Schrodinger's Lab Postmortem
Nine weeks was the time it took to complete Schrodinger's Lab. I have no delusions about the size of the project, it's a small experience, and it's certainly got its fair share of issues. However, it's worth looking at the project both critically and optimistically for the sake of future development.
For the unfamiliar, the game features 'Schrodinger's Cat' trapped in a sinister lab. The player character has had his mortality disrupted and is capable of traversing both the living and the dead world. In both realms the player is tasked with accomplishing puzzles and exploring the environment.
Technical problems were probably the most pervasive. As it turns out third person cameras are quite difficult to set up. Luckily our technical director struggled through these issues and produced something we were satisfied with. In the final iteration we had a camera capable of avoiding clipping, orbiting the player at different heights, and moving independently of the player itself. We had the cat controlled via tank controls; this choice was made because our limited time restricted the animations available, so it seemed to look best with the character never truly strafing.
Development wasn't without it's design issues. From the beginning we had a goal in mind for an overblown exaggerated world. Think Tim Burton's style, but throughout the process we scaled back extensively and went more for a sterile laboratory feeling. While I think the whole team would agree, our first concepts would've been ideal, it seemed out of reach. Our design also led to some questions. Initially we hoped to frame the game as a 'try again until you get it right' game, and while that design did reach the final stage, it's something that if we were remaking the game we might rethink. Because of some unforeseen issues during development level design lacked a core developer, so it became somewhat auxiliary.
The project wasn't all bad though. In fact it's probably more valuable than I'm capable of seeing it. We accomplished creating an interesting environment with interesting puzzles in only 9 weeks of development. This was also our first designed game. Prior to this we had only made recreations or strictly regimented projects. With Schrodinger's Lab we had complete and total freedom. We took that freedom and formed a creepy, dark comedy, exploration puzzler. If play testing is worth anything, our aesthetic shown through very well.
I've learned invaluable skills during this project. I got the chance to write and direct some voiceover, do full audio design for the game, and fulfill administrative duties like task distribution. The most rewarding component of Schrodinger's Lab was absolutely the play testing. Seeing our project in post-alpha actually being played by people who had never seen the game, and them successfully completing the experience was an incredible feeling. In particular, one of our play testers had entered a room and didn't see anything, but when he circled back he saw a map posted on the wall and had a visible eureka moment. Even through its issues we had designed it well enough to be played and understood by strangers to the title.
Of course, thank you so much to Brayden, Carlos, and Luke for play testing.