Sunday, 27 May 2007

Sounds of Time - Part I: The Hourglass of Quick Sand

Far out I'm in the thick of it - "the deeper I go the deeper it gets" - Jamie Andreas

Actually. Being that I'm doing the muse-sick for the game. I will call to your attention a few lyrics. If I may. Only because they reflect how I am feeling at the moment. Then I will describe the relevance of these lyrics in context to my workload and my emotional state.

Click the titles to hear and see the videos of these songs.

Muse - Time is Running Out

I think I'm drowning
I wanna break this spell
that you've created

you're something beautiful
a contradiction
I wanna play the game
I want the friction

you will be the death of me
you will be the death of me

bury it
I won't let you bury it
I won't let you smother it
I won't let you murder it

our time is running out
our time is running out
you can't push it underground
you can't stop it screaming out

I wanted freedom
bound and restricted
I tried to give you up
but I'm addicted

now that you know I'm trapped sense of elation
you'd never dream of
breaking this fixation

you will squeeze the life out of me

bury it
I won't let you bury it
I won't let you smother it
I won't let you murder it

our time is running out
our time is running out
you can't push it underground
you can't stop it screaming out
how did it come to this?

you will suck the life out of me

bury it
I won't let you bury it
I won't let you smother it
I won't let you murder it

our time is running out
our time is running out
you can't push it underground
you can't stop it screaming out
How did it come to this?

The Dillinger Escape Plan - Unretrofied

Is the can half diseased or is the disease half canned?
And is the man half machine or is machine half man?
I'm unretrofied for you.
Is the can half diseased or is the disease half canned?
Or is the man half machine or the machine half man?
I'm unretrofied for you, so come on, so come on.

I'll just fake it in the end,
Just save it for a new song and leave dead in the end.
Time is wasted in the end,
Wood paneled wagon carpool dragons killing me again.

Now they're looting our holes until there is nothing left,
Calloused intentions it seems cowards invention at best,
I'm unretrofied for you.
Now they're looting our holes until there is nothing left,
Calloused intentions it seems cowards invention at best,
I'm unretrofied for you, so come on, so come on.

I'll just fake it in the end,
Just save it for a new song and leave dead in the end.
Time is wasted in the end,
Wood paneled wagon carpool dragons killing me again - we're all dead.

Jesus can't play the music 'cause he's nailed to the cross,
And over gnawed off feet I find that I can't walk,
I can't walk,
I can't even walk.

I'll just fake it in the end,
Just save it for a new song and leave dead in the end.
Time is wasted in the end,
Wood paneled wagon carpool dragons killing me again.

I'll just fake it in the end,
Just save it for a new song and leave dead in the end.
Time is wasted in the end,
Wood paneled wagon carpool dragons killing me again - we're all dead.

Ok so there we have it.
We are so so so so close to the deadline, ALPHA on WEDNESDAY!!! And I have been socialising. SOCIALISING! What the hell. I need to get real. Although I have to say the deadline certainly has motivated me.

Right. So I have spent the last 2 or so hours designing a system for all our files. It is in order of narrative and events. I initially started it because I needed to organise my music files and immediately be able to reaccess the audio as I required it.

At first I thought that it would be easy, just one folder for each part of the game, which I had in place already. But then as I sorted through the music again, the sounds, I realised how disorganised this approach was, and I bore in mind that the game compilers would have had to sort through dozens of files in each folder in order to locate the relevant one.

So I began to follow the story and number the stream of events (which you will see). The levels keep increasing, and increasing, and increasing. Deeper and Deeper into the story. It's making me think in terms of organisation.

I'm beginning to consider the possibility that the skills I am learning in this Game Design class will sink into the depths of my subconscious, and my cross-lateral thinking will begin to apply the various facets of knowledge to other areas of my conscious existence.

This is a huge revelation for me. The idea that I may actually become an organised person as a consequence of forced tasks. So in effect this is punting my motivation levels up a little, giving them a new purpose - a deeper one.

I am sensing an instinct which suggests that it will get harder before it gets easy.

Mind building -
is body building:

Mind Induction

- Upon joining the gym, you must overcome self-consciousness and counter your esteem levels. The reason for this is there are so many muscley people - and you look small in comparison.

