Presentations, Feedback and 1-1s with Adam

Today’s presentation didn’t go as well planned. I was in charge of doing the 5 Days presentation that I’d been working on over a couple of days. We hadn’t developed it more than the basics as the next big step would be to choose our one idea and then develop it further; this will occur after presentations. Unfortunately, due to me being awful at speaking, I skipped over a lot of crucial details to the game and its experience. Because of this, it didn’t get the full picture across and so there was confusion. I feel that until I get comfortable presenting, this won’t be something I can fix too easily.

presentation-feedbackAbove is the Etherpad that the class wrote on during the presentations.
There weren’t many suggestions this time due to the stage we’re at, however, there were a couple of interesting links that I could look into to see if it could add to the game at all; I will only do this if we decide to go forward with 5 Days.
In terms of verbal feedback, these were some of the points that were raised:

  • conflicting narrative
  • doesn’t seem original enough
  • people enjoyed the idea of morality and how people play
  • mission based was interesting
  • backstory either needs more or be gotten rid of
  • needs to be driven by narrative

I agree with some points such as the conflicting narrative, however, I felt comment that the idea wasn’t original enough felt a little unfair. The games mentioned that were thought to be similar were nothing like how we imagined the game to look, but this was my fault as I didn’t obviously explain it well enough. Maybe I should have created more visuals so that people would get an idea of what the game would look like.
Making the game more mission based is interesting as it means we could get rid of the original brief backstory and focus on the contracts. We could create backstories for the targets so it makes the player think about morality and whether they assassinate someone or not; this could evoke an interesting player experience and is definitely something to bear in mind.
For the notes I made, see Sketchbook 3, Salmon pink tab labelled Feedback from Presentation, pages 23-25).

There were a couple of things that I forgot to mention in the presentation which was frustrating as I feel that this could have helped explain the idea better. For instance, we decided as a team that we wouldn’t develop the games too much in light of any feedback we received and therefore the narrative wasn’t fleshed out, it was more of a starting point. 
The mechanics were meant to be the selling point of the game, for example, you have to be strategic about what traps you use and how you place them otherwise you can accidently kill the targets, destroy the organ you need or get caught. You have to stake out locations, map your targets journey patterns and strike once you feel you know the targets movements well enough. I personally haven’t played many games like this so I felt that with our story and contracts, this could be an interesting game to play. Admittedly, quite a few people said they would still play the game which restored some confidence. We shall have to see what we take forward and develop accordingly.

Phase 4 Breakdown
Here, Adam talked about how the weeks are working until we reach the deadline, yet he also spoke a lot about the presentation of our work. I understand that organisation of work is important and I always try and make sure that I have everything in a coherent order by the deadline, however, I haven’t thought much about the way I actually present work. This is definitely something that I will think about doing for next semester for the final hand-in as branding yourself looks professional and adds an added spark to your work. 

Team Meeting and 1-1
We discussed which game we favoured to take forward and make the GDD for. I personally didn’t want to work on Delta as I felt that it would be too risky and is very heavily mechanics based, therefore I wouldn’t have been able to help much. It could have pushed me to try a new skillset but this is the year that we need to make something that looks polished and industry standard so I felt that was too much of a risk.
In terms of 5 Days, I felt that there was so much that I wanted to work on and develop but it would take too much time and we’d end up rushing it. As it is an idea that all three of us love, we may take this further after we graduate so we have less of a time constraint and can develop the game to a better standard.
Bell Jar was my second favourite. It would be quite complex for us to complete, however, this is the third year and we need to step it up a bit and be ambitious and I feel that this is the game to do it.

We decided that BellJar would be the game that we take forward. Luckily we all felt the same which made life easier in terms of developing a plan of what to do next.
2016-12-02 20.56.47.jpgAs a group, we devised a plan broken down into areas of what we would need in the GDD. By making the GDD as in depth as possible, this will help us next semester to get properly into the making process. Of course, some elements will end up changing as we progress but by having an in depth GDD, this means that we can have a solid foundation to build and adapt from. I feel that the above list is a great building block to start from and I am excited to get to work on it.
See Sketchbook 3, Salmon tab labelled Team GDD Plan, pages 32-33.

