Tag Archives: post-mortem

Cultural Hijack: A Tour of the Building

IMG-4151 IMG-4148 IMG-4145  

Process:

I wanted to criticize space and Angela challenges me on how self righteous it comes across. In frustration, I realized that what I wanted to do was explore Heimbold through my emotions and my memories. It is a micro-Situationist 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 Angela. As I developed the places and spots to visit I made a few consistent spots tp visit.

1. I was started on the top floor and ended on the bottom floor of Heimbold.

2. During the show I enter bathrooms of all genders. I stick 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 ask 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.

-Move chairs

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 change 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, 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. Lets 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 including 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 transgressed 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 push 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.

Down: Post Mortem

background pt 2 copyswamp grass copyswamp water walkable copy My game is about Kaira making friends in a swampy wasteland while on her quest to regain her memories and find out why she lost them in the first place. The game is right now basically a walking simulator. It will eventually be a choice based RPG with follower characters and branching dialogue and story options. In her quest to regain her memories her quest will eventually also realize she has a sister that she needs to rescue. The McGuffin is exploration as the only way Kaira can regain her memories is by exploring and solving the challenges she and her companions face along the way. For example Kaira is trying to regain her memories and some of the things she needs to regain those memories are in parts of the swamp she cannot breathe in, so she needs to gain the trust of a companion who can breathe in those areas so he can explore them for her. While this character has yet to be introduced in this game build he will likely appear very soon as he is pivotal to the story. I used abstraction in that the game is less detailed than I originally was going to have because the scope of the project would’ve been so much. I used aesthetic in my game to try and give it a dark and mysterious vibe. I use the purples and black colors to show that even though this is a swamp it’s not a swamp that one would find today. The environment is natural in form but unnatural in color scheme and inhabitants. The darker color scheme also gives a somber mood to the game which I am also going to toy with in later maps that will have warmer and more welcoming color schemes.
Nadia Sprite copy

Nadia, yet to be introduced character

One of the characters who will appear in this more warm place is Nadia. Even though her dress is cool colors I want her to still give off a warm and inviting vibe. I mostly have her in the dark blue dress to show that even though the home she’s crafted for herself is very different from the environment around her she is still very much one of the people who lives in the swamp. Another character who has a warmer color scheme is Shari, the talking serval. He is a swamp cat that if Kaira befriends, will be able to get things from the parts of the swamp that would be toxic for Kaira to enter. Almost all of the possible companion characters have an aspect of their design influenced by another companion to show that they are possible companions. Such as how both Shari and Zhis have orange, or how Shari and Nadia both have scarves like Kaira does. I want to use the warm and cool color schemes to make the player feel different things about the different environments. For example, Nadia runs a tavern that I want the player to find warm and inviting in comparison to the hostile and dark swamp outside. My story is nonlinear because it starts in the middle, the events that led to Kaira and Zhis being where they are happened before the game began and there was a whole mini adventure that the two went on before the game began but the game starts in the cage, after Kaira has forgotten all these things. The level that I’m working on now in the final game would probably be a flashback that happens partway through the beginning of the game.
zhis sprite copy

Zhis, Kaira’s first companion/friend

enemy static copy

The first enemy

shari sprite copy

Shari, Kaira’s second friend in the swamp

I used abstraction in the fact that a lot of major characters that Kaira can befriend or interact with aren’t human. For the majority of the beginning of the game Kaira is the only human the player sees. This shows that the environment is not one the player is familiar with, but Kaira’s casual interactions with these non human characters shows that it is an environment she is comfortable in. My plan for moving forward with this game is to flesh out the animations as well as the dialogue that Kaira has with the characters already in the game as well as the future characters. I also want to work on the next few maps as well as adding more sprites for future characters. (Kaira will have A Lot of friends) As far as feedback loops go the more the character explores and talks to people the more she will be able to remember which will make her want to explore more as she gets closer to her goal of confronting the force that made her loose her memories in the first place. How Kaira goes about accomplishing this will also effect how other characters see her. For example there are some choices she can make that will cause her companion’s deaths or cause them to abandon her because of her actions. A player who say doesn’t care for Zhis for example much might find this mechanic helpful while others may be distressed that their favorite companion could leave them depending on their actions, causing the player to have to weigh the pros and cons of the actions they take in the story. Another feedback loop will be an approval system where the different companions of Kaira’s will approve or disapprove of the actions Kaira takes and this will influence how they feel about and speak to her.  

Nonlinear Design: 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 Design: Water Warrior Aesthetics and Post Mortem – Julia Mornini

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 5.16.56 PM 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. ninjas   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. Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 5.43.09 PM 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. Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 5.44.43 PM   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!    

Nonlinear Design: A Musician’s Quest, Post-Mortem

music note   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 am studying the drums and music more intensively as it is something I am deeply passionate about. I would like to explore 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. IMG_0805 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. IMG_0808

Postmortem: Love, Marriage, and Space Pirates Post-Mortem

Example0   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.Example1 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 interactable 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. SpaceStationTheBridgeFinal 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. TheHub_paperGame 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. CrewQuarters_paperGame 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

Space Hijack: Pop-Up Marat/Sade

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. I 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 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.

Radical Games: Her Eyes Post-Mortem

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.25.13 PM 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. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.26.26 PM 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. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.30.34 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.22.57 PM 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. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.32.05 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.31.37 PM 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. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.24.42 PM  Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 7.13.25 PM  

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Swimming In the Void

  Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.06.28 PM 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. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.09.05 PM   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. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.11.05 PM 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. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.12.28 PM   Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.13.41 PM 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.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: IV

IMG_0224 (1) 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. IMG_0227   Best, Chris Haehnel (Kit)

Conference Project Post-Mortem: ADHDRPG!

