Week 1 – Big Game Project – The start of the big game project

Hello and welcome back to my blog. I’ll yet again start to update this and fill it with posts of my journey during the Big Game Project Course. All posts will revolve around the making of the game Amenti, a mystical puzzle game set in an ancient Egyptian pyramid.

A concept have already been written since earlier, but a lot of design choices still needed to be ironed out and mechanics needed to be set. So, this week we set out to finish the idea of Amenti and start writing a Design Document. The game’s theme revolves around three gods in the pyramid, Horus the god of the sun (fire), Sobek the god of the Nile (water) and lastly Anubis the god of the afterlife (life and death). Every room, a new set of skills will be learned, by evolving the already set mechanics. For example, the first set of skills would be used to set something on fire or extinguish a fire, the second, to fill something with water or to water grass to make plants grow. The third set of powers, gained from Anubis, allows for the same abilities to be performed from a distance and taking and giving life. All of this would just be a vertical slice of the “full” game, which would take the player through the whole pyramid and display different gods. We decided to go with just three gods for the vertical slice, but later in the process we decided to scratch the Sobek/water part to save on time. Still in the designing process we kept the vague idea of the room, to get the big picture of the gameplay.

TA
Tartget Audience triangle created by Kevin Alonso

Since I was the Lead artist for the last project we had, and I had the most technical expertise in the original group, I received the role of Lead Art/Art Director for this new project. Making me responsible for the overall look of the game and directing the production of all visual material throughout the game’s development. I had to set creative and technical standards and determining the best tools and techniques to use. With the help of the Producer, Game Designer and Lead Programmer, I also devised the game’s visual style.

I sat down, and in conjunction with the Producer, I decided the roles for the groups Artists. All in all, we are four graphical artists on this team, one of them being the producer and me the Lead Art. When delegating the roles, we had to analyse people’s areas of expertise and their availability of time. I gave the role of Concept Artist to Gustav Larsson, since he has shown great skills in drawing and concept in earlier projects. Seeing as he also held the role of Lead Designer, he could work with design at the same time he concept the different rooms and puzzles. For our new member, Kevin Alonso, I gave the, very new for us, role of Technical Artist and Animator. In the group, he was easily the most technically inclined and had worked previously with Motion capture together with me. So, I was very confident in leaving him the task of working with materials, admin work and creating the Animation tree/list, leaving me more time for other visual and technical details. The last group member, our Producer Thea Falkenmark, received no major role, seeing as she already had the massive undertaking of leading the group and taking care of admin work, such as creating the Scrum document.

After this, I helped define the art portion of the design doc, identifying the requirements for producing the art assets and the risks associated with any unknown areas. For this part, I also started on creating an Art Specifications (style guide) document, that should include estimates for texture budgets, polygonal budgets, animation requirements, art style, character design, descriptions of construction, methods for models, naming conventions, tools and programs list. This document exists to help all artist to keep the same style and quality and to give outsiders an overlook on how the game might look. In creating this document, I had to research and test out different modelling, texturing, animation, rendering and lighting techniques and tools appropriate to the games technology. I had to learn modular design and modelling techniques, as this was an important part in being able to create the environments for the game. At the same time, I also had to teach and help the other group members. Since none of us had learned or worked with modularity previously.

This whole week was used mostly for pre-production. For research, documentation and guidelines. I have not yet finished the Style Guide, but since it’s also an iterative process I probably never will be until the end of the project. Here is a link to the current version later, for others to study and perhaps use themselves.

Have a nice day and thank you for reading!

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