We then had a 1-1 with Adam. It went well as we got positive feedback from him. We discussed how it would be best to make an alpha build rather than a vertical slice as we want to try and get it to greenlight on Steam. By having an alpha build on Steam, we can get live feedback from users and be able to adapt accordingly. There was also talk about doing expansion packs which could be interesting as this gives the game a replayable factor. There’s certainly a lot to mull over but this feedback has been positive and useful.
Another valuable point Adam made was that we have to decide what job roles we will be taking on next semester. Before the semester is up, I’m hoping to write up a role for myself based on job specs in the industry which Millie and James can look at and ‘sign off’.
One final point Adam mentioned was that because we did the above breakdown sheet off our GDD, the Practice Based Research Document is no longer needed as we have effectively made a new, expanded and more developed already. This has helped me now to focus and now I feel ready to start the next stint, phase 4.

Due to spending a lot of time on this project, I will be dedicating this weekend to getting my creative writing tasks completed so that I am on track for the workshop in a week and a halves time where we will all be peer assessing work. 

The Sleepers Environment Thumbnail Prototypes

As another one of my prototypes, I took to creating environment thumbnails for The Sleepers game idea we had. I hadn’t ever made an environment thumbnail before so I thought it would be a good way for me to broaden my skills.
As we haven’t got an idea for a colour scheme yet either, I worked in monochrome instead so I could craft the piece using values of black and white. This was a real challenge for me as I hadn’t ever painted in monochrome either so I was trying to improve my drawing skillset. 

These are some of the drawings that I made from research images off of Pinterest. This helped me to think creatively about what sort of possibilities I could produce for the environments just by using the architecture as a base structure. This gave me lots of ideas to take forward that I could use as part of an inspiration for the environment thumbnails.

For more sketches and ideas, see Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Sleeper’s Environments, pages 158 – 174.

Above are the thumbnails that I produced, look at the end of sketchbook 2 and beginning of sketchbook 3 for the development process. I felt that the red in the last one was needed as I imagined that these lit up whenever there was danger around.

For the monochrome research inspiration, see Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Monochrome Research, pages 175 – 180.

See Sketchbook 2, pages 181 – 83 for the development of the first thumbnail.

See Sketchbook 3,  purple tab labelled Other Two Thumbnails, pages 6 – 10 for the development of the other two environment thumbnails.

Originally, I was doing the first thumbnail when I was encountering problems with my values. I wasn’t able to create thumbnails that balanced correctly so I went to see Sylvia in the second year as this is the way she often works so is a pro at it. She taught me about the idea of values and how not to be afraid to use black in my work. Having this fifteen minute one to one was very valuable as not only did she explain the colour theory of values, Sylvia also taught me some shortcuts on Photoshop to help me along with my work. 
I feel that this was very useful as it has helped me to think more about light and dark within my artwork. With this knowledge, I can create better pieces of artwork that better represent some sort of realism. 

Doing this for The Sleepers has made me think about what I can do for some of the other game ideas. I will use my new knowledge of monochrome concepts to work on some more for different ideas, however, I’ll wait until we pick a final idea. This way I can focus on the one idea and create a vast amount to see what works and what doesn’t – this could help us decide on environment design.



5 Days Mechanic – Body Disposal

Today I tried to come up with the coding for one of the 5 Days mechanics. As I am still quite a novice at coding, I chose to produce the body disposal mechanic as I felt this could be relatively simple. This is where you, the protagonist, approach the body or person, pick it up and drop it off somewhere. If we decide to take this idea forward as the final one idea, I hope to try and expand on this mechanic by taking into account having to attack the object without being detected first. Even if we don’t take this forward, I may still try to attempt this anyway.

I haven’t used Unity properly in a very long time, so I started today by messing around with some of the settings. Through doing this, I managed to remember how to create a plane, create a 3D object, apply a rigid body etc; this made my confidence grow.
I started out by designing the code in my book as I struggle to take it straight to code. Using this technique has definitely helped me to improve and also showed me that I know more than what I give myself credit for. I would like to try and produce more pseudo code in order to bring my confidence levels up as well as help me to design better code through practice.

See Lectures/Crits/Talks book, light pink tab labelled 5 Days Body Disposal, pages 72 – 77 for all of my notes clearly.

From here, Dr James and I discussed how I was looking to make this a 3D game and so he helped me accordingly to work out what extra bits and pieces I would need in my code. Having Dr James to help me fix my code meant that I could add appropriate annotations and comments to the code with how I go about doing things for future reference. This will also certainly help me in order to practice and remember certain terminologies that I often forget the meaning of. I plan to use commenting in my code more in order to help me progress my skillset.