Gamepic 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. gamepic5 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. gamepic2 I was surprised by how easy the coding aspect of the game was. I have a small bit of experience with Javascript, and while much of the actual scripting was different, the logic carried over to a surprising degree. Most of my problems came from careless errors, which were annoying but ultimately easy to fix. The most surprisingly time consuming thing was the art — I never realized how much I could agonize over the placement of a few pixels. To my pleasant surprise, I was more talented at pixel art than I thought. However, this came with the unfortunate flip side of me often wanting to go back and redo older assets as my skill increased. gamepic3 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. gamepic4 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. gamepic6 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.  

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Music and Motion

For my conference project, I intended to compose songs in GarageBand and create an animation to go along with them in After Effects. I had genres in mind for songs and I somewhat stuck to them, but varied slightly. I did make an electronic song, but the other song that I intended to be a classic band setup turned into more of a keyboard-oriented 70s disco piece. This is a result of where I happened to be at the time I made the songs: I was listening to other songs from the 70s which influenced my style. I planned on using markers, but I found another system that worked even better: in GarageBand the soundwaves of each instrument are visible in coordination with the time of the piece, which also includes time in the same way as After Effects (24 frames per second). So, I looked for the beats in the soundwaves in GarageBand, found the corresponding time, and animated to the beat. However, I had issues with memory which made playback difficult, especially for the first piece, which made it double-check my work. The first piece, which had more chaotic rhythmic elements, resulted in more abrasive animation at times so I aimed to make my second piece more organic and relaxed.
A screencap from my second video. I used the Kaleidescope and HexTiles effects often as I feel they have a 70s characteristic.

A screencap from my second video. I used the Kaleidescope and HexTiles effects often as I feel they have a 70s characteristic.

I think I succeeded at this. Going from the first project to the second project changed my overall conference because I learned from my first mistakes and tried to refine them for the second piece.
A screencap from my first video. The background shapes and their color schemes were my favorite part of this video.

A screencap from my first video. The background shapes and their color schemes were my favorite part of this video.

While my time management could have been better, I am surprised how well my projects turned out for being done at late hours. I believe my second piece does look good because the effects range from simple to complex but all still enjoyable to watch, while my first piece could use more refinement because some animations felt too rushed and some parts too static. In the end, my inspiration for the first video was late 1980s aesthetics and the second video was early 1970s aesthetics. I am satisfied with the work I have created and feel it reflects my artistic development over the semester accurately.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Glitch

Glitchy Galaxy Flower - Copy doodle 11 PixelStaticStream   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.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Bueno, Claro Que Si

Screenshot_01_molina My conference project is a reflection on my heritage as a Cuban-American. Bueno and Claro Que Si are two phrases that come up quite often when in conversation with Cubans. The project is comprised of three separate videos. The first video is more of a reflection of who I am and why I look the way I look. The second video is a reflection on working at a sneaker store where most of the customers only speak spanish and I can only communicate in Spanglish. In the third video I used footage of my grandmother describing parties in Cuba, translated it (for the most part), and used kinetic text to type it in english. Each video uses rotoscoping to include short animations relevant to the kinetic text. This was my mission when going into my conference project- to use kinetic text and short animation together. The short animations and text were all drawn out in advance in order to set up my animations with kinetic text first, make the small animations second. I tried using different effects, using shape motions to interweave text and animation, and using different colors. screenshot_02_molina In the first animation I wanted to use the colors of the cuban flag, which also happen to be the colors of the American flag. On of the longest rotoscoping animations I made can be previewed above. I simply took a video of myself holding an expresso cup and holding it up to my mouth as if I were drinking from it. I then took that footage, created different frames from it, and drew over the video to create a short and sweet animation. I started with hair, then body, the expresso cup, then the coloring on the cup. Although I do like the first video I am more proud of the second half than the first. screenshot_03_molina The second animation is a reflection of my time working at a sneaker store and working with customers who only speak and understand Spanish. I wanted to convey my frustration with customers, and the situation. In this projection I wanted to use a different color scheme than most of my projects in general and get away from using grey or white. I decided to use blue because it is a color involved with the company I work at. The video was planned with kinetic text and where I would insert short videos. I also played around with drawing simple circles and making them into borders. During my conference project work I also discovered the beautiful revelation that I could make my own images and videos into tiles using effects. I love the dangling feet with shoes in this animation and the idea is reprised again with a border of legs. screenshot_04 I had a hard time in the third animation because I am very bad at drawing faces, so I will often revise it over and over only to make the faces look even messier. I threw out another rotoscope section in the animation because I did not think it was well enough done. At the end of the video my grandmother plays the piano and I rotoscoped a piece. For this piece, I went in and erased the face, and although there is no face detail now I am still very much overall happy with how it came out. I used a photo my grandma has of Cuba hanging up in her kitchen throughout. This piece was definitely much more for me and my family than anything else. I have always been interested in the parties in Cuba, and the balls my grandmother would attend. The video footage was something I have had for quite some time, and used to help me write a screenplay I had been writing. I always intended to use the footage in this sort of manner and I am glad I finally was able to. I am very happy with how it came out. Over all, my project was very time consuming but worth it and something I am definitely proud of. I do wish the three videos looked a little more similar only to make it more clear that the video are indeed part of the same project and series. There is a part in the second video where the kinetic text goes incredibly faster then I wanted it to, but I think it works only to express how frustrating it is to work in retail and have several people speaking to you at once. I left it alone, only for this reason and hope it is conveyed in this manner. The first video too, I wish I had done something slightly different with the beginning. Working on the project I learned I work very slowly. I make mistakes, and immediately go back to perfect them. I had to learn to let go and not make every singly frame perfect. It was also a part of the look that I was going for. An artist I looked at was Julia Pott, a lot of her work looks a little messy but there is a sweet charm to it that I really like. I tried to copy this charm and I hope I got a least a little bit of it. I am very happy with how my project turned out!    

