Hello and welcome to the release of Camaquen, a colorful reflection on different ways for games to treat conversation as a game mechanic. We on Team ChatterBoxers are very proud of our work and hope that you find something worth listening to in it. Please run here and give it a shot!
We'd like to talk a little bit about the experience of making this game, and provide some food for thought. We'll address something that went very right for us, but also a pitfall or two that we learned about.
First, a positive experience for us: our team had a number of people familiar with multiple disciplines. Our artists were capable of adapting to multiple styles and techniques, our producer had a substantial amount of coding experience, our writer was also a designer, and our QA had a surprising knowledge of animation techniques. Because of this, we weren't locked into tunnel vision about the demands of our individual tasks. It's important for teams, especially small ones, to be able to meet at the edges and understand, if not the details about each others' tasks, at least the constraints that everyone else is working under. Not only does it help you make placeholder assets or help come up with good solutions to shared problems, but it also pays off when one person has to hand off work to another person. Everyone's job on a game team is really interconnected, and knowing that changing one line of text here will mean an art asset over there has to be redone helps evaluate priorities and keep bugs free.
Of course, knowing other jobs and thinking about consequences doesn't take the place of good communications skills and procedures -- if you are willing to let tasks bleed across roles like this, it's even more important that we keep track of exactly's what being done and when. We made good use of task tracking software and daily reports in our SCRUM meetings to let each other know what was implemented when, and what pieces other team members needed to take care of. Because of this, people knew when they were being depended on, and our team ended up with a remarkably fast turn-around on most of our tasks. This in turn let us make lots of small adjustments very quickly, which helped a lot in tuning our interface and conversational models, which were key to the research goals of the project.
On behalf of Team ChatterBoxers, I'd like to say thank you to the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab staff and administration, to all of our co-workers who provided feedback, and most of all, to the players. Thanks and please enjoy Camaquen!