Jason Pook's Games Design Blog

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Pac-Man-Game Theory


Pac-man is an arcade game that was developed by Namco and released in 1980. Pac-man is a little yellow circle with a segment missing (mouth) which believe it or not was a design from a pizza with a slice taken out. Pac-man runs around a maze to pick up as many of the dots as possible whilst avoiding the ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde). If you get caught by any of them pac-man dies and you lose a life, once all your lives are gone the game is over and your score from how many dots you collected is revealed.


Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi’s theory of flow applies to pac-man as the arcade game requires the player to deal with collecting dots whilst navigating around the maze quickly or intelligently to avoid the enemies, If you eat a big dot you can then eat an enemy but only for a limited amount of time as they return to the ghost enclosure to come back to get you again. The aim is to collect all the dots and gain as many points as possible, the difficulty is the same but you can get yourself into difficult situations where the ghosts are closing in on you and your reactions really have to be sharp to get away otherwise its a life lost. I achieved flow in pac-man due to playing against class students to try get the highest score possible so I was really focusing on every move made and how I can get to the next set of dots without being caught.


Using Csikzentmihalyi’s flow diagram Pac-man can fall into any of them categories it depends how addicted and immersed you in the game. Some cases of flow when Pac-man was released were quite extreme, in the documentary “Thumb Candy” they meet the makers of Pac-man to discuss the popularity of the game 24minutes into the video is the section on Pac-man. 28 minutes in they mention it made “60 billion yen, so roughly 60 million dollars…in one year” for Namco.

Categories of Play:

For Roger Caillois’s ‘categories of play’ Pac-man would fall under primarily ‘Agon’. Agon is games of competition, with Pac-man you are playing to achieve as much points as possible which will require you to survive longer and gain a high score. The replayability to make this a competition with others includes leader boards and also trying to beat your own personal best. An example of Agon would be when we was asked to play free online PC games to later analyse through game theory and in teams of 4 we was to also play against each other for score then rank through score before moving onto the next game.

It also falls under ‘Alea’. Alea is games of chance, with Pac-man the movement of the enemy that the game presents you with is that chance, you could be pinned in a corner by the enemies but somehow manage to escape the navigate randomly but primarily try to chase you but if not they patrol the maze. So chance has a part to play with the enemy, some would say skill is a large part of avoiding them but sometimes you just need that bit of luck to reach the big dot in time before they catch you and eat them all to give you space to continue.

Bartle Test:

To link this into Bartle’s test which defines you as a player through a series of questions this type of game being puzzle based and score based would appeal to an ‘achiever’ style of player due to the points system and the survival aspect.

But it also links to the “Killer” category as Pac-man is a predator, he eats all the dots and if a big dot is activated can eat his enemies which rewards you with bonus score. Therefore it does have killer aspects to the gameplay and rewards.

Socialiser can also link in as when Pac-man was a hugely popular arcade game people would go down to the arcade to play with or against each other, at the end a leaderboard would reveal and you could enter your initials so you was constantly competing with others if you should so choose to treat it that way.

My personal playing of pac-man was that I was either really good at it or just rubbish, when I doing well I enjoyed the game alot and wanted to play more but when i was doing badly it just frustrated me and i wanted to move onto another game. Emotional reactions to the game shows this game has a psychological effect on the player through performance. This is arguable present in all games but this proves the game could be critically analysed using psychoanalysis as a perspective.

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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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Creative Futures – Production Design for Entertainment Media – Architecture

Architecture is a key part of daily life all the building around you involve architecture and have there own time period of architecture, this also applies for gaming so when you design a proposal for a 2 story victorian house you have to go into research to find out what a victorian house could have styles of if you just texture it with any random brick it wont have the realism also it wont match what you proposed to do and is basically something completely different. this session was designed to make us realise that architecture can is a key point in our designing in current and future projects, knowing the difference between certain era’s of architecture similar or not could be vital in for example a game set in japan and you design all the buildings with chinese architecture thats game over right there straight away.

First we was given a extract from H.P Lovecraft:

“a coast-line of mingled mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less the tangible substance of earth’s supreme terror — the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh …loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours“.

“…hidden in green slimy vaults… In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

– H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Stories

Many creatives have read that phrase and been inspired to try to pin down the look and structure of Lovecraft’s monstrous vision. The city has a different design to it, there is little amount of paralell lines everything looks very curved and warped with many strange alien looking symbols across its surfaces.

