that, particularly for the time, because that’s a little less intuitive than telekinesis– for telekinesis, if it’s on the ground and you can push it, it can be pushed But for time control, we understood that was going to be a little harder to understand what you could and cannot work– what would and would not be affected by that So we used the cursor to highlight anything you could interact with We had a blue outline over objects that would also be affected by time And once it was being affected by time, we applied a material over it to let you know that was being affected by time control powers And they’re all color coordinated so that there wasn’t any confusion about what was happening to that object I hope that answers the question >>Victor: Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely That was sort of, how do you inform this player when you’re trying to match the aesthetic? There’s a lot that goes into that, just picking your favorite colors, and then also having them as sort of the VFX for the 40 abilities of the player, and then outlines Did you approach– did you think of accessibility in terms of people who are colorblind? Or did you approach the game with any of those ideas in mind? >>Jaime: So we did not We did have subtitles, but that’s about the extent Given the short time frame, from December to– August was the official end deadline, we didn’t feel we could create the game that we wanted to make as well as fit all that in >>Victor: Yeah, that’s tough You’re also getting grades on this, right? >>Jaime: Yeah And as part of the program, we have monthly milestones that we need to hit with certain objectives So it’s a lot of work trying to do all that on top of classes >>Victor: Another question that came in from chat was, what was an important lesson you learned in regards to managing/leading a project across multiple different specializations– art, programming, design, cetera? >>Jaime: So a good lesson is, trust your leads Because they know their discipline better than you do I’m more technically inclined So I understand the engineering parts a little better But I still trust in my Programming lead when he said, we can or can’t do something, or how much time it would take For my art lead, if she said, that’s not viable in that time frame, that was it Took her word for it I didn’t argue the point I would discuss with her, OK, what are our alternatives? What can we do? But you’ve got people who you’re working with who are subject matter experts Listen to their advice >>Victor: That’s a good piece of advice All right, Luis, did you have any more questions for Jaime? >>Luis: No I think somebody said that you probably make a pretty good lasagna [ALL CHUCKLE] >>Victor: All right >>Luis: Thank you >>Victor: Yeah, thank you so much I’m sure we’ll get back to you at the end here We have some more general questions for all of you if we have some time, which I think we just might, barely But last but not least, we’re going to move over to Milo, who will be presenting Ginkgo for us You good with me going ahead and playing the trailer? >>Milo: Sounds great >>Victor: All right, let’s go [VIDEO PLAYBACK]

[MUSIC PLAYING] [MUSIC INTENSIFIES] [END PLAYBACK] Such a cool trailer >>Milo: Thank you so much Yeah >>Victor: All right, did you want to do something before I start playing the play-through? >>Milo: Actually we can just go right into it And then I can start talking about the game over it if that’s all right >>Victor: Yes Let me go ahead and make sure that I start my screenshare with you All right Can you see that right? >>Milo: Yes I’m in Awesome Yeah, so like a few of the other games we’ve seen before, Ginkgo was an advanced games project at USC, which means that it was a capstone project for a class And we got to get regular faculty feedback and assemble a student team to develop the game over the course of one year, with the goal of producing just a really highly-polished, 15 to 20-minute demo at the very end of it The original idea for the game was made by the creative director and lead designer Joey Tan and Justin Liu Both of them are really experienced game players and also game developers And they wanted to create a mechanic that they’ve never seen before in a game And what they came up with was this really innovative needle-and-thread system that allowed you to sew and unsew parts of the world together, interact with it in a really unique way From there, they created a prototype that’s showcased a vertical slice of everything they could do with the needle And once it got greenlit as a capstone project, that’s when I was recruited on the team as lead producer and lead writer And from there, we went into development, working a little bit of preproduction the summer before the school year, and then most of production from 2019 to 2020, and then a little bit in the summer after, just for final bug-crushing and publishing to Steam and Itch Sorry, just one second My cat is crying to be let out of my room >>Victor: [CHUCKLES] >>Milo: Hold on. All right I know he’ll get louder if I do not let him out Yeah, the idea around this mechanic was we also wanted to have a really close connection between this mechanic and also the story of our game, just because we thought a needle and thread were so compelling in the way they convey the mending