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hannahbalesblog

Games Design @ Hull School of Art and Design

Month

January 2016

Game Design – My Game Ideas

Game Concepts

The brief requires me to look into different markets and develop ideas that will lead me to a final outcome. The groups consist of 10 – 14yrs (which can include IP tie-ins), 14yrs + (Female Market) and finally 35 + (Genre Market). I will have to include what the game is about, how the game works/plays and also mention copyright as well as including how this game suits the specific age group.

10 -14yrs (including the use of IP tie-ins)

My first Idea for this category included inspiration from an American Television show I watch called ‘Impractical Jokers’. The show is about four friends who compete in mini challenges (almost like playing dares) and the loser must complete an embarrassing task given by the other jokers. I thought that if I turned this into a virtual game that gamers can free roam around, it would be quite interesting. The character would move just like a character would in GTA, Skyrim or Fallout and also like those games you can view your character from first or third person. You will get a custom character that can roam around New York interacting with characters from the show to play minigames. You can play two player via the console and four player online. When playing with other players the loser will have to perform an embarrassing task.

Impractical Jokers

I had a second idea for this market which was in the style of the game ‘Castle of Illusion, Starring Mickey Mouse’. A 2.5D Platform Game which consists of a beginning main hub area with lots of doors leading to different levels, these levels will include themes from our favourite childhood television shows/Films such as LooneyTunes, Tom & Jerry, Scooby Doo, Roger Rabbit, Space Jam etc. Also looking at the game ‘Doritos Crash Course’ as an example of what I could in cooperate into the levels.

Mickey and the castle of illusion

14yrs + (Female Market)

Games for girls are difficult to create as girl gamers vary drastically. Some girls like games which include makeup and fashion whereas other girls like games with zombies or cars. My idea is suitable for all types of girl gamers as throughout the game or at the start I am thinking of having multiple choice questions pop up to debate how your game will play. You will also create your character and depending on the clothes you put on and the weapons you choose will decide what your first mission will be. As an example, if I was to put on Armor and carry a sword and the first multiple choice question was something like ‘What would your dream pet be? 1. Dog 2. Dragon 3. Fairy 4. Unicorn 5. None, animals are gross’ and I chose Dragon, the game would be similar to Skyrim whereas if I chose to wear elf like clothes and chose fairy on the multiple choice the game would be similar to the game ‘Kameo’.

I also had the idea to create a game that was similar to ‘The Sims’ or ‘Avatar Legends’ as in these games you can create your own character and also explore exciting new places. Games such as ‘The Sims’ have infinite gameplay which makes the game suitable for girls as they can play it whenever they like and they can play the game for as long as they want as they can’t really complete it.

Avatar LegendsThe Sims001

35yrs + (Genre Market)

The genre I chose for the 35+ market is action. I thought about how serious games can be educational but I wanted to also make them fun and dramatic. A lot of people dream about being a Fireman, Policeman or even part of the Army so I thought about making a game that lets you play a part in the Public Services. You can choose different story modes and choose which part of the team you want to pose as.Police001Fireman001

Overall

As a class we discussed all of our ideas one by one. We individually pitched our three ideas to the class and our teacher Paul and they gave us feedback on our work. Also they voted on which idea would be best to make into an actual game. My class decided that the first idea was best as 2.5D side scrollers are quite rare and idea 2 seemed to complex whereas idea three was too simple. I agree with everyone’s criticism and I’m going to acknowledge every bit of advice I get.

Creative Futures – Video – Games Design – My Final Video

My Final Video

Games Design – User Interface and User Experience

UI = User Interface

UX = User Experience

The normal definition of a User interface is anything in the device you are using that you can interact with, for example a computer UI would be the display screen, the mouse/touchpad, the keyboard and everything that is interactive on the screen. The User Experience on the other hand is what the person interacting with the product thinks about whilst being immersed within the world of that device such as what the layout looks like, what the typography is like, what the interactions are like etc.

