Onwards to Wonderland.

I’ll start this post with the walkthrough of our Container City project that Jonah made. Now you can see the level in it’s full glory with sounds and all. Enjoy.

So, one group project down, and onto another! Now begins the 9 week marathon of a project that is the Off The Map competition. It’s the 3rd year of the competition run by the British Library and the 3rd time that Game Art at DMU are entering. Hopefully it’ll be our 3rd year being shortlisted for the finalists too, and maybe we’ll even win it for a second time. There are a lot of strong artists on Game Art, so who knows. Here is DMU’s first win;

This year is the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, and that is what the project is about. We are to make an interactive game based on either Oxford, Alice’s Underground Adventure, or the Queen of Heart’s Palace Gardens. Everyone on the course was allocated groups of six, and we soon set to work. There was a bit of an explosion following the news that we were being allocated groups but were not allowed to work on our own, and even more so when we were told that the game must be a side-scroller. Admittedly both of these points bothered me too, but I carried on anyway. It soon turned out that the side-scroller part of the project brief had been revoked and we now had freedom to do what we wanted. Much better, although by that point I was actually quite enjoying the prospect of making a side-scroller.

Nevertheless, as a team we decided to go down the route of a first-person game, based in the gardens with an array of puzzles and minigames to complete. I’m the allocated environment concept artist of the group, as the others aren’t hugely interested in concepting, though they’ve been helping out. We also have a great character artist and a very experienced engine guy who can pretty much just make what we want in Blueprints (thank God, as I sure have had enough of those damn things). So far we’ve been working really hard to get our ideas down and ready to go as soon as possible, though I fear we may have moved too quick and this may back-fire. By the second day of the project we had a map design, which we have since developed a little, but I think we should have iterated more. I’m going to wait until our meeting with our allocated tutors to see if I’m right or not. Changing the map design won’t affect my concepts, so I’m happy to see how we go for now.

Concept Montage

These are the concepts that I made over a couple days by overpainting a very rough whitebox and using photographs. I’m definitely getting quicker at making quick concepts and knowing when to stop painting, instead of endlessly working into a piece. There are still quite a few areas of our game that need concepting, and of course I’ll need to change things if we don’t like the concepts, but I’m happy with my progress. It’s scary being pretty much being the only environment artist, as we’re at a bottleneck in our workflow where I feel like everyone is waiting for me to finish concepting before we can move on. And of course everything about how the level looks is hinging on me and my ability to put my ideas onto canvas. I’m not sure I like it.

I pretty much know for sure now that I want to be an environment artist (2D or 3D I’m still not sure). It feels really nice to have a purpose with what I want to work towards and get good at. I love creating worlds, and I always have really, but now I know that potentially this is what I could spend the rest of my life doing. It’s super exciting. Now I just have to practise, practise practise and get good (I literally just Googled ‘practise vs. practice’ and I still don’t get it). That’s not to say I’ll lay everything else off though. I’ll still pursue anatomy and all that jazz (such as basic spelling and grammar).

I’m still extremely unsure how I feel about this project. I’m lucky in that I landed with a group that are all really nice competent people, but it’s more the direction our project is taking that I’m iffy about. Prior to receiving the brief, I had told myself I would work alone on a very small scene where I could really polish my skills with regards to modelling, texturing, story-telling, and atmosphere. I feel so on-and-off at the moment, and each day that goes by my feeling about the project changes. After speaking with one of the tutors and voicing my concerns, I found that it is actually possible to leave groups and go our own ways if we choose, but I will be thinking really carefully before I decide to. It’s unlikely though. We have some really cool ideas that I would like to help bring to life, and couldn’t if I worked alone. By next week I will have made my final decision… a tough one indeed. I don’t want to dedicate myself to 8 weeks of working on a project, alone or in a group, that I feel no passion for.

Tune in next week to find out what I decide! Dramatic music ensues.

You should check out my team-mate’s blogs- Dom, Denise, Becky, Sharn, and Mark.

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