Visit to Hull’s history centre

We thought it would be in our best interest to visit the History Centre in order to seek out additional information which would help us in deciding the interior of the building or just to find photographs or text which may help us in the development for the overall project. We looked at both books and microfilm and came across several images and text which would be of use. The images I have collected are as follows;

These images show lowgate within 1988 which is very interesting as this was just before Ocean Chambers was created. The other images show the imports and exports of Hull trade within 1890’s. This information tells us that cotton, wood,iron and wool was popular during this period meaning that this was likely used within the buildings design and interior. We also found a statement at the History centre which clarified that lowgate had electrics in 1895. This information will be useful as we can use this to add electricity to the building as previously the interior was lit by candle and oil.



Meeting with the client: Burstalls

Yesterday we met with Burstalls to showcase how far we have come with our work since they last saw our rough designs. For those unfamiliar with the project, we are set to create the Ocean Chambers building the year of its creation (1899-1901) on a turntable using software such as Unreal Engine 4 and 3dsmax.  We decided for our presentation that we would have at least two videos and several renders of the assets we have currently created to showcase our progression within the project.

Here are my renders which were showcased for the project, these were alongside other team members work;

This is footage taken from in Unreal Engine 4 of our current progress. This video was created by creating a blueprint within UE4 and a matinee sequence. The blueprint triggered the sequence to play during recording allowing me to capture the footage. Below is the blueprint I used alongside the video that was recorded.

Flythrough blueprint

The presentation itself was received well by our client and they were keen to push the project forward as well as we are. After speaking with our client we took some more photographs of the building for additional reference images for our project. An issue I came across straight away was the camera that I had brought with me and sadly due to technical errors and inexperience with working with that camera that the shots were sadly dark. The shots I had taken I will still be able to use due to being able to enhance these so that they can be used for reference. Sadly these photos will be unable to use as textures due to the quality of the photographs. On a positive note, I did receive some critical information about the company/artist who designed the flooring within the building alongside other bits of information which will be of great use when researching into the item being replicated so that we can create something which will match perfectly. It was addressed in the presentation that we would be able to communicate with the client the following month showing more progress for the project in order to keep them up to scratch with the direct the project is going.

How to make the Burstalls environment more realistic

Adding interactivity within the environment allows more options for the player to respond to the environment allowing the world to feel more real and because of this the player will continue playing the game. For example allowing the player to interact with assets within the level would give the player more freedoms within the environment and allowing them to enjoy themselves as they play. One method could be using blueprints for the player to open a door to enter a new room would be purposeful allowing them to access a new area. On the other hand if we used a blueprint such as allowing the player to open every cupboard then this would be pointless as the player has no need to do this and would only become annoying if overused. The player should be rewarded for exploration and experimenting with things within the environment.

One example could be that the player gains an achievement for locating particular assets within the level. Another could be gaining an achievement for using a candle in the basement so that the player is able to see within the unlit room. This is simple cause and effect which gives the player a need to use a blueprint rather than simply having it there. To add unpredictability it could be that dropping a candle or approaching a flammable asset while holding the candle would set the asset a light. This would end the level with the player, unlocking a hidden achievement of “Pyromaniac” due to setting the environment alight. This wouldn’t be a good idea for the Burstalls project as it does not suit the project because our project is a historical piece.

If a player smashes a window then glass should shatter in the place in which it occurred, if people are nearby then they would respond to the broken glass by either making a comment or moving out of the way and finally a sound with be caused due to the glass in which people within a certain radius would be alerted.  Another example is that the player is able to select a book from a bookshelf and that they are able to open it and read dialog from the book. If something is able to be activated by the player then our team should aim to make this possible for example windows can be opened/closed, candles can be unlit/lit and books can be opened and closed.

Creating “freedom” within our environment

There are many methods in order to create a sense of freedom within an environment, in this blog post we will explore different methods of creating a sense of freedom for the Burstalls project.

One way that we could create freedom within this project is by giving the player choices or at least the feeling of choice so that the player would feel freer the more they explore and get to know the level. An example of choice could be the choice to explore the basement before checking out any other room upstairs, or being able to interact with a candle in the basement. Even closing the door when leaving a room gives the player the choice to leave it open or to close it.

Non-Linear games allow the player to break free from the main quest in order to simply explore or to complete an alternative quest. This is giving the player the option to partake in other activities rather than the main quest itself, this could be anything from making an object from resources found in the level or even simply the urge to explore the entire environment to unlock all the exploration achievements before partaking on the main quest.

