Studio 3; Storyboarding

This week in studio 3 we started to get more and more into the designing of the game we are creating. However we are doing something different in term of the design process this time, rather then creating a HCD (High Concept Document), then moving onto a GDD (Game Design Document, and from there move onto a technical design document and then get to creating the game or prototype or whatever it is.

So we having been doing story boarding as a process for designing the game and getting feed back on said designs without putting time into making them in unity. Storyboarding  traditionally is used in the production of animations or motion pictures to pre-visualize a story scene by scene. In a similar vain we are using it to plan out our game, screen by screen.

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Starting with the made in unity screen when then move onto a main menu, there from which we would draw the screens for when the player clicks on play, settings or credits. 20170608_203646.jpg

In this case I had two other start at the same time so I cue cards for the other two ideas to start as well as I had know room for them to fit. (Though that may be hard to tell with the photo I took.)

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From there the process continues going, down the line of paper as if playing the game. Showing the various interactions that can happen. Then moving onto win/lose states and beyond.

I found there as been a large benefit from doing story boarding, as it allows us to each work on a singular idea and then get feedback on it very quickly, as well as being able to make changes to our ideas based on our feedback once again very quickly. However it has been strange following this design process as it feels as though we are not making progress in terms of documentation and designing the game through the documentation as that is what I am used to. And as such there is this lingering feeling that we are falling behind where we need to be.

However after picking one idea from the team and working together to make it even better over the course of next week. We will then be starting on the prototype, but until then. See You Space Cowboy….

Studio 3; Storyboarding

Studio 3; First Client Meeting

After doing the research in preparation for the meeting we wrote out a list of objectives which are different things we want to learn about during the meeting, such as more about the design problem, what level of students will be making use of this game, and a lot of other points. In order to get information on these various objects, we planned to start the meeting with a very broad question, that would get the client to answer a lot of questions we may want to ask without us having to ask a large amount of questions.  And we had this question and the objectives written down in our note books so that we would have a point of reference in case the meeting started to lull.

On the day of the meeting we made sure to be 30 minutes early to class in order to be ready and get the room set up for the meeting, including making sure that were we wanted to sit had a comfy enough chair, and checking the lighting of the room etc. Once that was done we waited in the room for some time, try to not let my nerves get the best of me. After a short while our client came up the stairs and we shook hands introduced ourselves, and let the meeting begin.

The meeting itself went fairly well, as we were able to get all the information we wanted to get fairly quickly. However since we got most of the information we wanted fairly quickly there were a few times through out the meeting were the conversation did start to lull as we were looking at our notes trying to think of questions we needed to ask and cover that we may not have.

One thing that really did surprise me though looking back it on it, it makes perfect sense. Is the client wanted know about us more, which when you think about makes sense. They want to know if we can turn out a product that they can be happy with, and that solves the problem. But at the time since we had be doing so much research into what the client might what and what we need to get from the client that we didn’t think of what the client may want to know, so it was interesting trying to think of what they might want to know, and is defiantly something to keep in mind for meetings with clients outside of uni in the future.

After the meeting was adjourned we went with our client to learn more of the domain knowledge behind the project. This was a good experience because not only did it allow us to get a better grasp of the project and what we are trying to do, it also allowed us to build rapport with the client and learn more about what he wanted from this project just by talking to him. And at the end of it all we organised another meeting with him so we could ask some follow up questions as well as bring up some design ideas and running them by him.

 

Studio 3; First Client Meeting

Studio 3; Client Meeting Prep

After a few weeks holiday from uni (and writing blogs.) I start the tri learning that for the entirety of studio 3 we will be in the one team working on the one project. And that the project will involve a real world client which is very different to what we have worked on so far through out my year and 1/3 at uni. The closest similar project being the audio video game I worked on last tri.

So we got split into teams and assigned rolls. From there we were given a short brief on what the design problem is, and who our client is. For my group we are going to be working with the audio department  coordinator, in order to create a game that will help tri 1, and 2 audio students to practice signal flow.  Which is were our client prep started.

