Sunday, 8 February 2015

Week 19: Off the Map

Now that the Container City project has come to a close our final  project for second year has been briefed to us. We've been put into groups for the Off The Map competition run by Game City, in conjunction with the British library. The competition is centered around Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the book. The Off The Map competition accompanies the British Library’s forthcoming exhibition on Alice in Wonderland. Selections of maps, text, sounds and illustrations from the British Library are available to us for the competition to take inspiration from, or directly use as assets. Three themes have been chosen especially for the competition. Oxford- where Lewis Carroll lived and met his inspiration for the books, Alice Liddell. The Underground - where Alice travels through the rabbit hole, drinking potions and eating cakes that alter her size. The final theme The Gardens- is where Alice travels through to finally meet the famous Queen of Hearts at the end of the book.

For this project my group decided to focus on the Underground theme, and Alice's journey from reality, laying bored on a river bank with her sister, into the rabbit hole and Carroll's nonsense filled world.

This week was spent mainly on research, we all read the original manuscript Carroll wrote for Alice Liddell and decided to base the majority of our game on that. The bulk of our game will be  a 3D platformer, so a lot of time was spent just figuring out what game mechanics we would like to include in this project, and how to make them happen. This week was also filled with moodboards, trying to discover the look we wanted to have for this game. It's currently something we're struggling with so we'll see how things pan out for that later on. My personal tastes leans very much towards 2D stylized games and old school animation, with beautifully painted background and simple characters. Whilst being visually stunning, the focus of these games and films is to tell a story, a main aim of this project.
Mood-board of potential art styles
One of my main ideas for our Alice in Wonderland game  is inspired by a classic game and childhood favorite of mine Rayman. In one of the early levels of Rayman the player has to escape a flood of water by planting seeds, which then turn into the platforms that you escape on. Reading the original text Alice falls into a river of her own tears, so I thought it would be a good idea to try and make a Rayman style "water level" where Alice must escape the rising water of her own tears.  At the beginning of the week, when I pitched this. I had no idea how to make it happen, if it could even happen. But with some help on the basics of matinees in UE4 I managed to make a small test level with the rising "water" that will reset the level if you fall into said water.

I'm also in charge of creating the  white rabbit character in Alice in wonderland.  This is something that I have mixed feelings about, on  the one hand I love drawing characters, but on the other hand these characters are always human. I've never drawn a (decent) rabbit in my life. Regardless I think this will be a good challenge for me. This week I just spent a little time researching rabbit anatomy and looking at inspiration. Next week I'll dedicate some more time to getting some rabbit ideas sketched out. Currently were not sure if were going for a stylized or realistic rabbit, so I'll explore both later on.

Before this project we were asked to put down our "specialties" for the project to help balance out the groups. I'm down for character design and texturing, so that'll be my focus. However there are 3 character designers in our group, and texturing is happening later in the project. So I'm going to be dabbling in environments, level deign and engine, to keep myself useful in the early stages. Especially  as I only have the one character to concept for this project (so far).  Maybe when plans are more concrete I'll settle down a bit and really focus on my specialties,but until then I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

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