Game Arena- Moodboard

For 3D art production we are using Maya to create 3D objects and environments to eventually use in our game worlds (and even animate). Our first project is to build a battle arena, or some sort of enclosed game environment. So, the first objective is for me to think about what sort of environment I'd like to create. I've put together a moodboard of games that inspire me:

This moodboard include the games: Beyond Good and Evil, Bioshock, Machinarium, Portal and Botanicula. I have particularly focused on water-based environments as I've always been fascinated with underwater worlds and think it would be really fun to create one. I am also a huge fan of anything dark and sinister as I love the suspense that thrillers create through their detailed environments and atmospheres. Both Bioshock and Portal build up this tension well in my opinion as, even though Portal isn't meant to be a scary game, the scenes where you find rat mans dens are always slightly unnerving, they show a part of the narrative that hasn't been explained fully and leaves the player guessing what happened to the poor lunatic who leaves nonsensical scribbles along the walls. I've always loved little details like this within games because they do not need to be found but feel like small achievements when they are finally uncovered by the curious player. Other elements that help to keep tension within these games are the gritty, contrasted colours that are used throughout them which emphasise things like shadows which are tactfully positioned in the game to make players aware of another person (or creatures) presence and fear what could be waiting for them around the corner. However, I also adore the art style of point and click games such as Machinarium and Botanicula, I think it would be fun and unnerving to mix the tense and scary atmosphere of games like Bioshock with the sweet and innocent art style of these games to create a morbid kind of irony about the game environment. 

Designing a Robot


My Mission: To create a bad-ass original design for a robot!

The first place I looked when gaining inspiration for my very own robot was, of course, Machinarium! I've always loved the style of this game and fell in love with the little robot himself as soon as I set eyes on him, he's just so simple yet so freakin' adorable! I love how Amanita Design have cleverly used different rust-like colours to give each robot some depth and character about them, such as with the main characters girlfriend robot, who appears to wear a striped dress. This made me realise that I didn't want to go over the top with my robot design as it's the simplicity that draws me to these robots and, in my opinion, gives them more character as a lot of them are worn and rusted, with some even falling apart!
Machinarium robot sketches

I also sought inspiration from on of my favourite Disney Pixar movies: Wall-E! Very much like the robots in Machinarium, Wall-E himself is very old and rusted, with his only colours being dull and thoroughly rusted. However, EVE, the newer and more shiny robot, is very smooth and slick with a shiny white coating, much different to Wall-E. But I was always more partial to the old, bulky and rusted look of Wall-E, it's these imperfections that made him a lot more endearing and cute, making the audience sympathise and form an emotional attachment with him more. 

After researching into these influences I began sketching some robot designs of my own, focusing on simplicity and the old, rusted look that I so love in a robot; I wanted to create a robot that people would instantly want to know more about, be intrigued by it's antique look and, hopefully, find cute and therefore be more willing to form an emotional attachment with it. 

My Robotic Doodles

I started off with some basic shapes, focusing on how a robot might be put together; what it uses to move around, what it's made of, where it's CPU board would be, etc. As I have already explained, I wanted my robot to look old and worn, with a history behind it, so I couldn't have it flying as that would be much too modern for what I was going for and the material it would be made of would have to fit with the look as well, not be new and shiny like that of EVE's. As you can see to the right, the robot is wearing a large nut for a skirt and has an old-fashioned antenna on her head to help her transmit frequencies and communicate with other robots.

I also thought heavily about the story behind the robot that I was creating because narrative is the most fun and important part for me. I wanted my robot to come across as having a personality that perhaps people could either relate to or become intrigued by, and ensure that it did not look like just another generic robot. That's when I came up with the robot below! He's definitely one of my favourite doodles because he's rather abstract and unique, not only in the way that he looks and what he's representing but also because I have drawn the robot in one continuous shape, with his body resembling that of the infinity sign. I envision him  having wheels behind his long, dragging arms that he can lean back and roll along on when walking on his short two front feet gets too much for him, quite like R2D2! His hair would be metal spray painted black with a crude white stripe to resemble a 'shiny hair' look and a home-made jagged piece at the end to great the curl. However, his mask and and cape would be real, made of cloth and foam, just like what human children wear when they're playing dress-up as kids. Because of this the robot is a lot more relatable and will evoke the emotional attachment that I want the viewer to feel when looking at this particular robot. It also shows that he has a personality as he has wishes to become a superhero, just like most children do!

