Thursday, 21 February 2013

XB3001 GAMES PROPOSAL #22: Preproduction Stage 8- Top Down Map

This is the last of a series of eight posts detailing the preproduction process of my own level. This final post focuses on the Top Down Map

I initially did a very simple layout, focusing mostly on progression between each individual section of the level. You can see the result below:-
 From there, I removed the last triad of rooms before the end and created a more detailed and refined map, this time keeping in mind the various tasks I wanted players to undertake in these spaces

This is more or less exactly the same layout as the final level, though I have made some revisions to certain sections. Aaand that about covers my Preproduction process for the Level Design assignment

XB3001 GAMES PROPOSAL #21: Preproduction Stage 7: Focal Points

This is the seventh of a series of eight posts detailing the preproduction process of my own level. This one focuses on the Focal Points stage.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, Focal Points are incredibly important parts of levels. They make the level aesthetically pleasing, draw the player's attention and help them orient themselves. A good example is the massive woman statue that appears as a recurring set-piece in DMC: Devil May Cry (example images below)

As you can see, this large asset draws the eye towards the path forward.
For my own level, I came up with the following ideas for a focal point:-

Large statue-like structure in distance

  • Player gets closer as they proceed through the level
  • Possibly custom model with basic texture
  • Maybe have 3 of them, representing Good, Evil and Neutral/ Moral, Immoral and Amoral/ Right, Easy and Indecisive. Maybe another in the middle of the level as well

The last stage of Preproduction is the Top-Down Map, which I'll cover in the next post

XB3001 GAMES PROPOSAL #20: Preproduction Stage 6- Objectives and Obstacles

This is the sixth of a series of eight posts detailing the preproduction process of my own level. This one focuses on the Objectives and Obstacles stage.

Pretty self-explanatory: Objectives are what the player must do, Obstacles are the things in their way
The following is a list of ideas for these two criteria that could work in my own level. Some did not make it into the final product.

Player Actions:
Basic UDK gameplay functionality
Combat/ Shooting (once weapon has been found)

Main Objective: Proceed to the end of the level/ pass the entity’s judgement
Sequential Objectives: Complete one of two objectives in each ‘room’ to proceed to the next
Each room’s objectives are always different, but there are always 2 options
Types of Objectives include:

  • Choose a path
  • Defeat a certain enemy
  • Solve puzzle in a particular way


  • ‘Right’ vs Easy options
  • Morally ambiguous
  • Sadistic Choice?


  • Fairly simple in design and implementation
  • Interaction with objects achieved through movement and collision
  • Block/ object moving
  • Timing
  • Stepping on Key coded switches
  • Memory 


  • Weak and Strong Enemy combo
  • Hostile enemy spawning after a docile enemy is defeated
  • 2 docile enemies, 1 of which must be killed to proceed


  • Moving platforms
  • Pitfalls
  • ‘Invisible’ Maze

The next Preproduction stage is Focal Points.

XB3001 GAMES PROPOSAL #19: Preproduction Stage 5- Story

This is the fifth of a series of eight posts detailing the preproduction process of my own level. This one focuses on the Story stage.

As the name suggests, this step focuses on the narrative behind the level, specifically the history behind the environment itself and how the player came to be there. Here is what I came up with for mine:-

Environment History:

  • The environment itself is set within an otherworldly realm ruled over by a powerful, supernatural entity of ambiguous origins and identity
  • The level is a series of bizarre structures constructed by the entity for the sole purpose of ‘testing’ people’s souls 

How player arrived:

  • The Player has been abducted by the entity and thrown into the ethereal realm, where the entity intends to ‘test’ them
  • The Player now has no choice but to complete the challenges set before them so that the entity may pass judgement upon them

The next Preproduction stage is Obstacles and Objectives

XB3001 GAMES PROPOSAL #18: Preproduction Stage 4- Photo Reference

This is the fourth of a series of eight posts detailing the preproduction process of my own level. This one focuses on the Photo Reference stage.

Here is a collection of images I used as influence for my level

  1. Screenshot of the Palace of Twilight from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Retrieved from 
  2. Screenshot of the inverted Stone Tower Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Retrieved from 
  3. Concept art from DMC: Devil May Cry, displaying a fractured, floating environment. Retrieved from 
  4. Screenshot from DMC: Devil May Cry, which shows a path constructed from fractured pieces of an environment. Retrieved from 
  5. Concept art of a recurring set piece from DMC: Devil May Cry, a massive statue of a woman in chains. Retrieved from 
  6. Concept art of the Fade, an otherworldly location from Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins. Retrieved from 
  7. Screenshot of the Fade, an otherworldly location from Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins. Retrieved from  
  8. Screenshot from Dragon Age: Origins displaying the area map of the Fade, in particular the branching paths that players can choose to take. Retrieved from 
  9. Screenshot of an environment from El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Retrieved from 
  10. Screenshot of an environment from El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Retrieved from 
  11. Screenshot of an environment from El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Retrieved from 
  12. Screenshot of an environment from El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Retrieved from 
  13. Screenshot from Dishonored, showcasing the Void. Retrieved from 
  14. Screenshot from the game Kairo. Retrieved from
  15. Screenshot from the game Kairo. Retrieved from 
  16. Screenshot from the game Kairo. Retrieved from 

