Condors: Week Five

Week five update:

Moving into this week, we as a team decided that we want to push the idea of “superhero basketball” further. The core gameplay being that of characters with special abilities pushing the limits of basketball.

Our starting point for this concept was with two characters: a stretchy character that could extend their arms to hit the ball/defend, and a jello character that could get possession of the ball by sticking it to itself. These archetypes came from the desire for a defensive character and an offensive character.

Some examples of potential character silhouettes. Courtesy of Healthy Moeung.

The stretchy character would be able to defend better than the shorter jello character – extending their limbs to hit the ball away from their net. Because of this, the stretchy character would not be able to actually have possession of the ball. To compensate for this, the jello character would be able to possess the ball and run it down the court. Due to the inherent qualities of “jelly,” this character wouldn’t be able to shoot on their own – which is where the team play aspect would come in. The method of shooting would be a sort of alley-oop in which the jello player would jump and get hit into the hoop by the stretchy player.

Artwise, we began to flesh out the look of the game a little bit more. Initially moving towards a sort of post-apocalyptic setting to explain the weirdness of the characters and their abilities.

Environment concept 1. Courtesy of Healthy Moeung.

Environment concept 2. Courtesy of Healthy Moeung.

All of this culminated in a prototype build we have for Friday. In this build we have initial prototyping of the jello character who is able to grab the ball and run (currently he is able to dunk himself to score) and one stretchy character on either side of the court playing defense by punching horizontally.

Going into next week we plan to take what we have and iterate on it – starting a weekly prototype cycle in which we learn through making.

Condors: Week Four

Week four update:

Quarters week is upon us, and in addition to prepping for faculty walkarounds, we have been getting our slides and pitches ready for our client meeting this Thursday (2/7).

This week we spent time refining our pitches, fleshing out some prototypes to see what worked and what didn’t. Ideally we would have liked to show our prototypes to Visual Concepts, for Jazzketball, Space Basketball (previously Zero G), and Wobbally (the unnamed Juking game), and we have compiled a video showing gameplay. Unfortunately due to technical difficulties and time constraints, we weren’t able to.

Video can be found here:

In addition to this, we’ve been working on a pitch deck to present our ideas, starting with our initial research and feelings on basketball, as well as the pros/cons of each idea. This way, we will be able to clearly think about the challenges we face with each prototype.

Slides can be found here:–8Ykm4/edit?usp=sharing

After our pitch to the client on Thursday, we came together as a team and decided that we would see what we can do to focus on a single design idea to develop for the rest of the semester. This involved taking a good look at what we’ve ideated so far, and taking aspects of each idea that we like, seeing how we can merge it all into something fun and complete. We’ve set a deadline for ourselves to come to this conclusion by next Friday (2/15).

Condors: Week Three

Week three update:

This has been a rough week for us in terms of getting together – the weather around Pittsburgh has been colder than ever, making it tough for us to meet during core hours. That said, we’ve been able to meet remotely, and have still gotten some work done in terms of expanding on our prototypes.

The four prototypes we’ve settled on pitching to our client are:

A game that operates on a rhythm-based grid system. This allows us to separate the ordinarily chaotic and fast-paced gameplay of basketball into discrete sections, placing an emphasis on strategic play. In order to keep the fast paced essence of basketball however, we came up with the mechanic of keeping movement tied to a song. In addition to this, from watching and playing basketball as a team, we realized that some of the best teams are able to create a rhythm and use that to keep momentum throughout the game.

Zero G Basketball:
This idea originally stemmed from our thoughts about VR (before we decided against struggling with the technical challenges it presented). In our investigations, we really liked how Lone Echo VR solved movement problems in VR, and we thought about how it could be merged with the game of basketball. We ended up coming up with a concept in which players would be inside a spherical arena, taking advantage of the three-dimensional space to launch themselves and the ball at the central hoop.

Juking game:
After our game jam success, we thought for a while about how we could translate the frantic gameplay of Time for Bed into a basketball game. We realized that Time for Bed was actually fairly similar to the process of keeping the ball away from a player and trying to score.

Rubber Bandsketball:
Our fourth idea came from our desire for more vertical play in basketball (in a more interesting way than just dunking or hops). We came up with the idea of players being able to punch the ball with extendable arms or legs – thus keeping some challenge of getting the ball to the hoop, but perhaps making it a little more interesting than just dunking.

We will be prepping these ideas for Quarters walkarounds, and our client pitch coming up in week 4.

Condors: Week Two

Week two update:

Early this week we met with our clients from Visual Concepts: JD (Minwong Ji) and Tim Walter, to get a better idea of what exactly they wanted us to develop. Turns out, we have a pretty broad project prompt, and have a lot of creative freedom in how we choose to re-imagine basketball.

Some guidance we received however, was that whatever we picked, it should be a fun and well-tuned game rather than an overly complex half finished concept. In addition to this, we are planning to pitch our ideas to JD and Tim in week 4 after our quarters presentations. From there, we plan to spend the rest of the semester developing the selected idea and fleshing it out into a playable game. Thus, we have been conducting a lot of research into existing basketball games (2K19 included), getting a feel for what’s out there. From there, we’re quickly listing ideas that pop into our minds, picking 3 to 4 we like, and developing them further for our pitch presentation.

At the end of this week we are also planning to participate in the Global Game Jam, hopefully merging this year’s theme with our project brief.

Condors: Week One

Week one update:

The Project:

The NBA 2K Game Jam project is a team of graduate students at the Entertainment Technology Center tasked with “re-imagining” ways to enjoy basketball in video game form. This semester, we’re investigating the game of basketball, trying to capture the essence of the game, and prototyping a new way to play. We are working with our clients from Visual Concepts, pitching our ideas to them, and prototyping the selected designs with the possibility of our game being used as reference in the future.

Meet the Team:

Omar Cheikh-Ali is our team’s producer. He has design and production experience to contribute to the project.

Swapnil Mengade is our team’s programmer, interested in learning more about the game development pipeline as an engineer.

Healthy Moeung is our team’s artist, bringing experience in 3D modeling and character design.

Julian Ochoa is one of our team’s game designers, he’s interested in working closely with our programmers and learning more about prototyping from scratch.

Xinyu (Mimi) Wang is our team’s UI/UX designer, also bringing experience in 2D art.

Xuejun (Sally) Wang is one of our team’s game designers/programmers. She brings experience in both of these areas to our project.

First Update:

Our first week has consisted of a lot of cleaning the room, rearranging furniture, and getting to know each other (this is our first time working between years). We have planned a meeting with our clients from Visual Concepts for next week, and already went out for our team dinner!

In addition to this, we’ve met with both of our faculty advisors to get their opinions on the project and establish a general direction we should be moving in.

We all agree that we have a good group of teammates this semester and we’re excited to start brainstorming/development on our project!