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.

Beat Burglar Pitching Process - Post Mortem

What Did We Do?

Final project part one consists of roughly 6 weeks of pitching and polishing an idea for a project, where the rest of the project is creating a prototype to get all the work ready for next trimester. During these past 6 weeks, we have worked as a team to get an idea and presentation ready to start working on the game. We had meetings regularly both within the team and within the game designers to try and get as good of a product as possible. 

What Went Well?

Communication

During our process of pitching and presenting, We have all been very transparent and honest in our communication. We have raised issues and discussed them with each other, and we have had meetings regularly to make sure that everyone is on the same page. We have had meetings discussing feedback we've received and what changes to make, and we have had meetings to rehearse the pitch and go through the presentation to make sure everyone knows what to say. 

Pitching

Our pitching in front of class were very structured and clear. We spoke loud and made sure to detail as much as we could, highlighting all key features and levels. Everyone talked about a specific point of the project, making sure that everyone sounds engaged.

Why Did It Go Well?

Communication

When working in such a big team as we are, it is important to make sure you know exactly what everyone is doing and that it will be done on time. A big part of why I think we succeeded so well on this point, is partially because we had a lot of trust in each other that we can finish our work and make something great. It was also because we made sure to pick an idea that everyone would be happy working on, and in that we find everyone being enthusiastic about showing up to the meetings and discussing what we've done and can do. 

Pitching

After we had pitched twice, we noticed that our way of pitching sounded very improvised and unstructured. Because of this, we decided to have a script that we read off of. This also allowed us to rehearse every day before class to make sure everyone knew and could agree on what was being said. 

How To Make Sure It Happens Again

Communication

For a project like this, where you've worked together with the majority of the people in your cohort, you know which ones to trust in doing the work that is required. Part of why our team in general was so successful was because we had all worked together in one project or another before, and we know each others strengths. You can trust each other to show up on meetings and get work done. It is also easier to communicate with people you know well.

However, for projects where this isn't the case, having a strong project manager that makes sure that things get done, that frequently looks through all work that we've done and checks what is remaining to be done helps a lot. It is important to keep the morale of all teammates as high as possible and include everyone so that no one is left out.

Having set dates for meetings is also a good idea, in that case everyone can make time for the meeting and make sure to show up on time.

Pitching

If you want your pitch to do well, it is important to ask for feedback. Especially if you're pitching several times after one another, as this was the case here. The script writing was also very useful as it allowed us to review each others lines and comment on them before the actual pitch.

What Went Bad?

When trying to come up with an idea for our game it was very difficult for us to try and find out how to come up with an idea everyone would get something out of. Graphic design and audio was simple, but for the game designers it was tougher. We also had trouble finding a time for meetings where everyone was available.

Why Did It Go Bad?

Mainly our team size made it difficult for us to come up with ideas and meetings. When having 4 game designers trying to figure an idea out that everyone gets something out of, a lot of ideas that 3/4 designers like get tossed away. This is also why meetings was an issue. You have to find a time on a day where no one has work or an activity, and we had to do this approximately 3 times a week because of all the meetings we had.

How To Make Sure It Doesn't Happen Again

I would say pick a team with less teammates, but that is not always the case. The main reason that our team has managed to get meetings together is because we've all been participating in trying to find a time for meetings. We assisted in taking the burden off of the project manager's back and called for our own meetings where we all look through documents and iterate on feedback.

As for the difficulty of coming up with ideas, it's always important that you try to make everyone feel included, however that will not always work. Working with friends often makes the roles of project manager and creative lead sort of fade off a bit, as everyone discuss the ideas as friends and no one holds real authority over the others, and that can cause ideas to become harder to decide as no one really goes "No. We're doing this". I'm not saying that you should completely ignore the requests of your teammates, especially not in a smaller indie team, but it's important that someone takes the wheel and decides in benefit for everyone.

Summary

The pitching process has been a joy to work on. I am in a great team that all are capable of working and showing progress, as well as turn up to meetings and raise issues or questions. We always were confident in our ability to do the presentation and we never doubted that we could create a great product together. Although we've had our troubles because of our team size, we make up for it in enthusiasm and interest.

Thank you for reading this post mortem. Stay tuned for more posts regarding Beat Burglar.