Archive for January, 2014

This is version 2 of my board game layout, because I felt that the first one was a little too small and it didn’t really look like a city layout at all, or even a section of a city in the end, it was just some blocks in a random street pattern that didn’t really do the board game idea any justice. So naturally I took to the sketchbook and started to design something a little bit more solid after looking at some of the top down views of the city, trying to draw inspiration from the street patterns.

Below are two images of my board game’s second iteration and I feel that this one is a lot better. The start point is in a better position, with there being plenty of small buildings that the players can venture into with their character avatars to find loot and defeat enemies that they encounter in there, then of course there are the streets with alleyway offshoots in which enemies can hide to form ambush squads as the players try to traverse their way to the target building which is housing the person or creature they have been sent to either take out or retrieve. As the characters are limited in their sight of the environment around them and the players aren’t allowed to know the contents of a house until they step inside, it has been designed so that the players can see which houses they can enter, by way of a door in place, then the contents of the building will be revealed to them once they step inside.

Once the players get their characters to the target building at the top of the map and enter it through the door, once they have defeated the security team there, the map will then change to the interior of the building, with the characters exploring floor by floor for items, enemies and then finally, the boss of the level, which is in turn the person that they are after. Once they have either incapacitated or killed the person, the player chooses which, they shall receive bonus experience based upon their choice and then the quest is complete.
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So since I plan on creating a map for my game that is based within a city, instead of a mix of forest, mountains and dungeons and the like from other board games, I needed to really look into how cities or city blocks and streets are all laid out from an aerial view, and for that I decided to use Google Maps. This handy tool is great for anyone that wants to get a look at how a city or town is laid out from a map view, aerial view or street view as you can use all these different views without having to do too much digging around or fiddling with settings. It is also done in real world environments, using photos taken from the air and street views for users.

I decided to use Hull as my first basis, close to the city center so that I could get a good look at how a large space has been set up with buildings and the ins and outs, especially looking at how people can travel from one street to another without coming into difficulties with things such as dead ends.

As can be seen in the image below, my screen cap from Google Maps, the city is actually pretty crowded. This is because I took a much higher up aerial view shot of the city center so that I could see many of the intricate street layouts of the city. But I think I will be moving closer into the city with the views so that I can get some better shots of the streets, I want to be able to pinpoint various enter and leave ways for people, so that I can really get into the nature of the city and how it allows the traffic to flow on the streets in the hope of being able to replicate this on my own map, because even though I want to be able to keep things going, I also want to have the option of letting players enter some of the buildings and search for loot with their characters, as well as take on enemies that may be lurking in the corridors or rooms there too.

Google Maps

Map Trial Version

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this is the first version of the map that I wanted to create and quite frankly, it is about as rough as it gets. While I have had the intention of creating a fully fledged Modern Fantasy board game, I have not had any experience with creating board games before and this threw me a little. So the above image is the first version of my board, created in Photoshop the board is quite small for purposes of a first design, as I do need to expand on it and create a better proportioned and thought out board, using more than just the rectangle tool to create the visual of buildings in a pattern, with the player characters starting in one area and then finishing in another, with some random enemy areas.

When it comes to upgrading the map and creating a better version of it, I’ll use a bigger map layout, with several different ways to travel between the buildings and in the streets, maybe with some smaller map areas to represent the characters being able to walk into buildings to find items, enemies and other information/items/clues that may help out in future quests and adventures through the streets. I need to work on the designs more, creating some more variants for the board so there is more than one adventure for the players so there is some variation, of course there will also be the chance for the players to create their own adventures using the board, such as searching for certain NPC’s for information, so that would involve using the mini maps of the buildings, hunting down individuals and squeezing them for information, or they could have gang warfare, with their friends taking on the role of a rival group of characters and there being gang battles in the streets and buildings for domination of the territory.

I think I shall have to experiment with the mini map idea for buildings, as within the game of Dungeons & Dragons rooms and buildings are represented on their maps, with entry ways for characters to walk in and out of, so they didn’t need to create additional quest maps for the purpose of the game, but I want to experiment with this because it would offer something different to the game and it would give players the chance to thoroughly explore the building areas and they could also find out more about the world that the game is set in.

So for my character design portion of my game, I decided that instead of creating all of the character professions and races, I would just create four starter characters in order to get some user testing in place before the hand in. I needed to look at several things when it came to the creation of the character sheets, which included the different attributes that help to create a character that fits within the game world that has been established.

Attributes:

There are several attributes that make up a character. In RPGs, characters have a base set of points within each attribute, making up the basics of their character, however through the use of skill points that are gained through leveling up through completing quests and killing monsters, the player can assign additional points to the attributes that they want their character to be strong in, thereby altering their character and setting them in a certain role in the overall character party.

