Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Game Design project "Have fun" - Conclusion

Well, it's not done to a standard that I am completely happy with but here it is, my concept for a gamee called "Maya" handed in 3 hours before deadline (a personal record). Even though I would have liked to have been able to work on it longer (and with more hours sleep inbetween) I feel I accomplished a good amount in the 4 days I had set aside to work soley on this project. I guess if I was able to churn out this much work in 4 days, what could I have achieved in the entire alotted 2 weeks?

Criticisms still include things such as the character doesn't look as if she fits properly with the background and I know I could have produced technically better work if I had the time. However I am pleased with what I was able to do in the time allowed.

Game Design project "Have fun" - Creating some concept art

Because I'm on such a tight schedule with my deadline mere hours away I decided to take previous pieces of work I had made and tweak them in photoshop. Underneath are landscape and portrait versions of my backdrop.

I attempted to work the oriental building into the background, aswell as tweaking some of the colours to make the complex to appear alight. I like the way this has turned out, however, I would have liked more time to be able to work on the structure in the background.

I feel the composition might work better in portrait view rather than landscape as it appears as if the flames are rising from the ground. I then placed my characters, along with some extra imagery over the top of the background to produce a composition.

My main concern is that the foreground does not tie in very well with the background. This perhaps could have been remedied by adding pieces of the environment to the foreground. Overall I think the result is decent.

I feel the piece works better in landscape view. I also placed Maya and the smoke creature to the side of the composition as to seporate them from the background. I feel happier with this piece more than the previous attempt. I also feel the piece reflects on the concept and theme of the game.

Game Design project "Have fun" - A look at character design continued

Underneath are the final concepts for the main character "Maya" and the "smoke creature".

I like how the main character turned out. I wanted her look to reflect water and movement. I created her pose by taking poses from several other characters and piecing bits together (like a weird Frankenstein project) to create a single stance. I also feel her colour palette reflects water nicely.

Okay, the smoke creature looks pretty half-assed, but thats mainly because I was running out of time. But how long does it take to paint smoke anyway? So I suppose I'm satisfied with his design; he is meant to be a faceless character afterall.

Game Design project "Have fun" - Game mechanics and themes

I am now fairly settled on what the gameplay mechanics will be along with the story to some extent.

The story will reflect "Maya"(Arabic for "water"), a young water nymph (and main protagonist) who uses her water magic to put out fires that break loose in forests or cities (sort of like a mystic fireman). She is accompanied by her nameless "smoke creature" companion who feeds off the smoke the flames give off as she douses them. As the smoke creature feeds off the smoke he gets larger, which in turn allows him to become more useful to Maya as his mass can be used to solve puzzles that would hinder their progression into the level. However, these fires that seemingly break out from nowhere are not the result of negligence, but the work of the mischevious "Pyrogheists". It is Maya's duty to put out all the pyrogheists and save the city from the fires, as her smoke creature assists the environment by inhaling all the harmful fumes left in their wake.

...okay its garbage, but the story was never really a main focus of mine; more of an accompniament to the gameplay. Underneath I have created a couple of quick story boards outlining gameplay.

I designed "Maya" as a 2D side-scroller that I would hope to see released on the XBOX360 and PS3 as a downloadable arcade game. In this sense I would compare to games like the Castlevania series and Braid.

Game Design project "Have fun" - Know your enemy

Once a main  protagonist has been designed and decided it upon it is time to begin the process of creating the enemy. In this case I have chosen Chinese ninjas (yes they did exist and no, ninjas aren't particularly original) as I like the idea of having an enemy you wouldn't be able to put a face to. The fact their features will be covered up will also allow me to reuse the same character art as the archetype for all enemy designs. Underneath is a small collection of typical ninja images which I will use as a starting point.

Since the enemys will possess the element of fire it is important that they are personified thussly. This mens the ninjas (or "Pyrogeheists", which I have decided to name them) will be completely made from fire. I also played around with the idea of giving them chinese masks, which could help individualise them more and possibly make them more intimidating.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Game Design project "Have fun" - A look at costume design

After looking at various types of costumes and considering my character's personality I decided to attempt designing her outfit. Underneath are 8 silhouettes I produced.

At first I started taking bits from other character designs and modifying them, keeping to the theme of water and waves. By the time I got to the 5th costume I began developing a sort of short dress which I created variations to in the next 3 designs. I personally like #7 the most since I think it fits the personality of my character best.

Game Design project "Have fun" - A look at character design

I had already decided the main protagonist will be a young female to reflect the puriety of water. I am unsure yet how young she will be; perhaps 12 or 14. Underneath I produced some quick sketches of faces using Freud's work as reference to an extent.

I've already decided #8 is wrong as it reminds me of a chipmunk. #7 is interesting in a creepy, voodoo doll sort of way and I'm not sure what happened with #1. However, #6, 9 and 11 strike me as the most workable. I may use these 3 faces to synthesize one face and encorporate the style endorsed in one of the others.

