Daily Script

www.dailyscript.com 

Daily Script is a website that offers movie and tv scripts from famous and well-known productions.

I first came across it after having the talk with Susan Everett who said that to learn how to write scripts you need to read them. So I came over to this site which offers them for free online.

Another good site to find scripts on is the BBC Writers room that has scripts from the BBC productions.

One Game a Month

http://www.onegameamonth.com/

One Game a Month is a website that features the challenge of making a game every month. It currently has 5519 users and 3309 games. All the guidance you get is an optional theme for the game, no pressure, no commitment, just the pure want to produce the game in the space of a month.

I have yet to look into the specifics of the site, but they do have audio files of each months theme back-dated, so this could be a good place to get some ideas for my own version of the challenge.

The site also features various resources and advice sections that could come in handy.

Personal Statement

‘My passion lies within interactive media, anything that requires a sense of immersion and connection between a viewer and an artefact. The main focus of my studies and ambitions lies within a prominent area of the interactive industry, videogames. This medium is a truly immersive experience for the player, as they encounter lavish and exciting worlds, meet interesting characters and in some cases develop experiences that relate and reflect their reality. Within this medium I am a writer, a crafter of stories, in which my focus is on all aspects of immersion within the concept. In other words it’s not just a simple task of adding dialogue and in-game text. I enjoy the creativity of videogames in terms of developing a functioning narrative that will appeal and entice and in turn adds value and player-connectivity. To bring the concept to life, collaborative work is often key, in which I work with a group of creatives to develop and test a games immersive values. The experience gained from working as a collective has allowed me to understand more in-depth about the technical specifics of games design. This knowledge allows me to adapt new projects with the confidence that they are going to involve an efficient yet still creative workflow.’

The above is my positioning statement that I wrote for the yearbook. I found the task of writing it very difficult as I have consistently struggled with where I fit in the industry. I think the statement sums up where I am and where I would like to be.

I am glad that I have done it because I have been able to utilise it on my website and other places to detail what I am about and what I do as a creative.

Social Media Presence

Throughout the year I have been slowly making my online presence known. So far I have added twitter, linkedin, tumblr, vimeo and youtube to my online empire!

Although I have not been fully attentive to some of these sites. For instance I started on vimeo and youtube paying full attention to them but as I have started specialising I have slowly left these sites as I havent had anything to put on them. I may in the future however so it is still relevant to keep the login details.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ZoeLimbert

Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/pub/zoe-limbert/65/aa9/85a

Tumblr – http://zlimbert.tumblr.com/

In regards to my tumblr account, I set this up to link to my website, it offers a tumblr feed and one of the main pieces of advice was to include a blog on your website to charter current affairs.

AS part of my branding I have also got a logo and style of minimalist design that features across all my online media. The logo has been great for this as it offers consistency across all platforms. I just need to figure out how to incorporate it into my actual website!!

My next moves will be to find a media site or forum that specialises in written work!

GaMaYo

GaMaYo is a blog site that offers up a job page, general info about the industry around Yorkshire and a facebook group eclusive to published game makers. It is definately something I need to look into later down the line, that is once I have a link to a game that is live so that I can join the group.

GDD, Ipads as a format.

So, for the Game Republic event – competition and networking – I wanted a better way to show the GDD, instead of it being print based. At first my initial idea was to have it set up on a screen where you could see the GDD digitally. This was to engage the person a bit more and digital format tend to fit better alongside a video game as opposed to print. Mainly because print is perceived as more traditional and games are all about advancing technology.

After some deliberation I though it would be nice to have the GDD on an Ipad, this way the viewer can use the touch functionality to turn the pages creating a more immersive experience into the concept.

I am currently still testing the format and ability to do this, but my tests and experiments with InDesign so far are going well. It is easy to create a  document for Ipad use within the programme, so all I really need to do is transfer the content over to the indesign document. I also would like to add a background image that fits the theme of the game possibly uses the same or a similar texture to that of the game logo, just so the digital book looks more like a game info pack as opposed to a plain white background that makes the document look very formal and less interesting!

Who am I?

I am trying to figure out how I want to be perceived by other creatives and clients alike. So I have been looking back over my body of work from the past three years and also re-read my personal statement for the yearbook. From these it has become clear that I am into these areas:

  • creative writing
  • games design
  • conceptualization
  • idea creation

So after much playing with words I have decided to brand myself as:

Zoe Limbert: Creative Writer, Designer, Concept Developer.

With the idea of interactive media as an underlying theme so as not to become too specialised. Although this is mentioned within my about me statement, so it isn’t a secret!!

I’m glad I am finally content with a title for myself as this is something that I have been struggling with for a long time.

Under Construction

I am currently constructing my website using the hosting site Wix. IT is going well, as the site is easy to use and understand. I so far have been putting my research to the test and successfully made three of the pages of my site.

Here are a few images of the progress so far, sadly I cannot link the site yet as it isn’t ‘live’.

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As you can see I have taken a very minimalistic approach that follows the same colour scheme as this blog. I decided to stay minimal as I think it makes the information given more easier to digest instead of the viewer being distracted by endless images and asymmetry. Although saying this I have used some asymmetrical sections to utilise the space I had to play with.

For the font I have used the font Neou that I acquired on dafont.com, I choose this one as it is the same font used on my Business cards and it is simple, clean and crisp.

I have been trying to keep the site minimal and clean but with sufficient information about myself.

I also utilised my personal statement for the yearbook on my About me page.

My only concern with doing this all myself is that it is taking a long time due to my inexperience with web design and efficiency. Although it is very interesting and a really nice achievement to say I did it myself.

My next step with it is to get my images uploaded and in the right place. I also need to consider taking some writing excerpts and placing them online. Possibly even record the use of the iPad for game republic and promote my knowledge of that aswell.

My domain is http://www.zoelimbert.com check me out when I’m live in the next couple of weeks!!

Business Cards and Logo Designs

As I am not very good with graphic design I have asked a friend to help out with the designs for my logo and business cards. The first port of call was creating a logo that I could use across all branding fronts.

logo designs logo ideasI began with these, there are some initial designs for the original yoyo and crayons that I produced then some for my amended logo, and brand.

These started as the letters ZOE fitted into the space. After some thought this design developed as you can see into being focussed on the initials ZL. It also incorporated a lighter shade of grey for the circle so that the text stands out from it.

Below is the final design for my logo.Sticking tot he theme of minimalism.

logoFrom this I have created a variation including colour that will be used for digital purposes. Whereas the grayscale version is designed for the printed business cards.

logo for web

From this I have developed a one-off business card aswell seen here:

business card planTop image is the front, bottom image is the back of the card.

This is a simple idea of a business card that I would like to have, I am going to pass this onto my graphic designer friend who will be in charge of refining the idea and design.

Ideally what I want is to have a two-tone scheme for the business card that is very minimal. This will then be screen printed down at Vernon Street in batch on some very nice card. The card I want is similar to watercolor paper in texture so it feels slightly bumpy in your hand, and is off white in colour.

I think these screen printed cards will be used for both game republic and the end of year show as they are a more personal approach to the business card, whereas in the future, when I don’t have access to the printing studio, I will probably go for online sites that offer business card printing.

 

Some interesting opportunities I have found and am pursuing

Lionhead studios Internships – http://lionhead.com/internships/

This site offers internships every now and again, nothing for myself at the moment but it is work a look out.

Crytek internships

These offer internships to people who have finished uni, so I shall be contacting them in the next couple of months.

Sumo Digital Job page

There are a few jobs open at Sumo currently. Definitely worth an email.