and destruction of relationships So the main story of the game is about this young woman who is at her estranged mother’s funeral, and she gets the opportunity to reconnect with her by going into this really crazy dream world that we’re seeing right now, that shows her life from her mother’s perspective, who was a really work-driven seamstress who came from maybe not the most exciting upbringings, and just really wanted to provide a good life for her daughter, but in doing such sort of hurt their relationship by how much she worked and really not putting enough time into the relationship And now, after her mother’s untimely death, you get to see everything that your mother actually did and the backstory behind everything she was working towards that can see as a child Another huge part that we wanted to incorporate into Gingko is Joey and Justin are huge fans of horror, and are not easily scared And we wanted to really convey Asian horror specifically through both the visuals and story of Gingko, which includes being really atmospheric with your horror

instead of like– I don’t know, Western horror focuses a lot on having jump scares and really bombastic and gory moments And for Asian horror, we wanted to put some more subtle an atmospheric horror that felt like a sense of unsettlement and fear throughout, with just a few really well-placed, really intense scares so that those beats could really land We took a lot of inspiration from Asian horror movies, such as Audition, The Wailing, and even In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai, in terms of having really highly-saturated and cinematic visuals for the game itself We also took a lot of inspiration from the first horror film, which was a German– I think– black-and-white film called The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, which had just a lot of really crazy, angular, and disordered architecture That’s why you see all the walls in Ginkgo have these really crazy angles that hold the screens together And we really tried to emphasize that irregularity throughout the game to really bring our atmosphere together If you see the stitching on this cloth right now, an interesting fact is it’s not an animation that sews the cloth together But we used Unreal’s Blueprinting to do 3D math in order to create those sewable points and make it look like the cloth is actually stitching in real time So every time you stitch or break apart something, no animations It’s just all math and a little bit of cloth physics to make it feel realistic And when we were designing puzzles for Ginkgo it was pretty easy Because we had just the central mechanic that we wanted to base everything around So we did concentric design, and just designing all of the verbs, and actions, and layers of the game, from the puzzles to all the different little weird monsters you’re seeing, around how you can interact with them with the needle So here you’ll see sort of like a sail puzzle, where you need to sew a sail together that will move a platform for you, propelled by a gust of wind, later, in the room And then you can either choose to sprint across this bridge that’s rotating towards you Or if you cut the sail again at the correct time, it will sort of stop the bridge And then, suddenly, you have a platform to walk across I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that we have subtitles in the game, as well as just a few like noises from the player character, as opposed to fully voiced lines This was an intentional decision we made Because it was a single-player game and we only had one character, one character who was there, we didn’t want you to get tired of hearing her voice over and over again, especially since we were trying to tutorialize the game’s story and mechanics really diegetically, we just didn’t want you to hear, like, hmm, I think I can sew that fire and that lantern together? Or like, what would happen if I sewed these two cloths instead of these two? We just wanted to convey it through subtitles and just player noises, to initiate tone, to make it feel like you were the player character, as opposed to it was like a conduit that you were experiencing This part of the game is one of my favorite parts of the game I think it’s so exciting and compelling Our audio designer, Kevin Ke, really went crazy with the Chase Yokai noises And our composer, Anthony Sabatino, I feel like he just had such a perfect composition for this area It still scares me to play When we shifted to remote work, and I had to do remote play testing to tune this sequence, I, as the producer, was the one who had to like fill that role and sort of play-test it, and help everyone out And I was like, please don’t make me do this I’m so scared It is so stressful every single time And even watching this, I can feel my heartbeat going up a little bit We took a lot of inspiration from Outlast and the later Resident Evil games, especially for this part, in terms of like conveying a really frantic and terrifying sequence in which you’re not really able to fight back against the monsters that are chasing you, but rather you have to use the environment around you and your materials at your disposal to craft situations that will help you escape Here, right now, like I said, this back story is about seeing your life from your mother’s perspective So this is your childhood room But now, with a different perspective, as you’re coming back to it older, you can see everything that your mom did to provide for you, all the toys that she created for you, as well as all the work that she was doing, even when she was at home And once again, this part felt very special and tender for me especially, just because it’s quite literally mending a relationship by sewing the two dolls’ hands together I felt like that was just a beat that really conveyed what we were going for in terms of both story and gameplay And so if it had been a little more subtle before, maybe it had become more overt now [MUSIC PLAYING]