If the world was larger or contained an in depth story then naturally the player will feel freer. If the environment was to be small, then the creator should reflect on the level of detail within the game environment as having more details could create new pathways for the player to follow. For example if we have a small room within Burstalls solicitors then we should aim to pack this with enough detail as possible to give story to the room and thus possibly expanding the use of the room through a quest. Although, this should only be done with necessary in order to create a meaningful experience for the player as if this is overdone it could take away from the user experience.

Having some level of unpredictability within the level is something which would increase user freedoms as it means giving the player more than one focus. This means that the player will have multiple responses which can be taken further in which the player can be thrown off guard by a situation they didn’t expect. This level of unpredictability can enhance user experience but if too much is used then it can throw the user out of a state of flow and put them off continuing their experience. Players want to have a level of control within their environment but at the same time to not expect everything to be how they intended with some hidden surprises waiting for them. Once a foundation has been created then it has room for a level of unpredictability to be established.



Branding: Things to consider when working with Burstalls

For one of our projects we are working alongside Burstalls solicitors. When working with our client it is important that we consider what they would expect from us as we work alongside them to create our piece.

Safety is something that should be considered as Burstalls would want to work with people that won’t damage their brand or reputation. While we work with Burstalls we have to keep professionalism to a high standard and make sure our quality of work reflects this. We want our group image to reflect what we are able to produce which is high quality products. If we didn’t produce good quality products or acted unprofessional then it would look bad for Burstalls to be associated with us so keeping a level of professionalism is crucial.

We need to have a level of respect between both ourselves but with Burstalls. This means having clear and open communication with each other and that we listen to what Burstalls suggests and to follow any instructions that they give. If we didn’t do this then Burstalls would potentially look for another team or they would feel uneasy about us working on the project. Clear communication and respect is of importance. Maintaining a high quality throughout the project is of importance as this represents the value of Burstalls and means that we should offer nothing less but our best.

Burstalls needs to be confident in our ability and have confidence within us as a team. They need to feel that they are able to confront us with any issues or questions that they may have with the project and feel comfortable knowing that we are able to meet our given deadlines. They should be able to trust our team and for this to be possible we need to keep open communication so any issues can arise and be resolved as soon as they are apparent to either party. Communication should be well enough that both parties are familiar with the product progression and are happy with the result.

If Burstalls feels that something needs altering then we should be able to respond to their request as soon as possible in order to make sure that the company and branding is safe. Burstalls should be able to rely on us as a team to help them meet their expectations of the project. In some instances this may mean speaking about the project to other unfamiliar members of staff or even outside of Burstalls to give clarity on the project.

It is key that we have a mutual understanding and to be realistic with what can be achieved from the task. This means that if we are unable to do something and we have made an attempt then we have to alert our client that we are unable to produce something. We also have to be realistic with time scales so that everyone on our team is able to be at the same point by the time so that deadlines can be met. Both parties should feel supported and that they can trust each other. The project is relevant and that our best work is being produced in order to fit the quality that is expected of us.


Ocean Chambers: Creating a concept document for review

For our major client project for the year, we have decided as a group of 4 to create the Ocean Chambers building for the Heritage open event.

C – Burstall’s Solicitors have commissioned Games Design to recreate their building (OCEAN CHAMBERS) on Lowgate ready to show at next years Heritage Open Days event.

A flypast of a reconstruction of the building in a given period (TBC) will be the expected final result. Client Feedback will be given.”

To start our project, we decided to create an concept document which was to be taken to Ocean Chambers to suggest different routes we could pursue.

The document was put together in word initially and images created with the use of 3dsmax, photoshop and sketches then was handed over to Dave Eccles in which he designed the physical concept document that our team was able to tweak. After small adjustments from myself and our team, we gave our finished document to Gareth who took it to the client. They were happy with our project idea and informed us they wanted us to recreate the building the year it was built. I am excited for this task at hand as it will allow us to hone in on our skill-sets and produce something for a big client which may help us pursue other clients, aid our portfolio and help us into the industry.




FMP Update: 16/12/2015

Since my last post my project was in pieces with nothing really giving much other than being rather still. Since then, I have managed to implement a series of small number of things which will keep the player entertained while exploring my environment.

Firstly, I have added subtle animation to parts of the part for example the park now contains both a moving ferris wheel and a round about which gently moves due to the wind. I have discovered around three ways to add animation within UE4 and I will be showcasing these different methods in my next blog post, each having their own positives and negatives.

Finally, I have added a character model from MakeHuman as a place holder which moves and the player is able to interact with. The only issues with the MakeHuman character is that the animation is very animation and for a living friendly character shouldn’t be doing this as it makes the player feel uneasy about approaching the character due to them feeling that the character is an enemy. The animation ended up this way due to myself manually editing the animation sequence within UE4 rather than keyframing a more realistic animation. Although, on the plus side of this, It made me realize how effectively animatronics would work within the environment.

