Senior Capstone Dev Blog | New Semester, New Team

Previously, on Leo's Senior Capstone Blog...

We made Frog Bath! Now, that's only four words, but there was so much that went into those four words. The biggest challenge was learning Unreal Engine 4 while developing the game in it at the same time, but we managed to come out of it with a functional and pretty fun game. There was also a lot of work put into the game's design, with multiple iterations going underway until we finally decided on the movement systems we have in place. From there, all we had to do was make a trailer, make a presentation, and then present our game in front of peers and professors. Once that was said and done, we were one of the 8 teams that were chosen to continue production into the next semester! Woohoo!

And with the continuation of Frog Bath, we were given the opportunity to onboard a whole new team of our talented peers to make a truly competitive froggy bathing experience. In this blog post, I'm going to be talking about our new roles moving forwards and putting the spotlight on all of the amazing new talent we recruited onto our team!

One of the most important things we knew we needed going forwards was a bigger design team. We wanted more Level Designers in order to be able to create and iterate on the levels in our game a lot faster since Frog Bath depends heavily on the way the players can interact with the space around them. Additionally, getting some System Designers into the mix would mean that we could revisit a lot of the mechanics in our game that haven't been entirely explored yet.

Seeing as how we needed both a Systems and Level Designer, why not get someone that can do both? Stephen Vowles is an amazing addition to the team seeing as how he's more than capable and more than willing to dip into both areas of design that we need. He's also a huge fan of platformers, giving him the edge of knowing what players of Frog Bath would want.

As a team, we realized that someone focused on level design was one of our highest priorities when picking up new members. Maya Armas spent her time during Senior Capstone designing levels and scripting interactions in Unreal Engine 4 for her project, and we are so happy to have someone as talented as her join our team!

Even though there's a lot of movement mechanics available to the player in Frog Bath, they are still far from perfect. Robert Price is here to get them all as fun and as balanced as possible seeing as how he is joining us focusing entirely on systems design. He's also going to be helping a lot with iterating on new mechanics like powerups with his skills in using Unreal Engine 4's visual scripting system.

The guy in charge of bringing Frog Bath's Bathtub Level to life is none other than Aiden O'Connor! As one of the original members, he's got a good grip on what exactly needs to be done for the levels moving forwards, making him naturally fit into the Lead Level Designer position. Oh, and he's also going to keep making more amazing music and more froggy sounds for the game as he did this past semester!

Oh hey, it's me! This upcoming semester, I'm going to be taking on more of a leadership role than a developer role as Product Owner to maintain the game's overall direction and as Lead Designer to keep the design team running smoothly. That being said, I will be the sole UI/UX Designer on the project; I love UI/UX Design, and the game's lack of really intensive UI will let me polish the best possible experience for the player among the other roles I'll be taking on.

With more content being designed for the game, we need more art to make sure that it all fits in the same world and it all looks fully cohesive. More specifically, because of how movement-focused Frog Bath is, we prioritized getting an Animator to be able to devote their time to giving all our froggy characters life through animations.

And here we have the animator that we need! JJ Robertston fits every single missing gap we had in terms of art: animations, VFX, and character art. The addition of extra mechanics like powerups will increase the amount of animations needed for the game and the addition of networking could necessitate more frog designs. JJ will be able to cover both of these bases swimmingly and do an amazing job too!

With the addition of an Animator, our original artist Leanna Russell will be able to focus on what she does best: environments! Because of both the amount of levels and the amount of detail in each level, environments become one of the most important aspects of Frog Bath's art. Leanna already did a stellar job with art-ing our game last semester, and now she will do the same quality of work in the space that she's most comfortable with.

Just like with art, more content means more programming needed to create that content. The one type of programmer we prioritized the most was a Networking Programmer, and if you read my last blog post, you ought to know why. Additionally, getting any more help on programming tasks would help speed up the implementation and iteration process by a significant amount.

Networked multiplayer is one of our core values going into next semester, so we picked up someone who can focus on networking entirely. Andrew Rimpici has had experience working in Unreal Engine 4 from his project in Senior Capstone, and has a passion for any and all multiplayer games, making him a perfect fit for the Frog Bath team! With our plans to make not only networked gameplay but also accounts for every player that picks up Frog Bath, there will be a plethora of things Andrew can work on for Frog Bath.

It's always good to have more hands on deck to help, and Jacob Biederman is here to help in any way he can! With experience in many different aspects of programming and with his newfound knowledge of Unreal Engine 4 from his Senior Capstone project, Jacob makes the perfect fit as a General Programmer to lift the weight off of other peoples' backs. He's also a fan of managing and maintaining the repository of whatever game he works on, which is something that we are surely appreciative of!

As the solo programmer on the team last semester, Tommy Mann is going into this next semester focusing on two things he loves: Gameplay and AI. As the person who is the most familiar with the game's code, it only makes sense for him to take the reigns as the main Gameplay Programmer, and with our plans to add AI to the Frog King, Tommy will be able to explore his interest in AI programming as well.

With a team bigger than ever before, Producers become even more important than ever. Seeing as we wanted to keep our team size relatively small even when onboarding new people, we knew that we only really had a use for an extra Producer in order to divide the workload and allow for everything to run as smoothly as possible throughout the semester.

Joining us as our new Producer is Ryan Murphy! Seeing as how our total team size is only 12 people, Ryan's interpersonal skills will shine; everyone will be interacting with one another on a pretty consistent basis, so being able to promote a positive and energetic work culture will come in handy. At the same time, his thoroughness and attention to detail will make him an excellent addition to our management team.

And last but definitely not least: Rachel Bussone, the glue that held the original Frog Bath team together throughout the entire last semester! Rachel is extremely familiar with how our team works and what type of culture we want to instill with our new members, and she will have no trouble at all with making sure that every meeting, task, and anything in-between will get done in a timely manner.

As you can tell, I am EXTREMELY excited for our new team and the work we're going to get done this upcoming semester, and I hope you are too. We've got big plans outlined for Frog Bath's future, and there's no way we could get all of it done without this A+ team.

In terms of when my next blog post is, I don't entirely know, but I'll do my best to make it once there has been significant progress made. Next semester starts in just a few days, so hopefully the ball gets rolling soon after that. Until then, keep it froggy 🐸 and keep it clean 🛁 !

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