Step 1. What is signal flow?

The first step for us was to find out what signal flow actually was and kinda how it works, so that we could start formulating  ideas and looking at more specific topics to research.  For those who don’t know what signal flow is, here is a short video explaining the basics. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-v75Mgh9dA

Basically signal flow is the path an audio signal takes from source to output.

For example the singer sings into a mic which then goes through the preamp which then gets sent to the eq, then compressor, then the output or the audio digital converter.

Once we understood what we could from looking at different online resources that come up when searching the internet for stuff about signal flow we moved on to research different sections to do with the design problem and our client meeting. Such as existing products, more info on the client, for info on soundboards, and some examples of what could go wrong if you mess up the signal flow order.

 

Of the above topics I was tasked with researching existing products, so I stared to look into other options students have if they wish to learn/practice signal flow.  And to cut a long researching session short I couldn’t find much in terms of products that exist to help people with signal flow, the products that do exist consist of multitudes of videos be that single videos or entire courses. Along with a few quizzes that test theoretical knowledge of signal flow. But nothing out there that can help practice in a similar way to working in a studio, like our game is setting out to do.  Since I couldn’t find any existing products along the line of what we are setting out to create, I decided to look at existing apps and games that have to do with following an order or line. As that is what the concept of signal flow remind me of, games such as Minimetro, Flight Control, and Lyne. Minimetro, is a game about moving shapes from the station they are at, and moving them to the station that matches their shape, using a set amount of paths and tunnels. This made me think of signal flow as how the people travel along the line. Which promoted me to look into Lyne as another game with a similar preference of matching lines to solve a puzzle.  Which lead onto flight control which is about drawing lines to get planes to dock at an airport.  These games/research came together to help form a small idea about what type of game we may want to make going into the client meeting.

Studio 3; Client Meeting Prep

Checkpoint A Critical Refection

“Checkpoint seeks to convey the ridiculousness and severity of islamophobia by having the player work as a customs agent deciding whether someone who tries to enter the country is a terrorist or not. The player is given very little information to go off when deciding whether to label someone as a terrorist or not, this is to draw comparison to how many people who have an islamophobic view will judge people based on very little to no knowledge of the person they judge. However no matter how they judge a single person in our game none of the people are terrorist, which seeks to show people who may judge various people as terrorist with next to no information to go on besides there name and where they’re from or what they look like that the person they seek to label as a terrorist is not going to be a terrorist.”

This is the final description of our game that was recently released on itch.io. The game was created as a assessment for  for a class I attend. For the project we were to “Combine your creativity and the critical cultural insights that we cover in CIU211, you are to conceptualise and create an interdisciplinary mixed-media project that demonstrates the creative application of your critical thinking and analytical skills and deliver this project via a live online platform. ” For this project we were allowed to work in groups or individuality, I personally worked in a group of three made up of myself, Izzy, and Dakota.

From the very start of the project we had a very strong idea for what we wanted to create and what message we wanted it to convey.  And that was essentially what the description above says.  Which was to the severity/ridiculousness of islamophobia, which is in away a response to the Trump Muslim ban. The original idea was to create a a similar game to Papers Please, however no matter who the player may say is terrorist they would be wrong. And since we had, such a solid idea to build off of, as well as a set style the project didn’t really change much over the course of the project as many project generally do.

Though the idea and main aspects of the game stayed the same through the whole project there were some changes that had to be made due to the amount of time we had to work on the project. One main feature that was cut was the ability to check of discrepancies, however once again due to the limited time to work on the project and the fact that that it wouldn’t effect the overall message of the game it was cut. This however wan’t a problem since once again the game still conveys it’s message as intended.

