Friday, 29 October 2010

"Stealing's Bad"

There we go:

Hand in for it is before 7pm on Monday. As this was pretty much just for fun for Jess and I, we're not going to spend the weekend making it look better... Especially not after Jess said it looked "delightfully crappy".

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Being Productive: RF, D, and the FMP.

Final Major Project:

Have not done a lot of work the past few days due to RapidFilms and life, but I did find some more beautiful pics of abandoned places and copied out Escher's "Relativity" to get to know it better. Tim sent me a link for another website with more nice photos of abandoned places too.


Been working on a RapidFilms project this week, so far spent two days on it. The brief was to create a film no longer than 2 minutes based on your favourite joke. I'm working with Jess Reynolds and neither of us seem to have one favourite joke [because all of life is either hilarious, or ridiculous...], so what we've done instead is taken some things we have found funny and worked them together into a storyboard [day 1].

Yesterday [day 2], I pulled all the images Jess drew into an animatic with silent-movie style piano music by Kevin MacLeod. I made a few minor changes to some of the text that would appear and switched the first and last scene around, but yeah, we're pleased with it so far for two days work. All it needs now is the images to be done properly and the transitions and camera movements put in, which will probably take a couple of days.


Jess posted the help sheet under my door this morning that they were given for writing dissertations. I copied it out, did the exercises, and I'm now going through the Georg Simmel text on "The Metropolis and Mental Life" we were given last year, separating the sentences with pencil lines. It looks horrendous until you separate the sentences out; then things become much more clear..

Here's what I wrote for the exercises:

"Free" writing [5 mins each]:
1. State the subject of your thesis in one sentence.
Fun - what it is, why we want it, and why it sometimes feels like we shouldn't be having it.

2. List the aims of your research/analysis.
To explore the feelings and mentality of those who strongly align their arguments with a "superego" kind of point of view. To suggest that living a life of fun is not at odds with working hard and being a productive member of society. To show the importance of "having fun" as a driving force and as a glue for a productive society.

3. "My project is about"
... the relationship between people and what they perceive as fun, and how society sees "fun" and those who have it.

4. "The stage I am at now"
... still the "Free" writing stage, although I have some authors to look at as well.

5. "The main argument is"
... that the freedom to have fun is vital not just at the beginning of our lives, as children, but throughout a person's entire life.

"Generative" writing [5 mins each]:
1. What I find difficult in writing and researching my dissertation is:
... keeping my mind on one subject. If I come across something interesting I will take the time to read it, even when it has nothing to do with my subject.

2. The key sections of my dissertation are:
- What is fun? [because fun is a term that covers different things for different people]
- Why we all NEED to have fun
- The ways we prevent ourselves and eachother from having fun
- "Rules were made to be broken". Thanatos and Chaos. How humans strive to break free and remain free.

3. What I can write about NOW is:
Expand the section about the ways society has prevented itself from being a fun one...
- Law, order, rules.
- Morality, religion, thou shalt not.
- Goals of a society and the accepted norms, how people are expected to behave, and the attitudes towards those who deviate from the expected behaviours.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Meet Mr Shiny

Hi guys this is Tim the monkey of the operation. I been working on some character concepts. Here he is "Mr Shiny" a character you will meet at the start of your journey and helps you out in times of need.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Unity3D or UDK?

I know I said I wanted to use Unity3D, but that was when there was only one person on the team. It feels quite daunting starting over with a program I've only played with once [yesterday], but the tech sessions on Tuesdays will be covering UDK, not to mention there's plenty of support on the Internet if we need help figuring out how to do something. I feel like we should be trying to rise to the challenge here...

And I know graphics aren't everything, but after seeing what can be achieved fairly simply thanks to the materials and stuff already on there, the idea of learning and utilising the Unreal Development Kit for this project is prrrretty enticing.

It will mean a little more brain power for learning it, but I think that's okay. I think we should probably limit the number of level designs down to the Main House [which will act a little like a hub], and a few Strange-Levels [say... 3 to 5?] and treat this project as a demo game-slice rather than a full-blown game.

As for actual course-aims, the task for the next Tuesday morning [which will actually be the Tuesday after next, due to the GameCity trip] is to nail down the visual style to show everyone. We already know that the Main House will be neglected and abandoned with spatters of graffitied images here and there, and the Strange-Levels will contain "stairs, lots of stairs", so most of the hard work is done already.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Dissertation: Shouldn't be too hard...

Had a group session with Caroline, an animation lecturer, about dissertation stuff yesterday [I think.. my memory is mixing my days up a little thanks to Freshers Week], and it doesn't seem too bad. She said a dissertation is basically taking a few key texts about what people have been saying about a subject [preferably something academic..], and rewriting and writing about them to show that you understand what they are saying, and that dissertations normally get better marks if they are posing a hypothesis, an idea that needs to be tested.

So, just thinking about it today, I was thinking of writing about what people think about ethics or moral duties in computer games or what should or shouldn't be put or allowed to be put into computer games. Should give me plenty to read about, but I'll have to check out academic stuff to see what's there.

Solo Project no longer solo :)

Now that Freshers Week is starting to wind down to it's last few events, it's time to get busy.

Everyone met up for a session on Tuesday, and we went around the group telling each other our ideas for the final project. When I told the guys what I wanted to work on, they told me some stuff that might be helpful for me to look at [including Echo Chrome, Labyrinth, Inception, 13 Ghosts and Arkham Asylum], which was great. After the meeting, Tim messaged me saying he liked the sound of my game idea and the art style and asked if he could come on board. Awesomeness.

We met up before the Dissertation session to have a chat about the idea and presentation stuff. I think we're calling it FP3 [cubed], at least for now, as it's a 3D first person perception puzzler. We came up with a few ideas for M. C. Escher-inspired puzzles, and realised the most challenging part of this project will probably be coming up with some good challenges for the player in the first place, but it should be fun.

I've just been looking through some of my 6th Form work as some of things I'm thinking about are quite heavily based on the art I researched, back in Year 13 of school. The things and people I wrote about in my art dissertation included graffiti, Feek, oblique [perspective] and catoptric [mirror] anamorphosis, Matthew Carver, Trompe L'Oeil, Julian Beever, Community Bridge, Felice Varini, Cool World, Daniel Rozin and Michelangelo Pistoletto. I'd love to utilise in the game some of the techniques those artists use :D

I'm going to have a play in Unity3D later to see if I can get some of the initial ideas to actually work, and get a bit of self organisation going on. Module Handbook says we've got until end of January 2011 to work on documentation and test pieces, with the intention of creating one of three things afterwards:

- a completed game and/or interactive project utilising an existing game engine and/or games development software;

- an extended design portfolio suitably presented demonstrating an awareness of professional context;

- an extended set of dioramas and/or moving image sequences including full character and situation detailing.

Pretty sure we're going to go for the first option.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


I was trying to think for ages who it was who did those pictures that mess with perspective. I was only when I saw stairs moving around strangely and the mention of an Escher Vault on a Warehouse 13 advert on Syfy that I remembered. His work is amazing, so check it out if you happen to have never heard of him before.

[Wednesday, 27th October 2010]
Edit: This is a tracing of Escher's "Relativity", which I did in the past week to get to know it a bit better.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Started packing and getting ready to go back to uni [woohoo!] so I haven't done very much work today. Basically just started thinking about colours, using a few of the images I liked before to pick colours from.

I want to give the game some colour without going too bright or in-you-face with the hues, so I'm liking how the colours in these pictures are generally quite muted but not all too grey. There are a few greens, blues, purples and some very different browns that I can have a think about.

The shifting-architecture aspect of the game is one I need to start thinking about more as well now. I kind of want it to feel a little like you are inside a machine-like maze, something systematic but also a little unpredictable.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Research: Photos

My dad has been building an extension onto the side of our house this summer, and in the process opened up and removed a section of the roof. These are a few images I've taken with my phone of the structure in the roof, might use them as reference images for architecture and textures within the abandoned house.

And a few of the images I took today:

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Research: Images

Here are some images I like the feel of, all found on

I'm especially liking the images from here [] and here [Urban-Spaceman's flickr].

Dissertation... Hmmm.

I don't know what I'm writing about.

The other day, Henry posed an interesting question on FB:

What would have the most real world impact? Making a fringe game for social change that preaches to the converted... or making a commercially successful mainstream game and donating the profits to charity?

Maybe I'll write about the different motivations behind making computer games; for money, to send a message, to create a world or stories, to make something fun or to have fun in the process of making something.

Oh, I don't know.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Concept: Deceiving the Eye

Trompe L'Oeil, the art of painting images so realistic that they often fool the viewer, is something I find really ingenious. Images that deceive the eye have been used in all sorts of applications. Historically it has been giving flat ceilings the appearance of great domed architecture, and creating the illusion of spaces beyond walls in homes and on stage in the form of back-drops.

These days, the technique has been adapted and brought into the digital world for use in modern 3D video games, not just in giving the illusion of texture on the walls in the environment, but also in sky-boxes to create the appearance of open but detailed space above and around the player, and in texturing the player and other characters in the game to give the 3D models details that have not actually been modelled. It is not a particularly new or innovative thing to do and is generally "the done thing".

I'd like to employ the technique of trompe l'oeil within the game in a way that forces the player to take notice of it. During the Wings of Fate project that I worked on in the second year of CGD at UWN, one of the game mechanics suggested was one in which the player would be able to travel through a painting into a mini-game.

What I had in mind for this project is to have Julian-Beever-like anamorphic trompe l'oeil images on the floors of some rooms [set within an abandoned and graffitied home, as the mystery of an abandoned place seems to be quite inviting to urban explorers within the real world] that look like holes in the floor when viewed from certain spots, showing views into strange rooms that look out of place within the context of an abandoned building.

If the player were to step on these areas in the floor, they would fall through the floor and into another room or level. Whether a player would fall through a floor or not would depend on what stage of the game they are at - at times they will be able to step on the painting, or even, are not able to pass through the painting whether they want to or not, as if it were only a painting on a floor.

They will not be given any obvious signals as to whether or not a painting would cause them to fall through, and would have to explore and test these paintings, perhaps by throwing objects found within the house onto the floor, to progress. These painting illusions could be found not only in the floors, but also in ceilings and walls, and not just in the abandoned house but also in the strange levels as the way back into the house.

The idea I want to run throughout the game is the feeling of uncertainty and things not being as they seem; to create an intriguing environment so as to invite exploration and in some cases literally offer different perspectives of the spaces, but not so unsettling and confusing that the player would give up the interaction before exploring fully.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Learning Unity3D: Challenge C03 (Beginner)

Getting the scoring to work was kind of tricky, but I got there in the end.

I noticed yesterday that B20, B21 and B22 have been added to the Beginner's section, so I'm going to watch those now :)