For this conference project, I intended to use after effects to recreate repeating scenes in my dream when I was a child. I believe most of us share the same experience of entering the same dream. When I was a child, I used to see kaleidoscopes before I went to bed and climb into and out of wells as I entered my dreams. When I had fever (even before I knew I would have a fever), I would dream of climbing on cement walls with cement balls crushing on my back. I also repeatedly dreamed of walking into a kindergarten with students and teachers with just three kinds of faces, my parents and I. Sometimes I could see two parallel worlds in my vision. These nightmare-like dreams had given me a lot of pressure, but I wanted to put them into a more joyful theme for this conference project.
After the trip to Japan during this spring break, I made several collages about color palettes I enjoyed for my printmaking class. I decided to introduce pastel colors in spring, for example, green, yellow, pink. into my video. I also picked out a song made by a Japanese musician to go with my project. This aesthetics are influenced by music I listen to on soundcloud. They are some artists from PC music, a record label, for example, Hannah Diamond and QT. I enjoyed the bright and synthetic characteristics with a hint of loneliness and disappointment of it. For my conference project, I hope to combine intimidating images with delightful colors.
I was able to recreate the kaleidoscope accurately. I took an image of traditional candy in Japan and photoshoped it so the color fit my theme. it was hard for other images since I didn’t have a specific image for other dreams and it was way more effort to put in than I planned to and more technique beyond my capability. Thus, I tried to simplify images into abstract shapes and outlines. Some of the most difficult things to make was on the 3D layers. Because I had so many layers, I had to create combine several after effect files into one in order to create animations in a faster and easier way. I was glad to pick up some new techniques (wave effect, adjustment layer, cc sphere, reversing the direction of a layer) after I followed tutorials on Youtube.
As I was creating the animation, I kept reminding myself to limit my choices, organize the video into sections and repeat motions and form. I enjoyed the use of echo effect from background in 2d layer to foreground in a 3d layer. Same for the kaleidoscope effect, I introduced this animation twice in the beginning and the end of the video. This decision was inspired my dream: I used climb in and out of the same well as I enter and leave my dream world. I also loved the parallel layer with particles and tunnels and the next section with wave and ball form. I was inspired Ben’s amazing tunnels and Clark’s storyboard in her little robot animation (sudden zoom-in and zoom-out).
In my conference, Angela suggested me to introduce more parallel/horizon line effect and animate the rotation of horizon line as the parallel world separates. I agree that these adjustments would make audiences more drawn into the video and make my video more cohesive, but unfortunately I did not have the time to do so. I also regret that I could not figure out the best way to make the kindergarten sections. Using just the trim line effect makes the section too plain compared to other ones. I wanted to use more specific images like pictures of my family, but I found the style contrast with other sections too much. So I decided to use outlines of images of interaction between students and teachers I found on line. In summary, I hope my video could have a more consistent story line or a clear expression in my content instead of putting together separate dream images with nothing common.
Part 1: “Time”
This part of the conference follows in the footstep of my kinetic text project. I really enjoyed the phone themed soundscape I created in that project and wanted to do another one with the theme of clocks and the passage of time.
The idea started out very vague. I started out with two graphics made in illustrator. They were both the same picture structurally. However, they had drastically different color palettes one was for night and had the moon and stars. The other was for day and had blue sky and the sun. I wanted to make different types of transitions between these two graphic. I also had all the elements of these graphics on seperate layers. So when I imported the Illustrator composition I was able to play around with each them.
I was originally going to start by making the clock hands move on the wall clock as the two graphics fade in and out of eachother. Then I found the clock wipe effect and key framed it to move like clock hands to the sound effect of an atypical ticking clock . The hands on the actual clock stay still as to not draw attention away from the clock wipe and the transition of the color scheme. I also keyframed the sound so that when the clock wipe transitions to the night graphic cricket sounds get louder. As it transitions to the day bird chirping get louder.