The next Preproduction stage is Story

XB3001 GAMES PROPOSAL #17: Preproduction Stage 3- Location and Setting

This is the third of a series of eight posts detailing the preproduction process of my own level. This one focuses on the Location and Setting stage

Around the time I was going through the Preproduction of my level, I'd been playing a lot of the new DMC: Devil May Cry game. I really liked the setting and environment design from that game, and in a way it kind of influenced my decisions for certain parts of this assignment, specifically this stage.

My decisions for Location and Setting are as follows:-

Level is set in a bizarre, supernatural realm outside our plane of existence
It is Limbo/ Purgatory-esque setting, somewhere between ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’
The area players must navigate is a series of floating structures filled with various challenges
Structure appear higher and higher/ lower and lower as player proceeds
Surreal, floating architecture and structures. Open ceiling structures, players can see other rooms around the level

The next stage is Photo Reference

XB3001 GAMES PROPOSAL #16: Preproduction Part 2- Purpose and Features

Been a while since my last XB3001 post. This is the second of a series of eight posts detailing the preproduction process of my own level. This one focuses on the Purpose and Features stage.

Like the previous stage, this step was pretty straightforward

Explore the concepts of morality and choice through level design
Learn the basics of UDK
Explore and demonstrate my skills as a level designer
Expand the range of my personal portfolio
Branching Paths

The next stage is Location and Setting

XB3001 GAMES PROPOSAL #15: Level Preproduction Part 1- Idea

Been a while since my last XB3001 post. This is the first of a series of eight posts detailing the preproduction process of my own level. This one focuses on the Idea stage.

Deciding what the core idea behind my level was a relatively simple process. After all, in his book Level Design: Concept, Theory & Practice, Rudolf Kremer states that levels are environments specifically created to facilitate gameplay. They're constructs that allow game mechanics to convey their depth and meaning.
Given that the level had to be based on my chosen theme of morality, this effectively left one clear option:-

A Test of Character

More specifically, the idea was that the level would be a series of trials designed to test the player's moral fibre in various ways. Being something of a mythology buff, I've always found stories where characters are unwittingly chosen to prove their worth to some higher power to be quite interesting, hence my choice for this stage of Preproduction.

The next Preproduction stage is Purpose and Features.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

XB3002 GAMES FUTURES #6: Professional Presentation Techniques - How to Pitch Ideas

So, we had a lecture today! Haven't had one of those in a while! This one was about advice for presentations and pitching game ideas.

  • 'Failing to prepare is preparing to fail"
  • Know your audience - always look at who the target audience is, make it tailored towards them, always do the research
  • Keep supporting material concise - it's only there to support, keep the focus on you
  • Pictures paint a thousand words - keep text short and concise, use keywords, liberal use of images
  • Look Professional, be professional - take care of your appearance
Powerpoint Techniques
  • Match colours
  • Keep design basic and simple so it doesn't distract
  • Always express a Take Home message (i.e. underlying message, always reiterate)
  • Always long sentences - try to use keywords instead
  • Consistently use same font face/ size on all slides -  carefully select font sizes for headers and text
  • Use colours that are easy on the eye (e.g. pastel colours)
  • Pick an easy to read font face
  • Don't copy paste entire slides from different sources
  • Use images to express ideas
Presentation and Pitch Techniques
  • Be Professional
  • Be Passionate
  • Make eye contact and smile
  • Stick to the point -  don't ramble on!
  • Know what you're doing - be realistic
  • Be honest about who you are and what you can do
  • Know your Target Audience and know your Competitors
  • Platform matters - keep a preferred platform in mind
  • When's it shipping? - Give a realistic timescale of when the game will be released
  • Know your Budget - Ask for slightly more than necessary
  • Business is Business
  • Show Proof of Concept
  • Don't panic! - always be prepared and answer questions calmly

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

XB3002 GAMES FUTURES #5: Design Post 2- Design Document Plan

Over the last two weeks, I've planning out the content of my Games Design Document for Army of Clones. What follows is a bare bones layout of what this 30-page document will contain:-

(Page 1)
Game Overview
Create custom army of genetically engineered clone soldiers
Use your army in exhilarating tactical turn based battles
Fight with or against friends
General Technical and Graphical specs
Sales Info (target demographic, estimated price etc.)
Game Modes (Campaign/ Story, Skirmish, Online Multiplayer, UGC) and Online capabilities

