GDD

Standard

Game Name 

To be Decided

Overview 

A small, open world similar to the size of ‘State of Decay’ (Figure 1). The game will be a first person, sci-fi, survival horror.

The player must progress through a linear story with only the aid of the player character’s voice and thoughts. The player does not have an understanding of the environmental location, so must explore in order to become more familiar with it and eventualy escape. There are two semi open world areas. The residential area, where the all the residents sleep and the town, where people spend the day.

There are multiple ways to achieve the same objective. For example if the player wishes to find a map they may find it in locations such as a hunting store, train station, or newsagent shop. This is not garanteed, so it is up to the player to keep exploring until they find what they need.

The player takes the role of 45 year old Murdoch and has early early altzehimers. You have awoken in a place you don’t recognize without memory of arriving. The story revolves around Murdoch who has been abducted by aliens and put in an enclosure made by the beings- along with other humans like himself. The aliens are attempting to create a slave race which is apparent from many hints dropped that the player can observe throughout the game such as groups of people moving in unisom or coordinating tasks at the same time without communicating. For reference, the hint dropping with Inside’s husks (Figure 2 and 3) is a good example.

The player character is at a physical disadvantage being older, so they cannot fight back and therefore the game levels should revolve around patience, strategy and escape to avoid danger and make it hard to rush through the game. Having the player stay helplessly trapped and focused on opening opportunities as well as during their uncomfortable scenario helps with the horror aspect.

Murdoch must find a way to surive so he can get back home to his wife, Harriet.

The mechanics consist of those similar to ‘Outlast’, which include the waiting and hiding stealth constraints due to lack of equipment to fight back. The player will be able to stay undetected and inconspicuous by not raising awarness of themselves. The player can leave, hide or blend in by perfoming actions similar to those of NPCs.

Mainly, the foci of the game is to provide interesting scenarios centred around this alien habitat with emphasis on invasive cognitive control without being blatantly obvious by having UFOs or aliens- it’s just heavily implied e.g. whirring sounds or silhouettes of figures in the rain (Figure 4). It should also promote exploration of the disturbing and chilling atmosphere of a small, secluded environment,

along with its irrational community unknowingly experimented on by the aliens as the game is about providing an experience of the game world. There should also be an emphasis on subtleties that only the player can pick up on such as the understanding that the place they are in is inconsistent with the region in the world they are in- done through having bits in the environment derived from Warminster and Roswell. And most importantly, the gameplay situations should emphasis on producing anxiety and powerlessness to be contextual with the horror theme, otherwise there is a risk of cognitive dissonance.

Figure 1 

Figure 2 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMi1xluha1U : 22:40 – 24:45 

Figure 3 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMi1xluha1U : 19:53 – 20:10 

Figure 4 

Narrative 

Synopsis

The game starts with Murdoch waking up without memory of the place he is in, no phone signal and blood having ran from his facial orifaces, coating the bed. You try to leave to return to your wife. Survival to get back home motivates the character throughout the game.

The player character starts off confused at the strangeness of everything, but over time the player gathers information and begins to learn about and understand the place they are in, its dangers and purpose of control.

You find this place isn’t safe after witnessing a mob apprehend another conscious person with blood running out their facial orifices and talking to an unseen presence. You have the urge to hold him down too… The person is lifted into the sky.

You begin planning to survive the journey to leave and find help. You eventually find that this place becomes more uninhabitable the further travelled from it, preventing you from leaving.

Realising that the people are valuable you theorise the habitat would cease to be uninhabitable if people needed to be collected from beyond where they were mean to be if they were experiments at risk. You test this by restraining and kidnapping subjects. It works and you take the opportunity as people get recollected when it’s safe to investigate.

You find the end and there is nothing, you’re out in space. The game ends with you losing all hope and falling into dispair having found out the entire place is an encolsure for humans to be forced into residance. There is no way out for anyone because you are no longer on Earth and therefore decide on mercy killing eveyone so that the aliens can no longer experiment on them. You write a letter to your wife on your phone telling her you

love her, goodbye and send it. The last thing the player does is wait and the aliens eventually turn up for them and the game ends.

Environment 

Set in a reconstructed world replicated by the aliens to disjointedly mimic Roswell, New Mexico in the United States and Warminster, Wiltshire in the United Kingdom overlapping in the same location. This is where all environmental ideas should be derived from.