I then started playing around with the elements of the graphics individually. After some trial and error I settled on superimposing the sun and moon on different clocks hanging down from string with a drop shadow. I left the background gray to make it seem like the clock was in an empty space separate from the two graphics in the beginning. These clocks were accompanied with a fast moving clock hand keyframed to a ticking timer sound.
I bounced back and forth between the clocks in the empty space and the two graphics. I ended with a clock that had both the moon and the sun superimposed on it as well as a transition to its corresponding graphic with both the color schemes of the previous graphics blended on top. I also had a clock-strike-the-hour sound to bring the piece to a close. This ended up being one of my slower paced pieces but I do take pride in what I was able to to accomplish when limiting my resources. I also think the slow pacing enhances the experience by forcing the viewer to focus on sound more.
Part 2: “Factory”
Despite the fact that Part I is called”Time”, I actually created Part II“Factory” first. I decided to switch the order of them up because it seemed more appealing to start out slow and end with a fast paced bang to leave a lasting impact. I started with this idea of a helpless character being trapped in a factory with a bunch of other helpless characters. The piece would end with the character being encased in a box on a shelf with the other characters in the factory.
I thought of animating it to dubstep music of some sort but I did not have any particular soundtrack in mind. I searched the web to see if I could find something that I could work with and saved ones that interested me. There were not too many soundtracks that sounded good for my piece.
I was having so much trouble finding a soundtrack that I was considering just creating a soundscape consisting of factory sounds, but I really just wanted to animate to music on this project. I ended up coming back to one of the soundtracks I already went through. I listened to it again and realized it has a lot more of the somber tone I was looking for.
I made tons of thumbnails and sketches for the characters and background. I wanted to keep things simple since this was my first time animating in After Effects. The character was essentially a square with big eyes and simply shaped limbs that float in mid air without physical connection to the body. Although this character was easy to create it was a bit more complicated to animate. I thought that I would try using the puppet tool to move my character. However, since my character’s limbs were not connected to its body the puppet tool treated every part like it was its own character. This made animating really awkward because the slightest movement could split the shape I made in half. I decided to use keyframing instead. Most of the animation involved keyframing the position and rotation of each part. I used a mask on the eyes to give the illusion of them moving around the head. As I settled into using this new animation method I was able to apply what I already learned from previous 2D animation courses.
I kept the background as simple as the character. Pretty much everything was a square or circle shape with the exception of the characters limbs. The machine claw was as complicated as the design got.
When it came to color scheme I was thinking of making the main character as the only one with a black fill and white outline. I was going to make all the others different colors to help the main character stick out more. I decided against this idea since keeping everything grayscale would help with the gloomy factory theme. Thus all the character are the same exact shape and size to further emphasize this theme. I ended up making the main character stand out more by their actions, as they are the only ones struggling to break free from the assembly line.
My project ended up coming to only 1 minute and 14 seconds of work but being that I am studying animation I was not all that surprised. I am used to it taking weeks or months just for a cartoon short. This method of animation took some getting used to but I did end up appreciating the convenience of it (this coming from someone who is used to animating frame by frame). I still managed to tell a full story and I am happy with the results.
I wanted to criticize space and my class challenged me on how self-righteous it came across. In frustration, I realized that what I wanted to do was explore Heimbold through my emotions and my memories. It is a micro-situation with thoughts and ideas from Vito Acconci Following Piece, The Art of the Question by Anonymous, and Tom Finkelpearl’s “Participatory Art”, as well as my own experience as a theater student. I initially wanted my project be more aggressive but I was convinced against it by my class. As I developed the places and spots to visit I made a few consistent spots to visit.
1. I started on the top floor and ended on the bottom floor of Heimbold.
2. During the show I entered bathrooms of all genders. I stuck my hand in the toilet.
3. I told different and often conflicting versions of the same story. The conflicting nature of it comes from conflicting natures on the same stories. For example I framed one tour as a descent into my feelings and chose not to in another.
4. I asked people questions about whatever story I told and asked them to do things. Including but limited to:
- sing a note
- look out a window
-sneak down the stairs
-play inside a rolling cart for film department
-reassure me that I am doing ok
-Stare at other students.
