week 6/project plan

done my first draft of my project plan, it`s a mess. i`ve spent way too much time this week doing photoshopping instead.

1. Abstract (Approx 250 words)
The project aims to explore the use of 16 bit aesthetic visual as a means of stylization and a mechanic in modern videogames, media and culture. And subsequently developed a interactive piece based on my findings. Retro visuals have an interesting appeal because not everyone grew p with them so they might not have the same feelings of nostalgia, but they can still enjoy it. However There are some preconceptions that sprites are categorised as bad graphics to casual observers, but the style has its own merits similar to early film genres, like black and white noir films. Despite being a limitation of its era, the style is often well received when used in contemporary titles, the titles in question I plan on reviewing and assessing why the visual decisions were made. sprite graphics are visually unique to the videogame medium and this makes them perfect for symbolism of our culture, and using it creatively for game play would be a innovative tool. Ideally the final piece would use a combination of regular graphics and a 16 bit aesthetic to show off certain mechanics or tools. And to show off my asset pipeline and emulation of the style`s aesthetics, in particular. Emulating the style only but not strictly adhering to the era`s limitations in order to create a wholly fresh experience using well worn visuals but creative new mechanics that take advantage of the more powerful technology.
2. Project Aim and Objectives
The aim of the research is to explore the use of 16 bit graphics as a means of stylization and a mechanic in modern videogames, media and culture. And subsequently develop an interactive piece based on my findings.

The objectives are as follows

1.0        review contemporary examples of titles which use 16 bit aesthetics.

2.0        Examine how the visual style is perceived and how it`s effected game culture.

3.0        Devise using the visual style as a game mechanic

4.0        Create an interactive piece based on my findings which uses the style as a fundamental mechanic.

3. Rationale
16 bit graphics are inexpensive to produce and are ideal for mobile platforms and digital downloads on home consoles. It would be a ideal solution to many budget problems studios face on a occasional basis, many retro themed titles lately have turned a profit from inexpensive development costs other ocean. 2010. Dark void zero (digital download) and it`s a fascinating trend which opens up a whole new market tailored towards nostalgic consumers. The style is highly relevant and integral to gaming culture and I feel it should be treated as such, it`s an oft ignored aspect as it gets pushed to the back of the collective minds of gamers in favour of realistic 3D graphics but it deserves the same recognition as early genres in film which paved the way for future innovations. And combining the style with more powerful hardware, the style still can continue to evolve. It`s fascinating to think of how much more the style can grow but still staying true enough to its roots to be considered `retro` and it`s a interesting balance I’d like to look into. There has obviously been a lot of research in areas of environments, characters animations and user interfaces for 2D games. but the research could encompass all of those elements to pinpoint their effectiveness and appropriate style in the 16 bit format.  There`s also a interesting correlation between the era of graphics and specific game genres, there was a flux of platformers and scrolling beat em ups during the era and many other ignored genres and it`s perhaps directly responsible to the art style rather than the market at the time. It`s Another aspect I’m keen to include in my research. The style is also something of a lost art, many talent in the industry today have no idea how to create vintage sprite graphics and it`s a skill worth preserving, especially in this age of inflated game prices and mobile gaming. Aside from games the 16 bit style has had an influence in many other cultural media like advertisements and television. But it`s always in the intention to depict a videogame like aesthetic, an interesting representation of our culture being how we have many, many different visual styles.
4. Project Methodology
In order to achieve the objectives my methodology will consist of practice based researches and reviews of relevant game media to assess the intricacies of using 16 bit visuals in modern products.

A sketchbook will be kept to chronicle the progress of standard 2D artwork into 16 bit sprites alongside style experiments such as trying to emulate the feel of animation and spirit from the era.

Structured reviews of certain contemporary products will be undertaken as well, dark void zero and the bit.trip series are two influences in my work which hold a lot of relevance to my work. They both use the style of the era but use stronger technology to underpin their workings. I hope to derive from their innovations and devise similar innovations of my own.

I also plan to perform some form to social study to examine the appeal of sprite visuals to people who may or may not have grown up with them and measure the nostalgic value and opinion.  Using the findings I’ll create an interactive piece with the intention of using the visuals to invoke nostalgia and create interesting game scenarios.

5. Outcomes and Deliverables
1.0        observational based review on relevant titles.

2.0        Social study results and analysis

3.0        Visual study on using the style as a mechanic, sketchbooks and animation tests.

4.0        Interactive piece designed to invoke familiarity of the era and innovate using the style.

6. Expertise and Experience of Project Proposer
The proposed has extensive experience with adobe Photoshop for all forms of 2D art and adobe flash for animation. Music and programming will be outsourced.

