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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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Client Project- Session 10

Following on from last session which was a group critique session we had set the task of texturing at least 2 of your buildings (if time permitted dependent on building size) i chose to texture 3 of my current 5 buildings leaving marks and spencers due to size and poundworld as it would be used for a group tutorial in session 10.

Texturing isnt my favourite part of the process but its one you cannot neglect or simply fly by as every artist should know a good model is nothing without a good texture as the texture bring it to life with colour or realism. There are multiple ways to texture as shown in my last year post on texture mapping which isnt all of the mapping techniques maybe just the most prominent ones. For now we are just doing simple diffuse maps for base colours, normal maps and ambient occlusion are to come after possible alpha maps if the building requires that.

During the texturing we decided to leave the windows untextured as a multi subbed objects so that we could find a reflective material in unreal engine 4 that resembles glass to apply to that area for realism, otherwise we would have to texture on a flat black window with a frame which loses some immersion in the game.

Here are my textures crawshaws and quicksilver turned out well but i had a slight issue on cheque centre which i will point out:

cheque centre texture error cheque centre texture quick silver texture crawshaws texture

As you can see for the cheque centre (brick and blue building) i must have missed a step of stiching the seperate pieces of the pillars together to the building to create a seemless brick texture, the texture is tileable just its an error on my behalf of positioning. The brick itself is the right size and looks nice though so i have packed my uvs nicely to give the main part of the building higher resolution.

I was pleased how quick silver turned out (red and white building) wasnt a difficult texture really just the seperate colours to uvw unwrap in groups then pack together so i knew which to paint which colour, for the main bit of the building its not plain paint its like a plaster so i have textured it as a plaster.

Then crawshaws turned out just as well as quick silver, i had a slight issue where one uv had been packed into the wrong section so i had a random green part on the white section but simple rearrangement sorted that out. As you may have noticed before i did the texturing i have added a significant amount of detail to crawshaws now all its missing is the elegant flowers on the facure which will have to be sculpted and baked in a normal map later on in the process.

Then gameplay elements had been discussed around the group as for the january hand in we needed to tick the box of an interactive environment which meant gameplay features like pick ups. Phil has been working on this already with a key to open a gate and now we are working for a ladder system to get up on the side of the fire escape on the bank. Previously we already decided on a treasure hunt of some sort but the main theme behind it has now been discussed, i took notes and we came up with:

  • Staue hunt, find pieces to make the in game statue down a alley off whitefriargate.
  • important 60s items hunt- Anything relevent to the period that was seen as important.
  • Music Trail- I posed this idea for the player to find 60s music to hand to the buskers on the street for them to play. Collecting records or music sheets with notes on was the idea of pick ups behind this.
  • Fashion Trail- also myself could be different trails for different styles of the time.
  • Narrative- david suggested a story behind the hunt giving it a meaning, which i posed a tour guide to show off our buildings would be a nice feature especially for the public to watch rather than play.
  • History Hunt- similar to statue hunt, our tutor Gareth said this would appeal to him finding historical items around the place.
  • Event related hunt- Idea from myself and backed up by James, we are set in the world cup 1966 so we could have items in relation to that scattered around the are
  • Pick and mix- suggested a while back you grab sweets around the area from different stalls for the ultimate 6s pick ‘n’ mix

We thought that maybe a multiple choice of which to do giving you clues to just a certain trail dependent on the players choice would be more personal to the player and adds multiple replayability for different trails. Moving away from types of hunts we thought more mechanics:

  • Inventory system (collect items to fit in a car boot)- barrie posed this idea so the player could see what they have in game rather than a seperate window.
  • Pick up description- when you pick up an item it does a quick pop up of the item with a rotation around the asset and a brief description on what you have got.
  • Treasure map- idea i had of items are shown on the map so you navigate to where they are (maybe you need another previous pick up like phil did with the key to get to it) and then it dissapears off the map, then wolfy suggested the alternate where they show up when you have found them so a suspicious blank area could be your next item (guidance by clues)
  • Gareths idea- multiple hunt choice bu still have all asset in engine but only give guidnce and pick up abilities on the ones specific to that chosen hunt.
  • Then a badge reward in game achievement for a completed hunt giving the player a sense of a goal to work towards.

A final idea will be pinned down shortly i think we are going for the multiple hunts as it gives up a wider range of asset creation and a better style of gameplay for replayability. The treasure hunt is a really good idea as we can position pick ups in specific places so the the player really appreciates the environment around them.

Moving on the task set of 2 textured buildings by next week had only 3 people manage it properly some had done but had issues. Myself and Phil thought this might be the case as we identified a few previously to be sturggling on textures, so we did a texturing 101 session using my building poundworld. Phil mainly took the session with some input from myself when questions was posed by the group, then i went round and helped anyone who might have not quite got it. It was dissapointing to see not all the group participating in this helpful tutorial which is invaluable to the project and would have benefitted that individual nevertheless the rest of the group really appreciated the peer to peer learning given. Mainly i worked with James on the topics of Pelt mapping, light mapping, stitching and packing uvs for priority to resolution. I believe he now gets the hang of it but if not we will notice on hand in of his building to the engine so it can be resolved and re-addressed. We plan on doing another installment to the texturing 101 series when we move onto normal mapping and Ambient occulsion maps to make the buildings look really nice, showing people how to go about making them in 3dsmax and editing them in photoshop to produce better outcomes on your map.

After this was done i picked up another building which is on parliament street, i am well underway with that as we speak and will post results shortly.

In the meantime myself and Phil started on a modular road system for the project, which once textured will really start bringing the project to life with the buildings. This was tricky as angled roads and junctions splitting off the multiple roads require quite alot of tweaking and correct snapping but currently whitefriargate and parliament streets roads have been built to scale and snapped together. My contribution was whitefriargate and figuring out the snapping of the connection to parliament street using Phils modular road to get correct angles. This required many measurements we already had but then math to work out the distances from bottom whitefriargate to paliament street then the width on the angle of parliament street then to the crossroads junction at the end of whitefriargate.

Here is how i did it:

road piece design the junciton piece whitefriargate complete

As you can see its all modular and snapped together, then the road to parliament street is angled on 9 degrees to match the direction of the road, all edge snapped and vertex snapped together. We will implement a slight curve in the actual road when the whole system is done to add realism as whitefriargate does rise up in the middle creating a curve.

We plan to do an update video on the project in engine shortly for a detailed visual fly through for everyone to see. Next week hopefully the modular road system will be finished. And everyone has been given 6 assets to do over christmas or before if speed is there with another building. So we are really trying to hammer down now to push the project on, the faster we can build it the more time we have to add and tweak features.