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

Deus Ex: Human Revolution | Case Study Video

Ok, so still working on putting together a highlight reel of the overall presentation, but it will eventually go up on this space.  In the meantime,  I’m putting up some stills taken from the video.  You’ve basically got 2 ways of going through them, either the slideshow or for a closer view you can click on the thumbnails.  Both are here.  As in DXHR, the choice is yours.

Authorship Case Study | Deus Ex: Human Revolution

During our second trimester, we were asked to prepare a case study on a game that we felt had a strong auteur voice.  I chose the Deus Ex franchise on the whole, particularly the latest offering from Eidos Montreal, Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  A strong  auteur feel to a game is usually the result of having an undiluted vision created by and executed by 1 maybe 2 man teams.  This is usually attributed to indie developers.  Deus Ex: human Revolution [DXHR] is in my opinion a very strong example of how in this day and age of game development, where authorial vision and feel is usually lost in the democratic process of large studios, that the team at Eidos Montreal found a process and methodology that resulted in a homogeneous gestalt work with its own distinct experience in all aspects: gameplay, visual style, sound, and narrative.

I’m putting up 3 different ways you can go through the case study:  the written version, as well as the slides, the video of the presentation itself.

  1. The DXHR Authorship Case Study Slides Page provide the best view of the visual material and will have some links to videos interspersed between them.
  2. The DXHR Authorship Case Study Doc Page will provide an overall argument for DXHR as an auteur game.  There are a few sections which I have had to cut short and basically just appear as note mentions in order to cut the presentation time down.  It will have a combination of some slides, although they will be small, and images straight from the slides.  Videos will be hyper-linked.  It has unfortunately lost all its formatting when copied into wordpress.
  3. The DXHR Authorship Case Study Video Page of the actual presentation will have an ad lib of what’s in the written document and the slides in the background are not going to be as clear as the slides themselves. [ coming soon ]

So feel free to choose whichever way you prefer to go through them, or follow my recommendation and do a combination of them all!

thoughts

Although my blog is intended as a portfolio of work I will be developing, it will also serve as a place for thoughts and observations that I will pick up in my studying of game development and of the industry in general.  Many of the “thought” topics are likely to come from the unique perspective that I can provide due to my past experience as an architect as well as being the father of the next additions to the gaming community, my son and daughter.

Architecture [the design of buildings, not information technology] has an interesting relationship to game design.  Similarities abound from the obvious level design, to even the design process and industry structure.

Being a father, is an incredible experience.  Having a 3 year old son and 8 month old daughter passing through the same important cognitive development stages I am learning about in class brings a whole new dimension to both parenting and understanding games & why we play the way we play.

Its all new territory for me and I hope to bring everyone on for the ride.  So please enjoy the “thoughts” section if you want to go further than straight forward gaming.

Reset

Today is the start of a fresh beginning.

I have said goodbye to a 10 year career in architecture.  Its almost exactly 10 years since I graduated in 2002 from Architecture school, an almost appropriate number.

A new journey lays before me. A new hope. New experience. New friends.   I have taken a step into the video game industry.

This blog will be a record of that journey.

I’ve pressed life’s reset button and down the rabbit hole we go…