Kapzer's Realm

Shadows in the Sun

A product of the first year of university, this game concept is one of my proudest achievements to date.  This is because it feels complete, it has a clear concept, art style and game mechanics.  It feels like it could easily go straight into production.  Admittedly, I would slightly alter the title, but I post it unchanged from its’ conception.


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Team Project, Week 5

In Lesson: 29 October, 2009

This week’s session was incredibly productive.  We’ve moved onto other parts of conceptualisation exploring the depths of what we can and cannot do with the game.  With the help of Canalside Studios staff, we were able to determine that we can put animation to a degree.  For example, we’re most definately having moving water for things such as swimming pools and ponds.  We also tried to explore how we can get a mexican wave going in the stadium, but that proved a trickier task than expected.  A lot of time was spent theorising with the Canalside staff on the easiest way of having such a feature.  After much debating a possible conclusion was made.  The parts of the stadium would need to be seperate so they could be imported into XNA separately, and the texture on the middle part could just be switched in and out.  As far as I remember that was the solution, at least.

We’ve decided that we are indeed going for a compilation of the Mirror’s Edge and Viva Pinata art styles by starting off with Mirror’s Edge as a base, and then adding in colours from Viva Pinata but adjusting them to fit the visual style making a more appropriate colour palette.  With that starting point, an effective visual style can be created.  I also realised that we can get the grainy texture style on the whites by using a bump map with regular noise.  Therefore, I believe that using the Mirror’s Edge style for architecture, and an appropriated Viva Pinata style for the scenery, we can end up with a very attractive game.

A couple of members already started with making assets for the game, without doing any concept art, which I found very inefficient.  I also had an issue with them starting before we had divided up any jobs, since we initially agreed that certain members were doing architecture and other members doing scenery.  I am dissatisfied with the lack of cooperation.  The assigned tasks were for a stadium, swimming pool, park, and road tiles to be modelled so they could be placed.

Upon examining the scene from Mirror’s Edge used for the colour palette, Christian and myself noticed that the shadows and colouring on the scene are ambient.  This means not all shadows are black, and the colours of vividly coloured objects bleed onto the white.  We also noticed that for a red object, the shadows have a tint of red too, and shadows in general are blue.  We realised that we would not be able to do this with the texturing, and once again asked for advice from the Canalside team.  They said that it is possible, but it would have to be done in a renderer.  They showed our programmers some simple shadows that were very effective, which they could build into a renderer.  Our programmers are going to attempt to make such a renderer for the game.  Fingers crossed that the succeed, which could have an impressive impact on the game’s visuals.

Team Project, Week 4

In Lesson: 22 October, 2009

Prepared to present again, this was indeed the session to demonstrate our concepts.  Other groups went first, and what looked to be some very good ideas had come to fruition.  I was rather happy with the concepts the other groups came up with, as each group aimed their game towards a different target audience.  In other words, there is a lot of variety in the genre and styles of games that have come from each group.  A rather eerie coincidence, I imagined.

When it was our turn to present, many of us pitched in on parts we each spent more amounts of time on.  I felt that we covered everything we intended to get across, including the emphasis on our focal game mechanic – the areas of influence.  We covered a demonstration, a couple of pieces of visual aids that Steven concocted on his laptop demonstrating said areas of influence, visual style, limiting factors, progression in terms of having set maps or procedurally generated ones, and so on.  We covered our game in quite a lot of detail, since we had a lot of aspects already decided.  I feel that we presented well, giving everyone a clear picture of what we wanted, the ambition of the project and also the way we planned to structure our build versions.

Team Project, Week Three

Out of Lesson: 14 October, 2009

We had a team meeting outside of classes to refine our ideas and decide how we were going to present and demonstrate our game, for which all groups are due to do tomorrow.  With the programmers absent, we designers worked on demonstrating the mechanics of the game, especially the areas of influence, since it was our focal point and the mechanic that a player should pay attention to in order to get their best performance in the game.  I decided that certain buildings would be required in the village, such as the stadium, accommodation, training facilities, and the such.  I made a list of possible assets and determined which would be a must-haves, and which are not so important in order to run an Olympic Village.

We kept the new ideas to a minimum, because we didn’t know what the programmers could or could not do, and with them not present they could not tell us either.  We came across a flaw with our areas of influence system that could cripple the game, since it was a flaw in the core game mechanics.  This flaw was that when an area of influence was active upon another structure, they would gain a multiplier and potentially “upgrade” to a better structure so to speak.  However, when they upgraded, their area of influence would get stronger and in turn have a higher influence, which would affect the original building giving influence, which would in turn upgrade that too.  There would end up being a chain reaction where everything just started to upgrade automatically because a building was placed near it.  Since we found this flaw, we concentrated on fixing it.  We believe we came to a couple of solutions; we could either limit the amount of max influence a structure could gain from another, or I suggested that we could set structures to upgrade manually, meaning the player would be notified that a building is upgradeable and then would have to do it themselves.  We found that the first solution worked a lot better when we demonstrated it physically.

We came to a point where we had a consistent set of ideas, rules, and mechanics which could work together and we could demonstrate for the  lesson.


In Lesson: 15 October, 2009

We came fully prepared for a demonstration, only to find out that we were infact presenting our prototypes next week instead.  However, it wasn’t as if we had nothing to get on with.  We explained the details of the meeting to the programmers only to find that they had a similar idea for areas of influence in mind.  However, they hadn’t realised about the multiplier problem with the areas of influence so we ironed out the details on that and made sure it was manageable by the coders.  They didn’t have a problem with it, so we agreed to set the concept in stone and move onto other aspects of the game.

We went on to deciding a visual style for the game, since we pretty much had game mechanics figured out.  We wanted a distinct style, yet something with a visual flare so it was good to look at.  The style of Viva Pinata was suggested, but I thought that that may be a bit too much colour.  However, I liked the idea of vivid colours, so I used that as a starting point and we discussed games that have that kind of art style.  We went from Prince of Persia, to Katamari, to Street Fighter IV.  However, I mentioned that maybe we should only have the odd bit of vivid colour mixed in with shades of another colour.  I was talking about the art style of Mirror’s Edge – muted whites with a bit of colour.  When I suggested this I was largely thinking about the buildings of a brand new Olympic park.  I wanted them to be clean, but attractive, and the first style that came into my mind happened to be Mirror’s Edge.  To my suprise, the group seemed to agree with me that it could be a nice visual style especially for the buildings.  I had already started to envision the assets in my head.

We wrapped up, clarifying the details of our presentation for the following week, and going over example set plays for structure layouts on a physical grid.