Red Kite Games

This studio has an open email that you can send your CV and covering letter to. So no job posting up on the site but still it might lead to something.

Volunteer cast and crew for The Narnia Experience

Found this one on Art jobs, it is an event to be held later this year, that is looking for a variety of individuals to take part in the show. I’m definitely applying for this even though it is a voluntary project. It does look like a good experience and something memorable and unique to be involved in.

Plan for Game republic

Myself, Jade and Freddie had a talk the other day about how to display our work for the game republic graduate showcase.

We decided that we would split the space between the three of us, with the main focus on the screen in the center of the table, which will have the levels on display. The wall space is split equally. We decided to have a banner running along the top to draw people to the stall. Below this there will be Freddies environment breakdowns, Jade’s character compilation and a brief text sheet that summarises the game from myself.

I will also be contributing some leaflets that double up as promotional material for the three of us. I briefly explained the initial idea for these in my FMP project but they have changed drastically since then. Instead of being about the actual game elements, they will solely focus on the three team members and feature each of our bios as well as a nice piece of artwork. Alongside this I will have the GDD on an Ipad.

I have been in talks with Jade who will be producing a leather-bound design portfolio that will feature character development work.

Writers Digest Article on websites.

Writer’s Digest Article: The anatomy of a writers website.

The link above will take you to a very nice article all about the ins and outs of a writers website. IT goes into detail about how relevant it is to the promotion of your work and why exactly you need to have a website in the industry.

The article features a list of essentials for a writers website, I have listed them below with a little bit of info and my view on each section.

  1. All about you – this section needs to highlight info about you on a personal and professional level.
  2. Contact Info – scream it loud and clear, in fact some of the sites that I am using as inspiration use social media icons on multiple pages as well as a separate contact page.
  3. A picture of you – this gives a person behind all the info – makes it easier for publishers and potential clients to relate to you.
  4. A press page – if you are selling a book a press page is a must.
  5. Testimonials – Testimonials offer credit to your work.
  6. Samples of your work – even clips and edits from longer pieces of work can offer an insight to clients at what your standard of work is. For this downloadable clips is best, instead of links to other sites. I reckon the best approach is using the online abode pdf reader.
  7. Buying – if your selling a book make sure there is a link to buy it on your website!
  8. Personality – make sure you let your personality show on your site.

Networking Workshop

Today we had a networking session that had a focus on the upcoming Game Republic networking event. The session featured how to make networking work for you and it had a practically led approach where we were encouraged to stand up and talk about ourselves in front of each other.

I feel like the session was helpful as I have been worrying about Game Republic and some pointers from the session really made sense; even though some of them were obvious, I’m actually shocked I didn’t think of them myself!

Here are my notes:

To get the most out of a networking event be SMART – specific, measurable,achievable, realistic, time bound.

A key-note it to always go to an event prepared. read up on the companies that will be there so that you don’t waste the opportunity of meeting the individual or company in person by asking them something you could find out on their website!

Do not openly criticise someone, as you never know who you may be working with in the future. By staying friendly with everybody, you have more options to make lasting relationships to people.

Go to an event with a few or one target that you definitely must talk to. This could be someone who you admire or otherwise simply would like a chat from. If you aim to talk to them, and achieve it you will leave the event feeling better that you didn’t waste the opportunity.

Think about the question that you want to ask the exhibitors. Plan them so that they sound professional and well thought out.

After the event, follow-up leads in days rather than weeks and keep the connections active.

 

Art Mirrors Life, Edge Article.

Found in Edge 252, April 2013, Page 18.

The Game of Life. An article exploring the reasons behind why indie developers seem to be finding creative inspiration in their personal experiences.

The article begins with an introduction to David S Gallant’s game I Get This Call Every Day. A game in which the player takes on the role of a call center assistant tasked with a snarky customer who wants to change their address.

The article confronts the idea of play and why the majority of gamers believe that a game needs to be simply fun. It states that

“Games ability to inspire empathy should make them a prime target for autobiographical scenarios…but […] the majority of players expect all games to be ‘fun’ in a rather narrow, frivolous sense.”

This shows a sense of obscurity within the games industry that subjugate’s and out rules an area that has been starkly neglected or simply not considered…yet!

Following on from my research for my dissertation, one point was clear within all games and their respective players: A player needs to feel connected to the concept of the game. They need to feel involved and a sense of understanding and focus, because this is what keeps them immersed. From looking at the comments that Gallant’s makes within this article, it has become clear that games are respective of reality to a high degree, and if we cannot explore these important albeit personal issues within the medium of games as an art form then that reflects a big gap in the industry.

The article also mentions the work of Anna Anthropy, the creator of Dys4ia, an explorative game that shares her experiences of gender reassignment. It expresses emotional and physical complexities but it does not simply tell a story, it lets the player interact and gain an understanding of Anthropy’s experience.

If anything I believe that this is what makes video games such an important medium, and I do think that they should be utilised more for issues that are often left on the backseat. Saying this Anthropy gives a good quote to summarise:

“There’ll be a day when they realise people are more interested in meaningful human stories than military-fantasies for game-literate manbros….It won’t be a victory; that’s not the goal. The goal is to empower everyone to be able to tell their stories without depending on a big publisher to fund them.”

I like this quote. It is all about taking the power and focus off of the money that comes from games and shifting it to the narratives and personality that can be inscribed into a games existence. Ultimately it is about sharing stories, which again ties into my dissertation!

As a professional hoping to get into the industry, finding this article has not only opening my eyes but it has also made me feel more content knowing that there are professionals out their that are focused on the same goals as me. It is nice to know that there are industry professionals that believe that if money rules the gaming world all it will produce are re-representations of the same thing over and over again.

I know that trying to overthrow the power of money will never ever work and challenging it at its root won’t either but as Mahatma Ghandi once said:

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Rightly I would much rather be content in the work that I produce than conform to the orders of people controlled by money.

Writing a CV

It has come to the time where I need to sit down and begin writing my professional CV. Due to the nature of my work I am going to focus on a writers CV as that is what I do! Plus if I say writing I have the most projects and experience within this area so win, win!

To help me out I did a little google search to find some advice on the subject matter. Specifically I wanted to know what to include on the CV and how to do it professionally as a writer would.

I found this little gem on Band2Write.com: http://www.bang2write.com/2012/02/putting-together-writers-cvresume.html

It offers up info on what to put on your CV and why. So for instance a good section to have is the projects section, as even if the projects didn’t take off or get published, if you did work on it, it still exists and can display valuable information of your ability to write, either specifically or in my case quite versatile when it comes to genre!

 

Professional websites

A web presence is a very important factor in getting noticed in the creative industries. IT also offers up additional info for prospective clients and collaborators whom can easily network with you online. I guess in a way a website acts as a hub for all other social media areas that you are involved in.

I have been doing some research into what I could get out of a website, while I start planning my design for my own venture into web design. I am however in a tough place as I would like to balance a variety of creative fields on my website. Not only writing, but games design and visual work aswell. So my reasearch has been into various professionals that specialise and offer other fields aswell.

