Final crit feedback

On friday we had our final crit, play testing. The feedback that I got was mainly good, the only things that need changed were mainly things that I hadn’t got round to doing, i.e. the lighting, sounds and the roof. I have rectified all of the brought up issues now so I am good to export the level.

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Polishing Things Off.

So, we are now at the end of this brief, and in my style i decided to fiddle around with things at the last possible minute. Luckily the only things that I had to do were the triggered animations and sounds.

I began this venture into scripting in unity with the simple triggered animation used on a box collider. This was a simple process as I followed a tutorial on the subject. After doing this I felt more comfortable with scripts in unity so I decided to try and create my own script for a triggered animation on the mouse click.

This was fairly straight forward, as I found a very long list of commands for scripts on the unity website, it was very useful as it tells you exactly what the commands do as well as how they need to be used. So I managed to come up with the script above, it works perfectly as well, which I am happy about. I actually rather enjoyed doing this as well, even though it isn’t a very complicated script I had a great sense of achievement from completing it.

I have also added in a randomise animation script that I got from Annabeth, this has enabled me to utilise all the animations I made; as I decided to make several different animations for the idle poses, taken from my character concept, I have been able to make her play through all of them in a random fashion within the level.

I also messed about with sounds, I have added in rain as a 3dSounds that starts up when you go near the door to the balcony, we also have a background track on. Both pieces of music were sourced off of freesounds.com. I went for an eerie, atmospheric background track that is similar to the beginning of the Deus Ex main theme song. It immediately sets the scene as an intense, more unknown area, instead of how it was before it had sound – a sort of happy, normal apartment.

Building an environment.

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Building the environment was an easy yet time consuming task. I have a selection of screenshots above that show my amendments, but I will list here the main problems that I had:

  • The build was fairly simple but the main issue I had was realising what works and what doesn’t work in Unity and Maya. This was mainly an issue with the UV texture maps, as for some reason the alpha channeled map decided to make parts of my build translusent. This meant that you can see through pars of the wall to see other walls. It is all very confusing looking, I still have not figured out the main issue for this in Maya, even after searching the internet for help. I have however resolved the issue in Unity, I simply assigned the material to be a Transparent/Cutout/Diffuse Shader.
  • I made sure that I did regular testing of the space, this can be seen in my unity walkthrough’s of the rooms and the screenshots. This was very useful as I realised early on when ever one of my textures was too big, as I could cruise around the level with the character and see it how the character would see it.
  • I also tested the animations as and when I created them. This helped me to realise when they didn’t work out right or looked abit funny.

Animating

Animating is surprisingly fun.

I began this process with the jump animation as I thought it would be the easiest one to do.

The above screenshots show my process through creating the jump animation, I used similar approaches for the other animations, so there isn’t much point putting all of the screenshots up on here. I found the whole animation process fairly easy and straightforward as we had used Maya before last year for this. One thing that i did like was utilising the set driven keys; these made it so much more easier!!! I have created a turntable in unity for this animation as a test, it all works fine which is good, nothing needs to be changed just need to make the other animations now.

The walk cycle was the hardest part of the animation. I am not fully happy with it but I need to move on to the other animations now. It does need tweaking alot, I think it just looks like she is stomping along, more movement needs to be happening in the other parts of the body, like the shoulders hips, etc.

The Five Suns

I had planned on creating my own sky box for the level but seen as I am running out of time until deadline I am going to simple have to use one of the given ones in unity.

In preparation for my skybox, I took quite a few referencing photo’s from out and about; I wanted them to encompass the concept of the five suns, so seen as it is set at dusk, there would be all fives lights illuminating the city. This would fully shows my city/environment concept.

 

Alone In The Dark V Influence

As a general influence for the environment, I had a glance at the concept work for Alone In The Dark V, in particular the work of artist Pascal Casolari. The relevance of this reference is purely for the visual aspects of the work. Even though all of Casolari’s work is exceptionally awesome, I refined my reference to the images, The Hermite Room, The Secret Room and Room2, all of which were produced in Photoshop.

LINK to Casolari’s website

My main use of these is the general render of the images, they encompass a feeling of awe, yet they aren’t overly complex areas. Really, they are simply some cube coming out of a wall! The images don’t seem this simple though, they are very interesting, mainly due to the high render, and composition. I think that I need to take inspiration from this for my level as I am trying to create a retro futuristic apartment, that will not only need to be made out of simple models but also encompass an of ‘complicated simplicity’. To fully achieve this I need to analyse my work as I go along, thus meaning that i will be able to achieve a level that will sustain my original intentions.

Sound?

What type of sound will my level have? This is a write up that I should have done a couple of weeks ago, just some jottings of ideas.

Originally my idea was to use sound to create some idea of the background and concept of the game, this is a technique that is used alot within the industry. For instance Fallout and Bioshock both utilise the idea of audio logs to give the player information about the concept of the hyper reality. I think this is a really simple way of doing things and is often a much more useful one, in comparison to games like Dragon Age etc that are refined to the use of text based logs or as they are called codecs. Other ideas have stemmed from playing games like Heavy Rain that use the sound to emphasize an atmosphere. I think this could be useful within my level as it is a murder scene. For this I think that I will try and get some ominous tones to be a background music for the level.Also, of course I will need some sound effects like a dripping tap, or maybe rain this will all depend on the setting, i.e. the time and place etc. Currently I am looking to have it set at dusk, just after the lights have been turned on in the city to signify the start of the moon force. I would like it to be quite eerie, as it is intended to be one of the first levels within the game, I think the music should set the scene of the whole game and concept.

The above video has the main theme song from Deus Ex(2000) which I have used for inspiration as the beginning of it uses something like what I want within my level. I like the high’s and lows within the song, especially how it slowly comes into the first high. It has an eerie ominous tone to it, almost like it is something that shouldn’t be, very alien.

This song is The Gapra Whitewood, from the Final Fantasy XIII OST, I like how calm the whole song is, it isn’t too fast paced or frantic, overall it is very relaxing and quite subtle, i.e. the female voices singing. Eve though this isn’t directly what I am going for, I think that this song perfectly fits the level. It is a rather unusual wood, that is made up of trees that are a mix of crystals and machinery; the setting is very odd, it is like you are running into an unknown area, as you are familiar with woods being all green and brown, and this one is pretty much white. The level is set at first suspended on walkways that are mixed between the trees., which then traverses down onto the ground. I think the music fits with the level as it it calming yet subversive. You feel a sense of ease within the level but you still have an awareness that this is within enemy territory. Another key factor is the timing of this level within the game, it follows alot of tense levels in which you face danger as you try to escape. This is almost like a cool off ambient level, to make the player feel more relaxed and safe, but only for a short period of time.

Starting the Environment Build

After sitting and looking over my environment floor plans and elevations, I have decided that there is no point re-building the whole apartment in Maya, as my Test Level Build works perfectly in Unity; plus it is the right scale. This saves me a lot of time as I can build the main body of the apartment in Unity, this includes some of the walls, kitchen and study. I will need to build the curved wall in Maya along with most of the furniture. I reckon the best approach to it is to bundle rooms together as one import.

Into Maya I go…

Building A Character – Rig

So, I finally managed to get onto the rig of the character, it was fairly simply to understand from using a tutorial. I have adapted a method of working which means that I don’t rely too much on the tutorial, I will look at the tutorial and work through it, but then once anything becomes repeated I always turn it off and have a go on my own; this way I am learning on my tod somewhat.

I made pretty fast progress with this part and I must say that I actually enjoyed it. I think that is a recurring process with this brief, I seem to dread things then once they are done get a great sense of achievement and enjoyment from them. I did have some trouble with the controllers on this though, as I kept forgetting to use them to move the mesh, instead I kept moving the skeleton around then realizing that I had just created controllers to do that for me.

As you can see the bounding of the skin works fine, my character is fully movable ready for animation! Well, nearly…I still have some bits and bobs to tidy up.

Another main problem that I have noticed later on in the project is that my leg joints on the skeleton aren’t vertical, this is because I assumed that they would have to stay within the mesh. This isn’t the case, so because they are slightly angled the set driven keys on the feet are abit off. Just another thing to learn from I suppose.

Weight Painting is one of those things that I haven’t enjoyed so much this brief. I found it difficult understanding the reasons for having the black and white gradient for each different joint. It boggled my brain quite a lot trying to figure out which parts needed to be which colours, so in the end it was all down to trial and error. I think this isn’t a bad thing though, I think that it is one of those things that you get to understand better through experience. The more humanoid characters you do, the more you will understand the topology, the muscle structures and the general way that the weights need to be done to get a realistic end product.

By a long shot the part that irritated me the most was the bottom of the dress. It took ages!!! Plus is kept going wrong.