Then it is a matter of having to exert yourself beyond your limits.

- There will be pain and fatigue. There may be embarassment as you attempt to lift weights too heavy for your little bumps.

However after all this effort, the results will start to become noticable, and then others will notice you, and the roles will reverse.

Much like how the teacher teaches potential future teachers - The teacher is taught by future teachers. The Teacher becomes the Pupil & vice versa.

Zen - Beginners mind.


I keep returning to the sound files I have already heard, trying to find more successful solutions.
I do this because I am given new information; new designs; refined designs; dialogue - it is a live creature, this sound business. (*sidetrack* double entendre: there is only money in live music these days, record sales are becoming more and more obsolete - piracy).

Ideas can contradict themselves if they're analysed too deeply. Sometimes it's best to do a skim read and allow the mind to figure out the intended relationships. Soft-focus.

Second lyrics::::::

I'll just fake it in the end.
Just save it for a new song, and leave dead in the end.
Time is wasted in the end.
Wood paneled wagon carpool dragons killing me again.

That is what I had to do with nearly all of the puzzles - Fake it. No one understands them (or wants to) so for the sake of conformity I've had to water them down, even fake my ability - become something I'm not. Which is fine, because I can save all the ideas I brainstormed for later. I'll be the one who is happier in the end. Stimulated. Congruent.

I Joseph, am hereby formally addicted to self-induced self-indulgency.

We as humans think we are a product of our own existence. However [I believe] the opposite is true. We are the existence of other people's products. We as humans are a product. Our own experiences are determined by set ideologies that were force fed to us.

Do we eat from the hands of a disease or do the diseased hands eat us, manipulating... reverse engineering our brains to learn how to sculpt it to their wants. Maybe we don't conform, we are just a huge conformation. A confirmation of this conformation would be the music industry. We can't help that we 'like' pop-music. It's all we're given!!! Mass Passive Flaccidity.

We give ourselves aural sex. Is it masturbation if the other person shows us how to do it their way? No wonder society has a short attention span. Short songs, short tempers, short sighted, shallow minded, stunted growth. We are all premature ejaculators. Then we complain to the doctors about it.

We are a cultural chode, extending further and further outwards - from the base, on explored territory - but never upwards. Never where we should be going. Do we learn from our mistakes? Barely ever. We are still fighting, consuming, abusing.

Spreading our legs - but never our wings.

I procrastinate. I masturbate. I resume. I consume.
I cheat. I bleat. I lie. I die.

The first step is awareness. Assume Everything!
You assume you have control? Assume nothing!

Assume your position.


Perhaps we need to think less in terms of imitation and reproduction. But more in terms of irritation and reduction.

Irritate - think outside our comfort zone. Dissonance. Atonality.

Reduction - Reduce ourselves to the fundamentals to discover who we really are as human beings. Our roots. Microtonal.

Our imitations become our limitations.
Sex sells. War sells (death creates more opportunities to reproduce).

The Duce-Juice Theory

Produce - Induce - Seduce - Reproduce

"Lets juice 'em for all they got.
Suck 'em dry."

~The Duce

This reminds me of a song::: Damn. It's so, sooooo... [fitting].

[no link, as Tool never did a video to this song]

Tool - Ticks & Leeches

Suck and suck. suckin up all you can suckin up all you can suck.
Workin up under my patience like a little tick.
Fat little parasite. suck me dry.
My blood is bruised and borrowed. you thieving bastards.
You have turned my blood cold and bitter,
Beat my compassion black and blue.

Hope this is what you wanted.
Hope this is what you had in mind.
Cuz this is what youre getting.
I hope youre choking. I hope you choke on this.
I hope youre choking. I hope you choke on this.

Taken all I can taken all I can, we can take. taken all you can taken you can,
We can take.
Got nothing left to give to you.
Blood suckin parasitic little blood suckin parasitic little
Blood suckin parasitic little tick
Take what you want and then go.

Suck me dry.

Is this what you wanted?
Is this what you had in mind?
Is this what you wanted?
Cuz this this is what youre getting.
I hope, I hope, I hope you choke.