On the writing front I have found these examples:

http://www.courtneyawalsh.com/about.html

  •   This si the site of a professional writer whom offers fictional and journalism writing.
  • The site itself is very focussed on the writing and professional appearance of itself. This does put me off a bit I think I would prefer to express my personality through my website a bit more instead of it just saying I am a writer!
  • Good things about this site are the inclusion of the blog and contact info which is important for the public to see what you are up to on a more daily basis – this is also why I need to link in my twitter account and get a more personal presence on there.

http://www.isabelallende.com/

  • This is site utilises the minimalistic approach to web design
  • It has separate sections for each of the authors specialist areas.
  • A note to make is that on her contacts page she has a section of text that states what she doesn’t do. This offers the viewer the knowledge of parts of the industry and remedial tasks that she does not have time for. I don’t need one of these immediately but if the time were to come that I do have to limit my time this section would be useful.

http://www.rachael-king.com/

  • This site offers a more detailed look in which it has a scrapbook feel to it.
  • I think the design makes it seem personal but it also distracts from the actual work.
  • The scrapbook feel also is a nice way to display the conceptualization of an idea, which is a key part to my work.

On a  game design front:

http://www.jamiemartindesign.co.uk/

  • This site is sleek like the artists designs. – it reflects his art style and work.
  • It is very well-connected aswell

http://janemcgonigal.com/

  • features a simple three column design
  • it is very busy, full of info and events that the designer is part of
  • her book has a link where you can download it from amazon – definitely important for any future written work I do.

What I have learnt:

  1. I need to show my personality through my website
  2. It needs to be well-connected to my online presence
  3. For written work, it is good to have an example available for download
  4. Writing exercises are also useful, possibly just on the tumblr feed though.
  5. Having various sections of a website isn’t a bad thing but it can take a long time to put together, as it features a lot of content.

Characters that tell their own stories.

One of the problems I have been having with the narration of the concept is the idea that even though the protagonist is deciding their own fate through the story, they are also influenced by the sub-characters.

I looked into this when I did some research into Baccano!, an animated series about how one story can alter another story in a different time period.

The series can be found here on youtube.

The first episode of the anime sets up the idea that every individual creates there own story about an event. For instance their could be a robbery in a shop and everyone involved in that robbery will retell the story differently, depending on what they found most interesting.

A quote that depicts this is:

Vice President – “A story is neither information, nor is it accumulated information. It is the result of what has been thought.”

In an odd way this piece of research that took place around about a month and a half ago has impacted the development of the sub characters within the concept. As all of them have their own stories to tell, they have individuality in the respect that they all have different views on religion, faith, society and politics. This aspect of the ally characters is then relayed back to the player character and they are left to make up their own decision on whom has the right moral code.

From another viewpoint the research into Baccano! also helped me to create a set of main characters that all had intertwining stories and where all linked in various ways.

Feedback Final Crit

Last week we had our final crit for FMP. Generally the feedback I got was good, it mainly focussed on the general concept which was helpful.

feedback final crit

Some things did pop up which have made me realise that I may have overlooked some aspects of the concept whilst I was head deep in the development. These points are the most valuable:

  1. The artisan’s design is too obscure to the other characters designs.
  2. A glossary could be a good addition
  3. 5 city sectors seem a lot
  4. will the detective be as flexible in gameplay as he is on the image?

So, in response to these now:

I have already spoken with Jade whom also got the same response about the Artisan and also the Rebel’s design. She has agreed that a change is needed for both of them and has actually already got a few alterations of the designs.

I think a glossary is definitely needed it is something that I probably overlooked because, I invented these words so I know exactly what they are. For everyone else though, a glossary would be a nice addition. Plus this also falls into my criteria of how to present my concept to the general public as well as professionals. Definitely something I need to remember for the future.

Regarding the city sectors, this is something that I didn’t expect to be commented on. I think the size of the map came from the need to have a fluid functioning open world, to allow the player to engage as they saw fit. It also stemmed through the design of the S.A.A., the ability of the protagonist in the sense that he could pick up a trail as the player explores the city and then, they could choose to follow the link back to a crime scene. This accentuates through gameplay the ability for the protagonist to act as a hidden vigilante within the city. Which would of course affect the players understanding of the city and therefore where their loyalties would lie. But I won’t get into that now. Regardless this is an important part of the entire concept, and so I am going to stand by my decision to make the city and game world that big.

Point 4 is something that I hadn’t considered at all, I’m not going to lie. In my mind the artwork and the characters written pro forma were too separate things. In some respect I trusted Jade to follow the character sheet to design the character and to be fair she did follow them to a T. So yes, the protagonist, Quade is that flexible in the game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is this sort of all out action hero, because he really isn’t that at all! He is a fairly reserved character that is a little geeky and prefers to talk his way out of things instead of going all guns blazing. So, from the stand point of promotion and false advertising I think that is something that I hadn’t considered. I definitely need to check with Jade about how she feels the imagery reflects the characters, because we were going for the over the top action poses to fall in with the theme of comical characters but if the viewer reads it wrong then it doesn’t work!

Elysium reference

Elysium is an upcoming feature film written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, known for District 9. The film is a drama science fiction set in the near future.

About the film:

  • The year is 2154, Elysium is the home to the wealthy and priviledged of mankind. It is a space station free from disease due to the state-of the art medical care. Meanwhile the rest of humanity resides on Earth, overpopulated and ruined.
  • The film itself is meant to display political themes including: immigration, health care and class issues.

It is a good reference for my concept but one that I can’t directly comment on seen as the film is yet to come out. However it is good that there are similar themes to the one I am looking at within the media.

TRAILER:

Different Ideas of Control in Future Societies

One of the main themes wihtin CogCore is the difference between the 7 cities ideals and forms of controlling their citizens. As the world was in a state where 7 completely different environments were allowed to flourish and start born anew.

When I was developing this idea of cities acting like pheonix’s being born from the ashes of the cities of old, I wanted to keep the sense of individuality for the 7 leaders of each state. As this way they could have completely different ideals that they impose on their subjects. This representation does also reflect my dissertation research into the differences between cultural depiction in eastern and western games. Each of the 7 leaders have grown up in different parts of the world, learning different ideologies and perfecting their own vision of the future. So when the oppotunity came for them to create a perfect society, they didn’t have to hold back.

In a basic form this idea developed out my comparison of two authors that greatly influenced my concept; these being Huxley and Orwell. Both of these are renowned for their future predictions and conspiracies in their work but two books in particular are interesting to compare.

Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World both feature future socities yet they are drastically different. Orwell and Huxley depict diffferent ways of controling the citizens within each society. Orwell favours the idea of control through obsessive servitude and aggressive deception through the media, whereas Huxley believed that control through birth control was more relevant as a future prediction.

I found that Huxley actually wrote a letter to Orwell in 1949 congratulating him on Nineteen-Eighty Four. It stated:

Within the next generation I believe that the world’s leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience.

References:

Huxley, Aldous (1969). In Grover Smith. Letters of Aldous Huxley. London: Chatto & Windus

 

Doing your duty isn’t necessarily doing the right thing!

Upon thinking about CogCore’s protagonist, Quade, a rather prominent theme and idealism, from Aldous Huxley’s After Many A Summer, popped into my head. After a search through the book I found that the relevant section resides in chapter Eight and in my copy the pages in question lie on 77, 78.

The section I’m referring to is a memory of Hansen, “a very decent, kindly man: one who would be shocked and indignant if he saw you hurting a dog”. Within this small section Hansen is described as acting out of his ‘kind’ character as he does his duty, and in fact what he is told to do. In the story Hansen runs some orange groves for Mr. Stoyte, and Hansen’s main priority is to make the groves as profitable as possible which has a knock on effect of mistreated workers. Hansen by nature should care for the workers and want to help them, but instead as he is told to make the most money he opts to pay them little wages and let them live in poor conditions.

When confronted with his judgement Hansen states that it is different. He believes that due to this being his job he only need consider the workers as a function and not as humans. So the maltreatment isn’t direct and therefore isn’t the same as mistreating someone personally.

