Friday, December 11, 2009

Instead of Writing a Research Paper, I Made A Game

This semester, I took a General Education class on Modern Japanese Literature. One of the cornerstones of the course was writing a lengthy research paper about one of the topics discussed in class. Happy to push my luck, I proposed to the professor that I build a game instead of writing a paper. I figured that creating a simple game to satisfy the assignment would only take a few days to make, and it would give me an excuse to work with Antonio Cade, a fellow classmate taking the course, and an excellent artist.

Our professor was intrigued with the idea, but only let us go ahead with it the project if we still wrote a 5-page paper to turn in with the game. Not too bad. That makes about 2.5 pages for each of us, and I could easily fill that space with discourse about the game design process. In fact, that's exactly what I did.

The game is pretty open-ended. You play as Godzilla, and can walk anywhere on the map. Beware that everything you walk into crumbles beneath your mighty feet. There are two ways to "win" the game. Either violently destroy all the buildings, or disappear into the ocean, never to be seen again. The point of the game is to reveal what the players think Godzilla should think and do. In actuality, understanding what Godzilla is about is a pretty sophisticated topic. The paper portion of the assignment discusses those issues in depth.

Antonio ended up writing the more "researchy" portion of the paper, while I wrote about the game design and vision. Frankly, writing about the game design process was one of the most fun things I have ever done in a writing course. The paper occupies the rest of this blog post. See if you can find where I stopped writing and Antonio began. ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Semester in Review: FA 102

I took a Fine Arts Design course this semester to contribute to my minor in 2D Art For Games. The course had me do a lot of sketching and painting with a solid watercolor paint called Gouache. The stuff was slick, better than printer ink.

These pieces are created by painting two sheets of bristol paper with black and white paint. The shapes are then cut out of one sheet and glued onto the other. The result is crisp, clean, and delicious.

The course put a huge emphasis on the process of drafting art. All of our assignments began with several pencil thumbnails, the best of which became ink drawings, then full size drawings, and ultimately a final painted product.

We also had our fair share of technical painting exercises. I will never look at gray the same way again.

My only frustration with the course was that I could not submit any of my final drafts as a computer image (not even printed). The final piece needed to be assembled by hand.

Of course, that didn't stop me from coloring my sketches in Photoshop to determine color schemes. :)

The final product, a 14 by 17 inch poster.

The last class assignment was to redesign a CD album cover. I chose one of my favorite indie composers.

I liked the pattern in the original cover, and decided to expand upon it with imagery that the music triggered in my mind. To keep in line with the technically raw nature of the music, I repeated the simple primary colors and strong angular lines found in the pattern. Materials used were colored pencil, and drops of paint for the stars.

Overall, this art class gave me great practice in design and composition. I learned some useful skills for designing color schemes that will be essential for my digital art projects.