Storytelling and Expression

Cinematic storytelling is a deep running passion of mine, in fact the only reason I started learning animation was as a means to telling stories the way I heard them. Now I’m able to transfer those skills into including interactive spaces but the fundamentals are still the same.


Project Management

Cosmic traveller was very much treated as a common goal partnership. Together, Victor and I created a full rundown of the elements we wanted for the final game and wrote, revied and rewrote the FSD as required until we both felt we fully understood each part we intended to make, where in the game it would be implemented and what the purpose of the element was going to be. This allowed us to each make judgment calls on whether or not eh element would serve its intended function, allowing us to cut or refactor other things as we went. The key was that we were in consistent contact and quickly created a habit or doing work, logging work, getting the other team member to review the work so that we were both up to date on the entire development of the project, and planning or making changes where necessary. I understand that this level of solidarity would not be feasible in projects that involved many more people in the production pipeline and that trying to would become unwieldy very quickly, but it was a good experience to have as reference.

Play Testing

We used questionnaires which allowed for ranges of answers and perspectives of the game play experience but with questions we knew were the same amongst multiple testers. Using common questions to allow for common answers to be obvious and quantifiable.

Using non-leading, open questions allowed for us to get data that was formed from personal interaction which was particularly interesting in Cosmic traveller where we had actively tried to create a form of narrative and saw the other people were creating their own story that was similar but not what we were trying to push necessarily. Direct observation of gameplay allowed us to view what they players were doing and in what order. Taking notes AS they played meant that very little was getting left behind and allowed us to develop specific lists of issues and suggestions and we could systematically decide on actionable solutions by directly relating it to the observed behaviour and order from which the occurrence happened.

First Light Post Mortem

The fourth and final project for this Studio 2 module of this Game Development degree was to create a game that explored and conveyed the theme of ‘Home’ to players. We designers were placed into small teams with one of our studio parallel programmers and were also encouraged to reach into interdisciplinary work with students from other degrees. Our team didn’t end up including interdisciplinary students due to communication and scope issues at the top end of the production process, but luckily had the skills and resources required to fill in the gaps in ways that don’t feel like any elements are placeholder.

Interdisciplinary Work

In project 3, we were assigned a student from the Audio Engineering degree for whom we were to create an interactive experience that would showcase and expand upon a chosen musical piece that they had composed. The game design team consisted of myself and Victor Weidar who I have worked with before on other projects. We were partnered with Doctor Duck (find him on soundcloud) and the three of us went on to complete Cosmic Traveller.

Duck came to us with a strong idea of what he would like and held realistic expectations of us. We went back and forth with ideas and feelings we wanted to portray with the game as we explained where in the project it could be placed and discussed which elements were core to the experience. Duck only wanted to push for 2 main aspects which were HD space sky boxes and that he loves Stargates. Understandable. Also, it seems, highly workable into a game experience.

Duck presented us with a example images and links to images and references that he felt would best suit his intended theme but gave us freedom in the execution and final look of the game. I believe this degree of creative input and freedom from micromanagement was a large part of why the project deliverable reached the degree of completeness it did. It allowed the two game developers to discuss what we believed we could reasonably implement based on our previous projects and also allowed us to experiment with new practices and functionality, without overreaching.  In essence, the overall process of this project allowed us to test our limits to create something that we could all be really proud of while encouraging us to learn more.

Doctor Duck also viewed and reviewed the work as it was being made which meant that we were able to keep good track of his experience and whether it was serving his purposes. Again, he gave us freedom and trust that we were creating something of quality which, I think, is due to his experience as a creator. I believe he understood the process of producing a work and how it can solidify in the last stages. Much push back I have experienced with work for other people has come from a lack of understanding of the creative process, which was neutralized in this case.

Project 4, the Home themed game, would have been a good opportunity for us to gerner more interdisciplinary work for the final product. We didn’t and I think this was ultimately a good thing for this particular project. Involving people of other disciplines in the project would have had many advantages such as better quality work, more of it due to the load being split, I would have gained valuable contacts that I could organise early for future projects for instance between now and next term, and would have given me insight as a project manager into how to effectively organise and involve other people and departments in a project.