And a last word:

Society, the Eternal Blowjob.


OH NO!!! Our Project Manager has fallen to the DARK SIDE!

AAAAAAAHHHH!!!! I fear we may all perish. The good one has been consumed by a terrible brain disease. He doesn't know between night and day, and cannot tell the time.

The fate of our lives rests upon the sooty shoulders of a scroungeful devilish advocator. Round up your wives! Hide your children! (especially the children, remember what happens to religious leaders once they have been tempted by the fruits of alien forces) For when he returns, he will devour all matter that crosses his path. None will be spared.

Spite my breath. Lick my revenge. You may call me a Pharisee. You may call me a Madman. You may accuse me of false prophecies... But I have spoken, so when thou discovers thine entrails making love with thy neighbour's foetus, thou shalt not blame thee.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

A Blip on my Folder. Shit for the Beholder.

Well this all seems too little too late. The rooms are looking like crappy cartoons - as if they were made in Flash (or even MS Paint) by a kid just out of primary school. I thought we had an 'art' team! No one told me that we'd become a forgery, committing fraud by stealing images and tracing over the top to make it appear as if they look good. And guess what? Sorry art team but they look completely shit. Congratulations for learning how to trace around an object and selecting a colour that kinda looks like the one underneath (except that in most cases the colour underneath isn't 'A' colour, but a range of tones and textures, potential displacement maps and shadow).

I suspect that graphic designers could do better backgrounds. Oh actually, I know that my mum could draw better. And she draws storage systems. But at least she actually DESIGNS them herself. Sure we agreed on cel-shading but no way was I expecting a 19th century cartoon. What about the lighting? What about all the camera angles we could have had? I mean the art team could have at least taken separate pictures and used them as reference. Ok I know a few people have done this - but too little. Good luck trying to get a job tracing stolen images (or lent) with a shape tool.

Having said this, the interiors are another story... it is harder to steal images that include assets that meet the specifications of the puzzles. Oh but I'm sure someone could steal another image to stick over the top and trace that as well.

Another issue I have with the interiors - actually virtually all the backgrounds that weren't traced: Did none of you EVER learn perspective? Yes perspective. Ok sure yes we know how to draw in perspective... well guess what! True perspective has curves. The horizon, the lines going towards the vanishing points. Yes, curves.

Also, on the topic of perception... a rectangle when looked straight on (perhaps a door), does not suddenly turn into a square when you rotate it (so it's on a wall perpendicular to the person). The width has to be shortened to make up for distance.

So why do I moan about this? Well for a number of reasons... cel-shading would have worked well if the environment was nicely proportioned. We're not making Taz, Hey Arnold! or Ren & Stimpy where distortion and exaggeration fit well with the style of show. We aren't making a damn comedy anymore ok? We're have a serious story [well ok semi-serious anyway - heh - the story does make me laugh... eef yoozzzz noze wat ah meeeen ow]

Perhaps it's because the Comedy Festival is on at the moment. I suspect it's rubbing off on the art team. Or maybe it's cos we're too scared to be digital designers? How easy is it too make a room in 3d? Fricken easy!!! So fudgingly simple. Oh and everyone gets so excited about Playstation games and Multi-Taps (that's what half the art team is doing now) I think someone needs to turn on the cold tap...

Reality check??? Remember to make something immersive it has to be as believable as possible. I'm pretty sure not many games are made in 2d for Playstation now. And I'm pretty sure there aren't enough jokes to justify calling our game a straight up comedy. I have yet to read the dialogue (just about to do that after this entry) but Cody says he has written some comedy to lighten the situation.

Ok I had to stop blogging cos was in class (aren't I naughty).
But you get the general gist. Nothing else I'm really worried.


Monday, 21 May 2007

The Designated Illogical Documentary - Three Stories High

Back again after a spell of disease and strange phobia-tic charms, I have been forced into giving an analysis to you all today.
For sake of understanding and focus, this will be directed only toward that which I have been told to summarise - of which are those which we have received grades for.

They are:

- Story
- Logic & Puzzles
- Design Document

Ok so here we go.