Within a game UI and UX are active at all times. The UI of a game can include a lot of things such as the start-up screen, each of the options on the start-up screen, the pause menu, the H.U.D, the controller and console itself are even included. The UX is how immersed in the game the gamer feels, play-ability, flow, fun, competitiveness, fairness etc.

Examples of a Good User Interface

Crash Bandicoot002.jpg

Crash Bandicoot – Crash of the Titans

The original Crash Bandicoot Series was the best but the new series I find has a great User Interface. One of the main reasons I like this game for UI is because during the loading screen there is a slight interaction that keeps you amused for those two minutes of waiting. The video below shows the game and if you look at point 0:39 you can see the loading screen, the screen is interactive and if you move the controller thumb-stick the paw prints move. It may only be a little thing but I find interaction on a loading screen is essential and should be used in more games.

*************************SPOILERS*************************

I know some people are still waiting to play Arkham Knight so if you haven’t played it yet I suggest you either skip this part or don’t watch the videos.

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Batman-Arkham-Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman Arkham Knight is really good with UI and UX. As soon as I played this game I didn’t want to come off of it because you have so much that is interactive and enjoyable yet it is still easy to access and understand. First of all you can play as different people within this game and each character has there own mode. (It is known as ‘Detective Mode’).

Batman has a detective mode that you get used to so well because it has been in the whole game series. With the press of one button you can reveal lots of information that is needed throughout a fight or through a stealth mission. Enemies that turn orange have a gun and blue enemies just fist fight, also when looking at one enemy in particular you can see their heart rate to know how scared they are and how likely they are to fight back or cower in fear. You can also see the weapon they are holding. I find it very useful for finding weak spots in walls, vents you can crawl through, secret areas and collectibles.

Harley Quinn has a different campaign which is all about fighting therefore her ‘Detective Mode’ is a little different. When in detective mode rather than the screen being misty and blue Harleys screen goes red/pink. Flat surfaces have writing on them that relate to her personality (See example above) which I find very interesting to look at as it is a way of showing that you are playing as her and you know how she feels and what she is thinking. All of the enemies in this campaign have guns so they are all the same colour (pink/red) also Harley Quinn has an extra feature that Batman doesn’t have which is called ‘Mayhem Mode’. In this mode Harley can run faster, take less damage and kill an enemy with one swing of her bat.

Also what is really good about this game is the in-game hints. The hints are helpful for all of the shortcuts as most of the game consists of using shortcuts such as the D-pad (Xbox One). If you can’t remember what button to press when the time is needed the shortcut will pop up at the bottom of the screen.

Vault Boy.jpg

Fallout 4

The game Fallout 4 is another great example for UI and UX. The interaction with the famous Pip-Boy has been one of the best User Interfaces as it pauses the game and everything you need is all in that one place. also you have a pet companion that you can command to do certain things such as search areas for items of interest and injure an enemy. Whilst playing the game you meet a lot of people across the way (good and bad). Some people you meet give you tasks/objectives/missions to complete and if you helkp them out they offer to help you and therefore you gain a bigger variety of choice in choosing a companion. I find that choosing a companion is great as you gain an emotional attachment to them as they have their own background/story, they have a variety of interactions such as talking, trading and commands also your relationship between you and them can change depending on the choices you make.Dogmeat.jpg

Pet Dog Companion known as ‘Dogmeat’

Pip-Boy.jpg

The Pip-Boy

Access Stats, Inventory, Data, Map and even a Radio.

OddWorld Abe Series

Abe’s Oddysee, Abe’s Exoddus, Oddworld Munch’s Oddysee, Abe’s New N Tasty

One of my favourite game series is the Oddworld Series created by Oddworld Inhabitants. I liked all of the games but I haven’t played Munch’s Oddysee because it’s a completely different game compared to the other games. I have recently played New ‘N’ Tasty and it is great (a remake of the original Abe’s Oddysee). The game series is great because it has an easy to use menu, a gamespeak menu so you can learn how to speak as the character and the story is great.

