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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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Platform Expo- Rush n’ Crush

platform1

Around 4 weeks ago Myself, Phil Maclennan, Matt Lane, James Cook and Ryan Glover decided we was going to make a game for platform expos and hopefully display it. The idea behind the game was a small car racing game set in a toy workshop that you would race with your friends (up to 4 player) to stay on the track any way possible. If you was too slow the screen would eliminate you, or if you fell off the track you would also be eliminated until only 1 remained who gained the point respawning all 4 back into the race. It was inspired from a game called micro machines, just simple fun yet still competitive.

After pinning down the name to Rush n Crush we began using unreal engine 4 to work out the blueprints for the style of game we wanted to make. This was all down to James he is the blueprint expert out of the team, the rest of us are the 3d artists of the game we began to model our cars which were a mustang for me, a f1 car for ryan, a truck for phil and a rc car for matt. Unfortunately we didnt get chance to use our custom cars in the demo of the game at platform and instead used buggies with different emissive colours to represent the players. The cars however was placed around the track to make it feel like the workshop owner had built them so they wasnt wasted models.

Here is my mustang model:

As you can see with the amount of poly’s i used (6998) im really pleased with the outcome of my mustang. It took about 2 weeks on and off working on it but im still pleased with the outcome. i added a few progress pictures in there too so you can see how much it came on and what i added, most details are not nessacery due to the style of the game being top down and relatively far away with small cars so i was able to cut some corners on certain parts of the car, the white car is the finished textured mustang which would have gone in game time permitted but will be rigged and put into the game in the near future.

Then with all our actual course demands like client projects and self initiated we didnt do much until the final week where our tutors allowed us to be taken off lesson timetable on wednesday and thursday to push to get the game working and looking good. So we did long days of modelling, texturing, and testing to get a game we wanted to show to the people attending platform. Looking back if we had managed to free ourselves the time alongside our course work the game could have been alot further along.

An asset list was formulated to figure out what would be in a workshop, i believe that every asset should have a bio behind it like why its there, who put it there, what is its purpose and so on so nailing this was key to having a more immersive game. Here is what we came up with for assets:

Primary:

RC Car

Truck

Mustang

F1 Car

Table’s (for racing on)

Room (Walls & Floor)

Pickup’s (Projectile, Glue, Speed Boost, Super-Size)

Ruler (Maybe a couple of types)

Nuts & Bolts

Cogs

Books

Vice

Lamp

Fan

Paint Brushes

Paint Pots (Different types)

Pens & Pencils

Rubbers

Screwdriver

Mug

Chair

Bin

Hand drill

Cutting Board (Perhaps a decal)

Magnifying Glass (Multi sub, Render glass in engine)

Model Buildings

Glue pot

Alphabet cubes

Tires & wheels (For toys)

Plants

Stool

Secondary:

Tape measure

Scissors

Clothes

Empty boxes

Chest of drawers

Glasses

String

Bucket

Dust pan & Brush

Extension leads

Soldering Iron

Phone

Craft Knife

Plastic Tubes (Can drive through?)

Sketch Pad

Tool Holder (Wooden frame)

Tool Box

Parts of Toys (Can use bits of model cars)

Bits of wood

Pencil Case

Hammer

Plyers

Saw

Hoover

Paint pallet

Glue Gun

Broom

Tertiary:

Football

Needle and thread

Scrunched up paper

Computer screens

Clock

Empty Pots

Radio

Set Square

Cello tape

Cricket Bat

Xylophone

Fish Bowl

Cutlery

Sweets

Plug extension sockets

Toy Bike

Heater

Wire Coil

Ear Protection

Chisel

Slingshot

Ears phones

Ipod

Fairly extensive as you can see, we priotitised thing we felt needed to be in the game and then the rest was just extras to block out the level. Additions to this list was made along the way and some of this list was modelled and not used, its still all work taking into consideration what could work in the environment to make a decision whether or not we felt it played a part in the design well enough. Then it was down to the placement of the models to make a track ill go further into this later on.

