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  • Postmortem: M.O.O.S.E.

    [11.19.13]
    - Philip Yao
  • [Philip Yao looks back on M.O.O.S.E., a 2D puzzler developed by a team of five students enrolled at The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University.]

    M.O.O.S.E. (Magnetically Operated Object of Synthetic Energy)

    A small team of five developers produced M.O.O.S.E. in over 450 man-hours at the [email protected] In the game, the player play as Milton the moose, a member of the Moose Commando Squad, and infiltrates the secret base of the evil duck genius Dr. Bernard Mallard, navigating environmental puzzles and hazards with magnetic energy. This postmortem represents what went well, what went wrong, and lessons learned during the development of the 2D puzzle game demo. M.O.O.S.E. taught us the value of scope, Scrum, playtesting, team dynamics, and general game production.


    Figure 1: Main character concept by Ricardo Orellana

    What Went Well?

    Scope

    Before heading into the project, we consulted previous cohorts who helped us focus our game design down into a manageable project for the seven-week course. We concentrated on one major mechanic, magnetism, and played it against environmental puzzles. By focusing on magnetism, we were able to create many unique puzzles that required the use of the same ability in new and interesting ways. Scoping the project correctly enabled us to find the fun factor of M.O.O.S.E. quickly and gave us the time to create a consistent, economical, and polished product.


    Figure 2: Magnetic gun concept art by Ricardo Orellana

    Scrum

    During M.O.O.S.E.'s development, we found Scrum to be extremely helpful. The daily Scrum kept every team member up to date on the current issues and the progress of the game, and gave them more autonomy on their tasks.

    While the daily Scrum is a great way to keep track of what task each member is responsible for, we found the most useful tool of Scrum to be the Scrum board. The Scrum board provides a visual indicator of the tasks that are complete, incomplete, and in- progress. With the Scrum board, we can easily see how many tasks, in the form of sticky notes, remained for each milestone. As each milestone approached its end, sticky notes of incomplete tasks would pile up and provide a sense of urgency for the team. The Scrum board pushed the team to work quickly and efficiently, serving as a great motivator and progress indicator for the team and project.

    Playtesting

    We playtested M.O.O.S.E. almost every week, and the feedback we received was extremely valuable. It allowed us to spot the flaws in our games that we would have overlooked otherwise. Game designers are often the worst judge of their own work, because they spend so much time on the game and become too close to it to see its imperfections. Playtesting enabled us to take a step back and look at our game objectively, giving us time to readjust elements of the game and polish the product as much as we can.

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