The gamespeak is a great feature as not many games feature something like this. Pressing certain buttons activates abe’s speaking and using this helps to acknowledge the other Muddokens and get further in the game. As well as being informative I find gamespeak quite fun as Abe is a funny character that you really get to know.

Examples of a Bad User Interface

Oblivion.jpg

Elder Scrolls iv – Oblivion

Oblivion is a great game but the user interface is very complex, especially for a beginner. Everything is seen as symbols and it’s difficult to learn all of them also all you can see is lots of numbers and words. Most of the User Interface is ignored by the player as it takes too long to sort all of your inventory, magic and more. Luckily the game is paused when you look at your User Interface.

Street Fighter.jpg

Street Fighter

The video below explains that fighting games have developed the H.U.D and stuck with a certain H.U.D. The H.U.D for the first Street Fighter was not successful enough as both health bars are in the middle whereas now the health bars are at the players side so it is easier to view it via their peripheral  vision.

3D Realisation – 3D Development Challenges (Week 2)

During this week we did things a little different. Instead of picking a card we got a number assigned to us. The numbers were randomly generated via the main computer and each number was designated to each seat (we had the choice to switch seats before the unveiling of each number, however no one did switch). That number was then linked to an image, each image was a photograph of an object somewhere hidden in the college. Our task was to find this object and model it; so therefore we had to take lots of reference photos and videos otherwise we would have to travel back to that location for research.

Here is the Object I got given:

IMG_2371.JPG

A camera found in the camera stores downstairs. This camera is so big, but you have so much control over the settings manually. This camera can help to focus, use depth of field, acknowledge tilt and shift and also alter the viewpoint as well as the visual perspective. I went down to the stores and asked Nathan about the Cambo Camera (as he is based in the photography field) and he said that this camera works on a bellow system. This bellow system allows the user to be in such good control of it because you can move each side of the bellow to your liking therefore changing how you want the main subject to look and how the background will effect the main subject etc. This is when Depth of Field, Tilt-Shift and Visual Perspective comes into use.

Here are my photos and visuals of the camera that I took for reference:

I regret that some of the images that I took was not clear enough, however, I took another look at the camera and realized that most of it is symmetrical so I could create one side of the camera and duplicate it then edit any differences that are needed. Below are some more techniques that I used during this 3DS Max challenge:

  • How to ‘Cut’ objects.
  • Learnt how to use different lighting techniques.
  • Create a scenery to display the final product.
  • Rendering.
  • Duplicating/Copying.
  • Learnt about the Snap Toggle.

Here is my final product:

I prefer this model to the previous challenge as it looks more like the actual object and the final rendered image is very clear, I enjoyed making this one more as I was a bit more independent with my work and I was more focused as I had a more clear understanding on what to do and how to do it.

Credit goes to Nathan Pidd for giving me information on the camera and letting me use the camera for research and evidence towards my model.

Here is information on his work and details: https://artsfacultyresearch.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/nathanpidd/

 

3D Realisation – 3D Development Challenges (Week 1)

Throughout 3 weeks time we have been given a task for each week. Each week the task has been different and more difficult as we learn more about 3DS Max. So far I really enjoy creating 3D models like this as they are given at random and it is so unexpected as well as fun.

The first week our teacher put lots of objects on a table (e.g. an iron, a set of headphones, a hammer etc.) and each object had a playing cards underneath them, next we had to pick a card shuffled by the teachers. The card you pick would match an object on the table then you model that random object. I picked the card that lead to modelling what is called a ‘pipe bender’. At first I had no idea what it was called but so to start with it was called ‘Thingy’, but it is known as a tool that bends pipes to fit together.

This object was one of the most difficult objects on the table but I was glad that I got a card that challenged me. I did research on my object by taking photographs and videos so then I could have evidence of observation and it would help me to model. Below is my evidence.

