Jason Pook's Games Design Blog

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Client Project- St Stephens Public Showcase

In the last few sessions I have mentioned that i had been in contact with St Stephens shopping centre in Hull with intentions of securing the group with a opportunity to showcase our client project’s current stage before our hand ins. After several days of contact and acquiring the necessary documentation (public liability insurance) from Hull College I had us booked in for Friday 15th May from 10am-4pm. With this secured the client session before the showcase as team leaders we sat down and emphasised focus on promotional materials, this had been tasked a few weeks before hand but little progress had been made to our understanding. When it came to Thursday the day before the showcase and no evidence of a leaflet or any other promotional materials had been presented we took to informing the tutors on our current issue, to resolve this Gareth stepped in to help us design and piece together some promotional materials.

To assist Gareth I went through any files i had that i thought could show the public our design process over the year of work. This included Concept art, renders, screenshots of 3ds max progress, sketches, research wall photos, designs, ideas, group meeting photography, and other helpful images. After collecting work of my own I had asked other students in the studio if there was anything of use they feel they could put into these folders allowing Gareth to have a pick of the bunch. James put in some concepts/research and Viktor put in some step to step and final production of sculpts and his bank. Phil also gave Gareth some seperate renders which was used for the leaflet designs including the 3D version of my signpost logo sketch.

The logo sketches I did on Tuesday, Viktor had already done a logo but there was some debate on the design of it due to the inclusion of Hull and crowns which may spark some currently unknown debate from any public members. Due to this some sketches of logo ideas using reference from crests, shields, 60s logos and items in the street I did just to give us a wider range of choice in the logo field. Here are my results:

Many people liked the signpost logo with the Old Town Memories font in the style of the street signs currently in the street which was there in the 60’s so it had accuracy and relevance to the project. To try get different perspectives and cleaner visuals of the logo Phil decided to take the basic street signpost logo into 3DSMax and I took the street signpost with the lantern into 3dsmax.

Here are my renders of the 3D logo:

With this i felt that it was decent but the logo design in realistic 3D didnt work for me it just didn’t feel right. The next step for this would be to take it into Photoshop and overlay correct type of the street font then add colour, or texture it to create the same effect. With limited time I left this to Phil to progress on his logo whilst I contacted St Stephens about transport of the television to our display area and sign in requirements for the group. Due to St Stephens fantastic customer service the reply was very swift and we cleared any possible issues for the showcase.

Now with the showcase closing in its important that we consider a few things to do with professionalism whilst displaying to the public:

Information- give informative replies to any questions in a polite and controlled manner. Do not over explain any technical terms to the project but also dont be condescending towards the public treating them like they know nothing. for example instead of talking in depth about the process of 3D modelling and using modifiers to shape a certain complex shape which will be later unwrapped using the uvw unwrap to take into Photoshop, ndo2 or other programs, simply say to create the models of the buildings and assets you see we use 3d software which allows us to place them in the game world (engine) as you see them now. Its not over informative but its also not too complex just to the point and well explained. Let them know that this is a working progress and to keep an eye out by taking a leaflet as we will be doing the final product display in September.

Presentation- This can fall under a few categories:

  • Clothing- Dress smart or smart casual, you want to be approachable and presentable. We are representing our course and college so it is important to give ourselves and them a good image. My personal attire was a suit blazer with polo and jeans.
  • Layout- The project is in the middle of a shopping centre with many people walking by to draw them in we need to have a well laid out station with regards to promotional materials and availability for them to be seen and picked up easily. The layout I placed 3 leaflets overlapping each other to add a personal touch to the space and then we had plastic holders for the leaflets placed on the stand in front of the TV but not obstructing the view of the video.
  • Video- The main piece we want the public to see is the video which is a fly through of the project. With help from Gareth he pieced together using our content and previous video a professional informative video for the public to view.
  • Presence- Using our shifts each person had to man the project with another colleague, our time around the project was there to draw people in. But in the times where little interest was given we must ensure that we do not obstruct either the view of the project stall or the public’s path. The general position of one man at each side of the TV was assumed by most groups. Another thing with this is posture, to be standing upright and approachable, this means no slouching or leaning or hands in pockets as it just doesn’t portray the right image. We need to look as enthusiastic and professional as possible around the project so that the public might be interesting in taking a look.

Teamwork- Due to our idea to have shifts for teams of 2 at each interval we need to communicate between each other on overlaps. This means when handing over to another group to inform them of any interests in your shift, what to do with the documentations and forms if somebody wants them, handing out of leaflets, and any issues that have been raised throughout the day. If any problems arise the scheduled rota’s for each team was on the sheet along with contact details so people could come help.

There are other things but them 3 I believe are key for us to be successful at our first public showcase of the project.

