Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Share games containing strong elements of gender.

Games has always been a male dominant field from the get go. However, more and more female gamers are now entering this “forbidden” male only zone and are exploring the gaming field. But why is it the female race finding it so hard to enter this zone in the first place?
For male gamers, games  that portrays a female character only had two features, a damsel in distress to save, and big breasts that seems to defy gravity. It is no wonder that not many females want to play games as it portrays women as weak and dependent creatures. Take Mario for example. Princess Peach always gets kidnapped by Bowser, she always needs to be saved by Mario, a mere plumber. Damsel in distress 101 right there.
Even the games that seems to try and promote a strong and independent character such as Heavenly Sword, the character is still quite scantily dressed with quite a provocative body figure. Even her back story promotes a damsel in distress feeling. A woman, born and said to be curse because she wasn't born male. Hated by her community. Hated by her own father. Had she been born a male? Why, the whole story would be different! He would have been revered as the village’s savior, the hero. Sounds unfair to women doesn't it?
Take Prince of Persia. Tall, handsome, hunky dude retelling the tale of his heroism and of love “before” he could meet and fall in love with her - the story did have time travel.. So what happens when you change the main character from male to female? Besides the story turning into a lesbian show. Unless the character has these huge bouncing boobs, I doubt it’ll become a bestseller. Males are dominant creatures, and they like feeling dominant and stronger than females (Maybe not all men, true. But most). Seeing a female character running along walls, jumping traps, grappling enemies, I doubt many males would play that as it seems to portray the females as the stronger gender. Which in most male dictionaries, is a big no no. Females are meant to be the weaker creatures, the ones that needs saving. Not the other way around. Go figure.

It’s no wonder that not many females want to play games when their gender is being portrayed in such a fashion. In fact, games that heavily portrays the damsel in distress types has shaped many women’s minds that they should not be strong and should be dependent on a man. But that’s just the mind set. Physically, it is also harming both male and female. Games has often portrayed the main character as strong and attractive. For males, they have these huge muscles, bigger that their heads, wearing bulky armor, carrying these super huge awesome weapons. Females are shown to be super slim, huge breasts and capable of being in combat with 6 inch stilettos. Realistically, no human can ever look like those characters. Ever. But still, gamers sometimes try, and they get depressed when they can't achieve it.

Share games defined by an idea or philosophy.

Digital Game
In my opinion, the game Alice: Madness Returns by Spicy Horse talks strongly on corruption and some on personal imagination (In which for this game, both are strongly connected). In the game, players will play the role of Alice and go through her wonderland which is in fact, a more colourful and abstract version of London in her mind. Alice’s wonderland actually comes from things she has seen before and is amplified and mutated through her uniquely insane and colourful understanding. As the game goes on, players will be made aware that the Infernal Train, caused by an outside influence, is rampaging through her mind, threatening to destroy her from the inside. This is her metaphor of corruption. In the end, players will find out the truth of Alice’s past and the reason as to why the doctor that was taking care of her was trying to corrupt her. Reason being he was corrupt himself, and was planning to sell her into sex slavery to earn money though he was a high member of the society. Even as players switch from wonderland to reality, the game portrayed Victorian London as a corrupted city during the Industrial Revolution by showing children working in factories, child molesters running free and high members of the society doing whatever that benefits them the most.

Analog Game
The ideology behind the present board game Monopoly, earlier known as The Landlord’s Game, in my opinion, is on the evils of greed. Elizabeth J. Magie Phillips created the game as an educational tool to explain the single tax theory of Henry George and to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies. Now, in the present moment, the board game has evolved into a family game and really brings out the greedy beast in all players as they fight to buy the most property, “tax” their opponents and become the richest landlord. There is therefore a great deal of truth to the expression that Monopoly can destroy a family, as a metaphor for what a powerful monopoly can do to the economics of a country.

Share games containing strong elements of ethnicity

When asked, many people will define ethnicity through race or nationality. But according to the dictionaries, ethnicity also includes traits, backgrounds, allegiance and associations. By that, in my opinion, means that everyone may be of the same race or nationality, but it won’t mean a thing as we naturally drift towards our own ethnic circles which we have the strongest association/allegiance to.

Assassin’s Creed 3” gives a very good and strong example of ethnicity of nationalities through the character of Connor. You are given the chance to explore some Native American backgrounds such as their language, clothes, culture, hunting styles, tribal rituals and many more. For example, you will actually hear and experience the Native American language as they actually speak to each other. They wear clothes made of animal skins with feathers and fangs of animals as their accessories. Connor will still wear these as he adopts the assassin’s garbs. Players will also get the idea of how these people hunt daily for food and resources. A simple tribal ritual would be the hatchet being buried into a post. As explained in the game, a hatchet is buried into a post when war is waged, only to be removed when the peace is returned.