My method of working around this object was to break the object down in my mind. I broke the object into different shapes for example the main section is cylinders with holes in, a few of the torus shapes and free-form shapes. Throughout this first week of 3DS Max I have learnt:

  • How to use the ‘Wield’ Tool.
  • How to ‘Target Wield’.
  • How to ‘Attach’.
  • Using the selection of ‘Vertex’, ‘Edge’, ‘Border’, ‘Polygon’ and ‘Element’.
  • How to use ‘Swift Loop’.
  • How to ‘Lock and ‘Unlock’ and Object.
  • How to ‘Copy’ an image.

Here is my final Product:

I am proud of my final outcome as I didn’t believe that I could do it as soon as I saw the object that I had to model but I finally got to a result I was happy with and I am happy with what I have learnt. My favorite part of this model has to be the little bits of detail as I thought they would be quite difficult as they were curved and shaped differently to the rest of the object.

Also special thanks to Paul Starkey and Barry Briggs for helping me on certain aspects of my model as well as teaching me new techniques.

Follow their blogs here:

http://paul-starkey.com/blog/

https://hunterp13.wordpress.com/

Games Design – 2D Programs

Throughout this first semester I have learnt how to use many programs such as 3DS Max, Sketch Up, Premiere Pro and After Effects; however I have also learnt how to use 2D programs such as photoshop and illustrator. I have learnt how most of the tools work, how to use them and what to use them for. I have previously had experience on photoshop so I had a basic understanding of the program and I have been more focused on illustrator so that I can understand how to use it.

Some of my Photoshop work:

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Some of my Illustrator work:

 

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Games Design – Gamification

Gamification is using games to enhance your lifestyle, engage with more people of the public and to help work towards goals. Some games do this in a very subtle way whereas sometimes it’s just highly obvious. These games are a great way to interact with new people and they also make life a bit more enjoyable on the way. For example some students from Germany invented a device that attaches to the wait signal button near the traffic lights; it is the simple game of ‘Pong’ that was originally released in 1972. This game that you can play whilst waiting to cross the road brought a lot of people together as you can see in the video people giving high fives to the person they played against at the other side.

A few games that became very successful and helpful towards patients is ‘Genes in Space’, ‘Reverse the Odds’ and ‘The Impossible Line’. These games have been scientifically proven to help with cancer research. ‘Genes in Space’ is the most successful as each time you play it it helps towards finding a cure for cancer by spotting patterns of generic information.

Gamification is also used in advertising. The US Army needed more people to join the army so to get more recruits they brought out a game. The game is a tactical shooter, however, it’s not the same as games like ‘Call of Duty’. The game is more realistic so that the player gets a better experience of what it is really like to have a job in the army. To persuade the player even more, they have the chance to earn badges of honor therefore keeping the player more interested in the games using game mechanics.

And finally one of my favorite uses of gamification, the Nike+ Zombie Run. This game helps you with exercise, by using your headphones and earphones you can feel like you’re in a real Zombie Apocalypse as you can hear zombies behind you via your technology. It’s a great way to keep you motivated and you can also choose your settings. The settings give you lots of different experiences as seen below.

Zombie Run

All of these games are great to include in our everyday lives as they improve our fitness, our knowledge, help us connect with other people, find jobs and much more.

Links to Research and Videos

Pong Traffic Light System

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2868719/German-students-install-Pong-arcade-game-traffic-lights.html

Cancer Research – ‘Genes in Space’

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/play-to-cure-genes-in-space

 

Bibliography – New Media

Angelova, K. (2015). Amazing Pictures Of Real People And Their Avatars. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/real-people-vs-avatars-2011-12?IR=T [Accessed 31 Dec. 2015].

Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Cla.purdue.edu, (2016). Introduction to Jean Baudrillard, Module on Simulacra and Simulation. [online] Available at: https://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/postmodernism/modules/baudlldsimulTnmainframe.html [Accessed 3 Jan. 2016].

Culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.co.uk, (2012). The Cultural Reader: Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard – summary. [online] Available at: http://culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/simulacra-and-simulation-by-jean.html [Accessed 3 Jan. 2016].