Most of the project assets are within the proposed abilities such as sketchbooks and game studies. For social studies however, it will be undertaken as quickly as possible and assistance will be required. Thankfully the proposed is in contact with a psychology graduate. So alongside help from the peer, the social study will be developed as early as semester 1.

The construction of the interactive product can begin as soon as all art assets in place, so at the end of objective 3.

7. Timetable

 

Methods and associated Activities

Start Date

End Date

1.1 observational game review 1st/nov

1.1.1 dark void zero

1.1.2 bit.trip beat

1.1.3 bit trip runner

1.1.4 Mega man 9

1.1.5 mutant mudds

2.1 social study 1st/dec

2.1.1 image based survey using different age groups

2.1.2 publish the data from the study analysis

3.1 visual study 1st/Jan

3.1.1 observe changes in content due to style change

3.1.2 animation style study and tests

3.2 mechanics research 16th/Jan

3.2.1 conceptualisation and visual experimentation

3.2.2 proof of concepts video

4.1 interactive piece 1st/Feb.

4.1.1 create all the assets required

4.1.2 make a design document

4.1.3 contact assistance then compile assets for outsourcing

4.1.4 recompile the finished product for presentation

8. Ethics and Risk Assessment
The social study will require two sets of participants. One group who grew up playing the 16 bit era of videogames and a slightly younger group who never did. Most if not all participants will be over the age of consent. Some images may be required in the context of the study but nothing graphic or offensive at all.
9. Resources
1.adobe photoshop

2.adobe flash

3.windows movie maker

10. References
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Void_Zero

as you can see,it`s an anemic mess. the timetable doesn’t even have dates yet and my methods and objectives are`nt quite fleshed out yet. I`ve still to receive feedback regarding my new aim and objective so I really felt as though i was working too far forward when creating this. there’s also the alarming fact that all the games for analysis are derived from the 8 bit style instead o 16 bit. but i think the point of the observation will be regarding implementation of the (retro) style so it should hopefully not be a problem.

anyway, that’s enough defending. I`m well aware it`s a poor first draft so thankfully i can iterate it with feedback.

sketchbook

I`ve been wrapped up with making a level for a little proof of concept animation i want to make, i`m making the regular vector version first and then i`m going to redraw it as a 16 bit level. it`s intended to be the first level for patriot.

this was the original blocking

and here is the polished vector version

this is only the main layer, I plan at least one foreground and possibly 3 backgrounds (including a sky) the foreground will have Scottish greenery swaying in the wind, and the backgrounds will have hill`s with various Scottish artifacts on them,

the start

I used tetris as an inspiration for the brick pattern, the rocks and the overhanging rounded leafs were all modular assets I tried to distribute in a natural order as possible as to not have that `manufactured` look. I`m really getting into the groove of making modular graphics, I hope I can still pull it off in 16 bit form, since i wont have gradients and blurry brushes to help me.

first bump

there’s a reason for this hill, the darker pattern on the downside indicates that if the character walks on it, they will slide down without control. I may add more yellow grass to it so it can read better. not sure on what differences either visual mode could have on the slide. maybe in 16 bit game mode you could leap off ramps .

second bump

this increase serves as a platform to jump on top of the following homes

woodcutters hut

im debating which mode to have the roof interactable. for this level I`ve shown, i plan for there to be various differences between game (16-bit) mode and realistic (vector) mode. i think i might just leave the hut interactable in both modes, but i thought about having the hay roof act as a bouncy spring in game mode, like a spring in sonic or a mushroom in Mario. or perhaps just walk along the dark wood plank.

second hut

the reason for traversing along the roofs could be to avoid/reach enemies, or gather collectables.

Scottish highland interpretation of a warp pipe.

im thinking about animating the bucket to fall down the well to indicate to the player that going down it is a path. however, going down it in realistic mode could result in falling at terminal speeds and breaking your legs = losing a life. whereas in videogame mode, the character would stutter down it safely (like how Mario moves down pipes) and land in the caverns below safely.

a little side area to the right

an inconsequential dead end. the sign serves as a bloody obvious reminder (to anyone who speaks the Scottish tounge) as on what to do next. and those cliffs on the right simply serve as a barricade. i`d probably put something hidden in the corner to reward exploration.

i think plans for the rest of the week is to work on everything related to the project proposal so lot`s of busy paperwork, hopefully can squeeze in some sprite work to compliment this vector level.

 

 

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