Archive for October, 2012

5 Star Review

Posted: October 25, 2012 in Interactive Communications
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Ok then so yesterday we did our 5 Star Review presentations and it went a lot better than I thought. I showed my presentation, the criteria that I was basing the reviews on and I talked a little bit about the games that I would be reviewing.

The criteria I decided to review the games by were:

Graphics

Gameplay

Soundtrack

While these were suitable criteria for the reviews, I do need to change the criteria a little bit and broaden it, such as adding HUD (heads up display) to the criteria as well as some more such as replayability and add a compare and contrast page to the end of the review showing which game came out on top overall in their scores.

I also need to move away from a subjective review and move more into an objective review, so I may need to take a look at the criteria and change it up so that I have less room to put forward my own opinions of the games I review and instead look at the game from a designers perspective and offer a more balanced review, this should hopefully be reflected within the scores of the games once I review them again.

I shall presently put up the reviews I have completed.

So this is a rough idea of the sort of game that I want to create. I’m sure there will be a lot of changes and additions/removals in the coming weeks as this design progresses. But you get the general idea of what I am aiming for at the moment.

Gameplay: The gameplay will consist of challenges, puzzles and battles that the player will have to work their way through by various different means. Some of the puzzles will rely upon the player finding items throughout the game and then finding ways to get back to the puzzle without having to go back through the entire game. These kinds of puzzles will help the player unlock and progress through to other parts of the game that were previously locked off from them. There will also be areas of the game where the player is trapped in an area with enemies to fight and beat before they can progress, some may even have time challenges, if they defeat the enemies within the time limit, they will either get a usable item or if the area is particularly difficult, a key item or piece of special equipment that will help them improve and empower their character in order to deal with tougher enemies. The player will have to rely upon their smarts to overcome the puzzles while they will also have to rely upon the skills and abilities of their character in order to get through battles and challenges. Challenges will be dotted throughout the game; these will be optional tasks for the player to take and upon completion will grant the player bonus content that they can access from the extras menu when they start up the game. There will also be a series of boss battles throughout the game, where the character has to battle a big creature or leader of a certain area. Overcoming these bosses will grant the player a new weapon or ability to give their character.

There will be a choice system within the game as well, allowing the player to choose which course of action they should take towards enemies and friendlies alike. These decisions will thus change the outcome of the gameplay and the overall story that they experience, the end battle will always be the same, but the character could either be evil and ultimately side with the end boss, bringing about an age of darkness upon the world, or they can deal the killing blow and end the game with a peaceful ending.

Victory Conditions: The main victory condition of the game is to defeat the final boss. Each battle powers up the character so that the player will have a better chance of combatting this final enemy. Of course through the use of the choice system, if the player decides that they want to have an evil character, choosing to harm innocents instead of protecting them, they can side with the villain in the end and reign over the world during the age of darkness. The final outcome depends entirely on the player and the choices they want to make.

Players Role: The player assumes control of the main character, they make the decisions for the character, from the weapons and abilities they equip and use to the choices they make in each scenario they are thrown into. They also decides which skills and abilities the character can learn, some will be neutral and accessible whether the character is good or bad, but some abilities will only be available to a good character and some will only be available to the evil character. The player also has to make the choice of what kind of character they want to work with as this will affect how the character can handle a situation. If the player chooses a pure fighting type character, they will be more adept at using weapons and armour than they will be at using magic, however if the player chooses a mage type character, the character will be much better at using magic and will have access to more powerful spells in place of using weapons. The character can choose to have a mage warrior character, meaning the character would be able to use both weapons and magic effectively in tandem, this can be a strength because they get the best of both the fighting and mage classes, but there will also be limitations to the class as some weapons will still be out of the characters reach to use and some of the most powerful mage spells will remain unavailable because the player choose to have a character that did not train in magic as much as the mage character.

Game Setting: The game is set within a world alternate to normal Earth, where there are mages and magic along with demons and spirits and other supernatural beings. There is also a realm simply called the Other World as no one knows what it is actually called. The character starts on Earth but can jump through to the Other World at certain points in the game.

Perspective: The player will be able to view the game through a third person perspective, that is to say they will see the game over the shoulder of their character, which is typical of RPG games, however, the player will have the option to change this to a first person view if they prefer to see the game through the eyes of the character.

