Reflection of Week Nine

Week beginning 27th – 2nd April

Monday

Sprint 7 went pretty well for me as I managed to stay on top of my tasks, finish them and then move onto starting next week’s tasks so I’m hoping to continue with this work ethic through this week too. 
I’ve been sorting through the Trello tasks to double-check with the team what they’ve been working on, what they’ve completed and what they haven’t been able to complete so that I can construct the next Sprint, number 8. James and I were able to finish the tasks set however Millie wasn’t able to finish the portraits due to not being able to access her PC over the past few days which is fair enough; she has agreed to finish them this week instead so as to stop the backburner tasks growing.
James has chosen to go through all of the code he has been working on over the past seven weeks and go through a refinement and debugging process to double-check that everything functions properly. This will be incredibly useful as it means that we will have the Gardens and Greenhouse fully refined as well as elements such as the storeroom inventory, the shop etc where we can drop artwork into it and it will further us in our testing stages.
I will be working on painting the images of potions that will be put onto the commission cards as once these are done, it’ll just be the text files that will need to be created for this and then the commission cards are completed. I aim to have these nine potions finished by the end of Sprint 8 and have also begun designing the panels for the active quests and the active garden plots menu. I feel that if I keep focused, I’ll be able to have finished the majority of the shop environment by the end of next week which will be great as then I can work on trying to complete the Harvesting mini-game aesthetics; this will lead to us being able to test this mini-game with our target audience gaining feedback and testing for bugs which we can then implement. 

Tuesday – Wednesday

Above are the potions that I’ve been working on which will be going on to the commission cards at the bottom to show the player what potion it is they have to make; it will tell them in the request box also but the text files have yet to be made up. I’ve suggested that as all three of us have different styles in writing, it would be a good idea to work on the text files together as it will give the commission cards some variation in tone and style to reflect the different customers you would get in. What with myself and Millie working in customer service, this gives us an upper hand on some of the sorts of customers we could have in terms of tone and character!
But yeah… s
o I’ve already finished the potions tasks that I set myself for the whole week??!
My time management has been a bit off this week and I’ve overestimated how long it was all going to take me but I guess on the upside, I can now do the panels for the Shop environment and get those completed quicker than I first thought.
My next steps are to ask James what bits and pieces he’s waiting on to drop into the Shop environment so as to help complete the level more quickly and get it ready for testing.

Saturday- Sunday

I decided to take some time off to help recharge my creative batteries so I picked up my extra tasks through Saturday to Sunday. I feel better in that I’m finishing tasks and am taking up bits and pieces when needed which is helping my productivity as I’m wanting to push myself more and get things done.
I managed to design a range of active quest panels so that I had a variety of choice to see which ones would fit the Shop environment. Now that we’ve chosen the panel style, this could be a ‘skin’ style for each panel that’s needed so that we save time and reuse assets; this will leave more time for other tasks so we’ll be pushing forward at a quicker pace which is exciting. 

Due to the fact that the Shop environment will look rather busy on screen, we felt that the above design would be the best for the panel’s style as the simplicity will hopefully not overcomplicate the screen when the Player presses the appropriate button to open each designated panel. James will be dropping these into his project and so to combat what he may need, I’ve made a variety of panels with text and without etc so that he can work out what works best for his code and go from there.
Now that I’ve completed these, I’ve again managed to complete all my tasks for the week which’s great as I’m starting to realise how much time I need for certain tasks and feel I can structure my personal Sprint tasks accordingly.
Overall, this week has been rather productive and I’m proud of how quickly I am managing to get through tasks. We’re very close to finishing the Shop level in terms of design meaning that there is only:

  • painting the shop
  • painting the storeroom
  • creating text files for the commission cards

Millie has mostly been painting the environments but as she has a lot on her plate, at some point I may come back to these and help her. I feel that so long as we get the majority designed which means we can at least show what it could look like, we can then worry about painting the specifics later. I will continue on with designing and possibly when we are nearing the end of Easter, I will check with Millie to see if she wants me to help (if I can) so as to relieve her of stress as she’s been working hard on a number of things currently such as music, portraits and our website which is soon to be up!

Due to working a lot next week, I will need to factor in time around my job to get tasks for Sprint 9 done so I will need to keep this in mind tomorrow when I construct the next sprint. I will be talking to James and Millie to see how they’re doing with their tasks and adapting Sprints accordingly. 

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Reflection of Week Eight

Week beginning 20th – 26th March

Monday

Today, I began by organising the next Sprint. As expected, due to Reflective Journal’s deadline being today, last week’s sprint wasn’t fully completed, however, I’ve adjusted this week’s sprint accordingly. By looking at the remaining tasks that we have to do, I feel that we’re in a good place now and we should be able to finish all the ‘levels’ that we wanted to complete for hand-in. I’m really enjoying working on this project and I feel that’s helped us stay motivated to complete this project to the best of our abilities; we’ll see how we feel after Easter…
I started designing the store room using the shop environment and the research that I did on Art Nouveau and Deco as inspiration in order for everything to fit the same aesthetic. The store room will just be the background/backdrop as we’ll have UI panels over this so it won’t need as much detail as the Shop. I managed to catch up on some important documentation in my sketchbook as well as complete two full layouts for the store room which I’ll be looking to get feedback from the rest of the team tomorrow. That will decide if we stick with one or if I adapt and create a final one accordingly. 
Overall, I’m happy with the progress that I made today and it has set me up well to be on target for the rest of the tasks left in the sprint. 

