17 7 / 2014
I added this short book to my reading list due to the psychological angle it uses when looking at designing objects. Although it isn’t at all directly related to the design of video game levels and worlds, the book covers topics which look at how people use objects, how people think and why they do what they do.
Overall, the book has taught me a great deal about the psychology of my designs. It has taught me to think as if I am them, allowing me to create better designs. It has taught me to think about what people will expect when they look at an object, and how I can design objects and scenarios in a way that the player will subconsciously know what to do. For a real world example, let’s look at a door. A door could possibly have a handle on either side of the door, however this leaves the person to expect to have to pull both ways. What if the door only pulls one way and pushes the other? Then the push side should have a ‘signifier’ which tells the user to push, such as a metal plate attached to the door saying ‘Push here!’.
Similarly, this could be transferred over to game environments. If a door has been pulled off it’s hinges and the player walks through, they can expect that either something great and powerful has ripped the door off and is hiding inside, or something has escaped. Another example can be as simple as a red light above a door turning green. This has, without a single spoken word, said to the player ‘This door just opened!’.
The book also covered topics such as mapping spaces. For example, an array of 3 buttons should open doors corresponding to the position of each button. The left button opens the left door, the middle button opens the middle door, etc. Obviously a simple, but this technique can be transferred in a very useful way to make spaces and scenarios much more fluid and intuitive for the player.
Overall I recommend this book, it was a great read and I’ll be sure to bear it’s methods in mind when designing my environments!
27 1 / 2014
After being mildly intimidated by the huge workload ahead of me in the process of creating a single zone for my game, I’ve been procrastinating a lot. But no more! This is to be a comprehensive To-Do list for the zone.
- Model & texture the following:
- 4 types of trees: White Oak, Weeping Willow, Common Ash and Small Leaf Linden. The Oak is to add body to the treeline as they are extremely large. The Willow is to add boundaries along water edges where needed. The Common Ash is to add volume to the mass of trees and to simply break up the monotony of the Oaks and lastly the Linden is to create boundaries that are not water edges. Wow, I didn’t think so much thought could go into trees.
- 3 types of bushes: One simply green in order to add some colour to areas that need it, as well as a flowering bush to break apart the green, and lastly a yellowing one, again for variation in colour. Perhaps this could be modeled as a single mesh and simply textured three times to achieve each colour.
- Multiple flowers and weeds to run along water edges, forest floors and rock faces. These flowers/weeds will be completely modeled before begin normal mapped with transparency onto a single mesh of about 5 tris. This will result in a 2-D plane, however the flower will not need to be highly detailed and any more detail will be wasted computational power.
- Various rocks and boulders. These rocks and boulders will be modeled in Z-Brush and simply normal-mapped (like all the meshes, really) onto a simple mesh. The rock could then be scaled, rotated and moved in various ways to create the illusion of lots of different models. These rocks will be used to again add variation to the landscape, especially cliff edges and rocky areas as a texture is not sufficient.
- Foliage, such as small bushes, broken branches, pebbles and fallen leaves. These will help populate the ground and break up the monotony of any ground textures.
- Collectibles, such as mineral ores, herbs, fish, and wildlife. This step will require a separate pass as a large amount of planning will be put into this (as it makes up the body of the gameplay).
Wish me luck, Tumblr! And remember, follow for progress and more updates.