Complete Robot Design

Luckily, just in time, I came across a story of a real robot. Although, she was from the future of course as there are no advanced robots in the world today (unfortunately). I only got a glimpse of her CPU board, which was in the shape of a heart, and an explanation of her build so I must apologise if the details of her story are a bit flakey.

She comes from a land where humans are long gone, we cease to exist. You want to know why? Because we killed our land. We fought against nature for so long, destroying forests and polluting the land for our cattle farming and precious oil among so many other things until one day nature just fizzled out; it gave up the will to fight. Only then did we realise that without nature we cannot survive. But within this world starved of the beauty of nature and life, mankind's creations were the only ones to still exist; robots rule the world! Long story short, these robots are very well manufactured, with mankind perfecting the art of implementing freewill and replicating human emotion into the framework of a machine. The piece of technology that held these human-replicated emotions was designed into a heart, kept within the robots chest. How very typical of us eh? For robots to form emotional bonds with one another all they had to simply to was swap this hardware with another and process their partners emotions, past experiences and thought processes in with their own circuit systems, how very romantic!

But this one robot was different from the others, she had been handmade from a genius robotic engineer who had enabled her to feel human emotions more strongly than any other robot before her. Unfortunately though, the engineer died before any more robots could be made like her. She was one of a kind, and she was alone. But this made her special, so special in fact that her extra power enabled her to bring back the nature that human kind had stolen from the world, so that Earth could start anew. The details get fuzzy around this point...

But it's pretty cool!

A you can probably tell, it's the narrative behind this robot that I love the most, but the influences from Machinarium and Wall-E are both present in the design, with rust-like colours being the only ones used to keep a simplistic theme. The heart is designed to look like a CPU board (because that is the main piece of hardware running the robot). The small details such as the atenna, nut shorts, rusted cheeks to look like they're rosy and plants and vines running across the robot are the main focus; they help to tell the narrative and give her character, showing her gender and showing some depth to the character that I have drawn. Overall, I'm very happy with the way that my robot has turned out!

Transition from Digital Film and Screen Arts to Computer Games Arts

Originally I was studying Digital Film and Screen Arts, with a strong passion for film in a new-age sense. Living in a world where reaching out to the other side of the world is just a keyboard click away I see the film medium as the best way to reach out to these people, through websites such as YouTube or Twitch we can easily reach out to one another, influencing and connecting with others lives through a screen and hopefully having a positive impact on them. This is the kind of film that I have a passion for; it's the social side, the interactive nature, the communication and impact that happens around the video itself.

However, since starting the course I began noticing that the interactivity that I so craved to learn and innovate with does not reside within the film industry already and so cannot be taught by a film-based course. As it's not the professional quality that I'm looking to delve further into, it's the impact that I can have on viewers and the community that I can create through offering a more interactive and immersive experience with my videos.

I love games. I've always loved games. They offer what films never have, a chance to become the starring role; to become truly immersed in the narrative by developing emotional attachments with the in-game characters and ultimately controlling the flow, or even nowadays, the outcome of the narrative itself.

So perhaps I've been following the wrong route and instead of trying to bring new interactive elements into the already well-established film industry, I could take what I so love about film and bring it with me on my journey through understanding and experimenting with the interactive and immersive elements that are offered to me within the gaming industry.

Plus, being able to create 3D worlds, draw 2D characters and put them all together using object oriented programming to tell an immersive narrative is pretty darn cool!

Photography Inspiration - Ransom Riggs

Photography is something that I have little experience with; a medium that I haven't explored. My areas of interest are usually fixated on evoking emotion through the interactivity of digital media, so where do I start when producing a photography project? Look for inspiration!