Once again, we were working with puzzles But we wanted, in this room, with this puzzle specifically, to work a lot with vertically and different levels, as well as just creating interesting puzzles that require the player to really see the space they were in It wasn’t like they were just running through with this needle and thread, sewing anything or whatever We wanted them to be able to intuitively figure out, from the entire environment, which specific places they needed to sew and how that would work We did get a lot of bugs for a really long time, where you were just able to sew anything to anything, which created a lot of interesting and unfortunate situations with our play-testers I remember there was once a bug where you could just sew the walls with the needle And people would like create little designs or little smiley faces, like that fancy cursive S that everyone used to draw in elementary school on their papers We, I think, had to remove a lot of colliders and do a lot of different play with colliders in order to make that work In this part, we are once again seeing that monster that was chasing you before But we wanted a different setup that gave the player a lot more agency So instead of running away from the monster, the idea here is you have to stealth around it in a central area by using different parts of your environment, both to obscure yourself visually, but also audio-wise Because the monster was designed through Unreal Blueprinting to be able to both see and hear you in a certain radius And then, in this part, we wanted to give you a feeling of finally triumphing over it by cutting this guillotine and sort of blocking it off from you [MUSIC PLAYING] [FOOTSTEPS] I also wanted to mention, each of the levels you’ve been seeing so far in Gingko, all of them had custom event systems that we Blueprinted in Unreal Joey was responsible for this entire room, and coding and Blueprinting all of it I still don’t know how she did it It’s like absolute wizardry to me But each part has its own code and its own custom code, which brought its own challenges, I would say, just because it wasn’t like there were a few scripts we could report back to it and check in different rooms to see what was breaking It was like we would have to go into different custom event systems and just see what was up This particular platform gave us a lot of grief I’m very glad it works in this video Because I would say from March to May it was maybe like a 1 in 3 chance that it would actually connect and you’d be able to cut it We put so much work especially into how these cloth platforms felt to sew and just connect together to make it really satisfying and snappy You wanted it to feel like you had to use a lot of precision and aim to sew with the needle But at the same time, we didn’t want it to feel too difficult And we wanted you to be able to do this really fast clicking mouse motion that just felt like something in real life and translates really smoothly to gameplay Something we also experimented with was putting a few different secret rooms throughout the game So it was like you have a general vibe of the story if you just play the game normally But if you really committed the time to look in each environment and recognize where something is amiss, like this secret room, you would be able to do sort of a deeper dive into your mother’s backstory and see the dark underbelly beneath it I won’t reveal everything, just because if you want to play the game yourself, you can see it for yourself But there are three secret rooms through Ginkgo that will actually give you the full backstory of what happened to your mother, what happened with this monster, and why she never reached out to you before she died We were really inspired by Asian horror’s way of being very deliberate with its story, but in a way that made it still exciting because they would make everything absolutely bonkers crazy in terms of what happens, and twists, and everything that could change And we tried to incorporate as much of that craziness into our story as possible And so as you can see, this is the final portion of the game It’s like your mother’s grandest workshop And it’s theoretically where you would get all the answers to everything you’ve been seeing all game, like why has your mother’s ghost been appearing for you throughout this dream world, but she doesn’t stop for you to have a conversation And then finally she’s waiting here for you to talk, and then the experience ends Because fortunately scope is only so much And yeah, it was a pretty big team that we worked with I think we had 2023 people at our peak It was a very fun experience That was probably my favorite part about Ginkgo,