The world looks accommodating and normal, but paying closer attention when considering frequent small details at the same time, such as there being distinct area differentiations should raise intrigue, lack of trust and suspicion.

Someone from either of the countries, or areas will be able to tell the more subtle differences such as the architecture of the homes as irregular, the layout of the street as inconsistent or inaccurate, or how certain street signs look uncommon, the mail being different, traffic lights, magazines, fire hydrants. Etc.

There are also more obvious characteristics made to be understood by a general player with a little bit of world knowledge that is not familiar with these locations. There are references to the Royal Mail’s delivery service (Not its subsidiary groups, Parcel Force Worldwide, or General Logistics Systems) which is used only in the UK and can be found on vehicles, and by also having United States Postal Service vans it causes confusion. A hospital can also be found with the NHS’s graphic, again a service only available to the UK to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (Called Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland). The dollar and pound currencies can be picked up on and contradictory information like welcome signs to two different places will help give a better idea for those who don’t know a lot about these places. There can also be political information such as a Brexit poster, but also Republican, Democrat and Liberal election voting signs for the US and other helpful items such as badges from both places would help to create the misunderstanding.

It’s important to take note that when designing the environment to use region flags very sparingly, if at all. The player is supposed to figure it out for themselves and should only be shown enough for the idea to take form and develop in their thoughts. Having obvious flags as the first thing the player sees, or recognizable landmarks spoils the mystery.

As a horror experience a further few abnormalities will be scattered around telling an environmental story to make what we know of the world more uncertain about. The story never explicitly says that it’s aliens doing this, it is only ever implied so the player has to figure it out themselves and not be able to say for sure what it is. The idea of the unknown and that something can or is about to happen will make it more uncomfortable.

It is important not to deviate further from Roswell and Warminster than is necessary for the sake of authenticity because these are sights with alleged alien activity. But mainly and more importantly the UK location has been purposefully picked, this is where the people who will be developing this game over the next few months will have been living. A place with which they are familiar, this is relevant because research shows that places people are familiar with personally such as a home or hallway are far more likely to be frightening than setting a narrative in space, underground, or an isolated research facility regardless of how trapped. They are all good locations for horror as they are remote and removed from society, but they aren’t useful here as they’re not embodying of the uncanny like home. Creating the feeling that something is off by making it uncanny makes people feel unsafe as they know what belongs where and how. This should not stretch so far as to become fantasy, it is only meant to only be wrong to the extent of not quite right. A person will not be as scared if by leaving the game they know the danger is left behind with it being so far from anything that can exist, but if the world created is similar or the same as their own that’s what makes it scary- the idea that the

game could and might extend into their world and make them feel uncertain and question it – This is according to an Extra Credits video titled ‘Horror That Lingers – How the Uncanny Instils Fear – Extra Credits’.

The environment is only seemingly well-kept in the beginning so it isn’t immediately clear that the player should be uneasy within it, this is so that the player’s trust can be broken later and so not want to be in it. Therefore, it needs a history- something to make it apparent so the player knows it isn’t safe. The game should already have a story written into the environment from the beginning, it shouldn’t feel like it just formed when the player starts, and this is to create the idea that the place has been around for an unknown amount of time to make it uncertain how long experiments have been happening to people and how long you will remain there. For example, this could be things such as a Warminster neighbourhood watch sign with a strange (alien) figure etched into the background behind the characters to suggest there is something more and unclear someone has tried to leave a warning message behind. Additional scratches and carvings may be found of disk shapes to clearly imply aliens. A pedestrian sign with a speed bump sign placed above it in an unusual location to look as if a person is being taken by a UFO. Grounds spattered and stained with blood from where animal carcasses are dropped out of the sky providing feeding grounds for humans. Crop circles can be found. Strange whirring and hums can be heard. Lights changing, flickering and going out. Blood coated fridges and freezers – where animal carcasses are kept.

Everything is an impersonating of what it looks to be, it’s all made from the same material and provides no functionality. The unchanging light in the sky, a seemingly filtered air, the way lights can suddenly change is deliberate and alarming. Any essentials for living that do work aren’t clearly being powered by anything. The oven, stove, microwaves, radiators, lights, showers- they just stay on.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (Figure 1) is likely what the game will look similar to in the end, enviromentally speaking.

