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Jason Pook's Games Design Blog


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Mario Kart 64- Game Theory

 

Mario Kart 64 is a racing game developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 console as the latest addition to iconic character Mario’s list of games. The game is multiplayer compatible so you can play with your friends on your Nintendo 64 console if you had extra controllers through split-screen. You could play as 8 playable characters from previous Mario games Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Bowser, Wario and Donkey Kong.

Flow:

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi’s theory of flow applies to Mario Kart 64 through racing, when you race you want to win to be first place in every race is the main target for any gamer. To finish 2nd or 3rd and be presented on a podium with a silver or bronze is only a downgrade from what you really wanted that ultimate racer 1st place. To race in the game it requires you to drive around 1 of 16 circuit tracks which have obstacles, corners and pick ups (weapons or power ups), you have to be focused on the game to overcome any challenges you are presented with whilst on the track. Personally for me to achieve flow in mario kart whilst racing against 3 other students we was on Rainbow road the hardest track on the game with opportunities to fall off the track and lose position on nearly every corner, control of your kart is difficult and needs high skill for the challenge. This is to be repeated for 3 laps whilst other players fire shells at you leave banana’s on the track and so on, winning this race was a proud moment for me i felt in flow throughout the race and nothing was going to get in my way of my 1st place goal.

flow

To link to the diagram for Mario Kart when you are losing or keep getting hit by everything coming near you, it loses your want to play the game you enter apathy as you feel rubbish at the game but dont feel you should be in the position you are so its not like the game is hard. Or you could be racing against people in your group claiming to be mario kart 64 professionals on the hardest track and beat them to win the race entering flow throughout (that was me against Barrie).

Categories of Play:

For Roger Caillois’s ‘categories of play’ Mario Kart 64 would fall under primarily ‘Agon’. Agon is games of competition, with Mario Kart 64 you are playing to win the race or beat your best times. The added feature of muliplayer interactivity in this game adds to the competition as you want to beat your friends. There are in game cups to add to the competition as you want to win the championships in your kart to prove you are the best racer by completing the game.

It also falls under ‘Alea’. Alea is games of chance, with Mario Kart 64 chance is a big part. One corner a banana may have been left but you serve round it to see a red shell coming for you (homing missile) but it hits the banana, this is one of many examples first place may get hit by a blue shell (homing missile just for 1st place) before the finish line and you take the lead.

Mimicry also applies as Mario is a fantasy character and you race in Mario’s fantasy world and settings which the circuits are based on, you play as the avatar you select in the race to experience this fantasy world.

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 more to an ‘achiever’ style of player rather than the others due to the achiever always wants to win. You always want to win the race or the championship either against the computer or your friends so achieving that is your aim.

‘Socialiser’ also applies when muliplayer gameplay comes into it as you are racing with your friends or family around the circuits, this can be an enjoyable experience which can also cause bonding or the opposite as you hit your Dad with that red shell on the final corner to the take the win and he storms off as “you didn’t deserve it”.

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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- Christmas and Session 13

At the end of the previous session we discussed what we would be doing over the christmas period running up to hand in. Using Basecamp we set priorities in the form of to-dos some specified to individuals for example myself i had to blueprint pawn possession, or general to-dos for everybody like finish all building textures. This was made very clear before the holiday and the use of basecamp and communication was mentioned prior to that aswell as vital over the holiday period. This was evident due to basecamps tracking of log ins half the group didnt use the program at all and few used it regulary, this picked up when reminded but it should be a habit by now to be keeping well involved with all the work making sure your not missing one bit. That being said we reiterated it on return hoping for a collective group to be working professionally using the likes of basecamp on a regular basis.

Over the holiday period most had to admit little had been done or more could have been done, I myself know i did do work but could have done more if I had only special occasions off. Despite that I have managed to texture 5 of my 6 buildings after finishing the parliament street building model with the last texture in progress , my blogs are current in the client. Since return I have modelled an interior for the classic mini, blueprinted Pawn possession (with assisstance from Phil for the exiting of the vehicle which took a while and 2 heads to figure out), and most recently to much joy I have managed to correctly rig, weight paint, animate and blueprint my mini to be driveable in engine. I will now elaborate on my process for each of these with images.

As far as textures go most i have already uploaded so ill just show the most recent, which is a model im also yet to show.