I think I have gotten a very good outcome from the whole modelling and rigging process. I am actually surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did, it was one of the areas I was dreading doing, but I suppose that fear was from a lack of using Maya; it’s simple once you get used to it. I am also glad that I have come to terms with the fact that this is my first attempt and everything doesn’t need to be perfect. This is a learning curve for me, and I think that my outcome is a good one, even though there are some imperfections.

I think its time for bed…

Even thought I am actually hyped at the moment for sitting in the same spot, staring at a screen, painting a rather annoying UV map, it has gotten to the point where I need to leave it for today. I had hoped that I would have the map done today but it seems that my constant distractions throughout the day how made this task impossible. I also seem to spend alot of time ‘messing about’, I’m fairly sure I spent hours simply trying to re-do a Uv map that I already had.

My decision to call it a night hasn’t just come out of the fact that my eyes are kind of starting to sting from the screen, I have just previewed my map in Maya to test it out. I then devised it would be a good idea to smooth the character out, then I got side-tracked and began trying to preview a render of a scene, so I created some light and messed about with them for abit. I then realised that I hadn’t saved for a long time, and had just smoothed out the whole model and couldn’t undo any of it…… So, yeaah my model is now smoothed even though I did a big rant saying that I was going to leave it in its lovely cube form.

Anyways, it is looking great:

I have placed the map onto a Phong shader as I want it to be shiny and very reflective to show the material of the clothing. If I have time I will figure out how to make just the clothing shiny because she won’t have shiny skin!

The main changes to the actual map this time round is that it is a lot more neater and easier to understand, I have been referring back to the actual model every step of the way to make sure that the right colours are on the right parts. Also, testing it out to make sure that the seems add up correctly. I have also been adding a little more detail, which combined with the higher resolution has worked wonders for the visuals in Maya.

A Little bit of tweaking has also taken place. For instance the face was slightly offset of the center and the corset stretched alot at the seem. To rectify this it is simply, all you need to do is move the UV’s around until it looks correct.

UV Map First Test

I hate UV mapping, it boggles my brain trying to understand how a 2d image wraps around a 3d object; it would be much simpler if you could just paint onto the 3d mesh!

I have made an initial full coloured map based on my earlier attempts at this. There are a few problems with the map, which I am going to try and recitfy on my own before I start pestering Matt again. Hopefully I will learn through trial and error.

This is my map that I coloured in very roughly in Photoshop using block colours, I actually did this before I devised that I was going to stick with using block colours for the whole level, as it was just a test.All in all it look grat, but on closer inspection we start to see some problems.

First off I forgot that I had changed the map, hence why the hair is all sorts of colours! I noticed a flaw in the design, seen as the lines going up the dress should really continue onto the collar of the dress. Also, the collar itself is one solid colour so it needs not be split into two separate halves.

I have a serious issue with the image being blurred, seen in both the screen captures above. After scouting around I have found possibly the reason why, my UV snapshot was 256 by 256, so this has possibly effected the resolution? I had a look on the web and found some good advice on a forum on CGTalk, it said that it is always better to export your image at a higher resolution so that you can scale it down if needed using Photoshop, this way you save yourself having to redo the map all over again.

My final problem is with the map leaking its colour. This occurs not only on the normal mesh but also when it is smoothed. I found out in last fridays crit that this will always happen when you smooth out a mesh after a map is created because the shape of the mesh has changed but the map stays the same. I’m learning as I go but it does seem like I dont get very far with things… Anyways, I am going to approach this problem by redoing the map and seeing what the outcome is, I think especially I need to be in the right mood to do it as last time I really couldn’t be bothered hence why it is so messy!

 

Creating Barriers In My Level

After I did my test level build in Unity  I decided to use the stuff I created to devise a level design.

I have devised a basic outline of where the player will be allowed to access within the level. Knowing this I can now plan out the level of detail that is needed on certain textures, for instance on the balcony where the crime scene is, the player will not get up close to it so the textures within this area can be a lower resolution file, thus freeing up some space for the close up accessible areas.

IT’s all about prior planning this year, and I must say it is going well.

Why simplicity is awesome.

So, yeah I am kind of running out of time with this whole game design project, bad times indeed! BUT I have a cunning plan…after much deliberation I have found that sometimes simplicity is better than over complicating things. So, instead of sticking to my obsession with having things perfect I am going to embrace the disturbing beauty of low polycount objects (including the character, even though she looks awesome smoothed out). This will hopefully free up my time a bit so that I can continue on to create the full level I have planned out.

I first came up with the idea of slimming my work load down a while ago when I decided not to include the bathroom or bedroom in the level design, instead it shall be blocked off. Now, I have realised that maybe I will be better off keeping my textures quite solid coloured, so that it fits in with my style of drawing. Thus keeping a current theme throughout the design process. This means that I won’t have to spend as much time creating realistic looking textures. All of this isn’t just on a whim though, I actually have found a lovely little animation by Beeple on Vimeo called SubPrime. It encompasses a flyover camera as it captures the animation of different houses being constructed then demolished. The whole animation uses block colours that are textured onto pretty much original prims. The final outcome of the video is just as much to a high standard as that of photo-realism, so why for my project should I be obsessed with realistic textures. Well, I suppose the description word of choice encompasses it, I love photo-realism, but maybe for the time being in my life, I should be focussing more on the actual practical side of how to make a game than messing about with pretty pictures.

Maya, Finishing the model.

I finally have finished my character model, and am moving onto the uv map, skeleton and rig.

I have managed to get a resemblance of the hair for my model, although it looks good smoothed out, I think that it is still not quite right. I really struggled on this part, as I had to separate the faces from the head and make the hair from that amount of vertices etc. This meant that it was fairly difficult to get a clean piece of geometry.  In terms of the whole mesh I definitely think that the hair lets it down, but I suppose it is a learning curve; I need to get used to making difficult models with little poly counts.

Uv mapping is the bane of my life. I’m really not a massive fan of this part of the process, but I do find that when the model is fully mapped that it gives a good sense of achievement. So, I guess I just have to crack on with it. I have taken a fully planar projection approach to start me off, mainly because from my last experience in Second Life with the spherical map of the face, I just was utterly confused! My main method for the map is just to try things out, and see how well or not well they work, this is mainly because I don’t have much experience in uv mapping, so this way I can learn a good approach for the future. This does however mean that I am ignoring some of Matt’s advice, but hey sometimes it is best to learn things from experience, then just taking someones advice.I will also be taking this approach into the actual textures for the UV map, so I am going to start with basic block colours then have a go with a more realistic visual texture and decide from then on.

The ARMSmaster Project.

This is something that I looked at right at the beginning of the project as inspiration on my initial character design sheets. The ARMSmaster Project is a trans media projects that follows a group of characters that inhabit a world where magic and tech advancements co-exist. This is a teaser trailer for the project:

Im not thoroughly sure on the conceptual side of this project as there isn’t masses of information on it, but I do like the character concept work for it.

http://thearmsmasters.blogspot.com/p/characters.html

I think it shows a good example of how to accentuate character within a trans media medium.

I’m on a roll, or maybe I’m just addicted to Maya??

So, I have been working on my model for a good few solid hours now, and even though it is knocking on, I can’t seem to tear myself away from the screen! I have made a tad of progress since my post earlier.

Finally got the collar done! Think that will be my last piece of clothing modelling, the only thing I can think of is the parts where you can see her shoulders but I think that I will just add this is as a texture. This way it saves me having to create a load of extra edge loops just for a minor bit of detail. Overall I am happy with the way that my model has turned out so far. I’m glad that it is finally nearly finished even though I’m dreading the rig and animation side of this project.

This is my first attempt at modelling the hair, it was simply a test of how I should approach the challenge. It was fairly simple, my only problem is I find it hard figuring out where is the best place for edge loops etc, I’m trying to make my model efficient but most of the time I’m just guessing. I suppose practice makes perfect.

After messing around I began on my actual real hair attempt, I selected the faces on the top of the head and separated through the mesh menu. Then I have extruded the areas necessary to form the shape.  Out of all of the modelling I have done for this character, this is the part I am struggling with the most. It is sort of taking shape, but I struggling with keeping the geometry ‘clean’, at the moment I keep getting confused because it is all over the place…

I also noticed this earlier, my current polycount is supposedly 24322, I have a feeling that this is incorrect as I remember that when I last checked it at college it was around 1000 with half the body done. I think that my setting’s at home have gone a little crazy as it is only 800 polys when un-smooth but as soon as you smooth it bumps up to like 20,000. I don’t know what I have done, but I shall double-check at college tommorow to make sure that I haven’t somehow gotten over double the allowed amount of polygons!

Maya, Maya…Maya!

