Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Illuminated Knight Character Design Concepts

As with every design I tend to go overboard with my research, once I've collected reference imagery it helps to take the best images and create a mood board of interesting styles that fit with your initial design concepts. From the storyboard and character bio I had created I already had strong ideas of the kind of character I wanted to create, a Teutonic Knight. I collected lots of different armour sets for my mood board but needed to keep the design consistant and historically accurate. The design I decided to choose copied a style in keeping with the period, but with the big horns on a Teutonic Knights helmet, gave my character design a strong silhouette.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Illuminated Knight Character Biography

As part of the character design stage and to help realise our characters we were given a worksheet to fill-in with our character biography. Doing this helps to fully visualise your character from it's traits, to where it lives, and what it looks like, but also how it may animate or react to a situation or environment.

Character Bio:

Age: 28-32
Profession: Teutonic Knight/Mercenary/Crusader
Family/Friends: None, Raised by a Blacksmith, sold to a wealthy knight to train as his squire.
Goals/Ambitions: Money/Glory/Recognition
Physical Health: Broken, World Weary
Education: Trained/Raised as a Squire, Swordsman, Smith
Sex Life: Vow of Chastity
Values: Just, Honourable
Weakness: Age, Too Honourable, at the end of his professional life
Flaws: Too old for his job
Environment: Ecclesiastical
Culture: Religious
Gender: Male
Income: As much as he can carry
Religion: Christianity (Faith is wavering)
Hygiene: Basic – Cleanliness is next to godliness
Morals: Chaste, Pure
Intelligence: Average – High, Cunning
Sense of humour: Dry
Obstacles: Birth rite
Talent: Skilled, Swordsman, Cunning
Self View: Harsh, Angry
Ethnicity: White, European
Era: Medieval
Dreams: An End to violence, deal with personal demons, a quiet life, to return home and live in peace
Diet: Poor, Meager
Fears: Persecution in the afterlife
Childhood: Sold and raised by a blacksmith, taken on as a squire by the local lord who noticed his talents

Character Back story

Born to a low wealth family he was sold to a blacksmith for a better life. Forged by steel and fire, instilled with strong morals and a work ethic, his talents at smithing gained the attention of the local lord and was taken on as his squire. He was trained in pageantry, educated in Latin and groomed to become a knight by the kindly lord. The lord however died of the plague and our hero was stripped of his bequeathed land and title by the lords extended family. Forced to wander for years the knight did his best to uphold his morals and fight injustice wherever he saw it. The land was cruel however and our hero was forced to walk a thin line between good and evil. When Richard the Third declared his crusade our hero signed up to escape the despair sweeping through the land, prove his skills, and fight for the chance of honour, glory, and riches.

Obviously I had to create a character that would fit with my storyboard, and my 'Illuminated Knight'/Stained glass window game design idea, but after completing this exercise I feel reading all of Game of Thrones last summer has had a little influence on my character....Gendry perhaps!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Illuminated Knight Storyboard

From my initial game design research I worked up a storyboard for an opening cinematic that would be a great introduction to the narrative for the player, and visualise the design concepts I wanted to convey.


Scene 1:

Interior of a church, dark, dimly lit with a few candles on sconce’s and chandeliers. The sound of a battle can be heard raging outside.

The camera pans down the isle focusing on the walls, shadows of men fighting dance across them, illuminated by the huge fire that engulfs a nearby settlement. Cries of pain, steel clashing against steel can be heard ringing from a thousand different sources.

Scene 2:

Bang, Bang, BANG! The camera quickly turns to face the door as each bang makes the door shudder. With the focus on the doors, they fling open. A knight with head bowed holds them both open at arms length silhouetted by the light of the burning city in the background. Silhouettes of men fighting and dying in battle fade into the distance as far as the eye can see behind the weary knight.

Scene 3:

Focus on the feet of the knight as he trudges, wearily down the isle, pools of blood congeal beneath every step he takes, each one seemingly heavier and more painful than the last for the battle fatigued warrior. The door creaks behind him and slams shut (off camera). Gregorian chant can be heard softly in the background mixing in with the sounds of battle.

Scene 4:

The camera pans lazily with the knight, he surveys the windows of the church as he walks revealing the rich stained glass that adorn the walls (each window should be representative of a different level, boss, or scenario within the game). The knight turns his head from side to side staring in wonder at the rich artwork.

Scene 5:

The knight flops down at the altar on his knees resting on his sword. Its point digs into the stone floor as he rests both hands on the pommel and his head on his hands, he begins to pray. As he prays the camera rotates around to behind him and as he looks up the camera pans up as well revealing a large stained glass window which depicts a galleon on an ocean. Sounds of gulls can be heard at that moment, are they outside? The galleon moved or is it a trick of the light?

