Darkness Dwells Post Mortem

What Did We Do?

Darkness Dwells was a continuation on the game developed by Scott Anastasi the trimester before this. In that game, you played a child seeing monsters appear and finding comfort in your parents presence. For this project, we took that game and built it into a horror game where you have to try and keep the monsters out, only using your flashlight. The player had to try and stop three monsters, Longtooth (in the closet), The Gremlin (on the rocking horse) and UnderBed (take a wild guess). Each monster required a different tactic to handle. But there was another factor. There is also a radio that speeds up the rate of which the monsters appear that the player had to turn off.

What Went Well?

During this project our team performed really well in all fields. We communicated often and clearly about what we were working on and when. We discussed changes with each other and made sure we compromised if not all agreed. As project manager I tried to make sure that everyone had something to do at all times, and often tried to tie that into the specialization that that person wanted to use.

As a team we worked closely together with two animators that made the main character models for us. We treated them well and made sure to give them proper feedback and the praise they required. There was large amounts of trust between the game developers and the collaborators, and I think that the trust we had for work to get done was a crucial part for the games completion. We could not have been where we are today without their splendid work.

We used project management tools such as Hack’N’Plan and development schedules with excellency in order to get work done on time, with great success. We scoped when necessary and managed to pivot and change upon feedback with ease.

In my opinion the teams marketing was fantastically executed. We made up a plan, and acted upon it. At the point I am writing this, the game page on itch.io has 1278 views and 342 downloads, as well as being the number 3 most popular game on itch.io. We have had several people play the game and upload the video to youtube where it has received high praise.

What Didn’t Go Well?

This game has been my second game as a project manager, and there was a lot that went wrong with it. I enjoy being project manager, but I believe that some of the things that went wrong was that a) no one really wanted to be project manager from the start, so I stepped in just because we needed one, and b) I didn’t feel super engaged with the project for a while, so I found it difficult to do much work for it.

Nevertheless, I pushed through my feelings and tried to do my best, and it started off pretty good in my opinion. However, I as a person am very passive, and I don’t make a lot of noise when things go against my preference, so when team members started going off the schedule or started giving orders to other members, I didn’t really speak up, making it feel like I wasn’t actually the project manager.

In order to better myself for future projects, I need to speak up more. I need to start taking a stand if roles or schedules are strafed away from, and make sure we end up where we want to be. I need to try and be more inspiring and helpful, while making sure everyone does the work they’re supposed to do.

What Did I Learn?

Working on Darkness Dwells made me learn a whole heap about what being a generalist means. I got to take care of Localization, UI, Options, and many other things I haven’t touched as much before (except for UI). It was a very enriching experience and helped me accept that I am a game designer as well as generalist, instead of trying to find a specialisation.

This project taught me a whole bunch of useful information about marketing that I had no experience with before. I now know how to find a market and make a game that panders to that market, as well as creating a brand/identity and promote all of that on social media. I learned about price points and about making assumptions and researching those assumptions for the selected market.

Darkness Dwells Project Management

During this trimester I have worked with a bunch of different types of project management, as well as had the opportunity to be the project manager for our commercialisation project. For this blog I will write about my experience with project management during Darkness Dwells.

After researching around, most industry people (like Heather, and her article) seem to enjoy using WBS (Work Breakdown Software), such as Trello or Hack’N’Plan. Luckily we’ve been using Hack’N’Plan as well as spreadsheets to manage our work during Darkness Dwells, which is something I will discuss below.

The first thing I made sure we did for darkness dwells, as soon as I took the reigns as project manager, was decide to have weekly meetings. I wanted to make sure I knew what was going on with the project at all times. I also made sure that we used source control and Hack’N’Plan, as mentioned above, to plan out our work.

Spreadsheet

One method I tried out for the first time was week to week planning. I am aware that HNP does this, but I really wanted to be able to look at it in a spreadsheet, along with everyone's responsibilities for that particular week. I think this worked really well because it helped me keep track of what we had to do in the time we had left. This was also updated with time, as we pivoted at a certain point in the development.

Hack’N’Plan

Although half of the team were against using it, I enjoy using  HNP a lot. It helps me track time and is very useful to keep on top of things and make sure you know what to do. What I encountered as a difficulty during this project, as the project manager, was to motivate my team to continue updating HNP, and unfortunately it reached the point where we stopped using it. But up until the point where that happened, it worked well for us.

Slack/Discord

In order to keep in contact with everyone we decided to use Discord. However we were told that we had to use Slack for the project, so we sort of altered between the two. The reason for this was because everyone of us was used to using Discord for schoolwork, as it is a very flexible program for chat rooms. We ended up having to remind each other to use Slack, and therefore hopped between the two. In the end, we used Discord to talk to each other and Slack to talk to contributors.

Project management

This is one of the few projects I have been project manager for, and unfortunately I have had a better experience in the past. I think it all came down to the fact that I wasn’t engaged enough to take the reigns, and also because no one really wanted to be project manager so I offered to do it. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to controlling a team,  but hey, the game is out there and ready to play so I think it went well. I think it would be easier if I was more into the game.

Thank you for reading this rather short blog. My brain is pretty mushy at the end of trimester, so I'm happy I managed to get something about our process in here.