Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Project Have Fun: Evaluation

I think everything went pretty well. As I've had this idea in my head for quite some time I was pretty sure on the things I wanted to put in. I wasn't sure on the style choice I made but I think the final came out not looking as smooth as the Studio Ghibli game but I think it's kind of quirky with the texturing in it. The colours are probably over saturated but considering I wanted the flowers to be vibrant I think it actually turned out well. I flung the boarder on just to show what kind of frame would be on it seeing as it's a scene from a cut scene in the game you'd have some sort of boarder till show where the black is to fill the rest of the screen. I think I probably could have designed a couple of beetles to throw in there to add a bit more character in it and to have a more platform side scroller mode. 

This game would be ideal for any platform, probably animated in flash and coded in which ever way the consoles would need to be and the PC as well. I think a widescreen view is more apt for most monitors and TVs these days as well. The genre it would fit in would be side-scrolling platform. As there is jumping involved it's considered platform.

Project Have Fun: Green Vengence

Project Have Fun: Finalization

Just a check on the silhouettes for the characters. The all look recognisable to me! They all fit in the environment I made as well, check. Only problem I think I really have is the fighter enemy. I added war paint but I really don't think that's necessary.  
The level I did in the last post hopefully checks with all the environment too. It's got the backstory(plants), it's got the directional steering, it's got the items that signify a change or importance too and nothing has been added that you can't do.

I chose to do the fight at the end with the boss. I wanted to try and show the action so I went for a sort of overhead view of the flyer coming in to attack while the cutter is all ready engaging and The Queen is just standing ordering about. I know the bottom panel is messy but it's me getting the directional composition or at least trying to do it.

Project Have Fun: A Level

Now it's not terribly detailed but it's to give you an idea of how the flower minions are used so you can progress through the level. You have to remember The Queen can't do anything expect walk. Hence her lazy attitude because she can't be bothered to do anything else. I think later on in level that it might be an idea for the flower minions to maybe gather a couple of skills on the way. For example the cutter could get a grip skill where you can swing to one area to the next if flight isn't possible or the boat could be used as a glider when in the air. The flyer could get a whirlwind move to blow enemies away in which case they would be beetles as they wouldn't know if it was those beetles that killed the flowers before. The jumper could get a platform ability so you could fall on top of it on a leaf that might not hold The Queen on it and you can use the jump ability straight away to get off the leaf onto another area.

Project Have Fun: Storyboard

This is the storyboard for the opening I was thinking of to introduce everyone and also the mystery of the big shadow.

So we have the flowers just doing what they normally do in their lives. The Queen being bossy and lazy.

Then the massive shadow approaches over head and they are frozen in fear.
Once the shadow has gone you hear a scream from behind the thick leaves.
 You discover a flower has been beheaded and the trail of the things that did this leads deeper into the greenery. The witness says it was beetles but had funny coloured legs and bodies.

The Queen is outraged as she approaches the scene and proclaims she will capture the enemy that did this. An advisor insists that she brings aid with her. This introduces the flowers you'll use in the game.
 Here you see them follow the trail into the green areas as they start the journey to finding the enemy that did this.

Project Have Fun: Art style and Colour

Because I'm doing a side scroller I didn't think realism would be the best option. Most you find are pretty cartoony and vibrant and as I'm doing flowers and plants I thought it fitted this type of game better. As I mentioned earlier this can work on all platforms and that includes handhelds and phones. I'm in absolute love with this game called Ni no Kuni which was developed by Level 5 and designed by Studio Ghibli who are my gods of animated movies. When I heard they were using their style for this game I was completely excited and, well I think this is the best option for me to base my style on and also the colors as well. There is a definite pallete with the areas and although my coloured drawings of the characters don't reflect it I'll be making sure the final piece looks like how this game is.
You can still see the colourful flowers laid through out the vast amount of green and I think the bottom right is a perfect reference for what I'm going for. I want that kind of background in my levels and gives me a chance to really be creative with how the level would be designed.

Project Have Fun: The Research

I realised I didn't post this yet. Of course I have some otherwise how would I know which flowers to use and what colours to stick on them! Also the enemies of course needed researching!!

