We’re done for the year at Uni! I thought it would be an idea to do a list of everything I want to accomplish (or at least try my hand at) over the break. Next week we have a hilarious meeting over some design choices (or at least that’s what they’re telling us) we made for our GTA in a Week project, the college wasn’t super thrilled that at one point you can pick up hookers in the game, but we’re almost certain that’s not what its about. We’ll see how that goes.
So in the mean time waiting for that meeting, here’s what I plan to do on the break and why.
-Read up on architectural design theory, particularly looking at commercial retailers and how they push customers around.
Why: We had a project this tri to design a level which we tried to build as an open world. We wanted to not have in any arbitrary barriers to path the player, but we had an order of how the path needed to play out, and objectives that the player needed to hit. We tried a whole bunch of interesting cool stuff, how we used lighting in the level to high light paths and then upon hitting objectives, gave the player information that would allow them to disregard the information of light paths. However, while it got the results we wanted, it wasn’t consistent or constant. For a lot of players this whole system was invisible to them. There needs to be better ways to do this.
-Learn how to build games in data, not the renderer.
Why: So much of what I’ve done this tri worked solely in the renderer with game objects. Even stuff like GTA in a Week and Portal in a Week was all about objects hitting other objects. This is a terrible system, performance impact is huge, it’s unreliable especially for a consistent results, and it’s inaccurate. I first learned this with a tower building game that relied on collisions, you needed to be able to neatly slot blocks into gaps and around each other. All it took was a slight error for the block to not slot in. Instead what needs to happen is a way of tracking these blocks inside data, the visual representation should just be UI. That way there is absolute yes or no as to whether a block is going to slot in. In something like GTA, this expands out to everything from traffic, to mission markers, pedestrians, whatever. Having a reliable system for all of that is an exciting thought.
-Prototype ‘Jump Pursuit’
Why: One thing I forever love in GTA4 is running, jumping over fences, and using the environment in interesting ways to get away from police without ever using a car. Along with that, games like Crackdown and Prototype seem to miss a huge opportunity in that (at least from memory) so much of the game play is getting to the objective point and beating the shit out everyone. I’d like to do something that uses those super hero environment navigation as part of objectives rather than just how you get to them. Police pursuit is the angle I’m tackling this from. Our GTA in a Week project has helped a lot in how we can de-link player action to reaction, in the sense of things not happening the moment player meets the conditions for the event, and instead letting things unfold in an aesthetically pleasing way.
-Make the Tower Building game from earlier this year as a proper game.
Why: The prototype itself didn’t work right but what did work proved manically fun. I’d like to do this Sim Tower meets Tetris game up in Unity, perhaps ship it. If nothing else this would link in to learning how to work in data.
-Research MDA Design
Why: Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics. Wiki stuff here. This is new-ish stuff which on the surface has made a lot of sense for me as far as how I like to design my games and what I like the gameplay outcomes to be about. I’m not going to comment beyond that because honestly at this point I don’t know enough, but often I will be trying to achieve a specific emotional aesthetic through the gameplay. Most of my favourite games are ones that, no matter how intentional or unintentional, do the same. Dead Rising is a good example, its rule set is really pretty straight forward, but it’s the dynamics that come out of it that lead to this pressure filled panicky emotional aesthetic. That’s very cool.
-Learn Some C++
Why: Mostly I’ll be in C# over the break but it’s C# in Unity, which tripped me up when going to something that wasn’t Unity, or anything for that matter. I have no idea about classes or pointers or anything like that, but I’d like to know.
-Learn some useful design art stuff
Why: I don’t even know what this really means but I have to do a drawing subject over the break. I’m still not super interested in drawing for drawings sake, but something I’ve found quite useful is being able to quickly sketch out an idea and pass it to someone who can actually do something useful with it. I want to get better at that, what makes or breaks that sort of thing as a tool rather than an art.
Okay cool, that should fill up two months nicely. Wheee!