But what if you was designing something completely different a scrapyard on a graveyard planet? a steampunk themed victorian city hall? a apocolyptic supermarket? how would you go about figuring our the architecture for these ideas you have in your head? you would need the references for many different types of history in architecture aswell as architects. Well i wouldnt know much other than main parts of history. Due to this he listed some different architecural styles:

“Historical Architectural Stylesand some of the differences.

Roman vs Egyptian

Viking Vs Medieval Vs Tudor

Art Deco Vs Art Nouveau – Art Deco, geometric shapes and patterns, parallel lines… Seen in US gas stations, diners, cinemas and sky-scrapers… Art Nouveau, organic flowing lines, motifs from living things and natural forms… Seen in Paris Subway lights by Hector Guimard, and posters by Alphonse Mucha… whose work you can compare to the very Art Deco designs of Cassandre and other Art Deco Graphic Designers.

Russian Vs ArabicArabic onion shaped Domes and Cupolas might not be as common a cultural identifier as you would imagine, Victorian illustrators of the Arabian Nights and early production designers for theatre and film (along with Disney) have probably created a false image, Arabic domes being somewhat less ostentatious for the most part… whilst over the steppes in the former Soviet states the Classic Onion Shape is clearly visible…

Also the use of “Images” of living things is forbidden in much architecture in the Arabic world, decoration takes the form of elaborations of writing and scripts…

Japanese Vs Chinese – consider the use of decoration below and between the roof-lines, one is predominantly simpler than the other…” – Gareth Sleightholme architecture blog

we was then given examples of architects to see all of this lesson see Gareths blog, this lesson made us realise the importance of accuracy in our research as well as the need to broaden our knowledge of certain people in the fields of research and work we will be coming across. Another learning objective was that of the importance of observational drawing, recently for our street project we was told to go draw buildings we liked from observation and until we did that we wasnt allowed to progress, the reason behind this was for us to look, sound strange but actually looking and paying attention to the details of architecture and features on a building are often neglected so observational drawing will help us in our designs.

We then went into who would need to know this? well to be subject specific to my area of study Games designers would, so 3d artists, texture artists, environment artists, 3d modellers, concept artists and so on theres no doubt accuracy of the environment around you in a game which you have told the customer the specifications of the time period set makes the game way more immersive and realistic, for example Assassins Creed 2 its set in 15th century florence and modern day with the use of the animus if they had left both time periods in the same architecture style of modern you wouldnt believe the story as its said to be based on historical events but not looking historical.

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History of Gaming- Iconic Games Timeline Survey Results

Previously (blog 1, blog 2, blog 3) for my history of gaming work i had been given the topic of “Icons of gaming” as my research focus to then formulate into a adobe flash timeline using my results. Icons of Gaming could we interpreted many ways it could be mascots, iconic games, iconic characters, iconic designers and so on so i had to narrow it down to get a real focus on my work which i chose iconic games throughout the generations. The choice of the generations you give my timeline alot of range to it so its not neglecting a generation of gaming by just saying ionic games from 5th gen onwards.

Obviously i had a few games in mind such as mario, sonic and space invaders but my own personal preferences may be included in this timeline which would result in a bias and personal timeline. To navigate away from this problem i decided to set up a survey and asked a group of my friends and peers to answer the questions i had set using a tick box choice and if i had missed a game they believed was iconic there was a “other” box to type in an answer. like this:question

This worked very well i got a wide range of results which ultimately show how different people have different tastes in games not everyone was all for the same ones. This was followed up at the end by a comments box which i asked them to type a little bit about there most iconic game to them and why, some great responses also came from this. i will now make some infographics of the data i collected and then show the personal comments in relation to them. I had 49 responses to my survey shame it wasnt 50 for a nice found figure but 49 was excellent.iKGG6VYaNu720B7d

This was the first question in relation to the 1st generation, pong came out the winner with 30 votes and space war! behind with 21 votes. Feedback i got for this one was that some people didnt even know what these games were and did tend to pick randomly. the specified other got 2 responses one of asteroids which was a 1st gen game made by atari in 1979 so was a educated response that others may have forgot including myself, but the second response was crash bandicoot with is a 5th generation game so didnt belong there being a wasted vote.

QZ7cZxwcdjJTFodQThe second question was related to 2nd generation games, 1st with 33 was unsurprisingly pacman closely followed by spaceinvaders at 26 votes another very iconic game. This was how i expected these results to come out.ROxYUr44K4cjTsvEThis being 3rd generation was bound to be debatable as personally im not a big player of zelda and never was being born in 1995 i never really got into the later installments of zelda which could be the case for some people i asked aswell. 1st was super mario bros with 33, with tetris 2nd at 25 then zelda 3rd at 15. Despite these results i know zelda is an iconic game and i did expect it to be very close with mario. between the other results it was fairly close but street fighter took 3rd with 17. no other for this section aswell which make me think i chose well.

