Author Archives: Meghan Sever

Postmortem: City Watch

 
IMG_1488

Paper game model of the town scene

    My game is about a young adult, Lena, who starts off working in the City Watch, but later decides her path in life.  The City Watch is an organization in this city that protects people and prevents crime.  Their main objective is to shut down and underground organization, the Thieves’ Guild, that is committing most of the crime in this city.  The City Watch and the thieves are the two factions in this city.  While the City Watch is “morally right” and the Thieves’ Guild is “morally wrong” at first glance, that is not necessarily true.  Both factions have their upsides and downfalls.  While Lena works on her main objective of shutting down the thieves, she learns more about their objective and purpose.  As she learns more about them, she can decide to go through with her original goal of shutting them down, or she can join them and abandon her place at the City Watch. As Lena gets closer to the thieves, she learns that they are not as bad as the City Watch makes them out to be.  They steal a lot of valuables, but they do it out of necessity.  The city has an “every man for himself” vibe, so people have to do what they can to survive.  There is a lot of crime in the city anyway, and the thieves are at the root of most of it.  The thieves, however, are a sanctuary for any person that is struggling to make ends meet in the city.  So, even though the thieves may commit crime and steal, they are truly morally grey.  They help people while also committing crime.  Lena also learns that the City Watch does not help people who are in need; they only stop crime from happening.  They do not help people who are struggling to survive, they only help people when crime is involved.
The Thieves' Guild from the paper game

The Thieves’ Guild from the paper game

My game is radical because the player has a choice in which side they want to end up with.  Neither side is truly right or wrong.  Each side has its positives and negatives, so where the player wants to be is up to them.  The player can help out the thieves more, or the City Watch more, and those choices help shape the story in the game. My game was inspired by the games that I play often.  I tend to play a lot of RPG, fantasy-style games.  I like games where decisions and choice-making are heavy influences on the game’s outcome.  The Witcher franchise, and the Dragon Age franchise are a couple of the games that inspired my game idea.  These games use choice and player actions as a way to shape the story.  I wanted my game to be like that; I wanted the player to have a say in how they impacted the game. I think the art of my game that has changed the most over the semester has been the mood of the city.  At first, I had the city be fairly light.  The sky was a light blue and the colors of the buildings matched the palette of the City Watch and the color of the sky.  But I did not really like how that felt.  I thought it would be better if the town had a darker color palette.  I changed the sky to a dark grey-purple, and the buildings to reddish -purple.  The windows closer to the City Watch are light grey and light orange-pink.  As the buildings get closer to the sewer, the windows become darker grey.  While building this scene, I also decided that the characters should have an attitude of “I do what is best for me and no one else.”
The town from the game

The town from the game

  Lena stayed the same throughout the course of the semester, and the sewer scene also did not change much.  Lena’s design and personality have stayed the same throughout the semester.  The sewer’s design changed slightly, and it gained some more events, but it remained mostly the same across the semester. What surprised me the most about my ability to make the game was how much simpler coding it was than I remembered.  The longer I spent working on the game, the easier coding it became.  I had very few issues when it came to coding features in the game, and I had more issues when it came to putting together UI elements.  Before starting the game, I thought the difficulties of both those aspects would be switched. I think time management was super important when it came to making the game in this class.It is definitely easy to fall behind if work is not done on time.  I think I did well in managing my time and not falling behind, but I can see how it would be easy to get caught up working on one feature and letting all others fall by the wayside.    

