The “Failing” of My “Great Idea”.

Few years ago, I was surfing the internet one day, and came across this picture:

o-sexist-avengers-poster-kevin-bolk-570

And I laughed like there’s no tomorrow.
“This is fucking brilliant!”, I said to myself. The reason why I said that it’s because I believed that the creator of this is using comedy or humour as a weapon to make a powerful statement. He even got The Huffing Post to talk about it.
So I spam-messaged this picture to my friends, and I shared it numerous times on Facebook (as many other internet users usually do). I even got interesting conversations and arguments about it with my friends. Then, I simply carry on with my life.
And that is till recently,it naturally re-surfaced from the back of my mind when I was thinking of an idea to poke fun at gendered marketing for my Creative Proposal project for one of my class.
“Okay, so instead of making of fun of how they market stuff for boys, what if we make fun of how they market stuff for girls as well! Oh! What if… We reversed the gender roles! Yeah, that will funny! Haha!”, I told myself, slowly building the confidence to this “great idea” of mine.
I did some research, trying to find the perfect vehicle for my “great idea” and walla, the perfect candidates for it:

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“Video Games, YES! It’s perfect! These games are totally the polar opposite of one another! This is going to be good! It’s going to be funny, haha!”I told to myself while doing a small victory dance in my small, cramped up studio apartment.
So I’ve done the proposal, came up with contigency plans just in case I have to downscope my idea and finally, I submitted it. The facilitators/lecturers feedback about it was positive.
“There’s no reason to stop this train! IT’S GOING FULL SPEED AHEAD! CHOO CHOO!”, I boast to myself and to my friends. I was pretty confident that it’s going to come out good at the end.
And that is, until I actually executed the plan. This is what I came up with at the end:

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Mind you, the artwork wasn’t originally mine, I simply piece it or “collage it” together (with some editing and masking to some of the original files) with Photoshop.
Now, do you notice anything wrong with it?

Yeap, that’s right. “Where is the humour?”

I showed this to my friends and the facilitators and the responses I got from them are at best, lukewarm. And I don’t blame them. They were expecting funny pieces or funny “something” from me. And these “something” aren’t funny at all.
I think long and hard about this and there are two conclusions that came into mind:
  1. I lack the ability, skill and time to pull off the desired effect like what Kevin Bolk did with his work (the Avengers’ reversed gender pose) and;
  2. This topic is no longer funny to me.
This blog here is mainly about the second conclusion.
So why is this topic is no longer funny to me? It’s simply because this topic (regarding to gendered marketing) is starting to become personal to me, and I’m getting tired of it. I changed from an outsider who observe and laugh at what is happening, to a person who is fighting for a cause.
“What is that cause you’re fighting for” you say? Simple; I want better, and stronger representation of women in entertainment media, such as video games. I want a world where my future daughter can come back home from highschool and play a game that look like this:

god-of-war-for-girls

“But Fedya, haven’t you notice it? Female representations in video games are getting better and better. And Fedya, like you us male gamers want it as well!
Yes, I know. But the scale is still noticable. It is still male dominated.  And we must not stop fighting for it. The keyword here is “STRONGER representation of women”.
There’s an article regarding to “Gender Breakdown of Games Showcased at E3 2016” are there some points made about it that I honestly think, going against what Feminist Frequency is actually fighting for.
No offence to Carolyn Petit and her article, but I believed the problem does not lie as to whether or not there are more games with “violent-oriented” mechanics than “none-violent mechanics. But on what end of spectrum are the female characters in those games. I believed by having those games with women as their protagonist, it would tip the scale much more to their favor.
Alright, I don’t want to go off-tangent with my rant. But bottomline, my project has “failed” in becoming a humour piece that I intended for it to be. Instead, it became a reflective piece to my own conscience. And I would like to share that with you, the reader of this blog. Have a nice day. Fedya out.
p.s. Gamers, play a game with strong female characters like Beyond Good and Evil, or play as Saryn or Valkyr in Warframe. Creators, write/create/design female characters that is a force to be reckon with. Okay, I’m officially out.

 

Links to resources/artwork used for the “failed” piece:

  1. http://vgboxart.com/browse-resources/
  2. https://www.redbubble.com/people/zfischerart/works/13810125-female-kratos-from-god-of-war?p=poster
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Classification_Board
  4. https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91pfM8FP6XL._SL1500_.jpg
  5. http://www.dafont.com/forum/read/34400/barbie-font
  6. http://www.dafont.com/dollie-script.font?text=Barbie&psize=l
  7. http://www.pixeden.com/photoshop-text-effects/psd-candy-text-effect
  8. https://img1.etsystatic.com/040/0/7788333/il_fullxfull.655098471_5rue.jpg
  9. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/7d/90/39/7d9039fd8d7568434897310a55cf2af6.jpghttp://www.freepik.com/free-vector/park_799949.htm#term=park&page=1&position=10
  10. http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0363/6845/products/77166d0be58e59ad6217baee137edffe.jpg?v=1471627600

 

References for the blog:

  1. https://feministfrequency.com/2016/06/17/gender-breakdown-of-games-showcased-at-e3-2016/
  2. http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/AsherEinhorn/20150813/251201/The_misrepresentation_of_women_in_games.php
  3. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/violent-video-games.aspx
  4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/06/23/more-than-half-the-games-at-e3-let-gamers-play-as-female-protagonists/#10a65c3192a6
  5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/avengers-movie-poster-sexist_n_1507914.html
  6. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/67902/20150710/study-shows-that-boys-want-better-female-representation-in-video-games-too.htm
  7. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/07/10/the-slow-evolution-of-women-in-video-games/

 

Chronicles of A Third World Storyteller – Episode 4: Dev Diary, Dev Diary, Dev Diary

Week 10 – The Non-stop filming of “Dev Diary” and Writing

I’m incredibly exhausted. I am so exhausted that, I have skipped last week blogging about what I’ve done. But, the things I’ve been doing last week, are the same thing I’ve been doing this week. So, without the further ado,

Projects Updates:

1. NeonKnight – Dev Diaries/Trailer

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I’m on the editing process as of this moment for their first dev diary. I’ve got all of the footage I need, so all I need to do it piecing it together. For now, they are still working on their game, and they’re been spending countless hours polishing the look and the feel of the game. For now, I’m just going to work with what I have and put artworks and prototype in-game footage as placeholders till they’re happy to give a footage of their game. Same goes for their game trailer as well.

 

2. The Wisp- Corporate Video/Trailer

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Just last Saturday, I have finished filming all of the footage I needed to build the corporate video. Really really happy with the footage I have shot myself. Sometimes I forgot that camera are camera and I don’t need to overthink it when I need to film some stuff. Also, my idea for showing game developers in a different light starts to come to its fruition. This will definitely show them in a different light. Anyway, on to the editing process.

 

3. Incapacitor – Mockumentary-style Dev Diaries

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Last Thursday, I have finished [Team Redacted] official 1st dev diary. Sadly, we couldn’t go through filming it ala mockumentary style, as I stated before. But the stuff we got is still great. Their games are looking and feeling better by the way. I’m still awaiting their approval for their mockumentary edit which I have finished editing. Other than that, onto the editing their first official dev diary.

 

4. Invader From The Deep – Commercial – NEW GAME PROJECT COMMERCIAL

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Okay, okay. Hear me out. I just got moved to a different project from the same game developer. And the reason why it’s because the next game that they’re making will be a lot more bigger than the game they’re currently developing for their final game. What that means? I’ll be honest, I don’t fully understand what they mean by that, but they want me on board in it. And I am. Moving on.

 

5. Hand of Rogues – Copywriter

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Mobile Arcade, the team that I’m in an currently writing for are busy coming up with a strong concept of a card game. In the mean time, the project leader is asking us to read the GDD document of the game. It is not fully finished yet, and like I said, they are working hard on finalising the concept of it. No writings for me yet as of now.