I then began looking at traditional chinese clothing. I like the way the fabric flows however I might consider something shorter as the main character will need to be more agile than what such an elaborate dress would allow.

I then thought of chinese clothing in video games and thought back to the Qiao sisters from the Dynasty Warriors series. I like how their outfits seem to have a modern twist and also how intricately detailed they are. I also like that the outfits allow for a good range of movement.

I find it helpful to look at examples of costume in game as it gives me an idea of where to start with the costume for my character. I also like how the costumes reflect the characters personality; something I will need to be mindful of when designing my own.

When considering my character's personality words such as innocence, puriety and youth came to mind. The element water is wild and free in personality, and I would like all these features to reflect in the character and her clothing. I looked at particular symbols that might reflect these qualities and found that the water lily was an analogy for puriety and innocence. I might try and work it somewhere into her outfit; the fact its an oriental flower should also tie in with the theme.

Underneath are a few patterns I've collected along with a few chinese symbols; the top left being the chinese symbol for water itself. I might find a way to work some of these into her outfit.

Game Design project "Have fun" - The work of Lucian Freud

As I was arriving back at London Victoria a couple of days ago a huge banner caught my eye as I was passing through the station. It was advertising an event exhibiting portraits by artist, Lucian Freud. I was first drawn to the portrait of a woman to the left of the banner; what I noticed imedietly was she was out of proportion. Her eyes were way too big for her head, she seems to be much larger on the left in comparison to her right and her head didn't look as if it sat comfortably on her body. Despite these flaws, I still believed she was a real person and that I could read her emotions.

After considering the portrait for a good 10 minutes I decided I liked it, was possibly even mesmorised by it. Then I thought about whether his style would work in a video game. Underneath is a small collection of portraits by Freud which I personally liked.

Game Design project "Have fun" - A look at colour and art-style

Because I had already decided on gameplay that involves a clash between elements I will need a colour palette to reflect this. Fire and water will be possessed by the enemies and the main protagonist respectively, so I needed to keep in mind a way I could use materials to not only represent the colours, but the moveent of elements.

These first couple of palette tests were an idea for the colours that would represent the game as a whole. I like the strong, vibrant colours .

In these next tests I tried to paint a representation of water and how it might look as a malleable forcew. I also considered movement as I painted.

In this 3rd set I decided to experiment with painting fire. I endorsed a similar technique as I did with water but obviously changed the colours. I also paid closer consideration to form in this set.

This last piece was a quick attempt to apply some of the techniques I had been practicing into a simple composition. I like the effect but feel that perhaps adding detail with a different medium such as acrylic would prove benefitial.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Game Design project "Have fun" - The work of Trey Ratcliff

I came across Trey Ratcliff whilst I was searching for oriental architecture and instantly fell in love with his work. He is a photographer by trade who enjoys exploring different parts of the globe and featuring it in his work. However he takes his work a step futher by editing it digitaly which takes beyond the confines of simply being a photograph. Underneath are examples of his work which I personally like and feel are relevant to my own work.

Game Design project "Have fun" - A look at traditional Chinese architecture

Ok, Mike, so maybe I'm not being particularly original... but you gotta start somewhere right?

I'm already worried my game idea will look like a clone of countless other oriental-themed games but I've already considered ways in which it could seporate itself from other games! For one I'm planning to have game play that focuses on opposing elements....

Aww crap this ain't gonna be original at all!

Anyways moving on I decided to look at some Chinese architecture; the slanting, layered roofs are what came to mind imedietly.

Sice I intend my game to be a 2D-side scroller I am unsure whether the architecture will be scalable or simply appart of the backdrop. Either way I feel it would serve as some pretty eye-catching imagery. Underneath I have collected a few images of a typical Chinese new year. The colours and lights are dazzling and I like chinese dragons - they may seep into my work later on.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Game Design project "Have fun" - Considering art-style

When I first thought of an art-style incorporating chinese silk painting I can't deny my mind kept bouncing back to Okami. I had been so infatuated with that game that I'm worried my own game idea would end up looking like an ode to it. So then I thought I'd actually look at chinese silk painting and see the comparisons for myself.

There are some notable similarities such as the watery brush strokes however, chinese silk pinting appears to stick to monotone colour palettes whilst simply introducing a single bold colour to create contrast within the composition. From here I'm sure I could incorporate some of these techniques and ideas into my own work.

Game Design project "Have fun" - Considering environments

When the project was first announced my mind rushed into that little space where I keep all my gaming dreams and ideas. Something I have always loved in games was the art style. I would think back to games like Okami; a beautiful, original game with a unique art-style. I love how they envisioned Japan as if it were a Japanese ink painting.