City Watch: Event as Narrative

GameScreenshotScreen shot from the Town scene   My game is radical because of the way the story progresses.  The player has a few options to progress forward in the game.  They can either side with the thieves or they can side with the City Watch, which is where they start out.  The player is faced with the problem of choosing sides.  They start out working for the City Watch which is the “morally good” option to choose.  They stop crime after all.  But the player has many options to steal and take things that are lying around.  The more the player steals, the farther they are pushed away from siding with the City Watch, and the closer they become to the thieves.  There is no “right or wrong” way to play the game, it really depends on how the player wishes to play the game.  Choosing to a side pushes the player away from the other one, but neither side is technically better than the other. Currently implemented into the game are few hit boxes that help push the idea of stealing.  However, I plan to add more hit boxes with different events.  Right now the one that I have in the town scene involves running into a different looking tile on the ground, causing it to break open and reveal valuable jewels that the player then takes (or not take).  I am planning on adding some other events besides conversation triggers into the town scene.  I want to have an event that occurs where when the player passes by an alley, they see a crime going on.  It could possibly be a mugging or some sort of violence, but the player can choose to get involved and put an end to it, or turn a blind eye and let it continue.  Another event that I want to occur is when the player collides with the rat in the town, I want the conversation to play where it gestures for the player to follow and then I want it to walk off screen.  This would provide a bit of guidance for the player to go into the sewer scene of the game.  I want events to provide choices for the player to decide how they want to play the game, and I also want the events to guide the player a bit.
RatGood

The rat

In the sewer scene I also want to have a few events occur.  I want to have the player break off tiles from the wall to reveal more hidden objects similar to the event in the town scene.  I might implement two of those because the sewer is the entryway to the Thieves’ Guild.   I want there to be more implication that the player is approaching the thieves.  I also plan to add an event that triggers when the player gets too close to the sewer “water” where jewels and certain stolen goods float by.  I also have a battle scene that triggers in the sewer where the player can fight the rat or other sewer monsters that guard the Thieves’ Guild.
The sewer scene

The sewer scene

I have not thought about using events as a way to surprise the player.  I think that the random encounter that triggers the battle scene certainly has surprised players that have tested my game.  Other than that I am not sure that I have many things that are surprising.  I want to have things surprise the player, whether it be the story or events that occur, but I am not sure how I want to do that.  I am not sure what would surprise someone playing my game. I would like to think that my game is entertaining.  I hope that people that play my game have fun.  During the Game Night where people were testing out my game, it looked like people were enjoying themselves while playing.  I think that my characters are entertaining, they are all different and quirky.  The interactions that the player has with them are laced with humor, and the characters’ designs can be funny.  I think that having a giant, mangy rat in the town is unexpected and makes the game more interesting.  The shop-keep also has a grumpy and creepy personality to him which provides some humor into the game.
The Shopkeep

The Shopkeep

There are a lot of things that are keeping the game alive for me.  There are many things that I want to keep adding to the game, and there are characters and maps that I still want to put into the game.  I want there to be a lot of choices in the game, and I want the player to feel like there is plenty to do in all of the levels, regardless of whether the game is complete.  The main thing that keeps the game alive and makes me want to continue working on it is the idea of making a complete game.  A lot of the games that I play are RPG style games and they are always inspiring new ways in which I can improve my game.    

