Mark Esparagoza

Froggy’s Farm & Friends is a 3D farming and crafting game. It was designed to be relaxing but evoke the feeling of gardening.

For this project, I led my team to take an existing project and revamp it to be an original game. Managing technical debt, tight deadlines, and iterating on existing mechanics.

Role

•  Producer, Systems Designer

Team Size

•  7 People

Duration

•  9 Months

Check out the game here!

https://games.digipen.edu/games/froggy-s-farm-friends

Coming to steam soon!

https://store.steampowered.com/app/2073410/Froggys_Farm__Friends/

The Journey

Overview

Tech Analysis

Much of the code was not documented well so I created a document to help us understand what is happening within the code. This helped us understand the logic of the mechanics. A tech member would join us and would use this document.

Rough Start

My team acquired a project from a different team. We had to learn how everything was implemented and learn Unreal Engine 4 and C++. At that time, we had a team of 3 and our deadline for our next milestone was in 5 weeks.

Redesign Core Loop

When we acquired this project, we decided to cut some huge features to make a more focused experience and to save on time. Then, I changed how the player gains money by using the shop rather than using the ticket system. Time was saved and much of the other systems were simplified because of it.

Before

After

Redesign Core Loop

When we acquired this project, we decided to cut some huge features to make a more focused experience and to save on time. Then, I changed how the player gains money by using the shop rather than using the ticket system. Time was saved and much of the other systems were simplified because of it.

Growing

Once we submitted out milestone, we quickly gained more members. From a team of 3 to 7. Gaining a User Researcher, 2 tech members, and an artist.

Keeping my Ducks in a row

With new members comes more managing I had to do. I made my team do weekly sprints and do weekly stand-ups, so everyone knew what they were doing. I would schedule when we would have content locks for each department: allowing us to have time for bug fixing before submission. Near the end, I coordinated with everyone to get specific tasks done by these dates so we can be on time for submission. Instead, our game was ready to be shipped 2 weeks before our deadline.

Post deadline

We submitted our project and we decided to work more over the summer. We refactored a few mechanics due to playtesting. The plants were changed to have individual timers because players didn’t like to be rushed to plant seeds. The currency to progress through the game was split into 3 currencies associated with the 3 types of plants. It made the player grow all the plants and discover more of the game rather than using a single plant for the whole game.

Balancing

I balanced the time it took for a seed to grow depending on how long it takes the player to acquire a seed then go back to their plot. The player usually can collect a certain number of seeds in an area or areas fully, then their plants would grow after that amount of time.

Calculations

I calculated the time it took for the player to get from a plot to acquiring a seed. I calculated this by recording myself. Then, I played back the video to see how long it took me to get from a plot to the seed.

Progression

Finally, I calculated the amount of time it would take to progress and finish the game. My target playtime was 15 minutes. In playtesting, players would usually buy multiple plots which would decrease the time.

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