Jason Pook's Games Design Blog

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Manic Moles- Studio Game Jam 2

Continuing on from the previous Game Jam (Plant Trap) our tutor decided to organise another game jam to once again give people the opportunity to gain extra credit. With this Game Jam my team was Me, Phil, Mark and Shane. The topic for this game jam was an application (mobile game) and we have to have 1 main character, 1 main mechanic and 1 environment. We could do this however we liked to build any game we wanted along as it tailored to these categories. To begin the design process as always we planned our what makes a good game. We went down the route of mobile games being addictive, fun to play and easy to pick up. Due to this we collectively thought of examples of games on our phones:

  • Flappy Bird
  • Bloons: Tower Defense
  • Paper Toss
  • Angry Birds

These are just a couple of examples, from this we determined that animals in games birds and monkeys etc. So from that we tried to list as many animals as we could that potentially had or hadn’t been done. From this we narrowed it down to a Mole, obviously games like Whack-a-mole are in existence but we could do our own game with a mole character. From this somehow we decided it would be fun to make him a funky disco mole with huge sunglasses and an Afro who has friendly disco moles and rival gang moles trying to sabotage his funky life. Alongside other moles trying to sabotage his mole hill we looked into common predators for moles, this came back with snakes so another enemy designed was a snake. Then to gain a life we had what moles like to eat which is worms once you collected enough worms you gained a life. My personal involvement in this project was in 3D and HUD, I designed the main character also known as “Molevin” it was a really simple design but could be edited and re-textured to create other characters. Which is what I turned Molevin into the enemy character who had different attire wearing a vest and a top hat with a flower in, then for a boss I scaled it up added a bandanna, match in his mouth and a bomb in hand with gloves on. Simply by reusing and editing the initial main character I created 3 characters for in game use good, bad and boss. I also created a tree stump that i projection painted using a mudbox preset to be used for the environment which wasn’t implemented in the end due to it being a unnecessary obstacle on a small environment game but it was used in the Game Over screen to add a visual. The environment is a field and the mole sits in the middle in what was supposed to be a mole hill but its more of a ditch at the moment. It has randomly place assets of grass and stones in the level just to add to the visuals.

This is my work for the HUD designs, using Photoshop to create simple circle icons, i took images of the characters to link it directly to the game, good guy is people saved, worms are lives, and the enemies are how many you have killed throughout the game. Very simple icons but still useful for covering the HUD elements in the game and also with it being a mobile game we didn’t want too much going on to get in the way of the game so small simple icons were effective in avoiding too much distraction from the game.

Here is the in game screenshots of the working HUD and game with my characters in. The menu system, game over and leaderboard design was made by Mark using the custom typeface we created by using a paint brush to go the font on paper then scan them in to be textured on the signposts. Mark used assets from all team members to piece together the menus, start featured everything, game over features the bad guys to symbolise they won and you lost, then the leaderboard was just visual models like grass, rocks and tree stumps. This game I had quite a prominent role in the modelling due to my increased skills over the year and primarily being the more advanced modeler in my group. As for HUD designs I was pleased with my products as they was simplistic but worked well with the theme of the product. As for the game to evaluate it we was very pleased with the end product it was fun and addictive players had to click (or tap for mobile which didn’t work) the enemies to kill them (1 for standard enemy and 2 for the snake). This racked up your score for kills and the aim was to last as long as possible as move and move waves of good and bad characters came into the level at varied speeds and difficulty as it progressed. Only disappointment I had was that my boss character never got time to be implemented but like the other game jams if we had time to progress we would implement a boss level for example. This was my personal favourite of all the game jams as i liked the style of game we had created. I’m looking forward to next next game jam which is in Cambridge Jun 2015.

Here is the video footage of game play from Mark Shaw’s YouTube channel:

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Design Process- Research

Recently we have been tasked to make our own design process so that we can check which each piece of work we create that we are following our own design process or skipping steps, it also allows us to evaluate how we are working at the moment to make some tweaks and adapt it to the most effective workflow for our own work.

First I did some research on design processes to give me an idea on roughly the general pattern of a creatives process.

The easiest place to start was with my tutors, as professionals there design process has been tried and tested many times to be fine tuned to what worked best for them.


Paul here has has subdivided his process into 4 sections based on percentage to outline where the majority of work should go which is the early stages of brief, research and concept. It has a modern sharp look to it, i particularity like the circle getting bigger as the process gets further on to indicate progress, almost like a loading bar.




This is my tutor Gareth Sleightholme’s design process. This is a very visual style design process using arrows and using colour to highlight key areas. As you can see this is a scan of his paper pad which would now be ready to enter the next step of Photoshop if he wanted to but there is no need as your personal design process should be something you understand and as long as you can follow it each time you have a working design process.

