Hi everybody! Last month I first mentioned my upcoming video game, Medical Necessity, and our team has been working hard on it since the new quarter started!

I also mentioned that I’d be writing weekly articles chronicling the experiences I’ve had making a game as part of a group. For this first one, I’d like to introduce my teammates!

From left to right: Carry, Impstar, aabicus, and Pat

Carry is our Development Director. With years of programming experience under his belt, he’s our primary Unity programmer and the brains behind many of the breakthroughs that have setup the foundations for our game. Carry worked for a Chinese game company for three years, and previously worked with Pat on a first-person puzzle game called Playing You.

Impstar is our Assets Director. With an art and programming background, he works in both a visual and technical role. His dual skillsets already solved a major hurdle for the team, when negotiations fell through with the University of San Jose to lease their art majors for sprite creation. Thanks to Impstar, we’ll be able to do all our art in-house!

And lastly, Pat is our Technical Director! I was super excited to work with Pat again, after having a great time developing Zone Out together as our two-person project from last quarter. Pat did all of the programming and sound design during Zone Out, and was a hard worker who kept the production on time and under budget. Pat oversees scheduling for the whole team, keeps the big scope in mind, and reigns in me- the Creative Director- before my imagination bites off more than it can chew.

Coming from a shared background of rapid prototyping, each of us work quickly and can wear multiple hats, exactly what we need as a small and driven development team. This first week, we’ve been focusing heavily on AI, since the bots form the core element of the healing-based puzzles the player must solve. This early in the project, we’ve mostly been developing a system whereby the bots will shift between different “states” (search, chase, retreat) depending on their health, positioning, and who’s in their cone of vision. It’s been fun trying to strike the right balance between aggression and self-preservation, between predictability and realism, and to build our framework so it’s flexible enough to support a range of different weapon types and potentially endless maps. Since Medical Necessity is a puzzle game at heart, we’ve strived to make sure that there are no elements of randomness in the bots’ actions; we want them to perform the exact same behavior if prompted with the same stimuli, so the player can continue refining their strategy to solve each level. Like most puzzle games, failure is a frequent part of finding the solution, and the players’ chosen steps need to yield the same result on subsequent attempts.

The first step to any game prototype is building a ‘minimum viable test case’. Once the core functionality works, then you can start adding features and exploring what your game’s truly capable of!

My favorite parts of the week have been the team-building exercises, where I get to lead the others in experiencing some of the seminal titles of genres similar to what Medical Necessity will become. Thanks to my Team Fortress and Overwatch background, I was far and away the most experienced with team-based shooters, and that gave me the exciting opportunity to introduce them to our favorite cartoony shooter. The weapon roster in Medical Necessity is very similar to the one in TF2, and it demonstrated the fundamental “rock-paper-scissors” dynamic where each firearm has strengths and weaknesses against each other. We also played Hotline Miami so everyone would get a feel for the fast-paced top-down action our levels will be defined by.

I should have taken more pictures during our skirmishes! But I did screencap my particular favorite moment.

If you have any questions about our game or our development, you can always contact me here on The Daily SPUF or on Steam. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to updating you all next week!