was getting to work with such talented and passionate people I think that really what made this game so special for me is that it just felt like we were always on the same page, and we all had the same vision and passion for what we wanted to create in this experience that made a lot of issues, especially when we had to shift to remote work very suddenly, in March, it made a lot of translation much easier >>Victor: That’s super cool I love the original full mechanic, and how you’re able to– you tied it all together, right? With the entire story, the level design, as well as the main mechanic of how you solve puzzles So it’s very impressive >>Luis: Holy camoly >>Victor: That’s another way to put it, yeah >>Luis: So are you guys– I know that, I guess, in the last year or so, USC has kind of combined Viterbi and the USC film school Were you guys part of one of the other originally? Or are you the film school? Or which group are you in originally? >>Milo: It’s really interesting, actually So our creative director, Joey, she was an IMGD major and part of the film school But I would say our team’s split about 50/50 in terms of film school students and Viterbi engineering students So we had a lot of computer science games folks on the team, not only in programming roles, but also in technical art and even just like pure art, helping us out with that, which was really helpful and– [INTERPOSING VOICES] >>Luis: That makes sense Because it’s very technical, this project And you achieved a lot But also, as you look through that environment, a lot of the space looks fairly unique In other words, there’s not apparent modularity, even though it’s clear that you have to because it– I don’t know if you did or didn’t But there doesn’t seem to be a tremendous amount of opportunity for modularity, though I can imagine that you have to use modularity to generate that scale of environment Mostly because of the patterns on the walls That’s not like LEGOed environment space I don’t know Do you have much insight into how it was assembled? >>Milo: Yeah, definitely Well, first of all, our art team was very cool, very skilled, lots of absolute badasses, which made us able to go really far with what we wanted in terms of our art scope But as you saw, those walls were part of a modular building set that we created We also had a different tile set for wooden walls and floors that we could just use and apply to different areas of the game depending on what we needed We also had the really unique opportunity to collaborate with some folks from Art Center We had two really great art directors, Andrea Zhang and Nolan Lu, who helped us establish a really clear visual style and exactly what we wanted from the very beginning They were able to really convey what we wanted in terms of our vision to all of our artists, and were really helpful with doing paint-overs and iterations to make things match the style Something that really helped us a lot is using Substance Painter Interestingly enough, not a lot of our textures are hand-painted or hand-done But rather we modeled them in Maya, exported them to Substance Painter I’m pretty sure every– >>Victor: Oh, that was really bad timing But I think– >>Milo: Did I disconnect there for a second? >>Victor: Yes, just for a second But you’re back now >>Milo: OK, cool I don’t know where I left off But basically, yeah, our artists would model everything in Maya, export it to Substance Painter And I’m pretty sure every asset in the game was in some way textured by Joey, which is crazy now that I am saying it But she made it seem like not a very big deal at the time But yeah, that was part of what helped us get so much unique art into the game And interestingly enough, a lot of props are reused in really subtle or overt ways Like that Chase Yokai skeleton appears in a few different areas But it’s the same model, just broken down into different segments and then retextured to seem a little unique So there are a lot of little shortcuts we were able to take throughout the art process >>Victor: Someone was curious, what lighting techniques did you use to add to the atmosphere? >>Milo: So we just used, I think, Unreal’s internal lighting for it But what we went for was just really high-saturation, compelling lights It was a huge pain to optimize, and very difficult >>Victor: Yeah, it looked like even the little rings that you sewed together, it almost looked like they had a light on them as well >>Milo: Mm-hmm Yeah, we worked really hard on having a really intuitive UI