My models:

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Personally i did 21 models, not all ended up featured in the platform demo of the game and not all of the asset list was even modelled. for example the rocket projectile, speed boost and sweet were meant to be power ups along the track but we wasnt able to figure out how they would work in time so they are on standby for future additions to the game. Im happy with my work that i produced, the majority of this minus the mustang was done in the last 2 days before platform as we all needed to go full steam ahead to having something presentable to the public, some models are rather low poly like the drill its very box like but that was due to the game we had room to cut down and wanted not to go too mad on polycount just so it ran smoothly. My texturing ability is one i need to brush up on but doing this work has really made it come on i now know what im doing better and produced some nice final products especially the toolbench i was particulary pleased with that, the bin bags i used mudbox to sculpt a normal map to bake into the model, and the paper i photoshopped to create an alpha map showing i can used other texture maps to improve my model texture. I am looking forward to doing this all over again for a new level as it really benifitted my modelling work speed, work quality, and texturing. Cars currently being my best asset of modelling (see classic mini) modelling other simple realistic assets will be beneficial to alternate projects such as the client project.

The logo was done by myself, i am no illustrator but it did the job for the day it will need revisiting for a final product to add professionalism but for the time it worked. I used a impact font to give a bold clear type to the logo, then sketches of 2 of the cars in relation to speed and damage added speed lines to the rush to symbolise movement then a expolsion and crushed together font for the crush type. Then just a simple emboss and border to make it all pop.

RUSH AND CRUSH LOGO4With everything set and filled out in the environment we was ready for platform the next morning to get some people testing our game.

On the friday, it couldnt have gone much better really a few school trips arrived and we had amazing reception from them saying things like “id buy this game when its coming out?” and my personal favourite “this is more fun than mario kart” with feedback like that we all had smiles on our faces thinking this is what it feels like to be a games designer this is what we are working for the real deal. Here is some video footage we managed to capture of people playing during the day:

These lads age range 20-25 clearly enjoyed the simple re-playability aspect of the game, one of them gave our game a 9/10 with only feedback of custom cars and more tracks. So despite being a game you can relate to a younger market it clearly appeals to all ages who enjoy some quick easy to pick up racing fun.

This video is of some younger lads who were on a school trip having a race and enjoying it, the particular thing in this video is the ease of pick up and play. One lad had been playing for a while had enough decided to move on and his friend close by just picks the controller up to race. That is exactly what we was going for, in one case some were like “I’m alright ill just watch” but as soon as they picked up gave it a go they loved it i think it surprised a few how much fun it was.

My favourite video being this one, a group of school  trip lads again playing the game (younger audience target market seems likely) i have managed to get an angle of them in shot and the screen so you can see the reactions, its all smiles, reactions and enjoyment. One lad once again stating “i would buy this game” which we heard alot throughout the day especially from console players. A unintended feature of the video was the reflection from the TV but it does catch some reactions whilst playing so it sort of work, next time we would rather have screen capture software for clear game play and then a webcam on top to monitor people playing.

Then the final video is myself playing with another group of lads (we had alot of girls playing too one said she preferred it to micro machines in guild hall but didnt get any footage) im the red car and get wiped out completely by one of them straight away which i wasnt happy about. Throughout the day i played with most people just getting to know their feedback if they liked the game how they was enjoying it and if they would like to see it move on, this usually ended up in great feedback and then them all teaming up on me to ram me off as I am one of the game developers (i knew the shortcuts…or they refer to as cheating). It was great fun enjoying the game with other people of all ages, seeing how they reacted and making them feel free to express hatred towards me when i kept winning.

 

You can see the pure enjoyment which is exactly what we was going for something thats not overcomplicated there isnt too much going on its just pure racing against your friends and the track to win any way you can which i feel we achieved.

play

Throughout the day we had lots of people expressing their interest in the game and how they want to see it released. This got us thinking how can we do this, as we are students the software we use is under student licensing which means we cannot sell anything that we produce in the software we use. Speaking to a few fellow developers they suggested using blender for our models (but that means re-modelling everything in a brand new program we need to learn) or kickstarter which is an organisation that allows people to gain funding for a project through the public using a kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter seemed like the most likely until I was approached by a guy from microsoft who said to me that we should get it on steam, once i mentioned student licenses and where we was from being Hull school of art and design being game artists using unreal engine 4s blueprints he gave me his business card for me to contact him about our game and how we can make the next step. He briefly mentioned personally reaching out to the likes of autodesk and unreal to give us free licensing as good publicity on their behalf which is another option but microsofts interest was certainly a shock expressing how much he loves what we have done with the game. We have a few options but hopefully we will get the game finished and on sale to the public.