Tuesday

Firstly, I got some feedback from the team about which store room layout would work best for the background/drop.


The first one was agreed as too busy and cluttered and the second layout was deemed the preferred one as it wouldn’t overcrowd the screen and confuse the player. We will be having a panel with the UI pop up over the background so the detail in the store room isn’t as much as a necessity as the Shop environment was. Now that this is complete and the team are all happy with the environment’s design, it’ll now be queued up in the painting list of things to do.
I discussed with the team about the finish button and it really is as simple as a finish button for handing in quests. I’ve been playing around today with the font that we’re using, Quicksand Book, and using these over buttons I’ve designed to see how they could work and if it fits our other UI scheme; I’ve tried to design them with this in mind.
With James working on the economy and inventory systems today, we discussed what currency we would be using. After much debate, we have decided we shall call our currency Twills, as it is very fitting with our name Twilleir and it sounds good
“That was awful, 2 twills.”
“Oh wow, amazing job, 26 twills for you!”

Another task that we discussed was the commission cards as I wanted to make sure that I knew what needs to be on the card itself and that it corresponds with the coding that James has already worked on.

  • New Commission title
  • Image of potion
  • Request: what the customer is asking for
  • Due by date: when does the potion need to be completed by
  • Signature of customer – makes it more personal

I began designing a few card shapes to see what would work and look right aesthetically. We discussed what ones people preferred and there was a split between two different types of design which were the favourites so I have decided to combine the two in order to create a better design. Now that I’ve completed the design, I will be taking it to Paintool Sai and then James will implement it into the game where we can see if it fits with the overall aesthetic.
Overall, today has been very productive and I feel that I am certainly on track with the tasks I’ve got for the Sprint; hopefully, I may be able to pick up more tasks from the Shop environment list. 

Thursday

We had Mind The Film in today to talk about putting our game projects into a film. It was relatively interesting and useful to talk to them as now we understand the sort of feel that we want our film to get across. We’re looking to sell ourselves through our personalities which will filter through to the film where we will look to have clips of ourselves at work, working together and our process. We’re also looking to film more of our cosplay to give a feel of who we are and what Twilleir is about which we’ll be looking to film more of when we come to acting out the battle system for our animations.
Creating animation could also be a good idea to intertwine with our film as it could be quirky and cute like us and Twilleir which could be a good idea to consider.
Freesound.org – good place to find and use sounds within our project as we didn’t manage to get much from the Caves due to screaming kids and the people that were there.
Over Easter, I will be looking to film more of my drawing process and my speed paints in order to gather as much footage as possible which we can filter through later on; we’ll all be doing this in order to get a range for our development video.

Equipment to use:
Nikon D800
Set of 3 LED panels

Arduino Workshop – iLab with Andy

Today’s workshop using Arduino’s was interesting and challenging for me. I hadn’t done anything to do with circuits in years since Secondary School so it was pretty scary trying to remember previous knowledge from … 6 years ago.
Despite the initial scare, I managed to pick it up again relatively quickly and was able to make a LED light blink, dim and enlighten. It was interesting as when we used the sensor and it beeped whenever you moved your hand or light near it, I realised what we’d effectively made was one of the sensors you get in newer cars nowadays which tells you when you’re too close to other objects; I found this really cool in a nerdy way.
This workshop made us think about how we could use Arduinos within our project, mainly with our exhibition in mind. We have a crafting game and harvesting game that incorporates colours into it and we’ve been thinking that at the exhibition, we could make the game physical using LED lights and Arduinos. Andy seemed to like what we are thinking of doing and has said he’d like to work with us on it which is exciting. This will help to hopefully make our game stand out at the exhibition as well as give it an edge over the competition as it will be physical and digital too.

The Weekend

This weekend has proven productive as I’ve managed to complete my tasks for this week’s Sprint. I’ve now moved on to the extra tasks that I set myself which is good as it means that I can get a head start on next week and hopefully be able to get the assets for the Shop environment completed a lot quicker than we first anticipated.
I seem to be getting better and quicker at doing my digital painting over the course of this project and it’s becoming apparent through the time I spend on these tasks compared to how long it used to take me. It goes to show that through practice I can improve my skills even in just a short period of time so who knows what my work could be like by the end of this project and further into the future.

Overall, this week has been surprisingly productive and I’m feeling motivated to continue on with the tasks that I’ve set myself. On Monday, I will be creating the next sprint where I’ll speak to Millie and James about how they’re doing and what they’ll be working on for the next week. We appear to be on track which is good so we just need to stay as focused as possible during this holiday so as not to waste too much time and make it easier on ourselves when we come back from Easter. 

Reflection of Week Seven

Week beginning 13th – 19th March

This week has been a bit of a muddle. What with the Reflective Journal deadline looming, the whole team have been feeling the pressure of trying to multi-task this demon alongside the Twilleir project. Due to this, I’ve found that progress has been slow with my area of the FMP sprint this week as I’ve been trying to get the RJ to a finished state. Although, despite this, I feel that my time management hasn’t been too awful as I’m still managing to multitask my tasks in between writing which has helped the workload.