Yet another post on progress in Maya, it seems that maya is ruling my life at the moment, and to be fair, I am actually enjoying it! The majority of the modelling I have tried out has worked out well, my only misjudged venture was when I began modelling a mouth, then realised that it looked really odd, so decided that for the time being a texture is fine for the mouth!

After finishing the general shape of the body, I moved on to the head of my character. The screenshot to the left was my first attempt at this. As you can see I was following my front and side views to get the basic shape of the head, this really boggled my brain when I came into perspective view to see this odd shape! After a bit of time and effort I managed to come out with this:

It is still fairly basic but it resembles a head, and that is the main aim! To be honest, I am actually amazed that it was this easy to create a face in maya. I know that to create one that has a facial rig in it would require alot more work, i.e. proper facial topology, but hey, I’m sure I’ll get to that stage one day. By adding in a few more edge loops and geometry I made it look good whilst smooth.

The only problem that I came across whilst doing this part was the actual proportions of the head. If I had stuck exactly to my front drawing on the image plane then the head would have been really thin and look elongated. I did mirror it to see what it would look like as a full head and I decided that it didn’t look right so, I just went by eye in perspective view.

This shows how far the head comes out from the drawing. Also, something for me to note for the future, is that the two sides of my drawing are actually different widths, so by choosing to model from the characters right hand side, I unconsciously choose the smaller side of the face. So, I guess I needed to alter it anyways, just to balance it out.

So, this was my model at this stage:

Still very square, but it is getting there.

Anyways I then started adding in some details of her clothing. I decided to do this for two reasons:

  • 1. because I realised that I had a really low poly count, so I had room to play with more detail on my model. This not only will make my skills in Maya more advanced in problem solving, but also give me a better model.
  • 2. I remembered when Annabeth described the two differences in character models in games, the main characters are usually 10,000 polygons, as they need to be more detailed whilst the enemy characters are usually repeated and require a lower polycount. I suppose a good way of looking at it is, the less polygons in the less important characters, the more you can use on the main characters.

All the clothing was easy to detail, I simply added in edge loops, extruded then popped in a few more edge loops to help the curves maintain thier shape when smoothed.

Finally, I am currently working on the collar of the dress, at first I simply played around with the shape, to see how I should build it. After taking some advice, I went for the method of extrude the collar out then shaping it as needed.

I am also playing this one by eye in perspective mode as I find the front and side views confusing now, and I kept moving the wrong things around without realising.

<—Hence my confusion!

Oh, I also solved my missing mesh problems that I was having when accessing maya at home. It was solved painlessly with the Maya hotfix 4 download!

Amending my model

As, I was a little confused with the aspect of topology, I asked Mat to take a look at my model.

The one in blue is mine and the one in green is the amended one. Overall, he seems to have added in a few more edge loops, this is to enable the character to be able to bend on these when I animate it, this can be seen in the feet arms and legs. He also deleted some of the faces that lie underneath the bottom of the dress, these are the one I connected to the leg. The reason behind this was to make the dress flow better when she moves.

I am really glad to have had the help as I didn’t previously know that you had to use the geometry to make sure the model deforms better when rigged. I was simply going to hope for the best. I’m glad I knew this before I start rigging as it saves alot of time!

 

Progress so far in Maya.

I thought that it would be a good idea to give an update as to where I am currently with my model.

I have been working on my model for over a week now and it is still only have done…I think I need to stop being obsessed with perfecting it, but I do want a really good outcome from this brief. How do I find this balance?

Here are a few things that I have struggled with during the modelling.

I started with having my hand on the character like this, but after some consideration of what type of idol movement I want to do, I decided that I need to have fingers. To simplify this I utilized some advice I received from Jake, a fellow member of the course. He said that in most source games, they make only the fore finger moveable and leave the rest as one clump.

So, I fiddled around abit and came out with the above, with a few more edge loops inserted I will be able to animate her smoking.

My other main problem was that I didn’t have enough vertices to join up the leg to the underneath of the dress. So, after a lot of messing around with edge loops I found the split polygon tool.

Which allows me to split edges up to create more vertices.

This is my current stage of progress. I still have a long way to go but it is getting there, slowly.

3D Mock Up of Environment

I have spent my morning building a white mock up of my environment in Unity. I choose to do this before I began building in Maya as I was not confident with my scale drawing, I have never been good at them, and often find it more useful building them in 3D to make sure that it is correct. I choose Unity as my software tool as it allowed me to walk around whilst building to make sure that I was using a realistic scale, it also helps me get an idea of how confined the space is or how open! Amazingly my scale was pretty accurate, even though at first I thought that the 3 meter wall was too small, but it actually wasn’t. Me+Scale=Brain Pain.

I relied fully on the scale boxes in the inspector as they allowed me to get an accurate realisation.

Slowly, piece by piece it started to come together. At first I made all the rooms to size, and made sure the first person controller could maneuver around the place. Here is a screen recording of this.


As you can see the character can move around the area easily, so the scale is right for room size.

Finally I added in some of the furniture to give it  a realistic feel, and simply to see how the first person fits in the rooms, for instance the kitchen is nice and cosy, whilst the office feels quite cramped and daunting, I think this will add to the feel of the game though; it is a murder scene after all.
Here is a final walk though with the furniture:

Floorplans/Elevations Development

Over the period of reading week, I have made some amendments to my final design for the environment. This is due to the original floor plans not being assigned to an actual exterior building design, they were just made how I envisioned them. So, I began by designing the exterior building, this is shown in my previous post titled building silhouettes. This has allowed me to make a consistent design within the game.

Original Ideas

My initial design was centered around the rooms being square, it was a very compact open plan apartment. As you can see, as I made it so small, the bathroom is practically impossible for a human being to maneuver around. I did like the design of this as I think it fits in fairly well with the style of my future. Although it does have flaws, i.e. the size, it is so small as I took inspiration from city style apartments, they cost loads but are super small. Although this kind of defeats the point of the concept. If the owner of this is meant to be involved in some kind of conspiracy, one which probably means that he is getting paid loads to simply keep quiet; why wouldn’t he have a massive, luxurious apartment?

So, by combining my changes with the exterior building design, I came up with this:

New Design

I think it fits in better with what I am trying to design, it is bigger than the last but not too over-sized, plus it now emphasizes a style- the idea of retro futuristic ergonomic design. A few things still need to be noted about this design. I have fully removed the actual bedroom and bathroom combo from the floor-plans, it is represented by a square in the size of the room. This is because it gives me a  more realistic work load, considering that I would have to design, build and texture all the furnishings in this apartment. It is probably best that I have limited myself, although if I get time I will add them to the game level. Also, the actual curved wall of the building is a full glass window, that due to the design of the building will have a slight curve on it with regards to which apartment it is in the building.

How Critical Studies Informs the Brief

This is going to be short and sweet, I am just relating our critical and theoretical studies to this brief. We have been looking at comics and how they the underground comic movement happened in America. I found the fact that the government tried to start censoring everything when this began quite interesting. Here is a link to the blog post about the session. I think that this is useful as i am trying to create a dystopian future, and the fact that I can directly relate to the past is good research.

Dystopia

collection of 1984 george orwell, brazil. equilibrium and jacobs ladder.

Dytopia is a heavy theme within my concept for this brief, so to enable me to create a believable dystopian world, I am going to look at a few references that I am aware of.

1984 by George Orwell is a novel that encompasses the idea that ‘Big Brother is watching you’. It is a world where there is pervasive government surveillance, public mind control and perpetual war; all of which is lead by Big Brother, the totalitarian cult of personality, and The Party leader who rules under the philosophy that abandons individuality and reason. Without knowing the novel you can already see the dis-content that it emphasizes. It is a world in which a single control rules over all, through the use of mind control, this is the ultimate fear amongst most people. If we can’t think for ourselves, are we actually individual, do we exist as a lone human? Even now this idea is a known issue, as we live in a society that thrives on gossip and human interrelation. It is already known that we are affected by whatever we take in as human beings, a good example of this is how the government uses the media to influence us. I.e. the use of news, and newspapers although I have talked about this in another post so I shall leave this point here. A key factor that I like about the book is the concept that The Party, says that the reason for the mind control regime and the constant surveillance is because they need to ensure that everyone is safe. In actuality this is simply a lie, all they want is total control over the people. This idea relates to the idea of government mistrust that I looked at a while ago.

