JAde has very knidly posted our chat about half way through the project up on youtube.
In the talk we discuss various ideas, developments and deadlines.
It is fairly self-explanatory.
JAde has very knidly posted our chat about half way through the project up on youtube.
In the talk we discuss various ideas, developments and deadlines.
It is fairly self-explanatory.
One of the problems I have been having with the narration of the concept is the idea that even though the protagonist is deciding their own fate through the story, they are also influenced by the sub-characters.
I looked into this when I did some research into Baccano!, an animated series about how one story can alter another story in a different time period.
The series can be found here on youtube.
The first episode of the anime sets up the idea that every individual creates there own story about an event. For instance their could be a robbery in a shop and everyone involved in that robbery will retell the story differently, depending on what they found most interesting.
A quote that depicts this is:
Vice President – “A story is neither information, nor is it accumulated information. It is the result of what has been thought.”
In an odd way this piece of research that took place around about a month and a half ago has impacted the development of the sub characters within the concept. As all of them have their own stories to tell, they have individuality in the respect that they all have different views on religion, faith, society and politics. This aspect of the ally characters is then relayed back to the player character and they are left to make up their own decision on whom has the right moral code.
From another viewpoint the research into Baccano! also helped me to create a set of main characters that all had intertwining stories and where all linked in various ways.
Last week we had our final crit for FMP. Generally the feedback I got was good, it mainly focussed on the general concept which was helpful.
Some things did pop up which have made me realise that I may have overlooked some aspects of the concept whilst I was head deep in the development. These points are the most valuable:
So, in response to these now:
I have already spoken with Jade whom also got the same response about the Artisan and also the Rebel’s design. She has agreed that a change is needed for both of them and has actually already got a few alterations of the designs.
I think a glossary is definitely needed it is something that I probably overlooked because, I invented these words so I know exactly what they are. For everyone else though, a glossary would be a nice addition. Plus this also falls into my criteria of how to present my concept to the general public as well as professionals. Definitely something I need to remember for the future.
Regarding the city sectors, this is something that I didn’t expect to be commented on. I think the size of the map came from the need to have a fluid functioning open world, to allow the player to engage as they saw fit. It also stemmed through the design of the S.A.A., the ability of the protagonist in the sense that he could pick up a trail as the player explores the city and then, they could choose to follow the link back to a crime scene. This accentuates through gameplay the ability for the protagonist to act as a hidden vigilante within the city. Which would of course affect the players understanding of the city and therefore where their loyalties would lie. But I won’t get into that now. Regardless this is an important part of the entire concept, and so I am going to stand by my decision to make the city and game world that big.
Point 4 is something that I hadn’t considered at all, I’m not going to lie. In my mind the artwork and the characters written pro forma were too separate things. In some respect I trusted Jade to follow the character sheet to design the character and to be fair she did follow them to a T. So yes, the protagonist, Quade is that flexible in the game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is this sort of all out action hero, because he really isn’t that at all! He is a fairly reserved character that is a little geeky and prefers to talk his way out of things instead of going all guns blazing. So, from the stand point of promotion and false advertising I think that is something that I hadn’t considered. I definitely need to check with Jade about how she feels the imagery reflects the characters, because we were going for the over the top action poses to fall in with the theme of comical characters but if the viewer reads it wrong then it doesn’t work!
Elysium is an upcoming feature film written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, known for District 9. The film is a drama science fiction set in the near future.
About the film:
It is a good reference for my concept but one that I can’t directly comment on seen as the film is yet to come out. However it is good that there are similar themes to the one I am looking at within the media.
One of the main themes wihtin CogCore is the difference between the 7 cities ideals and forms of controlling their citizens. As the world was in a state where 7 completely different environments were allowed to flourish and start born anew.
When I was developing this idea of cities acting like pheonix’s being born from the ashes of the cities of old, I wanted to keep the sense of individuality for the 7 leaders of each state. As this way they could have completely different ideals that they impose on their subjects. This representation does also reflect my dissertation research into the differences between cultural depiction in eastern and western games. Each of the 7 leaders have grown up in different parts of the world, learning different ideologies and perfecting their own vision of the future. So when the oppotunity came for them to create a perfect society, they didn’t have to hold back.
In a basic form this idea developed out my comparison of two authors that greatly influenced my concept; these being Huxley and Orwell. Both of these are renowned for their future predictions and conspiracies in their work but two books in particular are interesting to compare.
Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World both feature future socities yet they are drastically different. Orwell and Huxley depict diffferent ways of controling the citizens within each society. Orwell favours the idea of control through obsessive servitude and aggressive deception through the media, whereas Huxley believed that control through birth control was more relevant as a future prediction.