Monday – Wednesday

I’ve also taken to working from home for most of this week, mostly because the stress and pressure of travelling between two places up to six times a week is becoming a bit much for me and affecting my work ethic. By taking Monday through to Wednesday ‘off’ from the studio and working from home, I’ve been able to power through my essays and started backburner tasks for Twilleir. This has been beneficial and it’s made me realise that sometimes I need to think strategically about what’s best for my work ethic and the project over whether I’m physically in the studio or not. The Twilleir team have already proved on many occasions that working via Skype and through screen-sharing has been working well to keep each other up to date. On Monday, James screen shared the progress of the Garden’s level to us where we could see all of our work come to life. With it being so near completion, it’s exciting and helped to motivate me in moving on to the next tasks and levels in Twilleir.
The fact we have been able to communicate effectively through Skype is promising news considering Easter is around the corner and we’re not all going to be together all the time like we are in the studio. I plan to have weekly Skype calls to set up Sprints and see how we’re all getting on so that we can stay on top of Twilleir and get it finished to a great standard.

Thursday

On Thursday, I worked alongside Millie to create the UI for the Gardens which are some of the last pieces to go into the level. Now that they are completed, it’ll be exciting to see all of the assets into the Unity project and mean that we can properly playtest the Gardens to see if the Player understands how they play and what they can interactive with. Once James has collated it all together, we will be planning to test it through playing, surveys and taking notes of Player’s reactions to the game in order to gather feedback, which if needed to, we shall implement.
I will be creating a paper-based survey and so have been looking at questions from articles from Gamasutra and Reddit forums that are beneficial when playtesting in order to get better responses that you can then fix and implement. 

  • Was there anything that you wanted to do/click on that the game didn’t let you?
  • What was your most favourite interaction and why?
  • What was your least favourite interaction and why?
  • If you could add anything or remove anything from the game, what would it be?
  • To what extent did you feel that you were in control of the outcome of the game?
  • Based off of what you’ve played so far, would you want to play other ‘levels’ in the game (Twilleir)?

Reddit also had plenty of questions that we should be asking ourselves based off of Player’s actions and responses which we shall be recording through notes and video to get the full benefit of playtesting and feedback.

  • Did the Playtesters appear to be enjoying themselves?
  • Did we notice any game-breaking strategies?
  • Did Players seem to understand the instructions set before them?

We plan to either Playtest on Friday 17th or Monday 20th (after RJ deadline when everyone will hopefully be less stressed!)

Friday

Today, we had various musicians come in to talk to us about music and narrative and what the common uses are:

  • Character theme/”Leitmotif”
  • Contextualising emotion/feel of scene/place
  • refining the style/ general aesthetic of the piece
    Alex also mentioned about having the same score in each room or place but slightly differing it depending on where you are. This was some really handy advice and definitely something to look into and experiment with.

1-1 Talk with Alex 

  • avoid repetition 
  • Winifred Reynolds??
  • embrace minimalist and cleverly
  • creating music that feels unpredictable so the brain doesn’t get repetition
  • Make the pieces longer – less repetitive
  • Enough variation of pieces (saving grace)
  • More iPad music pieces – great
  • could program so that you have layers and naturally builds within the game – makes it unpredictable
  • music to create a space
  • keeping a central motif – what we want to play around with 
  • Cave track – take time to bring layers in
  • make it easier for yourself and label layers one, two, three and layer unevenly – brain takes longer to learn it – tricking learner into not remembering 
  • aim to have something that’s maybe 4 minutes or longer?
  • create a sense of unity in the world by having a main tune/part of the music
  • He showed us one of the tracks he made for a game – layered up gradually with different instruments and behaviours – using fading in and out to help this. Also changing keys could work too.
  • Using layers to create situations – cues. I.e. was relaxed in his music and then it ramped up immediately – like they’ve just been attacked etc.
  • Create a track that’s constantly moving along = less repetitive, not distracting, sounds like a new track each time. There are limitations but this may be the way to go with our music
  • Give yourself 5 bars, loop, paste it over and play around

The talk and the 1-1 with Alex was really useful and it’s inspired us with the sort of direction that we need to go. He liked the music that Millie had already been working on and gave us some great advice (see notes above) as to what we could do next or how better to improve our work. Using his advice, we will be working on making the music less repetitive and more unpredictable so that the Player doesn’t get annoyed whilst playing. 

Today, I sat down with James and Millie in order to work through the Trello tasks to see what exactly we had left to do. We’ve fleshed out each card with checklists now so we know exactly what is expected of us and what we need to get done. It does look like a substantial amount to do in the time that we have left, however, I feel that over Easter we should be able to progress through quite a few tasks as we won’t have workshops or have to travel into university meaning there’s more time to work on Twilleir.
The next environment that we will work on will be the Shop but we will also be working on the Harvesting mini-game at the same time so we can gradually build Twilleir. It’s handy that James has already been building the majority of these systems so he can help to guide me and Millie in what he needs and how he needs it (transparent, different layers etc). This sort of teamwork has been crucial in getting our game off of the ground and with this continued input, I believe that we’ll get the game completed in the allotted time.

Over this weekend I will be taking the Saturday off due to personal reasons (it’s ma birfdaaaaaay) but I will be looking to take Sunday to double check my Reflective Journal pieces as well as continue working on the design for the Greenhouse. If I manage to get the Greenhouse designed this weekend, we can get it painted and implemented into the code then meaning that Gardens and Greenhouse environments are complete! Yaaaaaaay.

 

Reflection of Week Six

Week beginning 6th – 12th March

For this week, we continued on from last Friday and are working on the Gardens environment. We decided that it would be best to get one ‘level’ complete that we can playtest and fix rather than work on many different areas at the same time.