Theperfumegirl.com, (2016). Guess Seductive Homme Blue Fragrances – Perfumes, Colognes, Parfums, Scents resource guide – The Perfume Girl. [online] Available at: http://www.theperfumegirl.com/perfumes/fragrances/guess/guess-seductive-homme-blue/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2016].

Turkle, S. (1984). The second self. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Turkle, S. (2015). Connected, but alone?. [online] Ted.com. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together?language=en [Accessed 31 Dec. 2015].

Wikipedia, (2015). Jean Baudrillard. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Baudrillard#Simulacra_and_Simulation [Accessed 31 Dec. 2015].

Wikipedia, (2015). Phonograph. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonograph [Accessed 31 Dec. 2015].

“What is New Media?”

Hannah Bales

Hull School of Art and Design

BA (Hons Game Design)

The Open University

04/01/16

What is New Media?

Introduction

To define “What is New Media?” we need to establish what is considered as old.  The television and mobile phone are examples, however, through digital technology, these are now integral as part of new media.  As a community we strive to remember our childhood and now we enhance, develop and improve the technology we used to know and love so that we can bring our memories from the past into our future. Even though we are advancing in the use of media and technology most of us still like to use old media as some new technology can be over complicated.

Main Body

New Media is a term used to describe modern or futuristic technology that enables us to communicate with each other and gain knowledge of current events. Old media still exists in the form of a Newspaper or Radio whereas New Media is strongly taking over the Old Media. However, I sometimes question certain types of New Media as some forms of it consist of being Old Media revived (sometimes known as Retro). As an example the ‘Phonograph’ (in the shape of a cylinder) was invented in 1877 by the famous Thomas Edison which then evolved to a ‘Vinyl Record Player’ (disc shaped) in 1887 by Emile Berliner. To this day Vinyl Record Players are still in popular demand, but mainly used for display purposes and is now electronic. But we live in a world where electricity is vital, do we always need to have electronic devices or can old media overrule new media? In this modern society children as young as 3 start to use electronic devices such as the IPad, however in some cases it can be good for them as it is educational as well as fun.

Sherry Turkle believes that New Media allows us to be immersed in a variety of different worlds and escape the world that we don’t want to be in. Turkle states that as a community we are ‘Alone Together’; meaning physically we are next to each other but our minds are in different places. I agree with the way she discusses control and how our minds only want to focus on technology as we have more control over a text message than we do with an actual conversation. Turkle said “A conversation happens in real time and you can’t control what you are going to say. Texting, e-mail, posting; all of these things let us present the self that we want to be”. I agree with Sherry Turkle because as a gamer I can relate using characters as an example.

In Sherry Turkles book she believes that “A few powerful ideas elaborated within the AI world have captured the imagination of people who are not in AI but close enough to it and to computers to be responsive to its influence”. Therefore being immersed in games leading to gaining new knowledge and taking that knowledge into reality. She writes not just about the computers and technology itself but the way in which technology changes the way in which we act and how games can change our everyday lives. Machines offer us companionship that real people sometimes cannot offer, we have robots now on phones and consoles that can react to what we say to them; such as Siri and Cortana.

The Business Insider website has a page about ‘Amazing Pictures of Real People and Their Avatars’. This page shows how players want to see themselves and who they want to portray. (For example see fig.1). Figure 1 shows a Man called Thierry Te Dunne; he likes to play as Arenanet, a female character that he created in the game ‘Guild wars’. He plays this game 21 hours a week; that’s nearly a full day of being immersed in a virtual world. Technology gives us the chance to create, edit and delete who we are online; that is why we find it easier to connect online.