4. Rely on my humorous personality to entertain even when I felt drained and unsatisfied.
What I feel about my piece and what I learned:
The first thing I noticed was the stress and lack of confidence from the first performance to the last. I became more emotionally drained from performance to performance. This led my tours from being confident and playful to (internally) more fearful and transgressive. What this meant was that no two tours developed the same meaning. The same way that remembering alters the memory itself over time, so did the descent from the top floor to the bottom. I felt that my piece became less about the construction of my Heimbold experiences to my failure to maintain the same thinking of it. I couldn’t remember the right questions or routines and would, with varying degrees of success, make up new ones. This in my mind is painful and yet in retrospect completely in line with the performance project as a whole. Because my relationship with my performance became strained and possibly unhinged so did my demonstration of the space. This meaning is of course very different for the audience, but their experience of the space was more of an amusing tour of memories, make believe, and activity that I would not experience at first.
One theme that sticks out in the retrospect is the transgression. Transgression here appeared in three forms: transgression of social mores, transgression of comfort level, and the failure to transgress against one authority instead of another. Let’s start in more of a note form of each kind and what that means about Heimbold.
-Social mores I would violate and ask the group to participate in include put my hand in a toilet, enter a gendered bathroom as a group, stare at a stranger walking by, play in a rolling cart, and stand on tables. What this did was provide a moment of playfulness but also give a eye on two elements of the space. The first is that there are things you can do that are fun that aren’t wrong or hurtful. The second, there is no true rebellion over the space. My playful attitude has zero effect on the architecture of the building beyond add a feeling onto it, like adding invisible graffiti onto the space.
-I never transgressed the comfort level of any of the participants. I did transgress my own comfort level when I initially put my hand in the toilet. By having my audience witness it I did unsettle the impossibility of the action. It’s small but it will be something remembered nonetheless.
-Finally I felt I pushed beyond my comfort zone in a positive way. I have touched on this early but I do feel that this performance has pushed me out of a certain comfort around my art making and I would like to further with it.
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.
original sketch for Lena
Lena’s sword given to her by Morgan
My game is about a woman in a blue dress named Watershed (pictured in the center), whose goal is to defeat a bunch of ninjas to get back the money for, ironically, her water bill. This is ironic because Watershed, former superhero that she ostensibly is, has the ability to shoot water like a water gun, which she uses to battle the ninjas. At the moment, the only area/level I have implemented is this city area (pictured), where Watershed can interact with a ball person named Clarc (pictured to the upper right), who only shouts at her in his strange voice, as well as the mysterious Man in Black who prevents her from leaving town.
The game’s McGuffin is the money necessary to pay off Watershed’s water bill, which she can pay to the Man in Black on the map screen. The Man in Black, theoretically, also sells Watershed items that she can use to make the levels easier, at the cost of making it take longer to ultimately pay off the water bill.
Watershed can acquire money by putting out fires and battling the individual ninjas, many of whom carry torches to represent their connection to fire, which Watershed can of course easily destroy with her water gun powers. I intended for this to be an example of instructive game design similar to that seen in Super Mario Bros., as the player would learn from a mostly harmless, stationary flame that the player character can easily put out fires, which would be followed through with a more threatening, moving enemy who also uses similarly designed fire to attack. The fire serves as an example of abstraction; abstracting the idea of being able to destroy obstacles and move forward by designing the obstacles around a common theme, in this case fire, which can be extinguished by water. The game’s art style is also pretty simple and unrealistic in general, but the characters’ and objects’ vibrant and oversized elements (such as Watershed’s transparent, watery blue hair) show basic things about them, such as Watershed’s association with water and the ninjas’ black clothing that emphasizes their sneakiness.
The forward loop of the game is the mechanic in which money can be used to buy helpful items, which can then be brought to other levels in order to get more money from them, and so forth. The more money Watershed has, the easier it is to get more, and more, until the player has collected enough to finish the game.
