Thursday, 14 April 2011

Write up on immersion and atmosphere

In assignment 1 looked into the theme of surrealism. I looked into various media, such as Alice in Wonderland, Salvador Dali, Parappa the Rapper and M.C. Escher. I intended to create a map in the style of surrealism. I intended the map to use strategic immersion. It would have a puzzle style of gameplay where the player would have to think their way through the various obstacles. The Surrealistic style of the design would make up the atmospheric aspect of the map. The map would be a strange place where the normal rules wouldn’t apply. I wanted the puzzles to be interesting, challenging and enjoyable. I didn’t want to resort to the basic switch puzzles. The best games often have the player do something different every level. This helps the game remain interesting to the player. I have divided the map into three segments; Twisted Corridors, Shrink/Grow Puzzle and the Escher room. These three segments have their own unique ‘gimmick’ which will make my map interesting to play and engross the player.

The research I did on surrealism provided some colourful and fanciful imagery but the most effective way of getting this across was to take realistic elements and then subvert them. This steered me in the direction of designing my map to have a realistic look. I then concluded that an office work space would be one of the most mundane environments around and if I were to mix it with surreal elements the theme of a twisted reality would be quite effectively realised.
Twisting Corridors
To get across the atmosphere of a surrealistic environment I wanted to use twisted corridors. This was inspired by the paintings of Salvador Dali. I intended to have a maze segment where the player would have to navigate their way around a maze which constantly changes shape.  The player would walk down one set of corridors one time and the next time it would be completely different. I thought this would be a good way of getting across an atmosphere of confusion. This idea would also be good opportunity to place a puzzle element within the map. I intended the player to navigate their way through this maze to collect key items before moving on to the next segment. This element would provide some strategic immersion for the player.

Shrink/Grow Puzzle
While researching the theme of surrealism I came encounter the works of Lewis Carroll, one of the most notable being Alice in Wonderland. While researching into the books the ideas of shrinking and growing to solve a puzzle seemed like a good concept to put into my map. To carry this out I intended there to be a puzzle where the player has to shrink down to collect a key hidden in an air vent and then grow to normal size to unlock the door and leave. The player would see their environment change size before their eyes. I intended this element to get across a feeling of interest and thus intrigue the player enough to continue.

Escher Room
The final segment of my map was inspired by Relativity (1953)   a lithographic print by M. C. Escher. This is a work which plays around with gravity and perspective. I intended to create a room like this for my map. It would be a room which alternating gravity, it would be a good way to get across the theme of surrealism while at the same time providing the player with a unique and interesting puzzle to face.

When creating the level one particular problem I had was with the lighting, for some reason interp actors seemed darker than static meshes and when I place them together they looked too different from each other. I tried changing their properties and trying various ways of lighting the map but to no avail. I think the problem stemmed from my lack of knowledge regarding the lighting aspects of asset creation, during this module I was focused on the other aspects of my map. This is an issue I neglected and it’s something I will look into for future assignments. I think the jarring visuals took away from the immersion aspect of my map. While I was creating the map I didn’t leave enough time finish off a few of my textures and as a result some parts look a little unpolished. I think modelling the corridors and the Escher room took up too much of my time.
I think the puzzle aspect of my map worked well, I used the kismet aspect of UDK to construct them.  The Twisted Corridor maze was constructed using Interp Actors, I then used kismet to animate them moving around. I placed hidden triggers around the maze and whenever the player touches them a different part of the maze would change. I did it this way so the player wouldn’t be able to see the maze change shape, they would go to a different area and then return to the original area to find it has changed shape. This approach had to be taken because if the player was near a corridor as it changed place there would be a chance they could fall through the level and thus the experience would be ruined.
The Twisted Corridor segment also had secondary puzzle to deal with, before the player enters this segment they are presented with an office style motivational poster. The poster has the caption ’There’s no I in TEAM’; this is a clue to tell the player what to do next. The following Twisted Corridor segment has four different posters based on a different attribute; Tenacity, Excellence, Aspiration and Motivation. The player has to activate the posters in order to spell out the word TEAM, this is done by the player going near the poster and pressing the E (use) key. When designing the instructional poster I made sure the graphics emphasized the word TEAM so it’s easier for the player to understand, I felt I had to do this because ‘using posters’ is quite obscure thing to do and it may not occur to the player. In reflection this aspect of the puzzle could have been designed to fit in more with the aesthetics level, sometimes clunky design can break immersion. I used kismet to make the posters change colour when activated to show the player they are making progress. I think this worked well but I think a sound effect would have benefited the player as well.