We had interest from Smashed Crab studios who are a team of programmers that was interested in helping us take the game further using programming, this is something to consider as we are no programmers we just make everything look nice and we did make it work to a re-playable extent. And then a guy who is building up his portfolio for sound said he would love to work for us on a free basis as long as he can display the game in his portfolio piece, which was great as we have no sounds so its definately something we will consider taking up.

I personally left friday thinking to myself this is amazing, i couldnt believe how well recieved the game was and the amount of interest in its release. Telling people we couldnt release yet due to being students wasnt what we wanted to say and now we want to turn the table to say yes it will be out.

This has a potential not only as a game but us 5 as a team to go far as we showed how capable we are with plenty of room to move forward. Features was suggested to us by varied people throughout platform, things such as different/ custom cars was a popular one (already have) aswell as new tracks. Gameplay we have thought about all the time, from a kitchen scene where plates in the sink are balance your way across to a games room with a scaletrix track on the go.

Overall this was a extremely valuable experience for us 5 even if the game doesnt go anywhere we can say we built a game and displayed it at a gaming expo where it was a hit with most, one group of lads was on it for a good 3hours laughing, ramming and replaying. If all funding doesnt work we can still release it for free and have a shipped game behind us. We are definately going to proceed with working on the game to getting a finished product we can hopefully sell, who knows the game could be a hit starting us as a indie studio in hull.

What platform is all about is bringing the gaming industry to Hull, its not as well developed in games design as many other places in the UK so with the city of culture coming up now is the time to thrive and push to making Hull a contributing city to the gaming industry. Thats what platform does it gives small teams like ourselves to display our game to get it out there to the public for feedback and testing, its great for marketing. Calender did a bit of footage of the day reporting on what platform is http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/update/2014-11-14/hull-becoming-major-player-in-computer-gaming/ We are extremely grateful to platform for allowing us this opportunity to display our game, hopefully next year we can come back with the finished product. Keep watch on us there will be more from us and Rush n Crush.

i have set us up a basic online presence for now:

Facebook

Email: RushnCrush@hotmail.com

Youtube

if you need to contact us please email us or post to facebook.

 


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Self Initiated- Research Gran Turismo

To follow on from my Need for Speed research i decided to look into the Gran Turismo series of racing games. Gran turismo is the highest selling video game on all playstation systems selling over 70million copies being exclusive to the playstation console. They currently have 6 games that have been released on one playstation console or another starting with Gran turismo in 1997 on the playstation 1, the game was well appraised winning best simulator game and then on it evolved into “the real driving simulator”. Gran turismo focuses on pure real life driving in races, mainly on a track circuit course but occasionally a rally event just to switch things up. GT3 was the highest selling of the gran turismo franchise selling over 14million copies and being labelled “the best of the bunch” of the series according to fans.

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My experience of Gran turismo growing up was first on the playstation 1 with the original which was one of my favourite games i just loved all sorts of racing games but gran turismo had to be my favourite, i didnt really have any of the other competitiors until need for speed underground so gran turismo was a favourite for me. One of my favourites had to be GT3 purely because i used to race head to head against my dad on the rally tracks, being quite a competitive gamer i always knew where best to ram him off the track was to win me the race and thats what its all about really competitive racing.

Features i like in Gran turismo especially the newer versions are the menu system its very relaxed calm music with slide select navigation and iconic selection noise youd instantly know it was gran turismo if you are a gamer. As shown below i like the garage feature you can view any of your cars and dont have to be in a race to do so, and the car in the background of the game navigation. Basic Race, garage, controls will all i feel necessary for my game at this time but this is good reference for layout ideas. This is perhaps too elegant of a look for a drag racer game as id like to have a street feel to it like a tornament vibe as of yet im not sure how ill go about doing that but gathering what i can for ideas will be helpful. Then again the tuning option is a nice touch so it adds that personlised feel to your car that its not just standard anymore you have made it better to be better.