In reflection to Quade this is relevant because it depicts the idea of hierarchy and control by power. Quade is a tool for Dagon and therefore no matter what he does he won’t be acting himself in a personal way. This means that he could act completely out of character and still believe that he isn’t doing anything wrong. As with Hansen, he is acting on Stoyte’s command therefore Stoyte is to blame not Hansen.

Really in my concept there are a lot of characters that fall into this category, of Dagon’s pawns: Cain, Quade, and Leon are all directly under the influence of Dagon.

With Quade though, he is the only one unaware of this control, he instead believes that the control comes from his duty to serve Caribbea his hometown. This is why we see a change in him within the narrative as he becomes free of that control as he joins the people of Paragonia to help them rectify their lives. This change of character however still resides within Dagon’s control.

Current Media Trends

This is a short post about how the current film and game industries are reflecting similar or themes to what CogCore is depicting.

I have noticed that within the film industry for this years (2013’s) released titles, there are alot that are dealing with a future society. To name a few, there is Elysium, Oblivion and After Earth. All of which are Science Fiction films set in the future depicting a world where Earth has deteriorated in various ways. This influx in ‘End of the world movies’ could be a reflection of the 2012 Mayan phophecies, as they are all depicting the afterlife of Earth; all of humanity or the priviledged in some cases have moved on to conquer the stars etc.

Meanwhile in the games industry there are a few games being released this year that show some areas of social idealism. Rememeber Me for instance shows a near future Paris whihc follows a very Big Brother-esque dytopian theme. While other games like Fuse and Metro: Last Light are dealing with apocalyptic futures.

Really the industry is following a similar theme to what I aim to produce but while the film industry revels on the idea of social utopias, the games industry seems to be sacrificing the over-arching themes for more lower level character stories.

In summary I think that the main difference between films and games is the value of the protagonist. Within games the focus lies on the protagonist and how the player is immersive to the player. This can leave the game with a fairly empty player character in the hope that the player will fill the blank space with themselves. In films the focus is more on the world first and then the protagonist as a by product of the concept.

Game Republic Student Showcase

Game Republic Student Showcase is a competition and networking event supported by various game companies that are part of the Game Republic group. The student showcase is a chance for graduates to display their current work to a band of games companies some of which will judge the competition.

This year the event is to be held at our college Leeds college of Art on the 30th May. So far I do not have all the details of the event but a few companies have been outlined to be coming so I will definitely be researching them. I also need to get myself in order for business cards, and other promotional material for the networking event.

For the competition our team, consisting of myself, Freddie and Jade will be competing in all categories barring the ‘game technology’ one. It is a great opportunity for our work to get seen, get feedback, advice and general contact info for the future!

Susan Everett talk.

Susan Everett, artists talk. 25 April 2013.

  • Multi-disciplinary, writer, director, novelist, scriptwriter.
  • Along side creative work, she also teaches and has acted as a script editor.
  • Competitions allowed her to get noticed and pick up an agent for her illustration work. 
  • Big part of becoming successful in your field is to know and understand your field.
  • Started screenwriting on an MA, realised that she had found a field that allowed her to create stories that also have visuals.
  • Short story competition allowed her to find a writing agent quickly, due to positive press.
  • Script editing helped with understanding how to work with other writers.
  • In film and tv, you are brought in as a writer but often you dont know how long the project will last. Sometimes, projects get dropped without reason.
  • Find what it is that keeps you personally going because you put your heart and soul into a script or character then someone will destroy it or change things completely.
  • Use visual work, i.e. short films that you work on to showcase your work.
  • Research is important. She has researched the courts for police thriller’s. The more info you can find out, the better you write. Contact people wh know about the subject of your writing. Power of research is that you find something you don’t expect.

Script editing – aids the writer through the whole process, offers advice and sometimes makes changes.

The BIBLE exists within TV and film as well for franchises. Doctor Who for instance will have a bible that contains all characters past scenes etc. Any new writer working on it will have the bible to cross reference. Then a more experienced writer will check that the new writer is following a similar format to previous work.

JOBS WITHIN TV:

  • -Story liner
  • -Editor

Short Film – Mother, Mine.

Feature film went through 5 drafts, Short film went through 6 drafts.

  • Started as a short story, but it lacked definition.
  • Found a playwright competition, entered that and the play got made.
  • The director of the play, liked the idea of a daughter sending tapes out to their mother.
  • She got an offer from a production company for the script.
  • It fell through and sat waiting.
  • She only went back to it when she was offered to make any original film by her for the film council.

What drives stories is making the characters want different things at different times.

In short films you can have scenes that leave it up to the audience to interpret. In feature the audience leaves feeling like they have fully understood it.

As a writer you have to be aware that you take ownership of a script and then a director will take it away and create a different vision of it.

AGENTS AND FREELANCING:

  • You need both an agent and to be able to network alone. 
  • Agents know what is going on in the business, they can tailor the script into the right hands, companies etc.
  • An agent can’t assure you will get work.
  • Treat agents as a network opportunity, they will have a massive list of clients and companies.

To get better at writing scripts, read them:

BBC writers room

http://www.dailyscript.com/

What to do:

  • ENTER EVERY COMPETITION YOU CAN.
  • develop your characters to the extreme.
  • lots of thinking, and making notes before your commit to writing.
  • have iterations of characters.
  • work out your strengths.
  • make sure I understand format, as this is really important.
  • a verdict will be made on a script by the 10th page.

Branding

I have been considering what I would like to be known as within my creative field. As so far I have been under the alias of Yoyos and Crayons, a name that came as a nikname a long time ago. I do like this alias but as an individual professional, and especially within the field of writing I have found that most other professionals use their name as their brand. On further inspection this is down to the name being very personal and subconsciously it adds trust between the two parties. By knowing someones name you feel like you know them more closely than you most likely do.

So, after some though I decided to stick to my name, nice and simple.

These are some domain names I played around with:

limbert.com – which turned out to be dating website!

zlimbert.com – as seen in my tumblr name, this is a nice variation.

zoelimbert.com – this is the one I choose as I felt that it looks the nicest. It is easy to remember and it was available!

Parallel narratives and conflict within the story.

For my concept for FMP two narrative techniques have stood out as relevant for the story. The first is the idea of parallel narratives, in which a story is split into multiple parallel segments that run simultaneously. In a game scenario this is quite hard to pull off because it means that you must have another playable character, which requires two or more protagonists.. The second is the value of conflict in narratives as a way to portray the issues revolving around the protagonist that are influenced or even created by the sub-characters.

For my narrative, I am going to combine these two techniques to provide a multi-stranded story that will engage the player. To do this I need a group of versatile characters to provide a variety of ideals that are reflective of their sociological standing in the city.

So the conflict is gained through the combination of characters whom all seek different things, while the parallel narrative is achieved through the way that the player and protagonist views each characters morality and the way each character tells their story to the player. So the duality of narrative isn’t necessarily from the protagonist, it is instead the duality of the city itself. It is the way that each citizen views their city and how they reflect upon this, that creates a multi-facited view of the city.

As a side note, this reflects my research on Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, which can be found here: https://yoyocrayon.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/invisible-cities-by-italo-calvino/

This creates a

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_%28narrative%29

http://i-media.soc.napier.ac.uk/patterns/parallel.html

Advice on Writing

I have a rather useful list of quotes from famous writers detailing insights and tips which they believe makes you a better writer.

All of the quotes revolve around writing but what i find most interesting and useful is that they focus on not just the writing itself but the process of writing. Some offer advice about how to stay organised with notes while others state realties of draft-making; some even highlight the remedial tasks of simply setting aside a day for writing which then becomes your routine.