Here are the three tries of the prototype that I made:

I’m really pleased with myself as I have been learning through using the commenting element of Unity. Now that I know how to do this, I will be making sure that I make comments and notes in all of my code so that whenever I look back at them, I can figure out what I’d been doing straight away. It could also help me to create new code as if I look back, I can figure out what I can recycle or see if I can change anything.
The best thing too is now that I have these, I can create a library of scripts so that I can use them whenever I need to.
Below is the code:


Survey Feedback and Team Meeting

Today we went through the survey results that we put out on Friday. I was a little concerned as yesterday evening, we only had a couple of results come back so I was unnerved as to what possible results we would get. We all did a final share of the survey and thankfully we received more taking our total up to fourteen replies. 


The average age of our target audience is 22 years, with the eldest being 32 and the youngest being 19. Putting out this survey has definitely helped to figure out who we are mainly catering for in terms of age and by having the added comment box, people could add feedback and mention if they would play or not which has helped us to get not only quantitative data but also qualitative; this will help us to make concrete decisions of where we take these ideas.

Picture2.png Delta
This was quite a popular one. Most people seemed to like the idea of mixing technologies together to create a multiplayer experience. I didn’t expect people to be so taken on this aspect, however, with dual tech, there really isn’t much competition around that’s like this so this could definitely be something we could look to further. One point that I thought was very useful was that instead of making it so that you have to pair a tablet with the console, make it more widely accessible. I can’t believe that we didn’t think of this before, like, why not use a phone? Most people nowadays tend to have smartphones or some sort of device that has a screen enabling you to play the game – what if we made the AI player an application that can be downloaded onto a device of your choice? I.e. an Ipad, phone or alternatively, we could make something so that if someone is on a console, if you have a computer then you can play through that? Also an opportunity to think about making it so you get matched with people online too. 

Another major element that people seemed to love was the idea of couch co-op and having a multiplayer. So many games nowadays neglect to have a couch co-op element and this seemed to be quite a large selling point to the target audience. If we do take this game forward, I feel we need to make sure we execute the multiplayer gameplay well as this seems to be quite a critical element to what people liked in the idea. This is definitely something to think about and discuss in our team meeting later. 

Picture3.png100 Wishes
This game idea was the one that people seemed to sit on the fence about. Half of the feedback consisted of “this could be a good story if the gameplay/story was gripping enough” and on the flipside, “It’s depressing, would definitely not play”. 
I did feel that this one would be a tricky game idea as it could be considered quite depressing as it is about death, and it’s also about a child which is a sensitive topic. Whether this means it’s not their type of game or whether they don’t like the idea is unknown which would have been useful to find out and elaborate on. As there were a lot of unsure comments on whether they would play or not, I think it’s safe to say that we won’t be taking this game idea forward but we will have to see in the meeting.  
The main outcome seemed to be, if we could do it tastefully then it would be good to play and they would enjoy playing it despite the ‘depressing’ story. This could be a massive undertaking and as much as it would be good to take a risk, it’s not one which I would feel highly confident on trying to work on. I plan to discuss this in our meeting, later on, with the team. 

Picture4.pngCity Sleepers
There was quite a mixed reaction to this game idea too. Some were a ‘yes, I’d play it!’ whilst others had no interest in this idea whatsoever.
A lot of people mentioned that they loved the idea and that the story seemed quite original. This was good to know as we weren’t very confident with this game idea on the whole as we felt people wouldn’t be enthused by it as the story seemed vague. It has been mentioned that the use of dreams to communicate was something people found interesting so we did something right with this part of the story. Maybe if we don’t take this game forward, we should revisit this story as we could be on to something there. 
On the other hand, the target audience’s response showed that RTS is not a very popular type of game for the sorts of ages that responded to our questionnaire. As we didn’t launch a full nationwide study, we can’t find out exactly how popular RTS’s would be, yet, just from looking at the current results we received, it is obvious that something like this is a relatively niche market. I feel that although this is quite an ambitious task as it is not something any of us have made on this course yet, it didn’t get the reception that’s needed; we’d like people to be excited about the game as it’s our final year and we’d like to go out with a bang.

picture55 Days
This game was received very well which shocked me. When I’d discussed this idea with Adam previously, it made me think about how morbid the game sounded even though I explained we would try and include dark humour and comedy to make it a fun arcade game. Therefore I was expecting not many people to entertain this game idea so I was pleasantly surprise as this is one that I favour out of our seven ideas.
This was the only game idea where we received positive feedback from all of our recipients. There were a couple where they offered great feedback and potential ideas to help us make the idea as solid as possible. Having this sort of user feedback was incredibly useful as now we have some ideas of how we can implement some of the suggested changes that have arisen in order to make it better. 
The main point that came up a few times was about finding the distinction between morbid and funny. If we push it too much towards the morbid side then this would put off players yet if we try too hard to make it funny, people may get annoyed. There is a line that we need to make sure we don’t cross. I feel that the best way to keep this in mind is, if we take this idea forward, we need to be getting constant user feedback from our target audience. They would be the best judge of what’s too far etc and help us gauge if we’re making the right decisions.

