Summer Studio Blog: Celebrating success and looking forward – 8/1/23

Published on Tuesday, August 1st, 2023

Celebrating success and looking forward

By Ismail Alatise, Clark University ‘23

As the final lines of code are written, the last bug squashed, and the polishing phase ends, it’s time to draw the curtains on our exhilarating game development journey and wrap up this year’s MassDigi Summer Studio program. Working on a game project during the summer is an exciting and immersive journey, where collaboration fuels creativity, and ideas become reality. Congratulations to the entire team for putting in countless hours, creativity, and effort toward bringing Merge Monastery to life. Making a game is no small feat; it involves dedication, creativity, passion, persistence, and innumerable hours of hard work. While we approach the end of this fulfilling adventure, it is good to reflect on the incredible achievements, lessons learned, and memories made and also set the stage for future success.

Team Turkey Leg as we are fondly called, operated in hybrid capability, with half of the group online, the other half being in person, and some switching in between. Despite this composition, the group made the program share semblance with a professional real work environment with effective communication, teamwork, trust, cooperation, and risk-taking support. It has really been a nice experience working as a group with varying work commitments that didn’t prevent us from our usual daily leisure “game time” after the launch break. Although we faced some challenges, as things will never go 100% as planned, our producer Max Xavier, as well as the group leads did fantastic jobs of identifying, planning, strategizing, and developing creative and effective solutions for every situation encountered.

In the programming group where I belong, our scripts are modular. We built our system in such a way that it would be easy to receive feedback and make changes. After the playtesting, when people made their suggestions on what to improve upon, we easily made some changes and noted the ones to adjust in the future. In the frenzy of development, it’s common for some bugs and technical issues to accumulate since we had limited work time compared to the SIP program. Both Porter Overtti, and the group lead, Chenxi Gao worked extensively to tackle these issues, prioritizing, and fixing critical bugs that affect the gameplay and stability.

Even though I was the least experienced programmer in this group of three, I contributed and gained immensely from this program, having learned the general art of game development, worked in Unity Virtual Control Stack Platform (Plastic SCM) and written code in C-Sharp for Unity. Within this period, I also completed Unity Essential and Junior Programmer Pathways training sessions, which provided me with the core foundation needed to create a wide range of digital experiences in Unity. Together as a team, we were able to write clean, well-documented, and optimized codes that will make future updates and feature additions more manageable.

On the Art and Design side, they worked tirelessly to polish and optimize the game objects for a memorable gaming experience. They helped with the gameplay balancing, adjusted progression levels, and optimized our game performance to ensure smooth gameplay on both iOS and Android devices. Just as we did in the programming group, they also gave huge attention to small details, such as refining animations, improving sound effects, decorating the scenes and adding visual effects to enhance immersion.

Overall, Merge Monastery is a testament to the dedication and passion invested by the entire team. Throughout the summer, we honed our programming skills and shared bonds as game developers. MassDigi enabled us to collaborate with creative minds, connect with mentors, network with industry leaders and fellow developers, and bring a vision to life. We appreciate Clark University, MassDigi and WPI for this opportunity as it serves as a stepping stone to even greater success in this ever-evolving world of game development.

Finally, a game’s journey doesn’t end with its release. In fact, it’s just the beginning. With one chapter ending, another awaits to begin. We hope to keep the passion for game development alive, make it an ongoing adventure, continue to learn, grow, and create something amazing. As this year’s summer studio comes to an end, we take pride in the experiences gained during this exciting and rewarding adventure. Now that a successful summer studio is behind us, we look forward to the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in our journey as game developers.

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