Figure 1 

Characters 

The player character, Murdoch has early Alzheimer’s which is why he can’t be taken over by the aliens for very long as recent memories and changes are easily forgotten. Murdoch is non-descript because the player is meant to experience the environment, so Murdoch doesn’t do and shouldn’t do too much talking to make it easier for the player to find this to be a more personal experience. The player character acknowledges and comments on what happens, but he shouldn’t care for trying to figure out the mystery. They only want to get back to their wife.

Harriet, the wife exists only as the thought to further the narrative for Murdoch and get the player to have more of a purpose than just senselessly surviving. She gives surviving, escaping and doing everything between the beginning and end of the game context (and maybe meaning) for the player.

The character’s name is Murdoch because it means ‘sea protector’ and everyone’s trapped in a dessert. Because of this I had intended on him living up to live up to this meaning and save those who don’t belong there by mercy killing everyone who is too far from the sea- that being the Earth at the end of the game.

Human NPCs are people who all act in inexplicably ways due to the alien’s experiments to force them into obedience. Their odd behaviour is attributed to Alzheimer’s disease as the aliens write over important memories, replacing them and causing them to disappear. For references to these behaviours the NHS and my sketchbook will include them. They don’t perceive anything until called upon by the aliens, or the player catches their attention. The resident’s purpose is to show the player the consequences of being taken over.

The aliens are the beings that created this environment to keep people alive, study, experiment to further of plan to create a slave race.

Art Style 

The game’s 3D modeling is high in detail and the textures are realistic to go with the uncanny valley theme to help disturb the player by looking even more like the place they could recognise. Similar to Metro: Exodus (Figure 1) or The Order: 1886 (Figure 2).

Figure 1 

Figure 2 

Visual Style 

The visual style should have a slight fish eye effect (Figure 1) from the character’s perspective. This is so the game’s atmosphere is better captured by making the visuals seem more unnatural. It is also to disorientate the player to make it feel strange to play- it’s a sort of way to have the player also affected by the alien experiments.

Figure 1 

User Interface 

The map requires the player to come to understand the abstracted information and the language it displays. No more different than the standard tags: Main Objective, Lives, Inventory, etc. The UI information is shown in symbols based off of crop circle formations that are learnt over time as they continue to come up during similar scenarios.

The map’s bottom half is obscured off screen (in the player character’s peripheral) on the bottom right so that if the player wants to know if there are aliens behind them they are forced to make themselves vulnerable from the back and turn around. This will make gameplay and general feelings of anxiety better with the increased tension from the map that the player is dependent on to navigate safely not be completely efficient and easily relied up on.

Features 

In the playing area there are two areas that can be moved between, the residential area and town. These are enclosed and restrict the player inside their boundaries. Both are small open world environments. Outside of this is just dessert as far as the eye can see. Even though it’s an open world it’s impotent like Resident Evil 7 or

Outlast that the player is still claustrophobic, has restricting playing area to put them at a difficult disadvantage and make them feel disempowered.

NPCs humans have set routines. This is so the player can coordinate their own paths and take advantage of opportunities in changes.

NPCs humans have a field of view of 160 degrees.

The alien’s routine is to randomly search everything continuously within a certain area.

To keep up the idea that this is a living world predefined events are triggered every so often through exploration. Light can fly overhead, the sky can suddenly change time, the materials on a house could malfunction causing sections of it to explode, parts of the environment can be tractor beamed away, a new environment piece can form in plain view, materialisation could happen at the wrong coordinates causing houses to fall from the sky crushing other homes and people- same with people when dropped from great heights, people could be misplaced in the environment and be fazed through solid objects, or have objects fazed into them, another older person could be seen in the distance running to suggest you aren’t the only one, or someone could suddenly become conscious and start screaming for help for example.

During the game there will be notable clusters of people being experimented on in passing. These groups are different from the NPC humans with routines, they will be performing certain actions that the player may or may not be able to able to replicate. If the player can mimic the tasks of the cluster they maybe be able to use the opportunity to go in the same direction. If they cannot mimic them then the play could make use of the bodies to hide behind.

To avoid the player becoming desensitised to being caught, failing, and just being reset to where they came from, instead failure is to be contextual, influential on gameplay, and has negative impacts. Specifically, the player has five chances to make mistakes. Each mistake has more significant repercussions than the last.

Failure works as follows:

1st failure – When there is a command that happens in the world, the player momentarily loses control of their keyboard and mouse, or controller and follows the command.