Structure of the Game:
New Game – This is used by the player to start a new game so that they can play through the main story of the game.

Continue Game – The player can continue the game from their most recent save.

Load Game – The player can load any of their saved games, allowing them to continue that game continuity from the most recent save point.

Multiplayer – The player can access online multiplayer game modes and participate in games against other players over an internet connection.

Settings – This lets the player access the settings of the game, allowing the player to change the controller, audio and gameplay settings to their preferred settings.

Extras – This will allow the character to access all of the bonus content that they unlock during the game.

Downloadable Content – This is where the player will be able to get additional content without having to go through the main marketplace on their console.

Narrative/Story:
Hunter Phoenix becomes the reluctant leader of a band of mages when otherworldly forces threaten all life on Earth. He wanted nothing more than a normal life away from the world of magic and the misery it always seemed to bring with it. However, an encounter with an old friend changes everything and ends his seemingly normal life and now he must bring together three out of action mages and lead them into a battle the likes of which have never been seen before. If they succeed then the war will end and the threat eliminated, if they fail, then humanity falls with them.

Genres:
This game will mostly fall into the category of a platform game, but it does have elements of an RPG as well because of the character customization options.

Target Audience:

The main target audience for the game will be young adults from the age of 16+, there will likely be mild swearing in the game along with blood and gore so it would be unsuitable for people of under the age of 16. Players who enjoy modern fantasy games and RPG games will likely be the biggest target audience for the game.

Platform for the Game:
This game will be designed for both PS3 and Xbox 360 along with a PC version because not everybody likes to play with a controller and prefer to play with a mouse and keyboard.

This is the character bio that I have had to come up with. I decided to go with a character I have used on several occasions called Hunter Phoenix. He is one of my original original characters, meaning that when I took up writing short stories, he was among the first ever set of characters I created for any type of story or design.

Basic Information

Full Name: Hunter Phoenix

Alias/Nicknames: Phoenix, Hunt

Gender: Male

Species: Human

Age: 22

Date of Birth: September 21st 1990

Sexuality: Straight

Nationality: British

Religion: Pagan

Place of Birth: Charleston General Hospital

Currently residing in: Leafy Falls

Native Language: English

Physical Appearance

Height: 6ft

Weight: 15st

Figure/Build: Muscular

Hair Colour: Black

Hair Style: Long and straight

Eye Colour: Blue

Skin Colour: Pale white

Tattoos: APhoenix is placed upon his right arm, holding a Pentagram. A dragon is scaling down over his left shoulder to his forearm.

Scars/ Distinguishing Marks: Hunter has a scar underneath his left eye; it is barely noticeable unless you look really closely at his face. He also has a small scar down the right hand side of his face, just below his ear.

Preferred style of clothing: Hunters usual attire consists of a plain black t-shirt, stone wash black jeans and a pair of well-worn converse sneakers as well as a hoodie that he bought at a concert to support his favourite band.

Frequently Worn Jewellery: Hunter always wears his stainless steel Timex watch; he would be lost without it. He also wears a chain around his neck. On the chain is a dragon holding a pentagram, the sign of his religion.

Health

Smoker/Non Smoker: Non Smoker

Drinker/Non Drinker: Hunter is not a heavy drinker, but neither is he a non-drinker, he will usually have a couple of pints a week.

Drug User/Non Drug User: Hunter does not touch drugs as he is quite conscious about his physical and mental state. The only times he will touch any kind of drugs are the ones that are prescribed to him by a doctor.

Other Addictions: Hunter does tend to have a mild addiction to coffee, usually having to drink several cups of the stuff in the morning.

Allergies: The only thing that Hunter seems to be allergic to is nuts of any kind. They tend to make his throat close up and make it hard for him to breathe.

Physical Ailments/Illnesses/Disabilities: Hunter has a permanent injury in his right knee that came about from a sporting accident while he was in school. Also suffering with short-sightedness, he has to wear glasses all the time during the day otherwise he would be as blind as the proverbial bat.

Any medication taken regularly: No medication on a regular basis. He does have to take painkillers when the injury in his knee flares up; otherwise he is left in excruciating pain.

