Thursday, September 30, 2010

Symbolism: Drawing Methods


So far I have pulled several aspects of symbolism, when I think about the representations of a society within a fantasy realm. I think the methods of symbolism are incredibly relevant to fantasy, not only because some symbolist work has fantastical pursuits, but also because of the suggestive nature of symbolist work. I strongly believe that in order to be invested in the fantasy genre, it requires some degree of imagination and creativity, suggestive imagery is the catalyst for provoking inner narratives and would be a very important aspect to fueling the imagination.

So this aspect of visual theory might be applicable to the drawings which characterize representations. Seurat, a famous symbolist artist (although he would not like to be classified as such) has some good theories on the manipulation of mood. For one, most of his works did an excellent job of using filters, some overarching color pallate which influenced an entire portion of the canvas, even though there would be blues in one section they still maintained a warm and red tone. Another prominant aspect of his work is manipulating the flow in order to communicate sorrow, fear, or perhaps joy and gaiety. The diagrams in the book explain more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Process by Popular Demand

This is a new aspect to my process which I wish to focus on, code writing, something halfway between pseudo code and real code, I think looking at code on a computer screen makes me lose focus.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Don't think of an elephant
a site I found interesting while traversing the web for some geographical inspiration.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


So, this last week I spent a lot of time reformatting my code. It was a boring and frustrating process, however incredibly necessary to moving foreword, this will allow for the code to grow into something larger. Now, the system functions as it did however there is a different structure of variables, and an addition of several variables to allow for more control. For instance, pushing foreword it will be possible to have undo functions to the creation, and the code should run faster under this new format. As you can tell by the size of the scroll bars the addition of control variables has lengthened the same process, however things only draw when they need to, and never unnecessarily.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In search of aesthetics, and the fantasy form - Frank Frazetta

I have spent this week contemplating the different aesthetic choices of games and other fantasy related media. And after seeing my game in a new light with the recent re-contextualization of the thesis, certain aspects of the game are becoming incredibly more important.
The game builds on narratives, so in order to fuel these narratives I will need to strike a close balance between visuals which fuel the game universe I lay out, and visuals that allow for different interpretations.

The First place I went was to the work of Frank Frazetta, a very talented artist who had a hand in changing the image of fantasy from the 60's to the 90's through his stunning works. He is responsible for the revival of Conan the barbarian, a series which was in the gutter until he created the cover for the last effort issue of the series. His work had the ability to pop right out of the canvas, it is very real, very sexual, and graphic. What it succeeds in doing is draw the viewer into the world, to evoke several emotions off of a very clear and apparent scene.
Sadly he passed away in May, 2010.

I think that Franks work spoke to what is usually classified as "High Fantasy". I would personally call it masculine fantasy because its themes are based around warfare and epic events. What makes the warfare masculine specifically is that the warfare is imaged off of medieval warfare, so our history has a prevalent stamp on the warfare of these "High Fantasy" (God I hate that term) realms. "High Fantasy" (ughh) also has the distinction of existing in a parallel world to our own, these aspects are prevalent in Franks works from the insanely large astrological bodies.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Modified Thesis statement

100 words


(untitled) is a multiplayer video game which provides interactions to provoke more powerful narrative and creative elements between players in order to enrich gameplay and validate the use of genre. The genre which I am particularly interested in adapting in this manor is the fantasy genre, on which has a keen focus on geography, global conflict, cultures, adventure, and the supernatural. (untitled) will allow players to participate in the fantasy world by playing in generated worlds, controlling numerous forces, establishing a society to drive your actions, coming into contact with interesting locations, and interacting with supernatural elements.



Having a background emerging from folklore, mythology, and elements from all over our history, the fantasy genre almost demands that a mythos be given to every location, every war, every character. From this a history (and the worlds largest fan fictions), emerge to fill the in the gaps in timeline and playfully frolic around the major story originally at the center of the universe. It is a shame to see genre’s get stretched like skin over preset game molds, because when fantasy themes are exploited in this manner, it overlooks the genre’s strengths and does not utilize the talents of those interested in it. By definition, those who are interested in fantasy are interested in history, geography, and storytelling all of which have potential to be creative. So this game allows players to utilize these talents, during play, and outside of play (when one might customize a map to use for play).

Players will play in generated worlds: As the experiences of players will be unique, so the physical geography itself will be able to take a random form. This will allow for players to be granted a canvas for interaction if they wish to be given one. As well the tools for specific world generation will be available, being able to create continents and landforms in the shapes which they desire.

Execution of Generated worlds: The world is represented through a map, the current shape of this map is square, however the continental shape is varied. The map is quantified into nodes, a grid of smaller squares which are one of 5 different land types,

- Mountain

- Forest

- Plains

- Coastal


As the player moves through this grid, the land type influences that players ability to fight, defend, travel swiftly, and relay information like enemy troop position and whatnot.

Players will participate in global conflict: Players are given a settlement placed within the world, which has to compete for allegiance with other settlements in order to maintain resources. In this transaction, alliances will form along with conflict. This will also be a more intricate situation with the addition of “information”. War in our history rarely came down to numbers, it was more about the positioning, the experience, the leadership, and the overall image of the force. Sometimes the stories around the actions of an army were more powerful then the force itself. Those stories influenced political decisions and the moral of opposing forces.