Then from Gareth’s blog i followed this link to Domanic Li’s design process another tutor here, so clearly it is widely regarded as a thing each creative should have and follow to increase quality of work. This process is extremely helpful as it outlines each area in a detailed ranged way so that it can apply to many areas of art and design.

Other examples i collected are just different examples and ways of design to explain a design process.

This design process is from Dezigngeek. I like this design as its quite visual and with the rocket its as if you must take all these steps as you would checking a rocket before blast off. Simple but the visual aid from the pictures make it more attracting.

This design process briefly shows the steps to take but rather focuses on your certainty on your project, the scribbles indicate you are up in the air with ideas and have nothing pinned down but if you complete the steps you gain more clarity in your work. I really like how this has been portrayed as this indicates if you go straight to the final product your missing something and may run into issues due to lack of a followed design process.


Then finally this is a design process gamified which ties into our gamification work, but nice visuals and a cartoon style to it could teach younger people to implement a design process into their work at a earlier stage or at least consider what theirs might be. Regardless of that it is still relatable to adults as they annotate certain things with teacher/client so its applicable to all people. This has much more steps than most design processes i have seen but some are generally slotted into one overall category like “design” for sketches, concepts, iterations etc.

Now i have to create my own which will apply to my work no matter 5 minutes or 5 weeks, client or personal. A design process should be adaptable to the time deadline set to produce the best outcome of work.

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Client Project- Session 5

Previous (1/2,3,4)

In this session it was about getting down to the grit and pushing forward, the was some suspicions of certain people lacking in work so we decided to address that and ask for all work so far to be handed in, and any research such as images to be printed off to stick on the wall. This was all done and it was evident some had done more than others but at this stage it wasnt so crucial but the issue of raising the bar needed to be pointed out now before the problem later down the line.

With that beign said Myself, James and Viktor had produced several concept art pieces in collaboration with the block out, this was to develop ideas for the streets blocking volumes. The blocking volumes are essentially invisible walls that prevent the player from further advancing to a part of the level that they should not be able to enter, we have these purely because out project is a certain area and we do not want the player to be able to go beyong this area otherwise we have to model more and more or they see blank nothingless space which kills the realism. So instead of having an invisible wall we thought it was better design to have some form of realistic blocking in relation to the area. Ideas that myself and James discussed was things like furniture vans delivering and carrying stuff across the road, a broken down bus holding up traffic or a parade of celbrations of the world cup and so on. To make these concepts we used reference images that were photographs we had taken of the area then by putting it into photoshop we created a basic greyscale concept of our ideas.

block progress 2 This is my first concept piece, this is down trinity house lane. I have place the blocking just after the indoor market so that the indoor market will be accessible, the blocking contains a market delivery van that is dropping off goods for the market such as a stall to go inside with like fruit and vegetables. The idea i had was that one of the boxes had been spilt and apples or vegetables could be spilled across the road with collisions on so you can kick them about. This gives the concept idea a place in the environment its not like ive just randomly slammed a piece of scaffolding there or something, the blocking has meaning. I go by the idea that in a game every object should have a bio to it or a story behind it, for example: who put it there, was it put there for a reason or convienience, when was it put there, why was it put there and where might it come from. If you follow that and can answer that in every asset you place and create your onto a winner. Back to the concept i have placed some silouhuettes of people to represent scale and how it will look with life in the street too.



concept parliament4

My second concept is on parliament street i was much more pleased with this concept idea as it could be used as a general overall concept theme for blocking in the area due to an event theme with the world cup celebrations in 1966. I placed a few banners here and there to give the concept height and decoration, the idea of policemen patrolling and overlooking the area to make sure that everything is under control fills out the area better. Research was put into this concept with the police car using reference of what cars were used for police cars, in this case the classic mini also the policemans outfit style is in relevance to the time period. I also added a tad of colour to this one just to make it pop a bit more than a basic different grey tone.


The purpose behind these concepts were not only to get ideas for the blocking volumes for the grey block, it was to up my skills in photoshop. Personally i know that my photoshop skills were not up to scratch purely because it was an alien program to me that i only briefly went into with the adaptation year 1 project, so with being on the blocking out team i didnt really have any involvement in the concepts side of stuff originally but personal drive wanted me to move into the concept side of thinks due to my creative thinking behind the ideas. So i did both not neglecting the block out though, phillip decided to take full focus on it with the measurements we had gathered over the weekend whilst i worked with the concept guys and also went into the research team reading “memories of hull” book which had been ignored when taken out from the library 2 weeks ago by the research team. Then when we returned to uni on monday i continues to finish the block out with phil gathering further measurements of the alleyways we had missed, then moving onto adding basic colour schemed bsp (basic standard primitives) to fill out the level with the blocking concepts in basic form.