The backward loop in this game is that the player’s death, which can be triggered by running out of health, causes the player to lose all their items. This encourages not dying, as well as saving their money to an extent since it will all be able to be bought back later even after dying if the player has a lot of money saved up.
I focused mostly on art in the development of this game (which, by the way, is tentatively titled Water Warrior, as can be seen in the very much work-in-progress title screen). I design a lot of characters in my free time, which the character designs for this game are taken from. I would say that bringing these characters to life via their animations was in the end my main goal throughout most of the development – I’m not historically used to drawing characters that are in a constant state of animation like those seen in this game, just stationary drawings. I got a lot out of this class in terms of learning to make sprite sheets using software like Inkscape and Pencil 2D.
In making the fire sprites (seen two images above) I initially had concerns about how to animate it convincingly, but I realized that fire need not look the same even a frame of animation apart due to how it moves in real life, so I completely redrew the sprite for each frame of animation aside from the wooden boards being used as tinder for the fire, which made it look like a constantly burning mass.
I don’t focus on realism in my art style – as seen in the image above where Watershed is interacting with the man in black, human character’s proportions are not very realistic in this game. Although I wasn’t concerned with realism, I did have an interest in keeping the individual humans’ proportions similar (this also applies to the ninja sprites I designed above). Although my artwork would hardly pass for realistic humans, I believe that they stand for what they are and look like humans in the context of the game – they resemble each other and appear to be members of the same species despite having numerous individual traits, such as skin color, clothing, and hair (or lack thereof).
I believe that the player can see what elements are important in my game because at the moment at least, they’re the only things that move and/or are interactable. Watershed herself is pretty distinct from her environment, being a fairly vibrant shade of blue among a background that mostly consists of gray, red, and green.
In conclusion, Water Warrior aims to be a simple platformer, but one in which the player has a lot of options, hence the nonlinear design. I’d really like to finish this and add all the features I hoped to add over the course of the class – this creative stuff is really important to me and I’d hate to see this all go to waste. Thanks!
My game is about the story of a struggling musician going on an adventure to play a show at the end. Throughout the way, he collects musical notes to improve his ability to play and must have a minimum score to rock the world at the end. He also runs into events that would trigger “encounters”, or problems that would befall that of an artist in the music industry, such as paparazzi slowing him down as he aims to reach his destination, or groupies that negatively impact his musical talent. He must go through all these events while staying on his path to stardom and to rock out. I did not manage to finish the game but I was able to complete the paper game and see a physical representation of how the game would play out if it was finished. When I first started out in the planning process, I did not want to venture into the mentality of making my game memorable by any means. I wanted it to be relatable to the average, everyday musician. It was drawing from my experiences learning and performing music in my lifetime as I grew up playing the piano and now studying the drums and music more intensively as it is something I am deeply passionate about. I would like to explore this possibly as a job option in my lifetime if I can achieve it.
As I am not a talented artist I wanted the game to look simple but in doing so I found that my art ended up being very abstract which was not what I expected but I took that on to the fullest. It also fit with my idea that I wanted my game to be relatable. I ended up using the stick figure form as I thought that would be the best way to communicate the sense of relating to the player. Just like Borges in his story The Garden of the Forking Paths, I created a sense of nonlinearity while still being linear in my game design. In my world in the paper game, I created diverging paths to give the player a sense of choice. While there are not infinite paths as Borges suggests in his short story, I thought that multiple paths to the end goal in my game would be able to replicate the decisions that we must make as humans going about our every day lives. This also combined with the fact that our decisions and therefore actions have consequences, and that combines with the backward loop for my game. The backward loop in this game are the events that trigger as you go along your path, such as the paparazzi triggering slower movement for the player character if he takes a certain route or the groupies that were brought up earlier, making the character lose a certain amount of music notes, which is the score for the game. The forward loops are also the same, but they have a positive effect on the player, helping push him towards his goal, such as our character stumbling through his path and finding the event that has him being signed to have a record deal. This is just one example of the feedback loops that can happen throughout the game. Also, the McGuffin or the driving object that helps to advance the plot are the music notes that the player must collect throughout his journey. There are a bunch of events that can occur but the primary objective is to keep collecting the music notes and get the score required to get access to the ending. I fell in love with the fact that the minimalism of the game is also what can make it relatable. From the stick figure characters to the fact that there are not a lot of side objectives or that you must collect the music notes to progress, I thought that the minimalism does not detract from the experience that you have going through the game. The forward and backward loops are basically one and the same and they join together well because the events are connected to the player, also because of the branching paths.
