Featured on Gamasutra!

Featured on Gamasutra!

Yesterday a feature that I had a hand in was put up on Gamasutra titled The Metrics of Space: Molecule Design.  I had the honor of  being asked by Dr. Luke McMillan to contribute to it and I of course rushed to the opportunity.

The feature deals with an aspect of level design that seems to be seldom addressed, the metrics of space, and its approach through graphing theory.  My work has been used to illustrate concepts within the feature by showing their application on one of my level designs.  I was also asked to describe the application of such design principles and its impact on the design process.  I wont go into further detail and instead let you read the feature for yourselves.  I hope you find it interesting.

DM-Concept-Board-03                      new map 2

If anyone is a game designer or even an architect, as I am as well, you’ll find that design principles or methods translate well over different media.  When lectured about the principles put forth by Raph Koster and by extension Karp, I was fascinated by how well they would apply and how familiar they were to architecture itself.  Design in gaming of course takes on an added dimension over space, that of time, and in retrospect could serve to teach architectural design a few lessons as well.  The experience of space through time is of course factored into many schools of architecture, but its something that most tend to neglect.  Its a pity because these are aspects touched upon from as early as Le Corbusier and his advocacy of the “mis en scene” in architecture experience.  I’ve gone off on a little tangent there despite promising not to, so I’ll definitely stop there  Would love to get people’s thought on the content whether it be on the Gamasutra page itself, and/or here.

Click on the link below to read the feature!

The Metrics of Space: Molecule Design

by Luke McMillan and Nassib Azar

Life | Prototype

Another casualty of the holidays.  Life was the result of our second Rapid Prototyping assignment and was also another collaboration between Ben Herron and myself.  As usual we received some strange constraints to work within: use only 4 assets, convey affect of 4 emotional states, use mouse only.

2012 12 12 screenshot_1

2012 12 12 screenshot_3

Life is what came out of this.  It simple takes the player down a path of abstract forms and major life events leaving the interpretation of the experience open.  In an ideal world we would have also included a randomizer that switch around the order of the emotional affect paths and the major life events, which would have created a different experience for each player and create infinite interpretations.  For example the wedding may in one play through be followed by the happiness module corridor, but in another it could be followed by the anxiety module.  Each would provide a different interpretation of married life and, it could be argued, also leave to interpretation whether the player is mapping his/her own life to this or that of someone they know, like a parent.

2012 12 12 screenshot_5

2012 12 12 screenshot_7

As a [ rapid ] prototype we wanted to convey the bear minimum essence of what a full experience could be and this is what we have.  The ingredients we have chosen to convey affect have been, primitive shapes, their movement, music, color, and visual metaphors.

2012 12 12 screenshot_8

2012 12 12 screenshot_10

To give the experience a try, all you have to do is follow the steps below:

  1. Click on the link below and it will download a ZIP folder.
  2. Unzip that folder to show 2 things: a Data Folder and a Life.exe file.
  3. Click on the Life.exe file to play!

Life

Tree | Final Prototype

Well this update took a while to put up.  Between the workload, family, and the holidays I’ve barely found time to get anything else done.  So here it is.  The prototype as it was done by the end of that 2 week period.  You can see the full set of features in it [as far as a prototype is concerned of course ] as well as some updated art.

You can download the protype here: Tree_v1

All you have to do is follow the steps below:

  1. Click on the link below and it will download a ZIP folder.
  2. Unzip that folder to show a folder named Tree_v1
  3. Open that folder to show 2 things: a Data Folder and a Tree_v1.exe file.
  4. Click on the Tree_v1.exe file to play!

Some difference between what was in the last Tree update and this one are:

The gameplay and the game’s economy have been put together.

Seasonal events have been added for some unpredictability and unbalancing.

Would be interesting to see where this may go in the future and it shouldnt take much.

HyDRA | Update Video

Another quick and dirty video showing updates on the HyDRA.  The updates mostly concern showing the design complies with the rules of Chris Robert’s new world, Star Citizen.