2nd failure – The first failure’s effects still apply. Additionally the player will start randomly blacking out and have lapses in their memory causing them to wake up in a different place.

3rd failure – The first and second failure’s effects still apply. The fish eye effect worsens when in danger. The player loses memory of important objectives, leaving only what is most significant to provide them with a purpose.

4th failure – The first, second and third failure’s effects still apply. The ability to look at the HUD now can only be sustained for a short amount of time before failing and needing to be reactivated.

5th failure – The first, second, third and fourth failure’s effects still apply. The player loses all important memories and has no purpose for surviving other than to live. The player character’s brain can no longer take further probing at this point- another failure will result in death and the player loses all their progress.

All failure causes higher chances of further failure to occur. This should make it so the player has a reason not to take failure lightly. Due to the severity of this system it would be too aggravating for the player to potentially lose hours of play time and have to start over. This means the game has to be short so the player doesn’t mind starting over if they do lose.

Mechanics 

NPCs have set routines and are aware of what path is going to be taken by each other. Being within the field of view of an NPC and either deviating from what they’re doing themselves, taking a direction no NPCs are taking a path to, or no other NPC is, will attract their attention. If this behaviour continues from the player some NPCs will break routine, follow and watch for further deviant activity. When NPCs are finally convinced they will attempt to take the player to the nearest alien.

Losing the attention of NPCs is done by the player quickly taking a path another NPC had been taking or is taking. This means in some circumstances the player will have to remember what the paths NPCs were taking to be able to copy them. If the player takes too long to do this NPCs will be after them.

If NPCs are attempting to apprehend the player the player may attempt to escape. If apprehension is underway an alien is automatically sent and will be permanently added to the world in that location. If the player wanders into an alien they are reprogrammed and the failure system is furthered. The additional alien will also become aware of you if you’ve got everyone’s attention and will slowly move towards you.

The player has a very limited running duration due to the age of the player character. The player must take short breaks in order to keep using this ability. This mechanic should not become a tool to rush past obstacles and outpace NPCs for long periods of time, it is a strategic tool and the level design should take into account that this mechanic can be abused if not catered around.

Certain floors absorb more sound than others and so can be made more noise on changing how fast you player can move on them.

Noises greater than those produced by the character make theirs go unnoticed, as long as the player’s noise happens at the same time. The player can use these opportunities to quickly traverse.

The player can break out of NPC hold by mashing buttons/keys. The more NPCs holding the player, the longer it takes to struggle out of their grasp. Three NPCs or less is the limit before the player can no longer free themselves and is taken to the nearest alien – this ties into the failure features. Due to the way NPCs can be moved from where they are by getting their attention there should not be a set amount of mashing that needs to be done to escape, it should be random so that the player cannot manipulate and relocate NPCs.

Notoriety can be avoided by leaving and returning later, or finding enough activities in the environment when under suspicion such as picking up and reading a magazine, taking a seat, waiting at a reception desk (Intuitive behaviour for the place the player is in). Capturing can be avoided by escaping, then going back later.

The environment can also be used to stay hidden within. Under a bed, in a locker, cupboards, etc.

Some select environmental pieces like furniture can be interacted with and moved. At some points the level interactables or level design should be used to organize, navigate the area. Environmental pieces can also be moved in front of doors to block them.

NPCs remember the way the environment was last, so if something has moved, or a door has been left open it will get investigated if seen. This can cause the player to get followed, but can also be used to change NPC movement, making them face away and go the wrong way.

The HUD is embedded into the player character’s vision as part of the experimentation to help humans locate specific areas and to give them commands. The map and rest of the HUD elements take effort for the player character to concentrate on them. This information can only be seen when holding down commands and takes a few seconds to get in focus. When in focus the player cannot move and the rest of the environmental visuals become blurred. The HUD elements malfunction making it harder to understand them. The HUD shows how

many resets opportunities the player has gone through, layouts, tags on the map for places of interest, the player’s current inconspicuous to notoriety level and displays all NPC movement – This including the alien’s location and movement.

The player can keep on them one item to carry around. Alien movement is audible, but not visible in the environment without specific requirements. Aliens can be seen by spreading water on the floor with a water bottle item to see footsteps, or placing a bag with fine grain over a door, spreading it or throwing if found to land on one whatever walks through to coat it. Circumstances where this is an option are rare because items are extremely few. At times this needs to be used to know where the aliens are when there are too many for the HUD’s speed to be reliable. This also offers some relief if the failure feature has become too advanced. These items can also be thrown to make noise and lure NPCs elsewhere.

