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  • Writer's pictureKadin White

Winter Break, Games I played, and the first 2024 capstone update

Greetings and welcome back. If this is your first time reading, my name is Kadin White, and I am happy to have you here. I talk about video games, topics that interest me within it, especially if it involves game production, and my thought processes as an aspiring game producer/project manager trying to break into the industry.

Now that the brief intro is out of the way, so excited to start the first blog of 2024. As I said in my last blog, I was heading into winter break which lasted from mid-December to mid-January. Frankly, in my time at college, it was the best break yet. I was able to take that time to unwind and recharge the batteries. I still worked on my capstone, what can I say I love being a producer. I did limit myself though to make sure I can give my best efforts to Lost Water Studios this semester, more on capstone later.

I was able to catch up on some TV, which was lovely, and spend the holidays with family and friends, truly a magical time I cherish deeply, and to cap it off there was enough snow to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes, snowmobiling. Best, most relaxing, break, ever. Period.

I wanted to take the time to talk about some of the games that I played over break. The Finals, Baldur's Gate 3, a replay of Cyberpunk 2077, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder to name a few.

Right off the bat Baldur's Gate 3. Wow. I can't say I've played a game quite like it before. A game where it feels like every choice you make matters. A wrong move in combat and you or one of your party members could be dead. Pick the wrong dialogue option and one of your party members may kill the other. Almost every character you cross paths with is interesting or has a story to tell. I've never played a game where I am nervous about every choice because of the potential consequence, yet excited by the new story that may unfold because of that choice.

Have I finished it, no not even close. But with a game like that which I can play for 100-plus hours if I want, you can bet I'm going to take my time and enjoy every hour of it.

I played Cyberpunk 2077 when it first came out, on a very capable PC, and enjoyed my time with it back in 2020. That said when I completed the game, I hadn't gone back to it, hadn't even thought about it, to be honest. Then over break, I played the game with its rebrand effectively that took place when the Phantom Liberty expansion launched. I haven't hit the Phantom Liberty portion yet, but the gameplay has been significantly improved from NPC AI to the combat.

That got me thinking. When the game launched it was rough. It was heart-wrenching to watch because I felt bad for the devs. If you don't know what I'm talking about just google Cyberpunk 2077 launch. As a producer, you work and plan years of multiple departments roadmaps to get to that point. You then effectively hit a reset, and start over, minus the aforementioned plan expansion. So now you have to take the expansion and its content and add in all of these fixes that launched in the rebrand update with Phantom Liberty.

How do you do it? How do you get to the point where their at now? A largely well-received game, even if it wasn't originally. As a producer, you sit down with your team and see what needs to be fixed in their eyes and you go to the drawing board. See how what they want to do fits in with what is already planned for an expansion. An expansion that will come out three years later. Then once you've had those discussions and it's all planned out, you adjust at the sprints you need to.

All to end up where they are, with the game they're proud of, as they should be. Game development is hard. I want to continue to look at games like Cyberpunk 2077 and think how can I help these amazing people be in the best position to ship a game that showcases how awesome they are?

I truly enjoyed replaying Cyberpunk 2077 and looking at it through a behind-the-scenes production lens fascinates me.

Alright, I've made y'all wait long enough, let us talk capstone. Our game can now be referred to as... SoulSync City. For those that may not know SoulSync City is a Cyberpunk first-person movement shooter where the player has access to three "tools" that allow them to alter their movement in unique ways. This occurs while having access to a kinetic energy-storing pistol that increases its damage the faster you move. The player is trapped as a rebel on the run, in a city overtaken by an evil AI, with only one end goal. Escape. By using their tools the player must fight through waves of combat sent by the AI in trying to stop them from escaping the city.

At the end of last semester, we decided that we needed to shift the game in a different direction. Specifically with the level design. Last semester it was more open world. We have since switched to a linear format. It already meshes much better with our gameplay and our communication issues of where to go in the level.

Unfortunately, this also meant we had to strip the world to its bones and we are in the grayboxing stages. I mentioned working over break. Part of the reason was to make sure our roadmap was ready to go and the entire team, down to the individual, knows what's going on each week, and gets even more specific on JIRA, our project management software. We have to get the levels up and running by alpha which is coming up in a few weeks.

Despite the setback, we are right on pace to be right back where we were at the end of last semester by the time we hit alpha. Our final level won't showcase our art style but the first two will.

SoulSync City is an incredible learning experience. We've taken what we've learned and aim to fix those mistakes as we continue this semester and I will continue to do my absolute best to make sure every person on SoulSync City knows what is happening with the project and have everything they need to create a project to show the world how great they are.

Escape the City. Take. Back. Your. Soul.

See you in SoulSync City.

I will talk to y'all in next month's blog with more video game talk and another capstone update. I hope you'll continue to see how SoulSync City develops over this second and final stretch of development to the launch of gold in May.

Thanks for reading and take care of yourselves,


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