 

5. Iris – Writer

screenshot_421

20 pages in and I’m now writing for the next area of the game, right after the boss fight. I don’t want to say that In underestimate the amount of writing that I have to do for this game, but I kind of did. Since I’m a very open writer, I asked the team to give me feedback of what I’ve written so far. I color-coded my response to the team’s feedback about it. More about it the next few days.
There’s more writing that needs to be done before we reach Week 12, and it’s coming up pretty soon. I need to figure out a way to writer faster for Iris, because normal script format is not (completely) ideal when you’re design a narrative for a small (yet quite) RPG game like this.

 

Final Thoughts

“Busy busy busy” is all I have to say for this week’s blog. Tips for someone who is something as maniacal as me; Drink more coffee, and sleep a couple of times for a few hours in a day, to get “enough” rest for your body. Anyway, till next time.

Chronicles of A Third World Storyteller – Episode 3: Tool for Writing for Games & Dev Diaries!

Week 8 – Meeting with Christy Dena, Experience Game Writer/Narrative Designer

christydena_theaust_030613

This week, I had a meeting with the Games Department Coordinator of SAE Brisbane, Christy Dena about writing for games. She’s a well-accomplished writer-director-designer in games, films, digital theatre etc. Basically she’s the right person to talk to, about writing for games. And what a meeting it was. She gave me many tips and resources I could use to write for games. There is too many to cover in this blog, so I’ll try my best to sum up her tips:

1. Spreadsheet is My Best Friend

ST_Spreadsheet_01.jpg

This is the one that I cherished the most. Maybe to many senior game writers and game developers, this is nothing new. But to me, it’s the one I’ve been wanting to know the most. Yes, I’ve googled and did research about writing for games. With the help of Adrian Forest, one of the Game Design lecturer in SAE Brisbane, I know and understand a lot about writing for games.
But the answer are too many to choose from. There seems to be no right or wrong answer when writing for games. And I know, deep inside the games development, there must be a unified format to write for games. There must a tool that many game writers lean on more when writing for games. And that tool is, a simple spreadsheet.
“But why spreadsheet, Fedya?”, some of you asked. Simple, it’s a tool or format where game programmers and designers can understand what you’re trying to write. During the course of time in games development, they have multiple spreadsheets that they used to communicate within their team, and it’s no strange that copywriter/writer/narrative designer of the team using the same tool as well (example above).

2. Be flexible in writing for games.

One thing that I have to realised and REALLY, REALLY REALISED is that, games have iterations. And they change throughout the development. Most of the time, it doesn’t even look anything like the its iteration when it reached beta. And most of the time, it is better that way. Sometimes, the designers and developers have massive ambitions in creating a game with robust mechanics, animations, visuals etc, and it had to be scaled down.
Bottomline, They have kill their darlings,  and you as a game writer/narrative designer, should do the same thing. So as a game writer, I have to be prepared to change my writings, in accordance to the games that I’m writing for, at any point in time. This is to make sure in order to make sure that my writings stay cohesive with the game that is being developed. And that is really important, when you’re writing for games!

3. Limit your writings. Write as succinct as you can. Especially for “dialogues”.

fire_emblem

Unlike my blogs, it is the utmost important rule to write as little as possible, when writing for games. Films do have similar rule, but in games, the word counts is a lot lesser than that. How many RPG games or adventure games that you play that makes you feel like the dialogues are taking FOREVER to finish? See, that’s what I want to avoid when I am writing for games, or when I’m writing dialogues for games.
So that’s pretty much it. Onwards to weekly updates of the projects:

 

Projects Updates:

1. NeonKnight – Dev Diaries/Trailer

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

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So yesterday (12th November, 2016), with the help of my good buddy, Julian, I filmed 2/3 of the 2nd Dev Diary for NeonKnight. Why 2/3 of the dev diary? Because one of the programmers couldn’t made it to the filming session due to scheduling conflict. But other than that, I am really happy with the audio, lighting, eyeline as well as the interview being recorded.  Editing process will begin this week, by Julian.
As for the rest of the dev diaries, it will be recorded tomorrow (14th November, 2016), again, with the help of Julian. And that editing process will also begin this week. Since we filmed the dev diary above in The Void, the real challenge is to make sure we can make the background, at least as good as it. Though it’s just a minor problem, really.
As for the trailer, I am still waiting for the recorded footage by the developers. It will probably be done by next week. Looking forwards to editing it.

 

2. The Wisp – Corporate Video

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

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TIPS WHEN FILMING UNDER A HOT SUN: Bring sunscreen and water bottles! It was really when we were filming this last Thursday (10th November, 2016). The sun wasn’t kind to us. But the game developers of The Wisp toughen up, and stay strong throughout the rest of their interviews. It may seem like I’m doing another dev diaries and technically, it kind feels like it it s going to be a dev diary. But, the idea is to show a different side of them, as game developers.
So far, we’ve recorded 1/3 of the footage we needed to piece it together. The other shots will be capturing them doing stuff other than them sitting in front of a computer. Again, with my friend, we’ll be filming the rest of it throughout this week and the next. The next recording will commence on this Tuesday (15th November, 2016) and This Friday (18th of February, 2016). And on that time, we will bring umbrellas and waterbottles and sunscreens and whatnot! Watch out, sun! You’re going down!

 

3. Incapacitor – Mockumentary-style Dev Diaries

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

We only had three hours (or four) to filming this (video above. NOTE: it’s a rough assembly) and we did it. The lighting was rough, but the good thing is that, we’re doing a mockumentary-flavored dev diary. So it is (somewhat) forgiven if the lighting is bad. Sadly, Julian (my cinematographer, also my best friend) didn’t have a proper shoulder rig to work with. Now that I think of it, he could use a tripod and make it a monopo-I’m digressing, point is we still get the message across.
As a director to this mockumentary, Ben and Che, the two of the six developers working on Incapacitor, are really great to work with. They’re not shy being in front of camera at all, which is great. Sadly, both of them, along with the rest of the crew are too busy for me to write a more elobarte mockumentary-flavored dev diaries(final script here). So, we settle with just this, and the rest will be a more casual dev diary with Ben, being the MC through the videos.
The next dev diary will be recorded this Thursday(17th November, 2016).

 

4. Invader From The Deep (working title) – Commercial

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CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

I didn’t have enough time to do much on this project, since I am busy with the rest of it. Will catch up to it next week. The assets for the “tower” enemies in the game are almost done. Now, I just need to find good production designer/costumer to help making it look as cheap yet good-looking as it can be.

 

5. Hand of Rogues (working title) – Copywriter/Commercial

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CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

Not much to be done for this project yet. But I need to make sure I am prepared for it, when it happens. So, I’m planning to play Munchkin (the game where they want my writings to have similar tone) with my friends to see what makes Munchkin funny-yet-witty writings, work.
Also, I think I need to look at another funny card games, so that I don’t fall into the trap of having a writing tone, too similar to that of Munchkin. I need to respect myself more as a writer, to write something more original and unique!

6. Iris – Lead Writer

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

3

See, the reason why I’ve been asking around about writing for games or the process of it, is because I want to know how to write better for this game. I understand that the game is a story-driven game (aka Narrative game). But, it doesn’t mean it is easy. I have (probably) all of the freedom to write a narrative within Iris to my advantage. The script (or story arc) for this world will be done within this. Will update this section once I finished it.
Also, how awesome is that character design? That’s Dox, our lead protagonist of Iris.

 

Final Thoughts

Things are getting more and more hectic as weeks gone by. I need to stay focus and scale down some of my ambitions within all of these projects. Better to have really really good small things, than big mediocre things, right?

Vae-Victis!

Vae-what now?

So I made a new card game rule for standard 52-card deck. At first when I wrote it, I wanted it to be a simple card game about managing odds. Then I just kept on writing. And writing. And writing. And writing. And now, it look like this:

card-game-rules-v4a

And here’s the second page for extra information regarding certain card types within the new rule:

card-game-rules-v4b

 

…Oh. My. G-

I know, I know. I went overboard with it. In the beginning, I was struggling to come up with new rules for 52-card deck. And now, I just can’t believe that I wrote this insanely in-depth rules.