I found that Huxley actually wrote a letter to Orwell in 1949 congratulating him on Nineteen-Eighty Four. It stated:
Within the next generation I believe that the world’s leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience.
Huxley, Aldous (1969). In Grover Smith. Letters of Aldous Huxley. London: Chatto & Windus
Upon thinking about CogCore’s protagonist, Quade, a rather prominent theme and idealism, from Aldous Huxley’s After Many A Summer, popped into my head. After a search through the book I found that the relevant section resides in chapter Eight and in my copy the pages in question lie on 77, 78.
The section I’m referring to is a memory of Hansen, “a very decent, kindly man: one who would be shocked and indignant if he saw you hurting a dog”. Within this small section Hansen is described as acting out of his ‘kind’ character as he does his duty, and in fact what he is told to do. In the story Hansen runs some orange groves for Mr. Stoyte, and Hansen’s main priority is to make the groves as profitable as possible which has a knock on effect of mistreated workers. Hansen by nature should care for the workers and want to help them, but instead as he is told to make the most money he opts to pay them little wages and let them live in poor conditions.
When confronted with his judgement Hansen states that it is different. He believes that due to this being his job he only need consider the workers as a function and not as humans. So the maltreatment isn’t direct and therefore isn’t the same as mistreating someone personally.
In reflection to Quade this is relevant because it depicts the idea of hierarchy and control by power. Quade is a tool for Dagon and therefore no matter what he does he won’t be acting himself in a personal way. This means that he could act completely out of character and still believe that he isn’t doing anything wrong. As with Hansen, he is acting on Stoyte’s command therefore Stoyte is to blame not Hansen.
Really in my concept there are a lot of characters that fall into this category, of Dagon’s pawns: Cain, Quade, and Leon are all directly under the influence of Dagon.
With Quade though, he is the only one unaware of this control, he instead believes that the control comes from his duty to serve Caribbea his hometown. This is why we see a change in him within the narrative as he becomes free of that control as he joins the people of Paragonia to help them rectify their lives. This change of character however still resides within Dagon’s control.
This is a short post about how the current film and game industries are reflecting similar or themes to what CogCore is depicting.
I have noticed that within the film industry for this years (2013’s) released titles, there are alot that are dealing with a future society. To name a few, there is Elysium, Oblivion and After Earth. All of which are Science Fiction films set in the future depicting a world where Earth has deteriorated in various ways. This influx in ‘End of the world movies’ could be a reflection of the 2012 Mayan phophecies, as they are all depicting the afterlife of Earth; all of humanity or the priviledged in some cases have moved on to conquer the stars etc.
Meanwhile in the games industry there are a few games being released this year that show some areas of social idealism. Rememeber Me for instance shows a near future Paris whihc follows a very Big Brother-esque dytopian theme. While other games like Fuse and Metro: Last Light are dealing with apocalyptic futures.
Really the industry is following a similar theme to what I aim to produce but while the film industry revels on the idea of social utopias, the games industry seems to be sacrificing the over-arching themes for more lower level character stories.
In summary I think that the main difference between films and games is the value of the protagonist. Within games the focus lies on the protagonist and how the player is immersive to the player. This can leave the game with a fairly empty player character in the hope that the player will fill the blank space with themselves. In films the focus is more on the world first and then the protagonist as a by product of the concept.
For my concept for FMP two narrative techniques have stood out as relevant for the story. The first is the idea of parallel narratives, in which a story is split into multiple parallel segments that run simultaneously. In a game scenario this is quite hard to pull off because it means that you must have another playable character, which requires two or more protagonists.. The second is the value of conflict in narratives as a way to portray the issues revolving around the protagonist that are influenced or even created by the sub-characters.
For my narrative, I am going to combine these two techniques to provide a multi-stranded story that will engage the player. To do this I need a group of versatile characters to provide a variety of ideals that are reflective of their sociological standing in the city.
So the conflict is gained through the combination of characters whom all seek different things, while the parallel narrative is achieved through the way that the player and protagonist views each characters morality and the way each character tells their story to the player. So the duality of narrative isn’t necessarily from the protagonist, it is instead the duality of the city itself. It is the way that each citizen views their city and how they reflect upon this, that creates a multi-facited view of the city.
As a side note, this reflects my research on Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, which can be found here: https://yoyocrayon.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/invisible-cities-by-italo-calvino/
This creates a
After some working around this, I have gone with the central structure being the main communal zone within the city. So the bottom third is all communal areas, which includes the domed shopping mall from the original plans. It also features a massive transportation system on the lower levels, which includes the underground central station.