The aesthetic of the game was designed to be escapist because as seen, it is not supposed to be seen as realistic nor reality, but simply to be relatable to people and the human condition. The stick figure aesthetic fits well for this mechanic as they can be relatively shrouded in mystery about the identity while still providing a basis for a being that everyone can relate to.
I believe that the player can see what is important because even with the nonlinear paths, the player automatically from the start can see where they have to go, which is basically to platform and collect all the music notes they can.
The interactions between the player and the loops were also fun to think of from a musical standpoint as I got to expand my knowledge of the music industry as well as expand my creativity when it came to creating ideas for the game and definitely helped me think outside the box and to think more abstractly. I believe that the feedback loops are an integral part of this game, just as much as the world and the goal.
This game follows the story of the protagonist, named Alessa, who joins a league of Space Pirates to earn money quickly to pay off her debts and pay for her wedding. It centers around the internal struggle that she has when her work and home life collide and create a situation in which she could lose everything. By taking this job with the pirates, Alessa ignores her morals to try and earn enough money to get out of the business as soon as possible and marry her fiance. However, when her job requires her to steal the resources her fiance is using to help cure diseases, she faces a potential impasse. And in this game, the player gets to make the tough choice for her.
While there are some aspects of the game that are satisfying, there are still many others that could be improved. For example, the door animations are smooth and aesthetically pleasing, but the door assets themselves are not always at the right scale or angle thus looking slightly wrong. Also, the speed of character movement is matched well to the walking animation but the animation is not as smooth as I would like, plus the sprites could be improved quite a bit. I could go on for a while since it is always easier to pick out the problems in one’s own work, but I will say that overall, the game has a good start and plays well enough for me to consider expanding and improving it in the future.
Initially, the main McGuffin in the game is the treasure, also known as the raw elements that the pirates are planning to plunder. However, one could make the argument that the fiance is the McGuffin, since a player’s understanding of the story could lead them to attempt to rescue him. How the player chooses to play the game determines what their motivations are. I would say that the short term goal is retrieving the elements, but the true McGuffin is, in fact, marriage. This is because this is the protagonists overall goal and everything else in between just manages to get in the way. Working the job with the pirates, getting into a conflict with the captain and her fiance, and paying off her debts are all things that keep the protagonist from her main goal.
The loops in this game are all related to the story, since the gameplay is mostly related to the internal struggle of the protagonist and how that makes the player feel. Therefore, the main forward loop is interacting with objects, which gives the player more information about the story, which allows them to progress to the next room, where they can interact with more objects that will either give them more information, or will give them a useful tool to get more information in one of the later rooms. This way, the player is rewarded with story elements and progression through the rooms. Plus, getting these rewards allows the player to progress towards the end of the game and get the good ending.
A forward loop in gameplay acts as the leading movement toward the end of the game, and the backward loop is what pushes back and keeps the player from quickly reaching the end. Therefore, keeping the player from progressing through the rooms would be an appropriate backward loop. The way I do this is by having certain doors locked until a specific task is completed, so if the player is progressing quickly, they are impeded by the locked door until they slow down to interact with some of the objects and fulfill the objective.
Because this game is based around story more than mechanics, the loops work together to make the experience of the story nonlinear. For example, the forward loop pushes the player to progress through the rooms, so it introduces the possibility of missing some story elements. The backward loop makes the player slow down, which introduces the possibility of noticing more intractable objects and thus being exposed to more narrative elements.