BUT I’LL BE HONEST,

This card game rule isn’t complete yet. There are still many tweaks that I need to do with the rules. There have been many that has given suggestions and ideas regarding it. And I’m slowly working it into the rules. For now, I would like you good readers to test out this current “version” of the card game and tell me what you think of it.
Also, a post-mortem blog regarding this card game rules that I’ve made, will be posted soon. Stay tuned.

 

But you haven’t tell us about the meaning of “Vae-Victis!”

It’s Latin for “woe to the conquered!”. And I got from game, specifically a game character called Kain from, well, Legacy of Kain. There, I have spilled the beans. You all need to play Legacy of Kain games, seriously!

Chronicles of A Third World Storyteller – Episode 2: Writing For Games & Crunching Times.

Week 7 – Study Week

writing-for-games-jackie-turnure-14-638

This week is study week for us. Meaning, there will be no classes on this week. And the game design design students are hard at work, especially this week. I got a chance to  really sit down and get to know and talk about their projects and what they’re doing. It’s “crunch time” for them. But it also means “crunch time” for me.
I also got a chance to sit down and talk with one of the lecturers about writing for games. Basically, in this talk, he leveled with me about the reality about writing for games. He said that writing for games is different than design narrative for the game? Writing for games are essentially doing descriptions texts, dialogues, hint and tips, and every other copywriting needed for the game.
To be completely honest, I truly know what I’m getting on. And frankly, I don’t mind doing those type of writings. Even though I got a chance to write the narrative for Iris, I don’t really expect at the time to be design narratives within the game. We all have to start somewhere. All I seek, is experiences in working with games.

 

Projects Updates:

1. NeonKnight – Dev Diaries/Trailer

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

screenshot_393

The first recordings of their dev diaries have sound issues. Turns out, the sound were recorded through the lapel mics that I have put on them, but rather through the camera built-in mics. It sounded terrible, so unfortunately we had to re-shoot it. On this Saturday (12th November, 2016), We’re filming the 2nd part of the dev diary, followed by re-shoot of the first part of the dev diary on the following Monday (14th of November, 2016).
I’m really glad at this point that the team were kind enough to let re-shoot their interviews. They’re super open about. Other than that, I had to edit a trailer together for their game. I still have to wait for them to finish their games before I can do it that. In the mean time, I’ll just focus on their dev diaries

 

2. The Wisp – Corporate

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

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So, the game developers behind The Wisp and I have come out with a cool idea in regards to their corporate. Instead of filming them behind video game backgrounds and computers, the idea is to not just film them in a different background, but also show a different side to them as game developers.
The idea is still the same; which is breaking the stigma of what people think about game developers or gamers, but the way we approached it is different. The idea that inspire me to do this is this video:
Of course I’m not copying the whole format, but I really like the approach to the interview. It’s very candid, very playful, but it has a strong message. The production of this corporate video is starting tomorrow (7th of November, 2016).

 

3. Incapacitor – Mockumentary-style Dev Diaries

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

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This the other team I have finalised of ways I am approaching their dev diaries. Since the team love comedies, I decided to make a mockumentary-style of their development diary videos. The team behind Incapacitor are keen to do it, as well as acting in their mockumentary. And I’m glad that they do.
The way I’m personally approaching this is to not make them memorise a script, but rather giving them hyper-exaggeration of their characters, and the situations they’re in. With that information they will improvise it. Of course there will be written outlines (and script) that will act as a guidance, just in case if it didn’t work out as expected.
Of course, this will not purely be a mockumentary. First and foremost, they are development diaries, where they are talking about the game that they’re currently working on. But we’re mockumentary (or comedy) as the vehicle to deliver it.
The production for the first video begins this Thursday (10th of November, 2016).

 

4. Invader From The Deep (working title) – Commercial

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT

What I wanted to do this week, is to keep on working on the script (link to the script here), scouting a location, and do pre-vis of it. But I couldn’t do it this week, due to other commitments. The team behind Invader From The Deep are still working on their art asset. So this upcoming week, I’m planning to do pre-vis with my cinematographer at a park, somewhere in Brisbane.

 

5. Hand of Rogues (working title) – Copywriter/Commercial

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

screenshot_395

As I have stated on last week blog, MOBILE ARCADE, the team behind Hand of Rogues are currently in the pre-production stage of the development. They are working on the mechanics, dynamics, designs as well as the tools and resources to development the card game.
In the mean time, there is still not much writing to be done yet. So I’m on standy-mode and once the production begins, I’ll be writing all of the card descriptions and flavor texts in the game.
The project lead asked me if I can do a commercial for them. And I said yes. However it will not be in production till next trimester. More stuff for the demo reel!
Also, I would like to point to point out that Game Design students love their Discord/Slack, which is pretty cool!

 

6. Iris – Lead Writer

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT:
Screenshot_396.jpg

Me and the project/creative lead of the project, Jake have map out some outlines for the narrative arc within the game.  The way that we going to work together right now, is that he’ll come up with the backstories of the game’s world, characters and its enemies and I will flesh them out and design a narrative within the game. The idea is to have a Protagonist with a more active motivation and reason to go through the end of the game.
So far Dox(The Protagonist) found out that the world that he is (Vae) is going to end. The robots (no name for them yet) are currently building a huge ark-like ship to ship all of the living creatures in this planet (except for them and humans) to another planet. His motivation right now, is to make sure his robot dog (Blind) is in that Ark-like ship. How is going to get there, by travelling through The Palatium (the capital city of Vae) and fight robots that are stopping him to meet with the leader of the robots, Omnes Videntes.
As of now, I’m mind-mapping the story arc to get a clear vision of how the story in the game would flow. The rough draft of the story will be done within next week.

 

Final Thoughts

Wow. It’s going to be a pretty busy week for me. And it’s going to get busier by the week. I can do this. I’ve been through busier projects than this. Just need a lot of coffee this week.

Chronicles of A Third World Storyteller – Episode 1: Into The World of Video Games.

Major Project Pitch

This week (specifically last Monday), I pitched a project that I am personally want to work on as my Major Project (for my final trimester), to my facilitator (Stephen Lance) and to the rest of the class.
Initially I was thinking about pitching a short film idea that I’m been stewing for a while. It’s about an all-female pro-wrestling group called “The Diving Angels”, and they are planning to pull a major heist in a bank in order to save their beloved trainer who is dying from an incurable sickness. The idea is that, they want acquire a lot of money (from the bank), to purchase something from the black market; a magical ring from a lost city that is said to cure any sort of disease and sickness.
It’s pretty absurd, I know. But I have faith in it.  It was fresh and somewhat unique. I have a good film crew behind me, and I have a list of actors (who became close friends with me) that I would like them to be in. All is well.
That is, till something just clicked in me; I’m on my 2nd last trimester, I love video games, and I haven’t done any collaboration work whatsoever, with game students in my institute.
So, I dropped the aforementioned short film idea that I had on the side, and I decided to pitch something else. Something that has never been done before by the film students in my course. And that is, a demo reel and a portfolio showcasing my collaborations with game design students in their projects as not just a filmmaker, but as a writer and a storyteller.
More details about my projects and my plan can found in this link. Without further ado:

 

Projects I’ve participated in:

1. NeonKnight

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Description

NeonKnight is a 2D action platfomer sets in medieval science fiction world. You, the player is one of the older generations of Neonknight. And you’re destroying all of the newer NeonKnights, because you can. It’s a fast-paced action game, where you’ll be slashing and dashing your way through the enemies. Think a “Super Mario” game, but with high-speed sword actions.

Role in the Project: “Development Diary” Videos(Three Parts)

I’ll be producing, directing and editing three development diaries videos of the game developers behind the game. In each of those videos, they’ll be talking about different aspects of their game, which will be “Design”, “Combat” and the “Overall Development”.

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT

I have  finished recording their first “Design” development diary video yesterday (31st October 2016). The screenshots below are the results of that. Working the developers behind NeonKnight was fantastic. They’re very relax and calm during the interview whilst being recorded. No problem there, at all.