Scene 6:

Focus on the feet/legs of the knight the sound of glass tinkling on the ground can be heard as a small blue, sapphire like gem, bounces into frame and rests by the foot of the knight. With each bounce the gem catches the light and sparkles (lens flare, and slow motion perhaps?).

Scene 7:

The knight picks up the glass shard gently between his armoured thumb and forefinger and holds it up to the light of the altar window, rolling it slowly as he does so (it catches the light again). Focus on the gem, then focus on the window in the background, at the same time he notices a small hole in the blue ocean of the stained glass.

Scene 8:

The knight steps up and moves closer to the window. Focus on the hole as he traces it with the tip of his mailed index finger. The Gregorian chant begins to be heard more clearly over the noise of battle.

Scene 9:

Focus on the feet of the knight as blue sapphires start to rain down around them from the top of the frame. (Slow motion, hopefully done using Realflow/Particle effects). Again each gem catches the light and sparkles.

Scene 10:

Camera behind the shoulder of the silhouetted knight, focus on the window as it starts to crack and then explodes into a million pieces and roars through the window like a burst dam. The knight is pushed forcefully back out of the scene to the right. The music also picks up to a crescendo.

Scene 11:

The gems fill the church, the knight struggles but then is engulfed, drowning in the sea of sapphires. The last thing we see is his hand closing into a fist as the gems rise higher covering the frame of the scene. The music dies.

Scene 12:

Black, the sound of gulls and breaking waves can be heard. The scene starts to resolve itself above a gently moving sea that appears to be made of stained glass. A large shadow looms into the scene and the sound of splashing oars can be heard. A hand plunges from the foreground into the water and when it pulls back is holding onto hand of the helpless knight.

Scene 13:

As if the stained glass window has come to life, the galleon from the previous scene is now gently rocking back and forth on the sapphire waves. Crew members rush back and forth doing their daily duties, as seagulls wheel and call in the air. One of the crew pulls the knight aboard, he slumps down on his knees coughing, as the crew member pats his back and the points to the left. The galleon slides gently left and into a bustling port, as far as the eye can see a city of spires stretches into the distance. Sounds of children playing, sellers shouting, and dogs barking bring the scene to life.

Scene 14:

The title screen pans in from the right 'Illuminated Knight', as clips form different levels of the game flash onto the screen, hopefully this will give the player the idea of what they can expect, but also act as a game trailer/demo. It'll highlight the in game mechanics, glass vs stone, ice, fire, sand, reflective puzzles (moving statues to reflect light for puzzle elements), or overlaying different colours of glass to create new colours

Monday, 21 October 2013

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Game Mechanics Vs Narrative

What makes a game has been the subject of much debate recently with the argument torn between mechanic vs narrative. In my opinion it's game mechanics that make a game, where the narrative ties the mechanic together, the mechanic is what keeps a player coming back and adds replayablity to the product. There are plenty of examples of games that became wildly successful with no narrative to speak of, e.g Tetris, Pac-man, and more recently Minecraft. There are also examples of games that purely focus on the narrative and while they give the player the ability to choose their own path they offer little in regards to replayability, once the story is complete there is little more to experience bar a few slightly different scenes and endings, e.g. Heavy Rain, Dragon's Lair, even Modern Warfare to some extent.

Recently there has been a fusion of the two that marry both in the way no other media could do, I believe it is the next evolution of the genre, a perfect example of this would be Brother's: A Tale of Two Sons, created by Starbreeze Studios. Initially released for XBox Live on August 2013 the game follows the story of two brothers on a quest to cure their terminally ill father. Unusually the player controls both brothers on the the same controller, it may feel a little overwhelming at first but the game eases the player into the mechanics through a series of easy environmental obstacles. These mechanics tie beautifully into the narrative throughout the game as each brother reacts differently to context sensitive obstacles within the world, the player discovers more about each brothers individual personality naturally with this method rather than being told outright.

This fusion of mechanic and narrative becomes starkly apparent during the final levels as the older brother (SPOILERS) dies, not only does the player feel the loss of the brother through the emotional narrative that the player has been on but through the loss of control of the character. It's quite difficult to describe the feeling to someone who hasn't played the game but I can only describe it as phantom limb syndrome, having controlled both characters throughout the game, only controlling one feels extremely odd, this loss mirrors and enhances the narrative in a way I haven't seen before and has really inspired me. I believe this is the future of the genre and it's what sets games apart from any other medium.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Weekly Targets

  • Create a biography for my knight character
  • Write up the Storyboard idea for my opening cinematic
  • Research armour designs for my character
  • Create a mood board of armour sets