To start I'll do the flowers. I just found a bunch of different flower types based on shape and color and also I gave a little thought to how I could actually use them as a tool. You can see here initial ideas I had for certain flower. The pansy I sketched was an old fart who was always grumpy but I thought he could have the hidden talent of strength and he could move things around in the levels. You also see a tiger lily there but the one I designed as the cutter was a purple and white flower but I seemed to have lost that picture reference. There was a lotus there as well. I didn't have an initial skill for it as it was just really a sketch based off what I was looking at and trying to fashion it into a living creature with eyes and such. The white lily there was the swimmer. I probably could have done a water lilly but that would require it to stay in the water and I wanted all the characters you use to be seen in the opening. The flower I based The Queen off. The night queen as it's known. I just loved how the pink just wrapped around the white flower when it was closed. I thought it would make the perfect shape for a detailing crown kind of thing. I didn't do the open one because I thought that would be better used when she died during the level or something and you'd just see all the petals carried away in the wind. The pink flower in the bottom left was my flyer flower. I loved how the petals just merged in the centre and it reminded me of a propeller so that's how I used it.The bottom right is the jumper flower. I thought this would definitely fit a spring idea with the way it's shaped and the colours were beautiful so I wanted to use it. You see the sunflowers there as well which I just used as the nursers.

Now we have the vegetation. This is what I'm referencing for the background of the levels and in the storyboards. Just to make it seem fuller and not open and plain so they look like they're in this planet of lush green plants. 

The enemies were based on the borrowers. The new studio ghibli movie helped a lot to determine the size of the enemies to the plants and the flowers themselves. The borrowers movie back in the 90s didn't give me any of that sadly but it gave me an idea for the way they would look crossed with the beetles they would have slain.

This was a couple of beetle pictures I took for the shape reference and colours. I thought they would really need a way to blend in if they were getting away with killing the flowers so what better way then to disguise as a beetle!

Project Have Fun: Flower moves!

Some sketches sort of detailing the kind of thing you would expect each of the flower minions to do. So we have a quick idea for a stage start screen. Basically this will happen each stage, you'll see the kids running off one side of the screen and The Queen appearing on the opposite side.  The next panel is a little quick idea of what you might see at the start of a level. You pick up various minions on the way that will indicate you have to use them soon. You don't have a stock of these guys you use them once and they disappear but you get them again if they're needed again. So we see you start with a jumper and above you see a cutter. 

So you use the jumper to launch yourself higher in the level and then you meet the cutter. Some areas you have to be careful where you stand as the plant could change angle and you could fall!

We have the swimmer where The Queen is casually ordering him where to swim. These guys have a timer on how long they can swim for as they weight of The Queen can make them sink over time. I didn't draw accurately how she would sit on it but generally she'd be sitting further up using the lip of the flower as a sort of edge to lean forward and keeping herself steady.

We then have the cutter demonstrating those lovely tendrils aren't there for no reason. He cuts down shrubs, weeds and things blocking your path so you can move forward. The things you need to cut won't always be on the ground.

A couple of storyboard pieces. The first is a flower moving through the vegetation around him just minding his own business. The second panel are some nursers who plant and look after baby flowers. You don't play as them but all flowers have a role I guess!

For the first panel in this set we have The Queen being unenthusiastic about her duties and not really listening to her servant/advisor telling her about the dangers outside their little shrub village.
The second panel is seeing the massive shadow that freezes them in place. This would be part of the opening scenes to the story. 

I have some more storyboarding I'm doing to go through the opening and creating a stage that I'll sketch out in the panels like this.

Project Have Fun: The Characters

So the idea is that you are The Queen Flower and you have a bunch of minions to help you get through the levels. I already posted the sketches and here are the updated, more detailed drawings for them with information about the things they do in the game.

This is the cutter minion. This flower also appears as a servant to The Queen so I put it in a pose that signified that's it's respectful and frightened of The Queen like you see most servants in animated movies look. The idea of this minion is that you would use it to cut plants out of the way that are blocking the rest of the level as well as cutting the areas leading to bosses.