Presentation skills review

We strived to achieve a high quality within our presentation skills during our project. Firstly, we aimed to have a proposal document which was clear and concise so that it was easily readable to someone who may have no technical knowledge within games design. It showed our idea beautifully within our proposal document with the document itself being carefully planned and then put forward to an illustrator who played a large role in its completion. The reason we passed our design to another individual was due to his experience with designing documents and who we knew would create something that would show their branding beautifully thus achieving a good standing with our client.

We have developed an online blog for our client project which is currently in development but can be found here. This blog will be used as an online gallery showcasing our finer work that we want the public to see but also once finished will be keeping the public up to date with the development of the project but also the dates the project can be viewed.
In the future when we meet the client again we will be showcasing the work we have produced over the last few months. This will mean displaying our progress in a more detailed draft of the project, showcasing finished models using software such as Marmoset and 3DSMAX to create professional lighting to achieve some stunning final renders which would be displayed both in our document for the client but also on our webpage. When next meeting the client, I will request that our group dresses smart/casual as last time we visited the client we were dressed too informal and I feel this may have caused us to look unprofessional which is the opposite that we want to put across.

Working within a group and communication with client

In order for our brainstorming sessions to work successfully it meant that the whole team had to be involved so that ideas could be generated for how we were going to create our project and also how this might be displayed later on in its development. Ideas were given out loud in which I took down notes within my notebook. We agreed on a range of ideas but it was one in particular that we all took too, which was to create Ocean Chambers on a turntable and then add game mechanics to it if we had time so that the player could interact with aspects of the environment. We set out clear objectives and goals in order to meet targets and achieve what had been set.

After this, we had to pitch our idea to our lecturers so they could see the ideas that we had come up with but also to see if they agreed with our decision on creating a 3d turntable. This meant making sure that we were able to produce our product in the given time but also that we were passionate about the idea and that it wasn’t something that was going to fizzle out. After talking as a team and agreeing that this was something achievable and something we all wanted to do, we spoke with our lecturers and this got the ball moving as they gave us the go ahead to begin our idea.

After this, we began designing the proposal document to take to Burstalls to see if they wanted us to pursue our idea but also if they had any suggestions on what they would like to see within the project. Within our design document we had to make sure that the companies brand identity was clear as it was something that had to stand out within our document especially as we were pitching it to a company. We wanted them to know that we had done our research on not only the product, but who they are as well as it shows earlier on the commitment and strong research skills which would be needed for the entire project. Within our document we had to have short pitches of what we wanted to achieve, who we were, and what we were able to produce. This would have a similar resemblance to the “45 second elevator pitch” as it would be short but to the point. When meeting our client, we would have to be confident and enthusiastic in order to have a good relationship with our client but also to give a good vibe about our product.

If the client didn’t like our idea and suggested something as an alternative this would have to overtake our idea although it should be within reason, for example if the client wanted an interactive playable environment with three levels then that would be achievable while if they wanted something out of our field then we would have to inform the client of this so that a compromise could be made. Within our proposal documentation we had put together a series of images so that when the client was looking through they may be inspired by something they saw and maybe could input their ideas or even just simply agree with the direction we were taking the project. It is extremely important to keep clear communication with our client so that miscommunication is minimal but also so that they feel comfortable with us on the project.

Music Clearance

Music clearance is the process of obtaining permissions for the use of an individual’s songs and debating a fee with the individual. This would mean that if I were to use an individual’s music for a video game, I would have to contact themselves or their publisher in order to negotiate how much of the music I could use, the duration I could use it for, what the music would be used for, how much would this cost etc. Once all the paperwork has been put together and agreed upon, I would receive a synchronization license which would clarify the deal that was put together and agreed upon clearly stating the terms of the agreement as a legally binding document. If the music already exists in a film or television then it is likely that a “Master Use License” would be required. This is an agreement in which the owner of the copyright for that sound recording gives their permission for that sound to be used in a visual work such as a video game or another film/television programme.

In order to get hold of the publishing information to a particular song/music would be to contact the ASCAP (American society of composers, authors and publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc) or SESAC (Society of European stage authors and composers) and give them information such as the name of the writer and title of the song in order for them to give you the contact information for that publisher. Once gaining this information, contact the publisher asking what information they require in order to use their music. The information they tend to ask for is the title of the song, the author, duration of the song, where the song is to be used, will it be used on advertising or marketing, description of the scene in which the music will be used and how long you would like to have the license for. Once this information is handed over to the publisher, then a fee can be given and once paid you would be allowed to use that music as agreed upon.