I’ve spent most of the week designing some of the Plant icons for the UI bar, Watering can icon, Trowel icon; pretty much most of the UI for the Gardens. I haven’t really ever worked on UI before so this was quite a challenge trying to figure out if the player would understand the icons that I’ve made within the game setting. I showed my work to the team and others within our target audience and they mentioned that they seemed clear and plus the tutorial, it should all work well. I suppose this is something that will tell in time after we’ve done some playtesting and if there are any adjustments needed then that will be easy enough, hopefully, to rectify. 

So, the Reflective Journal assignment is due very soon so I spent the majority of Wednesday and Saturday working on this. I managed to get a full first draft, full bibliography and citation of the 2500 word piece so I feel better a lot about the upcoming deadline. I’m just the smaller piece to write which I’ll hopefully have finished (first draft) by Wednesday 15th giving me a few days to sort out any issues and proofread it. I already planned what I will write it on and have the specific quotes and references that I’ll be using so it should hopefully not take me long to complete. Even though I have left it late with writing the essays this year, I feel I’ve managed to get better sources and have managed to focus on getting better material so I think my time management hasn’t been too bad. 

 

Christian Bravery Artwork for Blog
Christian Bravery – Artstation Piece

 

Christian Bravery
leadinglightdesign.com
@leadinglightdesign

Vanessa (TIGA)
vanessa@tiga.org

On Thursday, we had a brilliant talk from Christian Bravery from Leading Lights Design and had a brief informal talk with Vanessa from TIGA. Christian mentioned the sorts of games that he’d worked on such as Until Dawn, Resident Evil and Dead Island 2 which was quite overwhelming as some of these are games that I’ve played or seen and it was mad to have some time with someone who’d actually worked on something I’d had first-hand experience with; he also had been working on an interactive narrative called The Lock which I’ll be looking out for as it sounds awesome.
Not only did he wow us all with his background, we had the privelage of getting to see his process and speed paints as well as get some fantastic tips from him about creating concept art. Having this time with him was amazing, however, I felt quite demotivated after the talk purely because I feel that my digital painting skills haven’t progressed over the past two years due to me focussing on the projects we had on at the time. I feel that if I had actually assigned at least an hour a day or even one day a week to working on my art skills, I would feel like I’m in a better place now.

Notes on talk:
– mock up in 3D as it gives you new views you wouldn’t think of
– by doing this it helps with lighting and values too
– sketch over with line work
– reduce opacity of line layer to help with painting
– more important to capture the mood than anything else
– use the lasoo tool = can grab areas an then you don’t have to be meticulous with strokes. It’s more relaxed and gives a softer blend.
– decided what you want the focal point would be and make that the most detailed part

I had a chance to work on digital stuff this weekbut not only was I out of practice, I also was quite overwhelmed by Christian’s talk and had a bit of a meltdown crisis. In order to combat this, I need to try and make sure that I practice more and try and use Sundays as my personal development day as this will help not only the project but also help my skills and selfconfidence improve. I plan to do this by watching speed paints from artists such as Christian Bravery (like on his Instagram videos) and through using the Twitch creative streams to learn from other artists. 

Overall, this week has been quite a rollercoaster ride for me and I’m glad it’s over with. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get as much done as I needed to from the Sprint so I have added these tasks to the backburner chart and tomorrow, when I reorganise the Sprints, I will add these to my list of tasks. Having looked at the trello, it was originally overwhelming that we had so many things left to do, however, having flipped through the cards I managed to work out that we had finished bits of all of them due to our work that we did in the first couple of weeks. Once Gardens and Greenhouse is out of the way, I will be planning to go through the trello with the team where we can work out how much time we have left for each area. I feel it’s feasible that we’ll get everything out that we wanted to, it may just be a hell of a journey but it’ll depend how Easter goes. Due to all three of us being in a similar location, I will be looking to organise meetups where we can discuss what we’re doing, how the project is going and what we need to work on next; this will either be through Skype meetings or in person depending on work rotas etc.

It’ll be okay. 

Reflection of Week 5

27th February – 5th March

This week has really opened my eyes as to how little time we have left and how much we have accomplished so far. I feel our time management this week has been very good considering we have a few things on the backburner so I’m hoping for similar results for next week too. 

Monday

We came together to end another Sprint and start our next haul of tasks that we need to complete. There were quite a number of things left over from the Sprint which was unfortunate. I spoke with Millie about this as the majority were her tasks. She’d been working on other tasks rather than what was set which is absolutely fine, but also we need to make sure that the tasks that were outlined in the Sprint are completed too so as not to be behind. After a brief discussion, Millie has been assigned new tasks that we both outlined together and have put her in charge of looking at the backburner tasks this week. This will hopefully shed some of the backburner tasks and get us back on track.
Apart from this slight mix-up, we have sorted out Sprint 4 and are raring to go with the next long haul. I am looking to push myself this week and try and get more achieved in a smaller frame of time as I’m worried about the time we have left to complete everything we set out to do. Therefore I am looking to have designed assets and at least 4 layouts for the Crafting Room which will take me 6 days leaving another day for getting feedback and implementing changes into a final design; this shedding a few days off and leaving more time to get through everything else.

Tuesday

Today, I finished off some little touches to the final Shop environment as there were a couple of bits that I wanted to change before going ‘that’s it’. Once this was done, I then began working on creating assets for the Crafting room based off of the resources that we collated on our research trips as well as the books that I took out from the Library. This is the lengthier part of the process and one which I hope will speed up once we get to Gardens and Greenhouse as these have limited assets that would appear in the backgrounds, the ingredients are added later in the game by the Player.