Radical Game Design: City Watch

GameSceenShot2  Screenshot from Unity build My game, City Watch, is about a girl named Lena who starts as part of the City Watch.  The City Watch is the faction of the city that houses the knights who protect and watch over the entire city.  Their job is to patrol and protect the city from crime.  Lena is part of the City Watch, but she has been tasked with finding and infiltrating the Thieves’ Guild.  Because of her job to infiltrate the Thieves, the game can take a split.  Lena can either decide to fully join the thieves and abandon the City Watch, or she can do as originally told and destroy the Thieves’ Guild.  The choice is up to the player.  There are steps to accomplishing either faction in the game.  For the thieves, it is really all about stealing.  The more that is stolen, the greater chance of being part of the guild, but also the worse that the relationship becomes with the City Watch.  For the City Watch, the goal is to do good.  It is to help people, and to find crime in the city.  There are some shady people in the world, so it is up to Lena to get rid of them.  Of course getting rid of the thieves is also the main goal to the City Watch as well. There is a constant tug and pull in the game- the player can either do what is morally right, or they can bend the rules and go outside of the law in the game.  There is no real “right or wrong,” no way of the game is better than the other, both have their merits and rewards, so the game is really in the player’s hands on how they want to play it.  That is what is radical about my game; their is no truly right way to play it.  However the player wants to play the game is the “right” way to play it. I came up with the idea for the game based on my history with playing many video games.  I play a lot of fantasy styled games like The Witcher series and the Elder Scrolls series.  In those games there are many morally grey characters, which makes the games interesting and fun to play.  And especially within the Elder Scrolls series, there are always thieves guilds or darker factions within the world.  The player can join the guild through quests, and their is some risk in being caught stealing.  However, there is no real risk in the game for joining the guild.  It is a side-quest so it has no real impact on the game.  That is where I wanted to differently with my game.  I like the idea of guilds within a fantasy type world, but I wanted there to be more decision and change to joining them.  The idea of consequence and story changing decisions was influenced by the Dragon Age games as well as The Witcher.  Those games are heavy in story driven choice.  I like games that give options to the player; there are multiple ways to play the game based off of what actions the player decides to take.       GameScreenshot  Another screenshot from the Unity Build- Shopkeep on the left and Lena to the right The level that I am working on currently is for the city.  There are a few NPCs in the level.  There is the shady shopkeep, the suspicious teen, and there is the rat.  As I progress with the game I will probably add more characters to the level, but as of right now those are the characters that exist in the level so far.  By talking to the shopkeep, Lena learns rumor about the thieves.  The teen also gives different rumor, and I am working on creating interesting dialogue for both NPCs.  I want their rumors to be informative but not too telling, and I want more dichotomy in this level.  As of right now, the level leans more toward finding the thieves, but not much is talked about in terms of the City Watch.  There is also the rat in the level.  It leads Lena towards the thieves and toward stealing.  As Lena grows closer to the thieves, her bond also increases with the rat.  Eventually there will be a counter to the rat, there will be something that guides Lena more towards helping the City Watch. For the level, I am using a rather dark color palette.  The colors are mostly shades of grey and red.  Towards the right side of the level, where Lena comes out of the City Watch, I made the building colors slightly more colorful.  The red is brighter and the colors in the windows are lighter and pinker.  As Lena travels left in the level, the colors of the buildings change.  The base color of the buildings becomes a darker and grayer red.  The colors in the windows are now dark grey and the lighter grey from the right side.  There is less vibrancy in level on the left side because Lena is moving towards the Thieves’ Guild.  I had originally made the level pretty light and “normal.”  The sky was blue and the buildings were brown and grey; but I didn’t like the way that felt for the level.  Making the level darker made the level feel better.  The city is not a cheery place and there is a lot of crime that goes on, so it only makes sense that the color in the level reflect that.   Lena Front Sprite   Sprite for Lena in the game.   IMG_1309 Original paper game sprite for Lena IMG_1490 IMG_1489 PIMG_1488Paper game levels

Nonlinear Narratives: City Watch Post-Mortem

Background City Watch My game is about a girl who has to decide her own path in life.  She starts out in the City Watch, which is where she currently works as a knight for the city.  She is supposed to prevent and stop crime from happening.  She is assigned a major task, to find and take down the thieves’ guild in the city.  A problem with that, however, is that she is a kleptomaniac.  She has to infiltrate the thieves’ guild while struggling not to steal stuff.  Or she can give in to temptation and steal a lot of stuff.  It is the players choice to decide whether they want Lena to stay true to the CIty Watch or steal things and truly become a member of the thieves’ guild.  The characters in the game can also help influence her choice.  The captain, Morgan is very kind and caring to all her members; she treats them like family.  And Rob, the person in charge of the thieves’ guild, isn’t all bad.  He helps people who are in need and takes care of orphaned kids.  He provides people with a family as well.  So, the ultimate goal of the game is for Lena to decide whether she wants to stay with the City Watch and demolish the thieves’ guild, or leave her place at the City Watch and join the Thieves’ Guild.

Lena can walk around and talk to people in each level of the game.  There are many items to buy, pick up/steal, interact with, and people to talk to.  Depending on who is around, when Lena steals objects, dialogue options will change with Morgan and Rob.  If a knight is around, Lena will lose favorability with Morgan, but if a thief is around, Lena will gain more favorability with Rob.  To get closer with specific characters, their approval rating will have to be a certain level, so stealing items is a necessity, as well as doing heroic and just quests.  Heroic quests will improve Morgan’s approval rating without necessarily decreasing Rob’s.

The McGuffin in the game is the sword that Lena has.  It was given to her by Morgan earlier on in her life and it serves as her connection to the City Watch.  It changes/ disappears altogether depending on specific actions Lena takes throughout the game.