The complication i think this would have introduced were that I would have had to learn how to manage several individual departments and organise the level of communication that would allow us to get everything done. The project began with massive lapses in communication between certain team members which was stifling to the project. All of which would have added extra stress which I know would have burned me out as a developer and manager in a very short period of time. Also I felt confident that I our team had the capability to fill in areas that may otherwise have been a new aspect for other creators, such as audio. I have experience with audio production, enough so to take control and responsibility for the relatively limited number of effects and musical elements that we had planned and set out for this game. In the future I intend to push myself to incorporate other people that can flourish in my team environment and really find out what a team can do with focused individuals that are working within their strengths for something hopefully greater.

In future projects I look to incorporate audio and animation students in the nuts and bolts production of elements, but I will consult with film for mood and audience feedback theory. I know that I intend to make experience and narrative games and feel that input from media creators that deal solely with that element (as in film which is about capturing an element through mechanics rather than an animator who is primarily trying to imitate elements) would be a huge asset for direction.

Creative Direction

The games I have made so far in this course have always had an underlying narrative of some kind. My aspects of “game design” are derived from my past studies and experiences with storytelling techniques. Using film as a basis of storytelling and having experience as an illustrator, I have a solid background on how to tell, a story with meaningful and plausible elements. It has been a joy to experiment and refine their use in interactive media, which is a new area for me. I have also drawn heavily from tabletop role playing, as the game master I am responsible for creating a plausible world and story which the players are to interact with. This has forced the question upon me to ask “why?” when an element is within a scene. If an element doesn’t have a purpose (universally) then it seems implausible and has a negative effect on the player’s suspension of disbelief and thus their engagement with the imaginary world. Being that i am also in a position of knowing the world to make it feel real, it has been necessary for me to do research into areas that I would not otherwise have looked into. Areas such as engineering, chemistry, physics, construction, military tactics, logistics and time management, along with narrative experience such as how to create points of interest organically and encourage engagement from players. This has had a direct impact on my methods of level and game design.

2 of a Kind: Reflection of Learning

2 of a Kind is a small match-up game now available on HERE. This game requires the player to place 2 separate images into a field and then hit “match” in order to pair them off. The game is designed to challenge social views on heteronormativity, gender and equality in media. The way it achieves this is by removing the bias about what a “correct” pair can be made of, that is, any two images can be successfully paired together. The images are references to literary innuendo, such as hot dogs and tacos, in order to make the point apparent upon reflection.

Cosmic Traveller Post Mortem

Cosmic Traveller was made as the third project of my studio 2 module in my degree. in small groups, we were tasked with creating an interactive experience to showcase and expand upon an original piece of music created by a student currently completing the audio degree. The game design team consisted of myself and Victor Weidar (You can see his work HERE) who I have worked with before on other projects such as Wargantuan and Office Jousting, and we were to work alongside the musician, Doctor Duck. You can find more of his music HERE. We had 5 weeks to put together an interactive musical experience that would serve as a visual portfolio feature, designed as a change in direction for us game developers as the audio students are usually relegated to support team for our products.

Interest, with interest.

A money ball: Affluenza in production

What is this term “Affluenza”?

Affluenza is a term coined to represent the prolific and destructive remove from social normativity that a person can be affected by due to a privileged upbringing. The idea being that people brought up in a pampered and safe lifestyle have a different understanding of the world that also propagates itself. The most poignant example in recent times is the case of Ethan Couch, A Texan teenager that evaded a prison sentence after killing 4 people and injuring a further 11 while driving under the influence of alcohol in 2013. The case was made that he did not have a sufficient sense of the potential consequences of his actions due to his pampered lifestyle.

General Blog: Courage

Right at this moment, I am taking a break. Not a long break, like to put my studies on hold, but a short one to do something else for a little while. It’s not a short break from the work I have to do for my current university project, that’s incidental. I am taking a short break away from updating my portfolio which I will be sending with my application to a job currently posted at Wizards of the Coast.Yes, THAT Wizards of the Coast.