On the day of the showcase Myself and Phil was first on the list, due to my contact with St Stephens I was in charge of signing us in, finding out our location and then setting up (Phil set up too). Also I made sure that as its a public place and St Stephens usually prohibit photography in the centre that we was alright to take photos of us and our stall to add visuals to our evaluations of the day, this was confirmed fine by the staff. Once set up it was around 9pm but the requirement was to be set up by 10pm so earlier we set up the better and we could get started. Barrie also brought us down some freshly cut doorstops as we had a wheeled TV stand and St Stephens is on a slope, so just for safety precautions we felt this was a necessary to have done.

Immediately we could notice that earlier on we might not have much interest, people was on the way to work, getting breakfast and so on. There was time for a quick glance but not many stopped to talk to us, this we felt was natural with it being earlier on and expectations for more viewers would come later on in the day dinner time onwards. Our people skills generally improved over the time as first we didn’t want to bother anyone as we personally know how frustrating it is when your going somewhere and people try stop you in the street, but we realised this is for the project so anyone slightly tempted is a bonus as then the public can give us their thoughts. Yet despite rejection and disinterest from people walking on past we needed to show our professionalism by keeping a calm level head about it all to try get others in.

I had an idea to employ Skinner’s operant conditioning into our showcase, i went to Tesco and purchased some sweets to place behind the promotional material, if the public came and talked to us or viewed the project they would be offered a sweet as positive reinforcement for supporting our work. Just a little touch but employing game theory into our client showcase was an interesting method to test.

In my first shift with Phil we had 9 people come see us 6 being people from the course but still wanting to know how its all going and what we have done. One of the other 3 was a lady from Historic England and she was extremely interested in the project as it was quite convenient she had just come from a meeting about heritage projects and just so happened to run into us which was great. After explaining our work we exchanged details for contact for further information and a potential future client, she mentioned about our impressive 3D work and how they could use it for 3D visuals of building design planning before the real builds. This was really great for us as we sold the project so well to her Stephen was also with us as it was the beginning of his shift and helped explain everything to her. She walked away impressed and enthusiastic which gave us a great confidence boost and vibe about the work and the benefits of the public showcase.

After our shift the only issue that was raised was from Abbiella, upon coming to check up on the group see how things were going and give a bit of advice she had been told by the previous group not to take any photographs at all. After visiting the staff as i said before this was cleared up and use of photos was perfectly alright for our own personal use. With me previously posting an image to Facebook to let my friends and family know of our presence in the shopping centre I decided to try take it to the next level. Not many of the leaflets had been taken which suggested at nearly 3pm loads of people hadn’t come and spoke to the other groups. With that in mind we have them as hand outs, so I decided to go into GAME to ask if I could leave a couple on the counter to get people to maybe notice we are games designers and not a charity like most of the other stalls. GAME kindly accepted to leave them there and actually offered to tweet that we was there as well, which was brilliant and also a shame as I had only thought of doing it 1 hour before we packed up. But we know for next time that potential nearby stores might be worth placing a few temporary promotional materials in just to try attract anyone who may have missed it. With 1 hour left James decided to stay behind after his shift into mine and Phil’s second shift to help out, with the extra man we sent James to the front of St Stephens with the majority of the remainder of the promotional material to hand out to passing people informing them of who we are. This attracted a few in but with saying the final showcase was in September maybe people wasn’t as interested until the final product. Nevertheless personally as the day went on confidence grew and more ways for developed to try bring people in which we can take into any future showcases of the project.

It was time to pack everything up so Paul came down prior to 4pm to check up on us, then Me, Phil and Paul packed all the equipment away and put the TV back in Paul’s car to be taken back to the studio. With the day coming to an end I decided to go thank the St Stephens staff for all there help with our showcase in the day and i also sent them an email when i got home to once again thank them and notify them on how this has benefited us as students. I will also type up an email to John Netherwood sometime next week to thank him for allowing us the use of the TV and stand for the project.

To evaluate the day I have to say that as a team I believe we did a great job in all professional aspects especially presentation. The best thing we can do from St Stephens is to treat it as a stepping stone, for the next showcases we will have further progress in the project, better promotional material, better people skills through the experience and understanding of our surroundings. The day itself is just the first in a run in to the final showcase on September, but the more we can do and practice then the more effective and professional we will be when it comes to that stage. Allowing the public to see the project at its current stage which we was hoping to be alot further and still see the amazement of how we do what we do and praise for our work is a real boost for us to push this as much as possible into September to really impress people, hopefully anyone who obtained a leaflet or information from us will see us again on our next showcases to see the progression and keep an interest in our work. We also need to set up at least a blog or a official website as people did ask for this as none of the online presence was on the leaflets which was a mistake on our behalf only contact information, so we could only direct them to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube which honestly haven’t been used to the full potential so for future we need a working website.