Z3_Iterations_16

All that is left now is to design the 3 fighter ships that dock.  I’ve begun with the basic volumetric of the body and multiple wing layout iterations below.

Z3_Iterations_01

I then started to see which iterations best suited the names and descriptions of the 3 different models:

Crow

Djinn

Gryffin

Z3_Iterations_17

I then took the distinguishing characteristics of the 3 models and further iterated.  I’ve been putting up some design decisions up for the rest of the SC modding community to validate/invalidate my direction. Next will be sculpting the model further, slowly introducing detailing such as hydrogen intakes, hardpoints, and the cockpit.

The HyDRA

HYDRA_Name

The HyDRA started as an off-shoot of the IRIS.  While iterating the IRIS design, I cannibalized some objects from it and got working on a unique idea.  The idea is that HyDRA is a type of F.O.B. or Forward Operation Base in military terms.  Its meant to be deployed secretly deep behind enemy lines.  What it does is carry a small wing of fighters, 3 to be exact, hence the name.

I typically use visual allegories in my concepts taking a lot of inspiration from mythology, word play itself to influence the design.  I start off doing some very rough sketches just to get my head around what I’m trying to do almost immediately start to work in both 2D [plans and sections] as well as 3D [volumetric models].  I’ve found from my time as an architect that doing just one then moving to the other does not give you a full understanding of what you are designing.  I typically start doing this in AutoCAD which is where the images below are from, before moving into 3DsMax for lighting and materials.

HYDRA_A_01

The Hydra is mythological Greek beast that had 3 heads.  The heads would regenerate if they were cut off unless the head *ahem* head was removed.  Anyway, I felt it was an appropriate analogy for something as aggressive as a secret FOB placed behind enemy lines to harass enemy assets.

Below is some of the word play I did, which helps me reinforce the concept in my head and inspire me to find solutions for, yes 3D problems.  What eventually happened, and you will see in subsequent updates, is that many design decisions were done in order to keep in line with this “power of 3” concept that came out of the word play. ex. 3 turrets, 6 missile mounts, 3 equidistant bridge chairs, etc.

HYDRA_NameConcept

So what can the HyDRA system do?

Theres a docking ring for 3 spec-ops star fighters. [ the orange boxes are place holders for the eventual fighter models ]

HYDRA_A_04

It provides jump capabilities for fighters [which by sci-fi convention cannot due to their size ] when they’re docked.

HYDRA_A_05

There are common facilities in the central capsule for those long term, deep space waiting periods including : food storage, bunks, fuel for the fighters.

Limited armor shell protection to protect the docked fighters.

HYDRA_A_02

Shield generators within the shells for added protection.

3 gun hardpoints which have full hemispherical arcs.

A common cockpit for all 3 fighter pilots during long term voyages.

HYDRA_A_06

3 x 3 Vector thrusters for limited manuevarability.

HYDRA_A_03

I’ll be posting a follow up soon on how HyDRA has progressed.

IRIS | 2nd Iteration [ Privateer / Military Model ]

iris_autocad_B_01

A couple of weeks ago I got cracking on a second iteration of the IRIS.  Some suggestions and critiques on the Star Citizen forum encouraged me to build a military model of the IRIS.  There was always something interesting about peeling away that surface to partially reveal the engine shaft so that where I took it.

iris_autocad_B_02

The result is a more aggressive look befitting a military vessel.  In the images below you get a clearer view of the turret hardpoints I’ve added.  Four have been placed on what can be best described as wings.  The magnetic rings have now been replaced by Star Citizen standard vector thrusters.  A conventional number of 8 have been placed to provide full directional control.

iris_autocad_B_03

Below is a front view which can now be compared to that of the civilian model shown in the IRIS | Conception page.

Again you can see a more aggressive silhouette.

iris_autocad_B_04

You can also start to see missile 12 hardpoints [ 3 x 4 ] that add to the military theme.  A closer look can be seen below.

iris_autocad_B_06

Finally, here is another video giving a tour of the ship and more views than can be shown in the 5 screen shots above.