As far as projects go this project was very much a success with very little going wrong, especially when compared to the projects that I have been working on for other subjects. And I think this mainly due to the very strong idea/foundation that we had for the project as well as it mainly being in scope with the time that we had. But even though the project went well in generally I learn more from when a project goes wrong I was still able to learn a lot from this project, not so much in the how to make games compartment but more just the general life lesson stuff. As through this project and through out the class as a whole this trimester I learned to be open to contributing and acknowledging opinions. As I am by nature a very unconfrontational person for the most part when people would be sharing their opinions I would for the most part just listen and nod just to try and not start something, but through this class I have learned the importance of being able to share my opinions, as wall as being more acknowledging other opinions and  making sure to engage  with what they are saying and ask question, so that we all get a better understanding of each other opinions and the world as a whole.

Checkpoint A Critical Refection

Project Blob; A Post-mortem

This is going to my post-mortem/reflection on the game Project Blob, if you haven’t check it out yet please feel free to do so. To start off with a bit of background this was a made for the purpose of displaying it at a local exhibition.

Intention

Project Blob as I said before was created for the purpose of displaying at an local exhibition, this exhibition would be displaying multiple game that the teams in our uni class created. The catch was that we had to make a game to do with the theme of home. And the way we got to project blob was looking at animals migrating homes. With some adjustment, for one the fictional blobs as the animal, and their migration pattern basically being moving a  few meters to the left every season.

 Making The Blob Cute

A large part of the game was making the blob’s look cute and making them something that the player could get attached too, which I feel was something we did successfully. Because after doing some research into popular games/movies to find out what made a person get attached to characters from those media. If you want to look at a blog related to the process of looking at these cute characters and story’s and how that translated into our game you can do that here.

Project Management

For this project I was put in charge of handling the project management of the game. And over all I felt that the project was able to run fairly smoothly and achieved the goals we set out to achieve. However there were some points through out the project which I have realized I could of done better when it comes to project. Mainly in setting the right amount of work and to be careful with the amount of work you let one person take on. If you wish to see a more in depth blob on the project management of Project Blob please see my previous blog here.

Exhibition

The exhibition went a lot better then I thought it would, as leading up to the exhibition I was very worried and nervous to show my game off to people of the public. But I was surprised at how well received the game was and was very enjoyable to see people play and really like that game that we created.

Project Blob; A Post-mortem

Falling; A Post-mortem

This is going to my post-mortem/reflection on the game Falling, if you haven’t check it out yet please feel free to do so. To start off with a bit of background this was a project I worked on for 4 weeks about 8 week ago now. So things may not be as accurate as they could be in terms of my memory.

Intention

Falling was designed to be an interactive music video for the purpose of  displaying James Reynolds also know as Conqueezy’s work as well as reflecting the feeling of the song in game. When the team first heard the song we all had fairly similar ideas in terms of what we were thinking about how the song made us feel. Which you may be able to tell from the title of the game, but the sense we got from the game was falling, more specifically falling from space back down to earth while having a slightly surreal trip down.

Movement

The first challenge of the project was what does the player do? Besides the falling part that is. The main aspects we wrestled with here was how the camera would work in relation to the movement. As we wanted the player to kind of be able to move whilst they were falling however with each change of movement script or camera script problems would arise here and there, however after much trial and error almost we ended up using our own movement script in line with unity’s free look camera controller. This really gave us the effect we wanted as the player was able to look around to see what is going on around them however the movement was locked to just move forward, backwards, left, and right independent of what direction the player was looking.

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Collectibles

This facet of the game was were a lot of time working on the game was spent so this section will probably be a lot longer then the others. The original idea for the collectibles was that as the player was falling they would be able to click on this thing that is falling beside them and it would add in an extra “layer” to the song such as another instrument. However with the amount of time we had to work on the project that wasn’t really a feasible option.  So the purpose or idea of the collectibles changed instead of being something with a noticeable effect upon collection, they became more of just things the player could interact with that didn’t effect much besides themselves. Becoming more of a metaphor to the things we may collect in our life that become irrelevant and pointless.

