ECTO: A Game About Ghosts – The Beginnings of a Game

Suit of Armour WIP
WIP image of a an environment piece (A Suit of Armour) for the game, ECTO: A Game About Ghosts.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am part of a group project which is to make a game with a team of programmers, designers, artists and animators. I’m the Lead Artist on the project and I am going to give a quick overview of what has happened so far!

The Beginnings…

We knew about this project at the end of our 2nd year of university and we were advised to try and get into teams before we started in October 2012 for our final year. It was upon this advice that I recruited our Lead Programmer onto the team when we happened to be on the same placement scheme which took place in the summer of 2012 (My work from then) and as part of that scheme we gave presentations on what we did and my Lead Programmer was impressed and discussions followed and thus the beginnings of our team was formed!

At the time he was exploring what engine could power our game and I suggested the Unity Game Engine which from my experience at my placement, is a very programmer friendly and capable engine to power a game! He went off and had a play about with the engine and after sometime we agreed to use this to make our game.

Recruitment and the Creation of a Prototype

Time passed and term started in October 2012 and the time came to choose the team. The number of team members was advised to be between 8 and 12 members and since we already had 5 members (the Lead Programmer recruited 3 other programmers) we had to choose some more! Eventually the team was chosen and we ended with a group of 12 consisting of:

  • 5 Artists – 3 3D Artists (including myself) and 2 2D Artists
  • 4 Programmers
  • 2 Designers
  • 1 Animator

Once the team was sorted out, we had our first (informal) meeting where the basic components of the game were decided upon including its location, style, gameplay and audience. Many of these decisions were based upon the team’s strengths which we wanted to play to and thus meant that our game will look really good and be very stable in the timeframe we have to complete this. We then started work on creating a working prototype so that we could show off our game in the first round of team presentations in November 2012. The artists set off to create concepts for the game and the designers and programmers set off to start work on the game code/gameplay ideas while our animator started coming with ideas for what animations we will need in the game.

Time passed and concepts were made and the environment artists created some assets for the game while I started created the ghost characters for the game (along with the animator). Our 2D artists came up with more concepts and the player character was finalised as a concept. It was around this time that something important happened….

The Decision to be a Lead Artist

Up until this point there wasn’t really a lead artist because we made decisions as a team (which I must stress we still do) but I felt that my opinion in the team seemed to hold more in our discussions than the other artists and I wanted to take this opportunity to be a Lead to see if I could fulfil the role. I was in charge of organising the artists and so I was kind of doing Lead Artist duties even though ‘officially’ I wasn’t one. During a scheduled lab session, I was asked who were the Leads in our group and I replied that we had a Lead Programmer and Lead Designer but we didn’t have a Lead Artist but people seemed to listen to me more in the group so I said that I was the Lead Artist I suppose. After this conversation, I raised the point in our scheduled team meeting where it was decided that officially, I was the Lead Artist in the team and would be one of the three members who would speak for our team in the team presentations.

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