The Shrink/Grow puzzle worked well, I managed to use kismet to create this aspect. To create the shrink/grow effect I created two rooms that were the same except one room was four times bigger than the other, I used the Teleport function of kismet to switch the player back and forth between the two rooms and create the illusion of shrinking and growing. To change size (teleport) the player used pop cans that were place around the room. This was taken from Alice in Wonderland. The player drinks the pink can to shrink and the blue can to grow.
When placing the assets in the room I tried to place them in locations which looked natural, I didn’t want it to be too obvious they were playing a game. This meant I was also concerned the puzzle would be obscure for the player to solve so I placed the pop cans in easy to see places. In reflection I might have made the puzzle easy to solve.
The Escher room also functioned well. To have a room with changing gravity I first created it in 3ds max and imported it as a mesh. I then placed the mesh in the map as an interp actor so I could rotate it. This is so I could simulate the changing gravity. This approach meant that the room had to be an enclosed space, so I would have to teleport player inside. I was concerned this might break immersion a little but I placed the teleport trigger at the bottom of a pit and so the fall of the player and the teleportation effect blended together fairly well. To solve the puzzle the player has to simply make their way to the top, doing so causes the room to rotate and gravity to change. The player does this two more, the second time teleporting them back to the beginning of the level signifying the end of the map. In hindsight I think the puzzle worked well, the changing gravity was an interesting game mechanic although I think it was far too easy to solve and if did I this again I would make it more challenging.
This is link to a set of video tutorials by Buzz 3D. This is from the Udn website. These video helped me constructing my kismet sequences.
Here’s link to a you tube user, this paticular video showed my how to import meshes inot UDK. He covers materialIDs and collison.
The visual styles were influenced by various media nad artists I researched for assignment 1, I have placed a copy of the powerpoint presentation on the disk accompanying this document.
The meshes and textures were created by myself.

Twisted Office Space - - Gameplay

Here is footage of my finished map. This was recored with fraps, so there is some slow down which isn't there during actual gameplay.

Here's is link to my youtube account showing this video:

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Segment 2/3 plan

Here is a plan of the second segment. This is taken from Alice in Wonderland. To solve this puzzle the player will have to drink a potion to shrink. When the player becomes small they then have to crawl through an air vent and find a key card. To achieve this I will create two rooms of different sizes and use a teleport function to give the illusion the pleyer is instantly changing size. This will require the player to think in order to solve this puzzle.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Segment 1/3 plan

This is a segment of my map. The player will start off standinfg in front of a poster with the caption of 'There's no I in TEAM'. The player then has to activate four poster around the hallways to spell out the word team. This will be a puzzle to provide some emmersion, the solution will not be obvious and the player will have to think to solve the problem. The hallways will also change as the player travels through them, this will give off an atomsphere of disorientation and confusion.

Friday, 25 March 2011

"Escher Room" UV Wrapped

I UV Unwrapped the room in Max and applied a material to it in UDK. I created five images, one for each surface; Floor, Back, Ceiling, Wall and BaseWall. I did this so it looks partially like a real room.

I tested it out in UDK, the lighting seems a little off because UDK converts all shapes into Triangles and sometimes these seems can be seen. Overall the collision and wrapping works well.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Modeling assets

Here'ss a PC I've modelled to an asset in my Level.

Collision fixed

When importing objects into UDK, if they are convex shapes the collison does'nt work properly. In the image above you can see I've fixed this problem by adding a hole at the top of the mesh. This means the object is a solid shape. I plan to add a second shape in UDK to cover up the hole and effectively make it a solid shape.

I tried to import it into UDK and the collision works effectively. 