Strength – Strength measures how strong the character is. Strength controls melee attacks and/or damage, and sometimes hit points. Weapons and armour may also have a strength requirement.

Constitution – A measure of how resilient a character is. Constitution often influences hit points resistance to special types of damage (poison, illness) and fatigue. Many games combine Strength and Constitution.

Dexterity – A measure of how agile a character is. Dexterity controls attack and movement speed and accuracy, as well as evading an enemy attack.

Intelligence – Intelligence measures the characters problem solving ability. Intelligence often controls a character’s ability to comprehend foreign languages and their skills in magic. In some cases, intelligence controls how many skill points the character gets at level up. In some games it controls the rate at which experience points are earned, or the amount needed to level up.

Charisma – A measure of the characters social skills and sometimes their physical appearance. Charisma generally influences prices while trading and the reactions of NPC’s.

Willpower – A measure of the character’s mental resistance (against fear, pain) when falling victim to mind-altering magic, torture or insanity. Some games combine Willpower and Wisdom.

Wisdom – A measure of the character’s common sense/ or spirituality. Wisdom often controls a character’s ability to cast certain spells, communicate with mystical entities or discern other character’s motives or feelings.

Perception – A measure of a character’s openness to their surroundings. Perception controls the chance to detect vital clues, traps, hiding enemies and might influence the combat sequence or the accuracy of ranged attacks. Perception-type attributes are more common in modern games. Perception is sometimes combined with Wisdom.

Luck – A measure of a character’s luck. Luck might influence anything, but mostly random items and outstanding successes/failures such as critical hits.

Relevance

The attributes list is quite relevant to my game idea as it is an RPG, so this sort of thing is found as a standard mechanic within this sort of game and I found that when it came to first creating my characters, I was a little bit lost when it came too designing the characters and how they would interact with the world that they were placed in when it came to the players controlling them and moving them through areas and encountering traps and monsters.

Looking back on previous experience of RPGs such as when I played Dungeons & Dragons I remembered that there are character stats and attributes that all work together to round up how the character should be used and defines their role within the game, so I started looking into them and the above list is the foundation upon which most characters are based, with the player using their skill points to improve the attributes that work in tandem with the role they want their character to assume within the game party.

An example would be the Dwarf Engineer that I will be creating for one of the beginner characters. Because he is an engineer, he can find traps and information within a room, I would want him to have additional points in his Perception attribute slot, so that he has an increased chance of finding out anything that is within the room or area, therefore he is increasing his usefulness as a safety engineer within the team. But because he is also going to be a bit of a damage dealer, with the ability to create improvised explosives, he is going to need some additional points within his Intelligence because he is going to need the help of the rest of the team to level up after combats and quests, because he will be hanging around the back of the team, not dealing too much damage, but being able to provide some support with his explosives, dealing area of effect damage, thereby weakening the enemy position.

With some minor changes to how the attributes work, I will be incorporating the attribute system into my character creation and into the game, so that the players can alter and work on their own characters, developing them and making them stronger in the roles that they want them to play in. Because the game is set within a more modern setting, instead of the same sort of mythical stuff as Dungeons & Dragons I want to make sure the attributes and the characters reflect the setting that they are in, but I don’t want to go over the top and lose sight of the original fantasy influences and inspirations.

Darts, one of the many games that tends to be overlooked when it comes to sports, because yes, it is a sport (No matter what some people say) and quite a popular one at that, with more and more people becoming interested in it each year. Sure the main place to find this sort of sport is either in the pub or in the garage, but it is a board game, and a sport and it’s great.

Aspects of Play

Agon: The game is highly competitive, with two players taking it in turns to throw their darts at a board, creating a score based on where the darts strike on the board, subtracting that score from either a beginning score of 301 or in professional tournaments 501. Then of course as I just mentioned, there are the tournaments. If a player wishes to take part in the World Championships at the beginning of the year, they have to spend their time and energy investing in practice, this is achieved by going to local and national tournaments, maybe even international tournaments in other countries if they fancy the journey, acquiring the points they need so that they can enter the World Championships in the hopes of becoming the champion.

Even the most basic pub game tends to be a very heated affair, with players taking in turns to throw the darts (likely while drunk) meaning they will likely miss the board a lot or there may be disputes or heated arguments about where the darts have landed on the board if it is unclear at first, in which the offended parties will proceed to spend many minutes discussing with the thrower that the wire is bent and it doesn’t count, while the other refutes this. It could easily go on for a while.

Agon is also a part of the game because of the level of skill involved while playing the game. Not only do the players have to be able to drown out all background noise and be able to focus on the board in front of them, but they also have to have brilliant hand/eye co-ordination in order to hit the intended targets instead of having their darts fly through the air and hit nothing, which of course can be very embarrassing. The players have to spend many hours per day, practicing and refining their throwing and aiming techniques to a level of professional play so that they stand a chance of winning any games they play in the future.

