How do I Art Bible?

I was very uncertain about how to structure an art bible. Especially one for this level of work, All the reference documents I found were very much focussed on larger projects that had concept artists as well as 3D modelers/animators. So, because I could not find anything that matched our project scale, I decided to Jump straight into something at least. The first thing I threw into the document was our colour palette, since that was already decided upon and it is a major limiting factor to the visuals of our game. After having written this down, I went on to describe our visual art style with how the models would be shaped and textured with these colours. Briefly describing the lowpoly aspect of the models and the cartoonish, minimal text texturing. This resulted in the groundwork for all of the rest of the model descriptions that I then put later. These descriptions went into further detail for each model, some giving reference images for specific shapes and styles that we were hoping to have within our game. For example, the ceiling lights, when I envisioned them, I thought of a very specific light style that swept outwards to direct the light down. Like this image:

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There was many that didn’t get any visual reference, but all were described in all the known detail known currently, I’m certain there will be adjustments to the majority of the description along the way. 

How did I quantify Jelly?

So we needed to make a quantifiable movement and behaviour chart for our new project, Floob, The Jelly Cube. We weren’t sure where to begin, so we started with a few basic numbers that we based off an arbitrary ‘unit’. We took into consideration how we wanted to use the different scale of the player character to behave differently to encourage the different sizes at the needed times. So we set some walking speeds, jump heights and other things that we could then use later to scale the level appropriately. Since we’re creating a virtual space we don’t need to base our measurement system of anything particular. After beginning to record these numbers in a google doc, we realised that we’d probably want to easily manipulate these values. So we shoved them into a google sheets document, which allowed us to make much more interesting relations between the scale of the cube and the other functions. We used curved relations between the number of cubes and each mechanic that we believed would need this different relationship. Here’s an image of the chart we used:

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A few lines I can pick out and explain  the decision process behind quickly would be the fall for max/no split lines and the wall sliding line. For the fall for splitting, we took into consideration the max jump height, mostly because we did not want our player to jump and then fall apart. However, since that was our starting point, we also took the jump height and doubled it to create our complete split height. This was so that we could make the player completely split when they jump to their highest ledge and then jump their highest off that edge. However, due to the non-destructive nature of this mechanic, these numbers really just give us a base to begin from, since there isn’t and dire punishments involved with falling. The wall sliding was made in this way so that it would take into consideration both the mass of the jelly cube and the surface area touching the edge. This created a curve that would increase with speed as the cube got heavier, but would flatten out as the surface area of the cube also grew. While the chart is currently ‘done’, we still plan to, and will inevitably have to, update the values as the player controller is developed.

Looking back at Cookie defense VR

So awhile back I made a Virtual Reality wave shooter (wow how innovative) and I thought it was time I did a post mortem. The original idea for this the wave shooter was to take a game I took part in developing during the may ‘Make a thing’ jam. The game was a a 2D wave defender that was themed around firing sound waves at children attempting to steal the players cookies. After a discussion with a friend of mine, who happens to be a VR developer, I was convinced that the  gamejam game could make a potential VR game. So I had a go and threw a little thing together that ended up like this.

I thought this was fun initially, so I thought I’d continue my work on it adding something to shoot at and refining the firing mechanics further. This did end up being fun to mess around with, but I began to feel it was missing a key part of what makes VR special. That thing that makes VR special is the ability to be surrounded by the play space, rather than having it presented in front of you. So i took the play space from one lane as you can see in the video above and created 7 more, to surround the player with the game, rather than presenting it to them front on. But I found this new 360 attack angle made me disoriented when I played. So I decided I needed to decorate the spaces between lanes so that  I could remember which way I was facing.

This ended up a bit like this.

I then decided to let some people play test it in this half made form, because I wasn’t sure what direction to take it. So I let my grandparents have a go.

Here’s a video of my Grandmother playing a build of my game.

By this point I really did not know where to take the game to further the experience. So I decided I would just simply add a leaderboard of sorts and a menu then call it a wrap. This resulted in what I released on itch.io which can be found here or can be seen in this video: 

I really would have liked to have my own custom models for the weapon and projectiles, and the enemies are quite boring and may have too much poly’s for how much load they should take up. They also may have over complicated code that probably ended up taking up more power than needed. The menu also has no description of the controls at all, so the game doesn’t exactly accept new players easily.

So I built a house

So a few months back I took part in a small project with some friends in which we attempted to make a horror game. Optimistic I know. But since I was the only designer on the team, I spent a lot of my time beforehand preparing for the project. The first thing I did was research some horror settings. One the lead developer really wanted to reproduce was the Enfield Haunting. So after watching a ‘documentary’ on the enfield haunting, I decided to draw some possible basic layouts for the level. Heres what I came up with

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This gave us two stories(three if you count the attic) Which I thought was plenty of space to create the game for the size we hoped for. After drawing this, I decided to fill in the detail for the contents of the rooms, so I could get a better idea of the models we’d need.

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So with these planned out, I took the plans and began a list of models we’d need. I took a lot more inspiration from the Enfield Haunting when I was creating this list. Here’s what I came up with.

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My next course of action was to build a prototype level. I was using a new tool, so creating the prototype doubled as practice with the tool. The first version of the house ended up like the image bellow. It was a decent version, but had a lot of flaws when you looked closer at the parts. Many pieces of the the house had overlapping edges and some surfaces would flicker. The second version of the house, shown in the two lower images, was much more refined than the first(obviously). I changed many of the rooms slightly to make them much more interesting and memorable.