This is the flyer flower. The way the petals are placed are sort of like a propeller. so the idea here is that The Queen would use him to fly over areas that would be dangerous to her like deep water or pit holes. I wanted this flower to be worried or have a fear of carrying others when flying.

This is the jumper flower. The Queen would stand on it's head and depending on how long you hold down a button or whatever the further you would jump but it would have a limit of course otherwise there would be no point for a flyer flower. The face is split in half because I thought a split personality or something would be kind of a cool idea. Happy when no one is standing on it's head and angry when someone does stand on it's head. 

This is the swimmer flower. I chose this flower because I thought it was a nice little boat shape and although The Queen would barely fit in this flower head itself I thought the flower could lay flat and back stroke through the water so she sits comfortably on top. A limit would be used on the swimmer. Eventually it would sink because of the weight.

Last but not least is The Queen. She wouldn't have any special abilities as she uses everyone around her anyway regardless of her mission to save her flower people. I tried to go for a figure as well as a sort of sassy and almost bored look. She's based off the night queen flower so I made her a more mono colour so she'd stand out from everyone else's colours. She's much taller than her minions as well. 

First of the enemies that you will see running away constantly is the cutter. He uses the pincers from a beetle to cut the heads off flowers so they can steal what they need. He's fast and cool-headed. The leader of the 3 man group. He wears the rest of the beetle as a shield and also to blend in better.

This is the fighter. The kid that kills the flowers so and protects the other two kids. Same idea, uses the beetles horn as a weapon and the rest as armour and also as a camouflage. This kid is very hot headed and angry all the time so he's perfect for attacking.

This is the gather. She waits until everyone is done and collects the petals to take back with her. She uses part of the beetles armour as a bowl to carry them in and the rest as armour. She's paranoid and wary of her surroundings. 

The leader of the kids is this guy here. He'll be known as boss as even the kids call him boss. He doesn't have colourful clothes like the kids as he just wants the kids to be able to have nice things which is why they steal the ink from the flowers to dye their clothes. He uses a brighter beetle's armour as decoration to show off what he killed with his bare hands. He'll use the kids in battle to fight for him and when they are defeated he'll gather the items the kids have and use them against you as a final fight. 

Project Have Fun: The Story

It's not a particularly long story and it's certainly probably not a quirky one but it's one that I think is a little bit more interesting and colourful then most ideas.

You see this beautiful place covered in the lush green plants and beautiful flowers skip along the area being oddly humanistic. All of a sudden this towering shadow cascades over the area and everyone panics! The stand absolutely still and just stare up at this giant shadow obscured by the blinding sun. As it dissappears the flowers begin to settle in comfort again but then a horrifying scream is heard. A few thick bushes away you see a dead crushed plant. It's head has been torn off and the only the body and roots remain. It's the third attack this week. The Queen flower appears almost out of thin air and plants her foot deep in the earth and lets out an almost unending roar as she proclaims that she will find the creatures that are terrorising her home and fellow flowers. A few of her advisors's insist on giving her aid and she begrudgingly accepts.

She begins her journey at the latest murder and notices some ink spots that lead deep into the lush green environment. This leads into the many stage areas where you will need your flower aids to help you jump, swim, fly and cut your way through these areas and ultimately help you defeat the unknown enemy that terrorises The Queen's home.

As you reach the end and you find out who the enemy is and why they've been murdering these flowers you find out more than what you wanted to know. A sort of twist if you will that I will probably draw up a little picture of.

As I said it's not the longest but I thought it was quite the fun idea.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Project Have Fun Idea

So I've really kind of had this idea in my head for some time but it had a different story to it. I wanted to make a game that was surrounded in plant life or something that's very earthy. I don't want to go pikmin, I want to be more adventurous with the flowers I pick so I've come up with a side scroller that would be for any platform and phone game. It would be 2D and be based around this idea of plants being killed for their ink. The queen flower decides it's her duty to defend her flower kin and fights this enemy which you later learn are humans but like the borrower size to match the plants. Each type of flower will have a unique move and the queen herself will be a brawler. A real fighting woman...plant! I have a few ideas already for the plants and the queen herself. I wanted to make sure she would stand out from the rest of the flowers so she's actually referenced off a flower called  the night queen.