Story my dear story. I like the story. It is relatively concise and needs not much outside thinking. It touches on the 'parallel universe' thing to appear to be different rather than really exploring the possibilities of this concept/theory. I think this could have been exploited a lot further... however it is for simplicity that we have kept this linear - most probably to keep within the constraints of time we have. The parallel universe thing serves only to satisfy the imagination for a few moments at the beginning of the story. The way we have utilized it is not at all dissimilar [on closer inspection] to a culture shift, or to any story where the character/s leave their comfort zone.
I feel there is not much depth to our story. It feels like the sort of story you'd read on the back of a cereal box or something. However that is just me. Time will tell whether the story is pushed through dialogue, art andambiance/immersion towards an experience that is truly evocative and powerful.
At the moment I feel like much of the cliche story techniques (love story, horror, emotional backlash, quests etc) are superficial, perhaps because there seems to be a huge push to keep things simple so we can finish it. I think this is our pitfall. It is usually easier to summarise than to elaborate upon. If the story fails to transport the person to another world, where the reader feels a deep emotional tugging at each turn in the stream of events, then they would probably be better off not bothering to make the game at all. For it is a well known fact that for a game to be memorable in years to come, it is not the graphics, not the audio, not the complicated puzzles, it comes down to fundamental emotions. That is my critique of the story.

Now to discuss the logic. Well that's something to say. Logic. Exactly! Well done. We fulfilled the name of the brief. As for the 'tree' aspect of the logic... I can hardly say it's an oak tree, the only thing it really comes close to is a pine tree - and in many places a palm tree - one which has died and left its fronds behind.
The logic makes some very minor drop-offs. Kind of like the events that occur when I walk to university each weekday - I will look at a different car maybe. Or cars. Perhaps I'll cross the road to the other side for a change. Or I could drop into the petrol station and grab a pie. Or walk through the carpark and a parachutist jumping from the sky tower decides to land on me and offers me his blanket and then proceeds to pull out his notepad and give me a ticket for leaving footprints in the gravel behind which resemble a crook he was trying to catch who wears shoes on his huge dumbo ears that act as legs. Well luckily that's completely illogical and stuff don't happen like that no more. Remember!!! Nothing wierd I was told. It has to be congruent with "steam-punk" well thanks very much whoever thought that steampunk was suddenly cornered into a tiny genre where everything had to be using steam and the aesthetic was ONLY Victorian. 'Oh SURE' we say, 'we stepped outside these boundaries all the time'. Yeah Right. Lateral thinking ladies & gentleman. People aren't going to remember some game which just skims the edges of a genre. Which looks more linear than my backside. People are going to remember a game that makes the beholder go "what the hell was that![?]"
Everyone was very precious about the story. Nothing that changes the story guys! Only within the puzzles can you change this. Ok cool. Fine. Then I discover that I can barely change what's inside the puzzles as well. Anything that was remotely strange was frowned upon. Even if I justified it. Oh well. I enjoyed brainstorming for the puzzles. It was a challenging process.

Design Document. I think this was the most successful one of the three. Perhaps I am biased because I was not as closely involved in the Design Document writing as I was with the Story & Logic. So less emotional factors for me. Not as close to the bone. So from a property buyers view, with an open home pass, here I come.
I think we did well with the overall writing of the Design Document. The parts that niggle me are the character/location descriptions and back history - naturally this is because I have been more intimate in these processes. I feel these should have been (still can be) changed so as the reader can literally imagine the character / location in its entirety. The creepers hanging from the ceiling, maybe some spiders eating away at the furniture (evolved woodlice, from eating too much contaminated wood); the colours; the general mood; the smell of the clothing; the thickness of the hairs on a characters' legs; personality traits and habits. This is just my opinion - perhaps this amount of detail is not necessary. It just feel as if something is lacking from these areas.
The rest of the document seems to be sufficient. I don't feel a piercing need to hassle any other areas really. I feel as a whole the design document has been quite well written. Maybe this is because we were given a template from which to fill in gaps and remove any titles that weren't congruent with our vision of the game. Either way, a lot of effort and time has gone into the Design Document, and it definitely reflects this.

Well done team! Lets zoom into alpha and beta!!!