I think this quote sums up the idea of the book, it is where an Inner Party member describes the Party’s vision of the future:

There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.
—Part III, Chapter III, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Brazil is one of the strangest films I have ever watched, I remember not knowing anything about it before I saw it and being in awe as it burst into this weird dystopian bureaucracy. It is a 1985 British film directed by Terry Gilliam. It follows Sam Lowry as he tries to find a woman that he sees in his dreams, whilst working in a mind numbing job. It is set in a world that has an over-reliance on badly made machines. It is a good reference for my concept as it shows a different approach to what 1984 does, instead of being totally serious, we get a more comedic approach to a dystopian society.
Other things I would like to cite are both Equilibrium and Jacob’s Ladder, as they have both played minor parts in my construction of the concept.

Silhouette’s of Environment – Building Ideas

After finding this idea in the Game Level Design book I have been reading, I decided to mock-up some basic idea of the environment. This is because even though we are meant to have handed in our full design portfolio, I feel that I sacrificed my environment work as I was focussing on the character.

I found this exercise very useful as I was able to actual get more of an idea as to where my overall game style and design is going. I tried to follow the books idea of just go for as many as you can in as little time, but I did struggle. I found myself stuck at first, it was one of those moments when you know that the idea you have in your head is going to be completely different to what you draw on paper. I also, found it hard not to think about the overall mass of the buildings, I was asking myself, what texture would this have? When the exercise was simple about shape.

This is my finished page of ideas. As you can see it is very roughly sketched out. I think it is definitely the right way forward to have this smooth circular shape to the buildings, as this follows on from my research into this retro futuristic style.

Part of me really likes the bottom right idea, as it is so simple yet so authoritative at the same time. It casts a sense of foreboding, so this one should probably be used in the game as one of the levels in which the player finds out lots of info into the conspiracy. In the level I am creating I think it should definitely be part of the visible skybox of the city, it should be positioned so it is looming in the distance. Sort of like en easter egg, to see if the players recognise it from the original silhouette in the distance.

I like the bottom left idea also, as it is very idealistic of what I would like the city to be like. I want the social divide to be obvious to the player, so what better way than to fully separate the two environments that these people live in. The moon workers will live in the higher tier of the city, where they have adapted the old original buildings with bridges, thus giving them no reason to enter the ground level. The lower levels of the city are inhabited by the sun workers, I would like this are to be overcast with a mist/fog in the game. This will show the poorer working conditions, they are forced to live in and amongst all the pollution of the city.

This idea reminds me of Metropolis.

There are a lot of similarities between the film and my game idea. The idea of the segregation between the workers and the owners in a capitalistic future dystopian. It is a good reference, but it does make me think that the more I go into detail about this game, the more it becomes apparent that it is so similar to loads of other things out there in the media. I’m not sure whether this is good or bad…

Game Development Essentials, Game Level Design by Castillo & Novak

After my current state of falling behind with certain parts of my work schedule, I have decided that it would be good to use a constant guide of reference as I continue with this brief. For this, I found a book from the library called Game Level Design, part of the Game Development Essentials series. For me, the book is actually really useful as it plays out all the parts that need to go into realising a prototype for a game level; this is done by the authors actually constructing a level for the purpose of the book. I guess it is sort of like a step by step of what actually gets considered at each stage, within games companies. So, not only is it valuable for the current project, it is also good reference as to what/how much work goes into a single level of a game out there in the real world!

We begin with note-taking! Chapter 1 – History and Background

Key points:

  • Levels are composed by multiple factors, these are – setting, goals, risk-reward system and puzzles. For my level I have already considered most of these aspects, the setting is described within the back story, the goals and the risk-reward factor will take the form of the multiple clues that are lying around the apartment waiting for the player to interact with them, and I don’t actually have any form of puzzles.
  • Genre’s dictate the level design – RPG games utilise many different aspects to make the level’s fit i with the style of the game. One of these is the use of XP, this is the idea of gaining a reward in various forms that can be used to upgrade/enhance the player’s character/party. RPG’s also rely on the game engines memory, as they often have vast levels/worlds, that need to be rendered in a decent speed.
  • “Come up with details in the world that will immerse the player further into the fantasy”, this is the job of the level designer, they are armed with an arsenal of all the components to create a fully functioning level. It is up to them to make sure that it is interesting to play! This is all about the strategy behind designing a level, everything should be strategically placed within the environment so that the player finds it easy to move around and understand what is going on. For my level this is going to be particularly important, as it is an free-roam room, shall we say, I will need to consider where things should be placed, i.e. the broken glass, footprints? puddles.

Chapter 2 – Conceptualisation

Even though I am passed this stage in the brief, I thought that this quote was really interesting. It states that everything that has been made by man has been made for a reason, so the majority of the level should be within this category. I think that this will help me chill out a bit about the actually 3d construction of the environment as my level will pretty much just be stylised objects that exist within everyday life, so surely they can’t be that hard to build?

The above scan is me rambling (as usual) about how it is important to consider everything when designing the level.

Finally these are some notes on how to generate new cultures from using real life cultures as reference.

 

Character Colour Sheet

I did this character colour board a while ago to get a feel for what style to go for. I have made notes on the actual image as to what I was thinking at the time. Looking back, I am confident that the final image number 10 is the way forward. Even, though after getting feedback, most people said that it was slightly too Tron, to combat this I have altered the colour of the blue so that it is more green based, more like ocean blue. This decision took place as I needed an outfit that the player could associate with work, and the grey one seems the obvious choice, as we tend to associate business with suits in blacks and greys. The other colours I explored were too vibrant or too attention seeking for the feel and theme of the game that I want to achieve, so they would be counter-reactive. I do love the bright blue one, but I don’t really think it will suit the environment. Especially as I am trying to create the feeling of a fully controlled city, in which everything would have to pass a quality and rated assurance. This means that the whole environment will be assured by the people in charge, it will be very universal to the city, as this will enforce the idea that they are trying to control everything and generalise everyone; this in turn would link back to the clothing as this too will be controlled – hence why the grey one is the right choice!

The invention of my initial idea.

Upon developing my initial idea for the game, I looked back over a book I read a couple of years ago titled Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith. I believe subconsciously I may have stolen a few parts of the make-up of the books opening chapter, as now I read over it, it sounds oddly familiar.

The book starts out in Moscow, where the protagonist Arkady Renko leans ‘out a window the better to see Ivanov on the pavement ten floors below. Ivanov was dead but not particularly bloody, arms and legs at odd angles.’. Ivanov a well-off business man had committed suicide only 20 minutes after entering his apartment, it opens up a lot of suspicion. It is rather questionable as to why a man of such stature, a man who has power and money would do such a thing, why end such a ‘good’ life? Within my concept I have pretty much left it open as to why Tiffany’s brother has died. Although I have a few ideas running through my head I sort of feel it is better to leave it open, I mean I don’t have to actually design the whole game.

These are my current ideas for it though:

– regarding the idea of a major conspiracy, this is where the current leader of the city is one organisation. A single company that has gained fame for being the ones who can always help out in a massive downfall, they step in at the last-minute, when there is no more hope and bail out the whole city. This trust of the people has gained them many favours, this is how they managed to separate the two sides of the city, the lower levels and the higher levels. These are the two work forces. In the current state of the city, they have used the people’s trust in them to become in control of the city. So, as opposed to where we vote for a political party, in this city, they vote for a major power investor, these are the big companies. The control over the city has led to them basically abusing the people. They further increased the segregation, making it impossible for the lower society to become better off in the time that the game is set, the state of the city should have gotten so bad that the lower class have begun to revolt out of spite, although this is half and half of course as some people would like the regime.

Anyways, this whole conspiracy has a minor connection to characters family. This could be due to the family making a decision back in the day that has effected the whole outcome of the segregation. This knock on effect has meant that the dead brother began to get more and more involved within the higher society that was leading the city. He ended up getting so far in that his only option out was death? – These are just some thoughts!

Back to the book now, after introductions to the characters, the detective Renko begins to look around the apartment, scanning for clues. The description of the apartment is quite interesting. “The kitchen looked both new and forgotten, with gleaming steel appliances, enameled pots without a single smudge and burners with not one spot of crusted sauce. A silvery rack held dusty, expensive wines, no doubt selected by an expert. Yet the dishwasher was stacked with unwashed dishes, just as the bed had been loosely made and the bathroom towels hung awry, the signs of a man caring for himself.”. This is an excerpt from the book that shows just how important an environment is, within this tiny part of the book we gain so much information on the inhabitant of the environment. So, for my apartment I need to make sure that I consider all of those little things that are often overlooked, these are going to be the insight into the characters lifestyle.

One thing I do like about the apartment in the book is the layout, all the rooms are separate, so it sort of throws the idea of open-plan living out the door. I had considered this for my apartment environment but I’m not sure if it would work with glass partitions? Plus I have the problem of glass as a material, is naturally highly reflective, this would mean that the player would see their reflection in the glass, but we aren’t actually designing and modelling the playable character, so if any of the materials are too reflective, then you will be able to see a floating orb that is known as the first person controller.