So we have a few minion ideas. A couple of grumpy ones, a couple of thinkers and servants. The larger one is the queen idea I have. I'll work on some colour ones to give them more detail.

Project Have Fun

So I've been asked to create an environment and a set of characters to go with it based on all the things we've learned over the past few weeks. I have no limit in the idea as long as it fits to a genre and platform. This does sound fun and hopefully I can come up with something different and fun to do!

I have some rules to make that I need to set myself to follow when making this creation of mine. It can be one or it could be ten. It's up to me based on what I think is important boundaries when creating an environment and characters.

Concerning environment rules, I have made four rules.
1. Use the environment to signal an event or item that will be coming up or is there.
2. Use the environment to guide the player through. Using props or stairs to use as directional tools.
3. The environment should show signs of the back story.
4. Don't add things that will detach the player. For example add a scene in a fight that you can't do physically in the game.

Concerning characters I've made three rules.
1. Silhouette should show unique character.
2. Less is more. Don't go overboard with detail.
3. Make sure they fit in the environment they are being created for.

So now I'm going to start thinking of an idea. I have some in mind but we'll see how that leads when I start doing some concept art.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

My changed view when playing games

It's a littler frustrating actually cus I can't seem to just enjoy a game but every time I play something all I do is look at the textures, the lighting and tsk at any seams I find. WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ME.

It's kind of a good thing but it's annoying that I just can't enjoy 5 minutes without thinking about what's right. I suppose it's changed the way I see how games are textured and stylised these days. I get really pissed off when I see a pretty female warrior when they should be just as scared and battered as a male warrior!! Get rid of them scant clothes and get some proper armour god damn it!! Cute little people with big eyes is cool but realistically those eyes would be very hard to see out of and where would the brain go man...

I suppose it's a good thing because it helps me to think of a more realistic approach to things but as I know myself pretty well, I think it'd also be a bad thing. I'd probably over think it and it'd turn boring. I am boring aren't I? Sigh.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Gaming has changed

Never really thought about it till now but yeah...I think I started seeing it when Street Fighter x Tekken was a complete balls up on xbox and not to mention the DLC that's coming out something like 2 weeks after it's been released? I sad face and realise this is why I don't really buy games anymore. Need to go find some good indie games!!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Need to look at more artists

So I've come to realise that I don't know enough artists. None of that abstract shit you see. I mean a good old fashioned painter. I've heard of quite a few but I don't actually know any of their works. I thought that was a little sad so I did some digging on Turner and Koppelaar.

I'll start with Turner. His full name is Joseph Mallord William Turner. Born in England and travelled all over europe he has a flare for oil painting in detail with such an atmospheric tone. The pieces he produces with clouds or the ocean show a very violent and dark emotion. He almost had this knack for showing nature in his paintings like it existed as a form of these objects he painted but felt like a person you could see. I know you can see nature as it is but it felt that it had a personality of sorts the way he painted it. In other landscape pieces he has an overwhelming theme of orange and generally warm colours. It's a wonderful mood to the paintings and certainly makes me wish I could have seen what he was painting at that time. In some of his paintings the detail becomes less visible and almost feels unwordly. I think some how his personality reflected onto his work which made it all the more unique.

Frans Thoman Koppelaar is a dutch painter who painted landscapes and cityscapes. He did do portraits as well which interested me more because of the way he painted them. They feel realistic but also noticbly painted in other areas. The effect of a photograph but with the area he wanted as a focal point having all the detail. He seems to stick with the colors that are given to him at that time in the scene rather than making a few colors and using them in the whole painting. I think it gives a more realistic effect, especially in the cityscapes because it feels lived in. It feels like a people have been there and live there which he's painted. Again he's made some areas more detailed in other to focus on. I love how realistic he paints the water. It feels icy enough to jump in and swim.

One thing that I'm extremely jealous about with these kinds of artists in the incredible detail they can paint with oils. If I had the patience with oils I'd love to try them but they just seem like a lot of hassle. I think maybe I'll give it a shot over the summer when I can go outside so I don't stain my floor or something.

