While I understand that it was probably unwise to leave game design for as long as I have, I think the time was better spent on other projects at the moment. This is because crunch time has arrived for both Theory and Animation. Regardless, our Game Design Document needs to be presented tomorrow morning. I gave my group a deadline to give me all of the work they have been working on during this time. I have not had any response except for Callum who gave me a fantastic amount of work for the document, late only because of quality. What I have to do now is to see the rest of my group tomorrow during the presentation to see the work they have completed and work from there. I will also need to print out the poster before I can present it.
I have finished writing up the basic plot for our game which has enough information to storyboard our 3 main parts. The story was written by Callum with my occasional input:
Hamlet built his family’s business from the ground up. He was a smart and inspiring leader who stopped at nothing to get what he wanted: A better life for his family. When Hamlet had access to anything he wanted in life and the largest gang in town to back him, it all fell apart. He became lazy, opting for the life of peace and relaxation rather than the brutal power hungry life he was renowned for. Members of the gang began to talk of overthrowing Hamlet, the centre of this coup, his own brother Claudius. Claudius had stood in his brothers shadow for too long and coveted the power his brother had. When the opportunity came to eliminate his brother, he took it.
The game starts with a fade in, from a first person view inside a limo. You can hear the murmuring of thugs outside as the car cruises through the empty street. The car stops and the door next to you opens. You step out onto the street. A group of gang members standing outside start whispering to each other. The man who opened the car door is a sentinel. The street is completely empty save from a few groups of gang members dotted around the entrance to a warehouse directly in front of you. A tool tip appears directing you to move around. You walk up to the door to the warehouse, two guards are standing by the door. The move as side as you approach. When you enter the warehouse you see its completely empty except for a chair in the middle with a man, head down, strapped in. Another tool tip appears telling the player to press F to draw their weapon and click M1 to shoot. A cut-scene plays showing (from hamlet’s perspective) Claudius shooting his brother.
With hamlet dead, Claudius now has control of the gang. He starts by immediately starting wars with neighboring gangs seeking more and more power but more than that; a legacy that shadows his brothers.
Free Game-play Starts:
Horatio, a very thin and reasonably twitchy looking man wakes Hamlet up informing him of his death. Horatio tells you that he has brought you back to kill Claudius and get revenge. The player can accept or refuse this. Either way Horatio informs Hamlet that he can manifest himself in the real world but only for a short time. While the player is in the real world they are vulnerable and can die forever. If the player chooses to ignore Horatio, they will be tasked with making their way to the gang’s hideout to talk to Claudius If not, the Horatio tells hamlet to gather some men around the neighborhood and fight your way to Claudius.
We are now into the 3rd week of the project and we are on schedule however, I would like to be a little further ahead at this point as we are moving into unknown territory. I am the only member of the group that has character modeling experience and while I know from experience that its not a difficult thing once you get into it, I also know it can be foreboding. I’ve decided to start coding the game using placeholder objects in the mean time.
The concept art for all 3 characters has been finished. I am very happy with all of them. The real test will be in retaining their individual styles in the modeling stage. I still need the models to be consistent. I believe we are able to make changes as we go and that we should keep moving forward however, Callum believes it is important to get the models looking 100% accurate before continuing. Callum has been a huge help with decision making so far and so we are going to take our time and make sure everything is ready before we begin the next phase of the project. This means completing the story and gameplay plans, designing all the miscellaneous pieces of concept art and the level design.
Today I was able to meet up with my group to discuss their ideas for the development of the game and more importantly, the story. On Monday, I quickly checked up on them to see how they were handling the work I assigned to them. Xuan had completed some sketches for the protagonist and said she would be able to have some more in time for the Tuesday meetup. I definitely liked the sketches she showed me. I asked her to now work on creating a turnaround for the character so that we are ready when it comes to modeling him. As for Conrad, he had nothing for me. He did however send me a design for a character very early on which I am happy with as a concept so I’ve asked him to work on a turnaround for him.
Not having the art is annoying because its crucial to get the concept art done and out of the way early on so we can focus on the bigger aspects. I told him this and have decided to keep checking up on him more regularly as I need him for other jobs. I got Callum to work on the level design and help me write the story for the game. He spent a solid 2 hours looking through the asset store looking for things we could use for the game. After the meeting we discovered that our story had too many roadblocks so we sat down and worked on it for a good few hours. We still need to refine it by taking a look back at “What is the Hero’s Journey” but for the moment its good enough. To help with the artwork which we are all working on now, (Callum is working on the level design and I’m working on a design for a mentor) I made a quick mood board of reference images showing our theme:
Researching games similar to Hamlet: Dragon Age.
Dragon Age origins is a perfect example of a game that tells the story of hamlet but in a completely new way. Another is the movie the Lion King. Since both of these are famous titles it gives the group something to refer back to while creating the game and developing story.
Genres and themes.
We decided to go with a style of artwork similar to that of Borderlands. This is because it keeps things simple and plays to the artist strengths. When it comes to texturing the 3D model, we can create our own textures quite easily using simple colours and outliner features, giving us more control over the design.
Callum and I are planning on creating our own soundtrack for the game as this will have a serious impact on the mood of certain scenes.
Game Design and Mechanics
As far as mechanics go we have no clear idea as to what we will put into the game. If we can solidify a genre by tomorrow then we can get things really moving with the project. What we have decided is that it should be 3rd person. This is because we are going to spend a lot of time designing our main character Hamlet and it seems a waste to lose him for most of the game (because of the lack of cut-scenes).
Brief and Research
We were assigned Hamlet as our play. Hamlet is a good starting point as there is a strict deadline on the project. It also leaves a lot of free reign as far as artwork and mechanics go, however the narrative still needs to be true to the original play. I feel that we can push the boundaries of the brief by justifying all of our decisions as far as narrative and artwork goes.
The Story of Hamlet
From the brief research I have done so far, I have noticed that Hamlet follows a 5 act structure. This makes narrative easy to create and alter as we see more development in the character and level designs. Having two artists working on one project seems like it will be problematic in the future with regards to continuity. In an attempt to counteract this pre-emptively, I felt like it would be a good idea to have one artist on environmental creations while the other works on character. I will know more once we brainstorm and come up with some mood boards and mock ups. I will create some sketches of different genres to start the ball rolling.
The 5 act structure of Hamlet
The structure of hamlet above should be fairly easy to follow and adapt. As a group its important to have a clear and similar view as to the theme of the game. As the game developer it is my job to ensure this is done and that I learn the strengths and weakness regarding the group so that we can either work on these areas or avoid them as the time limit draws near.
As a group we need to decide what we can achieve early on so that we don’t get distracted or overwhelmed. My hope is that we can follow the brief as tightly as possible by completing the game and releasing it as a completed prototype. Since we have 2 game artists, we should be able to achieve a high standard of work in a short amount of time. While aesthetics are important, I believe that we can substitute them for completion and mechanical polishing. It would be a good idea to get stuck into this project ASAP. Knowing this, I have planned a meeting for Tuesday so that we can all start to work on our respective areas. I will hopefully be able to help in all aspects to ease stress and stick to the deadlines I will set tomorrow.