Author Archives: Vili Lehmann Boddicker

The Clay – Post Mortem

Finishing up the semester and coming up on Open Studio, I think the thing I’ve learned most from this project is how hard it is to round out any sort of project that is editable. With a song, a play, a film, a story, etc., the piece is released as a whole is released often with a notion of acceptance from the artists that this, what is being sold and represented to the audience, is the final draft of the work in the way that it was meant to appear from the first day. Working on this game, I have come to realize how difficult it is to imagine an “end” to this process. Every time a milestone is reached, another one opens up, and in my free time concepts and symbols and extensions of the story burst forth at such a rate that my programming can’t keep up. If I could have had another semester on this game, it would have been totally different than it appears now – that said, I am very proud of how far the game and the world that inspired it have grown along the way.     Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 7.22.15 PM  

“The Clay” gameplay.

  If I could continue with the game for another couple weeks before the presentation, I would focus on adding menus, finishing up the splash screen (a work in progress), working on a second stained glass window, and adding a rough version of the ending I had come up with at the start of the class. I would spend more time studying textures, lights, and application of 3D objects within a 2D space in order to further bring the setting and its players to life. But overall, the finished product had progressed much more than I’d considered possible at the beginning of the semester. And working in a collaborative space where questions, concepts, and code were being passed around freely and frequently was very key in how successful I believe the process to have been.   Unfinished Splash screen  

A peak at the splash screen in progress.

The concept of individual game design was especially interesting in that it was a shot at taking on all of the roles involved in the process, many of which I had never attempted at all. Although I am involved in music, I had never before had to look at a project and write a piece that I felt captured the essence of what was going on on-screen and what mood I hoped would be resonating inside the head of the player. Scoring the project was a really interesting experience, and provided a cool exercise with adding boundaries to a process and finding inspiration within the limitations. I had a lot of fun imagining and coming up with a sound that was both hopeful and lonely, both dark and permeated with bits of light. The second new role I took on in this process was that of artistic director. I came up with the concept of a character, worked sans-tutorial with shadowing, player/object movement and animation, and worked and reworked color schemes until they captured the image I had of what this world looks like. Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 7.50.57 PM  

The score for “The Clay” in arranged in Ableton, a music production software.

Overall, I’m happy with the finished product, and plan on continuing to decorate it and sand the edges over summer break. Then, hopefully, I can release it online and continue to get feedback, make improvements, and expand the world that spawned on the first day in this class.

Radical Games: The Clay – Project Proposal

The Clay is a project inspired by simple storytelling, an attempt to combine pixels, notes, and a background story into an experience that would make the audience feel something for the characters and get sucked into the game world. The game began with a simple idea, a mental image of a little boy breaking out of a building onto a bridge with a sunset, and him panting and dropping to the ground, while a player is tapping harder and harder on the screen to get him to stand up and keep running. Over time, a story has emerged of a world complete with a population of clay/terracotta people, a set of large tyrannical antagonists, and a subplot for the game specifically is to be simply about a connection between two friends. It is to be heavily music-based, with the notes and the rhythm matching the main Clay’s footsteps and drawing the player into a meditative state. Clay concept day 1

  The piece of note paper, including the first idea for the ‘clay’,

concepts for the music, thematic elements, and the ending of the story.

However, this is a ‘radical’ video game design class. Most games are designed to bring the player into some sort of a ‘trance’ – what would be different about this game? The radical aspect of this game, in my opinion, is that, while being so simple, there will be no way to keep track of a score. The only thing driving the player to play the game will be whatever emotional connection they have to the character. There will be no way to measure how far they get into the ‘endless’ level unless they’ve beaten it (which will certainly require a lot of time and perseverance). And hopefully, with slow, droning music and an adequately designed setting, the trance state that the players are brought into will be one not of energy, anxiety, and hyper-awareness, but one in which their brains are opened into pathways of thought and focus that bring them into a more relaxed and real-world-productive state. Clay Form ConceptClay person concept

Concept art for the antagonist (left) and the main character (right

The game will feature assets that will attempt to work in ways that the player would not expect, but will still make sense. For example, there will hopefully be creatures crawling around the temple that the game is based in that the player can encounter – upon touching these creatures, either nothing would happen to the character, or something positive would happen that would catch the person off guard. If there are creatures that resemble broken, crumbling forms of the antagonists, maybe upon coming into contact with them the protagonist will take pity on them and give them aid. Torches, which are generally used to provide light, could be used to harden the clay and thus have a negative connotation. Generally, while providing an entertaining and compelling experience, I want the game to make subtle, consistent nudges at the player’s expectations of what a game should be.