The Power of Presentations

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Over the last semester, I’ve been working on two larger game projects. One, ColorCoded, is a smaller mobile title that started as a class project from the fall and then my team continued to work on it for the next seven months. The other, VRoom, is a VR car combat game using the Unreal engine, with an eight person team and now 15 weeks of work.

Now, as I worked on the projects, a common problem in game development set in - I became too “into” my own game, and focused on errors and problems. While both teams started work excited on both projects, as the work went on, the passion faded. Our engagement with the game was fixing bugs and running into errors, not finding the fun. We would try different builds and go “okay, that works” or “that’s interesting, but the rest is broken/behind schedule/garbage/etc.” The problem is, the projects weren’t actually as bad as we felt. But because the problems were all that we knew and had been working on from the projects, they were all we saw.

A couple weeks ago, RIT brought my ColorCoded team and other groups to the RPI GamesFest, a yearly gathering to showcase projects and earn some awards, often judged by industry professionals. We set up in a corner where the sun beat down on us, with massive glare, and in the secondary building location. The three of us on the team had squeezed in the needed work in an already busy schedule over the last week, and were ready to be told the game was silly, pointless, or worse. The first hour had a lot of people go to the group in front of us, and not come to our booth. The few people who did swing didn’t seem to respond positively. We shrugged, and decided we could make it through the day and write it off as a loss.

But that quickly turned. Over the next few hours, we got a constant stream of people wanting to play our game, some even coming back. We had four demoable stations, and often were occupied. Players were engaged for long periods of time, and while they commented on things that could be improved, the vast majority thoroughly enjoyed our game. We realized we actually had something - a fun, enjoyable game that people wanted to play. And all of us were ready to work on it immediately, and had been reinvigorated by the process.

A similar thing happened with VRoom. We’d worked for the whole semester, and ImagineRIT was coming up fast. The last week, we put in a lot of extra hours, and only seemed to find more bugs and problems. We ended with a semi-stable build, but were ready to be ignored, made fun, or have to find excuses over the day.

Once we started demoing I don’t think our line went under a thirty minute wait. People wanted to play our game, and were enjoying it. No one was getting sick, and people were satisfied with the limited functionality, and had overwhelming positive responses. To them, it was a fun, new, unique game that stood out. One parent even said their child had wanted to come to ImagineRIT just for VRoom.

The point is, while working on projects, it can be easy to lose focus on why you’re making something, and only focus on the errors you’ve been having. While you might not be able to go to showcases like Imagine or GamesFest, getting that extra opinions helps ground you as a creator. It really highlights why you’re making something. There’s the tendency to ignore the feedback of family or friends, as they’re usually positive, listen to it, but try to ignore that bias and just accept the feedback. And then get others to experience your stuff as well. If you’re ever wondering if a project’s worth it, game or otherwise, show it to people. It’s never too early. Get the feedback - if it’s negative change and improve. If it’s positive, then accept that validation and keep going and creating. Don’t let imposter syndrome or losing yourself in coding problems keep you down.