Initial Character Creation
The Character Jam started with Kieron taking us out into Winchester to sketch interesting people, objects and feelings with large marker pens. After an hour we returned to the studio to begin brainstorming ideas and creating characters inspired by the people and things we noted while out in Winchester.
I had noticed while sketching, that a lot of people passing by were dressed in office wear, which gave me the idea of creating an assistant type character that would be an NPC but would help the playable character through the game. I then began sketching some initial ideas for body form, appearance, clothing, etc.
After the initial workshop, I began to research formal clothing for office wear, but I also set about looking at what was classed as ‘futuristic’ in fashion. I knew I wanted the character I was creating to be a form of artificial intelligence database or a sentient personal assistant that had been designed to appear human, so from that, I knew I wanted to base this character in a modernistic era.
Then I began sketching my ideas down, after bringing together my research which leads me to ‘Petra’ (Name TBC, of course)
Petra is a living database and personal assistant who can be called at any time, she is programmed to support all forms of human life, but is currently exclusive to government officials. Petra was created in the United States to assist the President and his cabinet. Thanks to her success, Petra’s have also been sent to the UK, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
The following week (Animation Jam) I was continually changing my character and making aesthetic choices based on peer feedback and trial and error while attempting to animate her.
Most of the changes took place on her face and hairstyle. I felt her previous design did not ‘fit together’ properly. I thought that I could improve the design by making the head and body less disjointed. I focused on trying to create a less realistic face, experimenting with simpler eye and hair designs. Once I had decided on a style, I went on to sketch a few poses and positions that might typically be used by this machine. I didn’t want any poses that were too ‘life-like’.
And then we set forth on the Animation Jam!
Here you will find all of my notes taken while reading the short stories provided. Some notes may not make sense to you, but they do… in my brain.
A Sound of Thunder
- Always sweat the small things, details matter
- Butterfly Effect – sensitive dependence on the initial condition, forecasting the future is next to impossible.
- The story shows how easily pride can lead to our demise.
- I like the idea of everything having a purpose and casual connection – Every single thing that exists in the world, exists for a reason.
- Playing with the natural progression of nature
- CHAOS THEORY – is a branch of mathematics focused on the behaviour of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.
- Wreckless decisions = Bad consequences
- There is also a note of danger regarding scientific breakthroughs.
- Shows a domino effect in play.
- Really good metaphors concerning the dinosaurs
- Also, touches on environmental awareness and how we should respect nature
- Final thoughts: my favourite story! There is so much going on in such a short excerpt of text.
The Gernsback Continuum
- Inspired by Hugo Gernsback’s view for a futuristic utopia.
- A photographer is asked to photograph ‘Raygun Gothic’ or art deco buildings and finds a real utopia – although I think he took amphetamines to get there.
- A tomorrow that never was.
- It shows how human life/humans are not stable or solid but rather very fickle creatures.
- In this utopia imagined in the 40s & 50s, everything is shiny, cars can fly, people are perfect.
- At the end, he mentions how Disney and Hollywood have attempted a ‘futuristic appeal’
- Post-modern condition – Images and their ability to wrap the mind in a false reality.
- Final thoughts: Hard to read, but the concepts and idea are very interesting and could be explored in a much deeper sense.
The Pit and the Pendulum
- The way the story is told is very focused on sensory details.
- Written in the first person
- I felt that Poe was trying to convey hope or longing through the character.
- Why the hell was he arrested and charged? Should I feel bad for him? Is there a political agenda at play?
- Explicit violence = Suspense
- It focuses on horror but favours a metaphorical horror and gore over a physical description.
- Psychologically challenging to read – Jump in the pit or be spliced by the pendulum – Rock & a hard place.
- Final thoughts: Pretty darn good.
James & The Giant Peach
- James just really wants a friend but his evil aunts don’t allow him to explore the world until of course, they die along with James’ parents.
- James then becomes friends with some bugs?
- Lots of death in this story – classic Dahl
- Hope, fear, abandonment are all explored in this story, which is also common childhood fears and phobias which are explored during his travels.
- Transformation in character and being, this accompanied by a need for rebellion.
- Final thoughts: Blah.
- Life is crazy – The dude turns into an insect right away like what the hell?
- The universe its based in must not be real or is extremely abstract as people just accept the fact that he’s a bug now.
- There is a disconnect between mind and body. – His body changes but his mind doesn’t, not until it is forced to.
- His whole family start very sympathetic towards Gregor, especially his mum, but she eventually is the one to kick him out of the house. – Illustrates how Sympathy and Empathy are limited.
- Feeling alone – Without being able to talk, he becomes very lonely and alienated.
- Final thoughts: Not a bad story, there are a few aspects that I could work with.
WEEK ONE (2nd Oct – 6th Oct)
Diving straight back into the academic delirium that is Games Design and Art, our first week back was spent looking and lenses and confusing ourselves with the simplicity of code.
What the hell is a lens?
The Art of Game Design; A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell was used this week. I used the second edition of this book for some of my research during the Summer GDA Project.
Today we primarily focused on Lenses #62, #63, and #64 (Lenses #71, #72, and #73 for second edition readers.) These lenses, the lens of Inherent Interest, the Lens of Beauty, and the Lens of Perception was explored in group discussion.
We challenged some of the questions presented to us by Jesse Schell and asked how we might approach them within the context of progressive Games Design. More importantly, it allowed us to consider how these lenses might influence the way we work towards creating our own Games Design Document.
This was followed up by a grouped brain-storming session on one of the given lenses.
We chose the lens of beauty and followed that up with a character deconstruction. We questioned what beauty might mean in different context, whether or not it is necessary for Games Design and how we might challenge the way beauty is portrayed in digital Games.
Designing Code is easy! Kind of…
We were introduced to James’ Five steps to designing better code via a group input session. During the discussion, we considered how we might design code for a simple action such as running. Starting with exactly what action we wanted to perform, to further explanation and identifying variables and functions.
We then split into groups to try this five-step guide ourselves. Our group chose the action of Jumping in a platformer game. It was challenging to consider every single element that might be needed when it came to design thinking for code.
The session came to an end with James explaining to us in mathematical terms, how to determine the volume of a cake slice… and how doughnuts are the same shape as a mug.
I may have learnt more about code, but I still struggle to understand the mathematician species and its motives.