Destruction Grand Prix

Project Blog can be seen here:

Destruction Grand Prix (Also known as DGPX for short) was a project i took part in my final two quarters at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. The Team Game Production class is set up by the instructor to simulate industry workflow and professionalism while taking an idea that the students came up with and molded into a demo for a game.

I entered the class with the project a few months already in progress and stood up to be the environment team leader. The first thing I did was I analyzed where the project was at and assess where to move from there. Prior to me joining, the environment team in the quarter before me had only 4 students on the team, and they had only begun to scratch the surface. Below are some screenshots of the initial level that was created before I joined the project.

Initial Blockout of DGPX Level in UDK

The level in the UDK engine was very rough. The track wasn’t very smoothed out to meet optimal performance for players to enjoy, nor did the track make a whole lot of sense. Of the few models that were in the game, only a few were actually textured, and crudely at that. Many had UV and texture stretching that was very obvious, or were using bland stock textures. The entire experience screamed boring to me, and I wanted to change that.

As Environment Lead, I worked with my instructor on criteria for managing my fellow students. Our instructor set up a scrum workflow document and an asset tracker for us to use. The scrum workflow document is a spreadsheet we used to manage our tasks via priority and hours set to each task. This let us have a more accurate analysis of our time instead of a vague nebulous task and just ‘working’. It was very efficient and let our instructor make sure we kept on task and didn’t slow down at all.

The asset tracker was a great tool that allowed me to manage my team’s work. I delegated assets to the appropriate people and made sure that each step of the process went under not only my scrutiny, but the class’s scrutiny as well. Each week I had my team submit progress images to me that I submitted to the blog (that you can see at the top of this page) that we showed every week and critiqued the work presented. It was challenging at first to do all of this, being in charge of my fellow students. Part of me felt wrong telling them that they had to do their work over, whether it be by my decision or the class’s/instructor. This feeling carried over more so in the second quarter when i took Advanced Team Game Production. We had created a more formal check and balance system that as of a result I was more or less in direct control of my team’s grades. While the decision left me uneasy, it forced me to become a more successful leader and make sure my team was doing what needed to be done.
One of the shortcomings of being the leader of the environment team was that my time was filled up so much with overhead and world building that I never really got to make more than a few props for the game. So in the end only a couple of the items like the speed boost and health triggers were my actual models and textures. Each week I had spend time going over the work of my team and adjusting the level in UDK to be tested in our weekly play-tests. These were extremely useful in that it allowed us to find any bugs or issues as well as take feedback in making the overall experience a lot more enjoyable.

After a lot of hard work and help, the level had morphed from the original bland track to something that had a lot more life to it.

The new and final canyon

Around the middle of the Advanced Team Game Production class, I handed off the rest of the actual track level to the Engine Team Lead, for him to focus on basic functionality (trigger events for traps, shaders, etc.) while I worked on the cinematics we had planned to add to the demo of the game. These cinematics would be accessible from the main menu, and would allow you to visit the garage to see the vehicles close up and the lounge to see the characters. We had a lot of back and forth on the ideas for these areas, and worked right up to the end to get these two cinematics done. Thankfully, my environment team worked diligently to create the art for these areas. As the art came in, I populated the scenes. Once that was all done, I worked on the cameras for the cinematics that just barely made it into the final build.

The Racer Lounge

The Vehicle Garage

Overall the project was a success. We had learned the feeling of crunch time and what it was like to work with a close knit team. We ran into a lot of issues that we learned from and worked our hardest to solve. In the end we left our fellow students who would be starting the next project with a series of tips and advice on what to do and what not to do. Everyone who had seen the project from the beginning was surprised at how much of a leap the game had taken from the initial concept, and how much more successful it was than the previous project.

Thanks for reading, and once again, be sure to check out the blog!