ZPfXAmJYCeAlyCEy4th generation, sonic was the obvious winner for me and others with 30votes but others didnt do so well and fifa footballs first installment was 2nd with 20votes. When i viewed the other responses i realised i had missed a big game and a personal favourite of mine the Prince of Persia games maybe the results would have been different as it only got 2 votes from people who noticed but i dont think prince of persia is as iconic as other games so wasnt a fatal miss.

21zCNdvd06k0g0nH5th generation was bound to be a debatable one with so many good games in there and dependent on when you were born this could be very different for you, i personally was born in 5th gen 1993-2001 being 1995 and my favourite game of all time is crash bandicoot close second with spyro so childhood hours and hours of gaming played a factor there. Pokemon was 1st with 31 votes, 2nd spyro with 28, 3rd grand theft auto with 27, 4th crash bandicoot on 21 with rayman close behind in 5th at 19 votes. As you can see this was very debatable and had alot of different views on it see i like oddworld but only 5 thought the same as others opted differently with there 6 choices. Not quite how i expected but gaming icons are up there so thats pleasing. the other section included a game i cant believe i forgot to include which is an iconic game definately for feminism of Tomb Raider.

Z3PMpLP8b6rTVadL6th generation was a tough one with clear favourites of Call of Duty on 35votes, 2nd halo with 28 and 3rd ratchet and clank with 18. this one wasnt as close at the top but the bottom people were undecided as nothing really jumped out for them clearly showing these games are not seen as a big deal to them but i cant forget this group is only a handful of people if this was worldwide id have a much fairer test and wider view which im sure world of warcraft being a huge mmorpg would be alot higher. The other box was Tony Hawk with his skateboarding games which im afraid whoever that was doesnt really cut it good games id say yes but not iconic.

XYhnRUrZlbtWwqDjFinally was 7th generation, with this one i felt i had to include alot wider range of games as currently the gaming market is everywhere and games i could really play like angry birds as my phone isnt brilliant are massively popular so the recent rise in apps and mobile gaming had to be considered here but it was hard as being so recent can you list it as immediately iconic well i believe so with assassins creed series being fantastic and educational in a sense. Assassins Creed was 1st with a clear 31 votes, 2nd was GTA V i know i had grand theft auto before as orignal 5th gen release but gta v has broke alot of records so i felt it needed to be included with 25 votes, then it was close 3rd skyrim again i had elder scrolls in 5th gen which didnt do so well but is 3rd here so you can see games over the ages in some cases in series have improved in view of the public with 19, then 3rd killzone with 18 being a playstation exclusive i was surprised it was so high, 4th The Last of Us a massive recent success and surely a iconic game if any for recent times but being so recent and playstation exclusive with 14 votes, then 5th was angry birds a mobile game with 12 votes. so a wide range of views there. the other option was labelled Rome:Total War a strategy pc game which is a very good game to be fair but im not sure its iconic but will be some personal favourites which also started in 5th generation but has a recent installement in 7th so its valid.

That concluded my results most popular being: Pong, pacman, mario, sonic, pokemon, call of duty, assassins creed in each generation. Being a debatable one i will now have to decide which should be considered iconic despite my results as some where missed or not everyones favourite who did the survey but are to the gaming community.

As for the most iconic games personal choice comments box here are the responses:

  • Killzone Shadow Fall: i recently bought myself a PlayStation 4 and if you can call any game a “next gen game” it is definately killzone, not only a visually amazing game but it also uses the majority of the ps4 new features such as the touch pad is your drone. love it.
  • Killzone, recently played on ps4 Killzone: Shadow Fall most impressive visually and gameplay shooter I have ever owned.
  • I think PAC man has to be the most iconic game of all time down to sheer popularity, fun and status, I’d say it’s a legendary and iconic game
  • Favourite Game: Pokémon Yellow The amount of time I spent on that game trying to complete the pokedex and level all my pokemon to maximum was that of a large number. The personal connection I made with my starter pokemon is a connection im yet to make with any other game other than pokemon.
  • Tomb Raider is Bossssssss!!!!!!!!
  • Pokemon just coz pokemon
  • Fifa
  • Crash Tag team Racing, due to that me and my friends used to have a great laugh playing it and beating each other with different characters like cortex and crash.
  • kid chameleon for sega mega drive amazing gameplay and loved the multiple abilities and level design
  • Prince of Persia!!!
  • Dead Space, personally for me it was the first horror style game i ever played in depth. Even though it scared the hell out of me i was gripped to the game and the story line.
  • Fifa – Pro clubs so u can shout at your friends when they miss a sweaty goal (Nathan)
  • GTA SANANDREAS, becaues it was my favourite game growing up and I still play it now
  • Total War from Shogun through to Rome 2. Well researched and immersive experience. Balanced mix of strategy and real time action. A bit let down by Rome 2 though. I think it crosses over your generations starts in about 5th I reckon.
  • Pokémon Red – It’s just brilliant okay
  • Dragonage: origins
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time. The game is just a landmark in gaming terms, it is possibly the most popular game to date and continues to be a benchmark against which other games of the same genre are measured. For me it was just such an intense adventure with a well driven story, strong characters, interesting game play and a really cool open world to explore. You could dip into and out of quests and missions as and when you wanted and even though there were points when you had to complete something to progress with the story, for the most part it was left up to the player in which order they completed their quests, which is something that has only recently been seen in other games such as Skyrim and even Fable.
  • Halo 2 as it was the game I bonded with some of my old friends the most
  • need for speed underground 2 because like racing and customizing car
  • SPYRO- Really fun game
  • Difficult one, but personally my all time favourite game has to be between Star Wars Battlefront, and Star Wars Battlefront 2. They were just amazing
  • GTA V , I love the murder violence, robberies and gang rape.
  • Oddworld, it was such a good game series.
  • Streets of Rage Though it’s design is simple, there is something magical about moving through neon lit backdrops in fictional cities and beating up a series of identical looking bad guys under the strange premise of “Justice”. The Characters are colourful and in a way it was one of the first games that allowed you to play the vigilante minus the skin tight outfit… except for Axels jeans, they are proper tight, but it’s like the late 80’s or whatever so fair enough. I wish we could see more games in this vain, the next one released on the next console was Fighting Force, which was renamed from Streets of Rage because the company disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The only one I can think of next is the remake of Final Fight: Streetwise… that was pretty terrible. I guess everyone else is sticking to 1 on 1 fighters or mass slaughterfests that is Dynasty Warriors and there ilk.
  • I think my favourite game has to be mass effect 3, mostly because you can make so many different decisions and they all effect the way the game plays out.
  • Pokemon, because no matter how much the evolution happens with the franchise millions of people still remember and love the original
  • Assassins creed something different and its enjoyable
  • Just dance 3. its awesome.
  • Spyro as I grew up playing it.
  • Call of Duty, most players.
  • GTA because it has so many missions, levels, so much to do and explore and has very good graphics.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – First 3D Legend of Zelda game, ability to explore the world, groundbreaking graphics, classic story.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time because the graphics and gameplay were far beyond any other game of that generation and it’s a timeless game that is still better than other games in thay genre.
  • Gears of war due to it being a primary building block in me and my best friends relationship

Thing i can take from this although zelda didnt do aswell as expect its regarded some peoples most iconic game with the Ocarina of Time game in the series

“Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time. The game is just a landmark in gaming terms, it is possibly the most popular game to date and continues to be a benchmark against which other games of the same genre are measured. For me it was just such an intense adventure with a well driven story, strong characters, interesting game play and a really cool open world to explore. You could dip into and out of quests and missions as and when you wanted and even though there were points when you had to complete something to progress with the story, for the most part it was left up to the player in which order they completed their quests, which is something that has only recently been seen in other games such as Skyrim and even Fable.”

That says alot for the game itself, i know its an iconic game already but this is a brilliant comment on exactly why. i also noticed the need for speed games mentioned which for racing games is definately iconic its just not in the overall picture gran turismo would probably take that if any.

Id like to thank everyone for there involvement in the survey as its been very useful to my studies in this topic area. i will now go onto make my flash timeline using my results i have found here and other gathered research that i initially had for iconic games.


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RPG Story- Raiding Rome

For my introduction to gaming module i have to design a rpg game, this includes a brief story to what your rpg game will be about. i myself tried to keep my game as acurrate as i possibly could using references to the time periods and goimgs on whilst putting my own twist on what actually happened. i decided to go with a theme i feel im comfortable with and know which is the romans, i also like the idea of proper combat rather than current times of guns so this tailored to my likings as a gamer more. ill try develop it more once i have some peer feedback.