I also managed to finish the development video that I have been making using the footage that we collected from our Torquay trip. You can find it below. I thought this could be a good idea to share on our social media pages so that we can get more interest from people as well as put names to faces as such. This is one of the first posts where you can see all of us in one place so it’s exciting and should hopefully create a buzz as well as show people what the developers of Twilleir have been up to!

Wednesday

I used this day as a reflective journal day as well as check up on social media and how that is going. I feel that either Wednesdays or Sundays (or both depending on when I’m working my job) will be the days that I solely dedicate to RJ and once that’s done – social media and interest; this will hopefully boost the number of followers that we get.
Currently, Instagram seems to be our key social media area where we have 71 followers whereas on Twitter we have 26. I will be looking to push these accounts by following other indie games companies and developers as well as looking to post not just stuff related to Twilleir but also things that are trending currently using the hashtags/trends of Twitter and Instagram; the main focus will be on Instagram as this is already proving to be the better way of grabbing attention. We have been thinking that once we hit milestones for followers, we shall hold competitions for keyrings, paintings etc to celebrate this and get people involved with Twilleir.
We haven’t set up our actual website for Twilleir yet as we have all been pretty swamped with the RJ but we do have a domain. Once RJ is out of the way at the end of March, I will be looking to get our domain into full swing by uploading game art, sketches, music and prototypes that we’ve made so our audience can see what we’ve been up to and follow along. If they want to see more of our nitty gritty development then we shall link this blog to it too so that it can appease all!

Thursday

We had a great talk from Chris Buckingham today about Crowdfunding and his journey to where he is now. I learnt a fair amount from this talk which was great and it’s motivated me more to think about getting a Games Company up and running. His journey gave me some great thoughts about life, whether he meant to or not, about your path being ever changing and that along the way you will nail what you want to do. I feel very confident that I have found the area that I would like to work in, however, what role I have conflicting ideas of; he helped to make me see that it will all work out great if I work hard and knuckle down.
Chris also spoke a lot about his business models which were super useful. I am looking to set up a company with others after university and hearing about the key points and successes to a good business model was handy. He also gave us a list of books that helped him as well as some of his own which I think will be a good investment for our company to look at and learn from.

I finished creating all of the assets for the Crafting room today (yay!) so now I can soley focus for the rest of the week on designing the layouts of the room and what assets work within them. Based on the Shop environment, I have been creating layouts in an average of 3-4 hours therefore, I forsee that I will be able to get the minimum of four completed that I wanted to get done. 

Millie and I looked at the mass sheet of tasks that we have on the wall and realised that we don’t have a specific task outline for Art like we do for Coding and UI and so we spent a few minutes today ironing out what ‘draft art’ we needed to get completed; draft art being art that is designed but not finished/coloured. Below is an image of this list:

2017-03-07 10.45.11

So, it’s a motherfudging big list and I’m quite daunted as to how much we have to do, not including working on the UI. As there are two of us working on Art, we should hopefully be able to complete all of these tasks and colouring but it’s going to be hella tight. I discussed with James later on that day about how it is likely that he will have finished the coding and implemented feedback before we finish the Art and how he will need to be prepared that he may have to make a start on the UI designs himself.
As he rightfully said, “It’ll be tight but we’ll be okay, we’ll just have to band together and slog it out, I’m sure we’ll do it.” and this is why I love the team we have, always trying to stay positive and power through projects; the key to a great team.
Now that everyone is up to speed with the tasks that lie ahead of them, it’s just a case of cracking on. Millie and I have already marked off what we’ve already completed and will continue to do this and try and get all of the draft work done by Easter, but it’s going to be really tight… I plan to get the Crafting room, store room, garden and greenhouse fully designed by Easter and will be working on the NPCs afterwards. I’m aiming to reach this target by pushing the number of hours that I work a day through enforcing regular breaks, naps and caffeine. YAY GAMES DESIGN, WOULDN’T CHANGE IT FOR THE WORLD AMMIRITE. 

Friday

1:1 with Adam about RJ pieces:
After discussing with Adam about my reflective journal pieces, I now feel more confident with the direction that I’d like to go with these. I’ll need to grab a couple more sources for my 2500 word essay where I’ll look at a few academic pieces to help support my work and then draw something out from this to fully develop into a smaller subject in my 1500 word piece. Now I’ve got this sorted, I will be planning to make a start either this Saturday or Wednesday next week and aim to have drafted up at least half of the piece so as to get ahead and on track with the deadline. 

1:1 Team Meeting with Adam:

  • the shop needs to be coloured asap
  • need to get character or two in to see how busy it’ll get
  • need to figure out how long everything will take – start with the shop
  • Produce less layouts for each environment (aim for 3 max)
  • Battle scene needs to be slowed down – bit confusing to the player
  • Millie – work out shop painting
  • James take garden into demo
  • Jess do greenhouse then gardens then crafting then storeroom
  • stuff feedback for the drawings – do when you have in the unity project and get feedback then
  • GET THE GARDEN GOING – UI, environment in and character
  • spreadsheet of what we need (garden) INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE
  • build the garden, put on itch.co and get feedback 

Well, everything’s been turned on its head a bit now… The talk with Adam was definitely helpful and it has made sense to try and get one whole ‘level’ in so that we can get it tested rather than work on lots of things separately. By some miracle, I managed to get a background drawn up today, however, I’m not as happy with it as I was with the Shop environment. I feel this is because I drafted up three very rough layouts before moving forward to the final one rather than spending 3 hours on each to make sure it’s worked out efficiently. Millie has taken the background to see how long it takes to paint, so maybe if it doesn’t take too long, we could leave time at the end to fix the visuals if need be.
The next part that I’ll be working on is creating the Greenhouse and what it’ll look like which we can then overlay on the background that I made. This being due to it only needing to be put into the environment to then click on it and it will take you to the greenhouse environment whereas the Garden background was
 needed more urgently so that James could implement the code that he has been working on. Hopefully, by the end of Monday, we could have a functioning ‘level’ that we can test and get feedback on which is exciting! 