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Found Poetry

Screenshot 2017-05-05 at 7.45.50 AM My conference project is titled ‘Found Poetry’. It is an exploration of words found in the real world that form unexpected poetry, or that can be rearranged to make poetry. The two videos that I made were a song mashup and an animated refrigerator covered with word magnets, but the concept of found poetry could extend to interesting bumper stickers, street signs and license plates, graffiti, emails, notes – essentially any words that are found in the world and have a poetic aspect. When I originally started thinking about my conference work, my idea was to create an intricate animated wallpaper as either a video in After Effects or a series of GIFs. I liked the idea of taking a mundane surface found in houses and making it into a living background, so I envisioned a detailed wallpaper pattern with birds and flowers such as those designed by William Morris, in which the different parts of the pattern moved and appeared to come alive. After struggling to draw a decorative pattern that I was satisfied with, I switched my focus to kinetic text, which I found very rewarding. I learned that I work best in After Effects when I can take a long period of time (at least 6-8 hours) and focus on completing a section of video, because it takes a while to get into the flow of the work, and also because troubleshooting/learning new techniques can take a while. I also found that new ideas came to me in the process. Screenshot 2017-05-05 at 7.42.26 AM My conference video “Fridge Poetry” draws on my ideas about taking an everyday object and creating an animation that makes it appear alive or enchanted. The poems in this video are ones found on my real refrigerator at home, made from set of word magnets by my roommates and I. I picked some of my favorites and made word tiles for each one, as well as individual tiles for the consonants that occupied their own tiles. I then took a photo of my refrigerator and Photoshopped the background so that it created a blank slate to begin animating the poems. I tried to use varying speeds for each tile I animated to give the appearance that an invisible presence was thinking of what to write and then moving the tiles across the refrigerator. Overall, I think this tactic was successful, but I find the video more visually satisfying at the moments in which multiple tiles are moving at the same time. If I did this project over, I think that I would add a few more poems, make the tiles smaller, and make the pace at which the poems form slightly faster by increasing the number of times that multiple tiles move simultaneously. I found that the best way to create a random rhythm in the movement of the word tiles was to animate them without checking the time signature and avoid making changes at exact intervals.   There are two other elements to the video: GIFs and a list of imaginary chores. The imaginary chores ranged from ‘drain the swimming pool’ to ‘filter the potion’. I added this list at the end of the animation and made it appear to float down from above the fridge and then stick. It was fun to come up with the ‘chores,’ and I think it adds to the fantastical element of the video. chores I made GIFs of a flower, a hopping spotted green frog and a crescent moon in Photoshop, which I inserted into the video like living fridge magnets that move around the screen. This was the most difficult part of the project, because when I tried to add the GIFs to the animation their previously transparent backgrounds became white. I also needed to figure out how to loop the GIFs for the length of the video so that they would play continuously. After an absurd amount of googling (some forums claimed that trying to work with GIFs in After Effects was simply a bad idea) and about four or five hours of trial and error, I eventually figured out how to remove the white background and loop the GIFs, so that I could animate them. I’m happy I stuck with it, because I like the simplistic but satisfying effect of the repetitive motion of a GIF interacting with the environment of the video. frog     flower My other conference video is titled “My Never Sunshine,” and it is a kinetic text video inspired by and set to a mash-up of the songs “You Are My Sunshine” and “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”. “You Are My Sunshine” was one of my favorite songs as a kid, because I had a wind-up teddy bear that played the melody. One day while thinking about ideas for kinetic text, I got both songs stuck in my head. I looked on YouTube and found a live recording of a mash-up that I liked: You are My Sunshine/Ain’t No Sunshine (Mash-Up) by Justin Sinclair & Jamey Geston. It became the basis for a lyric video of sorts, with the lyrics scrambled to create cognitive dissonance between the audio and the visual. Screenshot 2017-05-05 at 7.47.06 AMI liked the idea of these two songs together, both more or less sad love songs (depending on how they are played), both focusing on the idea of the presence or lack of sunshine. Instead of a visual focusing on the sun, what came to mind was a background of intricate clouds. Clouds are still sky-themed and denote the absence of sunshine, although my clouds are quite cheerful in appearance. I made a background image several times larger than the size of the video composition and then animated it to give the appearance of a camera panning across the sky. The clouds are a pattern with similar form and scale, but some variation in color and texture. The sound of the song is quite melancholy, but the bright blue of the sky and the simple visuals (a rainbow, sunbursts, flying bird silhouettes) create a cheerful and calming effect. Most of the visuals are individual GIFs which I then imported into After Effects and animated. I think this worked particularly well for the flying birds. sun 2birdsOne of the most difficult parts of creating this video was drawing the rainbow, birds and sun in Photoshop. I originally wanted more true-to-life representations, but I was faced with a lack of technical skill. I ended up returning to the simple lines that I used to draw with as a kid, and I actually ended up enjoying the final effect, which I think is imperfect but visually satisfying. Screenshot 2017-05-05 at 7.43.26 AM I like the layers of contrast in the piece, both between the song and the mismatched lyrics and between the melancholy tone of the words and music with the bright, happy visuals. I think this contrast adds interest and complexity to what would have otherwise been a fairly simple piece. It’s confusing, but in a good way.     

