the online ramblings of a generally confused game designer

Thursday, October 27, 2005

mike in motion


this whole get up and go thing is really working out for me now. got up this morning early (ish) to go shopping for sports stuff (for gym) accidentally met my girlfriend and had a great little wander. Then had a decent seminar.

Expecting a bunch of mates round in a couple of hours to watch batman begins. Gotta go turn my kitchen into a screening room again.

Oh, and if anyone's wondering, yes I am still working. Haven't been able to fit in a massive amount of drawing, but am currently just getting on with some ongoing research towards my next project. I'm also conceptualizing a possible new side project, a scaled down ARG. we'll see.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


wow.. it's been over a week since my last post. Well, I'd like to say it's because of the sheer amounts of work I've been doing, the difficulty of my situation at uni and my hectic social life. That would be a lie though. The last week has been spent sat on my arse. It's a wasted week of my life. Today though, I decided to grab life by the balls again. I've enrolled in my university's gym to lose my love handles, had a chat about my progress with my lecturer, sorted out my room, and washed my dishes!

Oh, and my copy of Batman Begins arrived in the post.

Went to see Corpse Bride last night. I was incredibly dissapointed. The scenes in the land of the living were inspired, excellent design and characterisation. There's the obligatory Harryhausen reference, and all the gloomy minimalism I could have hoped for. When the action moves to the land of the dead, however, it degenerates to a piss poor array of stereotypes. Where are the cool character designs of 'Oyster Boy' or, and I hate to compare the two films, 'Nightmare Before Christmas'? Instead we have the stock maggots, spiders and dancing skeletons with bowler hats. That said, I may be being overly critical. My girlfriend loved it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

the big crit

Presented my game concept for real today. It went down reasonably well, but without the amount of enthusiasm it had in rehearsal. This isn't particularly shocking, as everyone had seen the majority of it before, and it must have been boring hearing the same again. That said I'm hopeful for a decent grade, and enjoyed seeing other people's ideas taken to their full extent. Ho hum.. I'm having a quiet evening in, which is a nice change. Playing with my new freeview box (the last one broke)

Wallace and Gromit was great, british nostalgic coolness. I am surprised at it's success in the US though, as so many of the jokes seem incredibly culturally specific. The fact that my girlfriend was there when they were wrapping it up (doing a bit of model work on the next series of Creature Comforts) made it even cooler, as it's always great see a film with someone who's passionate about it

oh, and apparently I'm in trouble for not naming the producer of the photo in my last post. Sarah Matthews, the beautiful and tallented photographer who I live with. Long may she produce the incredibly flattering work I sampled before. Three cheers for this brilliant tallent

Monday, October 17, 2005

done and dusted

finished my design doc with time to spare yesterday, just had it bound and handed in. I'm happy, going to cinema tonight with some friends to see wallace and gromit, it's gonna make me feel warm and cozy, lots of childhood flashbacks. Got my assessed presentation tomorow on the game, but i'm not worried, as my practice run went really well last week.

Ooooh, random pic of my angry mouth, taken by a photographer buddy for some project she's doing, theres a rather unflattering diptic of me on the kitchen wall featuring this lovely pic.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

more concept imagery

dit... more rounded and simplified design

finishing off the design doc... this little fella is on the contents page

Friday, October 14, 2005

fleshing out the ideas

Sorry for the lack of posts, I've just been so busy working on the documentation for the game (13 pages and counting). Who would have thought videogame design would entail so much bloody paper work. Anyhoo.. it's helping to clarify my ideas. I'm not going to post the finished doc online, as a hell of a lot of work has gone into it, and I'm not sure I want to share what could be a really decent portfollio piece.

Oh, and as an apology for the lack of updates.. here's an example of some more concept art I've produced for the document

Sunday, October 09, 2005

a better pic

Something just didn't sit right with me on my previous attempts at the two main characters, Tally and Dit (I changed the name when a friend told me 'flid' was italian slang for invalid, which made it too obvious, and verged on offensive... that will teach me to make-up names). I decided to draw the character designs back, simplifying them.. so this is the current look. The colour scheme matches some of my previous work, with white 2d characters moving on a colourful background. I think this could create a very calming aesthetic for the game.