system that made it easy to see what was sewable and what wasn’t sewable So what we went for was little sewable points that would interacts dynamically, whether you were hovering on them or pointing at them or not Or if you had the needle out and were pointing in a general direction, we wanted you to be able to see everything you could sew, and then have to put together in your head, sort of like a math problem, all of the possibilities >>Victor: So you had another question that came in, and a comment I love how this game has so many architectural space interactions, I think Could you tell us more about how you put together the environments? I think you’ve touched a little bit about it But I guess I’m curious to know more >>Milo: Of course, yeah I think something that really helps with how we interacted with the environment is all of our designers have a very deep visual background So they were able to factor the environment into all of their designs, as well as it was pretty easy for them to model what they meant if they were having trouble conveying an idea So Justin Liu especially, our lead designer, was really curious to how we could use the cloth and sort of incorporate it naturally into our environment He came up with the idea of a hook system that we could sew cloth pieces into different shapes with, which you saw the triangle shape that we sewed in the sail puzzle, in the earlier room, as well as all of the cloth that you could sew over windows in the Chase Yokais maze to sort of obscure yourself from its view So just thinking about all the other parts of the project, even though you have one specific focus on it, was something that really helps your ideas become more incorporated with everything else >>Victor: Another question from chat– what is the thought process behind the way the rooms and levels are designed? Are they set in a particular way to drive the atmospheric/horrific mood? >>Milo: So the way the rooms were set up was each one, I would say, is meant to convey either a different emotional vibe, a different mechanic, or a different message from the story, sometimes a couple at once In the very beginning of the game, you start in your mother’s old, rundown workshop And you kind of see where she began And that sort of is what sets the story off while you’re learning the basic mechanics of the game Then we have the initial sequence with the monster, where you’re just chased through this maze And you’re meant to feel like fear and helplessness, and have to use these mechanics that you learn first in a very slow-paced environment now in a really quick one And then progressing that in terms of mastery and story later in the game when we get to the maze that you have to outsmart the Chase Yokai in, once again with these mechanics, but also adding in that layer of, oh, it can’t see me and it can’t hear me as I open these doors and progress forward, and deepening the story in terms of changing feelings towards your mother and seeing new perspectives as well as this dark undercurrent that you found within the secret rooms >>Luis: I’m kind of curious how Ginkgo was received internally at USC It has a fairly rich history of well-established game design, but also a fairly rich history of Asian game design, I guess, I don’t know, history or whatever How was it received internally at USC, having had a long pedigree of being known for game design? >>Milo: Mm-hmm It was received really positively I was actually really pleasantly surprised All of the UC faculty were really big fans of it And they were really huge fans of progress we were able to make in between each internal deadline that we had throughout the year I guess they’d never seen a mechanic like this before And they were just really curious to see what we would be doing with it and if we would be utilizing it to its full potential And I think they were really happy with what we produced I think a lot of what helped that is a lot of us had a really personal connection to this game, as most of us were Asian or Asian-American developers working on it who had joined it because it was like, oh my gosh, I’ve never seen a game before that’s specifically focusing on Asian and Asian themes, especially this theme of a difficult parent-child relationship that could have been caused by just generational differences and diaspora, I think, helped a lot as well >>Luis: I think it makes it very unique and kind of– it’s familiar, but it’s familiar in the way that like Miyazawa films are I can associate with it, but I’m not sure why, you know?

It’s delicious, but it’s a different flavor delicious >>Milo: [CHUCKLES] Thank you I’m glad to hear it Yeah, we were going for just a little bit of familiarity, like enough to ground yourself but not enough to feel safe or comfortable So I’m so glad to hear you say that >>Victor: We are coming up a little bit short on time here Milo, was there anything else you wanted to add >>Milo: Oh, nothing else I can think of, just that everyone worked really hard on this game It’s out right now on Steam and Itch So feel free to go download it for free Yeah >>Victor: Awesome We did plan to sort of talk a little bit, in general, about going to college, and going through all these programs, and working with all these people, and people that you didn’t know before, and now all of a sudden, you’re supposed to work on projects together But due to time, I think– I’m going to give Luis a chance ask a question as well, but one of the questions that I was curious about was– each one of you can answer– what are your plans for the future? We can start with Alaetheia >>Alaetheia: Yeah, so I am currently in the process of starting my own studio with another graduate from Guildhall and my spouse, actually So we got an investor to do about a year’s worth of funding And we actually just started building our first prototype in Unreal So we’ve been working on kind of a spooky house-themed game with a more traditional demon/monster type thing It seems that I have a preference of projects >>Victor: Super cool It’s not a small undertaking, from experience What about you, Jaime? >>Jaime: I’m currently in Texas, working as a mobile client engineer for Play Studios >>Victor: So you got hired >>Jaime: Yeah >>Victor: Yeah [CHUCKLES] Just like that, easy What about you, Milo? >>Milo: Yeah, I’m a senior, graduating in December right now Currently looking for work both in production and writing roles So I guess it was cool to show off Ginkgo In terms of the game itself, I know all of us would like love to come back to it and develop it further But almost all of us have already graduated and are working right now And just developing the game on the same pace that we went at before, I don’t think would be feasible until at least a few years down the line >>Victor: It’s always cool to sit on good mechanics and ideas, and when the time is right, be able to go back to them, which is why source control and good commentary on your code, pipelines of how you get assets in there, is very important Because the amount of times I’ve found myself reopening a project, or just, out of the blue, getting real excited about something I did like years ago, and jumping in there, and realizing that I have no idea what I did because I didn’t put any comments in it because it was just a little prototype And so yeah, just a nice little tip I guess I’m trying to leave with everyone Luis, did you have something you wanted to ask before we round this out? >>Luis: Yeah, I think these are amazing projects I’ve been familiar with these projects for some time And as I think we’ve talked about, you don’t accidentally make projects at this level of polish and this level of finish You all worked very hard to get these where they are I think we’re all very delighted to see them in Unreal Engine And hopefully it was very helpful in getting them to where they got And you also represent, I think, amazing schools And maybe you have just a couple of words of advice for students about how to get projects to the level of polish that you got yours, even some words about the programs that you attended, or just– there’s people watching this or may watch it later, on YouTube or whatever, that could use some advice What would you have to say or add? >>Victor: We can start with Alaetheia again, just go through the same order >>Alaetheia: All righty So I would say, for projects, scoping yourself is definitely the number one way, in my opinion, that you’re going to get a high level of polishes building in that time And it’s more time than you’re going to build in initially,

which I guess means sliding into producer mode a bit of your risks are going to be bigger than you think they are And it’s going to take more time And if you have a united vision, and you can keep yourself down to what that is– and I know that sometimes the next great idea pops up But you have to kind of put that on your shelf for later because it doesn’t fit this game You just don’t have the time to build it Really just sticking with it because I know it’s really easy to do, but I had this cool idea, and it’s a lot more fun than polishing this thing I’ve been working on for weeks So [INAUDIBLE] that And I would say that kind of goes across the entire program I know one of the advices my professor had given me was, it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect Get it in And just– she pointed out, she’s like, you’re that person who wants to sit, and fiddle, and polish on it And you never want to be done with that But you have to be willing just to submit it and get that feedback Because it’s the only way you’re ever going to improve, especially in a kind of really intensive program So that would be my best >>Victor: It’s a good tip Yeah, it’s really easy to almost like fall in love with what you’re working on And it’s your baby And it can never be as good as you think it can be And you just keep iterating, keep iterating And sometimes you work on something for months and you realize that the first prototype felt better It happens Jaime >>Jaime: So I just found out that some of my teammates are watching the stream What’s up, beagles? >>Victor: [CHUCKLES] >>Jaime: But so advice that I would give is two points For the project lead, one of your tools is an ax You are going to have to cut stuff left and right so you can make schedule Do not be afraid to use it Use it early rather than having the work go to waste because you decided to cut too late And the second point, which– our team got along really well But even with a team that gets along very well, sometimes people don’t meet expectations And that means you’re going to have difficult conversations that you need to have Don’t put those off hoping that they’ll resolve themselves Take care of them early That way they don’t get don’t turn into something bigger and cause problems bigger problem later down the line >>Victor: I wouldn’t have known– that’s the kind of stuff you learn from experience I’m sure you find yourself in a situation– or maybe you were just, off the top of your head, you just knew, I’m the guy with the ax >>Luis: Yeah, I remember talking about, even making the games that I worked on, the must-haves, should-haves, like-to-haves And make sure that you work really hard to get the must-haves in, and then get the should-haves in, and then the