You can look stronger or look prettier as a character and therefore that will give you the confidence to do more just like Jane Mcgonigal says “We feel we are as good in reality as in games. In game worlds we are the best version of ourselves possible. When we face obstacles and failure in real life, we feel overcome, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and cynical. These emotions just do not exist in games. What about this in games makes it impossible to feel that we can’t achieve everything?” She feels the same way as Sherry Turkle and believes that games can change the world, however, there are good ways and bad ways in which the world can be changed. Our characters confident personalities we pursue online need to become real. Sometimes games let us design the characters look, personality and its skills so that we have more control over the person we would like to be. In most cases games are made to be played more than once so that you can create a different character the next time you play therefore giving you more experience of playing as a completely different person.

Hyper Reality is a form of distortion within images and real life; noticing the difference between reality and fantasy. Disney World is an example; people go there to be happy and be immersed within their favorite Disney films and interact with their favorite characters. The characters are always friendly so they offer companionship and the worlds have music and even smells that make you feel like you are a part of that world.

Jean Baudrillard developed work in mass communication. Within this field of work he developed an interest towards Marshall McLuhan’s thoughts on New Media and social relations. He has a book called ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ which sums up how new media takes over real life by creating a hyper reality for us to live in. ‘Simulacra’ means a depiction of something that has no reality or no longer has an original being; whereas ‘Simulation’ is a real world process that imitates the reality we want to live in. We see signs of simulacra and simulation every day, advertisements usually create a hyper reality as they usually intimidate and persuade people to be like the person in the advertisement or if the person buys that product they will live life that person. (For example see Fig. 2.) This poster links to this theory of hyper realism as the advertisement suggests that if you buy this fragrance you can seduce attractive women, however, the actual reality of that happening is less than likely. In the image it shows stereotypical models that most people are expected to look like in this modern society. Not everyone looks like this and the poster makes the advertisement more dominant by taking away most of the models clothing to sexualise the ad. Not everyone is happy with these advertisements because it stimulates the brain to be depressed through the thoughts of wanting to look like them.

Films and games are a huge form of hyper reality as we have the chance to explore a world that doesn’t exist (as much as we want it to exist in real life). Harry Potter is a good example as many places around the world have tried to imitate scenes from the film in which people can interact. Disneyworld used mirrors to create the illusion of walking through the wall at platform 9 ¾ and they have also created all the areas out of the film such as the castle. Whereas in London they use green screen to make it look like you are flying just like in the film (New Media).

 

Conclusion

Overall I believe that both theories are great and make a lot of sense in this modern society, however, I really have an interest for the theory presented by Jean Baudrillard as he gives evidence and theories towards the virtual media that we see on television being brought to life in the real world, whereas Sherry Turkle mainly mentions just the virtual and technology side towards it. I agree with Sherry Turkle in the fact that New media can be a good or a bad thing to happen to the world but I believe that having that chance to experience what it is like to live in the world you want to live in is great and it may be a way of escaping reality, however, if we couldn’t escape reality I feel that the world would be a more stressful place.

Overall I think that both authors have a clear understanding of how new media can change the world, one author using virtual reality and the other using the theory of hyper reality.

With new technology being developed every day we get to be immersed in the worlds that we enjoy, however, being in reality is sometimes a good thing we only like to live the good parts of reality and when we are not enjoying reality we play as another character from a different world whether it be a virtual character in a virtual world or you dressed as your favorite
character in a hyper reality made world. Sometimes the technology we use will give us ideas to take into the real world e.g. buying/building props out of a film as inspiration or creating an outfit to make you look like the character such as what the people at comic con do.

Understanding both of these theories by Baudrillard and Turkle inspires me as they both understand that new media can make a better reality for us if we use it correctly. Not all virtual reality is violent and not all hyper reality is stereotypical, some games and hyper realism tasks can educate and give us exercise. Sometimes games can be educational without even knowing and I think that adding this in more games would benefit the world.

Figure001Fig 1: Thierry Te Dunne as Arenanet from the game ‘Guild Wars’

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/real-people-vs-avatars-2011-12?IR=T#-14

Figure002Fig 2: Guess, Seductive Homme. Fragrance for Men.

Source: http://www.theperfumegirl.com/perfumes/fragrances/guess/guess-seductive-homme-blue/

 

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