Conference Project Post Mortem: Interference

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 10.56.47 PM “Chromointerference”, as artist Carlos Cruz-Diez dubs it, is when colors are side by side and their unique wavelengths obstruct one another and produce a new color, a color that isn’t actually there but is only a perception of the eye due to wavelength interference and light. Through studying more about Diez and the work of op artist like Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley, Josef Albers, as well as Anni Albers I became deeply inspired by what different visual perceptions can be created. carlos-cruz-diez-chromatic-induction-dual-frequency-permutation-5-800x800

Chromatic Induction Dual Frequency Permutation Lithograph by Carlos Cruz-Diez.

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Serie Semana – Martes Lithograph by Carlos Cruz-Diez

CD and Dawn

Carlos himself in his “Chromosaturation” light installation at the University of Essex (he’s too cool!)

For my conference project, I created 10 animated gifs that focus on color, line, and viewer perception. I strived to manipulate viewer perception by creating movement/moire effects, as well as, an interference of colors. interference_101 This first gif is one that I wanted to be informative, as I am learning about color theory through this project and hope to teach someone else something new as well. The blue lines are above a moving gradient from orange to green. When the gradient passes through the blue lines the wavelength of the blue interferences with the gradient, producing a new gradient from pink to light blue. Blue + Orange = Pink Blue + Green = Cyan I didn’t want the lines to cover the entire canvas so that the viewer could understand what was really happening in this gif. interfering_quad This gif actually came from work I did in analog form. I had silkscreened a print that had the pink, yellow, and cyan interference and here I greatly expanded upon it and animated it! Though one of my more simpler gifs, I like this one the best. Maybe because I get to see my work translated from analog to digital form, which is cool. But I also like this one because it’s informative if you really study it and produces one of the most successful interferences (of my conference) in my opinion. I also noticed that black works best when creating color interferences. It defines the other colors more and makes them more pronounce. The next three gifs were created by overlapping different color tiles that I made. Though I only rotated between 4 different colored tiles (red, orange, green, and blue), dependent on which ones were used and the background, an large array of different effects and combinations were created. rasta_quilt This gif was created just by overlapping red and green. Who knew it would produce a yellow color?! It was best executed on a black background. I had made the same gif with a white background but the color interference wasn’t as strong. There are only two layers interfering and just in a horizontal direction but the constant motion makes it feel as if there is more dimension than is actually present. I was pleased that this gif (and the following two) had both interference and a moire effect. easter_morning I created this gif by placing a green and blue tile over a gradient of red to orange. This combination produced an entire array of colors that feel very 60’s to me but also remind me of Easter morning. Everything is moving at the same speed, but the way the tiles interact with each other feel as if some parts are moving faster or slower than others. Due to the order I overlaid the tiles, some interferences appear in disappear which is neat. pop This one, for me, is somehow offputting and striking at the same time. The colors are horrendous in my opinion, but there’s just so much visually going on! This is the culmination of all four tiles (red, orange, green, and blue) interacting with each other over a black background and moving in both the horizontal and vertical direction. hue Here in this gif the two outer boxes reveal what’s interacting in the center. I like this gif particularly because it switches between interferences making you perceive a color and you seeing that actual color. It’s also one of the more dynamic gifs I made that you don’t have to turn away from. To me, it’s quite soothing, though it was the most difficult to make. Each box is a separate gif that I made into that pattern. Some boxes cave in and some boxes push out. There’s variance without it being overbearing. sw Here I have rows of arrows crossing over a pattern. The interference here is created not by the colors crossing over another or just existing beside each other, but through the movement of the arrows over the pattern. The colors used were magenta, red-orange, and cyan. The best interference is in the middle where the arrow moves over all three colors. Though I will have to say that to see the best effect one should be standing a bit farther away in order to see the full interference. That’s the thing though I guess about the entire project. These interferences work best on a smaller scale. All of my gifs are parts of larger scale work I made that I scaled way down and multiplied! The funny part is the best stills of the gifs are my thumbnails. You really experience the full effect. quad_5 This gif kind of happened by accident and through the most trial and errors of any of the gifs I’ve made. I think I have 5 other versions of this gif. I liked this one best due to this particular moire effect. It reminds me of a kaleidoscope! It’s a combination of pieces of a gif I made that had a black tile over a pattern of blue, hot pink, green and black lines. prism When studying more about color theory and interferences I looked into the color additive model. When red, green, and blue (RGB) light intersect one another they produce white (the combination of all colors). I was then super determined to see if I could produce a white pattern and gif just by using RGB. I was sadly, but also thankfully mistaken. The geometric shape I made at the center of the gif consists of several layers of an RGB gif I made. I thought if I could get the lines minuscule enough it would produce the effect I wanted. Instead of white, it produced a rainbow spectrum (which in turn actually makes sense)! I juxtaposed the shape in front of a rotating background of black and white lines. Since the shape is in the foreground and the background is rotating so fast, the lines almost look like they’re producing their own moire effect even though they’re not interacting with any overlapping lines themselves or scaling in size. I expanded more on RGB with this next and final gif. I think it shows both the RGB pattern but also the rainbow interference that is produced due to the moire effect in this gif. rgb_moire This project was both wonderful and hard. It pushed me way out of my comfort zone. I was forced to use color! I don’t like to think I’m an artist or designer who is afraid of color, but there does seem to be a general black and white theme in my work across all forms. This project allowed me to learn about art history, color theory and produce an array of colors in my work, all things I never really did before. It was rewarding to be inspired by analog forms of art, especially as someone who prints and illustrates, and have that translate and breathe new life into my digital work.