Starting with what I know:

The author of one of my favourite books, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, is my first stop for photography inspiration. Although he is known for his writing skills, fictional novels and film content by creating book trailers and YouTube videos, the inspiration for all of this stemmed from photography, more accurately, found and forgotten photos from the past.

Mama and Grace - 1953. Where Daddy was killed.
Riggs published a book called 'Talking Pictures', documenting all of the photographs that he has collected over the years, from car boot sales, abandoned houses and other places where the photographs might be seen as trash. These photographs are accompanied with written text, giving a quick insight into the moment that the photo was taken and unleashing a small part of the subjects forgotten personality and life.

"Riggs' book is not exclusively devoted to the aesthetics of the snapshot image, but rather touches on the humor, romance, drama, or tragedy of life via the accompanying handwritten text. These photos reveal something profound about our shared humanity in all its varied forms and are a poignant reminder of why we take pictures. None of us who love snapshots will ever look at them the same way again."

These photographs inspire me because of the emotions they evoke within me. They're not all perfectly shot, lit or exposed. Most of them have faded with age and are taken by amateur photographers, such as myself, without intent of the photograph being used for anything other than personal use. Because of this it makes observing the photographs and their handwritten text feel like a very intimate experience, as if intruding on somebody's diary. When I look upon these pictures, witnessing people's life experiences; happiness, sadness, friendship, family and even eventual death, I can't help but feel a mixture of emotions, with an overpowering loneliness. These people and their pictures would have been lost and forgotten forever if it wasn't for Riggs creating this book, and even though their pictures remain, their names, lives and experiences are lost. It reminds me that time can never stand still and that one day my experiences and pictures too will be lost.

Ransom Riggs also does his own photography. He's an avid traveller and takes his camera with him wherever he goes, his images can be found on the Mental Floss website under the category 'Strange Geographies'. Riggs likes to take pictures of sceneries that are quirky or haunting in their own right, forgotten places such as abandoned buildings and towns are often present within his work. Because of this the style of his shots are often dark and grungy, keeping with the mood of the environment that he's photographing. The natural light helps Riggs to produce these moody tones and highly contrasted light and dark shades within his photography.

I like how Riggs stays true to the environments that he's photographing, showing their true beauty and depth. The environments that he travels to can speak for themselves so I believe that editing these photographs too much would ruin the natural essence of the photographs.
Boat - The Salton Sea
As well as environments, abandoned buildings and ghost towns, Riggs also travels to cities and towns where the life styles are drastically different to that of the Western culture. For instance, the below image is from 'Village Life in Vanuatu'. This collection shows how the Vanuatu civilisation live in harmony with nature, sleeping in beautifully decorated straw huts, eating fruit, raising cattle and enjoying the simplicity of life in the village. My favourite image from the collection (below) struck me mainly because of the darkness of the photograph, it seemed very mysterious and made me question why the boy was hiding away from Riggs. The quality is a little blurry on the edges of the photograph which shows that the photograph is not staged and makes the image feel a lot more raw. It's hard to determine the expression on the boy's face which leads the viewer to question whether he is hiding or has been shunned into the darkness. I love the tint of green that pigments to boy's skin from the leaves at the opening of the dark hole, making him seem one with nature. Overall the mystery of this photo intrugues me and leaves me to question many things about this photo: Why is the boy hiding? Is he muddy or is he bruised? And overall, is that a weapon he's holding? 

Village Life in Vanuatu

"We found this boy smiling at us from a hole in the jungle. A nearby adult explained that he'd just gone through his circumcision ritual, which meant he had to wear anamba (a huge penis-sheath), mud makeup, and hang out in holes for a week or so (this guy's English was about as good as our Bislama, so I'm not totally sure on the details)."
-Ransom Riggs 
By reading Ransom Riggs explanation of the photograph it seems a lot less sinister and upsetting, this shows how interesting interpretation can be as I was under the belief that this boy was upset and hiding. 

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