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This is as far as my design input went mostly for this project. We did not end up finishing the project and I am not sure whether the team plans to return to it. But I did learn quite a bit about the new tool during the project, so not all is lost! And with these new skills I went on to make more interesting rooms for my personal project.

Incident reworking

So after some feedback I realised that the theme for my team’s game was not fitting with our mechanics. So I thought it was time for a incident rework. The previous incident was about a man falling from his pony and attempting to sue his pony, in true ‘Florida man’ fashion. But this incident was too jovial and lacked the ability to link the players in with the incident. Florida man only works as a headline, not a story. So after some more terrible ideas, I came up with the idea that maybe our town has decided to make a new landmark, but they can’t decide what to make it. The new incident would be about the town’s troubles deciding and the issues that would arise with it. This new issue let players connect more with the possible result. Because the an incident like this can tell more stories than Florida man headlines.  But of course, this cannot be set in stone until we do some more playtesting with this new incident. But I doubt we will be able to change due to time restrictions. 

Playtesting recap

So we did some playtesting for our Video(board) Game, and well… It went like playtesting often does. It was never intended to go smoothly, and would not be useful if it did. We had people test the basics of our game to try and see how people interacted whilst playing our game. The players seemed to be arguing too much over the finer details of our cards rather than the possible outcomes that the cards would produce.

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This was not ideal, since it seemed that players were more confused than engaged. To counter this, we decided to take the response cards and remove the detail from them, by making them single words rather than sentences. This let players digest the responses quicker once the arguing began. We also decided to extend the arguing time because players seemed to waste a large amount of their time digesting the other cards. So now the we have reworked our timer and our response cards it’s time to move on to more testing to see the results of these changes.

So I’ve been doing a thing

So I’ve been working on a personal project. I’m not really certain what to call it, it doesn’t even have a name. The document has been aptly named “maybe”, so I guess I’ll roll with that for now. Currently the project has been a way for me to practise my skills with level design and environment decoration. To practise this, I have been building rooms with no particular aim just yet. I’ve just been steadily adding one room at a time.

 

The original purpose was to better understand a particular unity tool that allows you to create complex 3D shapes within unity. It is called ProBuilder.

Currently the rooms are best experience in VR, but this was not the original intent. When I began building them, I added the SteamVR plugin to the project as a later possibility, but upon pressing play I discovered that the standard camera was displaying the game in my headset. After messing around for a bit inside the headset, I just began scaling everything to fit naturally with what the human eye would expect.

I hope to eventually create more targeted rooms with a specific character in mind, being able to describe the person by the way they leave their room. But to do this I will need to create my own 3D models so that they can better convey an individual’s personality.

After I can practise the targeted rooms more I would love to be able to then create a narrative game out of the skills I’m developing. Some sort of journey through a Student share house. But those ideas are still in their infancy, can concrete anything in yet. For now I think I’ll continue practising my skills.

Art is hard

So, I had to make some art for my Mario 1-1 recreation. Now, I’m no artist, so I wasn’t planning on making something amazing. But I did decide to do my best. I decided to first draw the basic shapes and make a simple crude recreation of what the original Mario images would look like, then cut them up and shuffle them about. Here is an example of my first drawing of Mario:

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This was where I started, I then continued to cut Mario up and make this horrible monster:

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(his life is pain)

As you can see, It’s not really Mario’s day. But I continued to do this for each asset until I couldn’t take the pain anymore. Here’s a few particularly horrifying ones.

mushroom.pngshell2.pnggoomba 1.png

Now while these don’t particularly resemble any of Marcel Duchamp’s work, I do believe they deliver a similar shock that he strived to deliver with everything he did.

Super Marcel Bros.

This past week I remade Mario World 1-1 with a new art style as a part of the ‘What thou art’ game jam. Each person who took part was assigned an artist that they would have to attempt to replicate in their new version of Mario 1-1. I was assigned Marcel Duchamp, famous for his work in cubism and his ability to shock his viewers. Here is some of his work:

portrait-of-chess-players  nude-descending-a-staircase  transition-of-virgin-into-a-bride

I see in his work that he displays multiple different versions of the same scene at once, displaying a form of motion while not entirely painting a true image. He regularly infers shapes and images rather than creating lifelike images. Now I was definitely not going to be able to recreate this as well as it should have been done in the week and a bit I had. So I decided to sit down with Photoshop and do my very best. I’ll go into more detail about the process in another blog.

After I had created my assets, I found that it is actually not a simple job recreating Mario. Mario moves in a very specific way, and it is very difficult to recreate this with the engines we have today without going into excessive programming, and since we only had a week and a bit(some of which was gone by this stage) I decided to do a quick botch job and get everything that I wanted into the game before refining any elements so that even if what I had was terrible, I’d still have something.

Then once the base, botched version was complete I had some people test it, I discovered that people really didn’t like my botched movement, but were fine with all the other elements of the game. So I prioritised fixing the movement.

I would have liked to add a lot more features than I did and would have liked to have the Goombas functioning the way that they should, rather than the shameful imitation I created. I feel that if I had spent more of my starting time researching about how mario moves and how other people have gotten their own remakes (because they have to exist) to work. If I had done this I think I would have been able to enter into the programming side of this project with much more planned out than I did. I also feel like my choice of visuals style to convey Marcel Duchamp’s work was rather uninventive. I could have taken some more time to consider the way I interpret his work to than create something more interesting than a simple reskin. I could have embraced the style that portrait of chess players uses to create a level that is entirely viewed at once, but is made up of a large collection of cameras with different shapes, so that the player walks between the multiple views, while looking at all of them. That would certainly have been shocking.