What we hope to have for next time or prospect centre when that is confirmed is the interactivity side of the project fully underway, we have 3 TV’s at our disposal so the set up with one of the professional video fly through we had in St Stephens, then another similar style to where we are now and then the interactive version would be a great way to display our work. On the day we felt that from our experience with “Rush n Crush” that me and Phil noticed people were more inclined to pick up and play rather than watch, yet that might not be everyone’s preference so different set ups one being more visual and informative and the other playable would attract a wider audience.

Here are all the images from the day that I took including images of other groups if they requested it and the leaflet designs on close up:

As for the sweet and employing operant conditioning, not everyone wanted one but they seemed pleased to have the offer there. Overall a very good day and I would like to congratulate the team for all their efforts for people who attended hopefully we can take this into future showcases.

Here is the video fly through that we displayed to the public in St Stephens:

With time now before the next one we can edit this version that Gareth pieced together watch it make notes of what works and what doesn’t to improve on what we already have.


Introduction to Gaming- Group Project “Alaskan Secret”.

In todays session of Introduction to Gaming, we was told that we are going to be assessed on a small piece of work (well dependent on how much time you want to put into it), this project would be a group task but we would be allowed to pick who we would work with to test our group work skills and see if we have a comfort zone. To decide this the pick of a card was needed, numbers Ace-6 would be a group, then 6-8 and then 9-kings. I drew the King of clubs, i shortly found out after the rest of my group was Phil (drew king), Dave (drew 9) and Victor (drew 9) this group i knew would be good to work with before we even started; this immediately lead to us deciding our team name would be “Kings of the Nine” we also drew a logo which had a crown above the name and text written as “King of the 9ine” a clever logo design i thought. Regardless of how professional our team logo was it was irrelevant to the task as we was currently waiting for our 3 topics of choice. The topics were a random arrangement of everything and anything (from girls night out, Cornish pasty to under the sea, zombies) and whatever we had chosen we had to use our creative minds to follow the design process to create a game from it. We picked out from a hat the topics of “Haunted/ Ghost”, “Musical Instruments” and “Alaska”; these topics pleased us as so much can be done with haunted/ ghosts as it can be totally myth or rumour nothing factual has to be considered in this case. Musical Instruments could be used well as a range of time periods involve music throughout history. Then Alaska was possibly the toughest of 3 topics chosen but we decided to set the game in Alaska used Alaskan history to assist us in the making of the game.

The process we had to follow throughout the day was: Ideas Focus, Plan, Write Up, Mechanics Ideas and then finally Visuals of the game (3D, Sketches or Demo).

We was sent on our way to prepare ourselves and fully get into our task set to us. We began brainstorming ideas immediately, keywords that appeared regularly were: Haunted, Scary, Soul, Mansion, Peace, Songs, Floating, Instruments, Russian (Alaska research reference), Musician, Action buttons, Classical, Realism, Consequences, Play to Calm. These are a few of many common features we had to take into consideration and try to piece together a playable game from. In the end I did a small write up on the games overview possibly even a selling pitch: We have a Russian Musician who was mysteriously murdered in his mansion, he is now haunting his house causing instruments to levitate/ fly all over, you have to venture through the spooky haunted house collecting each instrument and playing that instruments part in his most famous song. As you progress further through the game you piece together what was a musical mess (symbolising his rage) to a piece of art (finally letting his soul rest). So with this brief write up we continued on with the design process and that was the mechanics of the game.

Now I already briefly mentioned the mechanics in my short write up but just to clarify this is what we went through ideas wise so it wasn’t just the first idea out of our heads: Guitar hero style note player, Taiko Drum Master style note player, Action buttons (hit button specified on screen before timer runs out to play notes), find the actual separate note sheet in the house for the specified instrument and then finally something totally random also unique which would be to use motion controllers to level out the note strip to make the music sound correct rather than distorted. Our final choice was the action buttons but in a Taiko drum master style, which is a side scrolling bar of notes that you have to correctly match the combinations on the screen to the buttons on your controller to complete the piece, if you fail below a certain percentage consequences will happen (we wasn’t too sure on what as of yet).

Dave found the person that we could use for our musician in our game his name was Alexander Borodin (1833-1887), he was a Russian musician who’s most famous piece was Prince Igor (the song of our game). The reason we chose a Russian musician was because in 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the USA (time period of our musician) meaning that we could do a Russian musician being killed shortly after Alaska was sold to the USA and therefore causing him to haunt his house to protect his work. That’s the contextual reference to our game which does actually make it plausible (if you believe in hauntings etc.)