here is a video myself and phil did to outline what had been done by us over the last week and what our ideas are going forward with the block out:

We apologise for the poor videoing method through my phone but we didnt have screen video capture software at this time so this was the first method we had to hand at the time. We outline issues we came up with along the process of the blocking out such as the FOV (field of view) not feeling right with the street size and the scale having to measure out all week with a meter wheel due to the map we had not being accurate enough to made a block out from. Our ideas going forward was a day cycle so having 2 alternate settings day/night so have triggered lighting of streetlamps to show nightlife as well as daytime. The rest is in the video i dont need to elaborate as we covered it fairly well. I clocked around 50hours over the last week on client work with working on the block out and all the other areas aswell. Everyone has now been allocated buildings my buildings are Marks and Spencers and what currently is Crawshaws, over reading week we have set a target of a basic model to scale and snapped to grid of your buildings with possible texture considerations, so nothing overnight and too much as of yet but a test to see if work is done.

I have now set up us a work in progress online presence for our client project:


Youtube – Heritage Hull

Twitter – @heritagehull60s

Facebook Page-

so give us a like, a tweet or an email if you have any email in related to hull in the 1960s or the 1960s in general like fashion or transport etc.

Keep an eye out for us on Thursday 30th october as we are on the radio promoting our project!

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Summer- Self initiated mini brief- Process

The brief i set myself in my previous post i am now going to discuss my own process of completing it.

Pt1. Find or Research your chosen vehicle for use of reference when modelling (Your car/ images/ sketches/ owned item etc.)

What was i going to do? there is a wide range of choice and being a huge car fan i had to go down that path. Personally owning a classic mini i thought i would go for that…but then i didnt want to jump in head first with this i could come back once i felt id improved my 3d modelling. In relation to the brief it says representation of a vehicle so i decided a remote control car would be a fairly challenging model to build to start me off with this brief, and i could also build the remote to control it.

With that in mind i set to the internet to find myself some reference images, maybe some parts i could add like a spoiler of my choice as rc cars are customisable.  SIDEtop

So this is what i found, simple shape with plenty of features to model. like the suspension springs, screws, spoiler, wheel, tire tread, antenna etc. The reason i picked these angles as when i am modelling in 3dsmax if i set up 3 planes evenly and texture the images into viewport i can use them whilst modelling to guide me in shape and size of my car. I think i will do a slight interpretation on some features due to topological difficulties but we shall see how it goes.

Pt2. Once comfortable with chosen vehicle (it has to be real, no transformers allowed!) plot yourself out a design process to tackle in 3d modelling.

I realised that doing an rc car i could cut a few corners as there is no interior and just a base so one moulded block would show a built rc car under the shell. But first things first i set myself up 3 reference image planes top, front and side. This would allow me to get the scale of my model right in at least 2 viewports for accuracy to the model.

reference setup

As you can see evenly measured planes that have been aligned together with precision, this was just a simple process of create plane to scale, clone 2 times and match, then texture each individual plane with relevant reference image. I then selected all 3 and clicked freeze selection so i wont even move them by accident, it wont be changed.

The next step was the car shell, as i dont know what the frame looks like i decided to do the main car shell then model the frame to match the shell based on what id made.

The shell started off as a simple box that i scaled to match each viewport as close as i thought i could go,car shell but obviously there are many curves and bumps in the car so a box would look right at all. By converting to an editable poly this allowed me to use the connect tool when selecting edges, this is similar to the swift loop tool but if you do it in multiple connections its more even topology. I then just grabbed vertexes and moves them to fit the shape of the model, i did this in side and front viewport so it had the reference shape as if i did just side view it would be wrong. I then deleted all polys underneathe the shape as its just a shell and i didnt need them as other objects would fill that space. But as you can see thats far too sharp and boxed to look realistic it need smooth transitions of bends and shapes.

car shell turboTo do this i added a turbosmooth modifier, which gave me the curves i wanted i upped the iterations to 2, turned on isoline display and clicked on show end result when going back to my editable poly. i used the swift loop tool to create some air intakes front and back. Obviously i wanted to show definition of the centre piece and the intakes so a trick i learnt was to use the swift loop tool whilst turbosmooth is on and the closer to the line it is the more pinch it will do to your tubrosmooth to make it a more solid shape. With being pretty happy with that shape and it being modelled to the reference images i decided to leave it for now and move on to modelling another area of the rc car. to make the topology neater when i swift looped I moved selected ringed edges and use move with edge restriction to even it and space it all out.