Here are a few insights that I found useful:

  • PDJames – “Don’t just plan to write – write.” The importance of breaking the first hurdle and actually ‘putting pen to paper is daunting but simple planning will not help you to develop your own style. I can definitely relate to this point, and I have found using some writing techniques has helped me to simply sit down and write without prior thinking, scenes from a hat is definitely good for this.
  • Zadie Smith – “Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.” This speaks for itself.
  • Kurt Vonnegut: On finding a subject… This quote focusses on the ability to put you own emotions into your writing. Vonnegut says that by finding a subject that you are passionate about, you can then expand on the actuality of the fiction with your own concerns.
  • Bill Wasik: On the importance of having an outline. Main point is don’t stray from your outline, which as I am now venturing into the longer more detailed narratives, this is relevant to myself. I have found on my FMP that I do stick to my outline but I did float about a bit with the actual outline. It’s nice to think that the outline is perfect before you continue on but I did float about a lot with FMP narrative, so I think I need to focus my agenda a tad more in future.
  • Another point highlighted was that writing is a profession so you should give yourself a minimum word count everyday and stick to it. I think I am on my way to this as I have started my weekly word count with the scenes from a hat task. I guess writing everyday will be something that develops over time.

The list can be found here: 25 Insights on Becoming a Better Writer by Jocelyn K. Glei

The Central Tower

011 012 013 014Just some development work for the central structure of the city.

After some working around this, I have gone with the central structure being the main communal zone within the city. So the bottom third is all communal areas, which includes the domed shopping mall from the original plans. It also features a massive transportation system on the lower levels, which includes the underground central station.

Above the communal zone there is the restricted access areas which form the living and working spaces of the Asaph (elite). These are shown as a central thin tower, connected to six exterior towers, all of which focus on a different area of the city.

My final design is the lowest image, where i have defined each level to its specific function, 1 is the lowest, 7 the highest:

  1. These are the underground levels that are not yet within the communal zone. Local shops and other central areas are situated here. A large staircase runs up to the ground floor ‘0’ of the central tower from the lower level of the city.
  2. Ground floor ‘0’ is the open air entrance to the central tower. Situated inside this floor is the central transport station.
  3. Organic offices are situated between the central transport station and The Dome shopping mall. These contain a mixture of open air urban forests and office interiors. The general consensus is that this area is designed to show a social utopia where are sectors of the city can congregate in the urban forests peacefully.
  4. The Dome shopping mall, resides in the extruded middle part of the tower. All outward faces are full glass.
  5. Directly above the Dome are the Asaph towers, 6 standalone towers dedicated to individual sectors of the city. This is where the Asaph reside and work.
  6. The central tower continues in the center of the Asaph towers and extends above them. Within the lower levels of this building are the government meeting places and working stations. Above these working stations the highest level Asaph live in the uppermost penthouses. These Asaph are mainly the heads od each tower and their respective Council member. Above these penthouses, there is a full floor level room that overlooks the whole city, this is where the council congregate to cast their verdicts on the politics of the city.
  7. At the top of the tower there is a dome that resides Whitchurch, or any current president.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Invisible Cities is a novel by Italo Calvino that I was pointed in the direction of by two of my tutors.

The entirety of the book isn’t directly relevant in the sense that it is simply the chartering of many of Plato’s expeditions to various cities around the world. So the actual concept of the book isn’t relevant to my FMP but there is one part of it that stuck out to me.

It is on page 32 of my copy of the book, the chapter is called Cities and Desire. 4.

The description portrays the city of Fedora, a metropolis that holds a museum in its centre, that features miniature versions of the city. All of these miniature Fedora’s are unique and showcase a single persons vision of the city that is ideal to them. The narrator goes on to state that all of these beautifully crafted city miniatures are irrelevant as another day passes, the city has changed from what the visionary based the idealism on.

In terms of my concept this links in two ways.

The first is that it could depict the reason behind why the city is failing in Dagon’s eyes. As Witchurch, the visionary who created and designed the city in the first place is so focussed on his original ideal that he is blind to the natural change of the city. I have touched upon this slightly so far within the conflict between Whitchurch and Dagon and the reasoning behind their views. At this point, the concept is that Whitchurch is focussed upon the idealism of Paragonia that he never actually completes any of his projects. He is too focussed on the redesign and restructuring of the city to become the perfect utopia, that because the city evolves with each passing day, he cannot commit to any ideal, as it becomes irrelevant. Similar to what we see Calvino describing in this chapter.

Secondly, this chapter and the idea of individual ideologies within a city matches my idea for the four allied characters. Each of which has their own agendas and visions of what the city should become. Whether these line up with Whitchurch’s ideology is therefore irrelevant because he doesn’t act upon his wants and desires.

In an odd way reading this chapter has clarified that my concept does work. The reason being that Whitchurch is and always has been chasing utopia; this lack of decision and change therefore allowed Dagon to take power and create The Great Restructuring, which set in the citizens mind that change could happen. The citizens then began believing more in their own individual ideals instead of Whitchurch’s ideology.

Education Ideas CogCore

This post is a summary of all my research and development into different forms of education nd how I could reflect this in my concept.

A while ago I found this article whilst using Stumbleupon: Free School Under a Bridge in India.

I printed off the article and did a little doodle on it:

school drawingIt’s just a simple drawing of the differences in the two sections of society and how this reflects upon their education.

I found the idea of the free school interesting, It got me questioning how to approach education within my society. Do I have education that reflects their social status i.e. bording schools etc or do I have the same level of education for everyone and have equality. In the end after figuring out several other parts of the puzzle of the city, I realised that I would have variation of education but these are only there to reflect the differences in each social class. For instance the upper class are devoted to the Asaph, they revel in the ideal that one day their sons and daughters could aspire to become Asaph. Because of this the upper class are followers of good education, but this is the education that the Asaph teach.

On the other end of this there is the slums, which does reflect somewhat the free school system shown above. Where the people have taken it upon themselves to teach the children in this social class. This leads to varying subjects and levels of education. For instance in some sections of the slums, they value the Asaph and seek similar teachings to the upper class, while other areas value skills in trade and manual labour over the Asaph’s magic powered education. This is similar to the Working class. Basically the lower class is a mixture of all the other class types in terms of beliefs and education.

Sentient Architecture

I found a rather interesting article on biomimicry. There are designs for a building that creates its own facade using the salt from sea water. You can see the full article here:
It’s Alive! Faulders Studio.

It doesn’t directly link to my concept for the city but I do like the idea of a future version of this. Possibly it could be incorporated into another countries city design.

It is definitely something to keep in mind as possibly a secondary thought to how the city is constructed so quickly. Plus it does link with the idea of self-sufficiency as the city would be utilising the coastal location.

Why Utopia’s never work!

The main theme in my concept is the idea that no matter how hard humanity tries a utopia on a mass scale will never work out. This is often disputed to be down to the fact that every human is different and therefore we all want different things.

Below are a few of the places I have been looking for inspiration on this philosophy to help develop my work.

Jason Summers, philosopher, blog. This article illustrates the basic form of utopia and why they can never be achieved on a mass scale. Notes:

  • this post brings to light a problem with utopias in the fact that currently the family bond is so strong in most cases and valued in such a respective way that people naturally go out of their way to help family and friends over other people.

Debate.org discussion about utopias and why they cannot work out.  Portrays a variety of different people’s viewpoints. Notes:

  • Main issue, people never agree! For a utopia to be achievable everyone needs to agree on a single option.
  • Another interesting viewpoint, that has been explored by many an author, is the idea that a utopia can exist when a single government or body has supreme control.
  • Another theme of the debate is how subjective is the word utopia when it is defined by a state of perfection. Perfection is different to everyone.