What I took from the readings and incorporated into my game is the idea that nonlinearity is about experiencing the same thing in different ways. For example, one player’s understanding of my game could be very different from another player’s simply by choosing to go to the bridge of the ship instead of going to the crew quarters. The player who goes to the bridge of the ship might get wrapped up in the goals set by the captain and might miss all the story elements that were present in the crew quarters. This could lead to the player having a very different understanding of the characters and relationships between them in the final room where the climactic choice takes place. Also, my game imitates the idea about a nonlinear story having multiple paths by having different endings that the player can get depending on the choices they make.
The nonlinearity of my design is tied in directly to my story. The main goal as a designer was to have players feel a range of emotions towards the characters to see if they would experience the second-hand internal conflict and how they would react overall. The nonlinearity of my level design allows for the player to have the freedom needed to view the circumstances of the characters in unique ways.
When designing the rooms, I used a lot of basic shapes to leave most to the imagination. They are simple enough to reuse the same elements and get the idea across, plus it has the added effect of making the rooms look like they are part of the same ship.
Overall, I kept level design pretty minimalistic. I only added assets that were necessary to the player’s interaction with the world and tried to keep from adding anything that would serve no purpose but to take up space. Thus I used the minimalistic approach when populating my scenes to leave what was important and prevent useless clutter that would discourage the player from interacting with objects.
The way my game looks and sounds adds an atmosphere that helps build the world and make it believable. The repeated shapes draw the rooms together and help evoke emotions whether they are feelings of safety or unease. The music adds an air of playfulness, as do the characters. The color schemes I use also work to evoke emotions and bring a coherence to the idea. By Anna Beliveau
I always felt in control of the performance although i let the failures of my technology or the lack of audience. This hijack I felt was successful and adding a bit of weirdness in Heimbold that wasn’t already there.
My piece consisted of two facets. My first facet projected the film Marat/Sade directed by Peter Brook upon a wall in the lobby of Heimbold. The second is my improvising and character I developed. My character was a senile old host of a movie, opera, or musical of a forgotten time and place. I go in with the intention of exploring the themes of memory and performance in relation to the film. I discarded upon the performance proper because I wanted my interactions with the guest to arrive organically. I spend my time asking people their names and what they think of the show but deliberately forgetting what they said. Doing so gave the audience moments to play make believe, thus destabilize the continuity of their identity to a certain extent. By asking them their understanding of the show (considering no one could hear them), I gave people an opportunity to explore the weirdness of the moment and give them space to perform if they wish.
The improv in the piece, I feel, did wonders to explore the themes I set out initially. Paralleling the project film Marat/Sade, I encouraged the audience to perform the memory of the piece’s moment. If memory is something communicate between people, how much of that communication is performed (read: manipulated)? The film and the play its based on revels in this mistrust of history to explore the question of Revolution, but with my performance I attempted with mixed and unknown results a micro-Revolution. This micro-Revolution was a space and time where identity, memory, etc. was always a choice and a not serious one as that. This is inspired by my love the carnivalesque works of Carnival-Protests of CIRCA and the theory of Carnival.
Her Eyes is a game that has been through so many iterations and pivot it’s goal is almost entirely alien from the original idea. That being said, the look of the game has remained very consistent from my end and even though I’ve had to rethink over and over the way characters and the world worked, I always felt like I was working within the safe frame of the general world I had created and the art that expressed that world.
As it stands, the game is roughly half done, maybe less. While the majority of the assets are made, a number are still planned out, and the larger meat of the game, that being encounters, has yet to be worked in. Building such meaningful encounters in the time I had is what I struggled with the most during this cycle and what I would’ve wanted to put more time and thought it.
What surprised me was how easily I found the art to do. In other ventures towards the visual world, I always found myself getting hung up on the details of what I drew and how they didn’t look exactly right because I was rushed or just couldn’t eyeball something well enough. With pixel art, I found the amount of precision and abstraction allowed me to make pieces of art that I truly felt proud of. While I wouldn’t say the game had any strong influences artistically, I do think my most recent play throughs of games like LISA and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery did influence certain character designs, narrative themes, world building, and NPC interaction.
