TO: Office of the Geo-Institute Director
FROM: A.G.A. Development Team
CC: ASCE Videogaming Department
DATE: January 16, 2023
SUBJECT: Q1 Progress Report on “A Geotechnical Adventure”
Happy New Year, all! I hope everyone has returned to the office well-rested and reinvigorated for another successful year in G-I! I wanted to provide some updates on “A Geotechnical Adventure” (working title) ahead of the public demo currently scheduled for beta in March (will likely need to push this back, again). As I’m sure you know, the development team has been hard at work into the nineteenth quarter of this rather expansive project and we are very excited that we’ve begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel (which is also the title of the extremely long level where the player builds the Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado)!
It seems like only yesterday I was meeting with Brad about the need to bring G-I into the media space that is video-gaming, and here we are over four years later, almost ready to share the glory of the geotechnical engineering profession with a whole new audience: gamers! Whether they’re young kids (for whom we’ve added a content setting to filter out foul language during the construction levels) or adults who’ve never even heard of the profession, we fully believe this game will be the most vivid representation of what geotechnical engineers do… outside of actually working the job in real life!
Now, in terms of specific progress for this quarter, I’ve compiled a list of items we plan on addressing in the coming weeks and months, based on tester feedback and notes originating from your office. Below you will find, in no particular order, the most critical bugs we’ve repaired, updates we’ve made, and suggestions we’ve implemented.
- Based on a comment from your office, we have shortened the tutorial level substantially. We originally thought it was a valuable exercise for the gamer to experience a streamlined version of a four-year ABET-accredited engineering education, but the average tester was advancing at a rate of one semester per three months and many complained the in-game tests were overly difficult. Since we could not come to an agreement with our consulting professors about the duration of exams and how many lectures the player actually needed to attend, we have mostly removed the “Educational Experience” tutorial. The game now begins with a summer internship classifying soil samples during highway drilling and this level only takes approximately nine hours to complete.
- As a compromise on the tutorial shortening, the built-in OSHA training videos are no longer skippable.
- We adjusted the speed at which drillers present samples to the player for identification during the SPT Minigame and are now allowing the player to select an “Easy,” “Normal,” or “Hard” difficulty before it begins. Easy and Normal are mainly distinguished by speed at which the player needs to act; Hard is the same speed as Normal but the driller talks very loudly into your headset while you’re recording blow counts and frequently offers competing numbers to confuse you.
- The CPT Dissipation Test Observation level can now be sped up, but only to 1.5x speed.
- We added the option to do a “midday gas station coffee run” to give the player more energy points during field investigations. Optional microtransaction-funded “GeoGold” can be used to pay for this feature; otherwise the player’s character will begin to fall asleep during certain missions.
- Achievements points are now deducted at the end of investigation missions where proper PPE is not equipped by the player.
- G-I Director Brad Keelor will now appear in-game as the NPC you visit to add songs to the playable soundtrack. You can pay this NPC GeoGold to collect his alternative hits of the 90s. After visiting him enough times, you will unlock the Director’s Cut minigame.
- We removed the stealth mission where the player must sneak around hotel hallways to transport core boxes and Shelby tubes for storage in their room without alerting the cleaning staff. Testers decided the dialogue sequence in which the player is confronted about “tracking dirt everywhere” was too uncomfortable and specific.
- We optimized the Commute-to-Office Minigame driving experience to be more representative of the in-game 2014 Toyota Camry with accurate dashboard features and vehicle noises, as well as several commercial radio stations for sponsored advertisements. We do not believe we have the time or resources to create more vehicle options from which the player could choose, but we do believe we can model realistic traffic delays to enhance the realism of the game experience.
- The developer responsible for the Hawaii Vacation level unfortunately left the team to go work on an action-adventure island videogame. As a result, the PTO Vacation level has been replaced by a five-minute cutscene of the player reading a book and taking a nap on a Wednesday afternoon.
- After two to three in-game years of field missions, the player is approached by the department manager and asked if they want to accept a Design Engineer position. If the player selects “Yes” then the game effectively ends, because the development team has not even begun working on the office building models or coding a realistic desktop with geotechnical analysis software. Therefore we will strongly encourage the player to decline and they will be able to select a new caisson construction supervision level.
- Some of the G-I’s specifically requested features are planned for the Design Engineer Expansion Pack in a future release. These include: Project Budget Management Minigame; The Boring Log Screening Screen; Operating your company’s booth at Geo-Congress; and an annual in-game Terzaghi Lecture awarded to the player with the most achievement points.
- The final boss level is being reworked substantially. Initial testers thought the “Boss Battle” concept of your character waking up one day and realizing they have, in fact, become the boss of their geotechnical department was unsettling and “too meta.”
We hope your office finds that this memo adequately addresses the previous concerns expressed about the progress, quality, direction, marketability, and questionable fun of our upcoming videogame. We intend to have a playable demo ready for the G-I Member community in the not-so-distant but also not-too-near future !