New Years Update – 1/1/2021 Jan 1 - Sev, Kutline, & Pat
What a year 2020 has been, I'm not even really sure where to begin. This entire year has been a roller coaster, if the roller coaster only went down, and someone sabotaged the breaks… and the entire thing was on fire. If you couldn't already tell from my wonderful analogy, this year has been not so great for Installation 01 to say the least. As a project we've never been the greatest at being transparent with what happens behind the scenes other than the museum of art we've displayed for previous updates. So in the spirit of the new year and in keeping with our past new New Year's updates, I've decided to go back and give a recap of what exactly happened behind the scenes this year.
Before I go any further, it's important to note that one, I want this to be as simple to read for everyone so I'm going to attempt to keep the more technical stuff at a minimum. And number two, I'm going to keep this brief because trying to fit an entire year into a single update is already a challenge in itself and I also just don't have the time to be writing what would probably be an entire novel. However, if you have any more questions that haven't been answered or you're curious about something in particular, you're more than welcome to ask in our discord and we'll do our best to answer.
I guess the best place to start would be the beginning of the year, January 2020. Already we had started off a little bit shaky, because we were coming in fresh off the release of Reach for MCC on PC. While we knew we still wanted to make our own game and we had already made an announcement to continue, there's no doubt that there was still some discourse around whether or not we still had a place in the PC Halo community. This combined with networking issues we'd been having previously, and were continuing to have, left us in a pretty strange spot where we weren't really sure how to proceed at all. Of course while we were discussing what direction we wanted to go and while all of this was going on, Unity had been constantly adding, changing, and more importantly removing certain features. This made it all around difficult to work with and a pain to implement different things. Now despite all of this, we still felt as though we were in a decent spot, and that's when we decided the ARG should begin...
As you can tell, January wasn't exactly happy happy fun time, but it was the beginning of a new year and we wanted to do something to more or less lift not only the community's spirits, but our own as well. So we came up with the concept of the ARG, which for any of you who don't know is an Alternate Reality Game. I should preface this by saying that outside of the original “Sooner” video that the remaining parts of the ARG were still in concept and were not ready to release to the public. So you may be asking "Well, why would you start an ARG at all if you didn't plan ahead?" To which I respond, “get out of here with your logical reasoning, planning ahead is for nerds.” So we had this ARG and yet we had no idea what the next steps for it were going to be. We were taking everything step by step and the actual game development began to suffer from it. Team meetings essentially became “what we are going to do next with the ARG?” instead of what we need to do in order to push the game out. Now, i'm no mathmatologist but a rushed ARG + previous problems from January = disaster.
At this point most of us were pretty unsure of where we and the game were headed since the PC release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. We were all fairly unmotivated and the problems kept piling on top of each other. The ARG was pretty much over at this point as we just couldn't continue with it in good conscience knowing that the experience could and would feel “half-baked.” This also happened to be the month when quarantine started happening and everywhere was beginning to shut down. This threw a lot of us for a loop, as we had to adapt to our new lives while still trying to maintain an acceptable level of work on the game at the same time. It was almost impossible to get a sizable group for team meetings, and those who did show up weren't able to do much as the resolution for the networking issues in the latest build were still in development..
April - May
April and May were largely the same as March. It was hard to find anyone who was able to consistently work on the game, and the constant build issues had still yet to be fully fixed. Instead of developing a game, most of the talks became what can we do to get us back on course? To which there was no solid answer. Motivation was dropping due to the road blocks with the project and more so adjusting to our new quarantined lives. Some of us were “lucky” and were able to work from home or were considered “essential” and were able to go into work still. Others were not so lucky and either lost their job or were furloughed during this time.
June - Present
Going into June all of us knew that something had to change otherwise the game would be dead in the water. In the months leading up to June, TheChunkierBean, the project lead at the time, had discussed leaving the team as the project hadn’t been a good fit for him. As you probably know, June was the month that Bean released his statement that he was stepping away from the project, and through the next few days following that statement more people ultimately decided to drop out or go MIA due to the current state of the build, the team, or current life events. This ended up causing an unpredictable issue where over time we lost assets because they were not uploaded to the cloud as previously thought. This means someone else would have to go back and redo that asset or rip it from an old build and work from that, coupled with the fact that it was almost impossible to tell who was working on what and when due to lack of communication. With a dwindling team and a problematic game build, we really didn’t have anywhere to go but up
Throughout the entire rest of the year the remaining members of the team have been doing damage control, and together we’ve been able to slowly piece together a sustainable workflow again. After Bean’s departure, Kutline has now assumed the Project Lead position with Pat-a-wan, following closely behind as second in command. We’ve created a fresh development discord, cleaned up our documentation in order to become more organized, and recently we’ve been in a much better place in terms of overall team motivation and productivity. While we are far from perfect and have still been dealing with certain problems such as Animation, we are in a much better place than we were at the beginning of the year or even two months ago. Team meetings have resumed and are regularly held and we’re hoping that with a smaller, more dedicated team we’ll be able to stay focused and finally get to a place in development where we’re comfortable with our progression.
This year has been anything but forgiving, but it’s finally come to an end and now it’s the start of a brand new year. I’m not sure what 2021 will bring, and I’d be lying if I said I was optimistic after the year we all just had to endure, but one thing I do know is that things will be changing and we’ll just have to wait and see whether that change is good or bad.
Cheers to the new year, and let’s hope it’s a good one.
Sev, Kutline, Pat
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