Lastly, the book is a good influence as the chapter has personal friends of the victim in the environment, this is similar to how Tiffany finds her brother. It was useful looking at how Renko analysed the behavioural traits of the characters in the crime scene as I can take some of these into the animation development.

Ideas of government/leader mistrust within media

For my concept I have been looking at several sources of media that have themes of government mistrust and false claims, as it is a keen theme for the overall game so some elements will spill into the level I am building. Here are a few of the references I have been looking at:

Fallout

Not exactly a direct link but the Fallout back story does have room for this concept. The idea behind the games is that the world was suffering from a shortage of non-renewable energy sources, this led to year of world wars, known as the Resource Wars. After this, one October a massive 2 hour nuclear war breaks out, which wipes out all major cities in the world. From this the whole infrastructure of the world has broken down and any survivors are left to their own devices. This style of social order is often rife with corruption and disorder.

The Matrix

The Matrix is a good example of how a back story features a governmental lie/conspiracy As the story progresses Neo (protagonist) begins to realise how the world he is living in is a lie, as it is purely a virtual world created by a computer.

Most films/games etc that feature these themes of mistrust and in-justice often use them as an overall plotline. The protagonist often has to overcome the bad production that has been formed from the negative side of the leader. Whether this is a small part of the conspiracy or a big part of it.

It is rather reassuring to know that this a common thing within the media, as it will be easily recognisable to the players.

References – The Fifth Element (1997)

You just gotta love Gary Oldman!

The Fifth Element is a sci-fi film set in the 23rd Century, in which the world becomes seriously threatened by the Great Evil that only attacks us every 5000 years. The premise for the story isn’t actually what I am interested in though, what I am looking at is the clothing, and set design.

All the characters in the film have fairly standard ‘futuristic’ clothes, but what is nice is that they still hold some essence of present day culture. This mix in the design also leaks onto the set, as we see fairly standard taxi’s with simply a hover simulation on them, likewise for the police cars.

Also the actually city is a tribute to New York, I guess all of these help the viewer familiarise with the set. It also makes it stylised, not only that but in a way it is less imaginative, mainly because you are taking these things straight from real life. I suppose in a way I am going to be using this approach as I will need everyday objects within the apartment. These will need to be fairly recognisable aswell, to simplify the design and also to maintain easy mutual understanding of them.

References – Tron: Legacy

Originally when I thought of taking reference from Tron, I thought I would be looking at the 1982 version, but here I am taking inspiration from the re-make! My main insight into this is for the set design, as I myself am having trouble with this aspect of the brief.

Tron in itself is very iconic, because furniture designers are now naming certain stlye’s ‘Tron’ it is down to the fact that the Tron design is very unique. It follows this limited colour pallete put in place by the concept of it being inside a virtual world, inside the computer.

This piece of concept art shows the emphasis on size and scale. Like I was rambling about how Dead Space and Dues Ex have used scale to their advantage, so has Tron. The concept of ‘this is a massive room, but there are hundreds of these rooms, there just standard’, is a trait of sci-fi.

What I find most intriguing about Tron is the use of the light. Not only does it link to the fact that it is situated inside a computer, it also gives insight into the idea that all this light is brightening up a dark area. This could refer to the idea of the dark being the bad and the light being the good. I think it is rather interesting, and may come in handy as an idea for my city, possibly link to the artificial lights situated above the city?

References – Deus Ex (2000)

For my concept work I have looked over many different films and games to get a few base ideas to work with, as I forgot to blog as I go along, these few posts are a collection on what I have gathered so far.

Deus Ex (2000)

“A bunch of pretentious old men playing at running the world, but the world left them behind a long time ago. We are the future.”

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/vyMdYp9mU2s&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Even though this game is over 10 years old, with graphics to match, it holds some basic key things that fit in with my concept. Above is a piece of gameplay footage found on youtube, it gives us an insight into the story behind the game but I shall delve into that later. What is important about the video, is the gameplay shown. Straight away you can see that it follows a RPG style of item collection and story progression, this is interesting for my level as I will need to figure out how to make this fit into my design. How easy is it to actually insert a point and click element within Unity? The second interesting thing about the video is the scene and the setting. I’m not one to judge but is it only me that thinks that the level is rather large? Especially in comparison to the human’s shown, the whole level feels really oversized. This element is interesting as it is usually used within games to create a sense of isolation;this trend is also often seen in sci-fi as a genre, think Dead Space and the Ishimura, whilst cruising around those corridors I couldn’t even comprehend what else was in the ship as it was massive. The only real sight of scale was chapter 3 where you enter into the ship to start-up a generator or something, (I wasn’t following the storyline – I was too on guard peering around the room for necromorphs). Anyways,the level allows you to see down into a black cavern of nothing-ness, yet you know that something lurks down there, as you hear loud grunting noises echoing around. So, large areas are good! This makes me think that I should maybe re-scale my apartment as I am currently only using 1/5 of the allowed area.

The other thing that is interesting about the setting of the clip of Deus Ex is the mood. The eerie music combined with the overcast sky and the time of day really emphasises the foreboding presence. It sets the scene for the game and matches to the theme of the concept.This is something that I need to look into more as I am currently stuck as to the music and sound within the level.

Finally, I also have taken note to the story concept of Deus Ex, as it has a lot in common with what I want mine to be like.

Deus Ex is set in a dystopian future that is based heavily on present day conspiracy theories. It depicts a society that is falling slowly into chaos due to a plague known as the ‘Grey Death’. A vaccine is available but because it is in short supply, it is only available to people who are deemed ‘vital to the social order’, which in itself means that only the government, military, rich, influential, scientists and intellectual elite. This idea follows closely to what I am aiming for, a dystopian future in which money and power equal everything. The fact that deus Ex takes present conspiracies into its narrative, is quite interesting as after looking at other dystopian mediums I found that most people do relate it to present day. I hadn’t really considered this before, but maybe my game is set within a current state of what the past believed would be a dystopian future. So, instead of it just being the 80’s inspired future, it is in fact modern-day with all the negatives ideas and conspiracies that were around in the 70’s/80’s.

 

The Concept Art – Magic

I have finally finished one of the pieces of concept art for my character. This follows the theme of her being a futuristic mage, the image is meant as an action pose that will emphasize her personality to the player.

I took an original drawing from a reference photo into Photoshop, and dabbled around abit with the legs. I seem to be having quite a few problems with the legs move ability as the dress is very restricting of the movement. After messing about for about half an hour I gave up and decided that the legs should just be straight. This meant that instead of the image being a mid-action stance, it is more of a taunt. She is saying ‘look at me, look what I can do’, which for the game itself, I think is a valuable asset. Mainly because modern games often drop hints to the target audience to get them interested. For instance, what I am doing is saying, “Yes it is a game based in the future”, then I show you this image of a girl casting magic, your immediate reaction is “How has the sci-fi and fantasy come together? What type of magic is it? and can it be used in game?” Simply, from one image it sparks up so much interest and wonder into the game itself.

The image I used as a reference was simply a quick photo that I took of Lauren, a friend on my course.I didn’t draw from it exactly though as I want the character to be slightly ‘cartoon’ as opposed to full photo-realism.

After throwing some base colours onto the image, I dabbled with the hue/saturation for the  dress colour highlights and the under eye make-up. this is because after getting feedback from my colour sheet, I realised that using a bright neon blue would be too similar to Tron, so I altered it to be a turquoise/green colour. This fits in with all the notes I made on the colour sheet, as to why it needs to be a green/blue colour, plus it also semi-matches her green eye colour. I suppose, I am going down the route of making a character have a single noticeable colour again!

After adding in all the shading and highlights, I popped in a black background and began the cleaning up process. I really liked how the image had turned out, but I wanted it to be more stylised and accurate, this meant making the whole image glow in a purple light made by the magic.

To do this I kind of cheated a little and took an easy way out. Basically I had three options:

1. use the brush to tint all the shading into the right shade of purple

2. use lighting effects to make the orbs appear to be emitting a radial light.

3. use a filter on the layer in the right colour.

I opted for option 3, as it saved me time and it actually did what I wanted it to. Now, I know it isn’t perfect, but as an image I reckon it works.

Overall as an image I think it encompasses exactly what it needs to. You can tell that she is capable of some kind of ‘magical’ power. The colour purple was used because of what it signifies, these are spirituality, royalty and mystery. I think the spiritual and mystery connotations speak for themselves in terms of my character development. Another reason is because of how purple is made on the colour chart, you mix a really warm colour (red), with a really cool colour (blue), this idea of mixing the hot and the cold together links to the way that the magic is formed internally. Inside the body, the unused energy is mixed with the current kinesis energy to create an ‘active force’.