(Page 2)
Narrative Overview.
Year 2045 – Due to massive economic collapse and resource shortages, world economy has come to rely on continuous war.
Conflicts waged by Private Military Corporations, who use cloning and genetic engineering to build their own armies
Player Character is a commanding officer in  a newly formed PMC
Must rise through the ranks by battling competitors
Eventually discovers a massive conspiracy in the background

(Page 3)
Commanding Officers
Players Character
Mentor character
Enemy Commander 1
Enemy Commander 2
(Page 4)
Unit Classes
Infantry Units
Commando Units
Rocket Units
 (Page 5)
Engineer Units
Sniper Units
Tank Units
(Page 6)
Medic Units
Recon Units
Saboteur Units

(Page 7)
Game Mechanics.
Unit Management
Assigning Troops (Unit Stats, Various Divisions (Combat, R&D, Med Bay etc.)
Equipment (Weapons, Gear etc.)
(Page 8)
Genes- Types, Infusion, Limits
Status- Various status changes (eg. Performance enhancements, Physical/ Psychological problems)
(Page 9)
Cloning new units
Units can be cloned from Headquarters Menu
Replicate from one soldier to create a Pureblood
Replicate from two soldiers to create a Hybrid
DNA Caches
Acquired through mission rewards, bought in-game or found during missions
Can be used to clone new units (see above)
Often contains rare progenitor DNA and comes in limited quantities
(Page 10)
Exact replicas of existing soldiers. Created from one progenitor
Soldiers created from two progenitors. Have randomised stats, but generally have traits from both parents
Larger Units created by combining progenitor DNA with Resources to create
Purebloods are reliable, easy to replicate, but become weaker stats and greater chance of developing status problems
Hybrids are harder to replicate, with randomised stats, but generally stronger, with added abilities and less chance of developing status problems
(Page 11)
Research and Development
Resource Management/ Battle Spoils
Developing Equipment
Facility Expansion
(Page 12)
Buying/ Selling resources
(Page 13)
Overview of enemy force and terrain
Selecting Units and Back-up force
Controlling/ Commanding Units
Command Mode
Surveying Terrain/ Unit and Enemy Positions
Player/ Enemy Turns
Selecting Units to take into Action Mode
Action Mode
Player takes full control of individual unit
Unit can move around battlefield and perform context-sensitive actions
To attack, Player must stop and go into Target Mode
(Page 14)
Target Mode
Players select unit weapon, aim and attack enemy units 
Objectives include defeat all enemies, occupy enemy base, defend location, acquire specific item etc.
Battlefield Conditions
Brief mention
See Environments for more details
 (Page 15)
Win/ Lose Conditions
Players win by completing objectives before opponent
Players lose if all units are killed or main objectives are failed
Secondary Objectives/ Finding Intel/ Items on Battlefield

(Page 16)
Background Music
Mostly ambient noise
Some licensed music for headquarters & certain combat scenarios (e.g. Rolling Stones)
Sound Effects
Generally realistic
Voice acting

(Page 17)
User Interface
Title Screen
Main Menu
(Page 18)
Headquarters Menu
Unit Status Screen
(Page 19)
R&D Menu
(Page 20)
Command Mode
Action Mode
(Page 21)
Target Mode
Win Screen
(Page 22)
Lose Screen
Pause Menu

(Page 23)
Central America
North Africa
Middle East
East Asia
Battlefield Conditions
Fog of War

(Page 25)
Example Level
Image required

(Page 26-29)
60-second Gameplay Example
Player creates and equips a custom soldier (Pureblood/ Infantry Unit)
Mission is then selected, new unit is chosen along with another Infantry, a Tank, Medic and Recon Unit
Mission begins; Recon scouts ahead and unveils enemy positions
Recon is attacked and barely survives. Runs back to Medic, while Tank holds enemy advance
Meanwhile Infantry runs around enemy units and flanks them
While Tank and Infantry are pushing back the enemy, the now healed Recon unit runs ahead an captures the enemy base, completing the mission 

XB3002 GAMES FUTURES #4: Research Post 1- Gaming Influences for GDD

First Research Post for this module!

...and not a single hoot was given.

Anyway, this post will cover some of the main influences I looked at for my Game Idea while writing up the 30 page Design Document. Just In case you've forgotten or haven't read the previous posts for this module, my chosen Game Idea is a turn-based strategy game tentatively called Army of Clones.

