Author Archives: Sabrina Holloway

Postmortem: Make or Break the Box

Photo taken during Game Night on May 2nd, 2018

Taken during Game Night on May 2nd, 2018

My game is based on the radical culture of the Sarah Lawrence College campus community. It is a whimsical critique on how many students pressure each other to over commit themselves and pursue social justice even at the expense of the individual’s own self-care. The core of the game focuses on the player’s decision to either fit into someone else’s box, or to make their own metaphorical box. To fit in, they must commit to other’s ideals even if it’s to an unhealthy extent. To create themselves, they must pick and choose (or choose not to choose) what they agree to commit to. The actual groups or goals that can be committed are concrete and feasible goals rather than abstract ideas. For example, the player could talk to a pink NPC who pressures them to build a ramp instead of stairs because stairs are ‘problematic.’  This game takes that tension and that cycle of hurt and adapts it into a lighthearted view.
One of the whimsical, fairytale-esque backgrounds of my game.

One of the whimsical, fairytale-esque backgrounds of my game.

My game is ‘radical’ because it is a Conform or Not Conform type of game. The game mechanics are not complex because I am fresh-faced beginner to coding. Thus, there are no branching dialogues, combat system, or a complicated web of interactions based on what you click or do not click. Instead, the mechanics are either you touch a NPC and initiate dialogue and thus conform, or you do not touch at all and ignore the NPCs. This is representative of the message of the game because you can either spend all your time listening to others by ‘touching’ them, or you can ‘keep your hands to yourself’ and explore the world by walking around them. You don’t have to listen to others and just listen to yourself. It’s up to you. Overall, I am proud of how far I developed my game. True, it’s not as accomplished or as sophisticated as my classmates but I am glad I took the class and got the chance to see a snapshot of game development process and culture. For example, I had no idea that game developers made paper prototypes of their games! It makes sense but it never occurred to me before. Otherwise, the game isn’t far along but I am glad I got as far as I did. I successfully implemented at least one conversation, freeze-player, and finally the map points. I also managed to implement the artwork and slice the sprites.     

Radical Game Design: Make or Break the Box

A snapshot of the current level in my Unity Build.

A snapshot of the current level in my Unity Build.

My conference project focuses on the player’s decision to either fit in someone else’s box, or to make their own metaphorical box. To fit in, they must commit to other’s ideals even if it’s to an unhealthy extent. To create themselves, they must pick and choose (or choose not to choose) what they agree to commit to. I got the idea from the eccentric culture on campus – students often push themselves so hard to accommodate others that they forget to accommodate themselves. For example, many students will tear themselves apart whenever they make a mistake like forgetting correct pronouns. They forget that mistakes are okay and allow people to learn and grow as people. This game is a physical representation of that pressure to fit in and over-commit yourself to make others happy. The game itself says a lot with simple drawings. The image below depicts the entrance to a dorm building with stairs leading to the blue player’s dorm as well as posters on the wall.
Radical 002

The entrance to the Blue Player’s dorm room.

The posters represent the various clubs, events, and petitions that overwhelm the walls by the sheer amount. The color itself are bright and cheery in order to keep the energy of the game light and humorous. The actual content of the game will have silly conversations that highlight the ridiculousness seen on the campus. For example, instead of students feeling guilty and helpless for being born into a privileged group (“Oppress the oppressors” is a saying found on campus) They can be empowered to take action in situations to change reality for the better. One situation that is playful is when the player encounters a Pink NPC next to the stairs leading to a pink door (their dorm). The Pink NPC barrages the Player with “Stairs don’t care! Say no to stairs and build a ramp instead. Sign my petition and make a difference!” The player can choose to complete the quest to build a ramp, or can choose to simply tackle a different quest.
The Pink NPC standing next to the stairs leading to their dorm room.

The Pink NPC standing next to the stairs leading to their dorm room.

As for the color scheme, the game utilizes the concept of “wayfinding” to persuade the player to click on certain objects in the game. For example, the blue door is the blue player’s dorm room! Another thing to note is that this game has been revised a few times. From the sizes of the art assets to coding hiccups, it has lots of room for improvement. Even now, the story needs a more clear overarching goal with tangible smaller interactions that the player can see helps or hinders their journey through the game. Overall, the game is progressing slowly but surely.
The old Paper Prototype version of the current level in the Unity Building.

The old Paper Prototype version of the current level in the Unity Building.

For the future, I’d like to add a splash screen to better convey the goal of the game. So far, the image below depicts the paper prototype version of an idea for the splash screen. Radical 005We’ll see how far this game will go!

Video Mapping: Projector Night

SAB_Projector_Night_01 In my experience, I enjoyed projector night. Preparing for the art show surprisingly wasn’t too stressful for me, though to be fair I did plan ahead for what refreshments I would bring as well as what I would use to decorate my installation. Projector night was not only a welcome break from conference work, but was also presented as an informal, casual event so I felt comfortable being a playful goober with my peers and classmates.
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Photo of Sabrina Holloway taken by Yuci

As for how I planned for the night, rehearsals as well as the content of my work played a  major part. Rehearsals gave me sufficient time to experiment with where to project my content in the building, as well as a chance to explore what my classmates were experimenting with in terms of location as well. With enough time to plan for the spot and to adapt my piece for that chosen spot, I felt prepared for the art show. In terms of the decoration aspect of my installation, I brainstormed what would match with my piece. Given that my piece was kinetic text with a strong narrative following royalty, I thought of a simplistic and inexpensive way to convey that. I changed the table that held the projector from a tool into a prop. So I covered the plastic table with red fabric I luckily had (beginner seamstress and fabrics galore) to cover the surface as well as cover the front of the table to hide the cords connected to the projector as well as my backpack. Also, I used scrap paper and hot glue to craft paper roses with text written on them and scattered the roses atop the table and pinned a handful around my projection to visually tie the installation together. SAB_Projector_Night_05 When the audience saw the text aspect of my piece, some of them read it aloud. I was flattered but at the same time embarrassed to hear my work be voiced by someone. I wasn’t sure how the audience would connect with my piece, though I’m glad humor was one of the results. The audience members were curious about the paper roses, especially when I mentioned that I hand-made them. SAB_Projector_Night_03 SAB_Projector_Night_02 Overall, I think my work came across pretty well, though next time I would project on a surface that is easier for legibility of the text, as well as lessen the amount of shape motion on the screen to allow for more room to see the kinetic text itself.