Overall, this week has been productive despite the mad change around on Friday. This has taught me that change can sometimes be good and it has made me feel that we’re a very flexible team considering we adjusted quickly and got on with the jobs; these skills will be so useful this semester!

 

Reflection of Week 4

Week beginning 20th February – 26th February

A vast majority of my time this week has been taken over by working on the Shop environment. I feel that my time management of this process has been not too bad, however, there could be room for improvement. After spending two weeks designing this environment, I have worked out that I can probably reduce this time down to a week and a half if I knuckle down as I have all of the resources that I need now from the research trips we went on which was slowing me down previously. Now that I have all of these resources to hand, I should be able to work on the Crafting room, the Garden and the Greenhouse more quickly than the Shop meaning that I have more time to spend on painting them so that they are ready to put into the game. 

You can read the full blog post of my Shop development here from the past two weeks. I have planned that once the environments have been designed, I will then proceed on to painting them. I believe that this will take me the most time as I will be needing to make sure that mine and Millie’s painting technique is similar so as to keep Twilleir looking consistent. I am planning to do this through working from Millie’s Cave Dungeon speed-paint which is on our Instagram, a still is below. Millie is an expert in digital art and through learning her process, it will help me to boost my skills as well as make sure that the game’s art style works and is consistent; I look forward to this!

millies-cave-dungeon-concept

This week, the ‘Reflective Journal’ has been starting to get to me as I realise I have under a month to complete the tasks with not much idea as to what I was going to do it on. However, after our Tuesday session, I have more of an idea as to where I’m going with the two pieces which helped to calm me. In order to make sure that I get the ball rolling, I will be taking some time out next week each day to find references to support my ‘academic’ piece which in turn should hopefully inspire my journalistic piece. By breaking it up into chunks per day, this should help me to get the academic and journalistic piece finished in time as well as leaving time for proof-reading from peers.

Overall, this week has been one of my most productive ones to date and I am excited to see what next week will bring when I work on producing the final design for the Shop and start designing the Crafting room. I plan to have the final Shop environment finished Monday evening once I have conferred with James and Millie as to which areas in the feedback to pursue, leaving the evening to focus on Reflective Journal. Then from Tuesday I will be making a start on the Crafting room and continuing work on the RJ. By balancing these two, it’ll mean that I will potentially be slower in creating assets and layouts for the Crafting room, however, it’ll mean that I will have progressed the writing pieces taking stress off of myself; after the 20th March, I will be able to focus all of my attention on Twilleir and its environments.

Development of the Shop Process

Step One – Using Primary Research and Secondary Research to Design Assets

Since our trips to the Lyndhurst shops and Treadwell’s bookstore, I have been grabbing aspects which we’ve felt suited the game and our themes which could influence the design process of the Shop environment and the Crafting environment. These are a select few scans from my sketchbook of such things:

This has helped me to get into the design process and come up with some new, fresh concepts and designs to create our Shop in Ephara. I have taken inspiration from books that I took out from the library such as Art Nouveau Architecture by Frank Russell, Art Nouveaux by Tim Benton, and Art Deco Architecture in New York 1920-1940 by Don Vlack as these are styles often used within High Fantasy and so to help get across our Fantasy theme, I have been combining such styles along with the research images that we took in Lyndhurst and London to create different and yet still Fantastical outcomes. Having this range of resources to work with has definitely helped to inform my design decisions throughout this process which has improved the look of the asset creation. 

Step 2 – Mashing Everything Together To Make Stuff

Once I had a load of different iterations and concepts of potential assets that could be in the environment, I then began to compile them into several layouts of what the Shop could look like. By doing this, it will allow me to try out a variety of layouts and designs which I will then improve upon once I’ve gotten feedback from in-house testing with our target audience. I’m hoping this feedback will improve the aesthetics of Twilleir and create visually striking environments that the Players will want to be in and feel like they should be in. This way I can figure out if there is anything that doesn’t fit in with the aesthetic we’re going for.
Below are the five concepts that I’ve developed using the previous assets created:

Step 3 – Get Some Feedback and Crit

Once I had designed these five layouts, I then moved on to in-house testing. I asked roughly 10-15 people what they liked, what they didn’t like, what suited the Twilleir ‘vibe’ – so was it cute, charming, homely? In order to record this, I photocopied copies of the layouts and got people to scrawl all over them. This helped as some individuals embraced this and wrote all over highlighting specific aspects they liked meaning it feels like I got some good, solid feedback from this exercise. From this feedback, I will be able to start planning some final designs which I am intending to then put out again to in-house testing to see which is the favourite; this will then be the Shop environment complete and ready to paint for the game! 😀
Below is the scans of the feedback that I received from our target audience:

As well as useful for me, it was intriguing to see that some people responded to other people’s feedback that had already been written before them. This does, however, make it harder for me to figure out which feedback to go forward with as there are some conflicting feedback. In order to combat this, I have outlined with the Team that our keywords for the Shop are Cosy, Homely with a hint of Professionalism (as you are supposed to be upkeeping a business!). From here, I will be deciphering the feedback by picking out elements that support these keywords in order to create a Final Shop Environment Design that adheres to ‘cosy’, ‘homely’ and ‘hint of professionalism’.
This will be part of the fourth and final step – make the thing! I will be updating this blog post with it once it is complete.