Personality

Personality: Being brought up by his parents, Hunter was always quiet as a child, once he started school however, and he blossomed into a bright and sociable person, making friends with whoever he spoke too. However, he changed inside once his parents died, harbouring a dark desire to bring their killer down no matter what. He can be out spoken and quite aggressive when it comes to giving his opinion but he reins it in and is quite a peaceful person most of the time. He is also very kind, willing to do anything for his friends and remaining family. He is over protective of his sister as he doesn’t want to see her hurt physically or emotionally.

Likes:  Hunter likes listening to music, reading fantasy books, travelling all over the world and generally likes keeping himself busy.

Dislikes:  Hunter dislikes documentaries as he finds them boring. He also doesn’t like it when he has nothing to do as he just tends to sit there and stare off into space.

Fears/Phobias: Hunter is scared of spiders, deep water and heights. He also has a phobia of enclosed spaces; he prefers to be out in the open.

Favourite Colour(s): Black and Red

Hobbies: Other than reading, Hunter is quite the computer games enthusiast; he usually manages to squeeze in at least a couple of hours gaming every day. He also visits the gym a lot so he considers it a second hobby of his, almost classing it as his second home.

Taste in Music: Hunter is a big fan of Metal, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, listening to bands such as System of a Down and Slipknot. However, recently he has found that he rather likes small amounts of Dubstep.

Skills

Talents/Skills: Despite his massive frame, Hunter is rather adept at being stealthy when he wants to be. Being able to blend in with the backdrop almost at will, he is able to simply disappear in plain sight. He is also the master of several forms of martial arts, being trained from a very young age by his parents and various tutors; he has acquired a vast array of deadly aggressive and defensive skills.

Ability to Operate Vehicles: Hunter is able to drive a car, he has tried to take motorbike lessons but has not been very successful on the occasions when he has tried so he is sticking with the car for now and may try bikes again in the near future.

Eating Habits

Omnivore/Carnivore/Herbivore: Omnivore.

Favourite Food(s): Pasta Carbonara, Pizza, Salad, Roast Dinner, Some Fish.

Favourite Drink(s): Water, Ale, Tea, Coffee.

Disliked Food: Sprouts, any fish he doesn’t like, Black Pudding.

Disliked Drinks: Smoothies, Hot Chocolate, and Most Alcoholic Drinks with the exception of Ale.

House and Home

Hunter lives in an apartment building on his own. The apartment is midsized, which suits his needs. He has enough room for a computer desk and computer, which act as his office; he has a small kitchen which has the obvious fridge/freezer, washing machine, sink and various cupboards for food storage. The office area doubles up as his living space, which has a sofa and a couple of chairs situated in a way so that they all face towards one another for when visitors come around and so that they can all watch the television which is situated on a table of its own in front of the seating area.

Significant/Special Belongings: His Earth Dragon Pentagram necklace and his duel katanas are his prized possessions. Even when he has to travel to another country, his swords go with him, having a special license comes in handy when he needs to get them through customs without a problem.

Career

Level of Education: Post College

Qualifications: A-Levels in IT and History

Current Job Title and Description: Hunter is currently working as a security guard in a major retail park, he regularly patrols the perimeter and checks inside the stores to make sure customers are behaving themselves. He occasionally has to deal with trouble makers but for the most part it is a quiet job that pays well and allows him to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary by human standards.

Name of Employer: Leafy Falls Big Security Firm or LFBSF.

Combat

Peaceful/Aggressive Attitude: By nature Hunter is relatively peaceful, he avoids violence wherever he can, however as a security guard, he does get into scrapes with reluctant customers and only ever really has to rely on any kind of physical action as a last resort when people fail to listen to reason and leave quietly. When he comes across violent individuals that refuse to leave no matter what, Hunter will resort to using his martial skills in order to defend him and the public in general, removing dangerous civilians with the smallest amount of force and least amount of damage created in the vicinity.

Fighting Skills/Techniques: Other than his martial arts skills, he has picked up several underhand techniques from street fights that he has witnessed over the course of his life, ranging from the simple nut jab that he witnessed and experienced as a kid to the dangerous kidney crippler he has only ever witnessed once, where the victim was beaten in the kidney to the point where he passed out through one of his kidneys failing.