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What is a problem however, is the lack of crew during this production. Two of the people that were supposed to help me with filming the dev diary, cancelled on helping me at the very last minute. So I had to do everything on own. As a result of that, it has cost me 30 points due to returning the gear late. You live, and you learn.
The world of NeonKnight has a lot of different bold, neon-ish colors that smash with each other, so I tried my best to capture the essence of their game in my lighting setups. I also set up different frame and lighting for each member of the development group, just to keep it interesting. One of the footage had to re-colored to balance it out with the rest unfortunately, due to time constraint.
At the end of the day, I’m glad that I got great footage in the can. It is now in the editing process at the moment. Won’t probably take too long to edit it, and show them the rough cut. This dev diary will be completed before the end of my current semester.

 

2. The Wisp

wisp-poster-w-sub-neitzsche

Description

The Wisp is a procedural-generated (levels that ) 2D stealth action game. In this game, you’ll be playing as an ethereal entity that is separated from its physical body. You are now on mission to find it. You must navigate through the levels by sneaking around the enemies, or use your unique ability to possess the enemies and use their weapons back at them. “The best weapon against an enemy, is another enemy”.

Role in the Project: Corporate Video

I’ll be producing, directing and editing a simple corporate video about the game, as well as the people behind it. The idea that I’ve agreed with The Wisp developers is to put “human face” on the people behind the game, as well as breaking the stigma or stereotype of game developers.
Ashley, the project lead behind the game, feels this is necessary for the team, since games development is a small circle. So, they need portray themselves as game developers that “play” well with other. And videos about themselves and the game they’re working on, might just do the trick.

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT

This project is still in its early pre-production. They’re trying to find time between their projects to let me film them throughout the project. So far, the idea is to have a slice-of-life style of each member of this project, talking about themselves, their backgrounds as well as their games. I’m currently working on the outline and a rough AV script of their corporate video at the moment. Possibly, the corporate video will be completed before the end of my current trimester.

 

3. Incapacitor

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Description

Incapacitor is a procedural-generated first-person shooter sets in dystopian retro futuristic world. In this world,  all source of energy have been harnessed and redirected to the tower in the middle of this world main capital. This makes the human ceast to exist, except you, The Hero And you want revenge. So you go to tower and start blasting away all of the enemies, level by level.

Roles in the Project: Visual Consultant / Development Diary Videos

Like NeonKnight, I’ll be producing development diary videos of this game. Team [REDACTED], the game developers behind the Incapacitor still thinking of ways they want to it be filmed. Since the previous dev diary emphasis of neon-ish, bold colors style of lighting, my idea is to do something different than that. Something probably more comedic, since the team behind it enjoy element of comedies in their work.
Apart from that, I’m also the visual consultant in their game. I’ll be helping the game developers with the look and style of the Incapacitor. So far, they’re very keen on having their game to have retro-futuristic 80s, look.The reason behind the look is to cater the game to the gamer who grow up in the 80s, as well as young gamers who are into certain stylised 80s-inspired aesthetic. Possibly, the dev diaries will be completed before the end of my current trimester.

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT

DEV DIARIES – So far, they’ve still thinking of ways and tones they want to have for their dev diaries. I am thinking of including comedic elements in their games, since the team behind it loves comedies in their works.
VISUAL CONSULTANT – Since the game quite in its early development stage, there are still not much to be done for me. But the development will pick up its pace pretty soon, and I can be of a service to them.

 

4. Invader From The Deep (working title)

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Description

Invaders From The Deep is a reversed-tower defense. “tower defense” games are basically games that involved you protecting either your base or a target by building tower alongside the path of the enemies (aka “creeps”) , who are coming to destroy you said base and target. In Invader From The Deep, you’ll controlling the creeps instead.

Roles in the Project: Commercial

For this game, I’ll be doing a 30 seconds commercial. The idea is to hyper-exaggerate  a daily or a life activity by implementing the game mechanics or elements, within the close-to-reality “story world” of the commercial. A best example of such commericial would be many Japanese game commercials such as Segata Sanshiro commercial series for Sega Saturn, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 64 and the one I’ll be directly taking reference from, Devil May Cry for Sony Playstation 2:
All of these game commercials are pretty old. So, i want to bring back the same spirit they all have, for Invader From The Deep.

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT

I’ve already shown the script (link to the script here), to the developers of Invader From The Deep and they liked it. But I can’t get it fully locked-in since they’re still locking down the creeps art as well the towers that will be in the game. What I’m doing while I’m waiting for that, is to keep on working on the script, scouting a location, and keep doing pre-vis of it on my spare time. This commercial will be completed before the end of my current trimester.

 

5. Hand of Rogues (working title)

hand-of-rogues

Description

Hand of Rogues is a procedural-generated, dungeon crawling, turn-based card-collecting game. This means, you only have one life, to play through the whole game. And if you die at any point of the game, you lose everything, and have to start all over again. Your only objectives in the game are to collect the cards that will “power” you up, as you traverse down through the never-ending dungeon. 

Roles in the Project: Copywriter

For Hand of Rogues, I’ll writing description, as well as the flavor texts of all of the cards in the game. There will roughly 100 cards to be written. The style of writing will be in tongue-in-cheek, something that is similar to another non-digital dedicated card deck game, called Munchkin (examples below of the writings on the cards).

cards

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT

MOBILE ARCADE, the team behind Hand of Rogues are currently in the pre-production stage of the development. They are working on the mechanics, dynamics, designs as well as the tools and resources to development the card game. There is still not much writing to be done yet. Although I’ve spoken to the team and they said that the software I’ll be to do the writings will be a any spreadsheet sofware e.g. Google Spreadsheet, Microsoft Excel etc.

 

6. Iris

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Description

(Note: please take this description with a grain of salt. The story as well as the gameplay isn’t finalised yet.)
IRIS
 is a story-driven, turn-based, role-playing video game (or RPG) that is set in a dystopian, Orwellian world (basically  a world where the humans are under constant 24 hour surveillance). The robots called The Palatiels  rule the world, and human were driven out of their own capital city, called the Palatium. Humans now reside in the slums area, called Scrapyard and monitored 24 hours by the robots. You the player, are from the Scrapyard. You cared about nothing else but yourself and your robot dog. That is, until your dog ran away. You believed that your dog went to the Palatiem, and that is where your journey begins. 

Role in the Project: Lead and Dialogue Writer

For this game, I’ll be writing the story of the game, as well as the dialogues in it. I didn’t originally write the story. However Jake, would like me to flesh the story out with him, as a person coming from the storytelling mediums. I’ll be working closely with the team behind this game, to shape the world and the narrative arc of IRIS. This will be a very new experience for since, as a writer. However, I am taking the advantage of the game’s linear storytelling and work it to my writing process.

CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT

Sclera, the team behind Iris are still working of the game mechanics and dynamics of the game. They have certain ideas that will like to implement within the game e.g. the dog character being a support character in the game. So I have to take that into account when I’m fleshing out the story. Jake, also have a lot of backstories of the game, so I’m looking into that together with him tomorrow (2nd November, 2016). I’ll be honest, I’m pretty excited for this.

 

Final Thoughts

Yeah, so that’s pretty much it. I have a lot of projects I’ve involved and I think I’m pretty set in this current trimester. It will be a pretty tiring trimester, no doubt. But as usual, I’ll give 110 percent to all of them. Because like Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

A Look At: “It Is As If You Were Playing Chess” and “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess”

Chess; The “Off-White Painted Wall” of Games.

Close your eyes and try to make a list of 5 oldest and most classic games of all time. Chances are “chess” will be in that list. Chess is so ubiquitous that I don’t even remember learning how to play it when I was kid, I just know how to play it. Chess is so ubiquitous that, it’s the only game I can play with my “Baby Boomer” dad and my “Lucky Few” grandpa without them feeling like I’ve wasted their time. Chess is just, so ubiquitous. It’s in paintings, designs, posters, movies, cartoons etc. And of course, it’s even in video games.
battle-chess
Had to speed it up because the animation took forever to happen. Now, tis but a scratch of your time to watch this whole GIF. Who remembers playing this game? – “Battle Chess”, Interplay (1988)
With its popularity, comes along its many unique and interesting variants. Two of its interesting variants that I want to talk about are “It is as if you were playing chess” by Pippin Barr and “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess” by Bennet Foddy. Why do I want to talk about them? Because you have to talk about chess sooner or later, if you’re talking about games, right?

