Lecturer in Game Design | PhD Student

Honours Blog

Posts tagged Narrative
12/02/15 Project Update

This week was less productive than I had intended it to be in terms of the honours project due to illness. I didn't feel up to creating some of the bigger assets so instead produced some smaller ones to make the scene appear more busy/lived in. A list of what changes I have made to my honours project are listed below:

Models:

  • TV
  • Desk Lamp
  • Plugs & Cables
  • Cardboard Boxes
  • Video Tapes

Textures:

  • Paintings + Photographs
    • These new textures are paintings/photographs/tapestry at my grandparents house. The paintings are done by my grandfather.
  • TV Box + Screens (Off and On)
  • Desk Lamp

Interaction:

  • TV can be turned on and off using the "interact" button

Lighting:

  • I have animated the lights in the fireplace to emulate the flickering of the flames. I am still not too happy with how it was animated, but I now know the process and can alter it at a later date.

Gallery of Updates:

Video of TV:


Script:

I have started working on a script for Forget-Me-Knot. I am still trying to decide the manner in which the key story beats will be conveyed, either narrated as a story or as the current thoughts of the character. Once I am happy with the script I will post it on my blog. Currently I feel it requires more work before I will upload it.


Summary:

As previously mentioned, I felt that this week's productivity was heavily hampered by being ill. I hope that for this coming week I will be able to complete this list of models as I feel that these items will make the scene look considerably fuller. I intend to work more on my dissertation (gathering data and making a concrete framework) in the next coming weeks, so progress with the honours project will slow down.


NEXT STEPS:

A lot of the assets on the list from the previous week have returned to be on this week's list. 

Models:

  • Telephone
  • Sideboard
  • Typewriter
  • Book Case
  • Record Sleeves

Textures:

  • Update record player texture
  • Create textures for above assets
05/02/15 Project Update

Starting this week I have decided that I will now be using a weekly blog format posting every Thursday. This new format will allow me to better formulate my blog posts as they were previously sporadic and of a lower quality than I was hoping to publish. Now that most of my process in terms of asset creation has been explained I will be condensing the content in these posts.

The latest update to Forget-Me-Knot was rather large due to the lack of recent blog posts. I will quickly list the assets and changes made to the game in its current state:

Models:

  • Door (Handle, Glass, Body)
  • Door Frame
  • Skirting Board & Roof Trim
  • Record Player

Textures:

  • Normal Map for Walls
  • Normal Map for Carpet
  • Emissive Maps for Window Glass
  • Emissive & Normal Map for Door Glass

Interaction:

  • Door Handle Animation
  • Animations can now be reversed (closing) by reactivating the trigger (No longer requires a seperate closing volume
  • Drawer SFX added
  • Cupboard Door SFX added
  • Record Player Animation(s) & SFX

Lighting:

  • The previous lighting model has been redone. Lighting now looks more natural with the additions of a new spotlight that is activated when the room lights are turned off. This spotlight replicates the natural light coming in from the window.

Video of Updates:


Record Player:

The current textures for the record player and speakers are not final as I was more concerned about the animation and interactivity aspect. The player can toggle the record player on which plays 2 animation sequences (The first moves the Pickup Arm over the record and moves it down to make contact with the spinning record disk. The second animation is a subtle looping 'bobbing' animation for the Pickup Arm.)  The player can activate the record player by pressing the interact button, and deactivate it whenever they please.


Global Game Jam - Narrative Progression

During the Global Game Jam 2015 at Abertay I created a prototype game called "Respire" with a team of 4 of my peers. My task on the project was to work in the engine to build the environment and add interaction. I worked on creating a sequencer in Kismet that would allow the player to progress to different "Story Beats" once the previous one has been completed. The original Kismet for this was created within 24 hours so it was messy and badly optimised. The day after the game jam, I worked on refining the Kismet Sequencer so that It both ran better and was easier to understand. I think will adopt a similar system in Forget-Me-Knot to handle narrative progression.

Old Sequencer:

New Sequencer:


Summary:

I feel that I am making good progress towards my 'end goal' for the honours project. The main concern with Forget-Me-Knot is that I am essentially creating a "whole package" of audio, visuals, gameplay and narrative. Although it is a lot of work, I shall try not to let it overwhelm me. I am finding that these blog updates are a great way for me to gauge both my progress on this project, but also my progress as a game designer/creator.


Next Steps:

Models:

  • Television
  • Telephone
  • Record Sleeves
  • Sideboard
  • Typewriter

Textures:

  • Update record player texture
  • Create textures for above assets

Audio:

  • Start scripting narrative and implement the narrative sequencer.

Lighting:

  • Make the lights in the fireplace flicker.
Depicting Symptoms through Gameplay & Environment.

The whole point of Forget-Me-Not is to create in a sense; an Alzheimer's simulator. Although this may set alarm bells ringing in your head, understand that the point in Forget-Me-Not is not just to tell a story, but to project the player into the mind of someone suffering from the illness. I intend to try to put the player in the shoes of someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease; thus making the player forget things, feel uncomfortable, and provoke emotions is the main goal.

One of the key struggles of creating a game using a medical condition as a basis is that there may be some ethical concerns. People who have had loved ones suffer from the illness, or are currently caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's may potentially see controversy in my concept if not handled correctly. Although Alzheimer's disease is a progressive one with no cure as of yet, I intend to portray the decline of mental state in a tasteful way (Ending on a slightly more positive or heartwarming note).

Examples of interesting ways I could implement symptoms as mechanics:

  • Make the player move an object somewhere, when the turn around the object will have moved to a 'random' location elsewhere - It is common for dementia sufferers to misplace items or put them where they wouldn't normally be.
  • A 'Match 2' style mini game where the player is tricked into thinking that they have completed it, but the pair can never me matched - Matching odd socks, slippers: the player may have come across one, realise they have to pair them later in the game, only for the texture have changed so they can never make a pair. (This would make the player feel they have forgotten and potentially make them frustrated)
  • Objects could have 'stories' attached to them so that when the player interacts the story can be narrated. If the player interacts with the same objects later on, they may hear a different story, or the character forgetting its use/connection with it.
  • A phone located in the room could ring, at the first 'stage' the player can hear a relative speaking to them on the other end. As the game progresses, the voices may become more muffled/ contorted. This depicts the problems understanding and also could be symbolic of forgetting the voice of the loved one.

Examples of interesting ways I could implement symptoms as environment detail:

  • Deterioration of condition can be portrayed through multiple 'days' and versions of the same environment with differences. As the game progresses, the less warm and homely it will appear. This can be handled through making the player go back to sleep, passing out, or memory 'flashes' etc.
  • To assist people suffering from dementia, sometimes families like to label objects around the house. In the further progressed areas, sticky notes on important items in the room can be added (with helpful notes).
  • The final environment could potentially be a care home that the character wakes up in. This environment will contrast from the ever-darkening start environment of the characters living room by being warm, homely, and welcoming. By contrasting the unwelcoming and the homely environment of the care home it can depict that the constant attention and care they receive makes a big difference on the sufferer.

The Memoirs:

My character will be in the process of typing up their memoirs during the game, as it progresses the player will be able to read a different page of the memoirs. The character understands their condition and is trying to pass down information about his life to his family before his memory deteriorates. Reading the excerpts will be as new an experience to the character as it is for the player. Nearer the start the memoirs will make sense and help build narrative, the further it progresses, they will make less sense and be less relevant as the character starts to forget the original purpose for writing them.