 

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This is a building down parliament street, I chose it as I know modelling is one of my strong points so I felt a more difficult looking building would be better tasked to myself. I had some issues along the way despite that the making of the bottom half was the hardest part with the extruded sandy parts needing different sizes each time and to bend around the window. I am very pleased with my final product of the model and doing such a detailed building in 2781 polys when a high detail building was originally tasked at 20000, shows im getting better at modularity and having an eye for optimising my model.

parliament_textureThe texture i was very pleased with, I used simple planar mapping for most of the unwrap then just a few cases of needing to grab verticies to not have stretches around stiched corners and then just scaling so that the checker pattern created nice neat squares across each area. The changes i will make to this will be the bottom section, the stone part was a basic tileable stone texture that I have hand painted it to make it look like bricks, but after some digging a stone texture like that of the original building was found so its just needs applying. There is a slight issue with the bricks on the left window they skew a bit I wasnt sure on why this was at the time so i continued with the unwrap and when I textured it I forgot about that being left. This needs patching up once I find out why its done this but shouldnt be too much hassle hopefully. Next is to apply normal maps to my buildings to create more realistic textures.

Moving on I modelled an interior for my classic mini using my own reference and just reference from classic mini online stores for accuracy.

With this interior modelled we can now have the in car view for the classic mini not only for people walking past to see a interior but for the pawn possession feature we can drive this in first person view. Im really happy with my end result for the interior all that is left for the car now is to be textured. Im not sure ill have time for this before hand in but certainly will be a definate for the end product.

Now to have all this used to its max I was tasked with the pawn possession feature for interactivity which would be done in blueprints. This is a slight alteration of my initial idea early on of a racing game due to the figure of 8 on the map but i wanted to be involved especially when they are my vehicles in the project. Being fairly efficient in blueprints this was a task i felt confident in completing using the help of online tutorials and ue4 answer hub. Now this was the case i had it all working then realised that we need to get out once we are in. This was proving more difficult as the player would spawn back at player start instead of outside the car. Also spawing the player inside the car in view for 3rd person example purposes made 2 collisions collide and send everything absolutely mental.

With the addition help from Phil it took us most of the day but we finally figured out how to get them in and out of the car. After celebrating we then realised we can get out and in at anytime from anywhere. Simple fix of a radius overlap on collision enabling the key press to enter, then the exit the player could just bail tuck and roll at anytime like GTA. We didnt want this so again took time to work out how to calculate it to only be exitable when throttle is less than 1. This was completed by the end of the day and we now have a working pawn possession in our project to add to interactivity.

But to make this our own personal touch rather than Unreal Engine 4’s preset sedan vehicle in our game which didnt match the 60s theme at all, I was then challenged with the unknown area of rigging a vehicle for it to then work in Ue4 with our pawn possession. Im going to be straight I did this process over and over so many times due to issues with bones, not weight painting it right, UE4 claiming un-weighted bones, wrong hierachy for the bones. And that was just 3DSMax issues, when i got all the max issues resolved I put it in UE4 for animation blueprints not to fire, car controls not to work, the car to have everything set up and stay stationary, physics assets not correctly set up, the sedan to be clashing with the custom vehicle blueprints and setting up the front and back wheel blueprints wrong having all wheels rotating manicly. It was a laugh but i can now say ive done it that many times through trail and error the process has been memorised and hopefully mastered for future use. It was such a relief to see car wheels spinning after hours of stress and frustration on why it all was going wrong for me. Persistance got me there and now im proud to have the vehicle able to be possessed and driveable. Additional animation will need to be taken into consideration due to the interior view like the steering wheel with hands, gear changes, dials etc but for now it works to a standard im pleased with for a rookie in the rigging area.

Here are some screenshots of the process in 3dsMax:

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Then moving into UE4:

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Despite this lengthy process it was well worth me sticking to it, not only for end product for the client but this will also help me in my self initiated racing game.

On reflection im pleased with the work that I have done but would have liked more done over the holidays to have a larger amount of especially assets to hand in. Due to the complexity of cars its not a botch quick job it takes time and with focusing on them in client and self initiated i think i need a break to rapidly produce smaller assets for the project.

As for the hand in, Myself and Phil will be making the modular road system again due to some slight measurement miscalculations and then texturing that ready for hand in. Hopefully we will have a collective textured section of our project which is the primary target. We already covered the interactivity side with a treasure hunt, involving pick ups, inventory system, gate and key system, driveable car (pawn possession), throwable object projectiles, and then a basic HUD with minimap and inventory system. My contribution to this was the pawn possession due to my main skillsets being in modelling and Phil taking the lead on the blueprints side of things.

Hopefully everybody does manage to get everything tasked on basecamp done within prioritising so buildings modelled and textured the priority then all the rest being added bonus. I look forward to our feedback as i know we should be alot further ahead and hopefully the group steps up to really get the best out of our client piece for the final product.

EDIT: I have now resolve the brick skewing issue it was a mistake on my behalf aligning some verticies horizontally that shouldnt have been, really simple fix thankfully.

texture fix