 

Pippin Barr’s “It is as if you were playing chess”

This particular “variant” of a chess game might bend the rule a little of what  “a variant of a chess game” is. What if someone, specifically a game designer, took a concept of “what is chess?” as well as “what is game?” “challenge” it, in a postmodern way? The answer will be this game. As a person who enjoys any form or idea of ‘deconstruction'( that, or I just really like Monty Python-esque stuff), “It Is As If You Were Playing Chess” is a game that I can’t stop smirking while playing it. It’s not so much about the game or what the game wants me to do, but the “novelties” it posited into the game itself.
it-is-as-if-you-were-playing-chess
They say a chess player that moves first has 52 to 56 percent of chance of winning. I feel lucky. – “It Is As If You Were Playing Chess”, Pippin Bar (August, 2016) 
The rules of the game is simple; You drag a white circle shape into the designated position it is pointing at(as instructed to you in the game), followed by a series of commands that is asking to “look here”at designated area it has marked with ‘X’. And, that’s it. Rinse and repeat. No ‘Kings’ nor ‘Queens’ nor  ‘Rooks’ nor ‘Castles’. Not even ‘Pawns” nor the checkerboard itself. None of that familiar chess-y stuff that you can find in chess. Just a white circle, a directional arrow and a dark grey confined “space”, with instructions.
Besides the instructions, there are “flavor” texts that pops in every now and then that “suggest” you to perform certain actions in “real life”. Those texts are amusing to read and to do as it has suggested, but it doesn’t have any sort of “consequences” in the game nor in real life (thankfully) if you don’t follow it.
What “It Is As If You Were Playing Chess” isn’t, it isn’t a “chess game”. What “It Is As If You Were Playing Chess” is, it is “a game about playing chess”. The description about the game by the creator, says it all:
“You’ve always wanted to be a chess master! But you aren’t one! Are you! Now you can at least look like one! Pretend you’re playing chess! Make moves! Act like you feel things! Smirk! Frown! Weep! Chess!”Pippin Barr
Sidenote: “It Is As If You Were Playing Chess” is a part of a larger project by Pippin Bar called “It is as if you are playing a videogame”. Or it once was? It’s pretty crazy. But the creator of this game is a madman himself. Go to this link if you want to find out more about it and follow his maddening journey. It’s pretty entertaining to say the least: https://www.pippinbarr.com/tag/it-is-as-if-you-were-playing-a-videogame/

 

Bennet Foddy’s “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess” 

This “chess game variant”, is a chess game variant I wish that I have sixteen players to play and get confused with. Or at least two players to play and get confused with. I tried to get it to run with all my controllers, but I couldn’t because they game kept putting “the players” on one side and not the other. So, I couldn’t initiate the game. So, take what I said about the game as a person who “observed” from afar.
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I’m sorry for not being able to play. I promise to update this part of the blog once I get the chance to play it, typical boy scout’s honour.
“Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess” by Bennet Foddy is a chess game made by a person who respects chess as a game, but hates playing it. It is a chess game that is designed to be “played first and understand the rules later”. It is a chess game that is designed to challenge the conventions that chess veterans are familiar with. It’s no longer about the slow, methodical and logical planning. It’s all about the speed, reflex and anticipations. Or at least that is what I’ve found in my research.
It’s a game in service of chaos. If you like chess, you’ll probably hate this game.” – Bennet Foddy on “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess” at  “GDC’2014’s Experimental Gameplay Worshop”.
Think about the most important rules of traditional chess game. Chances are you will think of this three rules:

 

Chess

  1. It’s a two-player only game.
  2. It’s a turn-based game.
  3. You can’t eat the King. You can only “check” or “checkmate” the King.
Now cross all three of these rules out:

 

Chess?

  1. It’s a two-player only game.
  2. It’s a turn-based game.
  3. You can’t eat the King. You can only “check” or “checkmate” the King to win the game.
And there you have it. “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess”.

 

Chess BENNET FODDY’S SPEED CHESS

  1. It’s a two-player only game. It’s a 2-16 players game.
  2. It’s a turn-based game. It’s a real-time game.
  3. You can’t eat the King. You can only “check” or “checkmate” the King. You eat the king to win the game.
And what you will have a chaotic, confusing, fast-paced, too-many-cooks-type-of chess game:
bennet-foddys-speed-chess
In a way, it feel like symbolised hypothesis of political power throughout the world, if they decided to go to World War 3. Okay, I’m looking at this game, way too much . – “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess”, Bennet Foddy (2014)

 

Non-digitized version of these chess game variants?

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Okay, so we know and see many successful video games being brought “out” to real world as board games like “X-COM” board game or “The Witcher Adventure Game” by “Fantasy Flight”. Question is, can “It is as if you were playing chess” and “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess” exists outside the realm of the digital world?
It’s a “yes” and “no” for me. Hear me out.
Pushing all of the philosophical hoo-haa about what is “real” and what is”fantasy, I said “Yes”, because literally, there’s nothing for stopping these games to exist in a more “tangible” world (unless the creators do not intent for their respective games to be so).
But I said “No” because  can it be played the same way. No. In fact no matter how hard you tried for it be, it can’t. At least at this moment. Or we live in a wizardy world like “Harry Potter”. Let’s take a look of “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess” and compare it with a standard high-level “speed chess game:

bennet-foddys-speed-chessspeed-chess-in-real-life

Some of you already understood what I meant by this, But pay close attention to the real life “speed chess”. Pieces falling all over the place. “Eating” is not as fast as in the game. And you pause… more… when… you… play… it… real… life. And this is just a two-player game. Imagine sixteen people playing it. These are just some of examples of why “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess” can exist in “real” world, but can’t be played to the way its original creator intended. That certain “humanistic” factor is what making it a “mess” to play in real life.
Sidenote: “Super Bunnhop” tackled this very same issue as well, but with a different game called “Gwent”. I am highly recommending you to watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xeq1AETA0Q
Well, that’s it yeah? This game will forever stuck in the digital word? Well, not really. When I said “yes”, I also meant it can played differently and still keep the “essence” of those games. I mean, take a look at “X-COM” board game or “The Witcher Adventure Game”. To huge a degree, it plays different different from its original sources. But it’s still an X-COM game. It is still a Witcher game. The “essence” of each respective game is still there.
“Do I want to play “It is as if you were playing chess” and “Bennet Foddy’s Speed Chess” in real life?” Yes. “Do I want to play it the same way as its digital counterpart?” Probably not. But who knows, I’m open to be wrong and being proven wrong. And the virtual reality is slowly creeping into our lives. And that would probably make games like these two, hell of a lot more potent to play, in “real” life.

 

References:

Links/Articles
1. “BENNET FODDY’S SPEED CHESS” – FODDY.NET
2. “It is as if you were playing chess.” – www.pippinbarr.com/games/itisasifyouwereplayingchess
3. “New (old) Project: It is as if you were playing chess” – Pippin Barr.
4. “New Project: It is as if you were playing a videogame” – Pippin Barr.
5. It is as if you were playing chess: is it a game?” – Pippin Barr.
6. “Pippin Barr press kit” – http://www.pippinbarr.com/games/press/sheet.php?p=It_is_as_if_you_were_playing_chess
7. “A GAME ABOUT PRETEND TO PLAY CHESS IS ALL ABOUT PERFORMANCE” – Nicole Carpenter, KILL SCREEN
8. “Chess was once treated as the video game of the 1800s” – James Plafke, GEEK
Images
1. http://willosborn.com/H-Synergia/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/digital-vs-real-1000×333.png
2. https://media.tenor.co/images/5813bce3e03f1293e128fee82819aa00/raw
3. http://i0.wp.com/killscreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Is-is-as-if-you-were-playing-chess-3.png?resize=480%2C640&ssl=1
4. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/_q5tTqIT1OE/maxresdefault.jpg
Videos
1. “‘QWOP’ Creator Bennett Foddy Shows Us His Take on Speed Chess” – Kotaku
2. “Bennett Foddy’s Speed Chess” – Brandon Boyer
3. “Short Vs. Kasparov – Speed Chess Challenge Final Game” – Arkham Noir
4. “Bennett Foddy’s Speed Chess: EGW 2014” – GDC
5. “Magnus Carlsen playing a one minute game against Hans Bohm” – utuub2007
6. “Gwent IRL” – Super Bunnyhop

‘Vlambeer’ and “Game Feel” – Addendum

Extra Extra, Read All About It!