Special Skills/Magical Skills: Hunter is a fire mage, a being able to command the awesome power of fire in all of its forms. He has been able to use his abilities since a young age but it required a lot of training from his witch parents to be able to control his powers as they could be quite destructive and dangerous to anyone and anything around him. He also has the power to teleport himself to any location in the world just by thinking, this is something taught to all mages as they sometimes need to escape from situations quickly without the use of spells.

Weapon of choice: Duel swords and several small knives. Hunter doesn’t like using guns as he can just throw fireballs when he needs to commit to a ranged attack.

Weaknesses in Combat: Being quite a big and bulky individual, if Hunter comes against someone smaller and faster than himself then he can hit big problems as he cannot keep up with his adversary. He also has the added weakness of his knee injury. Whenever he is in a fight, he has to make sure no one targets it otherwise he will become very vulnerable as pain takes over and renders him useless.

Strengths in Combat: While his size can be a disadvantage, it can also work in his favour when he is fighting bigger opponents. He can either throw all of his strength into overpowering his enemy and dragging them down while burning them with his fire powers, or he can match them in pace if the battle is a prolonged affair.

Family, Friends and Foes

Parents Names: Steven and Amelia Phoenix

Are the Parents Alive or Dead: Dead

Siblings: Younger Sister

Relationship with Sibling: In regular contact

Other Important Relatives: Uncle Bastion Phoenix.

Partner/Spouse: Hunter does have a partner, but the relationship is complicated for reasons he would rather not go into until he feels ready to open up.

Children: Hunter does not have any children.

Best Friend: Caitlyn Weaver

Other Important Friends: John Barrett, Raven Darkwood, Rocky Riggs

Acquaintances: Lewis Dunbar (Security Manager), Alexis Summers

Pets: Hunter has a ginger cat that is 4 years old and likes to hassle him and any visitors for attention.

Enemies: Pixie Freeman

Why are they enemies: Hunter and Pixie used to be very close, they used to go on assignments for the High Council of Mages together. However, one day Hunter was sent on an assignment alone to investigate the dealings of a dark mage in the area, upon looking into the matter, Hunter found that it was in fact Pixie, who had been dabbling with dark forces that were strictly forbidden. Hunter had to bring her in, however he couldn’t and so Pixie fled, swearing that she would bring Hunter and everyone he loved down unless he joined her. They have been enemies since.

Backstory

Describe their childhood (New-born to Age 10): As a child Hunter was always a quiet child as a baby. Once his powers started to emerge around the age of four however, his parents were hard pushed to control him as things would catch fire whenever he had a tantrum or cried. They did their best to contain his abilities until he came of an age where they could train him to control them himself. When he turned 7 years old his parents deemed it time for them to begin his training as a mage and so his path towards the ways of magic began. By the time of age ten, he was an accomplished young mage, taught basic magic and was able to control his powers completely. He had to be home taught for most of his early life as he was too dangerous to let loose amongst normal children.

Describe their Teenage Years (11-19): Hunter was allowed to go to a normal school once he had mastered his abilities, no longer deemed a threat by his parents. This led to Hunter having a sort of ordinary life with the exception of him being quiet around other people his age because he had never really been around them. This led to people thinking he was a little bit strange and staying away from him. However he eventually opened up and by the time he was 14 he had a small group of friends and was having a great time. Hunter enrols for martial arts lessons at a local trainer at the age of 15. Unfortunately tragedy struck when he was 17, his parents had gone on one of their assignments for the Council and it had met with great failure resulting in his parents’ deaths. Hunter and his younger sister were both placed into the care of their Uncle Bastion who took it upon himself to teach Hunter and his Sister the more intricate uses of magic, making them both very powerful mages for their ages. By the time he had turned 19, Hunter had finished school and college and was starting out at the security firm LFBSF and had moved into a place of his own.

Describe their Adult Years (20+): Hunter is now a well-trained security guard and accomplished mage and martial artist. The deaths of his parents pushed him to putting all of his energy into his training as a mage and martial artist, meaning he graduated early. He is now also under the instruction of the very Council that he blames for his parents’ demises thinking that if he works for them, he will eventually find the person responsible so that he can bring them to justice. He has undertaken several assignments, combating mages that have fallen to the dark powers and bringing them in to face the ruling of the Council that governs all mages. He is frustrated that he has not found his parents killer yet. He has also made an enemy of his own, Pixie, who he used to work with, has fallen to the dark powers and now he waits for the day when she emerges so that he can bring her down.