Non-Linear Post-Mortem: Heretic

Screenshot (19)   Game Design and Non-Linearity  Heretic is a 2D PRG that follows a young girl living a barren village. Resources are slim, the soil is untenable, and the villagers only think of their own needs for survival. The villagers live in fear of dying and the unknown, and have begun to carry out witch hunts, resulting in the burning of various women at the stake for crimes of witchcraft. The player can choose to leave the village and enter the forest, of which most villagers are afraid. If the player brings an item to the book, the village will be changed – for better or worse. The player can decide the fate of the village and the villagers based on what items they bring to the book. For now, I’ve designed four items that the player can bring to the book – a shepherd’s crook, a sword, a shield, and a potted plant. Each item is symbolic of the change it will bring to the town, though not necessarily in the way that the player expects, and not necessarily in a way that the other villagers are happy with. The potted plant, when brought to the book, will result in the construction of a new garden for the herbalist, giving her the ability to grow more plants. The player can continue this cycle and improve the quality and size of the garden with each trip to the book. However, the blacksmith may feel threatened by the increase to her resources and decide to accuse her of witchcraft, leading to her being burned at the stake. The widow, also, has a shepherd’s crook from her late husband that may be brought to the book. If the player does so, the widow will receive a sheep and a small plot of grass in which the sheep can graze. Again, the player can continue this cycle, but risks arousing suspicion of witchcraft the more the player helps the widow. During witch hunts, the women targeted were primarily women who seemed threatening to the capitalist control of production and reproduction. Herbalists were threatening because they had natural knowledge of plants, and often assisted with women’s reproductive health. This power over life and death was threatening to a system that need to control reproductive power to be able to exist. Widows, too, were threatening, because they existed outside of the bounds of marriage. Ultimately, I would like this RPG to illuminate the sexist underpinnings of the witch hunts, and the way they were used as a means to protect capitalist patriarchal power through player choice and consequence. If the player chooses to bring the blacksmith’s shield to the book, a large wall will be built around the village. They can continue to fortify the village by bringing the shield back to the book, and the villagers will never suspect the blacksmith of witchcraft, because the resources he provides isn’t threatening to the capitalist system. The nature of the book should be ambiguous. It may be magical, or it may simply give the player the practical knowledge to achieve the change she seeks. Originally, I was going to have the player bring items to a gathering of chanting women out in the woods, but decided against it because I play testers very quickly associated it with a coven of witches. The book, to me, represents knowledge, which is ultimately what truly threatened the capitalist regime. This game is non-linear most obviously in that the goal is entirely up to the player – whether they want to help or hurt the village – and in that there’s no set path to reach that goal. Though there are only a few items to bring to the book right now, in the future, I want there to be many more, so that there are even more paths and twists and turns. One path won’t necessarily cut you off from another path – if you build a wall with the shield, you can still bring the potted plant or the shepherd’s crook to the book later. Though it will take a lot more design time, I want this game to reflect the possibility of alternate timelines as Borges described in Garden of the Forking Paths. In one instance of the game, the player may wish to indirectly kill all the other NPCs and leave the village in ruins. In another, the player may achieve a utopian village with bountiful resources and no conflict. In another, the player may try to save the herbalist but attempt to kill the blacksmith and the widow, and so on and so forth. The paths should fork and cross over one another and double back and allow for as much exploration as possible. In a lot of traditional RPGs, players use weapons to combat enemies, and the enemies make up the bulk of the narrative. In this game, there aren’t any discernible enemies.  Yes, you can capture and kill a rabbit – but that’s not an enemy. The player can decide to buy the sword – one of the more expensive items – but the player can’t use it to kill villagers. If the player brings the sword to the book, the player may expect to receive some suit of armor, or a bigger sword, etc. But instead, a random building in the village will be destroyed. Just as the book isn’t necessarily magical, the changes it brings aren’t always good. The changes the book makes depends on the player and the items the player brings, and just as it can help make the village great, it can also destroy the village. In that way, this RPG is non-traditional – often, RPGS have one goal – to save someone or something – and there is one way to achieve that goal. In this game, the goal is up to the player, and the ways to achieve that goal don’t follow traditional narratives. For many games, a sword represents heroism. But in this game, the sword represents the violence of domination and oppression. Screenshot (18) Art Design Overall, I’m satisfied with how the game looks and feels. I drew inspiration from illuminated manuscripts of the 1400s and 1500s – a time of intense upheaval in Europe as the society transitioned from feudalism into capitalism. Illuminated manuscripts were usually drawn by religious orders, and were only accessible by those in power. I wanted to play with their patterns and symbols to evoke a religious and medieval aesthetic in my game, and also to re-appropriate the styles of the books to turn them against the will of the aristocrats that commissioned them – even if they did so five hundred some odd years ago. During my last leg of development, I decided to change the main village to be very rocky and barren, in stark contrast with the forest.  I wanted to convey the level of separation of the humans from the natural world through color in my game. Often, human culture and society feel like they are natural to those participating in them, thought they are anything but natural.  The colors of the human dwellings have bright accent colors that serve to further alienate them from the forest environment.    Screenshot (17)    Screenshot (15) Working in 64×64 in this dev cycle was not the best idea, because each tile took at least an hour to make, if not much more. The rock facade took at least eight hours. I got lost in the artwork, rather than the gameplay.  I ended up spending a lot of time on water tiles that ultimately didn’t get much use in the game, because I worked on artwork before actually testing my paper prototype. I had the idea that the girl would maybe crash land on an island in a boat, but decided to scrap that idea because I wanted her to be a part of the community. I might use the water tiles for a fisherman narrative later, but I shouldn’t have devoted so much time to an idea I was completely unsure of. The walk cycle took a lot longer than expected because animating with pixels was a lot harder than i first thought it would be. It seems simpler because you’re working with small units, but it can actually get harder because making a bunch of squares into a cohesive moving shape is kind of difficult to do when you haven’t done it before. I got so frustrated by the walk cycle that I didn’t finish it till last minute, and then I didn’t have time to code in animation of items being picked up, etc. Animating the movement of the feet was particularly difficult, and I’m still not satisfied with the end result. I’ll probably change it in the future. sheep   What I Learned Always test your paper prototype first! That’s one of the big things I realized this semester. Don’t develop a bunch of art and THEN gameplay, because you’ll end up focusing too much on art and not enough on programming. I have a very clear idea of where I want my game to go now, but I have very little of it programmed because I was focusing too much on what the game looked like, and not enough on what actually happened. I spent hours designing the sheep above and it didn’t even make it into gameplay because I didn’t have enough time to program it. Granted, I still probably would have only been able to code and animate one narrative from beginning to end because the art is so detailed, but I wouldn’t have spent so much time on art that I’m now not sure if I’ll use. If I could go back, I would design in a lower resolution and make my paper prototype before I even touched pixel art. I prioritized art over programming and now my game looks really pretty, but it’s not actually that playable. This was a really hard to game to conceptualize because I was working with really abstract concepts, but I’m glad that I did it. I want to keep working on this game because I don’t think there are a ton of RPGs like it, and the ideas I’m trying to illustrate about capitalism are ideas that I want to continue to explore. Designing this game actually really helped me to understand Frederici’s ideas, in a way that just reading them did not. I had a lot of fun working on this game and I definitely intend to finish it.  