Alright ladies and gents, you know the drill. This blog will be used to post anything related to previous blog I’ve discussed. In this blog, It will be just me sharing links, articles and pictures related to ‘Vlambeer’ and “Game Feel”.
Think of it as a the ‘lore’ section of the previous blog. Constantly check this blog at times to see what new stuff I’ve added into this blog. Fedya, out.

 

Update #1 – 15th October 2016

‘Design & Marketing of Nuclear Throne’

I’ve been wanting to share about this video for a while now. I’ve included on the reference links, but I have to share it again. It’s good. You know when I promised to talk about this ‘Performative Development’. Yeah, it was because of this video. But I need to do more research on this. A blog about will come out… Some day 🙂

 

‘Nuclear Throne: Performative Game Development in Hindsight’

You should watch this video. It’s basically sharing their experience regarding ‘Performative Game Development’. It’s golden. Got some tips about streaming to Twitch as well to those who are interested in, er… Twitch-ing.

 

‘Rami Ismail: I Want To Show You Something Annoying (screenshake 2014 keynote)’

In my previous blog, we feature the 50 percent of Vlambeer, Jan Willem Nijman. How about the other 50 percent? Well, check this video of Rami Ismail in action. Wait till the very end to see one mega punchline by him.

‘Vlambeer’, “Game Feel” And Everything In Between.

NOTE: Please wait for some of the GIFs to load properly. Thank you for your patience. Have some meat pies and Milo, and leave it for like few minutes to load everything up. Also, this is probably the longest blog I’ve done about video games, Cthulhu help me D:

 

Jan Willem Nijman and ‘the art of screenshake’.

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‘Control Conference’ 2013 logo (2013)
2013 ‘Control Conference’ in Amsterdam was an interesting event. From ‘Dutch Game Garden’ which makes indie video games development, a thing in Netherlands to ‘INDIGO Classes’ that they have created to help young and/or inexperienced game developers to refine their craft. It’s smart. It’s fantastic. It’s what I wish my country would do the same for us creative artist back home.
But I’m going to be mainly focusing on a 44 minutes educational talk by Jan Willem Nijman (or J.W.), one of the founders and the game designers of the two-man video game development company called ‘Vlambeer’. In this talk, he brought up an interesting topic about what makes video games have this thing called “game feel” or in his own word ’30 Tiny Tricks That Will Make Your Action Games Better. You can watch the whole talk here below:

To sum it up this talk, J.W. points out tips on how to make an action game going from this:
without-game-feel
Hi, I’m this boring game that I don’t think you will ever play. Ever.
To this:
with-game-feel-final
WELCOME TO THIS CHAOTIC FUN TIME OH MY GOD LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE SHELLS FLYING!!!! PEWPEWPEWPEWPEWPEWPEWPEW!!!!!
Throughout his talk, he used a game creation software called ‘Game Maker Studio’ and used it like ‘PowerPoint’ or ‘Keynote’ slides. By doing that, he has add an advantage of “playing” his “slides” to support his points. Okay, I know it’s confusing let me explain;
See those two gifs up above? Those GIFs are a game that is also a part of the slides that he played during the talk. As he “progresses” through the slides, the “game feel” of that game gets “feel-er” and “feel-er”. How cool is that? Seriously, watch the talk and see it in action to get a better idea of how it works. It’s freaking cool.
Also, I’ve never thought I would use the word “feel” like that.

 

A Bit About Vlambeer and Their Games.

“Who is “J.W.” and what is ‘Vlambeer’?” you ask? “What makes them qualify to talk about video games?” you say? What’s that, you didn’t say that? Oh, okay…
vlambeer-logo
Vlambeer… Does it mean “Flaming Bear”? Or maybe “Bear in Flames”? (‘Vlambeer’ logo, 2015)
‘Vlambeer’ is two-man,  Netherlands-based company made up of Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman. They join forces after they’ve dropped from their game design course, and they have been making games together since. But not just any games. Like, REALLY good games. “What REALLY good games they’ve been making?” you asked? What’s that, you didn’t say that and you want me to stop doing that? Oh,right… Sorry…
These young folks are the young talented folks behind widely-praised games such as ‘Ridiculous Fishing’, a casual mobile fishing game where you kill your catches with all sorts of arsenal from uzi guns to a bazooka; ‘Super Crate Box’, a free-to-play 2D action shooter where you collect crates to get points in exchange for swapping your current arsenal (think ‘Bubble Bobble’ with guns); ‘Lufttrausers’, an “Atari-esque” multi directional shoot em’ up (or “shmup”) published by ‘Devolver Digital’; and finally ‘Nuclear Throne’, a rogue-like top-down shooter that was backed by ‘Kickstarter’.
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The people behind ‘Vlambeer’; Rami Ismail (left) and Jan Willem Nijman (right). (2013)
These duo are pretty well-known and well-respected amongst indie-game developers and gamers alike for their distinctive, “arcade-y”, “punch-y” games, as well as their interesting game development method or technique (when they were developing ‘Nuclear Throne’) called ‘Performative Development’;
i.e. “Development as content that a potential audience can engage with” aka engaging a potential audience of a content your developing through the its development process via communication methods that they can “directly” interact with you e.g. Twitch, Twitter, Facebook etc. Basically, they’re the indie darlings or poster boys of video games, for all the good reasons.
SIDE-NOTE:  I’ll touch more on ‘Performative Development’ method in future blog. But for now, let’s focus of the J.W. talk in 2013 ‘Control Conference’.
Most of ‘Vlambeer’s games have one particular thing in common:
It’s the “screenshake” effect in their games.
These “screenshakes” a part of what J.W. demonstrated during his ‘the art of screenshake’ talk. This, along with many other nuances and tweaks and polish are what add to the “game feel” of their games. But Nijman believe that this are the one that is easiest thing to add to the “game feel”, but not many (game developers) utilise it. Henceforth, this is why I believe he uses “screenshakes” as  a vehicle to drive the “game feel” topic forward.

 

J.W., “Game Feel” and Vlambeer’s “Game Feel”.