Now, obviously, most of the game is influenced by my DD3000 project on the ethics of cloning technologies, but I also looked at a few gaming sources as well, since I'm not overly familiar with turn-based strategy games. They include:-

XCOM: Enemy Unknown
A recently released turn-based strategy game released to positive critical acclaim. I looked at this to get a good idea of how turn-based strategy games work, as well as the troop management system

Fireaxis Games (2012). XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Novato, California, US: 2K Games

Advance Wars
Another strategy game, released some time ago on the Game Boy Advance. Again, as with XCOM, I looked at this to get a good idea of how these types of games usually work

Intelligent Systems (2001/2002). Advance Wars. Kyoto, Japan: Nintendo

Valkyria Chronicles
A Japanese strategy game set in an alternate universe version of World War 1. I really like the battlefield gameplay, where players will take full control of their units rather than simply directing them, so I've decided to incorporate something similar into Army of Clones

Sega Wow (2008). Valkyria Chronicles. Tokyo, Japan: Sega

Team Fortress 2
A competitive team deathmatch game developed by Valve. It has proved an excellent influence for developing character units because of its numerous, varied classes 
Valve Corporation (2007). Team Fortress 2. Washington, US: Valve Corporation

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
A stealth action game with management elements developed by Hideo Kojima exclusively for the PlayStation Portable. I really liked the Mother Base, where you could manage troops, so I used it as the primary inspiration for troop management in Army of Clones

Kojima, H. (2010). Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Tokyo, Japan: Konami

XB3002 GAMES FUTURES #3: Project Plan

This is a copy of the Project Plan I handed in during the 4th week of this module. It covers my aims for this assignment, as well as a timetable of when I plan to work on the deliverables

Project Aims
This XB3002 Games Futures Definition Project will focus on the development of video-game concepts based on research gathered during the previous module, DD3000 Design Futures. As a result, this particular assignment will revolve around the subject of cloning, specifically the scientific advancements and ethical questions it presents. In addition to this, part of this module will also be devoted to preparing for future job prospects through the compilation of portfolios and CVs.

Intended Actions
  • The majority of the research used for this module will be recycled from last semester’s DD3000 project, which explored the science and ethical implications of cloning technologies
  • Additionally, there will be some investigation into current market trends and existing video-game elements, as well as an in-depth examination of specific AAA and Indie games studios

Games Concept:
  • The first deliverable will be 3 aesthetically-pleasing 2-page Games Concept Documents, each describing a unique game idea based on research from last semester’s DD3000 project. One of these game concepts will then be taken forward and used as the basis for a 30-page visually-rich Game Design Document and a 15 minute professional Games pitch
  • The game ideas themselves will likely focus on the scientific applications of cloning (eg. replacing lost units, damaged parts etc.), as well as the health risks and ethical quandries

Portfolios/ CVs:
  • In addition to the aforementioned documents, a collection of material required for a job interview at both a specific AAA and Indie games studio will also be assembled.
  • These will include a portfolio of existing work, an accompanying CV, cover letter and a 250-word company analysis document. Two copies of these materials will be delivered, which will be specifically tailored to the two respective games studios
  • At present, the chosen games studios will likely be Ubisoft (AAA) and thatgamecompany (Indie).

By the end of this project, the following will have been delivered:-
  • 3x small Concept Documents exploring game ideas related to cloning
  • 1x 30 Page visually rich Games Design Document detailing one of the aforementioned game ideas
  • A 15 minute professional Games Pitch based on the above document
  • 2x tailored portfolios, CVs, Cover letters and company analysis documents for both a AAA and Indie games studio
  • A detailed research blog containing all research findings and progress throughout the year


General working days for this module: Tuesdays and Saturdays

Week 18
Tuesday 5th

Saturday 9th

Planning GDD and beginning Written content (Overview –Mechanics)

Research into Games Companies for CVs

Week 19
Tuesday 12th

Saturday 16th

Continue Written content (Sounds -Level + Gameplay Example)and create Layout Artwork for GDD

Research into Games Companies for CVs

Week 20
Tuesday 19th

Saturday 23rd

Finish Written Content and begin Artwork (Title - Mechanics) for GDD

Continue GDD Artwork (Mechanics – UI)

Week 21
Tuesday 26th

Saturday 2nd

All remaining Artwork for GDD (UI - Level + Gameplay Examples)

Begin work on Games Pitch
Week 22
Tuesday 5th

Wednesday 6th

Saturday 9th

Finish Games Pitch presentation

Games Pitch presentation

Finish entire GDD
Week 23
Tuesday 12th

Saturday 16th

Compile Portfolios, write CVs for both Indie and AAA studios

Finish CVs/ begin cover letters
Week 24
Tuesday 19th

Saturday 23rd

Write up cover letters and Company Analysis documents for Indie and AAA studios

Finish writing materials for studio interviews

Easter Holidays
Throughout –

Final touches/ finishing off all unfinished work
Week 25
Tuesday 16th

Saturday 20th

Final touches/ finishing off all unfinished work

Final touches/ finishing off all unfinished work

Week 26
Tuesday 23rd

Wednesday 24th

Final touches/ finishing off all unfinished work

Final Hand-In of all deliverables