like-to-haves But make sure that whatever features are in the must-haves get in the must-haves Because if you’re fighting for the like-to-haves or the should-haves, then sometimes you don’t get the must-haves done >>Jaime: And it’s not easy to decide what goes where Because something that seems like it should be a must-haves is actually a “would be nice to have.” It takes some honesty with not only yourself but with the other team to decide, do we really need this feature? >>Luis: Mm-hmm >>Victor: Super-good information Milo >>Milo: Yeah, I completely agree with everything everyone said I guess my advice is very related It’s a very good piece of advice I got sometime in the past couple years, which is that we’re making games, not saving lives So when it comes down to it, you should value yourself over what you’re making Most games that are being developed on a student or personal level are being developed in a relatively low-stakes environment And that means that you can give yourself time to rest, and fail, and just take time for yourself When it’s 2:00 AM and you’ve been looking at the same script for like 6 and 1/2 hours, maybe it’s time to go to sleep instead of keeping chugging away on it Some of my favorite parts on Ginkgo weren’t even the parts where we were working It was just hanging out with my team in that dedicated space We all had this time when we went ice skating together, which was very fun I would say just focus on, I’d say, preserving yourself at the same time while creating this game Unless your game is about saving lives or literally saves lives That would be very interesting And I would love to hear more about games that save people >>Victor: I don’t know if they’re games,

but there are plenty of use cases where Unreal is being used to produce medical simulators, so virtual surgery using VR, and also just for being able to visualize the anatomy of the body and your organs in 3D, in a safe manner I would much rather, I think, try to do surgery on a kidney virtually before I ever try to do that on a real person So there are opportunities where– there are opportunities where Unreal is being used to save lives, which is pretty cool Awesome I want to thank you all so much for taking this time I know that y’all have jobs and other various projects that you’re working on So thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge from the early stages of your career to the world Thanks, Luis, for coming on, and especially to Kait Baird and Mary Dvorsky as well for coming on the stream Please stick around for the call Don’t jump out just yet We just want to wrap it up once we’re done But for all you out there who has been with us from the beginning or later, hope you had a good time learning from all these students and hearing a little bit about their journeys If you want to see more of our livestreams, make sure you hit that Follow button on our Twitch page so you can see when we go live Luis, is there a stream tomorrow? >>Luis: There is a stream tomorrow It is somewhat of a follow-up on today’s stream We have three educators from separate academic institutions We’ve got SuAnne Fu coming from Savannah College of Art and Design We’ve got Seth Holladay from Brigham Young University And we also have Neil from Hertfordshire University, from the UK, who will be joining us And these are amazing institutions that are represented here in today’s stream So tomorrow we’re going to be following up with some of the instructors that have helped form programs very similar to these and talk about how they teach their students So yeah, it should be really good We’ll be talking about some of the same things– how they build their programs, how they get their students into Unreal And it should be good >>Victor: Awesome And– >>Luis: It starts at 2 o’clock Eastern time And I’ll also be joined by Mark Flanagan And please join us then >>Victor: And then next week, we have– Aaron Sims creative is going to come on to talk about filmmaking using Unreal Engine And if you don’t know who Aaron Sims and his team are, what they produced, just go to our station, put in Aaron Sims, take a look at some of the characters, models, and other stuff that they’re working on It’s very, very, very impressive As always, make sure you let us know what you’re working on Forums is a good place Unreal Slackers, our unofficial community Discord, is a great place to find people, meet-ups, game jams, and just talk about Unreal in general There’s a lounge It’s kind of funny Will Chambers just started streaming a couple of days of the week here in the work channel You can just jump in there and talk to other devs It’s a great place Twitter as well– make sure you put those projects in on our Screenshot Saturday We love seeing everything that you’re working on And it also helps us to find cool products that we can spotlight on the livestream and also the launcher I think, with that said, it is time to wrap up Once again, thank you so much to all of you I hope all of you out there are staying safe during these– troublesome times, I guess we can put it, lightly, and that you are enjoying all the content that we’re able to put together for you And so with that said, let’s all say goodbye And take care And we’ll see all again next week– and some of you tomorrow Bye, everyone [MUSIC PLAYING]