Category Archives: Activities

Pocket Circuit Track Design – Yakuza 0

Recently I’ve been playing Yakuza 0. Though there were a couple of things I didn’t like (the occasional unskippable cut scene!), in general I loved it. As well as an absolutely world class story with fantastic voice acting, the game provides a wealth of content. Content that includes making a custom Pocket Circuit Track in a RC car racing mini-game. As a design exercise I thought this would be fun to do!

The track creation tool is fairly straightforward to use, and making tracks was fairly simple. Saying that I failed on my first attempt as I maxed the route length!

Slope City

For my first Pocket Circuit Track I started with an image in my mind which I drew.

First I made the basic shape. Seeing it in 3D I felt a desire to add lots of slopes to emphasize the windy nature of the track.

Continue reading Pocket Circuit Track Design – Yakuza 0

Bretonnia Hills

Using Warhammar 2’s Map Tool Terry I’ve recently published Bretonnia Hills V1, a map for Warhammer Total War 2. I did this to practice my map development skills of using height maps, sculpting terrain, painting textures, and placing meshes. It’s on the Steam Workshop – so check it out here!

Development

The bones of this kind of map is its terrain. To start with a solid foundation I began by finding a height map to apply to the terrain. Ultimately I chose data from a location near Trout River in Vermont.

Next I obtained the height map data, processed, and imported into the map editor tool Terry.

Following this I smoothed out some areas, and did a first pass on painting.

Next I found some areas I thought to be interesting and added some meshes from Warhammer 2’s library to add some points of interest. Meanwhile I playtest the map, and made iterative changes to the configuration of the start point, and geographical features.

After a number of iterations I then posted the map on the Steam Workshop, and presented it to the map makers at the Warhammer Map Makers Discord Channel. The Warhammer Map makers gave me some great feedback, and rightly pointed out the map needs more polish work.

I released the bones of the map, which in itself needs more work having very little work in terms of detailing, and extensive playtesting. The detail work will make some good practice so I intend to do more on that side, and post some updated screenshots!

Sketching Practice – 1

Since about over a month now I’ve started making sketching a common activity. Here are some that I’ve done.

Disclaimer: This is copy pasta art made for personal enjoyment/starting out!

One Piece

Samurai Jack

Misc

Also I’ve begun a course on Udemy to develop my drawing skills! This was the result of my first exercise!

Tutorial Exercise – Warhammer Total War 2

Lately I’ve been itching to practice my level design skills. I’ve found such an opportunity with Total War Warhammer 2 where Creative Assembly has made their battle map editor Terry available for public use.

Therefore to practice my level design skills I’ve decided to take my love of Total War, my design skills, and support from the existing map making community to try my hand at creating maps for Warhammer 2.

Paper Mapping

First I tried some paper mapping for an existing Warhammer map called Atldorf.

Map Remake

Next I thought it would be good to remake a map. The map I chose to copy was a tutorial map from the map community. My intent was to make a bare bones version so I can focus on practicing using the tool. I began with studying the tutorial map.

For me the development process was loosely:

  1. First pass at terrain, textures, and water.
  2. Setup of deployment zones & playable area.
  3. Test.
  4. Second pass at terrain and textures (more detail work).
  5. Test.
  6. Rinse and repeat steps 4-5.

Some In-Editor Shots

Some In-game Shots

Next I plan to practice creating a map, this time with an imported height map!

Some Useful Resources:

Some Tips:

  • Have Warhammer 2: Total War Running in windowless so you easily use it, and Terry together.
  • Have the Go-Region totally eclipse the playable area and close up areas with no-go regions
  • Sample Map Object Hierachy Structure:
  • Buildings (File Layer)
  • Cliffs (File Layer)
  • Default (File Layer)
    • Scale Reference (Object)
  • Logic (File Layer)
    • Deployments (Logic Layer)
      • AI Hints (Objects)
      • Deployment Zones (Object)
    • No-Go Regions (Logic Layer)
      • No-Go Regions (Objects)
    • Playable Area (Object)
    • Go Region (Object)
  • Water (File Layer)
    • Water (Objects)

Last of Us – Bill’s Town Notes

1 – Drawing Attention to a Building

  • Use of light texture.
  • Billboard with red striking sign.
  • Blue awning.
  • Depth of side of building.
Drawing Attention

2 – Affordances

  • We encounter a door that can be opened with a shiv. This in my mind established an accordance that doors that looked like this could be opened.
Openable Door
  • Later on we may encounter another door that looks like that same shiv door from before, but this one doesn’t open (affordance confusion)!
Non-openable Door

3 – Drawing Attention to Areas of Interest

  • Like the contrast on the left side, draws my eye to the area where the safe is located.
    • Sign as well as red car.
  • Like the depth on the right side, draws my eye.
    • Depth and blue police car.
Areas of Interest

4 – Lock Before The Key

In this section the player finds a safer that requires a numerical combination to be opened.