There’s a button to interact with the player character’s important memories and re-watch them. This is the contextual reason for the escape objective.

There is a button dedicated to hearing the thought of the player character’s ‘Current Objective’ as there is no man made text.

Sculpture Jam

Standard

We had to simply make sculptures. The condition for these sculptures was that they had to be artefacts found within our game worlds. Chris Carter came gave us a lesson on how to use the machines in the wood workshops.

I chose to make a sign which represented my game idea and could also be found in-game. It is just a neighbourhood watch sign that seems ominous in context with the game’s theme.

To make my artefact I used white clay. I moulded it flat with my hands and laid fabric underneath the clay before finely rolling it out, I did this to help move the clay off from the table and preventing it from sticking once it was flat. I then used a rolling pin with flat guiding stick on either side for the rolling pin to rest on to set the height above the table to get the clay equal thickness all the way through it. After the clay was flat I left it to dry for a bit so it was less malleable and able to be cut without deforming too easily. I used a scalpel to cut along a ruler to get straight, vertical lines along the clay and then the same horizontally. I marked the corners with a scalpel by eye to round off the edges similar to a neighbourhood watch sign. I then used the scalpel to cut the corners to leave behind a rectangle shape with smooth corners. I then wet my fingers with water and smoothed over any sharp edges. I then left the clay to dry so that it could be bisque fired later in preparation for glazing. Once it had been fired, I coated my clay slab twice with a layer of yellow glaze using a paintbrush. The glaze has a glossy appearance once fired. When the glaze was dried it was ready to be fired for a second time at a higher temperature in the kiln to set the glaze. I then printed two identical images of neighbourhood watch signs. With these I made them into stencils. For one of the prints I cut out the black colour and for the other, the white. Using these stencils I used a sort of lino print technique and used acrylics to layer the different cut-outs the same colour as the neighbourhood watch sign over the clay slab.

RPG Jam

Standard

James was our lecturer teaching us about RPGs. Specifically he spoke about table top games. He went into the subject wanting us to recognize that there are numerous ways to handle how a player’s interaction can vary in extent of success, failure, or success/failure rate. Possible methods that can determine this are rolling dice- however many sides is optional, stats that multiply in effectiveness with dice roles, flipping coins and playing cards. Whichever way is decided on is up to the games designer to choose. There can also be added depth with features like recording management of the player’s attributes which could be anything applicable like health, mana, inventory space, item quantity, etc. There is also the option of having a gamemaster to push the game forward; this person can work in a structured game with rules and tasks and telling the player what their options are, or be in games with objectives, but that are less reliant on what has to be done, or how to do it, which makes the game unpredictable.

To be sure we understood how these systems functioned, James made the class play two games with different systems. The first game had nothing much to restrict the players, all they did was draw a character and name them. When this was done, James, the gamemaster began our adventure towards a specific task. James controlled everything that happened in the world, but the players had their own will do whatever they desired within this world. The game depended on James’ creativity to develop in order to make it entertaining. The game had so few rules that often people started to have lengthy conversations amongst each other about what was happening as the game was malleable enough to mold into anything, as long as James allowed it. The game was really fun, especially with a good gamemaster. This isn’t so great if it a gamemaster was required to be spontaneously skilled in storytelling, it can’t always be done by anyone, so maybe a few guides would be helpful as starting points. James used an interesting way to decide if something was done successfully by a player- he used a Jenga tower. Its utility was that if a player wanted to make a decision then they had to take a piece from the tower and replace it on top. If the tower did not fall then the player’s action has its intended purpose. It was nice to have an interesting hands on feature that was determined by the individual’s steady hand and progressively evolved to become harder to make decisions as the tower became more unstable. The more significant a decision, the more pieces James wanted taken from the tower and replaced. He decided on the numbers arbitrarily.