It is 74 BC and the peak of the gladatorial games in Rome. Gladiators and gladiator schools give muscle to Roman politics with much room for business to be made, it is the prime entertainment of the roman people. You are a gladiator formerly a leader of a tribe in the ivory coast captured by Roman troops to be thrown into the world of the warriors perfect death. Spending months under the ownership of a powerful general fighting in small arena’s across the roman empire you reach your peak and travel to rome. The Coliseum awaits, the largest stage and your path to freedom if you win 10 battles of the highest level. in 72BC two years on you are in transit in shackles and caged with a small group of other upcoming gladiators on the borders of Rome. The legion of troops escorting you are ambushed by a group of slave rebellion warriors, you are given arms and told by a masked man to follow their cause. You decided to band your group of destined gladiators and seperate from the rebels but agreed to follow their cause, the man told you they will be training in Mount Vesuvious over the winter then departed. Unknown to you that was Sparatcus one of the most famous gladiators ever and his band of followers rebelling against the romans. As the new found leader of your gladiators you head to Rome to tackle the system from the inside to feed information to the rebels, the road to the Coliseum will be difficult and dangerous but incredible team stealth, tactics and intelligence will get you far. Rome is full of corrupt politicians in the Senate and people who will help you along your way, your task is to break out the rumoured 300 gladiators based inside the Coliseum using multiple disguises to enter important top secret meetings, you will have to remove many people along the way but if it will return you home and abolish the cruelty of captured people forced to fight it wont be a problem. Entering rome in market carts stolen from traders under force the group blends in as a roman citizens for a while getting used to the surroundings. Months of gaining status and gathering information from market stalls to Senate meetings you have raised guards and suspicion of any unusual goings on your only safe area is the house of a previously free’d gladiator who supports your cause. Its now spring the rebels have been training hard also fighting many legions sent to irradicate them, in discussion with Spartacus on papyrus its agreed its time. You attend a gladiator battle as a spectator to witness the ‘thumbs down’ of the emporer aided by barbaric chants of the people to ‘kill kill kill’. You notice the owner of the gladiator on the floor as he is not celebrating and leaves early you follow him to gain his alliance which gets you into the market for buying a gladiator inside the chambers. On speculation of buying gladiators assissted by a guard describing the very best they have to offer you kill the guard handing one gladiator a small knife and the keys whilst desposing of the body. You say to him ‘spread the word the rebellion begins from the inside the last place they expected an army to spring from now to burn the city down and liberate rome, Spatacus has his army heading for the city as we speak’.



Creative Futures- Adaptation- Props/Objects/Vehicles

In recent Adaptation lessons it has been primarily focused on the Environment design/research side of work, If you wanted to see previous work in adaptation before reading this blog to make sure you know whats going on in my design process see blog 1 intro, blog 2 progress/design, blog 3 early character design, blog 4 first environment drawing (arena 1st person gladiator), blog 5 2nd environment drawing (arena birds eye view).

This lesson we moved onto preparing ourselves to design the props/objects/vehicles of our game genre. To do this obviously you need an extensive knwoledge or decent research on your particular genre of work, mine being Rome/Gladiator I knew already due to previous areas of work the percieved image of rome and everything they used. Before expanding on what i might be drawing in Rome Gareth took us onto his blog apophenia inc to show us some background information on props, prop designers, prop buyers and then some related keywords definitions.

Quick definitions:

1 – “Props Buyers” are traditionally member of a film crew (assisting the Production Designer, Art Director and Set Dressers) that examine the script/plot/story needs and then generate a buying list of objects and props which will be needed in order to bring sets to life and reflect the use of that space by the characters, groups, organisations, and/or entities that we need to believe inhabit it.

2 – “Product Design” can be defined as the idea generation, concept development, testing and manufacturing or implementation of a physical object or product.

The role of the product designer combines art, science and technology to create tangible three-dimensional goods. This evolving role has been facilitated by digital tools that allow designers to communicate, visualize and analyze ideas in a way that would have taken greater manpower in the past. The term is sometimes confused with industrial design, which defines the field of a broader spectrum of design activities.

Product designers are equipped with the skills needed to bring products from conception to market.” -Gareths Sleightholme- apophenia inc wordpress.

Aesthetics is considered important in Product Design but designers also deal with important aspects including technology, ergonomics, usability, stress analysis and materials engineering.

Keyword Definitions:

Aesthetics- a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty.

Ergonomics- the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.

Usability- the quality of being able to provide good service/use

As with most of the design fields the idea for the design of a product arises from a need and has a use.


An interesting design that has been made to fit a purpose or need is the Haptica a concept design for a brail watch. Did you honestly know what this was from looking at it? i didnt i thought it was a car part possibly a brake caliper.