The pose/stance is important as you get a feel of the character from it, the way she is sort of leering at the viewer makes it seem intimidating, yet, her facial expression is somewhat inviting. I think it suits her character personality well, it makes her more of a fighter – playable character.

Facial Expressions – Tiffany

I have been working on my facial expression sheet for my character. I think that I have accentuated her sense of character through the facial expressions and the action poses that I have been working on. They have helped me to get more knowledge on the solidarity of the character, before I did them the idea was just floating around, as if only still a possibility; now it is a definite.

It seems to be coming together more now, which is always a positive thing. I just need to battle on through the design process.

Character Turnaround

We finally have a turnaround of my character. I will be taking this into Maya to use as reference for my build. The turnaround is fairly straightforward, I simply stuck with block colour as I have decided that I will be doing this within the game level. I think that it is best not to try and get a fully realistic render as it is making more work for me, and to be fair this is my first attempt at this.

Character moodboard/Feminine influence

Finally managed to blog this!! I have taken influence from a variety of places for this character; we have a dash of retro futuristic, strong heroins within games and a few female sci-fi characters.

I shall start with the retro future, I have already mentioned how much influence this is having on the conceptualisation of my project. Specifically for the character concept, I find that it was often the case to have very glamorous females as side kicks/points of interest within the media. This has taken a  direct link onto my concept, as I have taken the idea of a harmless yet strong female being my character. I think that she needs to be able to defend herself but not invincible. I like the idea of jazzing up the old style housewives image.

Next, I looked at strong female characters within games and other media. This allowed me to realise certain traits that are used, i.e. independent, disciplined, extremely practical and objective.

All of this has added into my character concept, to help me develop a reasonable character.

From Maya To Unity – Animations


I limited my screenshots for this as most of it is the same as importing objects. I am sort of amazed that it is really simple to bring an animation into unity, although animating in Maya was not my strong point last year… Touch wood I have no problems.

I got through the tutorial with no issues and I reckon that if I just do it over and over again, I will eventually get the gist!

From Maya To Unity – Objects

In today’s session we have been left to our own devices to follow a tutorial on how to bring objects from Maya into Unity.

An important thing to note is that you need to set up the fbx file format in the export selection settings. This is fairly simple to do as you just go into the plug-in manager and make sure that both check boxes are ticked.

The file will save as a .fbx format in the scenes area of the project currently set.

Once in unity you have to remember to import the texture file aswell, as this needs to be assigned to a new material.

 

As you can see the three crates have come into Unity perfectly. the whole process was very simple as well and didn’t take any time at all.

The above shows the three boxes in game view, I thing to note with bringing objects into Unity is that you can actually walk through them initially, but if you add a mesh collider to the object then it solves the problem.

this box shows how the project window looks with the new added items in. You can also just grab one of the items and place that in the scene. This means that you can bring over a lot of objects at the same time and separate themas you please.

Finalised Character Sheet

I have finally got my full character sheet together, I hope you enjoy it!!

 

Character Sheet

 

Name: Tiffany Jacobs

 

Height: 5 foot 5”

 

Age: 27

 

Background info

–          Family

She is from a rich family, which entitles her to work during the night. Her brother is the victim, Micheal. She has always been discontent with living in the city, but cannot leave due to the high security issues, if she got out she probably wouldn’t get back in – it is too much of a risk. Her other family is irrelevant to the game but she is distant from her parents and her brother. This is due to her wanting to escape the hierarchy of the city. The rest of her family is very pro ‘collective cause’.

 

–          Education

She received a very good education due to her family upbringing. Similar to the way it is going in reality, education is now based on how much money you have. In this society it rules, so if you have a better education you have a better life, or so ‘they’ say. Tiffany disagrees with this so she has somewhat dismissed her education. She has a lower level job on the moon force, which is around 7 levels lower than she could achieve. I think the society of work is run by and heavily influenced by the idea of point systems. I think this will be a relevant idea as it sort of reinforces the 80’s style theme. From my lessons in Critical studies I have found that when technology was first on the rise, people thought that it was going to rule the 21st century, this game follows that vision.

 

Physical description

Tiffany is a very innocent looking person; she is also very ‘normal’ to the city she lives in. Her body structure is petite, slender, with average proportions for a human. The only thing that is out of place is her slightly elongated face.  The type of style that the game has is a very sleek, futuristic approach, which influences her appearance. I decided that she would have very scruffy, short/medium length hair, which is a variation of mousey brown and blonde in colour; this alongside her faint ginger freckles will add to the ‘innocent’ styled design. The hair length and colour is used as it makes her look very human, I want this as I want the player to be able to connect with her. This aspect is very important as it also adds to the emotional connection that the player will get with the character. I want to put across a sense of need in Tiffany that will be expressed through her characterisation.

Her clothing also follows the theme. I have opted for a very 80’s inspired futuristic design. Mainly as it throws a curve ball into the style, instead of it just being all obsessively futuristic, I think that if it is more ‘old school’ then I will be able to enforce more of a personalised style, as industry games recently seem to be steering more towards the ‘serious’ side of sci-fi. She will be wearing a dress that is very structured in its design. I will leave all the analysis of this for the actual worksheets. The main gist of the clothing is that it is designed to be used for work. She will be a lower level night worker, and thus, at the time of the game, she will be dressed for work. Possibly she is on her way to work, when she stops at the apartment, or maybe she is on her lunch break, who knows.

 

Character Traits

Shy, Kind, Feminine with a tomboy touch, girly, takes pride in appearance, extremely self-conscious.

 

Story Purpose

In the level specifically – she acts as a point of information. She is there to give the answers to the detective about what has happened, she reveals this part of the storyline.

In the overall story – she is a sub-character that plays an important role in the story development. The apartment is the first time we see her, she has been connected out of the blue by her brother, he has asked her to go to his apartment to access some protected files that he needs for the business meeting that he is away on. Tiffany uses her DNA to access the building and get up to the 291st floor. Upon entering the apartment, at first she doesn’t notice that anything is wrong, she takes a quick glance around, then starts up the main computer network, whilst waiting for it to load, she notices that the door leading to the balcony is open. She heads over to it, and steps into some sticking liquid on the floor, it is a puddle of blood. She heads out to the balcony and notices that the far railing has been broken, shattered glass is on the floor. The grass area has signs of a commotion; tufts of grass have been usurped.  She walks edgily over to the banister, and looks over the edge, there is no-one to be seen. Shaken up, she runs back into the flat to call the authorities. After doing so, she notices that the computer has a window open on it; she cautiously walks over to see that it has been accessed remotely, several of the hard drives have been corrupted. What files has someone been trying to destroy?

After the level, she will play the role of temporary investigator; she is going to look into the events of that night to find out why her brother had been set up and how. Although, without knowing it her prying into the conspiracy, is exactly what the villain/s want her to do, as she is also a vital key to the story. That is why she received the email from her already dead brother, asking her to go to the apartment. In the end, the protagonist will have to eventually save her, somehow.

 

Gameplay Purpose

She unlocks several parts of the story (playable character), plus she is a motivational character for the protagonist. The player has to save her.

 

Alignment

Neutral/good.

She is anti- ‘collective cause’.

 

Special Abilities

She knows advanced kinesis control, this makes her sort of like a futuristic mage. Kinesis control is when an organism can control the bodies’ natural movement or activity of a cell or an organism in response to a stimulus. This means that the user can use that unused natural power to create a physical response. These depend on what the stimulus is. This is her main battle technique.

 

Archetype:

She acts as a shadow to the protagonist, in the sense that she can control the repressed weakness of the protagonist. This makes them a good battle team. It also is part of the development in the story as she helps the protagonist realise his individuation.

In herself she acts as the Scarecrow, an unknowing decoy and distraction. Whilst the protagonist chases around at loose ends, he realises that she is always one step ahead of him, this causes the unknowing relationship between the two.

 

General disposition

Within level – generally distraught, confused, in shock.

In general – Calm, collected.

 

Addictions:

Smoking, she has always had a smoking addiction. It developed from her troubles in the family – sort of a rebellion against the strict upbringing.

 

Habits/Vices:

She is a keen smoker, also one of her vices is to be in the know, and this is a vice as it means she has a dependency on being connected via the network. An emotion that she is plagued with is fear and worry, she has no end of these. They cause her to feel guilty at the smallest of incidents, hence why she becomes a Scarecrow archetype as opposed to being a True hero. Her consciousness is an illusion of her own self-esteem.

 

Likes:

Natural light, she loathes the pre formed light that is switched on at 15-20PM every day to act as extra light. She much prefers the suns natural rays of light, even though they aren’t around for long, she gets up super early to make sure she never misses them.

Individuality. Being independent.

Savoury foods.