Feedback in list form (easier to read):

Layout 1:

  • Till looks too modern ( a few agreed)
  •  Preferred curved desk like in other designs
  • The moon symbols should go on all bookcases
  • Walls are too cluttered with bookcases – paintings etc would be nice
  • Arch shape of bookcases is good
  • Prefer curved shapes of doors to angular
  • Doors should have similar pattern

Layout 2:

  • Like the wooden walls (others agreed)
  • The Chair had some conflict – some liked it there, some didn’t
  • Open book on desk = feels potion-like (fantasy)
  • People liked the curvy desk
  • Inconsistent doors
  • Too symmetrical – doesn’t feel real ( a few agreed)
  • Add a rug to make it feel more ‘homely’
  • Don’t like the floor tiles
  • A lot of people liked the door being at a different angle
  • Shelves are too ordered – add shelves and cabinets together? ( a lot of people agreed)
  • Put the door to Crafting Room behind the desk

Layout 3:

  • Like the wooden door and walls
  • Turn desk 180
  • A few people liked the disorderly shelves
  • Liked the variation in size of cabinets and shelves for potions
  • A lot of people liked the floor and the rug
  • Too many doors in a row – confusing

Layout 4:

  • Don’t like bricks/do like bricks ( a lot of conflict here)
  • Shape of the room is great ( a lot of people agree)
  • Like the door shape (few agree)
  • Patterns on the cabinets should match
  • Some like and dislike the tiling on floor
  • Bit too much going on in the corner of the shop with the Garden door and Store Room
  • Don’t like the chair
  • Like the look of the shop – Harry Potter/fantasy 

Layout 5:

  • Too many doors together
  • More plants needed
  • Floor is distracting
  • More disorganised books and plants
  • Don’t like window behind desk
  • Layout feels claustrophobic (many agreed)
  • Feels empty ( a few agreed)

Overall, this process hasn’t been too time-consuming as it has taken me roughly two weeks to work on this. Now that I have an idea of how to go about creating these assets and testing them, I hope to improve the speed of environment production to at least 1 week – 1.5 weeks to complete a room. Millie has been working on concepts for the Dungeons/Caves currently, so this has helped to speed the environment process along. With this continued partnership with Millie, I hope for the environments to be at a fully designed stage within 5 weeks time. Once they are designed and completed, I will then be taking the time to paint them, where I shall be learning from Youtube tutorials, books, as well as peer-based learning from Millie so that we keep the painting style consistent across the game.

So far so good, right?

Industry Guest Mink Ette

Today we had Escape Room games designer, Mink Ette, talk to us about her journey as a game designer, largely focusing on Escape Rooms and their design process.

Notes that I took from the talk can be found in the A5 Brown Book Labelled Talks on pages 12 – 13.

Having someone in who has been in our field for 10 years now was inspiring and useful to hear from as they have first-hand knowledge of the ‘real world’ and it’s motivating to hear from them what they’ve been working on and producing.
Escape Rooms are something that I have always wanted to go and do as they sound amazing and so much fun, I’ve just never gotten around to it which is unfortunate. She’s inspired me to go out and find some to participate in as well as about designing them.
Whilst in the talk, I had a thought about using Virtual Reality with Escape Rooms, as this could be more accessible to people, but then I was thinking about how you could still participate with others. Mink was speaking about Spaceteam, a game that I’ve played before with others, and was thinking about how fun but challenging it is to work together in a space in a limited time condition.

So what about a VR escape room where you and three others are wearing virtual reality headgear, you’re all in separate rooms and must communicate with each other, complete puzzles all in order for you all to unlock your rooms and get out as a team?

This talk has definitely given me something to think about and a personal project that I could work on outside of University once we’ve graduated.

1-1 With Mink

After her talk, Mink talked to our group about our project and how it’s going and gave us some great advice. Having been working on this project for a while now, it was nice to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at our work and offering new ideas or suggestions we could potentially look into. For instance, Mink mentioned “what if a new goth band was in town and this meant that a trend for deathly nightshade potions increased?” these sorts of trends could give the Player more choices depending on whether they wanted to focus on the business and money making sides of things or more of the ‘have fun’ feeling. These are definitely things that we should take into consideration and once we are a bit more into the project and know how much time we have left on mandatory tasks then maybe we could start incorporating these suggestions. 

 

Reflection of Week 3

13th – 19th February

Monday

We discussed the Battle Systems that we’ll be having in place in Twilleir. As mentioned in previous posts, we are looking to produce a system that is similar to Pokemon and the old style Final Fantasy with simple buttons to press, however, we are looking to try and make the AI have good responses to the Player’s actions to make the combat more intense and interesting for the Player; James is primarily working on this with Dr James, however, he wanted our input as to names of characters, how they would work in the Battle System etc. 
Not only was this useful for James, but having all three of us have input and discuss the system, we’re all building knowledge of Twilleir and it’s increasing productivity as we’re all getting more and more excited about building it. Having these weekly meetings on Mondays to organise Sprints and discuss work is proving to boost productivity and motivation which is useful for us to hit our weekly targets; this will continue throughout the project with adjustments being made as we see fit.
As well as this, I have personally been working on finishing off the Isometric layout examples for Millie to put into the Marvel prototype as well as finding second-hand research in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco books that I took out from the Library to help inform the Shop’s design. By getting all of the nitty gritty stuff complete and finishing things off today, it means that tasks can be taken off the backburner straightaway meaning that we stay on task and continue with good time management for the rest of the Sprint week.