In order to populate our environments that we have drawn we need to list and research extensively possible props that will appear in our environment, (Games Design) by David Perry is a book that is a fantastic brainstorming toolkit for this type of task. Without using that book i took to my own accord to find 36 minimum props/objects/vehicles that could appear in my genre and environment.

Being a Gladiator Roman genre and enviroment here is what I listed:

  • Sword (long, short, great)
  • Dagger
  • Shield (round, square, rectnagle, arched, wood, metal etc)
  • Helmet (centurian, guard, cowl, gladiator, warrior, soldier, all styles of shape and design)
  • Armour plate (various designs)
  • Chainmail
  • Cape (colour mainly red for rome)
  • Belts/hold alls (leather, rope, animal hide, pockets, coin purse)
  • Rags (thin cloth for clothing, slave, gladiator in cells image)
  • Carriage (emporer transport, wealth, engravings, carved, gold, wood, silk)
  • Chariot (2wheeled transport pulled by horses, normally holds centurion, image him with spear)
  • Chain
  • Weapon Stand (all different for weapon type possibly, armoury)
  • Crown (royalty, emporer, wealthy, councellors)
  • Fine Clothes (silk, cotton, robes, dyed colours, quality material)
  • Sandals/Strapped boots (sandy floor, heat, strapped boots for battle, sandals for public)
  • Mace
  • Bed (wood, poor, rich, comfort, fur sheet, rag)
  • Fur
  • Wood planks (foundations, scaffolding, build, buildings)
  • Money/ Currency/ Coins
  • Statues (scale, romans love statues, icons, leaders, beauty)
  • Paintings/ Art
  • Urns/ Vase
  • Columns/ pillar (marble, stone, rock)
  • Scroll
  • Papyrus (Roman name for paper, scrolls, documents, declarations)
  • Flags
  • Stocks (punishment, put in stocks head and hands, people throw rotten food at you in stocks, also execution beheading)
  • Fountains
  • Food/Fruit (olives, meat, bread etc)
  • Plants (trees, flowers etc)
  • Barrels (wine, weapons, ingredients, storage)
  • Boxes
  • Coat of Arms (recognition of person, sheild with cross swords over top common image of coat of arms, family)
  • Ornaments (candles, wax, statues, paintings, vase, urn)
  • Furniture (chair, table, bed)
  • Sword hold (fur, leather, metal, size)
  • Cart (2 wheeled pulled object, transport goods, markets)
  • Wagon (large scale cart transport goods further, horse pulled)
  • Boat (naval battles, transport, adventure, discovery, small, large)
  • Standard (roman standard is an eagle, staff with big eagle on top, taken to battle for legions, status)
  • Headpiece (crown, half crown, tiara, leaves, wreath)
  • Hammer (blacksmith, weapon, craft)
  • gauntlet (piece of armour on wrist, used to challenge battles)
  • Axe (wood cut, weapon)
  • Jewellry (ring, necklace, gems, crown, gold , silver, rich , status)

There are 47 examples of Props/ objects/ vehicles that could possibly appear in my roman environment and im sure there are many more that i have missed out, possibly little things but the little things can still make or break the realism in your enviroment so every fine detail is to be considered and further research will need to be taken to make sure i havent missed anything.

After I did this we went on to be told that we should design 3 of these props in our own time such as for me: a helmet, a sword and a chariot using our own design processes. This would result in extensive research and using examples already been made in my case to use as inspiration for helmet design. The primary use of this task is that props/ objects/ vehicles are all key fundamental things in an environment that without them it just wouldnt be relaistic (unless its some sort of deserted zombie apocolypse) also props can be used in conjunction to character design that i will be undertaking (heres a early design i did) for example: my gladiator could be holding a sword, which would need to be designed seperately in a design process so your not just using any old sword you just threw together in 10minutes in his hand, all aspects are consider and multiple drawings are made.

“Design as much as possible until you are out of ideas, then keep designing even more.” – basically even if you think you have designed enough and thought of everything, keep going as the more and more you do the higher possiblilty of something unique becoming designed. Even to the point of boredom, you are so fed up with designing this helmet you become bored but then you have an extensive set of designs.

This is something i will try to go by as many ideas always come out of your head so even if they are rubbish still get then down or drawn because something in that could be added to a better design to create a unique item.

I am now beginning to research the first of the 3 prop/object/vehicle design that i will undertake which is a helmet for the gladiator. The mass range of helmet designs means i have alot to use as inspiration when designing my helmet e.g. full face cover with slits from dual wield heavy armor warrior, added centurion/ legion bright red headpiece of hair (mohawk style), and small spikes from the gladiator film Maximuses helmet. Thats just a quick concept idea i threw together in a few seconds just from ideas i have gathers in roman research in helemts, so much to be thought upon to help me design my helmet. Im unsure what i will move onto next after that as the list is huge to choose from but progress blog posts will be added to show my process.

