Research Trips and Timeline for Next Semester

We finished the GDD today, yay!

I decided to spend some time looking through our next steps to try and plan when we go on our research trips next semester.

I used the GDD to find the locations we were wanting to visit and then used Google maps to locate where they were to try and see if there were any that grouped together so that we sensibly use our time and resources next semester when visiting. We will be aiming to try and get all of the trips done within the first 2-3 weeks so that we start off strongly.

See Sketchbook 4, dark pink tag labelled Research Trips, pages 75 – 96 for more details on where we’re planning to go, routes and costs.

I tried to find the shortest routes that I could as well as trying to find the cheapest solution which worked well. It means that now, we have a budget each on how much we will be looking to spend in order to get the research and references we need. Considering we are going to hopefully be going on six trips around the South of the UK, the price isn’t too bad.
I was factoring in travel costs, so whether we’re travelling by car or whether by public transport as well as the admission fees for getting into the places. Planning this really helped me to then create the rough starting schedule for next semester. We all agreed that we often struggle to start the new semester so by already having a plan in place and getting the bulk of research started in the first few weeks should hopefully get off to a flying start.

For other notes on the schedule, please see Sketchbook 4, dark pink tag labelled Next Sem Schedule on pages 97 – 99, otherwise the schedule itself is below:

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Level Up Concept Icons

Millie had been working on the system, Level Up and we were in need of some visuals to coincide with this for the GDD. It would help to provide us with some resources for next semester if we are wanting to change them at all.

I started off by looking at the work Millie had already completed on her blog and then tried to make some concepts of some of the points that she made. You can see these sketches in Sketchbook 4, blue tab labelled Level Up Concepts on pages 70 – 74. These are the pointers that I looked at from Millie’s blog:

Going off of what Millie had written here and in the GDD was scary as at first I didn’t know what she would be envisioning and so was afraid it could go horribly wrong. Yet after reading over everything, it was easy enough to figure out what was needed. This was also a good way to proofread and check over that what she was saying actually made sense; which it did!

We wanted to make sure that we’re in keeping with the style of the game so that it’s consistent and the concepts below are what the target audience chose as their favourites. They liked the fact that I had used the logo as it helps reaffirm it within the game. It was also labelled as easy to read and understand which made me feel better as I was a little worried that the numbers may be too squiggly to see. 

level-up-icon-conceptsSome good feedback we got was also that they thought I could have done something with the segments on the top of the logo to symbolise the levels instead of the numbers in the circle. It was mentioned that I could have it so that as you level up, another segment lights up as an animation. This was some great feedback which I will be looking to hopefully develop next semester as I won’t be able to do them now due to time constraints.

Twilleir Photo Shoot

Today Millie and I decided to go to the Common in Southampton as the weather was beautiful and felt the environment mirrored the feel we’re wanting to have in Twilleir. It was also a perfect opportunity to use the race/character designs that Millie created to bring them to life; it will be a helpful resource for next semester.

Below are a selection of images that we took:

We both got very into the roles that we had to portray and this made the photos that came out of it so much better. We now have a lot of first hand references that we can use in order to develop character concepts. As well as this, one thing that I thought about was next semester, we could do a similar shoot but this time, we could try and think about some of the attack moves the characters could have, shoot these and then we could have these to draw from. Either that or we record footage and then rota scope it in order to create animations; we will be bearing this in mind.

When it got darker, we wanted to try and shoot some of the potion making scenery that we had planned. This would help us to try and develop the environments and assets within them to make it more realistic rather than just ‘set-up’. The lights worked well in a lot of the shots which was great as we could potentially use these images as inspiration for a loading screen or a start up screen. 

Overall, I’m very glad we did this, despite freezing our asses off in the cold for 2 hours. It’s given us a lot of rich, visual references and research to play around with to help develop our concepts and designs.

Farming Ingredients Information Sheet

Carrying on from Sketchbook 3, yellow tab labelled Growing Ingredients, pages 132-137, I looked into furthering research into our chosen ingredients and how this could affect the gameplay in Twilleir’s farming system.

I thought about what we would need to know about the plants in order for us to be able to make adjustments with the quality of ingredient etc. It also would help the player know how to look after their ingredients in the farming part of the game. I compiled this list:

  • How long does it take to harvest?
  • How much sunlight do the plants require?
  • How much water do the plants require?
  • Does it grow better/ or worse next to certain plants?
  • Are there any bonuses/hindrances from this?

I then looked at a variety of sources online including gardening blogs to gather information on the ingredients. However, the plan would be next semester to contact someone who works in agriculture and gardening in order to get some first-hand advice on how these ingredients grow and update any information on the ingredients.

You can find the individual profiles in Sketchbook 4, green tab labelled Farming Ingredients, pages 54 – 63. It worked out quite well that there are a couple of plants that conflict and a couple that benefit each other so it means that I was able to work out bonuses and hindrances accordingly and so that it would make sense in the gardening world.

I then moved on to creating concepts for what the information sheets would have on them and what they would be structured like. You can see all of them in Sketchbook 4, green tab labelled Farming Ingredients, pages 64 – 68.

I asked the team for feedback on which one they felt worked best to get the information across to the Player. Simplicity was best as it meant that it was easy to read and pick up the necessary information. This was the concept that was chosen and I looked at drafting up a digital version too to see what it would look like with the colour scheme that Millie had created earlier on for the feel of the game. 

The next steps:

  • Talk to agriculturists and gardeners to confirm details about ingredients and get some extra information from them to create a realistic farming experience.
  • Work out the timings for the ingredients – 5 years is a little long to wait to grow a tree and harvest it… turn real-life times into feasible timings for the Player.