This one also surprised me in the feedback we received. The majority of the people said that they would play this game yet it would depend on crucial factors. For instance, people hate quick time events. Absolutely hate them. I didn’t realise how adverse our target audience is to these so this is something to definitely bear in mind for our projects currently and in the future. 
We didn’t explain our idea clearly enough as we had questions concerning whether it would be a narrative game, a tell-tale style game and things as such. We did detail that we imagined the game to play out in short episodes (like the Wolf Among Us) but I can understand how that doesn’t necessarily explain how we are planning to have the gameplay. 
I feel that after last year, a branching narrative is certainly not something we are considering as it was proven to be difficult to make engaging. However, I have thought that it would be a good idea to have the player interact with their surroundings and potentially you could have some choices that the player could make. This helps to make it more immersive for the player, and as we are intending this one to be a horror game, immersion is key to making sure that the player is challenged and feels some sort of fear. 

picture7Bell Jar
This game idea was also received well by our target audience. Although it didn’t cater to some of the audience’s need for action, there were many positive mentions about how the story and concept for the idea were great. One individual mentioned that, as we described it as a tycoon sort of game, that this sort of thing would be refreshing on the market as there is a need for games such as this that isn’t just Cities Skyline or Planet coaster. This is a valid point as if there is not much in our market, we should consider taking this forward. We need to think about whether we could generate enough interest for it to take off as if this is the case, we really need to think about branding the game and making it polished enough that we could greenlight it on Steam. We will have to discuss this at the meeting later on.
Another key piece of feedback was that we need to consider how the game is structured. For example, would there be an option for the game to be endless? Would there be a challenge mode? These were suggested as well as mentioning that we need to make sure that the game doesn’t end up being repetitive. I feel that these pieces of feedback are incredibly useful as it means that we have lots of avenues to think about incorporating into the game to make it more exciting and repeatable for the player so they would get value out of it.
We have already considered procedural generation for elements of this game to do with the production of the dream seeds but we could always consider a way to make proc-gen contracts and things to make the game more random and fun for the player; this will be something we will have to consider if we decide to take this game idea forward.

picture8The Sleepers
This game was our biggest game and possibly the riskiest. There were a lot of mixed thoughts and feedback given for this idea ranging from ‘it’s too confusing’, ‘the setting has been overdone’ to ‘it sounds good and is well thought out’. 
One of the largest pieces of feedback stemmed around how the idea was massive and was hard to understand or explain. There were a lot of questions from one particular individual (see above, the bottom comment) which means that maybe the game idea wasn’t as thought out as we had currently thought. This has made me think about how unfinished the idea is and the little potential it holds currently. I will not be doing this one, even if Millie and James decide that this is what they want to do as it hasn’t got enough ground to stand on and is not very well explained; I would like to make games people actually understand and want to play. 
Our mechanic of being able to manifest things from your dreams was highlighted as good in the feedback. This was surprising as yet another mechanic derived from dreams had caught people’s attention. Maybe there is something missing from the market that incorporates things such as the dream mechanics we created – could it be worth following up such mechanics and seeing the potential they could hold? It is definitely something to consider later at the meeting. 

Team Meeting
We came together in order to collect the feedback as a group and discuss what comments we’d been given back. This was also a chance to see which games were the most popular with our target audience. See Sketchbook 2, orange tab labelled Survey Feedback, pages 185 – 190.
We went through the feedback all together to see what people thought of the comments. Luckily, it was a pretty straight forward process as there wasn’t much that we disagreed on at all. We all thought that creating a survey has been quite a success considering the great feedback that we received. 

Top 3 favourites were:

  • Delta

  • Bell Jar

  • 5 Days

We worked this out through the number of people who said that they would play the game supported by the amount of positive feedback we received too. 5 Days was the most popular with 14/14 saying that they would either be interested in playing or would play, Delta with 13/14 and lastly Bell Jar with 12/14.
Overall, these statistics have helped us with narrowing down the game ideas as we wanted to see how our target audience would choose, as that is effectively who we’re designing for. They seemed to choose the ones that we were most invested in which is a happy coincidence! This may have to do with that we’re also roughly the same average age of the target audience.
After the results, we’ve looked at all of the ideas and decided that we are going to be taking forward the three most popular – Bell Jar, Delta and 5 Days. This decision has come about based on the feedback we received in the survey as well as us thinking about our creative skill set and whether the games would be feasible to make; we’d like to take on a challenge but not so much that we fail on creating the product we want to deliver.