The second game we played was terrible. Everyone, as superheroes picked super powers. We were assigned to take over a villainous nuclear weapons cell that was going off soon. We all had two points and these represented our health and how much we could use our powers. Using our powers cost us a point and being attacked lost a point, but what was lost was awarded to the person who won. Winning an assault was done by drawing a card and whoever had the highest won. Two villains were chosen at random and were tasked to make sure the nuclear weapons were used. Nothing happened with the villains, they just didn’t embrace their roles and the heroes won. James probably saw that the game was a failure and that people just didn’t want to do much so he tried creating incentives to get something to happen, but people still did nothing. Eventually even James trailed the story off in a direction that just had nothing to do with the objective which was really frustrating. Our powers also were barely used, they weren’t properly integrated into the story so we all weren’t sure how to use them best. I eventually got frustrated and so tried killing people at random to gain

their points in order to become more powerful. This failed and no one changed the way they were playing, we all just passively won because James guided us to the end of the story. I guess the purpose of the conflict just never had an easy way to make its threat relevant to the story. The rules were just a bit messy. I guess it was nice to have seen that luck didn’t have to be determined by only dice.

We were tasked to make our own RPG table top game. We decided on a dystopian cyberpunk theme. We contextualised our objective to the theme and decided on stopping a corporation keeping secrets in a safe and we had to expose them. We decided on a cooperative game where a team comes together to take over this corporation. A stats system was implemented with four traits. The player has the option of choosing how good each of these traits are by assigning a value to them- a value from one to four, but once a value has been used that value can no longer be used again. The player could choose what character type they wanted to play as- the human, cyborg, or android. These have unique abilities depending on who the player chose to play as. Other players do not get to know who the other players chose to be before the game starts so that there wasn’t a perfect combination of abilities at their will. The idea that there should be a time limit happened, but testing showed that that was uncomfortable and made it so everything done was rushed and the pressure to do something made it not fun to play. An inventory system was introduced with limited items for each character to use if desperate. It was decided that a layout of the corporation should be on a pre-set map because just making up a floor plan and drawing it out on the go was proving difficult when also having to come up with interesting scenarios as the gamemaster. With all the ideas now thought out, a character sheet that could be filled out was made so players could personalise their characters and floors were made for the corporation with different challenges on each of them.

In the end the game was almost okay to play and needed improvements like making sure all aspects of the player’s stats actually had uses, character balancing so that all characters were equally useful, limiting unique abilities so they aren’t abused and maybe some scenarios that were pre-defined so the game wasn’t repetitive and players had something to also tailor their actions to for the future- this could even be a cheap fix for the stats and characters not being useful by making sections that were harder if the players were not proficient in that trait or had that character.

Narrative Jam

Standard

Callum came to our class to give us a quick, simple lecture on narrative. He spoke about how traditional linear narratives go from beginning, middle and end, but that narratives don’t always have to take this structure in order to tell a narrative.

There are other structures known as non-linear narratives in which the order or way the story is told can be changed and so told in a non-chronological manner. These can take many formats and whichever way the narrative is told best, or most practically is a valid way of translating it.

There are ways of constructing narratives called Branching Narratives, this means that the story has multiple ways in which it can unfold as the story progresses and can be retold with different outcomes and even endings. This has been used commonly for video games and Choose Your Own Adventure literature, and less commonly in video format which work nearly the same as a video game, but has visuals. A good example is Contradiction: Spot the Liar.

There are narratives that change the order the narrative is told. An example of this is in the film, Memento. The film gives you the ending first, begins then at the middle of the story and throughout the film the things that have already happened and been figured out need to be done so again by piecing together clues tattooed on the main character’s chest. Another more simple example is in the book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower in which you read a collection of letters sent to you and are told about the person’s life on different dates through about a year.

We were asked to make our own non-linear narrative, so I made a story about a person from the perspective of their thoughts that has woken up from a coma and is going through therapy learning to move again. In it I have the character pretty amicable with one of the doctors. Then there is a time skip in which he is not okay with them. It’s simple, but it does the job by starting the narrative in the middle at any random point and not having an explanation to fill the gaps of the skip.

It was interesting to actually have to write the narrative; it was different from making a narrative from beginning middle and end, in that the thought behind writing was a bit easier, but more nerve wracking. I was thinking about what were the most interesting scenarios and outcomes if I don’t have to explain how I got there instead of making it have causality. It probably wouldn’t be the best way to understand a character because you don’t get to watch them grow naturally. Plus it’s an unnatural pace reminding you it isn’t real. It also feels a bit like a cop out to be able to show any scenario at any pace for the sake of a so-that’s-why-that-happened moment. I’m not a fan; having to build intrigue without prior context seems like a waste of a moment, it just seems like a cool thing to have instead of a meaningful thought.