Looking back, I feel that the two things I learned the most were exactly that. That meaningful encounters is the hard part, and art in this capacity is what I was strongest with. Know that earlier on would’ve helped me better allocate time and energy to maximize the potential of the product. Strangely, I never found the time to make music or sound for the game. The reason this is strange is that I’m a musician and one would think the music is what would come naturally. Pointing out then that I do not consider myself a visual artist, it is intriguing that the thing I found most uncomfortable at first (art) became the easiest and what I was more familiar (narrative, music) took longer and I was less pleased with the result.
For my conference project, I made three animated kinetic text videos which featured narratives from people who spoke about their emotional -experiences of dealing with their mental illnesses. Initially, I wanted to mimic Oskar Fischinger’s ( a German-American abstract animator) style of shape animation to mimic the emotions highlighted in the narrative. In his videos, Oscar Fischinger uses simple shapes to move in co-ordination to classical and jazz musical compositions.However, a major feature of his animated shorts which made them so appealing was the syncing of his shape animation to a Litz composition, which I lacked the technical expertise and time to emulate.
Instead, I used a variety of inspirations for different scenes in each video. For instance, in the video featuring my friend’s narrative encounter with depression, one of the first few scenes has been inspired by Saul Bass’s cinematography for the opening credits of Vertigo. In order to create that, I chose to transform my ellipse into a spiral , using the “twist” animation effect. My intention was for the rotating spiral to create a hallucinatory effect and make the viewer experience a sense of dread and feel that they were getting pulled into some sort of void (a symbolic interpretation of my title). The last scene, which features a gif of a girl with a tear rolling down her cheek, has been inspired by Mitski’s “Townie” music video, which is filled with a series of hand drawn gifs that express the self destructive and discontent nature of a young adult, which is quite similar to the narrative of the video I was creating. I attempted to re-create this hand sketched gif using Gimp and my Wacom tablet, however I felt that I used too few layers, which resulted in an animated gif that was too rushed up and had a rocky transition between the frames.
For the BPD video, I was particularly inspired by Jim Goldberg’s short video for his photobook, “Raised By Wolves” which features teenage runaways in Hollywood Boulevard. The juxtaposition between the young, innocent faces of the subjects and the dreary nature of their narratives interested me and I attempted to re-create this effect in my own video, which featured a childhood photo of my cousin contrasted with lines from her narrative.
While creating my videos, I discovered a variety of tools that complemented the nature of my narratives. For instance, I used a combination of “Bad TV” (warp, old and weak) and “Set Channels” effects to create the damaged VCR effect with the static lines. The “Bad TV” effect was used to create the static lines while the “Set Channels” effect was used to create the glitch text at the beginning. All three of the kinetic texts shared a common theme of the narrators describing themselves as feeling like ghosts and wishing to float away. The “Set Channels” effect proved to be a very efficient tool in helping to convey this in images and text. For instance, I created three layers of the same text and would modify the channel information in such a way that the colors in the images would get separated and created the effect of the person in the image “floating” away from herself (see picture above).
I also heavily experimented around with the “Fractal Noise” effect which helped to create the jittery effect for the text and animated shapes in the video and created a sense of heightened anxiety. I was also interested in creating a zoom in affect where it feels like a camera is panning towards infinity. I tried to convey this in the first two videos which featured the narratives about depression and BPD. This was achieved by making the text 3-D and altering the key frames for it’s orientation. For the backdrops, I decided to create visual representations of a galaxy and glowing tunnel; both of which convey a universal sense of infinity.
I wished I had a better understanding of key frames and transition between different scenes , as I felt that some scenes were too rushed to properly convey something impactful. I also wished I had more time to compose a musical composition for my videos, as that would have made the animations more effective in manipulating the viewer’s emotions and would have been more engaging.