The abstraction in my game is how there is not a set path to follow, there are different options on how to progress the story, and there are multiple things to do at once.  This ties in with the nonlinearity of the game.  There is not one way to play the game.  Each playthrough of the game would be different because there are different side quests to take, different things to steal, different outcomes of the game.  Nothing in the game follows one path.  The forward and backward loops also tie into the nonlinearity.  The loops correlate to the approval ratings; doing a good thing will generally increase your approval with Morgan but decrease approval with Rob, and vice versa.  Depending on how the player chooses to play the game doing a good/bad thing will make one side of the game easier while making the other side harder.

My game says a lot through a little by using environmental storytelling.  The way places and characters look says a lot about them.  The outfits I chose for Henri and Morgan tie them together at the City Watch making them look like part of a team.  Lena’s outfit has the same boots as Henri and Morgan, but Lena has a much more casual look about her to make her blend into an average person.  The thieves don’t really where armor because they don’t need to.  They have more casual clothing to help them blend in because they aren’t supposed to stand out.  A thief that stands out is not a good thief.  That’s why Lena starts out with basic clothing.  She can get armor later in the game to help add to her defense, but her look should stay fairly basic.  Items within the environment also help to enhance the setting.  The setting is a mix between fantasy-medieval and realistic-modern.  There are items scattered around like smartphones and electronics.  There are working lights, but there aren’t cars.  There are typical RPG style vendors where Lena can buy and sell certain goods.  And the factions- City Watch and Thieves’ Guild are inherently fantasy tropes.

The nonlinearity of my game helps expand the theme and story because the purpose of the game is to choose your own path.  The player should feel free to follow whatever road they want to, and by not having a strict storyline, it allows the player to do what they want.  The ability to be free may also change how the player feels throughout the game.  By learning more about one person may affect how they want to play the game.  Discovering different parts of the game builds onto the world and influences the player’s decision without forcing them to do anything.

I think I have used the power of minimalism within my game.  I tried to give life to the environments and character through how they look without having anything be too cluttering.  The look of people and places should be simple but telling.

In a way the player can see what is important.  They know from the beginning what one option for the ultimate goal of the game is.  And they can soon learn the importance of one side or the other side.

    HenriFace  

Henri’s face

  knight sprite

Henri’s sprite

Lena Front Sprite  

Lena’s sprite

Morgan Sprite

Morgan’s Sprite

        Lena Face

Lena’s Face

    Morgan Face  

Morgan’s Face

  FullSizeRender (1)  

original sketch for Lena

FullSizeRender  

Lena’s sword given to her by Morgan

Nonlinear Narrative: The Protagonist

For my protagonist, I wanted to design a character that would not stand out too much and could blend into her surroundings.  She had to be different from everyone else, but not be too different.  I sketched a few different styles of hair and facial features until I ended up with one that I really liked.  From there, I played around with detail and finalizing how she looks.  I also chose the name Lena to be hers.

Lena lives in a fantasy world, and a city where knights take care of crime.  She works as a knight in the city watch to protect the city.  She enjoys working with the city watch and cares deeply for her job.  The other people in the city watch are like family to her.  Her goal is to infiltrate and destroy the underground thieves’ guild.  She is given this task by her captain.  No one in the city watch knows where the guild is, so it is Lena’s job to find it ad take it down.  Lena has some problems accomplishing this task, however.  She struggles with kleptomania; she has done a good job overcoming this issue, but entering the thieves’ guild might cause an issue for her with kleptomania.  Lena has an ultimate choice to make in the game; she can either follow through with her captain’s orders and destroy the guild, or she can decide that the guild is where she truly belongs.  Throughout the game, Lena can talk to her captain and the thieves’ guild master.  The more she talks to these characters and how she talks to them can influence her choice in deciding where she wants to end up.

IMG_1301

This is one of the original concepts for Lena.

IMG_1302

From the first sketch, I played around with a different hair style.  I figured shorter hair would be more practical when fighting.

IMG_1303

I gave her a similar face to the original sketch.  I tried simplifying and changing different parts of her design.

IMG_1304

Drew her in a different angle.