jan-willem-nijman-vlambeer-tijdens-zijn-indigo-classes-sessie
J.W. at the 2013 ‘Control Conference’ in Amsterdam (2013)
J.W. doesn’t like the word “game feel”. He feels that it is a terrible term. In fact, he tried to avoid using that word as much as he can during the talk. As I’ve said/written before, what he did instead is that he plays and shows step by step how he developed a game and increase the “game feel” further and further throughout his slides, by adding 30 features or tweaks in the game. Bottomline, he shows how ‘Vlambeer’ make their games through a game. It’s pretty meta.
“But wait Fedya, what is this “game feel” you kept on talking/writing about?”. And AHA, I know you said that, didn’t you?
The term “game feel” was spear-headed into popularity by Steve Swink (picture above) in his book ‘Game Feel: A Game Designer’s Guide to Virtual Sensation’. The best way I can describe about what is “game feel” (based on this Gamasutra article which is also written by Steve Swink), is the experience you have interacting with the game .
It’s the virtual or tactile sensation when you’re manipulating an interactive digital medium (that are mostly video games). It’s the end of the line of an “experimental, interactive garden”. Or a “refined” iteration of it. And what I have just said is barely scratching the surface of what it is. It is way more complicated than that.
maxresdefault-4
I seriously wish this is animated… Would be super cool to see it – ‘Forza Horizon 3 vs. DriveClub vs. The Crew vs. Need For Speed | Graphics, Rain Comparison PS4 & Xbox’ video thumbnail (‘Racing Video Games’, September 17th, 2016)
Why are all ‘Platinum’ games have been described to have tight controls? Why (most of) ‘Mario’ games have been described to have natural “feeling” to it when you’re playing any one of them? Why does ‘Wipeout’ and ‘F-Zero GX’ have similar concept, but plays differently to one another when you’re piloting/driving one of their “float-y” ships/cars? Why am I still scared of that monstrous “thing” in ‘Amnesia’ even though I’ve seen it hundreds of times?
See, all of that, are most probably “game feel”. But again, this is just scratching the surface of what is “game feel”. It’s not just the controls, but visuals, sounds, rules, mechanics etc. It’s many things all at once and also the lack of it. It is the “Alpha” and “Omega” of video games. As a filmmaker, the best way I can sum-up my understanding of “game feel”, is  with this Star Trek GIF:

e8aw6h6

For those who don’t know what is ‘Star Trek’ (shame on you), you should only know the context of this GIF. They are spaceship crew on a spaceship and this footage shows that they’re being “hit” by their enemy’s weaponry and they’re “feeling” the impact of it on their deck. But, It looks pretty silly right? It looks like their flopping and flipping and falling all over the place, right? What happened here?
Basically, the one who made this GIF simply removing the “shakes” on the footage and “stabilised” it back. That’s pretty much it. The illusion that they’re being attacked… all gone. So by looking at this silly GIF,  This is probably the best way I can understand what is “game feel”; When it is not there.
With that being said, what are the examples of elements of “game feel”? See, that’s a tricky question for me to fully answer. By the time I finished writing about this blog, I am still swimming in this “game feel” topic. But thankfully, there are people that are smarter than me that managed to tackle this topic way better than me, like J.W. himself.

 

Beneath The “Game Feel”

So we know how he did it, but let’s get deeper into that “how”. And the best way for me to show or play or explain it, is by playing through his “game slides” from the talk he gave at  2013 ‘Control Conference’. Watch this video to see me playing half of his game slides while commentating on it. I apologise for my mildly strong accent and my performing skills (it’s been a while):

I hope that wasn’t too painful for you to watch. To be honest, I would love to play through the rest of the “slides”. Unfortunately, it kept on crashing on me every time I went past certain parts of it. But, I was pretty lucky to get to the ‘Super Machinegun’ and ‘Meaning’ part of the slides and record it as GIFs. For those who refused to watch the video (I can understand), These are couple of things he added or implemented in the game (as well as other games he designed) as examples:

 

A. Animations and Sounds:

super_mario_gifs
I chose this to represent “Animations and Sounds” because, you can just hear that Mario tune when you look at this GIF –  ‘Super Mario series: animated gif collection’ GIF (“SuperLuigiBros)
  • Basic Animations and Sounds – Walking cycle, jump animation, gun sounds, etc. How “alive” do you feel the game now? Does the animation makes you feel controlling your character, better?
  • Extra Animations and Sounds – Muzzle flashes (from the weapon), impact effects (on enemies, and environments), hit animations, impact sounds, landing from a jump sound etc. Does all of that contribute to the “liveli-ness” of the game’s world?

 

B. Weapon:

3241bedbdd6626c4eccdda210df375f6.gif
I don’t think I’ll able do to pixel arts like this. I guess that is why I’m in the filmmaking business – ‘Mercenary Kings’ gun types (‘games art’ on ‘Pinterest’)
  • Weapon’s Firing Rate – How fast your bullets coming out of the weapon. Do you have to keep pressing the button repeatedly, or do you just hold it?
  • Weapon’s Firing Type – How many your bullets coming out of the weapon. Is it just one at a time, or three, or maybe even five? What type of bullets coming out of the weapon? Is it a laser type (straight line) or is it more of a pellet-based?
  • Weapon’s Bullet Size – How big are the bullets coming out of the weapon. Is it chunky and big, or is it tiny and small? How about the length of the bullets? Is it or is it short?
  • Weapon’s Bullet Accuracy (Animation) – How accurate are the bullets travelling out of the weapon. Does it comes out straight or does it spray out?
  • Weapon’s Bullet Speed – How fast are the bullets from the weapon travelling from A to B. it is slow, or is it fast?
  • Weapon’s knock-back – How much knock-back you’re getting from firing the weapon. Does it feel like the weapon pushing you back when you’re firing it, or does it feel like it has knock-back at all?
WITH ALL OF THE ABOVE – Does this influenced how long or when and where you’re firing your weapon? Does this make it easier for your bullets to hit the enemies? 

 

C. Enemies:

tumblr_mkzg0hjZnM1s15tgzo1_1280.gif
Remember this game? SEGA, where’s my ‘Streets of Rage 4’? – ‘Streets of Rage 2′ enemy types (‘Old School Sprites’, May 25th, 2015)
  • Enemy’s Hit Points (HP) – How much damage can the enemies take from your guns before they die? Is it quick to kill them, or does it takes time? Does this dictate which enemy to kill first? Does this also influenced where you position yourself in the game?
  • Enemy’s “Amount” – How enemies do you have in your screen at one time? Does this correlates to your weapon’s “ability”? Is your gun OP? What if more enemies are thrown at you? would take make the game more “balanced”? Do you jump a lot or move a lot more when there are more enemies in screen?
  • Enemy’s “Collision” and Knock-back – Can the enemies collide with “you”? If they do, does it damage you? Does it kill? Or does it simply push you back? Do you avoid being touched by the enemies? Does this influenced the distance you stand from your enemies when you’re firing the gun? Can you knock the enemy back? Do you knock them back with your character’s body, or with your bullets?
  • Enemy’s Permanence – Does the enemies you’ve killed stayed there? Or do they disappeared after you’ve killed them? Do you feel you’re “invincible” after murdering all of those enemies after looking at their corpses? Or do you use it as a signposting of an area that you have already been through?

 

D. Camera

1379254312315847311
I know we’re talking more about 2D game camera here. But this picture is just too funny not to share. – ‘The Evil Within’ camera perspectives (‘Kotaku’, August 11th, 2014)
  • Camera LERP – Does the camera feel jerky to you? Or does it smooth? Do you feel that it is easier to control when the camera is smoother?
  • Camera’ s Position – Does the camera change depending on where your character is facing? Does it make spotting the enemies in front of you easier? How about behind you? Does it make it harder to spot the enemies behind you?

 

E. Screenshake:

super-cratebox
Using this GIF again, because, why not? They are the current “mover and shaker” of “screenshakes” – ‘Super Crate Box’ (2010)
  • Amount of “Screenshake” – What happens if you fire this weapon? How much does the screen shakes when you fire from that weapon? Does the amount shakes on the screen, determine the strength of the weapon?
  • Camera’ s Position – Does the camera change depending on where your character is facing? Does it make spotting the enemies in front of you easier? How about behind you? Does it make it harder to spot the enemies behind you?

 

F: Meaning(?)

conglaturation
This cracks me up everytime – ‘Ghostbusters’ for the ‘Nintendo Entertainment System’ (NES) winning screen (‘Jeff of All Games BLOG!’, August 29th, 2014)
  • You character’s “meaning”(?) – What is the purpose of your character? Why is he/she there? Is he/she there kill the enemies? Is he/she there to talk to the “enemies” who are not really enemies but are actually friends? What is the objective of killing the enemies? What is the objective of being friends with the “enemies”? Can you die in this game? What happens after your character dies?
    Oh my goodness, this is starting to feel like questions an existentialist would ask. I’m going to stop here, but the point is the “meanings” and “reasons behind the “existence” or the “doings” of the game, the character, the enemies etc.
Seriously, there are tons more about “game feel” than what I’ve listed above. You can  just open any game, and, well, play it. Feel it. Speaking of that,

 

Non-Vlambeer “Game Feel” vs Vambleer  “Game Feel”.

