Production Blog 4 - Castle On Wheels

Level 1 Village Houses

        Hello all and welcome back to another production update for Castle On Wheels! I'm Isabella, the producer for the game and I am excited to share all the progress we've made from our previous build. Starting with sprint statistics I assigned 76 user stories that totaled out to 166 points. Our team was able to complete 130 of those points, leaving 36 points In Progress for Sprint 5.  After updating the backlog, you can see in the graph below that although our velocity is picking up slightly, we will still need to  cut features from our game. Some of these features include 3 new enemy types, 3 new allied unit types and potentially different game modes for the levels.

          With only 3 sprints left, or 6 weeks of production, it was imperative for myself and Jake to come together and create a prioritized feature list for the game. As an overview for sprint 5, we plan on focusing on improving our AI and making each unit feel different from the next. Sprint 6 and 7 will be be spent by adding in visual and audio feedback to the player, bug fixing, polish and making sure the game is fun to play!  


        Saying we've come a long way in Sprint 4 from Sprint 3 would be an understatement when it comes down to our programming team. We overhauled our AI system that took 3 sprints to build over the course of 1 sprint. Our players now have the ability to spawn allied units through their UI menu, move their AI to a designated point on the map, attack enemy AI and structures, die when they've been defeated and unlock new AI through the store menu in between levels. Although our AI isn't flawless, as to be expected, I couldn't be happier with the system that we have in place now and we have a couple of sprints to improve it. 

        In addition to our AI we've been able to add in more camera improvements such as a focus key that lets you return to your castle when you have traveled away from it. This key also locks the camera to the castle in case the player did not want to control camera movement for the time being.  We added spawn timers above our enemy spawners to help the player's strategic choices when choosing where to place their units. Lastly, we were able to get some work done with our one of our siege engine types, the Siege Tower. Our siege engines did not make it into this build however, we plan on bringing them into our levels during sprint 5. If you'd like to see these features in action, check out this video below: 

Level Design

        Because we were doing an overhaul of our AI in sprint 4, we had to put development on levels 2-4 on hold. In that time, we were able to concept out the next 4 levels for our game. We also got a head start on creating/finding assets for our visual and audio feedback we'll be adding later on. overall, this sprint was more of a catch up time for our level designers to give the programmers time to work out our AI. As a producer, my biggest obstacle here was filling up our level designer's tasks when they can't work on their unfinished levels. Moving into sprint 5, our level designers will spend their working on getting levels 2-4 set up with all of the game play features we currently have. Our level design team will also work with our lead designer to make sure our levels feel balanced and are fun, yet challenging, to play through before moving on to the beautification of our levels. Here's a look at some of the new annotated maps we were able to get done (levels 5-8): 

Level 5 - Magic Tree

The main turning point in the game where all of our mechanics will come together, especially camera movement.

Level 6 - Mountain Pass

Provides different play through options where the player chooses which path to take at the fork.

Level 7 - Snowy Ascent

Level 8 - Cave

          Lastly, we got our first particle effect in the game. The dust particle effect below will follow the castle through levels where the castle's weight would naturally kick up dirt. We wanted this particle effect to make the castle look heavy; a force to be reckoned with. Now we just need to get those wheels turning!

3D Modeling

        Due to campus being closed and our modelers not having access to our computer labs, we were not able to finish as many models as we had originally hoped for this sprint. However, we've had some time now to get situated at home with our PCs and have gotten access to the programs we need in order to complete our assets. That being said, our modelers worked extremely hard to get as much work done as possible. I'm also happy to announce that we are 1 model away from completing all of our primary assets! This list included assets such as: the enemy stronghold, enemy archer tower, enemy spawner, allied archer tower, 3 different enemy units (Grunt, Slinger, Brute), 3 different allied units (Militia, Archer, Heavy Horseman), and of course, the player castle. With the majority of those assets out of the way, we'll be able to chug along and work towards knocking out simpler models to decorate our levels. Here are some images showcasing their work!

Brute Enemy - Low Poly

Ally Heavy Horseman - High Poly

Heavy Horseman Low Poly

Enemy Siege Tower

This siege tower docks on to the player castle and pushes explosives out of the drawbridge.

Castle canon Arrow model for the castle, archer towers and units Waypoint Banner
Visual representation that shows where the units are headed.

          Lastly, the models that finished off our assets for level one, the village houses. The houses are the first image on this blog post but for ease of viewing, I will post it here! We're really happy with the way these came out and there are hundreds of them scattered around level 1. Our modelers pushed through a tough sprint and I look forward to working with them for the final stretch of our project. 

2D Art

        Over the course of sprint 4 our 2D artists worked on some concept art pieces for our ancient ruin level as well as more UI buttons for the game play menu. We're very close to finishing our gameplay UI which is great and we plan on getting all of our art implemented in the game.  We've been able to stay on track so far when it comes to art and we will be moving onto the store UI once the gameplay UI is all in. 

Unit Command Buttons

From top to bottom > Move units, units leave castle and attack, units come back to defend castle.

Allied Unit Portraits

Level 4 ruin concepts for archways, fountain and staircases


        Our rigger was able to get 3 rigs done this sprint which is way more than we were planning for. This is a huge step up for the team and puts us ahead in the rigging/animation department. We plan to start implementing our animations towards the end of next sprint and we can't wait to start bringing our units to life! Here are some cute gifs of our rigged models doing their morning stretches:


        With Sprint 4 under our belts, we have 3 sprints left to turn our game into the RTS/Tower-defense game we've all been pushing towards. Our team continues to overcome the obstacles that have been thrown our way and even though we can't see each other for the remainder of our development, I have full faith that we will finish this semester strong and with a game we are all proud to put our names on. If you've made it this far, thank you for keeping up with us and here's to 3 more sprints!

-Castle On Wheels Team

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