Non-Linear Design Post-Mortem: The Strength Needed

The game The Strength Needed was a semester of fun, strife, and some sleepless night but by and large a wonderful experience and vastly informative for the next projects I inevitably wish to pursue next semester. screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-9-29-32-pm The game in its current state is a glorified walking simulator with a few deaths. While this may seem overtly critical as many of my paper prototypes and even the art itself seems promising in a finalized product, by and large it did not quite get to the point I wanted it to get to this semester. It presents several key features like the enemies that can kill you, some moving NPCs and a world with loadable levels, but the objectives, the A story if you will, was never truly finished so what you end up with when you have the art, a few things that kill you, and the ability to load between levels is a glorified walking simulator I suppose. A pretty one, but not near completion. screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-9-25-14-pm The project changed a lot over the course of the year. At one point it was a game about a small demon boy trying to defeat evil spirits while its body slowly degraded but then I decided to stick to the story of a game I previously made as a practice paper prototype that was way more well received then some of the other stuff I made this semester. One key feature that was in the very early paper prototype was the use of text, I cut out all of that. That is gone. I killed it with the power of a ‘delete’ button and sheer force of will. While I enjoyed the text I wanted to experiment with as much visual story telling as I could, even using words as structures and part of the world rather than using them in any narrative dialogue convention. A lot did go right about the project. The art mostly and a lot of the walk cycles and the entire Den of Gas room. That room turned out amazing. It had the most features fully furnished and thought out. The Gas Mask Lady in it moved the way I wanted her to, the gates projected the big ‘NO’ signs with her face on them. It turned out quite well. In fact, I was quite pleased with many of the animations that I did end up finishing, the Gas Mask Lady, Box Dog, the Wise One, The Player, etc. These all tuned out quite nicely. screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-9-24-57-pm As for what went wrong…well the game isn’t done which probably feels worse than anything, time sorta got away from me on this project. Will be good to keep working on it over Winter Break but that doesn’t help the current product. screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-9-25-50-pm   screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-9-30-20-pm screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-9-30-46-pm screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-39-35-pm screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-40-17-pm  screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-42-17-pm Art was shockingly easy for me to handle. I thought that was honestly going to be the most difficult part but I ended up just going for it and creating something I was super proud of. The main movement programming also wasn’t too hard, really my main difficulty came down to the code as I was unfamiliar with how much of coding in Unity worked especially as it related to the animator and talking with the physics engine. That said, my experience with it got progressively better as the game kept getting worked on and now I feel far more comfortable with programming, designing, and Unity itself. screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-41-15-pm Not super pleased with my final result because of how unfinished it is but by and large I liked the art and the story. I’m gonna keep working to improve it as well and make it better. The code also could use some work but I’m glad I could get as much working as I did. The Project was nonlinear in its subversion of genre and ability to make the player episodically visit worlds and places. I got a lot of ideas from the Flash Fictions and movies like Toto The Hero. It was so nonsensical and wonderful and captured a certain child like glee that I wanted reflected in my game. My classmates also provided a valuable insight into the game. As they pointed out flaws I missed or hidden symbolisms I didn’t intend, I ran with a lot of what they mentioned to me. In addition, my boy friend helped me play test it quite a bit and he has a keen eye for the wacky and nonlinear and helped shape those aspects of the narrative. Honestly, play testing mostly resulted in changes to code and added a few fun ideas like the gates that blocked people out. Other than that it provided reference for code to fix. The project was adequately coded in the most bare essential type of way. I followed the GamesPlusJames tutorials almost exactly except in reference to super specific things for my game. With the tile maps I primarily aimed to create a 2D top down space with patterned designs rather than photorealistic worlds as I didn’t have the skill for that. The animations I spent the most time on, using long walk cycles, a death animation, and a few other cool tricks. Most of the enemies however used static jump type walk cycles. Collision also was used sparingly, mostly to keep the player in the map or kill them. I didn’t want an interact button really. All in all, a fun project that I aim to keep working on.   Chris Haehnel