I also picked these artists because they were born on my birthday. I was a bit chuffed about that, then I saw someone I wasn't chuffed about also born on my birthday. 

Environment Design in Games

When creating a level you need a focus and a goal to work with. Let’s say you see your dog run away, he’s booted over the fence and is running off in the horizon. As you step outside to run after him you notice the entire neighbourhood has become over run by giant people-eating frogs.  Not 2 seconds later you see the dog pound county van drive past with your dog yelping out the barred window at the back of the van. So you have your focus, your precious dog who clearly loves you that much to run away while giant man-eating frogs appear, and your goal, go rescue your dog from the county pound before he gets put down amidst and amphibian take over.

You start at your house which I will call base. You have the county pound which I will call GOARU! To plan this level you have to take into account where it’s set, the features in this area and the enemies that appear in it. So we can have the first section as your street. The next section can be called side alley, we can then move onto main street and then so on with a few more streets leading to GOARU. I linear map would lead you straight where you need to go which is fine but some games studios like giving you the option of exploring while confusing yourself before you finally give up and restart. In the short version you’re given the focus and goal at the very start of the level before you are directed around the level by conveniently placed buildings and turned over cars. Also enemies tend to spawn in the areas that lead to the goal signalling you’re going the right way if you no such building or car exists.

The way a level is decorated can be done a number of ways but it all must fit the theme of the game. As mine is about a boy finding his dog during a frogoplyse then a generic American neighbourhood is what you would stick down. Nice pretty houses with their white picket fences and 2 people carrier cars parked side by side in the driveways. You’ll have the nice orange burnt over tone showing it’s almost sun-down which the few crumpled and burning houses fit nicely into as you just notice the smoke first before the horrifying damage.  As you enter different streets or alleys these lighting conditions would change and the general openness and style would change. For example in the alley way you would have a small cramped, confined area that is much darker, not quite so orange as it’s overcast by the surrounding houses. You would have cold, silver trash cans lined and a couple of screeching cats clinging onto the high fences as you run past. You might also have a little mini boss here. If you were to go out onto the main street you would have a much wider area to run about in. You could have a central park area where a lot of frogs would be frolicking in the local fountain with the orange over tone appearing here. You’d have much taller buildings, business buildings, little local shops all burning. You would have that one street that wouldn’t be blocked off but it would be placed on the other side of the park so you HAVE to fight those damned frogs!

Generally levels point you in the direction you need to go and may have a few little places you can skip around in till you get bored.

Now as for the atmosphere, we pretty much know what that is. The orange over tone of the whole thing and the burning buildings signal a spiral into darkness and chaos. Linking fears to darkness is a strong emotion most people feel and adding a tone that’s on the way to darkness but not quite there reflects are certain hope in the game. That hope being you, the hero that will defeat the dastardly frogs and rescue your ever so loyal dog.  Another atmospherical attribute invasion games like to put in is a sense of isolation. You haven’t seen another living person in a while, you start to think you are alone and only you can save everyone. You can put in a nice emotion jerking area where you meet another person but they do something so stupid your emotion just boil horribly and you go on a rampage of destruction.

I think there is always some sort of balance between keeping it stylised and realistic. Generally things that are stylised tend to be based on realistic objects anyway because, as a recurring theme in most other design areas, you need something to connect with in order to pull off the feel. As we have giant frogs in a real world you can get away with stylising it as of course the idea of the game isn’t real at all but you can connect with the little features of realism such as the American homes and neighbourhood layout. Don’t get me wrong though there are plenty of games that are completely realistic and have un-realistic storylines but I think it really depends on the nature of the story and the style of game you want to make.  For example we have frogs in this little creation of mine. You would make it realistic because it feels as though it as has this sort of comic book kids feel so you maybe something based on the cell shading would fit if better but say you replaced the frogs with zombies then you can go all out realistic because zombies are real. They may not be brain eating and grey but they certainly exist so creating a realistic environment would suit it more.

An example of an environment that I quite liked was in Resident Evil 5 in the village of Kijuju. Now I have a complete fear of zombies but what I thought was great about this environment was how well it represented a poverty stricken area. The way the houses and buildings were created reminded me so much of the townships I used to pass in South Africa and the way the colours just blended together like a dead earthy area made it all the more fitting. You had the areas you could explore but you also had the directional areas that pushed you further in the game.