The next step now is thinking about presentations. As there are three ideas and three of us, we have decided to each take on one idea to present. We feel that this would be more suitable than us doing three presentations of the same things. These top three all include James’s, Millie’s and my own favourites so rather than waste time and bore everyone by repeating the same games, we’ve decided to instead make polished presentations including:

  • Elevator pitch

  • Story

  • Setting

  • Moodboard

  • Goal

  • Mechanics

These will all be expanded on so that people understand what games we are considering to make. Once we’ve narrowed down to the one idea, it will also help us to make sure that we have a head start with designing our GDD as we will have the raw ingredients from our presentations.
As well as the above list, we will each be including some of the prototypes that we’ve been making for the three games. As there hasn’t been much done for 5 Days, which I have chosen to work on, I will have to try and get on making a few in this last week. I plan to do some work with the storyboard that I first created as well as try to create a quick isometric scene to demonstrate what our maps could look like. I could also try and do some more character concept ideas for the main character if I have time, yet this will not be a priority.
I am also thinking about including any suggestions in the feedback that we as a team are considering as it will help to show that our ideas are developing further and progressing at all times. It could also spark some new suggestions from the class as they are also the target audience that we are aiming for.

We’ve also decided that we shall start a team Trello as a place to share with each other what we’re currently working on. We have also installed dropbox on there too meaning that we can add our work accordingly and keep them both up to date and linked. This would help communication and aid the process of transferring work over to whoever needs it. This will probably play a larger part in semester two when it comes to making the game however it is still useful to use now in order to work out what people need to work on in this phase of the project.

We also discussed how we visualise the three games as obviously, we all have different ideas as to what they look like. This will help me to make a mood board which will show the audience what sort of look and feel we’re trying to achieve so it will set the scene better. Also, this will end up being a good reference point if we choose to take that game idea ahead.

See our group Trello here!

Links between Ideas and my Research

It was suggested that I revisit my work and see how my research has linked together with our current ideas. I understand why this would be beneficial but it also means that I ground myself and don’t get too carried away with the prototyping phase; instead, this should help me understand and possibly refine the ideas that we originally came up with. 

In order to get to these seven ideas, we used our three themes: Dreams, Infrastructure and AI/Cyborg and used one of Andy’s workshops from last year in order to mash them together with a mechanic and a setting. We originally did this as a team in order to see what we could come up with as three brains are better than one, however, due to our meeting having to get cut short due to James and Millie having to travel home, I felt it could be worth having a go at doing my own examples of this exercise to see what I could come up on my own as it could give me more inspiration. (See Sketchbook 2, blue tab labelled Individual Idea Gen, pages 53 – 60 for this).
I definitely found this useful as it helped me to loosen my creative skills by brainstorming and smashing ideas together that you wouldn’t necessarily consider. I will try to apply this technique to my own personal projects as it has been so useful.

Using our research that we had been collating over the weeks, we tried smashing all three of our ideas together to see what we could form initially through brainstorming. I had originally made a list of areas of my research that I was interested in using; I used this to help inform the team of what topics I favoured.
We then used another technique called Sub-Umbrella. This is where you take your theme and then split it into elements as a category, for example, Sports – health, fitness, football, stamina etc. Once you did this for two themes, you then smash the ideas together. As we had three themes, we tried to do it with the three instead and it worked surprisingly well. 

See Idea Generation Document on my memory stick in Idea Generation folder inside Phase 3 for full explanations of the games.
Below is how the games related to my research:

100 Wishes.
Everyone seemed interested in using an AI character or theme within the game idea as it is something that we thought was current and also just pretty cool. When researching into AI, I was looking into how they are programmed to learn new algorithms and the such like. We all felt that AI has been shown to be a negative thing in the media, such as in films like Ex Machina and therefore wanted to challenge this perception. Hence the idea of what if we made the AI into something likeable? This is where we came up with the charming idea of an AI that doesn’t understand grilled cheese. Something light-hearted and fun to accompany and balance the sad story of terminally ill children dying. 
The idea is that the child is simulating the life that they should have had by being uploaded to a simulation where they can live their full life expectancy and learn new skills and experiences. This was influenced by the article that I found in my research to do with uploading your brain to a network and then potentially being able to download it to a system, body, robot etc. The team thought this was a really strange but an incredible concept and so we used this within our game idea process.