Above the communal zone there is the restricted access areas which form the living and working spaces of the Asaph (elite). These are shown as a central thin tower, connected to six exterior towers, all of which focus on a different area of the city.
My final design is the lowest image, where i have defined each level to its specific function, 1 is the lowest, 7 the highest:
Invisible Cities is a novel by Italo Calvino that I was pointed in the direction of by two of my tutors.
The entirety of the book isn’t directly relevant in the sense that it is simply the chartering of many of Plato’s expeditions to various cities around the world. So the actual concept of the book isn’t relevant to my FMP but there is one part of it that stuck out to me.
It is on page 32 of my copy of the book, the chapter is called Cities and Desire. 4.
The description portrays the city of Fedora, a metropolis that holds a museum in its centre, that features miniature versions of the city. All of these miniature Fedora’s are unique and showcase a single persons vision of the city that is ideal to them. The narrator goes on to state that all of these beautifully crafted city miniatures are irrelevant as another day passes, the city has changed from what the visionary based the idealism on.
In terms of my concept this links in two ways.
The first is that it could depict the reason behind why the city is failing in Dagon’s eyes. As Witchurch, the visionary who created and designed the city in the first place is so focussed on his original ideal that he is blind to the natural change of the city. I have touched upon this slightly so far within the conflict between Whitchurch and Dagon and the reasoning behind their views. At this point, the concept is that Whitchurch is focussed upon the idealism of Paragonia that he never actually completes any of his projects. He is too focussed on the redesign and restructuring of the city to become the perfect utopia, that because the city evolves with each passing day, he cannot commit to any ideal, as it becomes irrelevant. Similar to what we see Calvino describing in this chapter.
Secondly, this chapter and the idea of individual ideologies within a city matches my idea for the four allied characters. Each of which has their own agendas and visions of what the city should become. Whether these line up with Whitchurch’s ideology is therefore irrelevant because he doesn’t act upon his wants and desires.
In an odd way reading this chapter has clarified that my concept does work. The reason being that Whitchurch is and always has been chasing utopia; this lack of decision and change therefore allowed Dagon to take power and create The Great Restructuring, which set in the citizens mind that change could happen. The citizens then began believing more in their own individual ideals instead of Whitchurch’s ideology.
This post is a summary of all my research and development into different forms of education nd how I could reflect this in my concept.
A while ago I found this article whilst using Stumbleupon: Free School Under a Bridge in India.
I printed off the article and did a little doodle on it:
I found the idea of the free school interesting, It got me questioning how to approach education within my society. Do I have education that reflects their social status i.e. bording schools etc or do I have the same level of education for everyone and have equality. In the end after figuring out several other parts of the puzzle of the city, I realised that I would have variation of education but these are only there to reflect the differences in each social class. For instance the upper class are devoted to the Asaph, they revel in the ideal that one day their sons and daughters could aspire to become Asaph. Because of this the upper class are followers of good education, but this is the education that the Asaph teach.
On the other end of this there is the slums, which does reflect somewhat the free school system shown above. Where the people have taken it upon themselves to teach the children in this social class. This leads to varying subjects and levels of education. For instance in some sections of the slums, they value the Asaph and seek similar teachings to the upper class, while other areas value skills in trade and manual labour over the Asaph’s magic powered education. This is similar to the Working class. Basically the lower class is a mixture of all the other class types in terms of beliefs and education.
I found a rather interesting article on biomimicry. There are designs for a building that creates its own facade using the salt from sea water. You can see the full article here:
It’s Alive! Faulders Studio.
It doesn’t directly link to my concept for the city but I do like the idea of a future version of this. Possibly it could be incorporated into another countries city design.
It is definitely something to keep in mind as possibly a secondary thought to how the city is constructed so quickly. Plus it does link with the idea of self-sufficiency as the city would be utilising the coastal location.
The main theme in my concept is the idea that no matter how hard humanity tries a utopia on a mass scale will never work out. This is often disputed to be down to the fact that every human is different and therefore we all want different things.
Below are a few of the places I have been looking for inspiration on this philosophy to help develop my work.
Jason Summers, philosopher, blog. This article illustrates the basic form of utopia and why they can never be achieved on a mass scale. Notes:
Debate.org discussion about utopias and why they cannot work out. Portrays a variety of different people’s viewpoints. Notes:
In summary the only way it seems to achieve a utopia is to have a hell of a lot of conditioning. Throughout my development I have looked into this and realised that it isn’t something I want to dwell on. The purpose of this brief is to create a concept that stands alone from the typical dystopian media. To do this I am going to head in the direction of social utopias, and focus the idea of religion as a human implicated device similar to how some theorists see it in reality. This means that the elites do not consider themselves Gods, but humanity has created this to give themselves something to strive to. This in some respects links back to my text document looking at the TV show The Big Questions when they asked ‘Are the ten commandments still needed to give moral guidance?’.