IMG_1305

This is one of the final sketches for Lena.  This is where I start to finalize how her hair looks ad how her face looks.

IMG_1306

I gave her some piercings to add to her design.

IMG_1309

This is a sketch sprite for how she might look in the game.

  FullSizeRender (1)

This is the final, full-body sketch I decided on for Lena.  I gave her fairly simple clothes so that she could easily blend in with any faction.  I added some muscle definition to show that she is strong from her time working as a knight.

FullSizeRender

  Lastly, I gave her a sword to tie her back to the city watch.  The sword was given to her by the captain, and it is a cherished possession of Lena’s.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Glitch

Glitchy

Galaxy Flower - Copy

doodle 11

Pixel

Static

Stream

  My conference project was making glitch art.  I took patterns that I made in GIMP, then I put them into Java with the software, Processing.  The first three images are the patterns that I made.  The last pattern was already glitched inside of photoshop, then it was put into processing.  The last three images are frames from the coded program.  The code turned out just the way I wanted it to.  Granted, I only have so much control over what the final product looks like because the code is semi-generative.  But, I am completely happy with how my programs turned out!  The colors all look great, and I like the way they change.

The thing I am not happy with in my project is how the frames saved.  There is a lot of black that gets added into the images, which muddies the image and hides a lot of the detail.  I am not exactly sure why it happens, but it makes the project look less like how I want it too.

A lot changed from when I started to what I ended up with.  I experimented a lot with different ways the glitch could be created and how it affected the image.  I made many small changes that either changed a lot in the way the code works or changed only a slight amount.  I took the three versions that I liked the most out of everything and then made more changes to those.  I added some coded patterns, which helped the code become less stagnant and change the color.  The patterns I created were easy to come up with; they took a little bit of maneuvering to get right, but they weren’t too difficult to incorporate.  The last glitch that I made (the last image) took a little more work to get the additional patterns included.  I struggled getting colors that I liked to match the glitch.  I wanted similar colors, but they either didn’t look quite right, or they didn’t stand out enough.  In the same glitch, I originally had a different base pattern that got glitched, but I ended changing it to the final version because I thought it looked better and I liked the colors better.

I like how my work turned out overall.  I think it suits my style as an artist, and I think that if I were to do the same project over again, I would end up with a similar project.

Video Mapping: Projector Night

IMG_0968 IMG_1022 IMG_0957 IMG_0966 IMG_0963   I thought that projector night was really fun.  I had a blast putting up my work onto the walls and having people see it.  My friends came to look at the work, which made the experience even better.  It’s a wonderful experience to have your friends see work that you have worked on for a while.  I thought that the night went well and everyone’s work looked great.  I liked seeing what everyone put on the walls, and how they decided to map them onto the walls. What I did to plan for projector night was fairly simple.  I decided to use half of the classroom to project, and I liked the segmented walls.  The segments in the walls made a nice guideline to place my videos in.  I treated each segment or two as a video and combined multiple videos together.  While preparing for projector night, my projection got larger and larger.  Originally it took up half of the height of the wall, but when projector night came about, the projection reached the entire length of the wall.  I think that almost everything that happened during projector night happened as expected.  One thing that did not go as planned was a change in my map; some segments got distorted and deleted, and then the others got messed up, so I had to start the maps over. I think that my maps should be seen as cheerful and fun.  I use a lot of bright colors and fast movements to create a more playful vibe.  I think that my maps looked as they should have, and I am happy with how they looked.  I mapped them how I wanted to.  However, if I were to map the same work again, I might map the videos half on the wall and half on the floor.  I think that that would look pretty cool.

