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  • Kara Laumann

Looking Back

With my last student team project coming to a close I wanted to look back on all of the things I've done for this project. Working on One Upon a Flame allowed me to expand a lot of what I already knew and learn new things. I got a much better understanding of the Unity Animator. I became more familiar with mixing 2D and 3D elements. I learned more about the various built-in UI components such as masking, outlines, Text Mesh Pro UGUI, etc. This semester I tried to spend a lot of time polishing my previous work like the HUD, Main Menu, and Pause Menu, but I also had to create new elements such as a Journal Menu and Darkness Mechanic. After last semester I knew I needed to add more feedback to both the Main and Pause menus. Some of the audio was lacking, and the intent is for the game to be playable with both controller and mouse and keyboard, meaning there needs to be a lot more feedback so the player knows what they're hovering over. On a controller, you don't usually have a pointer so that feedback needs to be clearer to the player. Adding more audio effects and fixing small bugs with when the effect played helped fine-tune this menu. With the HUD it was clear that it always being on screen wasn't working. It took up space and Bernie never took enough damage to make it essential. To fix this I allowed it to transition on and off the screen. I accompanied this with a sound like a paper quickly moving to draw the player's attention to it. Determining when the HUD was most essential allowed me to create a much more immersive experience. Additionally, I tweaked some of the thought bubble timing, because it was slightly off at the end of last semester. Both the HUD and in-game bubbles now match up almost perfectly. They also slowly fade in as planned. I had a small bug at the end of last semester where the thought bubble faded in too quickly giving the appearance that it started being all shown which shouldn't be the case. This semester I was able to fix that once again improving the overall experience for the player. The new additions of the Journal Menu and Darkness Mechanic gave me something new to think about. With the journal menu, I needed to figure out how to let the player preview the journals they collect. Coming up with the transitions was also a lot of fun. I didn't want it to be a nearly static transition. I wanted to showcase the fact that each journal page now existed. That being they were separate things to try to make it clear that the player could click them to view them in more detail. The transition sounds aren't my favorite, I wish I could have found something that wasn't so mechanical to play. If I had more time I would want to have the cursor react to whatever it was hovering over. That is, change its color or appearance to make it even more clear to the player that they could click. For the controller, I would want to add instructions on the bottom on how to interact with each element on the menu. I had a lot of fun making the transitions for the Darkness Mechanic. I think they are at a good speed and its clear what is happening. If I could change one thing about them I would like to have playtested the final darkness level. There are a lot of areas where the player is alone and in the darkness with no light. I would have liked to test that final darkness level to see if it's too dark or not dark enough. My current concern is it may be slightly too light to get the feeling of darkness across. It could also be that we don't have as many light areas in the levels as originally intended. Perhaps in the future adding small glowing mushrooms to add a bit more light would help. I did a lot of other small tweaks this semester from adding a happiness mechanic that adds color to the world the more you feed Bernie. Additionally, his heart reaction scales up the closer you are too. I updated some of the art assets such as the pages so they have text on them when flipped, and I tweaked a few of the other assets. I wanted to make sure the entire experience felt like it was the same game and nothing was jarring. Overall I am really happy with my work on this project and I'm looking forward to whatever the future holds.

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