IV is a top down RPG that tries to model the American medical industry within a video game using mythic imagery. Currently I’m at a place in the dev cycle where most every art asset is in the game, however the actual coded mechanics don’t quite work yet. The project had some major surprises, notably the coding and character animation came remarkably quick but the terrain and tile maps came much slowly. This is probably due to me using a different program (photoshop) and technique for these tiles than I did on my last game The Strength Needed. Much of the design choices came from this place of experience/need for growth. I wanted to expand my artistic skill set this semester by making the terrain far prettier than last semester. The main character had much of the same sort of art style I had cultivated before, but used some more complex shading techniques that made them seem more dimensional.
I think I surprised myself this time with how quickly the character designs came out. Initially I had many different full walk cycles for multiple different characters that didn’t make it into the final cut of the game, but I still might use these assets and the practice they afforded me in future projects. I discovered a sort of natural ability to design characters this semester which honestly surprised me as I’ve had plenty of doubts throughout the year about my ability to draw/make pixel art.
I had a lot of artistic inspiration from the game Hyper Light Drifter and used much of the articles I read interviewing the developer Alex Preston as guides for making this game. In addition, the games Lisa, Undertale, and What Now? as models for some of the things I wanted to do with odd mechanics.
I did definitely learn how to do tilesets better this semester, which overall has aided my skill set as an artist quite well. The extra practice on characters also undoubtedly will make future projects that much faster. In addition, I think my skills as a designer definitely saw some improvement. On previous projects I don’t think I would have done much to draft out a main mechanic. Really thinking about the internal logic of the game’s central mechanic became a rather good thought experiment and practice for the future. The whole process of making a mechanic that didn’t play by conventional game standards made me question how to defy typical mechanics even more. However, although I cultivated a better sense of art and design I will mention my coding still feels subpar. While I’m aware much of my strife came from a major setback in the dev cycle when my computer lost all its data and was out of commission for two weeks, the fact remains that coding takes me far more time than any other aspect of the project and I should leave more time for it on my next project. Although I thought I managed my time well, clearly I’ll have to get better at deadlines in the future.
Best, Chris Haehnel (Kit)
My game this semester is ADHDRPG!, a semi-autobiographical depiction of what it’s like to have undiagnosed ADHD in middle school. The game as I envision it depicts a week in the life of a girl (named Claire, after myself) as she attempts to navigate home and school while dealing with her ADHD. At home, she must manage to get out the door in the morning with everything she needs, a challenge that increases in various ways as the game goes on. At school, she battles the various manifestations of her ADHD, such as homework and distractions.
I am still fairly early on in the dev cycle for this project, unfortunately. My artwork is very involved and detailed, and I’d say that’s the most advanced aspect of my project. There are many objects that I have created art assets for but not implemented or implemented without planned interactivity. As far as coding goes, I got so far as to implement basic enemies into the game and add a system for killing them. If the game were to become fully realized, I’d say that I’m probably a quarter of the way through.
Other than a skill with art, I’d say I definitely gained more confidence in my ability to write code. In a less quantifiable sense, I feel like I have a better eye for design than I did when I had started the semester with no education on visual design and little on game design. That’s my biggest concentration in the future — improving my game design skills. I want to be a designer and a writer, and while art assets and code can always be done for me by someone else, design is absolutely necessary if I’m to lead the creation of a game. I really learned the value of feedback from my classmates, so I’ll definitely take advantage of any playtesters I can get for future games.
I was really inspired by all of the projects created by my classmates this semester. I feel like every game that each of us created had different strengths, and every creator stood out from the others in their own way. The sense of humor in David’s game, the beautiful art in Colin’s, the use of a small and detailed space to create compelling story in Chris’ are a few of the many standout examples of things that I take as inspiration for this and future games.
My one regret is that my time management absolutely could have been better than it was. I was hesitant to implement functionality into my game before making the necessary art assets, so that contributed a lot to me not having as much code and interactivity in as I could have. I learned that I need to create a stricter dev cycle and really stick to it. This summer, I plan on trying to finish my game. If I can create that structure for myself I’ll be at a huge advantage over where I was. I also hope that someday working with others on a game can keep me to task.