Harvesting Mini-Game Concepts and Design

After looking back through my research, I began creating ideas for potential mini-games for the Harvesting. The aim of the harvesting system is for it to play a role in the quality of ingredient the player’s gets which affects the quality of potion you give your client. The point of the game is that how you play in the mini-game will affect your quality of ingredients harvested for crafting, for instance, if you do poorly, your quality of ingredient decreases and if you do well, the quality of ingredient harvested is increased. One of the easiest ways that we will be able to monitor this and award quality of ingredients is to have some sort of points system. By doing this, we can accurately work out what score is good and what is bad. 

I did some designs and development in my sketchbook which you can find in Sketchbook 4, green tab labelled Mini-Game Harvesting, pages 39-52. From these, I went to my team for feedback as I needed some confirmation as to what were good ideas and what didn’t work so much.
The main aim I was going for with this mini-game is that it would be fun, relatively simple in terms of the mechanic and could be challenging if needed to be. This being so that the game was replayable and players wouldn’t mind playing the game when they needed to harvest their plots. I also wanted to make sure that our entire target audience would be able to play it and find it fun and challenging.

The favourite outcome ended up being an idea that involved colour combinations.
2017-01-13-22-08-23

The idea being:

  • You have four sides on the plot. On each side, you have a colour combination displayed.
  • At the bottom of the screen, the player would have a box with a selection of colours in it. The player must click on the colours that match the combination above it in the correct order as quickly as they can.
  • Every correct colour equals points
  • Every error minuses points
  • The faster the time you complete it in, the higher number of bonus points you get at the end.
  • Once you have completed one side, the plot animates so that it swivels to the right showing a new side, you must complete this one and so on until you have done all four sides. 
  • Each side you complete, the plant uproots itself a little until you’ve completed the puzzle. It will then rise up and off of the screen into your inventory.

By having a points system like this, it will make it easier to make boundaries for the quality of ingredient. In general, it will mean we can easily measure what quality the player will be awarded.

I mocked up this to show what I mean:

2017-01-14 00.09.42.jpg This was a really simple idea for the points system. But essentially there would be levels which would be labelled perfect, great etc. This way, when the player completes the game and if they got something like 690 points, the code would acknowledge this, match the point boundary with the label needed and would then create a pop up with the ingredient in it and it’s quality which in this case would be ‘great’.
This shows the player the outcome of the harvesting game and how this will affect their potion creation in the Dream lab later on in the crafting mini-game. 

Below is some designs I did to show a top-down view, an easy level and hard level. (Top-down is the image on the left followed by the easy level with the harder level below.) Once I know what the ingredients look like, they will go in the place of the green plant below. This will be what I work on next.

Next steps for the mini-game will be:

  • Next semester, make a prototype of this. 
  • Test it and get feedback
  • Make amendments

In order to make sure everything works and it hits all the aims I want to achieve, we will test this at the beginning to get it nailed and clean. This meaning it will work well and will need illustrating before being completed.

Harvesting Mini-game Research

I took to playing some mini-games online for some inspiration for the Harvesting mini-game. We wanted the game to be interactive and immersive so having mini-games for the Crafting system and the Harvesting system means that the Player has some control over how their ingredients function. The plan is to make the mini-game fun with some sort of points system so it’s easier for the code to determine what sort of quality the ingredient will be.

I looked at these sites which were recommended by Bobbie:

Even though these were Flash games, they still offered a lot of inspiration and help to my research. I recorded a lot of the games that I played and I have compiled them into a video which you can see below:

There were a few games that had really simple mechanics and controls and worked really well such as Harvest Ranch. The gameplay was so simple and yet was one of the best mini-games that I played out of all of them. 
As they were mini-games, they all seemed to share a similar way of executing the games – simply. However, some of the games’ instructions were simple yet absolutely awful and they made no sense whatsoever. I had to make it up as I went along which in some games works well but in others, it just doesn’t and it makes the game unenjoyable.
My main aim for the harvesting system is for it to be fun, simple and have some sort of points system so it’s easy for us to design how the quality of ingredients becomes affected. I will be using the research I collated above to inspire designs, concepts and mechanics. 

Nightmare Concepts Development

I conferred with my team as to what design they preferred for the Nightmares in the garden as I felt it would be nice to get it off to a good start for next semester. 

We all agreed that the thorny vines made sense to have as it will be in a garden environment yet we also quite liked the bone figure as it seems subtle in its scary factor but it would be obvious it’s a ‘bad thing’. After a short discussion, we talked about merging the idea of bones and the vine idea together to see what sort of imagery would come from this.

 

I used some reference images of the human anatomy to help inspire me that I found on Google and Pinterest. It helped a lot. It may be an idea, if we want to develop the Nightmares further, to visit the Natural History Museum or of the same sort of place to get some references. I visited the Booth Museum in Brighton a few years ago and there were mostly animal bones but there was also human bones there too which could prove useful for some first-hand research and sketching.
From these, I made some initial sketches of what they could look like, I tried to use a range of the different bones to see if it made a difference visually.
See Sketchbook 4, green tab labelled Nightmare Development, pages 34- 38 for these.

Once I had tried out a few ideas, I took them to the team where we all discussed the sketches to see which ones were the favourites. There was a tie between three of them, so I took them into Photoshop to show how they would look coloured. This helped a lot as this meant that we could see how they could potentially look in game.

bones-vines-nightmare-conceptsThese were the concepts. I then asked the team and others in our target audience to see which ones they preferred. It was quite strange as people changed their views on what they originally chose. The top left is the one that we are likely to take forward as this was the favourite and put it into the GDD to start us off next year. However, we may not want to develop it further as everyone seemed happy with the concept produced. 

If we chose to do any next steps, then it would include:

  • Looking in the WSA library anatomy section for scans and reference
  • Visiting the Natural History Museum or Booth Museum etc