The Prince of Persia game that came out in 2008 for the 360 and PS3 was a wonder to behold with its cel-shaded graphics and dreamy colour palette. I'm not a fan of deserty terrain but I would gladly live in any of the locales created in this game.

Naturally when envisioning a concept of my own I thought of incorporating a colourful art-style into the mix.

I first contemplated gothic architecture, since I've always had a love for the dark and medievil. But then I thought there was nothing really original about that and my work would inevidebly end up looking like a Castlevania rip-off. Then I considered doing horror but realised the colour palette normally associated with horror games was generally dark and gloomy.

Finally it came as I was watching Disney's Mulan. Why not make a setting for a game based on ancient China, using an art-style that incorporated chinese silk painting. Once the idea was planted in my head my course was set.

Game Design project "Have fun"....in aproximately 4 days

I make no secret out of the fact that I chose to leave it until now to pursue this project. I could go into detail about how I was struggling to finish my current game productions project and trying to get my visual design work up to speed, but the industry has no place for whinny excuses. So this will be my attempt to produce a concept, theme and supporting artwork for a video game in just under 4 days. God help me...

I will begin by producing a list of rules I believe are crucial to effective environment design in games:

1. The environment must be relevant - by this I mean there is no point creating an explorable location in a game if it isn't worth exploring. Why create a long corridor if it serves little purpose? In Silent Hill 2 the main protagonist, James finds himself walking down a long, dark, narrow stair-well which takes almost 2 MINUTES to descend. The relevence of that staircase was that it was a metaphor for his descent further into hell. It also added to the tension, forcing the player to constantly consider whether they should have turned back by now.

2. The environment should be visually stimulating - whether its a tropical rainforest filled with lush greenery or a murky dark passageway, the location needs to strike the player as being just that. There should be a sufficient amount of detail to the environment as well as mindful judgement when it comes to a choice of appropriate props and their placement. On top of this there should be a level of artistic finesse to the location, afterall, they represent the game visually and the rest of it would suffer if the graphics weren't up to scratch. A bit of imagination also goes a long way.

3. The environment must be believable - by this I mean the player should feel complete emersion at all times. If there are any hitches, such as a horse floating 20 feet up in the air (I'm looking at you Skyrim...) then the player is instantly reminded that what they are playing isn't real. Furthermore props and other features must be carefully considered; if something minor in the background is drawing far too much attention for no apparant reason then the designer did a pretty poor job. If a switch looks like it should be able to be pressed, then it should be.

I think those 3 rules about sum up what I believe makes a good game environment. From here I will start considering the concept for my own game idea...

Elements of Game Design: Environment

Elements of Game Design: Character

Elements of Game Design: Art direction for games

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Elements of Game Design: Comparing Pac-man to FEAR Resident Evil 5

The assignment suggested that I compare an old, well known classic like Pacman to the modern survival horror/first person shooter/whatever FEAR. However I have never played the latter (nor do I intend to) so I decided to compare it to a game from a similar series which also happens to be a personal favourite of mine: Resident Evil.

I can say with complete reassurance that Pacman is one of the most well known and popular games to have ever been released. Everyone recognises the main protagonist's partially-eaten pizza shape and his jelly-shaped persuing antagonists. Everyone recognises the noise pacman makes as he swallows the pellets dotted around his maze-like environment. However, what I find even more interesting is how we recognise pacman and his persuers as believable characters.

Why is it that we recognise this brightly coloured object as a character; something that has consciousness. It is because the moment we control the little yellow blighter we project our motives into him, which in turn makes him become us. What motive is this? As is the motive of any competitive game: to win! However, I digress, the objective of the game is to outrun (or even eat) your stalkers and win the game by collecting all the pellets. A highly original idea! (at the time ofcourse) but is it so different from the objective in more modern games.

Resident Evil 5 at the time of its release was truely a milestone for gaming. The graphics had never been better, the gameplay was as exciting and addictive as ever and the environment was unique and imersive. Light years ahead of primitive games such as Pacman!....or was it?

We can agree that graphics, themes and play style are all different between these two games, but let just examine what similarities they share:

  • Both games have a primary objective: to avoid/kill the antagonist(s)
  • Both games have a main protagonist: in Pacman its the yellow cheese block himself and in Resident Evil 5 its Chris Redfield
  • Game play in both games takes place in designed environment in which a pre-determined path must be taken.
So fundamentally, both games are very similar; as can probably be said if I had chosen to compare Pacman to any number of current games. The only change is presentation and production standards. These two entities have gradually expanded as gaming has become more popular and diverse. Resident Evil 5 being a good example as a high-production game with fantastic presentation. These two assets are also important features of game design itself.

Game design is an amalgamation of severel key aspects of design. These include art direction, character and environment. These three aspects of design are normally handled by a large team of skilled artists, programers and usually a single director and head concept artist. Ofcourse when devising Pacman back in the 1980's I'm sure the team was significantly smaller.