Non-Linear Design Post Mortem: Into The Dark

66single-character The game I finally made is now called Into The Dark.  The goal of this game is to explore the world I created and to defeat the boss at the end of the game.  There are times were the player will die a lot but that is the only way to fully play this game, is by learning from your mistakes.  How to defeat the boss is to find the power ups in the game, without the power ups the boss will defeat you and you have to start over. This project changed constantly for me, I do not think I went longer then a few days without changing my mind on something even if it was the littlest fix.  With this being my first game I probably should have not fixed it as many times, but I could not help myself I wanted a good looking game, I wanted the little details and I wanted the game to look perfect, at the cost of time though. idle What I noticed went right with this game was the art.  I really enjoyed using Piskel and creating pixel art, it was very relaxing as well as fun!  I loved adding in the details, I worked in 64X64 which took a while to grasp how tiny it was but after a little practice I was able to get it.  What did not work for me as well was getting a story for the game.  I know I wanted something different, and I had an idea, but I just could not stick with it nor could I put it into a game on paper.  Another thing that went right was the paper prototypes that I created for not only this game but other games.  It really taught me out to put the story onto paper and really see what works and what does not.  What was surprisingly easy to achieve was first the pixel art, that came very easy for me which I was shocked because I have never worked in pixels before.  The second thing that came easy to achieve was after a long process of figuring out what I wanted to do, I knew exactly how I wanted to lay it out, where everything would be placed on my map and how I wanted it to look.  The most difficult thing for me was figuring out how to make my game non-linear, I have never done this before and anything that I have done similar to this in the past, was always very linear based.  So to go from a very strong background of being linear it was difficult for me to get the idea of how to be non-linear but I have a better understanding of it now. 1 When I look at how I worked and how others in the class worked, I very soon was quick to pick up that I was going to be a slow learner at first because I was really the only one to not know exactly what they were doing.  One thing that consumed most of my time was not being able to put the story all together.  Also, the tutorials I had to keep watching over and over again until I understood them, and they were not short videos so that took up a lot of time as well.  Now looking back at how I worked, next time I will defiantly start watching the tutorials as early as possible so that way I can watch the tutorials one at a time and then do the work with them.  Also, I have a better understanding of non-linear thinking so I think if I did something like this again I would be able to think of a story faster. I think my final work that I have to present looks good, it is not much, but what I did try to do was make it look as good as possible.  I spent a lot of time correcting details of objects until I got them exactly the way I wanted them, and then sometimes I would still go back and make edits.  Some alternatives I tried were for example taking one tile I created for the ground, and for a different scene change the color instead of making a new tile.  It saved time and it tied in the two tiles.  Another alternative that I tried was watching one tutorial and working with the tutorial as it plays in the background, this helped a lot so I can watch what the tutorial did and I could follow along. 2 In the beginning I would definitely say that my game was barely non-linear, but after hearing other peoples critiques, other peoples games and examples I started to understand the concept of how to make a game non-linear.  I would not say mine is the most non-linear but I think it is non-linear.  For example, with this wishing well you would think it should be put next to the house, but no its in the forest, and it is not your ordinary wishing well.  Another example is the trees in the forest are the shape of any other trees that you have seen, very different and weird but a good weird.  One of the readings that I got inspired by was Garden of the Forking Paths, I really enjoyed reading that and I felt very inspired after reading it.  Even though this was not a reading, the movie Toto also gave me some great ideas on how to have a non-linear game narrative.  I thought the movie itself was really good as well as giving me some ideas for my game which was very helpful. I can confidently say that have other sources of input and ideas really helped me a lot.  For example, when we had class critiques it was great to see how everyone played my game.  It was a great way to see how the player would grab the concept of your game, wether they got it or did not.  Also, the feedback was great and very helpful, it gave me different thoughts about my game instead of my own.  Reading other non-linear stories, watching non-linear movies, seeing different artist styles, other peers helping me with new ideas could not of helped me more, it was a huge part in my game being created and I think it is the only way to get a great game is if you have a lot of sources that go into it. 3   Some changes that I made after my playlets were starting with the terrain.  It had good potential at first, but it needed more, it needed to feel more like a world and less like objects got placed onto a map.  Another one was to fix some coloring in the world, having my main character lay on this very yellow tile, the character slipped away into the tile.  You could clearly see his clothes because they were very dark, but his skin disappeared so the main tile had to be darkened.  Another change was that the well was not only moved into the forest to be an unexpected surprise, I also turned it into a room.  It is very unexpected and exciting to see that you can go into the well and find what is inside. How my game was coded, starting with tile maps, what not an easy start, like I said before I could barely get a story together let alone the art together.  But the tile map was at first intimidating because there is a lot of pieces to a tile map, and I mean that in the individual tiles themselves.  After you get the hang of the tiles, it is so easy to use especially in Tiled.  Tiled made it easy to create a map and just bring it into Unity.  Next, the animation I did not get a chance to get to, but I got really inspired by other peers work, especially with fading in and out of entrances and exits.  When I say fading I mean adding a fade to black every time a door way was used.  Another animation technique I wanted to try was having an animated character appear out of nowhere, for example pop into the screen from the sky.  Next, collision was a lot of fun to use and after I understood Tiled, collision became easier.  It was hard to decide where to put collision and where to not have collision but collision itself is a great tool and really adds a lot to the game.  Lastly, dialogue was something I was unable to incorporate but I would like to think that I added dialogue in a visual aspect instead of actually writing out dialogue.  The emotion and feel of parts of the game can tell its own dialogue without me needing to write it in.  For example, the character is happy and walking around a colorful world, it is a happy environment.  Then you look at the boss, it is dark and creepy with an evil look on its face, it is an unhappy environment.    

