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  • Writer's pictureR.J. Littleton

Graveyard Shift and Developing OASYS

I've written about OASYS a few times in the past months, and I thought that now would be a good time to go over what developing OASYS has been like and my role on the team. OASYS was originally called T1M, and was created by Graveyard Shift, a team that consisted of myself and four other third-year students: Declan Connor, Wyatt Ameden, John Connelly, and Eric Shepard. Over the course of two weeks, T1M became OASYS, and we developed the proof of concept prototype shown in the video below. My contributions to this initial build of OASYS were the shaders we used to give the characters and structures a cartoon-like style, as well as design of the initial puzzle mechanics and level design.

These first two weeks were incredibly hectic, as we needed to bring OASYS all the way from a brainstormed idea to a playable and impressive prototype to show off at Champlain's Greenlight presentations. We had 15 minutes to showcase our project and convince the audience, which consisted of students from all four years as well as our professors, that OASYS was worth continuing development on for the rest of our semester. In the first week of production, I was elected as the product owner for OASYS, which meant I had the final say on what would be in the build and how we needed to present it. It also meant that once all of the greenlight presentations concluded, I would be Graveyard Shift's representative at the meeting that would determine if OASYS would move on.

Once the greenlight presentation concluded around 11:30 PM, the representatives from my class's teams and our professor headed to the labs and discussed what games would move forward until around 2:30 AM. Thankfully, OASYS was among the games that were greenlit, and I was able to deliver the good news to my team. Surviving greenlight also meant that we would get a few new team members: Miranda Mallery, Brennan Zynda, and Alex Labella. At this point, my role on the team shifted to be a midpoint between design and programming, as my specialty as a designer is technical design. I also became our team's level designer, as Wyatt, the other designer on the team, would be our writer and narrative designer. The next few weeks I spent designing our base levels as well as the ways in which the player would interact with the world. A lot of my time was spent working with the programmers, John and Brennan, on making sure movement and controls felt good and natural. I also implemented our camera system and a few tools for level design, such as pipe variants that spawned items.

The next week was our spring break, during which we wanted to minimize the amount of work we were doing. Unfortunately, midway through our week of break, the college had to shift to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This left our team in disarray, but fortunately after a week or so of adjusting and collecting belongings from campus, our team became pretty well adapted to our new situation. We had to cut some of our planned content from the final build for the semester, but aside from that our game plan was mostly the same. This week, our final build for the semester is due. We've added two of our three initially planned level sections, and we're planning to add the third over the course of the summer. While this semester has been fraught with problems and unprecedented development situations for our team, we've all come out better for it. For most of our team, this was our first experience working completely remotely, and I think we're all pleasantly surprised by how well everything has worked out. Despite everyone facing different issues due to the campus closure, we managed to rally our team and complete our semester, albeit in a much different way than we initially thought. I'm incredibly excited to continue my work with Graveyard Shift throughout the summer, and I can't wait to share more of our progress as time goes on. We plan to release OASYS for free at some point in the future, once we finish polishing the game and adding final versions of each of our planned levels.

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