Other than that I've written up my game concept document, which I will be presenting on Tuesday. That just leaves the rest of the proposal doc. Oh, and for anyone interested, I've been reading a lot of articles recently, well worth a look...

in my DVD Player: La Haine
in my console: Deus Ex 2

Friday, October 07, 2005

another pic

a close-up

finally.. imagery!

well 'tally and flit' is definitely going to be my game concept. I've spent the morning drawing and colouring character portraits. I will spend the weekend working on the concept documentation. The characters are abstract, in the sense that they aren't supposed to 'be' anything in particular. In game I would want them to have a tactile but non-realistic look, somewhat like stop motion characters. These two are the results of multiple doodles, and some help from lecturers and friends. As I'm working to a time limit these are pretty final. (for an explanation of the story of the characters, and their place in the game.. read my last post)

Click the picture to see a larger version

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

i always hated wednesdays

ok.. so i've done lots of research now, and have built up my ideas... Research is obviously ongoing, but the focus will now switch to the development and organization of the game concept. Here's a basic summary of what the game currently 'is'.

'Tally and Flit'
Two characters wake in a field. In all directions all they can see is grass and sky. Tally is the larger of the two, strong, caring and creative. Flit is small, and has trouble walking without Tally's help. The two friends decide to go home. The grass is wet, however, and Flit has trouble moving along it. Luckilly Tally has a satchel full of planks and begins to build a path for them to walk on. The player takes control of the friends, constructing their path and moving them forward. There are various obstructions in the friends' way, and you must build the path around them, over them or below them. After playing for a while the game asks the player if they want to go online. If they chose 'yes' then slowly they begin to see over characters building paths, or the paths others have left earlier. These in turn become barriers and obstructions which must be overcome. Emergent gameplay happens when players start interacting, either by creating patterns together or, by using the seeds which flit carries with her, planting beautiful gardens together.

It could just work, and I'm gonna do some character sketches later to really help me visualize it. Gots to go now though, as I'm going to the theatre to see some dance... more on that tomorow

Monday, October 03, 2005

impressionism <---> videogames

Compiling my research.. a bit of an excerpt from my impressionist section...

Many would argue that it is time for a movement not dissimilar from impressionism in videogame design. Impressionism was a response by members of the artistic community to the invention of the camera, and as a result the representative image. Monet, Renoir and their contemporaries felt that art should move away from the representational and towards qualities that could only be conveyed through the brush, such as the play of light, emotional responses to landscape, and the joy of the colours in a simple garden. ‘Photo-realism’ in games may sell consoles, but various game designers are trying to embellish upon their chosen field using non representational imagery. As science helped the impressionists, allowing them access to different hues through the discovery of new elements, so games designers are becoming freer to fulfil their aspirations through the rising power of games technology. I wish to use technology in my own games to enhance the play experience, and to extend immersion not through high quality texture maps, but through emotional investment and critical engagement.

Shouldn't have bought a freeview box earlier.. it's making it much harder to get on with work. Too many channels of shit to watch

Saturday, October 01, 2005

pixel art

So I've begun on the pixel art brief.

The brief is to develop design documentation for a game while meeting one of ten criteria. I randomly selected the 'game must be calming to the player card'

I've decided to research the different methods of calming, so have picked up some books on buddhist calming techniques and landscape architecture, oh, and a gardening bible. I know I want to use nature as a starting point for my design process... anyway, best start a rolling bibliography of what I'm reading, and this is as good a place as any to keep it...

WAYMAN, A. 1997. Calming the mind and discerning the real. 2nd edn. India: Shri Jainendra Press

COOPER, C & TAYLOR, G. 1996. Paradise Transformed. New York: Monacelli Press

FELL, D. 1994. The Impressionist Garden. London: Frances Lincoln Limited

The reason I got the impressionist garden book is because of some research I've been doing into that particular art movement over the summer, I'll bring those books into the bibliography as soon as I find them. Oh, and based on an idea that's been gestating in my head for a couple of days I got a book on the history of pilgimages...

STOPFORD, J. 1999. Pilgrimage Explored. Suffolk: York Medieval Press

I'll carry on with my research now, and then on to work. Really should eat something at some point too.. i'm sure a bowl of dry weetabix (ran out of milk) is not the best food to work on. I'll post on my first idea at some point, but i'm going to let it grow some more first