Monday, 14 March 2011

Escher Room

Relativity by M.C. Escher.
This image inspired a gameplay aspect of my map.
I wanted to create a room for my map which resembles painting by Escher. I plan to create a room which can rotate, so the player has to traverse a room with changing gravity.

Here is a rendered image of my Escher room.

I created this in 3ds Max. I created it as one object so it can be placed in UDK as an Interp Actor and thus be animated.

Collision Error. To create collision for my room I copied the object and name it UCX_room and the original object was called room. This is how collision is made for objects. However when I tried this the collision seemed to be eratic. This is a problem I will have to sort out to finish this map.

Office Assets

Here are some static meshes I created for my map. They are created to fill out the office environment.

Here is a desk

This is an office chair I created.

This is a door I've created, in UDK these can be animated to open and close.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Changing Material

My Objective was to create a material which transforms into another material. I looked into the various nodes found in the UDK material editor. I managed to achieve this effect by using a Linear interpolation node (LERP) and a flipbook texture sample.

This is a link to a video tutorial on how to create a flipbook texture for UDK. A Flipbook is a kind of texture. It will cycle through a set of images to create a basic animation.

Here is the Udn website. This is were I learned about the LERP node. A LERP decides which texture to render, the Alpha value decides which texture to render. The Black part of the alpha value will show value A, the White part of the alpha value will show value B and grey parts will show a mix of the two.

Here is a Flipbook texture I created. It is made of squares ranging from pure white to pure black. The Flipbook texture will cycle throuygh these values to create a gradual change from white to black. This texture will be an alpha value for a LERP node.

Here is the material. The Flipbook texture acts as a alpha value for the LERP node, while two seperate textures are fed into the A & B values of the LERP node. As the flipbook texture cycles through its animation the A texture will change into the B texture.
Here is the material at an early stage of animation.

Here is the material at a later stage of animation. It's nearly changed into the second material. It is also important to note that the flipbook's properties can be changed from Looping-true to looping-False, so rather than a cycle I can have the material change and then stay that way.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Office Cubicles

Here is a cubicle wall I created in max and imported into UDK. I've modelled each segment individually so I can ceate a custom layout easily.

Here are the segments laid out in an office style. They work well.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Corridor Puzzle -- Assets

I am experimenting with a puzzle aspect of my map. I intend for there to be a puxzzle near the beginning of the map which will involve corridors which will change shape and layout as the player travels through them. This will create a feeling of confusion for the player.

here are some basic corridor segments I created in max. I had to create these as meshes because subtracted/additive geometry cannot be animated in UDK.

The image above shows how the corridor segments can be implemented. The 1st state is a dead end, while the 2nd state leads into another corridor. I plan to create an puzzle where the layout of the corridors will change as the player travels through them. This will get across a feeling of immersion. The player will have to think to get through the maze. These pieces are placed into the map as Interp Actors, they can then be animated via kismet/matinee to move.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

office blinds

Here is a protype model for my office space. It s office furniture, a sort of glass wall. often used in offices to make the most of limited light sources. I used to material ID functiuon of max to place two materials on this model. One solid one for the window frame and a transparent one for the glass.

Office Maze

This is a rough layout of an office based puzzle. I created this initial design to test out the geometry values for gameplay. I intend this area to be a puzzle based on locking and unlocking doors.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The S - Corridor

Here is an 's' Shaped corridor I created in max. The player will fall down this pathway and will be unable to return. This will create a feeling of being trapped in a strange place. The grey box is the visual part, it will be UV wrapped and textured. The Orange segment will be the collision geometry. They can both be imported into UDK together.

Here is the peice imported into UDK. The collision and wrapping work.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

SILENT HILL 2 Inspired intro

A rough version of the introductory corridor. It starts of normal and becomes more surreal as the player travels trough it.

SILENT HILL 2 opening

This a piece of footage from Silent Hill 2. The beginning of the game has the player travelling down a long pathway. There is nothing along this path it is placed in the game to give the player a feeling of isolation. It's placed at the start of the game to give the player the feeling they are sperated from the outside world.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Twisted Office Space

This blog will track the production of my map. I will experiment with the various aspects of UDK to create an atmospheric and immerse map. The theme of the map will be a surreal office space, a twisted reality.