Wednesday and Thursday

We did a two-day road trip to Torquay where we visited Kents Cavern, Torre Abbey Gardens and the Dartmoor National Park to gather inspiration for our Dungeon, Garden and Greenhouse environments.
Please see
 Two Day Research Roadtrip blog post for full detail.
These research trips have proven how useful they are in getting first-hand research as now we have strong starting points for developing environments within Twilleir to make sure that there is a consistency to them. 

Friday

Having had Wednesday and Thursday out to do trips, I found that we were all a little behind on our current Sprint that we outlined Monday. Unfortunately, maybe we should have allowed more time for the other tasks we had as well as the trip, however, we managed to collect more references than what we thought we would in Torquay meaning that although we’ve made a sacrifice this week in terms of our other tasks, we are now ahead of the game concerning our environments. This weekend, I will be using Sunday as a day to catch up on my tasks from this week to avoid putting too many tasks on the back burner.
Today, I worked on producing more assets for the Shop environment based on the resources we gathered in London and Lyndhurst last week and the books that I took out on Monday. This is taking a longer time that thought to produce so I will be dedicating the majority of the weekend to this and the Reflective Journal due to the deadline being in a months time. 

Saturday and Sunday

It’s Sunday today and it’s been a slow but steady weekend of working. The assets are nearly completed with only a few pages left, which is good considering that I only intended to start designing the assets this week. I have been looking into my Reflective Journal topic today and figuring out where I would like to go in terms of my journalistic piece. I’ve been thinking about a TedTalk that I watched on Virtual Reality as an empathy machine by Chris Milk, as in a world which is becoming increasingly hostile or wary of other religions, people, everything really, I would like to explore the possibilities of this sort of technology and how it could better shape our world and their views.
The time management this week has been poorer than expected, however, I am hoping to stay on top of this by checking mid-week where we’re all up to and adjusting tasks accordingly so as not to overburden others or leave someone with not much to do at all. This will be something that I will be addressing at our next team meeting. 

Two Day Research Roadtrip

Yesterday, we travelled across the West Country to Torquay where we visited Kents Caverns, The Torre Abbey Gardens and finished up today by visiting the Dartmoor National Park. These locations were noted in our Next Steps of last semesters GDD to help us gather references and inspiration for our Twilleir environments.
The six hour travel time (there and back) and the overnight stay was worth it after looking back through the videos and pictures we managed to collect. Now we have some great textures, inspiration, references and sounds to help us to progress and inform our development of the environments.
Below are a selection of some of the best pictures that we managed to gather (there were well over 200). I am in the process of making a video from the clips that we gathered which we can air on our social media to create more of an interest and buzz surrounding Twilleir. 


As well as helping us to think about how the rocks form, their textures and such, these images have also meant that we now have these resources to draw colour schemes from which will inform the colour choices in the Dungeon Caves of Ephara.  As part of our Art Style Bible, Millie grabbed three main images from our research trips in order to pull a colour schemes of limited palettes which we will then use within the environments of Twilleir. 

colour-schemes

Above is an image and colour scheme from the Torre Abbey Gardens; we visited here after Kents Cavern. Unfortunately the actual Abbey itself wasn’t open due to being shut over the winter period, however, the Gardens were spectacular and provided many great references for our Garden and Greenhouse environments. I was worried that due to the time of year, the plants and trees would be bare and so not much use, however, thankfully the Greenhouse was regulated at 37 degrees meaning that the plants inside were growing and full of life! Also, due to Spring gradually appearing, some other plants outside the Greenhouse had begun to bloom. Now, I have a range of inspiration, pictures, videos and colours to play around with in the development of the Greenhouse and Garden environments to turn them into fantastical, nature based designs.
Below are some of the best images that we collated from the Abbey Gardens:

Today (Thursday) we visited the last place on our list in Torquay that we needed to visit which was the Dartmoor National Park. Again, I was a little skeptical that due to the seasonal time of year that we were going, there weren’t going to be a lot of good references that we could gain inspiration from as everything could still be twigs and branches. Luckily, there was plenty of vegetation and nature to provide us with lots of photographs, videos and textures. 

It was useful to go on this roadtrip to the three locations as it has given us a range of first-hand research that we can now use to further develop Twilleir’s Garden, Greenhouse and Dungeon environments. From the research, I will be designing and producing potential concepts which I will then be looking to gather feedback from through in house testing to see what people like, what fits, what doesn’t etc; just to make sure that I’m creating the best environments suited to the world of Ephara.
I am currently working on designing assets and furniture for the Shop through the Lyndhurst and London trips we went on last week as well as the Art Nouveau and Deco books that I took out. We decided on the Art Nouveau and Deco style as these are often used in High Fantasy art works and so we felt it would work well considering our Fantasy theme. Once I have worked on these, I will design a variety of potential layouts which I will get inhouse feedback from and then produce finalised concepts. When I have completed the Shop, I will focus on the Crafting Room before the Garden and Greenhouse environments.