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Moving on from that my favourite feature is the range of cars, in the most recent gran turismo you have 1197 cars to choose from in game. That is a huge amount of cars which give the game a vast range from classic to modern to concept/prototype cars. This is something id like to implement as a range of cars tend to mean up in performance, speed, difficulty this not being the case for all as you can have a classic car like a jaguar e-type against a modern citreon saxo. But for the racing scene going from a classic mini up to a nissan skyline would work well as an upgrade and still provide range.

Gran turismo despite not being the style of racing game im going for will be valuable to my research as it has gained over the years that balance of a real feel for driving the realism in gran turismo is definately there its not all speed and blurred lines its control handling and skill something that could be neglected in my game due to the drag straight line race but speed and feel for realism is a factor i cant overlook.


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Self initiated- Background research Need for Speed

With my game i proposed to do a racing game, its vital i look into who my competitors would be if i was to launch my game.

The racing scene in games is a huge area that has been done for many years going all the way back to what is consider the first racing game in Gran Trak 10

So this was 40years ago, meaning i have 40 years of racing games to look into to try and figure out how these games work and what makes them sell well. I wont be covering every single game ever but i will raise the main competitiors.

Starting off with Need For Speed:

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Thats a fairly extensive video showing footage of each game breifly through need for speeds history but ill sum it up my way. Starting with the first in 1994 need for speed has been a constant game in the racing genre since then spanning 23 games in total and now 1 film based on the game. The introduction of the police in Need for speed 3: hot pursuit was one well recieved so much they have revistied it several times in there game to the point where you race as a cop to take down other drivers. Personally the best need for speed games was the undergrounds 1 and 2, these games featured fully modifiable cars which would be classed as “tuned” or “street racing cars”, the turn away from track racing to being in the city racing at night was much more immersive. Also the fully customisable vehicles from paint jobs to decals/ vinyls gave the car a feel of thats my car thats my work of art and we are going to win this race together, there was times id be angry with myself for scratching my new pearlescent paint job on my tuned hyundai coupe (not sure why but as i kid i liked that look) this really ignited my passion for cars and love of racing games. Carbon was one of my favourites the slow motion tension of drifting round mountains with lack of barriers to keep you on in a 1on1 battle to own a section of the city was intense, they really used Roger Caillios theories of play well particulary in Agon (competition) and Illinx (disorientation), agon is an obvious one it was all about competition every race is a battle against the other driver/ drivers to win, not only that it was a “who has the best car?” rivalry with modifications. Illinx was the blurring of the screen or the speed lines using the car lights to show speed and make you feel like wow im going fast here, as well as impact, weather and dirt having effect.

All that aside Need for Speed is the most successful racing video game series in the world, and one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. Over 140 million copies of games in the series have been sold to date. Making it the biggest contender id have to compete against if i was to launch my game, with that highlighted some playing of the game will be nessecery to perhaps emulate what works well and try implement that into my game with it being drag racing its different but the players sense of speed will be vital getting the balance right.

I am going to re purchase some of these games and have a play through to give myself some insight into features i like and dont like, aswell as some possible inspiration for the hud and menu navigation.

 


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Self initiated proposal- CarBeat

So for one of the modules of this year we are required to do a self initiated project where we make a game that we want to make. To do this we had to make a 15 second pitch to one of our tutors first off to sell our game as we would to any industry leaders in a interview. Then a proposal document which will be filled out over the year whilst doing this project.

My pitch was simple for me i want to model cars. So it seemed logical to make a racing game of my own so that i can understand the mechanics behind how a racing game works and how my models will work in a racing game. The pitch i proposed was: A drag racing game with manual gear changes, done on a mpink slip basis to collect and become the ultimate petrol head owning all the cars. This realtes to Roger Caillios Theory of Play with Agon which is competition. I intend it to span of 2nd and 3rd year self initiated so that i have a more polish and complete portfolio piece to take away with me at the end of the course.

That was just the selling point some of this was alot briefer to fit into the 15seconds but to get the message across to you readers i elaborated a bit.