In summary the only way it seems to achieve a utopia is to have a hell of a lot of conditioning. Throughout my development I have looked into this and realised that it isn’t something I want to dwell on. The purpose of this brief is to create a concept that stands alone from the typical dystopian media. To do this I am going to head in the direction of social utopias, and focus the idea of religion as a human implicated device similar to how some theorists see it in reality. This means that the elites do not consider themselves Gods, but humanity has created this to give themselves something to strive to. This in some respects links back to my text document looking at the TV show The Big Questions when they asked ‘Are the ten commandments still needed to give moral guidance?’.

Animated Cutscenes

I have been looking at several different styles of animated cutscenes to figure out what I want Jade to produce. The journey to get here has been a little unorthodox, and we have gone down a few bizare paths to get here, but we have agreed upon the following:

  • it is the intro sequence to the tutorial level of the game
  • the focus needs to be on the protagonist as a storytelling mechanic
  • we need a balance between the game and the cutscene, so it isn’t too far out.
  • and we need to introduce the city as a main part of the narration

Below are quick overviews of the Video Games/TV shows/Animations etc I have been looking at to get inspiration.

Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

The trailer above shows how Sky Crawlers mixes anime with fairly realistic in-game graphics. This is a fairly straightforward example, you see some anime and then you are in game. It doesn’t necessarily have any method of smooth intergration between anime and in-game.

The Walking Dead Fanmade Intro

This focuses more on the use of layers and depth of field to show the viewer a mixture of static scenes. There is limited animation, which could hinder the more close up shots of the protagonist. Also, I do like the transitions between each shot but I think that it may not really fit the intro sequence to the game, as it gives a more disjointed feel to it. I think to allow the player to easily see the transition between animation and in-game it needs to be more straight-forward and less abstract.

Deathspank

This uses limited animation and pretty much no character animation, within its cutscenes. It merges well will the gameplay because the animation has the exactly same aesthetics as the in-game graphics.

Infamous

Infamous has static images that are composed into an animation, so its kind of like an animatic, im not sure if there is a correct term for it. It uses harsh shadows mixed with a washed out colour palette, this is a direct contract to the high realism of the in-game enviornments.

I am Legend – animated Comics, ISOLATION

This utilises a new feature that I haven’t come across in a game before; it still feature the comic book boxes and format. I guess it is a direct replication of the comic.

Other animations:

The Witcher 2 Offical animation trailer

Zinco Epilogue

 

Key similarities:

  • all of the above use ‘simple’ textures for in-game
  • cartoony feel

Key differences:

  • the level of detail in regards to the distance from camera
  • how they merge into gameplay
  • how they contrast with the in-game graphics

One thing that has become clear from this is that you either get a massive contrast between the in-game graphics and the ccutscenes, i.e. Infamous and Starhawk or you get a cutscene that reflects the games graphics directly i.e. Deathspank.

After relaying this info to Jade, we have decided due to the nature of the in-game graphics, we are going to have a direct contrast with washed out colours etc.

Starhawk Analysis

Cutscenes:

Starhawk features an amazing reference for the style of animated cut scenes that I have been discussing with Jade.

As standard the general vibe that we have been discussing is a cut scene that features a washed out colour palette to contend with the vivid palette for the in-game graphics. Starhawk feature this but also adds in limited colour to accentuate the Rift Energy that is key to the gameplay. The contrast of the blue Rift energy against the overall sepia tones adds a focus point but also identifies the enemy without the gameplay beginning. This is down to the enemy force being highlighted when in the distance by the radiating blue of the Rift energy that they use and abuse.

The transition between the cut scene and the gameplay is smooth as it often fades from the animation to a replicated in-game graphic, this can be seen at the beginning of the cut scene below:

Another thing that myself and Jade wanted to implement is a small amount of animation within the cut scenes so that they feel static like motion comics. Starhawk does have some movement in terms of the characters but it also uses the idea of layers to exaggerate the depth and movement.

Key things to implement:

  • contrast the colour palette to separate the bad guys from the good guys
  • decide how much movement we want to have? and how jerky it will be?
  • utilise layers to add depth to flat images
  • how smooth is the transition between animation and gameplay?

Gameplay:

The gameplay of Starhawk is ambitious in parts as it merges third person shooter mechanics with tactical gameplay. As you control Emmett Graves (protagonist/Player character) you are able to call down support buildings that range from Rift energy extractors to Hawk launch pads to Beam cannons. The gameplay is in the first instance quite unique as you are given control over the entirety of the battle, but like most shooters Starhawk focusses on the idea that Emmett is powerful enough to take down hordes by himself. Thats not to say that you cannot gain backup, you can infact call down Outposts, which will replenish allies to aid in the fight. Generally though, you don’t need this help and the allies are only really useful to redirect enemy fire away from Emmett.

Whilst you have control over the battle you can choose your method of assault, which is sometimes limited depending on which mission you are on, but as you progress the player has more control over their choice of combat. This is important because the gameplay within Starhawk is really easy and fluid. For instance a heavy part of the concept is foccused on the Hawks;

Hawk’s begins as a ground based mech which turns into this airbourne fighter:

A player can easily build a launch pad, jump into a hawk and begin flight combat in around a minute or two of gameplay. The fluid movement between the Hawk being airbourne and a ground mech is so fluid that it makes it not seem like a chore at all. This could be argued both positively and negatively in terms of immersion of the player, but as a player, you can’t help admiring the smooth transitions within this game. In a more contextual view, this fluidity maintains the pace of the game, as it is a heavily action focussed shooter.

Character:

Emmett Graves is a rather unorthodox protagonist. He’s an outcast to both factions within this game, he doesnt belong to the Outcasts because he hasn’t fully embraced the Rift transformation and he isn’t part of the Miners because he has Rift energy flowing through his veins. Although the story of Starhawk isn’t that great and doesnt really develop Emmett as a character, the initial concept is very similar to my protagonist Quade.

Characters aesthetic style

I have been looking around for the specific aesthetical style for the characters. I have settled on the characters being fully cell shaded so that they stand out from the backgrounds which are gritty textures.

The idea for this first came about when Jade showed me the artwork for Ni No Kuni.

Which features vivid realistic backgrounds mixed with single shaded characters. This makes the characters jump out from the background and as you can see in the image above, it enables the player to see the character even if they are in the distance of the scene.
After looking at this I liked the final uses of the difference in styles, but Ni No Kuni is too drastic of a change in aesthetics. for the City I need to have an easier mix of styles as the player isn’t going to get too far away from the character so I don’t need the player character (PC) to stand out too much. I do however need the PC to fit in with the animation style. Two examples of this can be seen in Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker animated film and Starhawk, the video game.

Starhawk as seen in another post features washed out animated comic style that seamlessly transfers into the in-game graphics. And Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker is influential because of the aesthetics of the characters.:

They feature a matte flat effect which is picked out by the shadows and tones. I think this will work well against the backdrop of the environments as it contrasts enough but it also will merge nicely with the cut scenes.

 

City map

This post simply demonstrates the development of the city map, and in turn the city structure and aesthetics.

The one thing that I really struggled with was the scale of things, especially in relation to the tower designs I had been producing. Overall though I think that it works well as a map, as its main purpose is to give the collaborators a base of reference.

Protag info for visual design

As the character focus has shifted from the ally characters to the protagonist, I have mocked up a quick guide for Jade to begin designing.