Another game that promotes a more subtle element of ethnicity through race would be “Dead Island.” There are four very different types of characters, but all which are fairly stereotypical. You have an asian chinese, portrayed as smart and good in martial arts. An African American rapper who swears a lot and has a history of drugs and alcohol use. Your average white boy football star who is spoiled by his successes in life until he took an injury to the knee, and also killed someone. Lastly, an Australian Aboriginal who is never taken seriously, abused and hates rich people.

Lastly. and perhaps the most subtle element of ethnicity through backgrounds and association is portrayed in “Left 4 Dead”. Yes, this is a zombie outbreak game where everything and everybody seems equal, but I believe there are subtle messages while playing each individual character that makes each of them unique.

  1. You have Zoey, your average white college girl, portrayed by her wearing jeans, a tank top and a jacket over it combined with a simple ponytail, showing that she had belonged to the younger and educated circle (her healing animation is different).
  2. Francis comes in as a bad-ass, bonehead biker, outfitted with leathers and tattoos, prone to violence and swearing, where he belonged to the more outcast and bad circle. He likes to drink too(and hates everything else for that matter).
  3. Louis is your typical junior manager: High enough in rank to have some authority, but still low enough that life is just full of shit from the higher ups. He wears a white long sleeve shirt untucked that is rolled to the elbow with a red tie, a brown slacks and leather working shoes. He use to belong to the young working adults circle (he bitches a lot about not being able to go back to work like normal).
  4. Finally, there is William “Bill” Overbeck, a Vietnam veteran who served the US Army 1st Special Forces with a knee injury. He wears his old army clothes bearing his name with army boots. But his beret is that which defines his past the most, which bears the emblem of the 1st Special Forces group. This clearly shows that he belonged as one of the war veterans. (He smokes a lot too. His cigarette only goes out when he dies in the game. He also has a severe limp when health is low.)

Through them, you are able to experience a diverse group of different ethnicities by how they talk, react, move and shoot (character animation). It might not be so obvious from the get go, but you will definately get a feel of the character just by playing them and hearing them talk to each other. The four characters retain their original ethnicity as the college girl, bad ass biker, low ranking manager and war veteran. However, one thing transcends their former ethnic group and binds them as a new ethnic group: They are all Survivors.

*Bear in mind that this is just my opinion.


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Comic Fiesta - Mental Break Showcase

At long last, our game is out for testing. This is just a promotional showcase video. It was featured today and will be featured tomorrow in Comic Fiesta 2013 at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) by KDU University College. So here is out showcase video, brought to you by Team Apple Pie by the Games Development students of KDU University College.

It has been a long journey, but our mission is far from over. I am certain that I am not the only one with the desire to see this game through. I would like to thank my team for supporting me and each other along the way. It has been a very educational experience as well as an enjoyable one. The ups and downs has given me a better perspective of how it is to lead a team and make a game.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I look forward to my final year project and challenge.

Until then,
Crystal Lim
Team Leader & Lead Designer
Team ApplePie
Games Designer Major

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

GBGD209_Crystal Lim_Games Title Screen_Final Version

Just a quick refresher on what my game is:

My team, Apple Pie, is currently developing a room escape game called Mental Break for the Apple iPad iOS. I am the lead designer for the team. The game is about a mentally broken individual named Damien(Player character) who has to escape the place where he has been trapped in. And while escaping, he discovers dead bodies, which he later finds out is all his best friends, who he himself has murdered.

The game genre is mystery with a spooky air to it. And to further enhance the spookiness, I made the game title screen to begin the mood of the players before the game even starts. So please enjoy the game title screen of Mental Break, by team Apple Pie.

Improvements Made

  1. Text Animated
    • Added Noise for a grainy, static feel
    • Slight wave for indicating distortion of vision
      • indicates madness
      • indicates the current frame of mind
  2. Lightning Flash Animation
  3. Animated shadow under door frame
  4. Purple Filter Added.
    • Serves to add a gloomy, depressing, creepy feel to the atmosphere.
  5. Logo sizes are now more uniformed
(Note: Credit to Janice Chong who did the lightning flash art)
(I did all animations, shadows and effects as well as putting together the sound effects and the whole video.)

This is the first version of the edit. I simply added animation to the previously static title screen. Also, the purple filter has been added in. 

This is the final version of the Title Screen, I have carefully added the lightning flash animation and the shadows to mash with the sound effect as best I could. For the lightning animation, sometimes the figure of a human is seen, sometimes its not. 

Overall, I think that this give a gloomy yet spooky feeling. The inconsistent appearance of the humanoid figure when the lightning flashes, the sudden flash showing clearly the blood and the cracked walls, the suddenly movement that can be seen under the crack of the doorway, to the constant wavering and blurring text of the title, all contributes to the fact that something sinister has happened.

(Take note: I know light is faster than sound, therefor the lightning flash should logically, in reality, come before the sound. But for the purpose of this game, the fact that the sound come before the flash is a deliberate choice. This is a design choice to show mental instability of the player character.)

So that's all for my game title screen. I hope you enjoyed it. 


