We Graduated!

Hello everyone! I’m proud to announce that the members of Ottercopter Studios LLC have graduated  from the Full Sail University Game Development Bachelors of Computer Science Program. It took many long hours, and a great deal of stress to complete the program, but we couldn’t have done it without the support from our families and friends, so thank you!

So what does this mean for Ottercopter  Studios and Data Thief ? We still plan on launching the game on Steam, and we are still demonstrating Data Thief at Orlando IX in late August. Graduating does however mean that we are now free to take Data Thief in any direction we see fit, as we are now our own bosses. We can prioritize and design levels / mechanics without having to answer to any Full Sail instructors. I truly believe that these amazing new freedoms will allow us to build Data Thief into a fun game that is worthy of the HTC Vive and the Steam platform.

This also means that our blog posts may become even more sporadic, and we may even completely change how/where we post.  We thank you for your patience as we continue to focus on the development of Data Thief.

For more updates on Data Thief be sure to check out our website , as that is where we’ll be uploading more in-game footage, a link to our steam store, and where you can contact us. You can also email me directly at NJCgamemaker@gmail.com and be sure to follow me on twitter: @NJCgamemaker .

Thanks Again!
Nicholas Carlson


Narration, SGX, and Marble Walls

Hello, I hope this update finds everyone doing well! Ottercopter Studios has had a very busy week. We finally got our company bank account open, so we’re one step closer to our goal of launching the game on Steam. I spent the last weekend writing and polishing the narration and tutorial of the game. I even started planning a real introduction to the game. This way when the player runs the game for the first time, the menu system will be explained, along with some other basic controls and some plot.

Earlier this week I began designing and even built the layout of a new level, but we’ve decide to stop implementing new content and polish what we have, in preparation for our final project turn in.  So instead of building a new level, I’ve started finalizing our credits scene. This scene shows the credits, but it will also display trophies the player has unlocked that are associated with the Steam Achievements we have planned.  I scoured the internet looking for white marble wall and floor textures, and I even got a chance to implement the credits music we got from a Full Sail Music Composer Alice Kim.

Wednesday we had the opportunity to demo our game at the Full Sail Student Game Expo for the second time.  This was a great chance for us to get more feedback on the game from new players. I even wrote a survey and used google forms to gather some feedback. We got very conflicted answers about how friendly/unfriendly our controls are, but we also got some great feedback about the core puzzle mechanics.  The downside of play testing a game in such a public environment is that the user’s experience will differ from if they were to play the game in a quieter, more relaxed environment.  An example of this is the fact that some players had a hard time hearing the instructional narration, and were too caught up in the moment to read the directions being displayed on screen.

Another common issue we’ve encountered is the fact that most people are unfamiliar with virtual reality, and/or the HTC Vive. Because of this I plan on working extra hard this weekend to improve the introduction to the game. Before you can run, you need to learn how to walk. before a new user can be comfortable playing our game, they need to learn how to use the platform its on.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to check back later for more updates.



Nick Carlson Back from Break

Hello everyone! I hope you have been doing well over the past few weeks, despite us all going on vacation over Full Sail’s summer break, we’ve still been hard at work on Data Thief.  Most of our work over break was polishing and fixing the plethora of minor bugs that have plagued the game for a while now.  I wrote a quick shader that appropriately culls the text in the credits scene, so that the letters are no longer visible from the back or sides (more information on how I did that here). I fixed a few other graphics related bugs, and I’ve spent this morning / afternoon aligning the circuits to the walls in level 5.

I’ve also been in communication with several of our artists. Hopefully we will be able to replace most of the primitive objects in the game with fully textured custom made models soon. I’m also happy to announce we are getting a professionally made logo for the game, to use as a desktop icon / a splash screen.

Now that we are finally all able to meet in the studio again, I am looking forward to seeing a finished version of the game. We have many great ideas for puzzles and mechanics, and I plan on recording and implementing a finalized narration. Our game is shaping up to be a fun and creative VR experience, so stay tuned for more updates! Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out the cool things the other members of Ottercopter Studios have been working on!

Nick Carlson: The Blue Screen of Death

Hello everyone! Thank you for reading our weekly development blogs! This past week has  had some of the most frustrating moments of my life as a developer. The laptop that I’ve been using, an HP Zbook Workstation, updated to the Windows 10 Creators update a few weeks ago. Ever since that update, my graphics driver has been having issues, which eventually led to a Blue Screen of Death. I spent the entire weekend on and off the phone with HP tech support, and my dad (who also happens to work in IT). We finally got the issue fixed by using an HP download manager to install ALL the important drivers on my laptop one by one in order.

Besides that huge waste of time, I was able to improve the menu of the game. I changed the menu controls from having the player rip documents off the board to play/exit, to a UI canvas and buttons. This change ensures that the player can’t accidentally knock the exit button off the board, closing the game. We may end up re-implementing the paper pull-of method in the future, but for now we are sticking with the more reliable UI system.  I also wrote descriptions for each of our levels, and implemented them into the level select system. I had to go back and change my previous level select script to handle UI objects instead of just game object. This seemingly small change allows me to transition through sprites instead of materials on a plane or flat primitive. I made all of the level descriptions in GIMP, so they’d look a little more professionally made, and we wouldn’t have any issues with 2D/3D text in Unity.