Purpose and Reasoning

Hunter Phoenix is a character I created several years ago for a short story I began to write called The Four Mages. Hunter was to be the leader of these mages in a climactic battle against the fallen angel and dark Goddess Lilith in a bid to save the world.

Hunter was designed to be a kind and caring individual that is trying to lead a normal life, but he has a dark secret life that is full of danger and supernatural beings that would drive many normal people insane and the juggling of these two lives is a battle in and of itself for him because he knows that one day they will collide and he will have to choose which life he wants to leave. He was also designed to be ruthless when circumstance dictates it, with his fighting skills and an intellect that he covers up; he can be a ferocious fighter and can calculate how a situation will go.

Overall Hunter is meant to be a survivor, being able to go into pretty much any scenario and come out on top no matter what he has to do. He could be dragged into hell and he would somehow manage to find a way out, no matter the odds and he would take down anything that stood in his path. He would also go to any lengths to save his friends, if they are threatened, he will sort it out, whether it is by someone from the human world or something from the Other World, he will face it and save the people he cares about.

Hunter is meant to be the reluctant leader, he has been thrown into the world of magic, a world he does not want to be a part of anymore, set with the task of putting together a team that will then have to travel into the Other World and end the war that no one else has ever been able to finish. This will push Hunter and the team to their limits and beyond, but Hunter is going to try to do it anyway because that is the kind of guy he is designed to be. He will take on the impossible, even if it is insane, he will do his best and even though he does not want to be a leader for anything, he is happy to sit back and let someone else take charge, he will lead this group of mages into the world of darkness and drag them through to the other side in bags if he has too.

So this is my character, he is currently in the design process and therefore is always going to be prone to changes to his physique, attitude and personality, but this is the general outline for the character. I will eventually be able to post up some drawings of what he is going to look like as I will be toying with this character and developing him into a serious protagonist for the game that I have in mind.

So this is the Line Art alteration that I decided to go with in the end after trying several different character from various shows, such as Optimus Prime from Transformers and Iron Man from the Marvel comics.

Batman was much more simple to colour than the previous line art choices I made. However, whereas normal Batman uses a black and grey colour scheme on his costume, I opted to go with the Red and Blue costume and make Batman look like he was trying to copy Superman in style.

Taking this idea to the next step, I cut a speech bubble into the picture and changed the famous Batman saying “I’m Batman” into the new and not as imposing “I’m Superbat” a play on the names of both Superman and Batman.

Altering the image in Adobe Photoshop proved to be a little bit of a challenge in its own right because I have not used it for a long time and had forgotten where a lot of the tools were placed within the program, so it was a lot of fun finding the correct tools in order to alter the image the way I wanted too. Using the Lasso tool and the paint brush, it was easy to exclude parts of Batman and colouring it in before moving onto the next area.

If it comes around to doing line art again at any point, I will likely try a more complicated picture, with more lines and sections to colour so that it looks a lot more dynamic.

Timeline

Posted: October 3, 2012 in Introduction to Game Design
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For our first assignment, we were tasked with researching and creating a timeline of computer games consoles and their most notable games to date. I teamed up with Matt Lane and we divided the work load between us. I took the research half of the assignment while Matt took up the designing and creating of the timeline itself. This division of the work load worked out rather well as Matt wanted to use 3Ds Max to create the timeline and he has more experience with the program than I do, while I was more comfortable with the research side of things.

So we headed out and started working on the timeline. I had a couple of problems when it came to finding several of the games consoles that we decided to include on the timeline but all in all, finding the information we needed was fairly simple. Matt had considerably more trouble with the timeline, he had gotten half way through creating it all when all of a sudden the program encountered a problem and the file became unusable, so he unfortunately had to start all over again.

As can be seen in the video, the timeline was successful, we did manage to get it all together in time and the video we used to present the timeline to the rest of the group was working. Matt was frustrated because of the limited time he had to recreate the timeline after the initial problems because he had been unable to add the sound and the rest of the images that we had planned to use in the presentation. But overall we were happy with our work and we feel that we could continue working on it until it is complete.

The embedded video feed is from the website Youtube and is the video of our timeline as it appeared in our presentation.