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CATS Logbook Entry 3- 18/10/13

In this session of CATS we was introduced to semiotics. Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols, the official definition is “The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation”, basically how we read signs. Using semiotics there are multiple ways to read signs, for example: colour (red danger/passion, white peace/purity), body language (posture, slouched, straight, hunch), combination of colours, Text (use of font, size, colour, bold, italics, underline) and so on really.

The definitions for the keywords we learned in the session of semiotics:

  • Semiology- The study of signs, signals, symbols, gestures and messages.
  • Semiotics- The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.
  • Signifier- a sign’s physical form (such as a sound, printed word, or image) as distinct from its meaning.
  • Signified- the meaning or idea expressed by a sign, as distinct from the physical form in which it is expressed.
  • Denote- be a sign of, indicate. simile.
  • Connote- imply or suggest (an idea or feeling) in addition to the literal or primary meaning. metaphor.
  • Arbitrary- based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.
  • Polysemy- the ambiguity of an individual word or phrase that can be used (in different contexts) to express two or more different meanings.

Semiotics give you a range of meanings to just a basic picture, you are basically deconstructing or decoding the works to find out through semiotics what the meanings or purpose of that particular part in an image could be.

We then briefly learnt about 3 people who were involved in the making of semiotics and the theories behind it,

Ferdinand de Saussure– In 1906 Saussure taught a course on General Linguistics at the University of Geneva. His teachings were so monumental his students published a document of them, using their lecture notes to guide them. He was interested in the state of language, moreover, ‘an understanding of the conditions for existence of any language’ and  the nature of the linguistic sign. From this he argued the linguistic sign or ‘unit’ was a two-sided entity. This he called a dyad (picture on the left). And this is what they define.#1Picture1

Signifier- a sign’s physical form (such as a sound, printed word, or image) as distinct from its meaning.

Signified- the meaning or idea expressed by a sign, as distinct from the physical form in which it is expressed.

The connection between the two is in fact what we call arbitrary meaning based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.
Charles Saunders Peirce– Peirce’s Sign Theory, or Semiotic was an advanced version of Saussure, is an account of signification, representation, reference and meaning. Peirce’s accounts are distinctive  for capturing the importance of interpretation to signification (signifier/signified). For Peirce, developing a theory of signs was a central focus. The importance of semiotic for Peirce is wide ranging. As he himself said,
“[…] it has never been in my power to study anything,—mathematics, ethics, metaphysics, gravitation, thermodynamics, optics, chemistry, comparative anatomy, astronomy, psychology, phonetics, economics, the history of science, whist, men and women, wine, metrology, except as a study of semiotic” (SS 1977, 85–6).
 He argued with Saussure’s work, that rather than being a dyad, the linguistic sign consists of a triple relation between the sign the object and the referent. Peirce proposed 3 categories that we could identify between signs and objects:
An Icon- ‘where the sign relates to its object in some resemblance with it, i.e. a photograph’. It physically resembles what it stands for.
A Symbol- ‘where the sign relates to its object by means of convention alone, e.g.  word, a flag’. Relates to via social convention.
An Index- ‘where the sign relates to its object in terms of causation, e.g. sundial, paw print, medical symptom’. It correlates with or points to.
So leading from this a sign can be iconic, symbolic and indexical.
Roland Barthes– Barthes was interested in the connotations of meaning in an article he published called “Mythologies” he explored the denotations of popular cultural French signs, he argued that certain signs betrayed their convention as they are myths, this is how connotations are constructed. his ideas were very similar to that of Peirce in that icon, symbol and index was changed by Barthes to Linguistic message, Coded iconic message and Non-coded iconic message so a more insightful look into semiotics with these 3 steps.
An example of an icon (Icon definition- a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.) would have to be people that inspired other and changed a generation, so musically iconic is like Elvis the king of rock and roll is iconic, scientific would be Albert Einstein with all his theories and discoveries, boxing Muhammad Ali, or political like Ghandi. And so on there are many icons in this world and some people have personal preferences to who is an icon to them.
A symbol example would be just to give one, the cross of Jesus Christ, this is probably the most symbolic symbol in the religious world of Christianity for many reasons and it is a symbol of the sacrifices he made for our race.
An index example is where the sign relates to its object in terms of causation, e.g. sundial, paw print, medical symptom or a clock, it correlates or points to something.
#1mario1We was then shown this picture of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS, In the picture we was told how semiotics works and to also put our own input in. The idea of the main character Mario is going in the right direction is a sign of good as the direction right is often symbolised with moving forward, whereas all the bad characters the Goombas and the rocket bullet are heading in the left direction which is symbolised as going backwards/ wrong way in a side scrolling game like this. The use of bright colours for Mario the reds, blues and yellows for his outfit suggest he is the good guy, with a slight powerful edge to him in the colour red. The colourful background gives us an idea of the target market which would be the younger generation but as we know Mario was so successful its an all ages played game. The enemies of the Goombas are brown which is suggesting dull, boring and not essential so they can be stomped on. This is giving you an idea of how semiotics can be used to analyse an image, it may not be intended for that purpose but using semiotics we get all this information about what’s going on relatively simply. (Here is one I did on Marlboro).
This is bringing the session to an end so here is what I personally took away from this lesson:
I learnt the basics of semiotics and what they symbolise, the purpose of semiotics, the history behind semiotics with people like Roland Barthes. Overall the most I learnt was how I can personally use semiotics in day to day situations to get hidden meaning behind e.g. a film poster or a game cover. Just by using semiotics you can get a rough idea on what it may involve like darkness or danger in a superhero film, or like previously shown in Mario multiple things just in one shot of a level. Since then we have used semiotics multiple times in other non CATS related sessions (Graphics and signs) to study semiology and maybe why the company has chosen to represent themselves that way.