Non-Linear Design Post-Mortem: Migration

For my conference project I created a side-scrolling exploration/adventure game. The player controls an anthropomorphic hummingbird with a broken wing. The player progresses through the game by bartering with other anthropomorphic animals, providing them with items they need to repair damage throughout their dwellings. Along the way, the animals reward the player with mysterious parts, and at the end of the game the animals reward the player by building a hot-air balloon that will allow the player character to continue his migration. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-2-16-47-am The project did not change a great deal from conception to realization. The bartering mechanic was part of the game from the beginning, as was the general structure of the story and events. Decisions about what other animals to include in the game and what problems the player helps them with did change over time. I’d originally planned to include swallows in the game, but decided variety among the animals would be best. I opted for a bird, insects, amphibians, and mammals. Some animals in the game can fly, while others are terrestrial or amphibious. A lot went well during my work on this project. I’m quite pleased with most of the art and animations, although it’s imperfect. The player character was the first sprite I created for this project—before I had a clear sense of the aesthetics of the game—and the color palette doesn’t feel entirely at home with the rest of the art throughout the game. The tree interior and cave environments are most representative of the style I aimed for with this project, whereas the colors in the grass and pond environments are something I’d revisit. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-2-15-53-am I had no prior experience creating pixel art—and very little experience with visual art in general—but I’m pleasantly surprised by the results of my efforts. The game looks quite good. I also had zero programming experience and anticipated that programming this game would cause me a great deal of frustration and confusion. However, I found myself able to write all of the code this game required by adapting the basic concepts behind the Player Controller script presented in the GamesPlusJames 2D RPG tutorials on YouTube. I spent nearly two days writing my State Controller and Inventory Controller scripts and getting those to work, but generally I encountered few frustrating obstacles while programming this game. The animations required for this game were without a doubt the most difficult aspect of the process. The walk cycles for the player character required over eight hours of work, and the animation cycle for the water wheel required four-to-five hours. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-2-14-49-am I could have managed my time much better while working on this project. Finding sufficient time to work wasn’t the issue—I invested a great deal of time into this project—but the timeline of my work in no way correlated with the timeline laid out in the dev cycle. One major reason for this was the complexity of the art and animations. Early in the process of creating concept art and designing sprites, I decided to work in a resolution of 128×128 pixels. Rather than working with canvasses comprised of 1,024 or 4,096 pixels total, I worked with 16,384. In addition, the game includes some fairly complex animations. Both player walk cycles contain eight frames of animation (and because of shading and the broken wing creating the second walk cycle wasn’t as simple as x-axis reflection of images), and the water wheel animation is made up of eleven frames. concept-art Because of the level of detail made possible by the higher resolution, creating the art and animations for my game consumed the vast majority of the time I dedicated to this project. I’d estimate that I spent ten hours on art and animations for every hours I spent coding. I knew early on that I’d have to deviate from the dev cycle because of my dedication to the visual aspect of the game, but even then I began coding in earnest far later than I’d planned. As a result, there’s still uncertainty about the state of completion my game will be in by the end of the semester. The non-linearity of this project stems mostly from two techniques: defamiliarization and central trauma.  I present common animals in anthropomorphic forms, and these animals exist in constructed dwellings, wear clothing, and have a barter system. The hummingbird player character has a broken wing, and he provides assistance to various other animals by helping them to repair broken objects in their homes. I develop the motif of breaking, of damage, throughout the game, and this motif reaches its resolution at the end of the game once the player character has helped the various animals fix their broken things and the animals have rewarded these acts of kindness by building a hot-air balloon. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-2-17-17-am   I took some inspiration from Adam Cadre’s “Photopia,” specifically from how Cadre incorporates the non-linear technique of central trauma into his story. “Photopia” revolves around its central trauma without addressing it directly; instead, it sort of prods and catches glimpses of the trauma through a variation-on-a-theme repetition. The player or reader grows to understand the trauma through association and pattern recognition. I attempted to approach central trauma in a similar way in my own game. I had numerous children’s books in the back of my mind while creating this game, and influences include the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel and the animated film “The Wind In the Willows,” directed by Dave Unwin and based on the books by Kenneth Grahame. Although I may not implement as many of these changes as I’d like before the end of the semester, I was encouraged by play-testing to include far more objects within the world that allow interaction. Play-testing also encouraged me to add reaction animations to the NPCs when the player interacts with them. To create my maps, I used Tiled in combination with larger images inserted into the game directly through Unity as game objects. I used collision and key binds in order to support proximity-based interaction without the interactions triggering automatically. For example, I wanted the player to be able to walk past doors and NPCs without interacting if the player wished, so my code requires to player to collide with an NPC/object and use a command in order to interact. I came up with one solution that I’m particularly proud of to the problem of the sky. Although I first considered simply adding one large blue field behind the trees in the forest level, I knew I wanted a subtle gradient in the background. However, I also knew that the gradient would shift as the player moved along the map, so I created a gradient field of blue about the size of the camera’s field of view and added it to the game as a child of the player so that the gradient would move with the player and remain constant. screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-8-12-23-pm Coding the State Controller and Inventory Controller proved to be challenging. I created string of boolean logic comprised of nests-within-nests, activating and deactivating eighteen different variables in different orders based on the player’s actions. This caused me a great deal of headache, because the first two or three versions of these scripts failed to work as I’d intended. I felt confident in my logic, my nesting of if/then statements, and my organization of the eighteen bools, but pinpointing the exact cause of my code’s dysfunction took hours of thought and experimentation. I eventually identified the problem: my code was structured around the location of scripts attached to game objects throughout the world, however, when Unity fails to locate an object in the current scene, it ends its search rather than attempted to locate other references game objects. My solution to this was to restructure my State Controller script by nesting all of my game object searches within a lines of code that checked the current scene’s numeric identifier. Therefore, when the player occupies scene one, the State Controller script only searches for the game objects present in scene one, and none of the game objects present in scenes zero, two, and three. Overall I found this project exciting, challenging, and highly educational. I may continue work on this project even if I don’t I plan to involve myself in game design projects in the future.