Jason Pook's Games Design Blog

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Development Diary- Hellblade


I was just checking up on latest game progression and news on my phone when i came across a game in production called Hellblade. In this brief article was a video attached which showed some amazing work for such a small team showing me personally some of the skillets required for industry, and how broad knowledge can help a pipeline massively.

This game is also being made in Unreal Engine 4, the engine we are using for both our client and my self initiated work. The part what amazed me was the blueprint scripting for naturalistic blends of assets in environments which are a combination of photographs and textures to create high detail that of which matches what you’d expect in a AAA game and allowed multiple duplication’s of the same asset to be used without breaking immersion being unnatural.

“We’re not  competing on scale, therefore you have to compete on being different. Hellblade has to be unique, something you wouldn’t be getting in a big budget AAA experience.”

Here is the video:

This gave an insight into how to work in small teams to accomplish big things, the ability to adapt workflow habits to enhance production and collaboration, and ways in unreal engine we have not yet experimented with to create amazing aesthetics.

To my surprise this was the 8th part of a development diary from developers Ninja Theory according to Loadthegame it the best look at the game so far.

They go on to speak about character development in enemies and how simple adjustments in software with slight alterations in textures can create an array of different characters quickly and efficiently. The use of silhouettes to prototype different shapes and deformations of the body allowed a character designer to modify the base character add assets like helmets to create what appears to be a completely different design. A very clever pipeline is being created here are Ninja Theory despite the small team as quoted above they are achieving alot more than expected not on a AAA budget.

The idea of time distortion and using perspectives in both combat and world to create visuals and illusion (illinx) was one that could give them the edge using a different idea to compete with the AAA budget they dont have with a small team.

This gives hope to us who may want to go into indie developing as with alot of work and research that we can achieve high quality AAA standard work with just 1 artist like they have done.

The idea of the development diary id like to implement into my own work for my self initiated, with a development diary it shows my unique way of a design process which can be used or changed to create a solid process of producing work. It also gives proof that my work is not a one off and actual thought has gone into the work I produce.

Id like to thank Ninja Theory for this video as its a great example to people like myself as a Games Design student on how to work in a industry pipeline, create multiple iterations of work, design and develop work from start to finish and delve into new ways of working. I will now watch there other development diaries to see what I have missed.


Creative Futures- Adaptation, Early Character Design.

In our Adaptation task (blog 1,blog 2) I have previously focused on Environment design for some of the arenas in game Gladiator styled game. Although I haven’t been tasked with character design I thought I might sketch up what the Ultimate Gladiator might look like on the game in my own opinion. To do this I had to gather some background research for gladiators and what their actual apparel was, this brought up many different interpretations of the style of a gladiator as they ranged vastly in armour on battles.

spartangladiator-by-soul71-on-deviantart_76e9f#2glad#1glad(images: image 1, image 2, image 3)

As you can see the image of a gladiator varied, this could be due to region, status, rank, battle choice, weapons, helmets, chainmail and so much more. For me to design my gladiator I would have to find a balance of what is right and realistic to wear. It worth noting that this is my top level gladiator style design I will be doing not the bottom or average to begin with as im sure bottom and middle levelled gladiators may have rags or little amount of armour.


This is what I have in mind so far for character design. A well armoured fortress looking gladiator which would represent fear into other opponents and also status due to the design or the armour. I decided on armour plating because as you can see in all 3 of the referenced pictures I have they involve some sort of plating, I used straight lines and contour lines to separate the pieces of plating or make them 3D which adds realism. The choice of the bolts (dots around edges of plates) was a personal preference of my own as I think it makes the armour look well made and reinforced to the viewer. The spikes I added as a little extra thing to possibly boost the players statistics for attack as I suppose they are big enough and sharp enough to impale another opponent if needed, but not too many spikes as otherwise we would end up with some sort of gothic metal rocker instead of a gladiator. Another reference used from one of the pictures above was the inclusion of chainmail, chainmail is a light meshed armour which was expensive back in the roman era and only just introduced in there own style when adopted from the Gaul’s in northern Italy after battle. So chainmail certainly represented high status and top gladiator as it wasn’t easily made or cheap. The Gloves I decided to also armour plate as this particular Gladiator would be very strong and hold a large sword so protection of the hands would be needed, whereas most other gladiators would have either leather gloves of some sort of just bare hands for the less ranked or the dagger wielding. Then the Helmet, now the helmet is always going to be a tough one to choose as there are so many different designs on a helmet, roman legions wore the helmets with the open front like this:


But also in my previous pictures they cover the face, the idea of covering the face was so that your opponent could not see your expressions or even eyes to give no indication of your moves or feelings. I liked that, so as a top gladiator I thought a covered face was appropriate to strike even more fear into the opponent. The iconic Tigris of Gaul from the Gladiator film had the clever design of a pull down mask of a expressionless human face which was being surrounded by a Animals mouth.

###trigirs of gaul

With progress I can certainly improve this but as it hasn’t been actually tasked to me to do character design yet I will put this to one side momentarily, but there was no harm in doing a quick sketch of my ideas to give me a slight edge when it comes to actual character design as I already have an idea of what I want. was a really interesting website as it explained to me something I didn’t realise, that Gladiators had ranks and different types, this was very useful as now I could use these names and styles in my game to model different levelled characters. I am yet to focus on props for my character as you can see there are no weapons or even a shield on my drawing as prop design is another design process I would have to go down to piece it all together, but the choice of the spear, long sword, dagger, short sword, mace or axe would be another thing to choose. And then the choice or shield or no shield, shield type, big, small, rectangle, square, circle, coat of arms or not, colours (semiotics) and so on. This would be a process which needed much looking into and much work focused on but its good to get started so I can show my progress in the design process.