After what seemed to be a fairly well thought out and well planned idea we all moved on to our own little delegated pieces of work to model the game, to give it a visual side which would be easier to present to people. Myself and Victor started on the level design (Drawing and Sketch Up), Phil did a detailed interior in both Sketch Up and Photoshop, and Dave did an instrument in Sketch Up. We all agreed to our individual positions so we got on with the work. After a short amount of time clear progress was being shown, so much in fast on myself and victors interior level design that I decided to leave him to it as we had the focus drawn up it was not necessary for 2 of us to be doing 1 mans job. So I made the decision to go personally figure out and get down ideas on the names of the game, I went through a lot of different names asking for the groups opinion on some of them to try get me closer to possibly the final product. The list of names were: Haunting Alaska, Musical Exorcism, Soul of Music, Borodin, Lingering Musician, Musical Secret, The Lost Musician, Musical Limbo, Alaskan Secret and finally Russian Haunting. From this list myself and my peers agreed that Alaskan Secret was the strongest of the lot in reference to our topic. This then progressed me onto logo design for the game, with the title being Alaskan secret I immediately sketched the geographical shape of Alaska on the globe, I tried to turn it into a shape but couldn’t visualise it so I just put ALASKAN underneath it. Then I needed Secret, but it had to have a musical reference as that is the main focus of the game; I researched into musical notes and strips of music to see what I could do. I decided to do a musical note called a treble clef to represent the S in Secret then the rest of the text to be in old fashioned calligraphy on a slightly wavy strip. it looked like this:


My intention is to put this into Photoshop and fully do a graphic design on this product which I can also use in other areas of my modules as importance of graphics in games.

With the logo finished to a sketched standard I was happy with I went to look at my peers work. Dave had just began his Sketch Up design of his flute, this flute caused a lot of problems for Dave but as he was doing prop design for his 3D Realisation course he wanted to design each process himself no matter the time period taken. prop-piccolo-flute-no-lines

This is the design of Dave’s flute coming along nicely, this could be the finished product but im sure he will add colour and other features as we progress further into this project in our own time. Nevertheless its a good looking flute which took him some substantial time to draw all these features on the flute, including the very precise note pushers for the flute.

Then I moved onto Phil who had been doing a interior design of a random room in the house of what it mike look like in Sketch Up, then importing it into Photoshop to add effects and shading to the design.


Basic Sketch Up

Haunted House Room Template

Photoshop and Shadows Added

This is Phil’s finished product of the room, complete with one of the instruments a black grand piano. He also added some images into photo frames to give the room some art as im sure musicians appreciate art as music itself is an art. The bookcase was an idea pitched by most of us as we could use the books well if they were to fly off and hit the character every note missed.

Firmly assured we was really getting well along with this a went to see how Victor was getting on. Victor was trying to do the Level Design for the interior as well as the exterior all in one lesson, to do this would require much focus and no problems to arise (which they did) he was explaining to me about how the walls kept disappearing when he tried to erase a line even though he had segregated properly. Due to this I agreed with the rest of the group I would take our original sketch and do purely the exterior of the House just to take a work load of Victor so he could focus purely on the 1st floor and 2nd floor layout. Below are the finished products of Victors work with well structured rooms which does look like a house interior layout.


Victors Level Design First Floor


2nd Floor Level Design

With this I went into Sketch Up, my personal 3D Realisation topic is Environments and I have taken a particular shine to Sketch Up in recent works (Spaceship and Level) so this would be a good thing for me to be assigned to in the group. It was coming along brilliantly up until the roof of the building, normally to build a roof on sketch up you just do a flat square segregate it down the middle with a line then use the move tool to drag it upwards. For some reason this wasn’t working for me (possibly an push/pull problem or alignment) so I built it myself with the line tool, to have the same effect the move tool would have just a longer process really. Then using textures I filled in all the plains of the building including translucent glass windows and marble pillars to complete the exterior of our haunted musicians house. Here it is fully animated after I finished with the music added which is “Prince Igor” from Alexander Borodin:

This is a concept of the haunted house that we have chose to include in our project game of “Alaskan Secret”. This was obviously slightly different to what Victor had designed for on his layout but it could still be incorporated easily with scale and a bit of extra time as i have already fitted a spiral staircase.

To conclude Phil wanted a JPEG 2D export of my house at a perspective angle so he could use it in Photoshop to set it on an Alaskan background and reflect it in the water using opacity. This was the finished product which we all thought looked pretty fantastic as a concept design.

alaskan secret

This rounded up our days work on the Group Project “Alaskan Secret” I was very pleased with my own contribution but more so with how well we worked as a unit to create a solid design for our game. Paul suggested at the end that due to this being assessed we may want to continue this in our own time possibly to gain a few extra marks but not to focus everything on it as its not a substantial chunk of our marks it was just a mini brief exercise. I really enjoyed this lesson it got my creative mind going and I took a lot away from the lesson in terms of how strong I am in a team environment and my personal skills so far in software/creativity.