Knowing everything that is going on, hates being out of the know.

 

Dislikes:

When her hair goes curly when wet.

Generalisation, I’m thinking that the ‘government’ in this fictional world has developed into a way of generalising things; they keep a lot of things hidden, so the citizens are expected to live constantly not knowing the true reasons for what they are doing. She is strongly against this mindless human production. This could possibly run into a bigger storyline plot? Am I thinking too much on a character proforma…I think I shall develop this idea somewhere else!!

Anyways, another dislike is heights, hence why she will be so tense on the 27th floor of a swanky apartment block.

Not a hate, but she fears larger animals.

 

Occupation:

She is a tutor/teacher for the privileged, her subject area is within the CMP (controlled minds programme), where she teaches Kinesis control on a basic level to learning Whytches (name is a working process).

 

Motivation:

Goal

Her ultimate goal is to find out what part her family has played in the conspiracy, and why it is happening.

-Plan to achieve goal?

Follow the source of information through the storyline to find out what has happened, when she meets up with the detective at the later level, she joins up with him to find the end point.

What does she want?

To solve the conspiracy, to help her realise that her thoughts and feelings against her family had been right all along, she wants self-confirmation.

– Why does she include herself in this situation?

Similar to the above, self-confirmation, but also because she has a direct link to it, it’s her family that is involved. In the overall storyline, she is meant to get involved, as they want something that she owns, they make it seem like she is unimportant but she is the key to the plotline twist.

 

Trademark Object/Features:

The eye make-up is a signature feature of her design as it is unusual in the moon force, it is much more common in the sun force, it shows that she once used to work within the sun force.

A cigarette could be a trademark object, otherwise I think that it will be her ‘aura’ especially when she is a playable character, I think that she would have some kind of particle effects that encompasses whichever part of her body she is taking the biological kinesis from. This could just be a thing that is seen only by the player, but I think it would be better if it was seen by people who could sense the ‘aura’.

 

Signature Move:

Her general signature move will be related to the smoking habit, she will often mimic holding a cigarette in her hand. She does this without knowing it; it is a comfort to her, this links to her self-consciousness and endless worrying.

Her signature battle move will be a full body kinesis energy blast.

 

Dialogue Style:

Well-spoken due to her upbringing, also in the game level itself she will find it difficult to piece sentences together, this is caused by her fear of heights, her general shaken up state and the situation itself.

 

Accent?:

I guess this would refer to her style of speech, the only way I can think to describe it is, she is well-spoken but doesn’t sound like a posh know it all. She has a very considerate tone as well.

 

How does she die? And where?:

Her death is the final piece of motivation for the hero/protagonist, it happens around ¾ into the game. She dies at the hands of the 2nd to last ‘boss’, giving the hero just enough power to continue through to the end of the game. The killer should have something to do with her involvement in the story, maybe he or she thought through the whole plan, to this point in time, possibly knowing that they were to die as well.

Unity – Textures

In today’s lesson we looked at texturing objects in unity.

A vital thing to do is to use photoshop to make a black and white image for the bump map. This tells the program which pars should be raised and which should be sunken in the texture. I think that this wil be used quite heavily in my project as I would like to make some complex grooves in the furniture that could be completed using a texture bump map.

This black and white image can also be used to make an alpha channel for your texture, as you can see above. In second life we only used alpha channels to make things appear transparent in the game level. In unity you can do a lot more with the alpha channel.

On the left we have a simple bump map with a specular hint whereas on the right we have added in a colour to the bump map, which means you can control the texture a lot more, as you can see the tint only applies the bumped up area. How I can use this at the moment I am unsure, but hopefully I can add in some metallic areas to the futuristic design.

This is just a general alpha channel. Simply just makes the red part transparent. A thing to note with this is that when you create a new material for it you have to choose the correct shades for it, This is the box at the top of the inspector.

The last thing we did was make a reflection cubemap for the crate.

I think this is the one that I will probably use the most, although annabeth did say that you would have to import the images from Maya to achieve a realistic reflection of the surrounding environment – which will take time.

This is what the inspector should look like for the reflection map. You use a reflection bump diffuse, which needs a base – texture, a reflection cubemap, and a bump map.

Lastly, we had a quick look at how to import sound into the game engine. This was surprisingly easy to do, you just create an empty object, import the sound and drag and drop it into the inspector for the object. Here you can alter several areas of the sound.

Moodboards – Environment

I have spent the morning making two moodboards for my futuristic apartment, they show a few google images that I found.

I was mainly looking for futuristic and ultra modern design, to inform my development of the environment. I took into consideration, the aspects of furniture and exteriors in modern built houses and apartments.

The main things that I like from these, and what I would like to incorporate are:

– Visual points on a wall, two of the photographs show a feature wall that uses simple designs to articulate the element of futuristic design. By placing a pattern made up of geometric shapes, it makes the room come alive. It gives you a focal point, or goal point. An area of interest, which within game design is how you start to get the player to do something or go somewhere important. I would like to play around with the idea of visual clues within my work and think that an interactive display would be a good idea.

– Ultra modern design = minimalist colours. The most frequent colour used within the above images is white, which is no wonder seen as from the endless hours of movies we have all seen that contain white spaceships. This is obvious a symbolic colour in sci-fi, that could have possibly stemmed from the beginning of space travel. As a genre we tend to associate the future with a much more advanced human race, that has made contact with even more advanced races. This informs us that the future is going to be very sophisticated, a more advanced human race would definitely have much more advanced devices. So, this should be key to my design. Anyways, back to the colour, white signifies the good guy, but it also is linked with pure, cleanliness etc. Maybe for this reason I should go for the other heavily used colour, black. I really like the colour combinations that have either white and black then a single colour thrown in. I think this would fit in well with my design for the character’s clothing.

-illusions, in a few of the images above, you can see that the bed’s appear to be floating, this is a very interesting idea in terms of future design. The idea of illusions is that the viewer cannot comprehend how it is done or possible. In my design ideas I have quite a few idea to use particle effects to make things appear unreal to what we can comprehend. this is a very important part of future design because as a genre we believe that sci-fi encompasses unimaginable ideas and realisations. It is a genre that defies all that we know as human’s, so I think the idea of illusions is a very interesting one to go with. It needs to be something to amaze the player. Like the image above of the water flowing up out of the tap, simple subtle things like that.

– Size and spacing. In the images that show apartment layouts, the size and spacing of the furniture is very important. They all seem to have an open area that you can just walk around in, this will be important in the game level as the player should be able to choose where they want to go.

-Stairs an interesting curve-ball, I had only considered that my level would all be on one floor, but after looking over some of these designs I like the multi-floor aspect of them.

Edge magazine, issue August 2011

The cover of the August 2011 edition of Edge magazine is one to be reckoned with. The article itself is one that to my current project is of a fair bit of value. The Wii U received the best audience response at this years E3, which shows that the fans want more out of interactive gaming. For my current Game Design brief, I am designing a futuristic city taking influence from an 80’s vision of the future. So, this article in Edge proves to me that not only in gaming but also in life in general, that as human beings we are searching for the ultimate interactivity objects. This has informed my chosen design of making the environment very interactive, although I’m not yet sure how hard this will be to do in unity…I’m sort of thinking it will encompass some of the features of the forensic glasses and ‘power glove’ developed in Heavy Rain.

An interesting part of the article is when Eguchi states “I don’t think it’s necessary for all Wii U games to use all of its features, including the touchscreen.”, this shows that even though they have developed a console that can function in lots of different interactive modes, they don’t expect it to use all of them at the same time. So, when I am looking at how the objects within the apartment work, I should make sure that I don’t go overboard with it and make them too amazing!!

Sticking to plans is impossible!

Last year my main trouble was that my form of planning involved me simply making a list of what needed to be done. I didn’t include any form of timescale or repercussions if I didn’t do things. So I am trying out a new method, I have made myself a little calender in which I can write in what needs to be done in exactly what time frame.

 

I included in my hours at work and my uni scheduled hours so that I could fit things around this schedule.

As you can see, after the first week of this trial, I haven’t been sticking at the plan. Part of me thinks that this is simply due to the fact that I am trying to fit too much into the time I have. This could be the case I have had extra hours this week at work. Also, it could be because I am being too optimistic with how long it takes to do things. I am going to take both these into consideration for the planning of this week, starting the 10th and hopefully it will rectify it.

Colour Key-

Green – Uni hours

Orange – Work

Blue – Completed

Red – Incomplete, or it has to be moved to another day. Any changes!

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

Following a chat with Matt, I looked up a reference that he had given me. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, is a transmedia character that has appeared in films, comics and even a TV show. The main reason that I looked at this is because it is a wonderful example of 70’s/80’s sci-fi! I have taken into consideration the costumes, and the colour schemes used within the series.

