There's been a lot of progress since my last post for Games Dev. Although not as much as we would have liked.
We are planning to be in our alpha stage by the end of this week. However, there has been a massive delay in our level design. We're currently in week six and we don't have any final designs.
There's only one level...
So far, all of them have been extremely convoluted and seemingly indifferent to the game's narrative, setting and ethos.
Unfortunately this shows little sign of improving any time soon. I suggested "Level Up" and a designer from another team suggested "The Hows and Whys of Level Design" among other things, and was kind enough to demonstrate some simple examples in a matter of minutes, which were simple, great, and captured the nature of the premise wonderfully.
I've been doing my best to create assets, but we don't have the final asset list for even the first 15 seconds of the first (and only) level. Yes, there has been a list of mechanisms provided. But anyone could have done this. It's just a generic list of Rube Golberg/LBP items with no context or hint of clever cohesion in terms of the development of the players' enjoyment.
Our programmer is working tirelessly, doing fine work, and also doing his best to test his progress with the level designs that we've been given. I really can't speak highly enough of him.
I have created a visual style guide and defined many asset designs (as best I can, which I feel fit the context) and environments. However, I am very wary to begin working on assets, when I have no idea which will make it in, and not even as polish, but as BASIC level assets.
The basic level should have been completed within the first 2 weeks with time to spare, and I should have been able to hit the ground running with the asset creation. However, we find ourselves in week 6, and even if I found out exactly what I needed to create today, I'll likely become very stressed (unnecessarily) to get it done in time.
I feel this game is a level designers' dream and I've fallen in love with the whole idea. I really want to deliver with this game and make a great impression upon my peers. However, I feel (and I am not alone here), that we may just be rather unfortunate.
I can't write this post without addressing the language barrier, because it is naturally playing a key role in this lack of progress. Most of the time when one of us is trying to explain something to the designer, she says she understands, when clearly this is not the case, as she will go quiet and then move onto another problem. The original problem is then left unsolved. The cycle continues.
So perhaps the language barrier is more to blame for the lack of understanding. But at the same time, the concept art, mock-ups and mood boards convey the context, and Skully's (programmer) physics tests and mechanic mock ups crystalise the properties and physics of the game.
From there it's just applying basic level design theory to it, and then iterating.
Naturally, this has me really worried, as our game is faltering. But hopefully we can find a solution soon and save our end product.