City Sleepers
From my list of research areas I was interested in, I mentioned to the group about how developers had succeeded in creating a ‘Matrix-like’ experiment where they could upload new skills to people’s brains – it was tried with training people to be pilots; their test scores increased at an average of 33%.
We discussed how this could be used for good and for bad and that’s where we paired up the idea of dreams. What if you could upload dreams, so you pay to dream? What if someone abused this right and uploaded nightmares? What if someone could upload messages and send them to people using this technology? This is where we started to think about the idea of high-tech war.

In my research, I found that by programming AI, we could reach a time where they are smart enough to run themselves and program themselves etc (this was mostly speculated by people opposed to AI but it was still an interesting theory). There seems to be a sort of negative partnership between AI and humans – possibly because some humans are scared of becoming inferior, so I thought about how they could work together in harmony.
I told the team about this and about the Zurich cyber Olympics that I had found – an idea of man and machine working together. This is where the idea of a tag-team race came from where you can play alongside an AI who acts as your map and eyes to help you navigate the city’s assault course. With its shifting surroundings and the ability to take down oppositions AI’s so the Human can’t ‘see’ where they’re going, it means that the player and the AI have to work together in order to win the tag-team race. I felt this could bring a new angle to AI and maybe make people see it in a different light. 

5 Days
Throughout my research, I had been really quite invested in the idea of prosthetic body parts and implants and how they’ve helped people’s quality of life. One interesting thing was how costly they are, I mean, I understand you can’t have stuff like this for free but with the cost being so high, only the rich and elite can afford it. This lead us on to the idea of a black market for synthetic body parts.
We referred to this as the idea of body farming as people could end up literally farming society for their synthetics in order to make some money – especially if times are dire. We questioned what would drive us to do such a thing and one idea that cropped up was debt; something we are all in a lot of right now…
From here, we progressed to having the protagonist who has 5 days to pay off their debt otherwise ‘x’ would happen. Since discussing the idea, I have gone on to use other research from the previous phase where I looked into bio-hackers. This is where people go under the knife, but not legally, in order to have implants etc to improve their body, whether it’s a case of vanity or progressing body development.
I had an idea about the protagonist being a bio-hacker as this could be a way that they seek out their targets. For example, they could have advanced their bionic eye so that they can scan people and retrieve data on their synthetics etc. This could also let me use more of my research that I worked on to try and use prosthetics and implants that science has experimented with into the game.

This idea was very dream focused. I didn’t use any of my research as such in this idea however there are links to similar principles that I found. For example, we looked at one of James’s points where you confuse dreams with reality and this made me think about how with AI, they don’t dream. If we programmed them to be able to dream, would they confuse it with reality? It was just a thought that I had although it wasn’t completely relevant to the idea process we were going through for the Dreams theme.
We had an idea that people might not need to work due to AI taking over jobs to make life simpler for humans, so they turn to dreaming simulations. This was loosely based off of the idea that if AI became super intelligent and they were programmed to do certain jobs, you wouldn’t have a use for people to work anymore. What would they do in their spare time? This was partly influenced by the film Wall-e.

Bell Jar
For this game idea, my research of being able to upload something to a network was taken forward, in this case, dreams. We thought about how we could incorporate that into an interactive experience, where we came up with the idea of creating your own dreams through mini-games similar to what Millie made in Year One.
Alongside this, the idea of procedural generation came from my research – making data through algorithms rather than doing it manually. We are going to use proc-gen in order to plant and grow seeds in the shop. We thought this would be a nice way to incorporate good AI subtly. 

The Sleepers
This was again, more dreams and infrastructure focused than AI/Cyborgs. The idea was primarily that dreams could power a city or society which could be uploaded through a network. This is where the Sleeper comes in. It powers the city with dreams and once woken will cause devastation – think about how grouchy you are when you’ve been woken up from sleep…
The idea of uploading people, brains, skills etc to a network has really influenced the team in our idea process so I’m glad that my research has come in handy.

After looking back through the games, it’s been quite reassuring to see that I have included a fair amount of the research that I liked from the previous phase. There are a few pointers that I’ve realised we didn’t use but maybe I can use these areas in future games that I use as a prompt.  

Game Ideas that I am NOT interested in developing:

It was suggested that I focus on the game ideas that I actually enjoyed and favoured rather than trying to whack out prototypes for everything. By focusing on what ideas I like, it should help me develop them into better ideas through the prototyping and proof of concept stage. 

