Symcerto: a Final Project

A black screen with musical beats on it and the word Symcerto

Hey, y’all, today I’m talking about a different final project called Symcerto that is a little bit more recent. It’s an educational video game!

An introduction to Symcerto

In the summer of 2020, I took a class online that was like a simulated internship credit for me but at the same time was not what I think an internship would be like at all (and I liked it so much more). It’s a class that felt like a collaboration between the engineering school and the business school. Basically, for the entirety of the class, we got to pretend we were creating a startup in a team.

I learned a bunch of business and marketing principles that I feel will be useful for ChickenStarRocket and I can’t wait to start implementing them.

Step 1: Forming a Team

In this class, I feel luckier than most as I was immediately scouted by one of my teammates. She told me she had this idea for an educational music theory video game and some other idea. I joined her team, we got a few more members, and we brainstormed. We came up with a bunch of ideas but ultimately went with the video game.

My job as the only computer science/game developer on the team was to make a trailer.

Step 2: Make the Trailer

Brainstorm

Much like my other games, I started with brainstorming, I really went ham collecting art pieces from Pinterest to communicate the direction I wanted to go in. I did research on all mythical creatures that were known for singing or noise, etc. The name Symcerto comes from the words symphony and concerto smashed together.

Just so you know, about 20 pages of the following document are art inspiration of art I do not own.

I also created a giant To-Do list to help me keep track of all the work I’d have to do. This may be stressful for some people but this is not stressful for me and that’s why only one person on my team got to see it by request.

My giant To-Do List

Working on a bunch of art including the logo

This wasn’t the most linear process. The ones that have their body parts broken up is so I can later animate them but I had to come back and make them and some of the backgrounds weren’t used in the final trailer.

Curriculum:

I had my in-house music expert come up with a curriculum and had her walk me (and the rest of the team) through it so that we could all understand the concepts being taught. I am an ex choir kid–yep both choir and theater, I was made to love Broadway–so I understood most of the stuff already but it was a nice recap.

So now we have a bunch of concepts we want in the demo (there were more but this is the modified version for just the demo) with comments talking about everything.

Storyboard of the demo:

So now I had to think of how to turn all these concepts into something you could play as a video game with the restriction of a 5 year old must be allowed to play it no problem. This is what I came up with:

The mistake I made

It’s not what you think. In my previous final project for my Game Dev Art Class (which you can find here), I mention I used Adobe After Effects and Adobe Media Encoder to make it. If you watch the video, or videos since I can’t find the original, you’ll notice it looked more like a PowerPoint presentation.

That’s not really the look and feel I wanted this time around.

So what I did was make it in Game Maker Studio 2, a tool I haven’t used since I made What’s The Story (~2 years ago) and essentially I coded a bunch of cutscenes back to back for my Symcerto trailer. I had to do a bunch of Googling to get the aspects I wanted and I was so worried about disappointing my team.

What I didn’t realize is that Game Maker doesn’t allow you to screen record very nicely or if there is a way to do it, I didn’t know it. So any trailer I made I had to record on my phone, edit it (not my strong suit), and publish to YouTube.

Step 3: Profit?

1 minute Trailer

My 1 minute trailer

So now we have a minute trailer and after a few minor fixes, my team is satisfied. We have a few more business side stuff to finish up and we are good to go. For the final report, they ask me to make another trailer that is only 20 seconds. So I did.

20 second Trailer

Symcerto Final Thoughts:

I am so incredibly thankful for the team I had for this project. Everyone was so nice and did their best to support the team. They were also supportive of whatever I threw at them. Cave map? Loved it. Cute characters? Adorable!

In the beginning, I was really ambitious and wanted to make both the trailer and the demo and I am so glad they talked me out of it. I’ll be honest, I was feeling some pretty heavy burnout by the midpoint. Plus I was doing some other things and my sleep schedule got pretty out of whack.

That being said, we were able to finish the class early and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you so much for reading this long post, I appreciate it. Comment below what your best/worst team experience is and if you want more final projects, consider subscribing to my mailing list and checking out my Learn Bot final project here.

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