Ilinx: I’m throwing Ilinx in here with the game of darts purely because of the psychology within the game. While there is a lack of misdirection, there is definitely a certain psychology that hides in the shadows of the game, with the players battling it out for mental dominance in the form of concentration and “psyche outs” meaning the player that is performing the best is likely to disrupt the other players train of thought and may even derail their performance, making it that much easier for them to take the victory while the other player that they have out psyched is left to wallow in their own frustrations.

State of Flow

If the game is progressing smoothly and the player is working hard to win their games, either in sets, legs or a mix of both (three legs to a set, best of three sets) then they shall likely hit a state of flow and their performance shall improve even more, their senses focusing on the task at hand, sensing the victory that is so close and shall be theirs if they continues to play to the standard of play that they have struck up.

However, if there are factors, such as injury, lack of concentration or even external distractions, the player tend to be denied flow and their performance and subsequent victories shall indeed suffer because of this problem, it is necessary for a player to be totally focused on the task at hand if they are to be successful and anything that can put them off, whether it is an external force or whether it is the other player playing so well, psychologically putting them off their game because of their sheer skill level and performance, there are many factors to take into account when it comes to playing darts.

Of course there are the video games themselves. These games have been used for much more than just entertainment purposes, as I am going to explore within this post, talking about both the entertainment and the practical applications that have come about in recent years.

Fun for the Whole Family

Whether the player is on their own or with their family playing games either on the consoles or in some form of board game or maybe even a game created by the family themselves, they tend to be entertaining and fun along the way, with the whole family chipping in and spending time together while playing a game that they all enjoy.

Interaction with the games themselves comes in many forms, mostly through the interaction of moving pieces or characters with either their hands or a controller to nudge them across a screen or even using a mouse to click and move pieces.

Hearing is also an interaction if the game comes with sounds, or whether it is someone reading out a ruling or making a sound effect to add more atmosphere to the game.

If the game requires bodily movements with more than just the hands, in the game Twister for example, where the whole body is used, this is an interaction, because the player is getting involved with the game and they are interacting with the environment that the game is in front of them or around them.

No matter what form the game comes in, whether it is on a screen or on a board or even just some pieces or pure imagination and the players themselves are the pieces, games require a level of interaction from the participants.

Of course, as I mentioned, games have been given more than just an entertainment value, and so we shall have a sneak peak into this practical world in which they are expanding.

Medical

The first thing that I want to talk about when it comes to medical applications is the Nintendo Wii. This console was among the first, if not the first to use a controller that required the player to be stood and actively working to complete their games, the controllers responding to the arm and body movements of the player and moving the characters and game pieces accordingly in reaction.

This technology has evolved beyond just being a game, it has developed a base in the medical world as an exercise machine and a physiotherapy component.

Above is an image of a patient using the Wii board as part of their physical therapy session. The board measures a persons weight, balance and stance and helps them interact with games such as Wii Fit and Wii Sports.

Games have also found a use within the medical profession for those that are undergoing rehabilitation after an accident or surgery, with games being used to help strengthen them up again slowly, also through the use of the Wii, but also through other games, quickening their reflexes and helping them get through their recovery a lot more smoothly.

Games such as Zumba and the Wii Fit have also been used in small community areas, with the organizers setting up a hall so that the public can go along and be part of a community exercise drive, using these games for dance and yoga sessions as forms of exercise. It offers something different and allows the people the chance to have fun while they exercise.

Military

The military are also beginning to see the benefits of games, with them using first person shooters and real time strategy games to strengthen and enhance the reflexes and strategic thinking of their soldiers, while also using gaming technology to pilot their own unmanned units, an example being the use of Xbox 360 controllers to control their unmanned spy drones.

 

The client project is well underway now, with the level being developed quite nicely and the buildings and assets slowly being placed to build up the overall level. It’s going good.

But to get to where we are at the moment, there were several things that we had to take into consideration first. So naturally, we had meetings. Lots of meetings.

Through the many meetings we had at the beginning, we were able to work out a plan for how we should proceed.

First came the initial research, breaking off into teams of four, we each went out and researched a part of the history of the area that we are building, taking photos, talking to historians, gathering information from the archives and the internet, putting together a map of the area and how it looked at the outbreak of the first world war and the sort of things that were to be in place there, from the buildings to the signs and much more besides.

Once we had the research in place, we made lists of the assets and buildings that needed to be created, placing them in the correct categories depending on their importance. We then each took assets and buildings to create and set about creating them, several of us took up the role of unwrapping and texturing the finished models, then handing them back to the creator of the model so that they could place the finished product into the overall level in the game engine.

Through these processes we have slowly brought together several sections of the game level. We are still a long way off but we are slowly progressing and adding more to the level, making sure to take care at each stage to make sure we are achieving accuracy and detail without making mistakes.