Of course, as I’ve stated above, Vlambeer games are not the only games that have ‘game feel’. What they do have is a certain type of ‘game feel’ or recipe to their ‘game feel’. Let’s use an example of a game that is not made by them, called ‘Teleglitch’ by the talented folks from ‘Test3 Projects’.
2305703-teleglitch
Wow. This Atari catridge cover-inspired artwork of this game throws you back. It is so nostalgic. And I wasn’t even born during Atari’s time – ‘Teleglitch: Die More Edition’ (2013)
It has the same basic concept of ‘top-down rogue-like shooter’ like Nuclear Throne. But when comparing it to the aforementioned game, it feels and play amazingly different to one another. Beside their many differences in terms of “aesthetics”, two major “game feel” examples that I would like to point out when playing these two games back- to-back are:

 

1. Game-Pacing:

game-feel-1

Nuclear Throne

It is fast and frantic. You are thrust into the action immediately at the start of the a new level. There are not much explorations involve and there are not much pauses between combat. Your main form of communication in this game is to ‘shoot first, ask questions later’. Items are constantly littered at you, and picking them up only requires you to walk over it. You pretty get the view of everything in the level from top-down, which helps to spot enemies and kill them quicker. The areas are small within the level are small, making it moving from one spot to another, easier and faster. It is action-packed arcade-y at its best.

Teleglitch

It is slow and methodical. You spent most of your time looking at your map exploring the level and reading text from what it seems like computers. The items as well the enemies are scarce. Picking up items requires a bit of inventory management. The level however spacious it is than Nuclear Throne, felt a lot more smaller, more claustrophobic. The black pillars surrounding the edges of a room and also being able to see only one room at a time, enhances it. You are almost always scared to enter a new room, and that slows down the pacing even more. This is due to way combat works. Speaking of that,

 

2. Combat:

game-feel-2

Nuclear Throne

Killing the enemies are easy and fast. This is due to their low hit points. But it’s not easy game. Enemies will be constantly thrown at you, and you, having low hit points as well, are forced to move around a lot while shooting. Aiming is thankfully easy when you’re moving, and some weapons (and ability) doesn’t require you to be precise with your aiming. Bullets coming out of the weapon are nice and fat and chunky. So hitting the enemies with it are easy,  and you’re not (that) scared to even kill them in close proximity. In fact, most of the times, it is  advantageous using close-range weapons to take down enemies, so that you can conserve ammunition. And strangely enough, you’re actually the aggressor of the game instead of the enemies.

Teleglitch

Killing enemies are hard. And they hit you hard. And fast. If there’s a group of them that is coming towards, you almost always move away from them as an act of defensive response. Thankfully, you have high hit points. But like Nuclear Throne, it doesn’t make the game easy. Bullets coming out of your weapon are thin and have low spread ratio. Aiming your weapon has its own dedicated button it and requires to hold it ala ‘Resident Evil’ style; Aiming is slow and requires that you be precise with your aim; And finally, aiming slows your movement to crawl and it is not ideal to keep holding the ‘aim’ button all the time. When you re-position yourself, you’re always make sure you have a lot of distance between you and the enemies to get a better aim at them. This dictates you to play it slow and in a safe distance.

 

Conclusion:

Nuclear Throne VS Teleglitch

To sum it up, yes, they’re both rogue-like top-down shooter, but one plays like an arcade action game, and the other plays more like a survival horror game. And those two difference, like seriously, doesn’t that put a smile on your face? Knowing that you can tackle a niche(?) game sub-genre but still tweaked it to make hell of a lot different from its predecessors? It’s fantastic!

 

“Game Feel” and J.W.

When I was watching the talk by J.w. and researching about “game feel”, I didn’t know it would such a complicated and long topic to be blog about. At least for me. I know I said the same thing when I blogged about ‘Dys4ia’, but really, this is very a drawn out topic. And I’m just scraping the surface of this massive iceberg.
Doing a bit of extra research about ‘Vlambeer’, their games and its unique game development method are such fascinating thing to read and research about. As a filmmaker, knowing and still learning about “game feel” makes me have a deeper appreciation and respect towards ‘games development’. And I hope to those who is reading about this blog, will too.
To end this long and complicated blog, the GIF down below is the best way to sum up my feelings after researching and finally finishing this massive 3620 words of a blog:

galv5il


References:

Links/Articles
1. ‘Vlambeer co-founder shares advice on building better action games’ – Alex Wavro, Gamasutra
2. ‘CONTROL CONFERENCE FT. INDIGO CLASSES’ – Dutch Game Garden
3. ‘Vlambeer’s Performative Game Development – the way of the future’ – Brandon Sheffield, Gamasutra
4. ‘Game Feel: The Secret Ingredient’ – Steve Swink, Gamasutra
5. ‘7 rewarding lessons ‘game feel’ teaches us about business’ – Michael del Castillo, Upstart
6. ‘Vlambeer – Talk on how to improve the “game feel” of an action game’ – DarkSiegemeyer, Reddit/r/Gamedev
7. ‘Vlambeer’s Wasteland Kings is now Vlambeer’s Nuclear Throne, still looks great’ – Tom Sykes, PCGamer
8. ‘Vlambeer press info’ – Vlambeer
9. ‘How the Dutch Game Garden Helped Remake Video Games in the Netherlands’ – Kat Bailey, USgamer
Images
1. http://speakerdata.s3.amazonaws.com/photo/image/859885/971179_10100536394378185_94893296_n1-510×340.jpg
2. https://images-2.gog.com/2cc6e99f5392a74c18e5cdb13e3b08bc67658d1d6653f18e9ac60b88d8a8bfdd.jpg
3. http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/nuclear-throne/images/9/97/Newart.png/revision/latest?cb=20150302112259
4. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8457/8048880584_c024793567_z.jpg
5. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/vzKcJ8QFbMk/maxresdefault.jpg
6. http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/nuclear-throne/images/8/8f/Jan-Willem-Nijman-Vlambeer-tijdens-zijn-Indigo-Classes-sessie.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140202225024
7. http://www.interactiondesign.se/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/game-feel.jpg
8. https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3541/3483640217_3ef0a407f3_b.jpg
9. http://www.zo-ii.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Control-Conference-2013.png
10. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/WaZZgrF6miA/maxresdefault.jpg
11. http://www.superluigibros.com/images/super_mario_gifs.gif
12. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/32/41/be/3241bedbdd6626c4eccdda210df375f6.gif
13. http://31.media.tumblr.com/fbc80098c8ac43dcdd7ccdb51293189a/tumblr_mkzg0hjZnM1s15tgzo1_1280.gif
14. http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/t_original/1379254312315847311.jpg
15. https://thoughtsofathirdworldfilmmaker.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/0bda0-conglaturation.jpeg
16. http://static2.gamespot.com/uploads/original/364/3649215/2305703-teleglitch.jpg
17. https://i.imgur.com/e8Aw6h6.gif
18. http://www.reactiongifs.com/r/galv5Il.gif
19. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlambeer#/media/File:Vlambeer-logo.png
Videos
1. ‘Jan Willem Nijman – Vlambeer – “The art of screenshake”‘ – Dutch Game Garden
2. ‘3 Things I Learned While Making Nuclear Throne – Rami Ismail’ – Videobrains Event
3. ‘The Design & Marketing Of Nuclear Throne’ – GDC
4. ‘Nuclear Throne: Performative Game Development in Hindsight’ – GDC
5. ‘5 Tips to Improve Your Nuclear Throne Game (dont hate me for #3)’ – Chubbyemu

Slight Delay on Those Game Blogs…

Got too busy too fast all of a sudden…

The latest game blog about “the art of screenshake” and “chess” will have a slight delay. Got too busy with filmmaking stuff. One of them will pop up tonight, hopefully. Stay tuned cool peeps and geeks. In the mean time, please enjoy this video about gaming culture in India. It is extremely relatable since I’m from a third world country as well: