~Simulated Environments 1 - Briefing Day~

This was the image that I recieved with the project brief. At first glance I hated it, my weakness is developing stories and I just find it extremely hard to overcome boundaries in my head that seem to stop me from even progressing beyond the content of the image. However, I managed to produce a basic premise to work from.
The idea being that this mermaid can leave water, and when it does it turns into a human, or close too, and when it returns to the water it grows fins and turns back to a mermaid. When on land the mermaid is weaker, and after a period of time is at risk of dieing. And so has to return to the sea often. The storyline is that the mermaids race has been kidnapped by humans, and the mermaid in this image is the final mermaid wanting to save her kin.
She has to return to the surface often to salvange resources, and to save small factions of her kin if she can, and so build up a small team. When above water she has slight magical powers, which she develops throughout the game, and wields a weapon and what not. Under the water her magical powers are greater, and she lacks a weapon. The stuff on the bottom left of the image is the outer "camouflage" of her base.

I decided to research a little into the implications of producing a game, and also to think about what I know makes a good game, here are some of what came out of that.

~Producing a great game~

A guy called Christopher Booker spent over 35 years researching the perfect story arcs, and came out with the following seven main arcs;

1- Over coming the Monster - Defeating some sort of force that threatens the protagonist in some way ( Star Wars and James Bond being good examples of this)
2- The Quest - Group in search of something or someone (Indiana Jones could be an example of this)
3- The Heroes Journey - Journey to become great, starts of weak and becomes powerful, and returns home a hero.
4- Comedy - Comical through circumstances, or a funny plot.
5- Tragedy - Vanity and greed (Romeo and Juliette)
6- Rebirth - Imprisoned, repressed. Wants to escape and lives happily ever after. (Birds of Prey)
7- Rags to Riches - Poverty to loved and rich (Fable 2)

These story arcs are used constantly as a basis to build a story. So my idea falls into the first category of Over coming a Monster, that being the main enemy of the mermaid who is improsing her kin, and with this in mind it helps me to start building on the other important things involved in building a game.

The next important thing is deciding how realistic the game will be. If a game is too realistic, then you have to think whether or not it will be fun or not. For example, if you produce a traditional World War 2 type shooter, that's realistic, then if you get shot once you are dead. So things like Health Packs might aid to make the game more fun and immersive, but making the game not quite realistic.

You also have to try to be innovative, whilst thinking of the risks. Not just technical risks, but production risks, marketing risks and maybe even political risks. There is also a message that you need to convey, and of course the game needs to be fun.

A main importance in a video game, is that of the character. People need to be able to relate to the character(s), and it needs to be emotionally believable.
Key factors in the production of a great character are as follows;
-Back Story
-Their motivation
-Catch Phrases
-Simple catchy and memorable names;- for example Sonic.

A great quote from a game designer named Kojima states :

"The basic character description and setting along with the character itself is one thing. When the player actually moves the character, the character becomes complete. The player is the one whom adds to the character whats missing."

I think this is something to bear in mind when developing the character its self, as the player needs to relate to it and want to play as that character.

So what makes a great game?

It needs to be immersive and original. It has to have a great story arc, and a character that people can relate too. The story also has to be driven by player choice. But also, it's good to bear in mind that it's not all about graphics, stories and lead characters, it is about how the person interacts with the game. Things like the Nintendo Wii are extremely succesful due to the fact that anyone can pick up the wii remote, start a game of say tennis, and know exactly how to play that game because they have seen Tennis before.
For example, take the aformentioned tennis example, if you gave a wii remote to a senior and put them on a tennis game, it's reasonable to assume they will be able to manage playing it quite easily. However, hand them an Xbox or Playstation Controller, and it wouldn't take long for them to get confused by the controlling system. So intuitivness and how the person interacts with the game are huge factors in the production. This is what makes games such as RockBand and WiiSports so successfull.

1 comment:

tutorphil said...

Morning Jonny,

Hope you're rested this morning? Seela is looking very promising, though I'd drop the 'The Barracuda' thing, as 'Seela' has a poetry and romanticism about it, which 'The Barracuda' unpicks instantly; Seela would make for a suitably enigmatic title for your game, though you might want to think about a subtitle, such as Seela: Battle for the...' or 'Seela: Conquest of' or similar. It's clear you've worked really hard refining your character, and that's fantastic stuff, but don't neglect the other aspect of the brief, which is just as important in terms of assessment; the 'simulated environment' of the title; I know you're going to be producing concept art for this, so be sure to work as richly and filmically as possible; use the 16:9 ratio for composition, and be sure to demonstrate your sensitivity for the surface pattern/decoration of the Dulac image, in contrast with the 'over-world' environment; I've checked your blog recently, and I'm still not seeing that 'exciting insight into the creative process of the cg artist' - so get ALL your drawings tidied up and posted, all your R + D (research and development), and, as you go on to produce your model, I want to see her development in gradual stages; from wireframe right the way through to final texturing and lighting etc. Try and think about your blog as a publishing/promotional event; I'll post this email replay on your blog, so you can add this conversation into the mix; now, be sure to keep your energies nice and high, don't take your eye off the ball, and don't lose sight of all those little, but essential design details that you sometimes overlook at the 11th hour; you must design everything, remember, and every detail reflects you and your skills; good luck, and I look forward to speaking with you soon - best, Phil :-)

About Me

My photo
I am a video game artist at Dovetail games, working on Train Simulator 2014, 2015 and an unannounced title. I also graduated from the CG Arts course at UCA in 2010 with a First Class. www.jonstewart.co.uk