Falling – A Postmortem

Falling is a short, music experience we created under the direction of an Audio student. Using audio they created, and a design they concocted, we create an interactive experience to bring out the most of their music.

Project Management

Right off the bat we tried to keep our communication channels open. We quickly established our base design and established our Slack, Google Drive and other channels so we’re on the same page. Week after week we did reviews of our progress, effectively sprints for the following week. Performing sprints in this way with the client benefited them and us – they knew where their game was at, and we were able to hold ourselves to the goals for next week. Add to that, our scope was tight and well suited for the time we had. We could polish our design in much less time and work towards testing and bug fixing sooner.

Furthermore, we didn’t rely more on project management software like Hack’n’Plan as much as we should. We didn’t work in sprints and didn’t enforce a set schedule for certain work to get done. For me at least, I was very unsure what work was getting done and for when, even thought all of the work got done in the end.

Working With a Client

Working under a client was a new challenge as a Game Designer, since we rarely get to realise some else’s creative vision in a game before. I found the experience far more valuable than I expected; after all, it’s easier to build a house on its foundations when the foundations are already in the ground. We only needed to concentrate on providing the best “XYZ-experience” that we could within our limitations.

The biggest challenge of collaboration is solid communication. Our weekly sprints were great at keeping the communication channels warm, and communicating through Slack for less-essential stuff is great, as always. Once or twice, we had some misunderstandings about some particulars, like the project’s name, and we missed one or two meetings which left the client out of the loop. The time we lost was easily recovered, but being more reliable with collaborator meetings is the only way we can avoid this – holding myself to frequent meetings in Slack or in person to ensure that location and time isn’t the limiting factor.

Game Design

Falling could be considered more of an “experience” than a game, and that’s mostly true. All interaction with the game is optional and the game will play itself otherwise. In this regard, I think that Falling achieved its intended aesthetic as a passive experience meant to isolate the emotive quality of the music. However, even going so far as to indicate to players that they are able to interact with the falling objects and they must dodge the clouds was enough for people to ignore the passive audio component and try to “play” the game. In future, testing this more in-depth may ensure we better achieve our intended aesthetic.

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