Then to hand my proposal abstract in, the game i have called CarBeat the idea behind this is that people who have a unrivalled passion for cars i consider to have a car beat instead of a heart beat so on the monitior it would show a beat of a car in hospital. When your racing the idea is that all is just a zone its you and the finish line trying to get there as fast as you can, all you can hear is your heart beat and the engine so a CarBeat. This ties in to the put adrenaline of wanted to win a race but then the crushing defeat of losing your car, so be in flow it requires ultimate skill focus and to be one with your car to win all. Initially i had the name PetrolHead this was purely down to the pink slips aspect of my game becoming the ultimate petrol head by collecting all the cars of the tornament “you can judge a man by his shoes” sort of thing with “judge a man by his car collection”.

here is my abstract proposal:

CarBeat is a modern day set racing game in which the player races to obtain cars to add to their collection. The range of vehicles varies in age, rarity and speed from classic cars to exotic hyper cars. The race itself will be drag racing on a quarter mile and half mile basis (varies distance), all cars will be run on a manual gear shift basis so that the player will have to shift gears at the correct time to keep up the speed. You become the ultimate Petrol Head on a pink slip basis you win the car is added to your garage you lose your car is lost so the element of risk is there. Friendly races will be there to upskill before gambling all on the slips race. Players can race head to head in single player career mode or split screen 2 players. Implementation of difficulty level will give a rank system of player’s skill also replay-ability on a higher level.

CarBeat is based on a racing tournament which you race to become the ultimate petrol head, only people who race with true passion and skill are considered to have a CarBeat (instead of a heartbeat). That passion and level of competition increases as every race goes by you can win it all or lose it all. With it being manual gear changes its all down to skill and car choice with different stats of acceleration, top speed and weight.

I have chosen to have an optional view of racing, Behind car so you can see all what is going on and also catch a glimpse of the opponent next to you, side on so you can see how close or far you are from your opponent so edging in front then behind idea to the finish (single player only), and super first person where you see from the front of your car (only the track and the HUD).

The game relates to game theory Roger Caillois Theory of Play. Illinx as the player will feel pressure and disorientation when they get faster the screen will blur, Agon as it’s a competition in several different ways PVP, P V AI and collection car levels especially with the slips mode where if you lose you lose the car you have raced in resulting in a smaller petrol head collection; and alea as there is a chance your opponent doesn’t shift at the right time allowing you back into the race. It also links into Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow as if you concentrate and focus you will be able to shift gears at the correct time but if you fail to shift at the right times you will over rev your engine causing it to blowout also slowing you down before blowout.

With all that down it got me excited to get going. i have already started sketching down ideas for the games navigation and logo design which ill upload when completed.

the navigation breifly described for the idea i have now is below:

Step to step:

  1. Game start, Menu screen “START GAME”
  1. Contents page menu, options “single player” “split screen” “practice mode” “controls”
    • 2.1. if single player clicked “enter race- choose car” “my collection” “difficulty” “screenshots”
    • 2.2. If split screen clicked “enter race –choose cars”
    • 2.3. If practice mode clicked Thrown straight into a race with a random car with help tutorials.
    • 2.4. If controls clicked, show controls of game.
  1. When “enter race” clicked, choose car on a carousel basis showing statistics of car and colour selection.
  1. RACE!
  1. After race (you win/lose)

5.1. If slips race take to garage to show won car appear or lost car disappear

5.2. Takes you back to mode you’re on loops back to 2.1 2.2 or 2.3

5.3. If completed collection ultimate petrol head show credits or show reel of some race gameplay.

I believe that outlines how it would work fairly well but i will draw up a blueprint navigation to give visual aid to this.

Ultimately this project is a building block for me to test myself to the limits and improve in many fields of work. The main one being automotive modelling, it really is a thing ive found im pretty good at so i feel by pushing myself to pursue it and learn everything i can ill only get better at it every day. Then there is the blueprints side of things making my game work will help so much in industry when handing work down the pipeline if i have taken into consideration aspects of my work so the next person knows exactly where to start there work, or if i can say well its a this and that you need to do to make the car drift better with the rigging. All things that add to becoming a better professional towards industry.

The next step will be research into my area of work so research can be everything from who my competitors will be if i was to launch my game, to playing around in unreal engine 4 blueprints to figure how to get the racing mechanics and game working.