I have been looking at several different styles of animated cutscenes to figure out what I want Jade to produce. The journey to get here has been a little unorthodox, and we have gone down a few bizare paths to get here, but we have agreed upon the following:
Below are quick overviews of the Video Games/TV shows/Animations etc I have been looking at to get inspiration.
Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces
The trailer above shows how Sky Crawlers mixes anime with fairly realistic in-game graphics. This is a fairly straightforward example, you see some anime and then you are in game. It doesn’t necessarily have any method of smooth intergration between anime and in-game.
The Walking Dead Fanmade Intro
This focuses more on the use of layers and depth of field to show the viewer a mixture of static scenes. There is limited animation, which could hinder the more close up shots of the protagonist. Also, I do like the transitions between each shot but I think that it may not really fit the intro sequence to the game, as it gives a more disjointed feel to it. I think to allow the player to easily see the transition between animation and in-game it needs to be more straight-forward and less abstract.
This uses limited animation and pretty much no character animation, within its cutscenes. It merges well will the gameplay because the animation has the exactly same aesthetics as the in-game graphics.
Infamous has static images that are composed into an animation, so its kind of like an animatic, im not sure if there is a correct term for it. It uses harsh shadows mixed with a washed out colour palette, this is a direct contract to the high realism of the in-game enviornments.
I am Legend – animated Comics, ISOLATION
This utilises a new feature that I haven’t come across in a game before; it still feature the comic book boxes and format. I guess it is a direct replication of the comic.
One thing that has become clear from this is that you either get a massive contrast between the in-game graphics and the ccutscenes, i.e. Infamous and Starhawk or you get a cutscene that reflects the games graphics directly i.e. Deathspank.
After relaying this info to Jade, we have decided due to the nature of the in-game graphics, we are going to have a direct contrast with washed out colours etc.
Starhawk features an amazing reference for the style of animated cut scenes that I have been discussing with Jade.
As standard the general vibe that we have been discussing is a cut scene that features a washed out colour palette to contend with the vivid palette for the in-game graphics. Starhawk feature this but also adds in limited colour to accentuate the Rift Energy that is key to the gameplay. The contrast of the blue Rift energy against the overall sepia tones adds a focus point but also identifies the enemy without the gameplay beginning. This is down to the enemy force being highlighted when in the distance by the radiating blue of the Rift energy that they use and abuse.
The transition between the cut scene and the gameplay is smooth as it often fades from the animation to a replicated in-game graphic, this can be seen at the beginning of the cut scene below:
Another thing that myself and Jade wanted to implement is a small amount of animation within the cut scenes so that they feel static like motion comics. Starhawk does have some movement in terms of the characters but it also uses the idea of layers to exaggerate the depth and movement.
Key things to implement:
The gameplay of Starhawk is ambitious in parts as it merges third person shooter mechanics with tactical gameplay. As you control Emmett Graves (protagonist/Player character) you are able to call down support buildings that range from Rift energy extractors to Hawk launch pads to Beam cannons. The gameplay is in the first instance quite unique as you are given control over the entirety of the battle, but like most shooters Starhawk focusses on the idea that Emmett is powerful enough to take down hordes by himself. Thats not to say that you cannot gain backup, you can infact call down Outposts, which will replenish allies to aid in the fight. Generally though, you don’t need this help and the allies are only really useful to redirect enemy fire away from Emmett.
Whilst you have control over the battle you can choose your method of assault, which is sometimes limited depending on which mission you are on, but as you progress the player has more control over their choice of combat. This is important because the gameplay within Starhawk is really easy and fluid. For instance a heavy part of the concept is foccused on the Hawks;
Hawk’s begins as a ground based mech which turns into this airbourne fighter:
A player can easily build a launch pad, jump into a hawk and begin flight combat in around a minute or two of gameplay. The fluid movement between the Hawk being airbourne and a ground mech is so fluid that it makes it not seem like a chore at all. This could be argued both positively and negatively in terms of immersion of the player, but as a player, you can’t help admiring the smooth transitions within this game. In a more contextual view, this fluidity maintains the pace of the game, as it is a heavily action focussed shooter.
Emmett Graves is a rather unorthodox protagonist. He’s an outcast to both factions within this game, he doesnt belong to the Outcasts because he hasn’t fully embraced the Rift transformation and he isn’t part of the Miners because he has Rift energy flowing through his veins. Although the story of Starhawk isn’t that great and doesnt really develop Emmett as a character, the initial concept is very similar to my protagonist Quade.