Conference Project Proposal: Glitches

doodle 12doodle 14doodle 13 I am making a series of glitch art.  It’s made with the programming language, Java, and it’s made with the program processing.  The series takes patterns that I made with Gimp and shifts the pixels around to create a glitch effect.  The art pieces are constantly changing, and the original image is almost completely unrecognizable.  I wanted to make this series because I think glitches look really cool.  I wanted to learn how to make glitch art, and I also wanted to do more art with coding.  This project allows me to combine both programming and glitch art.  The project should be a series of short movies that show patterns changing into glitches.  The viewer should see the change in the pattern, and they should see the pieces change a few times throughout the movie.  My intentions for this project are to make interesting movies that surprise the viewer with unexpected glitches.  So far, I think that my works look good, but I also think that they can go farther.  There can be more changes in the work so that the glitching doesn’t stagnate at a certain point.  With more change in the movies, I think that the series will be interesting to watch.  I don’t know that the movies will look good in a typical sense, but they will definitely be fun and interesting to watch.  I don’t think the movies will necessarily look good because they are glitches.  Glitches aren’t supposed to “look good” but they are interesting.  I plan on trying to add some more things into the code that help change the art over time.  That way there is more change and the works look more interesting.  All of my pieces are made with a variety of colors and patterns.  Motion is used to change the are over time and add movement.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

NoMoreGalaxy   An artist that has inspired me is Patakk.  Their work is geometric and tends to shift between different shapes.  I like the simplicity of the gifs and how they move.  Patakk uses many simple color schemes which I think are great. My plan for this project was to change the colors of my patterns and to add some effects to them as well.  I like the disrupted look that the effect “shift” has on the gif.  I like the colors I chose to use in my gifs, and I like how I went about changing the colors.  While making the gifs I just went with what I thought looked good, and that’s where my colors came from.  Overall, I’m happy with how my gifs turned out.  I think they look great.  I prefer the ones I made with Gimp rather than the ones I made with Processing.  I think that the ones made with Gimp just have more interest to them than the ones I coded.  I think that if I had added more color variety to the coded ones then they could have been better. Stars Disturb

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Distortion

doodle-7 doodle-9 What I have finally made are shapes that change.  I played around with different shapes using a call to ellipse and to curveVertex.  I used color, height, noise, and width to change the shapes.  Some pieces changed over time because I was not happy with how they looked.  I wanted more change in certain pieces, so I changed those to reflect that.  In some pieces, I liked how the vertex drawings changed, but the vertex drawings also kept increasing in size as well.  I couldn’t control how the vertex drawings grew over time.  I like how most of my pieces came out.  I like the colors I used for my Pastel drawing.  At first, getting shapes to change was difficult and I couldn’t figure out how to do it, but after messing with the code, I managed to change the shapes.  From there, getting shapes to change was easier.  Overall, I think I managed my time well, although I could have finished my last piece sooner.  I think my pieces turned out well.  I think I was able to show my vision for my project well. My projects were coded with active mode to bring the shapes to life.  I used variables for conditionals, and to make certain coding easier.  A lot of my pieces have similar color schemes, but in a few I experimented with color more; I used pastel colors and more contrasting colors for a few.  All of my pieces are animated so that they move and add on through time.  I used loops to make my pieces change and to create the vertex drawings.  Noise creates the shapes in curveVertex.  In one of my pieces, I used 3 dimensions to change the shape of the curveVertex.

Conference Project Proposal: Distortion

doodle-6fullsizerender-7 My project will be pieces that start with a normal, solid shape but get distorted and changed over time.  For example, I would start with a circle but change the shape over time to eventually make it no longer seem like a circle.  I want to do this idea because the idea of taking a concrete shape and then making it more abstract is cool.  I like interesting shapes that don’t stay the same.  I expect the viewer to see a normal shape at first, but be surprised when the shape slowly gets more and more distorted.  My conference work will show Galanter’s definition of generative art.  My projects will use randomness and time to change the art, resulting in a completed piece.  My work will not be completely random, but it will use an appropriate amount of randomness to change the piece and make it interesting to look at.  I think my project will showcase the things I’ve learned throughout the class.   My work will look good because I will use a fitting color scheme and make the pieces look interesting and unique.  I built the idea for the project by drawing sketches of repeating, normal shapes and then I decided to slightly change the shape each time I drew it. I will use the active mode to allow the piece to move and change.  I will use variables as a way to create a custom noise function.  My functions will allow me to have the shapes change and be unique.  I will use color to contrast the shapes with the background.  Randomness will be added to the color to add interest.  The draw function will animate the pieces, making the shapes move and change.  Loops will be added to add shapes to the pieces.  Loops will also allow me to add shapes over a time period.