  • Lucidity – unfortunately with this one, I felt like it was too similar to that of We Happy Few, a game set to come out soon. Having played the demo, the way that they’ve shown the idea of this blurry line between something that is reality or not is very close to our concept. I understand that nothing is original anymore, however, we have to draw a line somewhere and this is pretty close. I do like the sorts of dark imagery we could convey, however, I feel that that isn’t enough to continue on with an idea.

  • City Sleepers – I feel that with the idea of doing an RTS, it’s pushing into XCOM’s territory. We would in this instance need a strong, stand-alone story to make it worth people playing. I feel that this just isn’t strong enough. I like the concept of communicating to people through dreams, and maybe we can incorporate this somewhere, however, this game doesn’t seem worth continuing with its wishy-washy story.

  • 100 Wishes – I love the concept of a child being able to live their life to the fullest through a network simulation after they die as it gives such a sad topic a little glimpse of light. The idea of there being an AI companion along the way to accompany you and for you to teach opens a wide range of possibilities. However, I feel that the story could be beautiful but maybe this shouldn’t be a game. It should be something else like a telltale narrative or something. After discussions with the team earlier on in the idea process, it is clear that after last year with Little Greyton, a branching narrative is out of the question. I understand it would be difficult to do and would be very hard to nail so this is why I feel we shouldn’t ruin this lovely idea and leave it as it is – a concept.

  • Delta – I did really like the mechanic of having two players as you rarely get any good couch co-op, or just any couch co-op at all nowadays. You have to have another console or copy of the game to play with your friends and unfortunately, as great as this idea could be, we’re doing exactly just that. Assuming people have access to a console AND an Ipad. Increasing the amount of tech will often lead to people not being interested in investing into a game.

Game Ideas that I AM interested in developing:

  • 5 Days – The story to this could be considered by people to be gruesome, however, the sort of style we’re thinking is for it to not be scary and realistic. I see it as being a cartoon-like in order to make the game less ‘nasty’. I wouldn’t say pixel based style but something that inhabits a similar feel. The mechanics are one of my favourite things about this game as you have to be strategic in how you play. You have to be stealthy in order to complete your contracts by avoiding CCTV cameras, observe your victim’s walk patterns and think about your body disposal without alerting others. I feel that there are a lot of mechanics here which would be great to do as we could formulate some great AI to make the game more unpredictable and engaging.
  • Bell Jar – This game is sort of my dream game to play. You get to design your High Fantasy character, run a business by making sure you take care of all of its needs and earn money to upgrade your shop; essentially a shop tycoon for dreams. The imagery, setting and sounds would be amazing to work on, and there’s no shortage of love for High Fantasy games in our target audience. We need to make sure it’s just that little bit different to any other game out there is the only issue, yet I feel it’s a strong idea that I would feel comfortable with trying to make. 
  • The Sleepers – Environments – the game idea itself is quite intense and very long-winded however I really do have some great ideas for the environment it would be set in. I won’t be working on the game itself but I hope to create some thumbnail environment sketches for this as I feel the setting could look visually quite impressive. It also gives me a chance to further improve my Photoshop skills as I’ve never worked in monochrome before so this will be a nice challenge for me. 

Now I have an idea as to what ideas I like and want to take forward, I now know what I can and will be discussing with Millie and James on Monday when we reconvene for a group meeting to discuss presenting our three game ideas. I feel that it would be a good idea for us all to say what our top three games would be and see if there is any correlation. From here, we can correlate the results from the survey with our own personal choices and go from there to making a presentation. It may be an idea that we work on one idea each to present seeing as there are three of us. We will discuss this on Monday once we have our group meeting. 

1-1 Feedback with Adam

See formative feedback sheet in Sketchbook 2, orange tab labelled 1-1 Formative Feedback, page 184.

This session was very useful as I often struggle with knowing if I’m on the right track and doing the right thing throughout projects. 

Having someone else look through my blog briefly helped me to understand that although I know my way around the blog, it may not be clear to others as to where to find things and so I need to think about how to overcome this. I’m planning to do some user testing with my blog to see if people understand the structure and can navigate themselves easily around without missing out sections or getting confused. I will try and get people who are not used to technology to test this as then I’ll be able to tell whether I’ve made the structure too complicated or not.

So far, it seems that my strengths lie in Knowledge and Understanding, I just need to be clear on making sure I have explained in detail how my research has been applicable to the ideas that we have been coming up with. I will be revisiting my blog posts in order to see if I have covered this and will be making a separate post which is clearly demonstrating how I used my research within the idea generation phase. This will help me to possibly develop some of the ideas further if I feel that I could use more of my research within them. 

For Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills, I need to be more concise and critical of the ideas that I am less interested in and be more reflective. I have been trying to do a variety of prototypes for several of the seven ideas we had from the filtered down idea generation workshops that we did as a team in order to see what could be feasible. Unfortunately, I feel I have been spending too much time worrying about getting so many done that I haven’t been enthused about what I’m doing. When talking to Adam, he mentioned that it is obvious that there are some ideas that I’m not interested or invested in and so suggested I work on the ones that I feel are my favourites. I agree with this as it may mean that I end up developing better prototypes as I am feeling more creatively invested in the projects.
In terms of working on my reflection, I will go back to using the sheet that Andy gave us last year on reflective writing as it helped me to be able to structure how I write in a better manner. 

I also seem to be doing well in the Transferable and Generic Skills section, however, as mentioned above, I need to make sure that my blog is structured well and is easy to navigate through. 
Another pointer that Adam gave me was about really considering my three game ideas presentation. Myself, James and Millie have been working in a team for roughly three and a half weeks now and so we feel it would be a better use of everyone’s time if we did a joint presentation and took on an idea each.There are some clear favourite ideas which the team have all voiced and we seem to be in agreement of these three:

  • Bell Jar
  • 5 Days
  • Delta

James has made a survey which details our seven game ideas and asking the target audience if they’d want to play them. We thought this would help us in choosing the final three games as it could be useful to see what our target audience wants from video games now that they are becoming so popular. We will be looking at the feedback on Monday and reflecting on the process before then going into detail about the chosen ideas and sorting out game presentations. We will use our creative judgement as to whether we leave the decision to the audience or not as there also isn’t much point working on a game that you’re all not excited about. 

I understand that we don’t have to feel committed to being a team yet, however, after working together in the first year and myself and James working together last year, we feel that we are a strong team that has varying skills. In my eyes, Millie, for instance, has skills in narrative, art/design and coding. James has skills in modelling, design, coding and team leadership. I feel I have skills in research, art and design. Once we’ve decided on the game ideas we’re going to move forward with, we should figure out what roles we will be wanting to take on in the upcoming project/semester. This will help productivity and help us to make a more developed game.

Overall, I feel the 1-1 went well and I feel that I am in a good place at the moment. I will be looking to revisit all of my blog posts nearer the end of the deadline to make sure they are all concise, critical and reflective. The user testing of my blog also will occur a little nearer to the deadline as one of the final steps as hopefully, this won’t take too much time. I will be using my Trello in order to make sure that I leave an adequate amount of time for these tasks.
We have also been discussing having a blog which we all use and tag us as authors etc so it is clear who is working on what. It’ll also be useful for the team as we can see what everyone is doing and can feedback or help if it is needed. 

5 Days Storyboarding – Crazy Eights

I continued working on the 5 Days storyboard prototype for the opening cut scene today. I had four potential debt ideas for the storyline so I did storyboards for each of them. I’ll get feedback on them tomorrow from the team and other people who are in our target audience so I know which one I will take forward to a more refined prototype.
I was looking at ways to nail good storyboard ideas and I found a website which gave some great advice about generating ideas quickly. 

See here.

I took number 4’s idea on the list which was called ‘Crazy Eights’. With this technique, you fold a blank piece of paper four times so you end up with eight panels when you unfold the paper. Once you’ve done this, you have five minutes to draw the eight sketches – so forty seconds per panel. It’s a good way to crank variations out quickly and also works well to loosen your creative muscles as you’re not focusing on making them perfect.

So you know the stories I’ll explain here:

Debt 1 = first row across. 
 You needed a new liver and took out a loan for it. You can’t pay it back and the loan sharks aren’t happy with you. 

Debt 2 = second row across.
 Your daughter is dying and needs a new heart. You steal her one and someone witnessed you doing so; they’re now blackmailing you.

Debt 3 = third row across.
 You killed someone by accident and the witness is threatening you.

Debt 4 = fourth and final row across.
 You’re a biohacker, which is strictly forbidden in society, and someone knows about it; they’re blackmailing you to pay for their silence.

In my sketchbook, I’ve written up the individual opening cut scenes in more detail if you wish to see more details of this. See Sketchbook 2, purple tab labelled Storyboard Continued, 148 – 157. The next step for this prototype is getting feedback from my team and people in our target audience. Tomorrow will be a better day for this so I will stop doing this prototype and work on another one for now. I will make a start on The Sleepers environment thumbnails by doing some research into Ancient Egypt settings and architecture. From these, I will produce some initial sketches before transforming them into monochrome thumbnails.