I have been looking around for the specific aesthetical style for the characters. I have settled on the characters being fully cell shaded so that they stand out from the backgrounds which are gritty textures.
The idea for this first came about when Jade showed me the artwork for Ni No Kuni.
Which features vivid realistic backgrounds mixed with single shaded characters. This makes the characters jump out from the background and as you can see in the image above, it enables the player to see the character even if they are in the distance of the scene.
After looking at this I liked the final uses of the difference in styles, but Ni No Kuni is too drastic of a change in aesthetics. for the City I need to have an easier mix of styles as the player isn’t going to get too far away from the character so I don’t need the player character (PC) to stand out too much. I do however need the PC to fit in with the animation style. Two examples of this can be seen in Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker animated film and Starhawk, the video game.
Starhawk as seen in another post features washed out animated comic style that seamlessly transfers into the in-game graphics. And Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker is influential because of the aesthetics of the characters.:
They feature a matte flat effect which is picked out by the shadows and tones. I think this will work well against the backdrop of the environments as it contrasts enough but it also will merge nicely with the cut scenes.
This post simply demonstrates the development of the city map, and in turn the city structure and aesthetics.
The one thing that I really struggled with was the scale of things, especially in relation to the tower designs I had been producing. Overall though I think that it works well as a map, as its main purpose is to give the collaborators a base of reference.
As the character focus has shifted from the ally characters to the protagonist, I have mocked up a quick guide for Jade to begin designing.
The info given is very basic currently but this is due to my ongoing development. Due to the nature of the game genre, Adventure RPG, the protagonist is going to directly affect the narrative drive and output of the game. This means that i need to be considerate when planning the design of the protag, but due to time constraints I needed to get the visual design started. I guess this is the nature of designing concept at the same time as starting the production of the game.
I collated all my current research and development for the concept into a pdf file so that it was accessible to everyone at a glance. So far it has in it:
Hopefully this will help the other collaborators to get a feel for the game and what we are aiming for by the end of the brief.
Research Edge issue 249
Page 56, Gone Home
Release date: 2013 PC.
Gone Home begins as the protagonist returns home to their parents’ home after a prolonged trip to Europe. They find the house abandoned, dark and untidy. This alongside a note left on the door from the player character’s sister stating that you should not worry hints at a rushed departure for an unknown reason. The game allows the player to explore the house and unravel the story as you please.
What is interesting about this game is the choice to make it solely exploration, with no combat or enemies. The whole focus therefore is put onto the story and the ability to find as much of it out as you so wish. This means that the player has full control over the events that take place within the game, allowing them to make up their mind on how to play it. Although saying this, it does feature a limited playability as it only offers up exploration. So really the player has control over the pace of the game.
In regards to my FMP I think that this is an interesting feature that is fairly common within other exploration based RPG’s and FPS’s. The ability of exploration to add a new perspective to the player is an interesting notion. It allows them to have control over some aspects of the game and thus create an experience that they want to have, instead of being forced into one. Does this mean that without player choice we have a more passive experience? Possibly, but what I think I need to consider is the purpose of said experience within the concept. As so far I have been focusing solely on the narration and creating a concise back story. I think I need to start fitting this around the actual playability of the game that I want to develop.
I have popped up my gantt chart onto goggle docs, so that it is accessible to everyone in the group. Alongside this I asked the other team members to put up their gantt chart in the drawing-room or mezz area within uni so that we all have something to refer too.
Hopefully this will allow us to be able to see when each of us have other commitments or even strain on the project as a whole. So far with the other timetables I have seen, a few issues have arisen already, which at this early stage is fairly easy to smooth over, at a later date I’m not sure how easy we will be able to change them.
My full gantt chart is here:
To simplify and speed up the visual design process I have separated the relevant information on the 4 characters that will be visually developed to take into 3D software. The intent of this is that Jade now has a word .doc file with information about the only characters she needs to focus on. Plus the information I have given is only relevant to the visual design, so she doesn’t have to sift through non-relevant information, that goes into detail about the characters story arc etc.
Download here: General Character Info for Design Sheets
So, I have started my Final Major Project with one aim in mind: to stay organised!
I’m not saying that I struggle massively with organisation but my creative flow does often leave me high and dry sometimes, and if I outline that, on a gannt chart, I will do a certain thing by said deadline, it often doesn’t get done on time.
To combat this fluid workflow I am using a weekly diary to plan my time. This is structured alongside a monthly deadline plan. So far the diary is working out OK, as I can alter which days I complete the task on, but I do a set amount of work each week.