Execution of Global conflict: players will be awarded with troops depending on how they distribute their resources and allegiances. They can then use these forces to traverse through the world to win back resources, explore a ruin for some lost magic, to insight a movement against other players, or to strategically block travel routs to manipulate resources.

Players will be able to craft a society: To shed some light on this aspect, we need to examine what makes a society. Some major aspects which vary from society to society are government, technologies, appearance, and most importantly location and the unique regional resources it provides. These are some aspects at face value, because at some point later these societies are influenced by global events and interactions between societies.

Execution of society crafting: Players will be able to craft their people in a number of different ways. Because you are essentially role playing an entire civilization, I found it important that the player be in control of primarily one solid settlement (this is to reduce the amount of multitasking between locations, and to increase the focus on customization).

Structure-This settlement could be a fortified castle, a cityscape, an elaborate collection of underground real estate, or a group of nomads with the ability to go mobile.

Technology-Mainly what your society is interested in be it the economy, religion, militant practices, magical research. All of these aspects are a different technological pursuits which can be reached in combination or in solo. These are obtained as “rooms” an action when you as a player decide to contextualize the structure and space which you have created. Below on my blog is a chart of possible rooms which can be created, each has a value and every player can invest a certain amount into each technology, creating equal combinations.

Appearance- Players can modify the adaptations of their race in order to create a back story to the society. Investing in different aspects of the humanoid form allow you to tweak the appearance and strengths of your people. Some aspects or abilities for example would be strength, endurance, agility, or some mental aspects of wisdom, vigor, vigilance.

Location - Players can chose the location of their settlement. This determines their preferred geological environment to fight in, and the contexts of their societal development. Location will essentially determine what they will interact with and what problems might face them. It can also act as a modifier to the image of your society, so someone who is located around the top of the map might encounter snowy environments, this makes them commonly wear white animal pelts and have pale skin.

Players can explore interesting locations: Exploration is an element to the game because narrative in an important part of the game. Since the players are traversing and living in a world riddled with events created by the players, and some remains of societies past, these reinforce a history to the geography. The worlds will be inhabited by players, computer towns (a resource) and perhaps grand magical backstory. For instance imagine that you as a player position your settlement on top of a mountain just bordering a huge crater which encompasses a large area. What kind of catastrophic event could explain such a geographic implant? If the player sends a group of units into the crater, perhaps they come across a ruin which has left clues to this situation. Exploration of locations influenced by history could become relevant to the present tense because these clues you find in the ruin could lead you down a path which could eventually grant you the ability to create craters of your own, maybe right on top of an enemy.

Supernatural elements: The genre promotes the magical. It sets the stage for an environment detached from the reality we are bound to everyday. This is an exciting aspect to me and allowing players to fuel this fantastical environment is essential to narrative development.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ted Talks

I recently got into a few ted talks about gaming, one was suggested to me.

David Perry on videogames

David Perry -Producer of some older titles like Aladdin and Earthworm Jim, then the more recent title "The Matrix", which is probably hands down the best title made off of a movie because of the project merging the movie industry and game industry as opposed to an exchange of licensing.
His talk was primarily about the overall progress of video games, he showed a montage of video game graphics to display how crazy gaming will get in 10 years. But the best part was a video put together by one of his students which talked about his development as a human because of his nonstop interaction with video games. He shed some light on what it means to be a gamer, to pursue goals on a nonstop basis, and to imagine things constantly.

Hillel Cooperman: Legos for grownups

This talk was primarily to display how lego's, although perceived as a children's toy, can also even by a sculpture medium because of the robust support from community and tools provided by enthusiasts and the company. But my favorite part of this entire speech was one sentence:

"So umm, these are the Dark Ages, and the Dark Ages are the time between when you put away the Lego for the last time as a kid and you decide as an adult that it is OK to play with a kids toy."

This statement is absolutely stunning to me because I witness it in action everyday and after having a couple of classes centered around play I can spot out a person who lacks playful engagement in their everyday life. Now this isn't to say that you must sit down everyday and essentially "play" a game or a system in order to lead a happy life, but being "playful" is something which we as a society do to take the edge off or even to learn in groups.
My uncle has recently had 2 kids, and I know him to be a very playful guy, having tons of things as a kid from comics to toys. I recall him telling me he can't wait for his kids to be old enough for an Xbox so that he can play it as well. I guess what I'm trying to say is that its a shame that kids are needed at an older age to validate certain activities and overcome the "Dark Ages".

Jesse Schell: When games invade real life

This one wasn't technically a TED talk because he went on for 30 minutes, but never the less, Jesse Schell went over the sudden and recent phenomenon of facebook games and the effect of social networks on video games, how most of these games utilize some psychological aspect of human behavior to become successful.
He also went on to talk about how there is a game in everything, from frequent flyer mile points, to credit cards, to social networking statistics. He then went on to talk about how our lives could essentially become one big game with the introduction of sensors everywhere which reward you for participating in things to give you a "good person score".

This lead me to think about the reverse of this idea. If our lives can be turned into a game, then what kind of life does a game provide to a gamer. What role do you fill in specific games.
I've been thinking about Monopoly, Risk, and other common board games because they essentially simulate a rough experience of being an investor, or a ruler respectively.

This thought has definitely given me new perspective on the simple aspects and concepts behind my game, which will hopefully lead to better communication about my project.