I proceeded to the tire, from the reference image it needed to be fairly thin with a bit of a outer ridge like a tire does. I did this initally using spline modelling techniques, i put it in the front view and used lines to draw the shape of the tire but only from top to where the rim would be not the full tire otherwise my chosen modifier next wouldnt work. I then used Lathe modifier in the X direction to create my geometry, but it wasnt in the right axis, using the sub selection of the modifier axis i used the move tool to drag it down and create a tire shape with a ring in the middle (where the rim will fit). to create the smooth inner tire bump i converted it to an editable patch and used the inner handle scaled in the Y direction to curve this out and create the tire.

The rim was created by a tube aligned to the centre of the tire and a cylinder with matching segments to the tube facing eachother so that i could use bridge to create the spokes. Then it was just tweaked with a centre cap which i modelling a screw to fit inside, it was turbosmoothed and swiftlooped to pinch the shape and create our wheel in completion.

After that i duplicated the wheel when grouped together to have 4 copies for the car aligned them and positioned them to individual locations. This allowed me to model the axel and wheel connector to the axel. I then began to model the spring suspension for the car which is clearly visable at front and back. Being a spiral shape the best thing to use was the helix shape which is essentially a spring, once aligned to my object it was just a case of making sure it looped as much as i wanted to and tighten it up around the cylinder of the suspension with height and radius. Once happy all i had to do was go to the rendering option on the modifer toolbar and tick enable in viewport and renderer, this then thickened out my helix to a 3d spring which i could adjust thickness and sides for however high poly i wanted it.

tire3 treadI then added tread to my tire, this was just cubes modelled on the surface on the tire cloned several times in a row of 2 then every other cube being deleted to create a tread, once angled the tread on the inner part of the tire it was duplicated with the axis set in the centre of the wheel using the rotate tool on snap holding shift.

To speed things up i made a list of what needed doing to finish the car. I needed to model: a frame, a inner car carriage with battery latch, spoiler joined to frame, bumper joined to frame, a car antenna, a remote with ariel. Then i needed to align everything in position relevance, make any additions i may think of, use symmetry for tires to the other side, texture.

Here is the remainder of the process as this post is getting very lengthy and images speak a thousand words, maybe not in 3d modifiers but i will explain where needed.

I modelled the frame using box modelling to create the outer edge path of the car once donei used the symmetry modifer to mirror this to the other side, and to make the support connections down the middle i just extruded inner polygons where i believed nessacery. Then the inner carriage was modelled to fit above the frame but inside the car this made sure the inside of the shell wouldnt be seen and gave depth to the model with a simple addition of a inset battery box with latch. I then made the spoiler using splines for the edges of the spoiler and the handles of converting to bezier to sculpt the edges, then applying the extrude modifer for 3d element. Final touches were needed to the connection of the wheel to the suspension to the car needed a extra part and extrusions to make connections visable. Then it was final modelling of a bumper which was beveled to create what i thought was a nice solid look to the bumper, then the antenna for the car to recieve the controllers movement. Finally the controller was modelled, using topology creation in local for some features. It was all just a case of putting shapes together for the controller and extruding some polygons for features. And that left texturing after i added my air intake on top of the car which wasnt on the reference but i liked it as a feature.

Here is the final car!

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I chose a random colour scheme and then added some racing stripes, a racing number, some form of zig zag decal, and some racing sponsers of NOS and Falken. All textured in photoshop. When unwrapping the shell i used the relax custom setting so i had a more even texture when applying my colours this really helped in the end. Also to finish it off and complete part 3 of texturing and organising, i grouped all areas to eachother and gave every part a name so there was no Box1001 and if this was to be passed down the pipeline in a game people checking or editing would know exactly what is what. Grouping is key.


Alot went wrong dont let the process fool you, i had many a rage storm out the room when it just wasnt doing what i wanted to with the topology, capping polys and actually modelling the frame/spoiler took about 11 times as it just wasnt transitioning from one to another right with the turbo smooth applied. With experiementing on many new modifiers i hadnt used before such as lathe and symmetry it took time to adapt to using them and getting my head around how i would go about the next piece.

In the end looking at the reference image i thought well that isnt exactly what is there for me to make. But you have to remember its just a reference image its there to guide not to be precisely replicated unless specified so i was pleased with my result.

One tool which was a total life saver that i was new to was the “isolate mode” this is a little pink light bulb at the bottom which when you selected what you was editing it would hide everything else and focus purely on that object. This allowed me to rotate around the object much easier and nothing was blocking my view. Other tools i found useful: local- this allowed me to move or scale objects i maybe previously rotates and angled in the direction they was facing so the objects local. AutoGrid- when modelling something i wanted on a surface so say the control sticks for the controller if i put on auto grid it would create my shape onto the controllers face.

Overall i was very pleased with my outcome for my car. I am hoping to now take this a step further and model a proper car using the skills i have obtained here. The poly count was just over 1.7million so high poly work but there was no restrictions and i did use only what was nessacery in some cases it could have been alot higher.

Give it a go the brief i set is here.