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

GBGD209_Crystal Lim_Games Title Screen_Third Iteration

This is the new and improves title screen that my team has worked so hard to produces with the help of Mr. Yee I-Van. Thank you so much sir! Let's get cracking then. (Note: Credit to Janice Chong and Jennifer Lee who tirelessly heeded my constant change of heart and gave me hundred of advice to produce this. Thanks!)

Note Improvements Made: 

  1. Title Screen
    • Change in Angle
    • lighting added
    • wall cracks added
    • blood splatter placed more attractively
    • Game title improved and more outstanding
  2. Video: 
    • KDU Games Development Logo added
    • Apple Pie Logo Added
    • Powered by unity credits added
    • Rearrange everything as necessary
Things to be added by final presentation:
  1. Lightning flash animation
    • This will be an animation whenever the lightning sound triggers.
    • The silhouette of a person will show against the shadow of the window frame..
    • This will create the questions to players as to whom the silhouette belongs to.  
  2. Changes made according to advice and critiques

This is the new angle and Mr. I-Van suggested. We all agreed that it was better than the one I suggested.
Shadow added. Highlights added on the door to show a window opposite the door. Some blood splatter on the door knob.
Shadows added at the far left to portray a long corridor there. Also the illusion that the darkness is creeping in slowly.
Patterns added on the wall. But this was too strong for my liking. And it didn't fit an old abandon house feel.
I softened the wall's pattern. This I feel was much better.
Noticed that the door was too bright. Added a shadow on top of it.
Added cracks to the wall to depict old and abandoned. 
Added blood to show violence.
Added some highlights at the bottom of the door to show that the next room is lit. This is to create the illusion that there is SOMETHING waiting behind the door for the players.
Added the text. But my artists still felt that the text wasn't impressive enough.
You can't really see it clearly, but I tried blurring the text a bit.
Here I added a sort of ghost effect to it. Creates the spooky feel to it. 
Finally, I added an outer black filter to try and depict the fading of vision. It makes the players focus more on the center of the image.
After all this, we tried several filters and effects as to try and make it look more foreboding, sinister, creepy, spooky... something along those lines. Note we are still voting on this. Extra feed back will be very welcomed. And this was what we played around with:
This is the normal one. With no added coloured filters.
This is a blue filter. It creates a gloomy and sad feel to it. Like something sad has just happened.
This is a red filter. It give a sinister and mad sort of feeling. Like something horrible has just happened.
This is a purple filter. It creates a somber and depressing feel. Like something rotten has just happened.
After determining the layout and look of the title screen, it's on to putting it all together into 1 single video. Here's how I worked on it:

Here, you can see the number of layers I have to play with to produce the video. The number of tracks and the careful overlaying of the sound effects as well.
So here's the product of editing and putting the video together. Please enjoy. And do comment, advise and critique as necessary to help me improve on this! Thanks!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

GBGD209_Crystal Lim_Games Title Screen_Second Iteration

High HO! This is the second iteration~ See captions for more details.
Initial artist impression of how I envisioned the logo to be. Close enough. But it looked like cherry pie. Not apple pie.
After the initial drawing, I advised that the she should mix and match some element to make it look nicer. She also added apples to make apple pie. But she forgot to change the filling's colour.

Here she has finally changed the filling's colour. Were playing around with the font type here.
This was the voted 2 after all that drawing and editing. I however pointed out it wont work on all background colours. So she had to change some colours.
Mr I-Van however advised us differently.. This did look a lot better though. He drew this. 
So Jennifer and I changed the design accordingly. I also advised her to put up a black and white background to ensure the logo can work on those two colours at least. Worked out pretty well I think.

Our final logo! Credit to Jennifer Lee who drew this. I'm getting hungry just looking at it. Ho ho ho!
Placing all the completed art assets into place

Testing the shadows
Seems OK doesn't it? My artist didn't think so though. So we'll be tweaking it.
Looked ok in the view port after playing around a bit.
Apparently people don't know what the piece of wood is without the door handle...
So I added a door handle. Then they complained it was ugly...
So I made it Gold! Gold is nice~~~
So right now this is the text placement. Artists complaint that font was too small here.
Font is now bigger. Added Tap to Start.
Tried added a black transparent filter at the back. But I obviously need to tweak it more to look creepier. My artists will advice me on this.
Tried adding some blood to it. But this will be amended. Not creepy enough. Artist also noticed that title is too mellow. It's not outstanding enough. I agree.
I have several sounds to choose from as seen in last week's progress. And after a long while of choosing and mixing, I came up with the background sound of the video. Made me think that it was raining when it was actually bright and sunny outside...

So after I was satisfied with that, I decided to just throw in an image to see whether the sound and the image matched up. It is very important to me that the feel of the title screen is creepy and mysterious. But sadly, due to the lack of artistic touch, I quite fail to achieve that yet. But no matter, I will get it done as soon as possible. However, on the plus side, I managed to get the blinking effect on the "Tap to Start" text working. 

Also to take note. The fonts that you will be seeing has been given approval for commercial usage by the owners and I am by no means committing any crimes what so ever. The title screen font has been downloaded from www.dafont.com. Credit to JuliaL who created this font.