As you can see, the costumes are skin tight, this has been a resounding theme in many sci-fi mediums. I wonder where this whole obsession with skin tight lycra came from!

I think this image is quite a good example of the colour scheme, as Buck is show in amidst a group of alien enemies. He stands out in his full white suit against all the dark skinned aliens.

I doubt that I will have a full white design, but it is a good reference, as it shows the reader without even opening the comic, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy/s. This is a trait often seen in the media, good guys are white bad guys are black. I don’t want my work to be this obvious, but it is good to know where the media was in this era, as I am taking a lot of influence from it.

UV Mapping Multiple Objects

This is just a write up of a little exercise we have just completed. WE had to use a single UV map to texture several objects in Maya, I did find it quite easy as I did this last year for my animation character.

I rearranged my UV map in the UV Texture Editor to make the most of my space. Although this was easy it still baffles me how changing the size in here doesn’t affect the object or the map, but hey that’s just what it does.

I then took it into Photoshop and drew some pretty pictures.

Here is my final outcome, the whole process was fairly easy, I just need to remember that there are different shader modes in Maya, always press 6 if you think a texture isn’t working!

Figuring out the concept.

The stages of my initial research came about when I started thinking about a futuristic styled design for the brief. As you can see I ended up doing a very random drawing of a tower like structure. I noted that the world could be split into two divided areas, similar to the concept of Brink. These two areas where the Steampunk influenced design and the extremely ultra-modern/futuristic. These two areas would be in some kind of war, or possibly it was a moral divide.This idea was very stylised and included two very opposing styles.

I also looked at using Final Fantasy as a reference as it mixes fantasy with sci-fi elements. At this stage I figured out that I wanted a normal looking character – I didn’t want anything fancy, someone who would blend into the background; a normal girl in this world. This was important as I wanted the character to be involved in a bigger plot line, sort of like how Heavy Rain depicts its story, you find out little bits as you go along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is when the whole apartment idea kicked in. I thought wouldn’t it be weird if the level took place after the major event had happened? This made me come up with some simple ideas that there had been a murder or maybe some form of accident. Without realising it I had come up with the theme of the game, a crime based murder mystery game.

I continued on developing the character, this enabled me to come up with unique aspects of the game environment and concept. The character sheet helped a lot!

Here is what I came up with:

  • It is set in the future, but not on Earth or in fact in our reality. Like many games it will be set in a hyper reality.
  • The citizens were once like us, their society was about fair and equal rights but over time that has fallen out-of-place; this occurs as the technological advances happen. In the game time, humans have become more like droids, they are still living organism’s but they have moved with the times shall we say and become adorned with technology.
  • The ‘collective cause’ is ripe. This is a name idea that just kind of popped into my head, I think I will use it as what the government describes as its motto. This is what all these people work for. I like the phrase, as it seems really alien to our generation. It is almost like something you would see in the 60’s, also it really reminds me Fallout and Bioshock, and generally that style of game. I think it reminds me of these as both these games throw you into a reality that you are only partly familiar with, this then makes the player not fully connect, but in a good way. What I’m trying to say is that when you see the Collective Cause within the game level the player would react in being against the unknown. They would see it as a negative thing and in turn they would become against it. For the game elements I think this aspect is important as I am developing an RPG style game, so the player needs to be able to have visual clues as to what is the good and what is the bad side in the game.  An example of this can be seen in Fallout: New Vegas. The good guys are the NCR, they are portrayed as the do-gooders, you first encounter them as they are holding out a position near the town of Primm, which has come under attack by some Powder Gangers. this initially shows you that even though they have no authority or nearly enough men to actually do something about the attack that they still maintain a presence in the hope of driving the ‘bad guys’ out. On the other hand, The Legion, the bad guys, are first encountered in the town of Nippon, where you see they have literally ransacked the whole town. They have strung people up on crosses and left them to die, also if you go into the shop you find a guy sat on a chair who tells you that they played a lottery style game that decided who would be left alive or crippled. Overall the visual clues given to the player is that the Legion are ruthless killers, and the NCR are trying to do good. The game then lets you decide which side you want to be on. Anyways enough with the rambling, all of the above is the reason that I want to include little visual clues.
  • The sun in this city only gives natural light between 6am-15pm, this means that there is only 9 hours of natural light and working hours, so to bump up the amount of working time the government has put in place a series of reflective planes centered around a giant light bulb, that act as a source of light after 15pm. This is in place to enable citizens as much working hours as possible, but it also differentiates between the two separate workforces.
  •  Two workforces – one in the day one in the night. This is the social divide within the game, it is also a good example of a ‘which side do I choose?’ scenario. Basically due to the hierarchy in the city, the working hours are divided into two, the day workers are categorised as the lowlifes, they are seen as ‘dirty’. whereas the night workers are much better off, and are generally the people who run the city. This divide poses a massive situation for the player, do they decide to work with the rebellion, the day workers or do they seek the ‘dark side’ and go with the money influenced night workers? I am still working out what the official names for these two sides will be.

It’s like dressing up a doll!

Today I have been messing around with clothing ideas for my character Tiffany. As my theme is a futuristic world I am going to develop a set of clothing ideas that encompass this theme. I have been looking at futuristic fashion on google images mainly and have come across some very interesting references.

I came across a website/blog called Demiurge New York, which looks at several designers collections and gives relative feedback on them in context to the design. On this website I have taken notes from a few of the posts. Here is what I found:

This Bruno Pieters Fall/Winter 2009 collection, there is a definite theme of structure within the design. The clothing itself is semi-futuristic in my opinion, I think the straight cut folds and edges that shape the body give it a modern feel and vibe.An important thing to note is the use of geometric shapes, as they are what really makes this style work as a modern design. For Tiffany’s clothing she should most definitely have some geometric shapes. I also think that they make the style more professional, which will fit in with the idea of the day workers and the night workers social divide and hierarchy. A more professional design would be issued to a night worker.The colour palette in also very important for Pieters futuristic warrior collection. Black is the predominant colour, with copper and bronze thrown in. This is important as we associate clean solid colours with futuristic design. The last thing I would like to note is the plated armour effect that this collection has. It is very sophisticated yet it emphasises power in a simple way. It’s not too in your face. I think this is important as my character is meant to be part of an anti-‘collective cause’ group, so she is a powerful woman. The only thing that I think this collection doesn’t encompass is the feminine side of my character.

This Fall/Winter collection by Jeremy Laing also has a futuristic style to it. It is more punk/bad ass than the Pieters collection above. I think this is a very important as the character is meant to be a little bit of a rebel. Just a pinch though as in this type of dictatorship society, there wouldn’t be access to really radical clothing; the citizens are meant to be ‘clones’.

Similar to Pieter’s, Laing’s collection uses a monochromatic palette. Playing heavily on the silvers and shiny materials. These have always been catergorised as futuristic colours, probably due to old B movies with space ship made out of tinfoil in., who knows! I particularly like the collars on the clothes in this collection, especially the two coats. I think in themself they express attitude. Another thing to note is that the hair is always very sleek. Nothing is out of place in these designs.

Lastly we have Hugo by Hugo Boss Men F/W 2009

The thing that stands out about this is the patterns, they remind me of Tron, I’m not quite sure why though. The clothing style is very sleek, fitted and tight. So, really it is the patterns that make it seem futuristic. I will play around with including these but I’m not quite sure how they will fit in…

 

 

Sticking to a plan.

I decided that for this brief I was going to be more organized in my approach to developing the concept. So, I laid out a plan of how to flow naturally through my ideas and development. Instead of starting with the character proforma, I decided that it would be best to begin with sketches, of anything, this way I wasn’t being confined by my own words!

I began by doing some initial sketches of characters to get a basic gist of where my mind was at the beginning. This lead me on to develop the idea of a girl being the character, I started initially with a sketch that I produced over the summer break; as I had done the drawing with no consideration to a back story or concept. So, I used this as a base to my design. I began developing an idea that it was a futuristic world that exists as a hyper-reality. After playing around with a few drawings of the girl I decided that she would be my character. I wanted to set her up in an environment that would be familiar enough to the player but fairly alien to her. For this I came up with it being an apartment/condo. This was mainly as I wanted to explore developing a human based environment in Maya.

After partially setting up the character I filled in a character proforma, it was very basic, but using the notes I had jotted down during my sketching stage, I managed to build up a fairly fleshed out character. Plus, I delved into the concept of the world and its state.

This lead me onto the environment design and why it should be an apartment, which ultimately allowed me to figure out the concept of the world.

I think this was a much better approach to the brief as I was able to allow my ideas to flow naturally, giving the ability to analyse as I went. I preferred not having a pre-destined character.