Now the only thing that really threw me off and which quite frankly pissed me off was the addition of white enemies. I’m sorry you don’t see THAT many white people in a black township like that. I know there was a big argument about it when it was getting made that it was racist but how can it be racist when that’s what the country looks like!? As much as I loved the way the environment looked and felt like an actual township the atmosphere was completely broken when I saw that many white enemies. So although the design of the level was great the atmosphere wasn’t there and sense of realism wasn’t there. Sadly I don’t know who the level designer is and I’m not going to scare myself again to find out who did it but they know who they are. I’m giving you my evilest glare Mr Level Designer.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Selvaria 3D Model by Makushiro

Browsing deviantart like I do now and again for updates I came across this 3D model. I cried. Her textured budget and tri count is so massive! I don't know what I'd do with all that!! I think I'll attempt a 3D model with that tri and texture limit(not to mention I'll have unlimited time to do it) and see what I can do. I know Mitch Small mentioned one of the things he did in the summer to practice 3D was to model characters from art you like. I think I'll do that. Will be interesting!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Movie Review: Angel-a

I'm not one for black and white movies and neither for french films as I generally find them boring and predictable. Well this movie was predictable I didn't find it boring. I liked how the scenes were put together, almost photographic. The opening scene with the main character talking I felt was a little bit dragged out and probably could have been done in a more Guy Ritchie style with a still then continue to role sort of thing.

The main character was interesting to say the least. I found him very annoying for a small man and too confident for his own good which I'm sure was the point. When he meets the female lead and they have their little journey it felt awkward. I know she was there to help him from the off set but the way he would speak to her and the way she would speak didn't feel like a mutual beneficial arrangement sort of thing...more like one of those horrible comedy movies where they get married by accident and try to be nice but ultimately fail but then at the very end up falling in love.

The female lead who is Angela was very...stiff. I mean I know she's tall and it's a bit difficult to flow when you're that tall but I mean she was like mantis style there. I didn't really feel I believed her. Maybe that's the point because of who she is but like most of the movie I felt awkward watching her. She was pretty to look at though sometimes when the angle was right!

The ending was quite nice and heart felt although I really didn't like how rough the main character was being with Angela on the bridge. I actually thought she was going to break with the amount of force he was using on her. Other than that the ending was beautifully done. It was a pretty alright movie that had it's good moments I don't think it's something I really want to watch again though. Maybe when I'm old and future movies are just rehashes of my childhood...oh wait that's already happening! One thing I didn't realise until just now that it's done by Luc Besson...I love The Fifth Element. I see he has a fetish for abnormally tall women. Saying that as well they're very similar looking.

Artist Review: Alphonse Mucha

I haven't done one in a while and I thought I might do Mucha. He's quite a popular favourite and it's clear to see why. He's the man that basically labelled prints back in the day. He has such an elegant style and although it wasn't his choice to actually do lithography he beasted at it!

His intentions when he was young was to be a painter and all though he did do some his career came from the lithography he did. Nouveau became very popular with what he produced and went on to do The Slav Epic which is painting produced by alphonse depicting Czech and Slavic people. Shortly after completing this work German troops invaded and he was arrested and interrogated. It's believed during this time his health degraded badly and shortly after being released, died from a lung infection.

After his death the art he had produced was stored away as at the time it was believed to be 'reactionary' and the German's at this point had no interest in his work. His work was later shown some 25 years later.

His art is inspiring to many artists and is constantly revived when artists mimic his style. Mucha's works have inspired many comic book and manga artists and other artists in general and will continue to inspire future artists. I myself find his work incredible and although realism is a big part of my course I would love to do a project on him.

The colors he uses are subtle to each other and the boarders really reflect an almost pop out effect against the painting itself. Some of them seem very fairy tale as well and the way there is a mix between detail and silhouetting is beautifully done. I like his seasons set the best. I think it really shows an interest and stylish flare to season paintings a lot of artists try to do.

From left to right: Winter, Autumn, Summer, Spring.