With the design intention behind the collectibles sorted out I started to work on them, if you wish to learn more about how I made them go here to see a previous blog about the collectibles that I made. The main challenge that came up during the creation of the collectibles was letting the player know that they were looking at an object or could interact with it.  But after some though I came up with a few solutions that would let the player know what is going on in the game. The first one you can see from the GIF above and that is the light that comes up around the bird or start when the player it looking at it. This was mainly put in since our game lacked a cursor of some description and would of been worse off if it did have one. So since the player couldn’t see what the cursor would be on I used the light as a way for the player to see what the “cursor” would be over essentially. Once that was in I felt that the player was able to play the game a lot easier, however the collectibles still weren’t all I wanted them to be. Because there was no feedback on when the player clicked the bird and it was destroyed it seemed really weird that the birds would just dispensary into thin air. In order to fix that I added in a small particle effect and sound when the player “destroys” a collectible. So once that was in it looked more as if the collectibles were turning to dust and drifting away then just disappearing. Overall I am very happy with the way the collectibles turned out.

Web GL

Web GL, two words I would rather never hear in my life again if that is at all possible. If you can’t tell from that sentence web gl caused a lot of problems for our team over the course of the four weeks we were working on the project. Since we wanted the player to be falling from a very large height all the way to the ground (all the while looking a way that matches the song) a lot of issues arose in terms of fps lag and the web gl build just not being able to run. Which to say the least was frustrating at times. However after learning about and getting used to the limitations of web gl we were able to find ways around the issues we had on web gl. And were able to upload a stable build to our itch page (though it doesn’t look as good.)

Closing

In closing I am very proud of the game we were able to put out in four weeks. And though some issues came up along the way the team was able to push through and figure out how to get this game out, and learn some stuff along the way.

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Falling; A Post-mortem

Project Blob; The Story of Blobs

For Project Blob we wanted to create a story/experience of this family of blobs that migrate at the start of every season, and the lost that they experience. And from the very start of designing the game we wanted to make the blobs something cute and lovable so that the player would grow attached to them. Much like how players get attached to the goos in World Of Goo or the pikmin in Pikmin.

In order to figure out how to make our blobs cute and lovable we first needed to look at what made the characters in the two games above so cute/lovable.

Helplessness

  • In both of the games above the characters appear or are helpless without you. In the case of Pikmin the first time you encounter the pikmin in Pikmin 2 they are already under attack and look like they are in trouble.

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  • And in World of Goo you need to guide your goos to the pipe because they can’t do it on their own.

Eyes

  • Though this may seem like a fairly obvious thing to point out, eyes add a lot to a character in terms of making them feel real – and in this case cute. This is mainly in reference to the goos as they aren’t much more then a circle and eyes but yet you can still grow so attached to them.

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Weird can be cute

  • Often times a character in a game or movie that can seem weird/abnormal is a character that whoever is consuming the media may grow attached to. A big example of this is characters from movies, such as Olaf from Frozen and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.  Both of which have a weird/different design and attract a lot of fans.

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  • And that isn’t only apparent in the design/look of the characters but can also be reflected in the overall weirdness of the characters story. To bring up Olaf again, he is a snowman that wants nothing more then to be in summer.

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How did these techniques for a cute character translate into the game?18090583_10211862368421900_1580255045_o.png

The most obvious thing that came out of looking at these different techniques for  ways to make a character cute, and get a player attached to said character is the model. We wanted to make the blob look very cute/friendly as well as a having it different from say goo. So we gave them really big eyes and smile to immediately grab the players attention and show how happy/innocent these blobs are. And the little hand and feet are there so that upon further inspection they see these tiny hand/feet that don’t make much sense being there since they roll everywhere. And too make them seem more alive, we added a blinking effect so they would blink every so often in game.

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Another layer of story telling that we have in our game to increase the amount of attachment between the players and the blobs was small text entries at the start of each level which seek to convey that kind of ridiculousness of the blobs story to the player.

 

Project Blob; The Story of Blobs