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I also managed to squash some other bugs in the game, including seam issues on level 5, where the player could see the Unity background through certain walls at specific angles. I went through and mended each seam, but then one of my teammates suggested we make the skybox around the level Black, so even if there are seam issues, the player won’t notice a difference.

Walker and I also tackled a bug where the player would accidentally trigger the return to main menu button, and get pulled out of whatever puzzle they were doing. We did this by creating a popup that appears when the player grips the controller twice, that notifies them to squeeze the grip buttons one more time to exit. This way the player is still able to return to the menu, but the controls aren’t easy to accidentally trigger.  This may be changed in the future, and we are working on polishing the popup,  but this technique works well for the time being.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful week. Be sure to keep an eye out for an updated game-play video, next week’s blog post, and changes to our website :

Nick Carlson: New Level, New Site

Hello Everyone!
This passed week was quite eventful, as we demonstrated Data Thief at the Full Sail Student Game Expo. Not only was this a great opportunity to get feedback from people, but the expo also gave us a chance to have a concept meeting with our new artist.  I’m immensely excited about the designs we came up with, and I’m glad to finally be working with a skilled artist.  Hopefully we’ll have some pretty assets and changes to show you soon.

I also designed and built a new level, which is the fifth level to be added to the game. While we’re happy with all of our work so far, we’ve discovered that we already have too many levels to let people play at an expo. Each player was in the game for at least 20 mins, which really limited the amount of people we got to play our game. We’ve decided that for future expos we will make a “demo build” which limits the player in either time or how many levels they can play, in hopes of solving this issue.

I designed the new level so the player has to solve each of 4 rooms in order, so they have to complete the puzzle in the first room to open the door to the next. There are vent tunnels that run between rooms 1 & 2,  2 & 3, and 3 & 4, allowing a laser from room one to go into room two, and so on.  This is just one of the many puzzle ideas we have, so stay tuned for even bigger, better heists!

On another note. . . OUR SITE WENT LIVE! Check us out at http://www.ottercopter.com ! Keep in mind that we plan on updating the site closer to the launch of the game. Thanks for reading, tune in next week!

Nick Carlson: A Level from a Developer’s Prospective

Hello everyone, I hope you have all had a wondrous week! I have spent the last week building Data Thief’s Tutorial, specifically the narration and final touches of the level. I wrote, and recorded dialog that will help immerse the player, and teach them the basic mechanics of the game. Despite our usual list of bugs, I was able to create a narration system, that handles when to play and stop clips.

In my system, a parent object (which I named “Nick”) has an audio source, and a queue that holds audio clips. The child objects each have their own trigger colliders  that call functions that either queues audio clips, clears the queue and plays a clip to interrupt, or simply stop all narration. The parent object also has an array of audio clips, so that other scripts may call a function that uses an int index as a parameter to queue clips from that array.  This audio system seems to work well in our game, and I tried to make it as robust as possible, so we can change or add any features we need in the future.  When the player unlocks and goes through each door, the narration queue is cleared, and if an interrupting sound is attached, it will play that, and queue the next bit of narration.

This is a development view of the tutorial level. Each of the green wire frame boxes is a collider that interacts with the narration system.

I had some extra time to move around the main menu scene, and create a few more info panels. I also created and textured a door, as play testers were wondering if the main menu room was built around the player.

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Thank you for reading, have a great week, and be sure to check back next week!

Nick Carlson: Bugs, Blogs, and Blue Screens of Death

Hello Everyone!
This first week  of our third month has been a chaotic roller coaster, as it seemed like every task I attempted had at least 3 setbacks. One example: several different game objects with sound effects became unattached from the master volume mixer that I made a while ago. This made it so our build had random objects with really loud sound effects, while other effects and  the music would be quiet.

Most of my time was spent designing levels, and working on an info panel on the previously unused monitor in the main menu. This screen displays the controls of the game by default, but the player can click the arrows to cycle through other helpful tips. I also set this up so we can simply drag an image into an inspector slot to add it to the array of information panels. I made these images myself in GIMP, with a little art help from my teammates.  There are currently only two panels on the screen, one for controls, and one for color combinations. If you have any suggestions for information to add in the future, let me know!

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The biggest, and most recent set back I’ve had is that I tried to update my laptop to the newest version of Windows 10, and now it randomly gets the blue screen of death (Bsod) at random all the time. Luckily I was able to get all my work onto a flash-drive, and set up my personal gaming machine with Unity, so at least I can work on there for the time being.  I think the drivers of our laptops aren’t compatible with the newest version of windows, as I’ve tried uninstalling and reinstalling my graphics card drivers several times, but it still blue screens randomly.

I’ve also spent a lot of time writing asset request documents, and communicating with artists. We’ve also recruited a good friend of mine, who is a web developer, to help set up a  promo site for the game, and maybe even a blog. I’m very excited with the direction of Data Thief, and I can’t wait to have an official website, and prettier development blog.
I hope you all have a great week, make sure to read my teammates posts, and  to check back next week!