Player Charc for Jade Download

The info given is very basic currently but this is due to my ongoing development. Due to the nature of the game genre, Adventure RPG, the protagonist is going to directly affect the narrative drive and output of the game. This means that i need to be considerate when planning the design of the protag, but due to time constraints I needed to get the visual design started. I guess this is the nature of designing concept at the same time as starting the production of the game.

Visual Style Guide

I collated all my current research and development for the concept into a pdf file so that it was accessible to everyone at a glance. So far it has in it:

  •  A focussed outline of what we are producing
  • Overview of the game
  • Game details including target demographic, rating, genre, perspective.
  • Visual style: refs to what style the overall game will have
  • Environments with written description and moodboards
  • Atmosphere
  • Ally Characters with refs and one-line description.
  • Description of Elite.

Hopefully this will help the other collaborators to get a feel for the game and what we are aiming for by the end of the brief.

Visual Style Guide PDF

Edge Issue 249, Gone Home.

Research Edge issue 249

Page 56, Gone Home

Release date: 2013 PC.

Online version of article: http://www.edge-online.com/features/gone-homes-igf-nominated-coming-of-age-tale-is-more-dramatic-and-captivating-than-most/

Gone Home begins as the protagonist returns home to their parents’ home after a prolonged trip to Europe. They find the house abandoned, dark and untidy. This alongside a note left on the door from the player character’s sister stating that you should not worry hints at a rushed departure for an unknown reason. The game allows the player to explore the house and unravel the story as you please.

What is interesting about this game is the choice to make it solely exploration, with no combat or enemies. The whole focus therefore is put onto the story and the ability to find as much of it out as you so wish. This means that the player has full control over the events that take place within the game, allowing them to make up their mind on how to play it. Although saying this, it does feature a limited playability as it only offers up exploration. So really the player has control over the pace of the game.

In regards to my FMP I think that this is an interesting feature that is fairly common within other exploration based RPG’s and FPS’s.  The ability of exploration to add a new perspective to the player is an interesting notion. It allows them to have control over some aspects of the game and thus create an experience that they want to have, instead of being forced into one. Does this mean that without player choice we have a more passive experience? Possibly, but what I think I need to consider is the purpose of said experience within the concept. As so far I have been focusing solely on the narration and creating a concise back story. I think I need to start fitting this around the actual playability of the game that I want to develop.

Gantt Chart – Organising the Project.

Group gantt chartI have popped up my gantt chart onto goggle docs, so that it is accessible to everyone in the group. Alongside this I asked the other team members to put up their gantt chart in the drawing-room or mezz area within uni so that we all have something to refer too.

Hopefully this will allow us to be able to see when each of us have other commitments or even strain on the project as a whole. So far with the other timetables I have seen, a few issues have arisen already, which at this early stage is fairly easy to smooth over, at a later date I’m not sure how easy we will be able to change them.

My full gantt chart is here:

Gantt Chart

Character Information for Visual Design

To simplify and speed up the visual design process I have separated the relevant information on the 4 characters that will be visually developed to take into 3D software. The intent of this is that Jade now has a word .doc file with information about the only characters she needs to focus on. Plus the information I have given is only relevant to the visual design, so she doesn’t have to sift through non-relevant information, that goes into detail about the characters story arc etc.

Download here: General Character Info for Design Sheets

Organisation is key.

So, I have started my Final Major Project with one aim in mind: to stay organised!

I’m not saying that I struggle massively with organisation but my creative flow does often leave me high and dry sometimes, and if I outline that, on a gannt chart, I will do a certain thing by said deadline, it often doesn’t get done on time.

To combat this fluid workflow I am using a weekly diary to plan my time. This is structured alongside a monthly deadline plan. So far the diary is working out OK, as I can alter which days I complete the task on, but I do a set amount of work each week.

BAF Game, Part 2

Faceware Technologies – David Bennett

Overview: Bennett describes the work of Faceware, his career and work on several hollywood blockbusters.

Relevance: Personally this talk wasnt really my kind of thing, it was interesting to find out this side of the industry and how Faceware was working with the games industry. In general it was a pretty trivial talk for me.

Valve – Christine Phelan

Overview: Phelan talks about career from university to her current position at Valve.

Key notes:

  • critical thinking is key, know other disciplines
  • for the showreel: make it self-explanatory, relevant to chosen industry, short and to the point and compare to professional work
  • “any experience is good as long as it is relevant”
  • keep it simple
  • look at: gamasutra.com, gamedevmap.com and glassdoor.com

Relevance: Overall this talk was very informative and offered up some good info about the industry. Similar to Zawada’s talk Phelan compared the difference in companies and dev teams, stating that you need to research any company you apply to find out their work ethics and studio environment. This can be seen when she compared the structure at LucasArts to Valve. LucasArts  from her experience was a top-down structure, where the people at the top handled the creative processes and decisions. Whereas Valve has a more organic structure, which has no set managers or producers, everyone decides where to best spend their time and on which projects they would like to work. Valve sounds like a dream to me!  Also Phelan had some good pointers on portfolios and showreels, which she had learnt from her experiences.

Amanita Design – Jaromir Plachy and Peter Stehlik

Overview: This was a much more visual talk than the rest, the two developers gave a demo of their new game Botanicula.The game is the creative child of artist Plachy and is a point and click game.

I really enjoyed this talk, I felt that it was interesting to listen to the artist behind the concept talking about his choices, limitations and style. Here is my report on the game demo and talk.

Botanicula is a point and click game that takes place in a single tree. The player takes control of a set of 5 protagonists who need to work together and separately to restore health to the tree which has been infested with parasites.

A key point that stuck out about Botanicula is the colour palette and visual style of the game. It features washed out colours on a simple design, this works well with the point and click game, as it is easy to manipulate the characters and utilise the visuals to understand the gameplay. The game itself looks very playful and in some ways comical and lighthearted. For instance in the third level you visit a town in which the task is to visit the 17 houses and find chickens by solving various puzzles. The whole design process has taken 3 years to completion.Plachy also stated that the design was based on inspiration from traditional artists, surrealism, poetry, authors and grotesque movies – all over the place really. One important thing was Plachy’s approach to the level design as at first he focused on the aesthetics and at a later date figured out the puzzles.

TT Games – David Brown, Philip Gray and Bill Martin.

Overview: A look at TT Games the masterminds behind the LEGO movie tie-in games. The talk detailed the challenges the team faced whilst changing between silent cut scenes and scripted cut scenes.

Key Notes:

  • the cut scenes need to be concise and clear
  • the storyboards for the Lego games were loose, quick drawings that were easy to change if needed
  • “non of it is about nice drawings, just getting the point across”
  • on the latest projects they have started doing pre-vis in Maya, this is so that they hit problems as they go – this is more efficient.

I found this talk interesting but I don’t think any specifics were that relevant to myself.

Bioware – Neil Thompson

“Games are a medium, computers are just an expensive brush” – sums up the whole talk. This was a very informative talk that was very similar to the Bethesda Studios talk. It mainly was about finding inspiration from a range of sources and why this is important.

BAF Game, Part 1

So it turned out that BAF game was really good this year, it had a wide range of speakers with a diverse topic range. For myself personally I think that it was very useful but some of the content was aimed at a younger audience that was interested in the games industry but possibly not practicing it. These sections for myself were simply reiterating knowledge that I have already discovered, but the positive is that professionals in the industry follow a similar process to what I am doing.

BAF Game festival took place over two days, the first being Tuesday 13th November 2012. Following are my notes on several speakers at the event.

