2 of a Kind is a small match-up game now available on itch.io 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 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.
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.
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.
Project 2 of this Studio unit involved personally going to an art gallery, picking an artwork we engaged with and turning that form of engagement into a digital interactive experience (a video game) of some kind.
I ended the excursion with two pages of brainstormed potential game ideas. I managed to cut away about half of them immediately for the sake of the one-week time frame given for the project, and then it was a matter of confidence. Having just finished Darkness Dwells for the first project, I was considering what elements of the game I would be able to bounce off to make the most effective experience I could. Again, I went with a very simple, visually based game that would make use of interesting camera interaction rather than complex game play.
Now in my fourth term of my Bachelors’ Degree in games development, our first project brief required that each student in the class create a “game” that represents a personal experience of ours. I had returned from abroad later than I expected and so missed the first week of classes. This meant that I was going to be pushing into the time allotted for the next project or I could opt to just do one of the briefs and try to catch up my academic progress throughout the rest of the term. I decided to just suck it up and make two games in two weeks. This allowed me to scope for both and then if I didn’t manage it, I had the buffer allowed to me.
I created “Darkness Dwells,” a first-person horror experience based on a childhood fear of the dark. You, the player, lie in bed at night in your bedroom but on the corner of your vision lurk the monsters of your imagination. You find reprieve when you start hearing your parents speaking in the next room, comforting you to sleep. You can download and play it HERE. This game took me two weeks to delve into the experiences I’ve had and what I can do with them in a way others will understand.
Cosmic Traveller hinges on the clever use of 2d assets to replicate 3d assets. This is because the project is limited by the processing capabilities of being something that can be played in a browser.
As the theme of the project is space and vastness, we knew that much of the general feeling of the game would be through special effects such as nebulae, sci-fi explosion effects and light warping. In triple-A level games, these effects are produced using particle effects in real time which is an expensive process as far as the digital resources are concerned. The cheat we decided on was to created the effects in 3d as we need them and render them out as 2d image sequences, then produce in game rendering that will treat these images as frames in an animation. This is usually called billboarding and is much less taxing on the hardware.
I started with the main element of the scene. I really tried to investigate the type of plane that the images depict but had a hard time finding solid information on the types of planes in use in World War 1 and then managing to find reliable reference images to model create 3d models to was a difficult task. It was also a process that was beginning to cut into my allotted time frame. I made do with two images that seemed “good enough” for the purposes of such a small game, while still being respectful to the works and subject.
As this project has such a small team we felt we could be a little experimental in our approach to the product. Having worked together in a group before, and being general friends, we have a reasonable understanding of where our strengths lie in respect to game creation. As the project’s concept was so solid and straightforward (from a developmental standpoint) we decided this was a perfect opportunity for us to practice the aspects that we felt felt would most benefit our progress as developers.
We are up to project 3 of this Studio unit which has been designed to get us game devs to play at the back end of the pipeline. By this I mean, we have been assigned a task and theme by someone else (in this case an Audio Design student here at the institute) to crate a product to show off their work, rather than the trap that is to constantly have the audio students just adding to ours.