Introduction to Games Design- Research Topic Focus

I have been given a brief for our module of an interactive presentation timeline of the history of gaming. After given this we was shown a video called Thumb Candy- The History of Computer Games. Iain Lee is the presenter who takes us through the history of gaming from the first Space wars! in 1961 to the year of 2000 with Tekken Tag Tournament. Since then there have been many iconic games and consoles but this video was brilliant use to us for research in our brief as it covered a huge range of the gaming industries history. So what I wanted to do from that was do similar to this but bring it up to date as recent games such as Halo and Assassins Creed have to go down as iconic games.

This video did focus much on the companies in gaming and the alteration between who was the top from Atari to Nintendo. My focus of research that I picked out of a hat was “Icons of Gaming”, this topic I was very pleased with as I could do a wide range of topics from characters to designers and everything in-between in the gaming industry.  So I could have centralised Thumb Candy as my pure research and guideline, but I wanted to focus my research and gather it myself so I felt more engaged with the topic. Due to this I decided to choose “Iconic Games”. Once choosing this I did realise that in my research that this is a very debated topic as everyone has their own tastes, for example my preference is to games I grew up playing such as Spyro, Crash bandicoot and Pokémon whereas I am not a fan of Zelda but I wont neglect that it is a huge game because of my own personal views. Due to this being a debated topic it will take my extensive research and maybe even a survey for people to enter to give their own preferences to find my iconic games.


My idea for my interactive presentation even before my research has been gathered was to have a levelled game which did iconic games through the generations of gaming right up until the 7th generation, I decided the 8th generation was to be excluded as its not yet to come out although it is soon I think a clearer research will be determined if I focused on 1st-7th generation of gaming. So with the time period settled I drew up a plan for my levelled game with some ideas for which games would fit in. The idea would be as you take the ball or the character into a item it would bring up information on the screen then you can go back and forth to re-read certain parts or enter the final ball to start the next level which would be the next generation.


Icons Of Gaming History Research Focus

This is the focus of my research for my module brief of making a flash or other program game of a timeline. My topic is Icons of Gaming, so throughout the year i will be focusing on producing this. But i will start with the raw research of my given topic so i have a focus and vision to what my flash project might be like. I am going to be looking to produce info-graphics on my research to give a visual aid of data to my work, these will be particularly useful as it will compress my work into visual data rather than pages of statistics or information.  Assessment criteria include; research, reflection, selectivity; use of evidence; critical perspective; thoroughness of concept; the intuitiveness of game mechanics; the visual quality, navigation, structure and “usability”; progress; and the technical learning and effectiveness.

“Our lives aren’t even about doing real things most of the time. We think and talk about people we’ve never met, pretend to visit places we’ve never actually been to, discuss things that are just names as though they were as real as rocks or animals or something.”

– Tad Williams, Otherland: Mountain of Black Glass

With my topic of “Icons of Gaming” it will allow me to broaden my knowledge of the gaming industry by looking for specific people, companies or even iconic characters that have helped shape the gaming industry to what it is today, for example the iconic Nintendo due to their revival of gaming, or people like Steve Russell who created what is credited as one of the first video games “Spacewar!”.