Conference Project Proposal: Storytelling

SAB SovereignFor my conference project, I will make 3 animated texts in Adobe After Affects, each around 4 minutes long. The text in each animation will convey a short story in a poetry-like and narrative fashion. Each animation will also involve shapes moving across the screen to further convey the story being told. I will play with fonts styles and manipulation of the text to add a bit of texture to the animations. (i.e. play with font size, placement on the screen, and other effects like opacity) Also, I might add audio to each animation where I would sing the poetry as if they were lyrics to a song, but I am dedicated to that idea yet. SAB MazeMy motivation in creating this project is curiosity. I want to mix creative writing and poetry with the shape motion and kinetic text skill set I have gained in class. In the above image taken from one of my animations, simple rectangles are placed vertically and horizontally near one another to convey the illusion of a maze in a dark room. The text itself is bright yellow for visibility and because that is the color depicting the narrator and thus the narrator’s “voice”. The text itself is also placed in a way to movie the viewer’s eye through the maze as they read one word to the next to then form the full sentence. As some background information, kinetic text is commonly used in the opening credits or end credits of movies. For example, the famous artist, Kyle Cooper, has made several opening titles to popular movies such as Flubber starring Robin Williams, or the first Spiderman movie. In each of those movies, the text reflects the theme of the film–Spiderman focuses on the adventures of a man bitten by a radioactive spider, so when the producers and actors of the film are introduced, there are animations depicting the names of the people being caught in spider webs. Spiderman’s title sequence can be viewed on Youtube here. SAB SketchbookIn terms of my process, the above image is an example from my sketchbook on how I storyboard the animations. I jot notes for what I want to happen in each frame, and I sketch where I want the “characters” to be for each line of text. Though the character’s aren’t always on screen, this snippet of a scene does have the two characters present. In these four frames, the purple character narrates while the yellow character, the main narrator and the same speaker from the previous image of walking through the maze, walks along a half circle representing grass. A blue square represents the sky and a gray square that the purple character stands on resembles a dungeon that is mentioned and established earlier in the scene. Though the shapes are simple, they are still able to convey meaning to the viewer without needing to be realistic. For example, the characters are simply a circle for a head and an upside-down triangle for a body, but the viewer can still infer that the two shapes is a person who can speak, or narrate the story to the viewer themselves. As for the rationale of the project, in class I would encounter creative blocks. Animated GIFS were too short to fully deliver an impactful story, and shape animations lacked a guiding focus. I found kinetic text to be my strong suit in that I could combine my ability to tell stories (hence the conference title of storyteller, hur hur) and what I learned from the class. GIFs, while short, could give a taste of a story, a snapshot or a flash fiction, but not a longer narrative. Shape motions could give the sensation of movement and texture but lacked any narrative. Kinetic text, however, guides a story arc that is longer than a GIF, and is emphasized with texture from shape motion. In terms of the content, my stories may be rated PG friendly, but they are often bittersweet. I am usually inspired by antagonists from video games or novels that have a disheartening backstory and I enjoy channeling that sorrow into a story that reflects their perspective…which is often a sad one since they aren’t the heroes of the day, but the villains.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

SAB_GIF_10This GIF was inspired by Valentine’s Day–and the notion that love can cross boundaries no matter where or from who the love comes from. Also, I wanted to mimic what’s called the Dot Test with hearts instead dots. My plan going into the project was to find a way to represent love through the hearts and to represent people through the color scheme of skin color. What worked well was that the colors of the hearts are visible on each skin color, emphasizing the theme, and that when the hearts are outlined they then are able to cross the diagonal and metaphorical ‘barrier’ separating the top left and bottom right hearts. What didn’t work well is that the outline of the top left hearts and their movement towards the bottom right hearts could have been more smooth and coherent.SAB_GIF_6This GIF was inspired by a visiting scholar, Heather Cleary. She presented on digital text and how text can move across the screen and create images. My plan was to try and hand-write a word (which wound up being my name for the sake of simplicity) and give an organic feeling of change to each frame by re-writing each frame of the GIF. What worked well was the sensation of shaky words that fall off the page. What didn’t work well was the color scheme. I chose a Nature Theme on Adobe Kuler for the color pallet and tried it, but I think I should’ve done a black and white color scheme instead of colors.SAB_GIF_3 This GIF wasn’t inspired by a particular artist, but by the idea of building tension. My plan while entering the project was to first, play with one circle shrinking and growing while exterior circles constantly moved. The more I explored the options, the more I realized the center circle seemed to be exploding outwards with tension while the exterior circles are closing in on the center circle. What worked well was that by having the corner circles move a bit each frame, that caused them to look agitated. What didn’t work well is that the center circle doesn’t truly explode. It increases in size, but to add to the tension it would have been better if the cennter circle became spiked.