Oddworld Inhabitants – Stewart Gilray

General info: described how JAW(Just Add Water), were resurrecting the Oddworld brand. How they needed to bring the game into the digital sales world and present technology.

Key relevance for me: The main part that came out of this talk was the idea that games are moving into a more digital world. Gilray predicted that the industry will eventually move fully into the digital sales region and only triple A games will stay as retail. How this will affect the future games industry is yet to be certified but for myself I guess that I need to be aware of this possible shift and tailor my skills around it.

CD Projekt Red – Tomek Zawada, lead animator.

General: A comparative look between the film industry and the games industry, specifically looking at an animators role. The talk was very informative and gave a lot of advice on which industry suits which type of animator, but I feel that it was quite vague information and so I didn’t actually get that much out of it.

Key relevance to me: One thing that does stick in my mind from Zawada is that he pointed out that one of the most important things is to find a company that suits your style of work. To outline this he described the difference between the type of animation work you would get working on a FPS to a RPG. For instance on a FPs the animation are restricted to be realistic renditions of combat whereas on an RPG that has a more fantasy role, you will find probably more creatures like orcs, ogres etc that need to be animated. Also the defining difference between these are that an RPG features a lot more character based animations, mannerisms etc as the RPG often has an open-world environment. I know this advice doesn’t directly apply to my line of practice but it is something to consider. How would my workflow be affected by differing companies and/or genres?

Overall Zawada was flying the RPG flag, as he was quite biased to the film industry and other genres in the games world. His reason for this choice was due to his experience in the industry and he was favouring RPG’s as he described them as being more creative and less restrictive. Another key note was that Zawada states that you don’t need to work in a specific department to have roles in it. He mentioned that as an animator he has some connection to the story of a game as the characters mannerisms effect the narrative.

Nyamyam – Jennifer Schneidereit and Philip Tossell.

General: This talk focused on Nyamyam as an independent developer dedicated to creating beautifully crafted games. The two talkers went into detail about how they decided to set up their own indie company as a self-funded project to allow themselves to create self-expressive games. Tengami was the featured game from Nyamyam, which in total will have 2 and half years from start to completion.

Key notes:

  • Tengami is a an adventure game where the pc is a character in a pop up book.
  • Japanese aesthetics were a personal choice, but they embraced this and decided to stick to a traditional style.
  • colour semiotics were extremely important.

Relevance to me: The main thing that has come out of this talk is the fact that the indie game scene allows for self-expression. Both talkers spoke about how the move from the bigger games companies to the indie dev team had allowed them to become more in control of the game’s development and how it would play. I think for my aspirations this is something that I need to consider as currently I have control over my brief and can be self-expressive, but if I moved into the industry would I be ok designing someones elses idea?

Sony Entertainment – Joel Smith

General: Smith goes through the process of creating Wonderbook: Book of Spells, with insight into the collaboration with JK Rowling and how to achieve creative goals.

Key notes:

  • The teams creative goals were: to be authentic, to achieve a magical book i.e. it comes to life, a full experience between the player/character and that everything on-screen comes from the book.
  • bringing the book to life theme fitted the player centralised gameplay.
  • the main design feature was that the environments were realistic but they all had a slightly distorted nature.
  • maintain the design throughout the game, the spell soundsheets contained the colour palettes aswell.

Relevance: Smith ended the speech with what he considered the key parts of conceptualising a game:

  1. Research
  2. Establish visual style as early as possible and stick to it
  3. Communicate style
  4. Always keep original goals in mind

Bethesda Game Studios – Lucas Hardi

General: Hardi talked about how to create visual style within a game. He went through a few general pointers that all artists should abide by, like finding inspiration from the outside world, looking towards other medias instead of just games for inspiration and utilising what these other mediums have to offer.

Key notes:

  • style helps to create immersion
  • gameplay ans art style need to coexist

In term of inspiration:

  • film and photography are good for cinematography and replicating the real world
  • 3D animation is good to take note of rendering issues
  • Illustration allows you to understand composition and the players viewpoints, alongside understanding the playable space

Relevance to me: I feel like I didn’t take much away from this talk as it was simply looking at where an artist should find inspiration which I have continually practiced since I was taught it during A Level. I guess it reiterated some base values of art style for me which was useful for my practice.

Games Designer Job info

To get an insight into the average salary in the games industry currently I have done an extensive search over the internet to try to find some useful information.

What I finally found was the game careers guide websites annual salary survey results from 2012. The survey is very thorough and gives details of annual wage based on how many years spent in the industry, average wage for each gender, percentage of any benefits and added income. So, some things that I have found, for an entry-level game designer the annual wage is $60, 240 in Canada and $38, 281 in Europe with an overall average of $50, 375. The survey also has a section focusing on layoffs in the industry, which is on the decline. Also it features a section at the end that has direct comments from the survey, these are split into good and bad points made by current industry workers. Some of the comments are really informative, as they offer up a personal anonymous view of the industry and the lifestyle that it creates.

The survey can be viewed here.

Ofcourse the above info is useful to some degree but for my personal future plans I don’t see myself moving abroad straight after finishing this degree so what is the current salary in the UK like? On creativepool.co.uk it states that the salary ranges from £19000 to £55000 anually, the top end of this being a lead designer.

Ok so I have found some useful info on how much money is on offer in the game designer route, but getting into that route is going to be tricky. Most advice sites such as skillset, creativepool and blitz all state that industry experience is essential alongside a developed portfolio that includes completed games and examples of design documents. So, logic states that I need to find either an internship or apprenticeship and crack on with my practical development in uni.

Creative Skillset Website

Creative Skillset website offers up general info, skills, training, industry accredited courses, news, and career advice for a variety of creative industries. Why it is useful to me is that it has a vast amount of info on the Games Industry.

It has an archive of media that offers up useful help and guidance to anyone looking to find a career in the Games industry, it also has a blog that gives up to date news on the progression of the industry.

One of the other things that is useful is that it gives info on industry accredited courses, which although I am near the completion of the Ba here it is always useful looking at a Masters course.

Another interesting find off of this site is this little image:

This shows a percentage of where the games industry is centered in the UK. Yorkshire and the Humber 3% not bad considering I know that gamerepublic which is just for Yorkshire/Northern England has over 30 companies. So the UK isn’t looking bad for game development teams at the moment.

The site also offers up a lengthy job description of Game Designer which I can cross reference with the one I found on Blitz Academy to get a cohesive outlook on what I need to do etc.

It also offers info on how to find a job within Games and where you fit in the bigger picture. So generally this site is a good point of reference for me. As it goes into a lot of detail and explains things clearly as well.

Leeds Writers Circle

Leeds Writers Circle is a local organisation that meets up regularly around every 2 weeks on a Monday evening to showcase local writers work and general creative criticism.

A few good things that they offer are:

  • feedback on work
  • professional manuscript evenings
  • story competitions
  • workshops with professional writers

To join the circle it is a subscription fee of just £12 for the year, and then just £2 for any session/meeting. To be fair this ain’t bad, if I was to go to one session a month over the 12 months it would be costing £3 a session….pretty good. I guess I need to head over to one and see if it worth the time and money.

The group meets at the Carraigeworks which also is the home to a few other leeds societies. These include:

  • Leeds Art Centre
  • Leeds Amateur Operatic Society
  • Leeds Art Theatre

It would be interesting to find out if there are any crossover between these societies, as this could offer up some good creative feedback, or even opportunities.

The services that the Leeds Writers Circle offers is relevant to my ongoing interest in narrative, it would offer up a source of feedback for any writing work that I do and it would be good to see how broad a knowledge and feedback I would get from the other attendees.