Anyway, it was pretty simple. We were told there are more ways than the traditional to write stories. We weren’t given much guidance other than told to deviate from linear narrative telling and to demonstrate this. I enjoyed thinking about how much drafting goes into planning what other people will be reading so that there is enough hint dropping and intensity for an audience to want to know more when they don’t yet understand.

Animation Jam

Standard

We had a lecture come to our class talking to us about animation so we could learn to do it too. They emphasised on mainly two points when explaining how to animate effectively. Composition and what is being given importance in the frame are important aspect to build meaning in a piece. This can often be seen in comic books according to our lecturer’s examples. Animation shouldn’t just be about making something move- scenes need to be thought and planned beforehand if they are to communicate something to an audience.

He went through how to start making animations. This involved being mindful of storyboarding and cinematography. Our lecturer also showed us an informative series of animations made by different people so we had an idea of how much thought went into making them. From this I think we were supposed to understand that depending on what is wanted to be created it should be influence by the content it’s made for. George Gendi made a video called Pingpongs in which the animation for it barely moves apart from when it’s necessary to give more attention to an action, or when the composition can be made better by changing it to express more effectively. And we were shown a music video called D.A.N.C.E. performed by Justice in which the mood of the song goes in hand with the animations displayed on the character’s t-shirts as they simply walk towards the camera.

I used an already existing character, the one I made during the Character Jam to inspire the scenes. To begin my animation I started by making a few key frames showing a story. In each I made sure it conveyed something specific that built to more. I didn’t manage to say as much as I wanted due to time restraints which meant I had to scale down on frames and how much was being put in them. I lost the character precariously picking the last leaf from the top of a tree branch and setting it free. I chose instead to save the animation by having my character picking a leaf because it’s quite a childlike behaviour to pluck plants like flowers. It went well to communicate the sort of freedom that finds the motivation and use of its time to do something unnecessary and without thought, but is soothing in how carefree it is.

To make my animation I simply asked a friend to perform the actions I told them to and allow me to record them. Then used rotoscoping to trace all the frames with Paper by 53 that were necessary that allowed for the movement to happen smoothly once organised one after the other. When all the frames were completed I just put them into GIPHY which automatically put all my images together.

Character Jam

Standard

During our Character Jam lecture our lecturer told us how to make a character if you want to illustrate one. One of these ways was by having an understanding of the character you’re creating, that a good way to know how your character might look, dress and know what their demeanour is like can be done by creating a personality for them. Information collation like significant things that have happened to them, what their dreams are, what motivates them, what their life is like, what they think about, how they think, what they worry about, their flaws. Collecting enough information is important because it slowly deepens characterisation and so a visual image comes from this knowing of who these characters are, but only with the information that is relevant in context with their contribution to the story. E.g. If a character is made visually contextually from who they are then you would probably dress an archetypal chef in white, make them wear an apron and a funny hat. Not an astronaut suit. They may have a stressed look due to having many orders. For an athlete, they would wear shorts, running shoes and carry a bottle of water. Not riot gear. They would likely have a good figure from exercise.

Another of the things we did was capturing the movement of people by very quickly sketching them out as they went about doing whatever. We were being taught to not draw everything by giving us a fleeting moment to observe. The purpose of this was to capture the essence of a person in motion and making sure all the lines being drawn brought out what we saw of interest in them. This exercise was great in developing our skills in bringing out essential details and understanding where the details that produce a valuable depiction of the interesting parts of an action are.

The reasons I had for drawing my character in the way that I did was because of the lecture where we were told that a character comes from knowing who they are. I started out by writing a series of relevant questions to get to know the character a bit more concisely, and then answered the questions describing my character. After having an idea of who they were I began searching for clothing, hairstyle and other traits that I thought best suited it and brought out those qualities. E.g. the pig tails because it’s a common hair style on children- an important aspect to the character, further implying that they have tendencies in common. I also played around with colours until they went well with each other while still relating back to who the character is.

Once I thought out the character visually we had to make a turnaround which is simple enough, it was just drawing the character three times. I tried and I did so; the perspective is a bit off and I can’t draw anyway so it doesn’t look great, but does give an impression.

To make the character I decided to learn to use Paper by 53. It seemed like a limited and basic drawing app to make crude sketch work which I thought went well with the aesthetic in mind.