The Lock

Further down the street the player sees the glint of a note against a dark junk wall, and finds the combination to the safe written on the note. I have an issue with this!

The player does need to do backtracking which isn’t ideal, but it isn’t much, my issue relates to getting the combination. When the player gets the combination it would be an additional plus to underscore receiving this important information with a touch of VO that hinted the relationship between the safe and note e.g “hmm wasn’t there a safe back there?”.

The Key
Continue reading Last of Us – Bill’s Town Notes

Mafia 3 – Briar Patch Interior Blockout

In an effort to continue building on my 2D Layouts, and 3D blockouts skills I thought I’d try a short exercise of creating an area in a game that I am playing. The subject of this exercise was ground floor of the Briar Patch diner in Mafia 3.

2D Top Down

I began with a very rough to scale-ish 2D top down to get a general shape.

3D Blockouts

Next I began 3d work which involved taking in game pictures as reference from various, and areas of the ground floor. Using these ‘references’ I created approximate blockouts. The following is the results of this exercise.

Diner Eating Area

Reference

Blockouts

Office

Reference

Mafia III_20190504191326

Blockouts

Kitchen

Reference

Blockouts

GDC 2018

I had the fortune of attending The Game Developers Conference 2018 in San Francisco this year.

Throughout the conference I took the following notes which I thought to share!

Day 1 – 3/19/2018

My first day at GDC involved visiting a number of sponsored talks as well as a great talk on the game Mortician’s Tale.

Google Dev Day

In this event Google was presenting a number of new features. One in particular was Google Instant. The concept is that developers would create partial builds that would act as a lite version of the experience used to give a demo of the experience. One interesting concept they proposed was that as speed increases, consumption increases.

Amazon – Gameon

This session was a demo for introducing Amazons Gameon feature. In the talk the speaker went through how to implement the Gameon system providing diagrams and code samples.

Gameon, as I understood it, is a service that allows deliveries leveraging the Amazon delivery service. The example the speaker spoke at length about was integrating real world prizes into a game system using Amazon’s delivery service e.g. a player wins a game and a real prize is delivered to them by Amazon.

Amazon – Future of E-Sports

In this panel hosted by Amazon the speakers gave their opinion on the future of E-Sports and made a number of interesting points including:

  • What was driving the increase in size of esport was not something in mobile applications, but the increase in the number of devices, and increase in speed of infrastructure.
  • The best e-sport is easy to pickup but hard to master.
  • The perceived skill gap of mobile vs PC is good for the e-sports as its about accessibility having mobile in the e-sports scene.
  • When you have a hit one challenge is to sustain the momentum. There are several ways to do so. Two ways are building a brand or building a community.
  • Games that are good for broadcasting are surprising, unpredictable, and easy to watch.
  • E-Sports has a structure like that of regular sports. Blizzard for example has franchises all over the world, and the owners of E-Sports teams are like the owners of traditional sports teams.

Mortician’s Tale – A Different View on How Games Treat Death

This talk was about the concept of death in a game called Mortician’s Tale. As described by the creator Morticians Tale is ‘a job simulator game’ about being a Mortician.

During the talk the speaker made a number of interesting points including:

  • Death systems in games have endured. In Mortician’s tale they wanted to explore ways of displaying it.
  • It was important that death in the game should relate to narrative and mechanics of game.
  • One book that was influential to the development was ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ by Caitlin Doughty.
  • The purple color in the game was used to hide the ugliness of death and reflects melancholy.
  • The game removes the ability to fail during preparation of the body as the creators felt it would disrespect the bodies.
  • The protagonist of the game was made silent as a silent protagonist can act as a vessel for players.
  • A silent protagonist also underscores the importance of listening in the grieving process.
  • Post release the feedback was positive and the creator believed there was some evidence of a transformative effect due to the design decisions made while making the game.

At the end of the conference the speaker made recommendations of a number of other games to look at that explore the topic of death:

Finally the speaker made four major recommendations for how to do death in games better:

  1. Make it meaningful.
  2. Do your research.
  3. Be understanding with your players.
  4. Asses your own feelings.

Talk Link

Continue reading GDC 2018