Vertex painting – 11/1/2015

I have made the decision to paint the ground within my FMP, the process which I found that I wanted to experiment with and thought that would be the most useful for this would be vertex painting. The reason for my choice of vertex painting rather than just simply texturing the floor is because this allows me to constantly edit the floor material between four different textures and allowing me to edit until I reach my desired result. Although vertex painting has its uses and can be considered extremely useful, it has its negatives. One which applies to me is that the floor itself must contain a large amount of verts meaning that the environment uses more polys then it should but after weighing out the pros and cons I believe for the environment floor, this would be an advantage. I would not consider vertex painting for assets within my environment as this wouldn’t be optimising and would not be the most effective method. This could be used to texture rust onto objects within my environment, although I would either simply have rust on the texture itself or use decals where possible in order to achieve that look with far less poly count.

Vertex painting works by sharing multiple textures on a single material by working between the different channels in order to apply them to the desired model, in this instance it would be the section of floor I have modelled. Within this material, I would lay out the textures as shown below in order to create a functioning material which would work within engine.

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This material uses two different types of textures which each contain four different maps (Normal, Albedo, Roughness and Ambient Occlusion), each one passing through a lerp and a multiply node and finally being attached to the correct socket. The node which holds all of these together is the vertex paint node, which is the node that allows us to paint between the original state and the alpha state in order to create two different effects.

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Once saving my material, I went onto the paint tab, deselected the red, green and blue channels leaving only the alpha channel selected. I began painting on my material by pressing the left mouse button and shift in order to start painting grass onto my concrete and began creating my desired look.

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Why do we feel fear? Part one

For my FMP, one of the key elements in the game being effective is by creating an atmosphere and environment in which the player would become sensitive to what happens within the level. This means that we have the ability to create an experience for the player by playing on what makes a persons fear.

Psychologist James Gear developed the “Fear survey schedule 11” to see what scares us the most. Looking into the results of this survey, the top things that scared people the most were;

Illness or injury to love ones (Scored 4.98)

Auto incidents (Scored 4.00)

Dead bodies (Scored 3.68)

Untimely or early death (Scored 3.63)

These scores were based on both male and female results combined giving me the ability to see what scared people the most. With this information, I could apply this to my FMP in order to make players feel uncomfortable. For example, I could have a ride incident visible within the environment as it is something which would make a player feel uncomfortable. I could also have the antagonist as someone who is sick due to something occurring in the park which they would leave messages within the level which become more sinister.

I also found several quotes by Stephen King which I thought helped define how someone can invoke fear and create atmosphere, these were;

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

“The three types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…”

“The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.”

I feel that Stephen King really breaks down fear into manageable parts which are easy to understand. I also feel that these are steps in which the player needs to take in order to reach “Terror” so by starting with “Grossed-out” and then taking “Terror”, then and only then we can reach the level of “Fear”. For example, within my FMP I could start with flickering lights (this would be subtle), I would then move onto the use of sounds and messages in which the player would find and finally I would finish with the player facing the antagonist within the environment. This builds the suspense for the player and would have to be correctly applied but I feel like this would work.

After this, I looked into “Vagueness” as the unknown seems to really scare a lot of us and this brought up the topic of masks or people using a correspondence which isn’t face to face and unclear. Vagueness scares us as we are unsure what the vague item/person truly means and we find it difficult to understand so this makes us feel uncomfortable as we are unsure if they are our friend or foe. Claude Levi-strauss idea supports this and he wrote “the facial disguise temporarily eliminates from social intercourse. Covering this part of the face eliminates personal feelings and attitudes.” This is why we fear clowns, strangers, Slenderman etc because we are unable to see their true face and that we have difficulty understanding a face which doesn’t appear human as we are used to reading human expressions.

Uncanny Valley is the phenomenon in which something that is created by a computer (artificial) that appears to look and move almost human. An example would be the use of animatronics or moving “human” robots. These can make individuals feel uncomfortable due to the almost natural human features although it isn’t human causing the player to react negatively. An example of this is at five nights at freddies with the animatronics or John Bergeron’s singing androids. Similar to the idea of vagueness, we find things which fall into uncanny valley just as creepy/scary because we are unsure if these are a threat or if they are something entertaining.

In five nights at freddies, the animatronics are displayed as something for children although these become ‘more’ than animatronics and begin attacking the player using more motion than typical animatronics would, with the intent to harm the character. They use the idea of ‘moving statues’ to approach the player similar to the weeping angles in Doctor Who, this is something that we find scary as we are unsure of their motive for moving towards the player. Vsauce (Youtuber) states “Between the mountains of safety and danger, there is a valley of creepiness, where the limits of our knowledge and trust and security aren’t very clear.” Uncanny Valley can also cause cognitive dissonance which is when the player has mental stress or discomfort due to having two or more contradictory ideas/beliefs. This means when the player can’t decide if someone is a friend or a foe due to conflicted behaviour shown by the subject it can cause the player to stress as humans want consistency otherwise the player would become uncomfortable. To put it into perspective, we as humans are smart but fragile in a world full of inconsistency and vagueness with things not always following a pattern. This makes some situations hard to deal with and because of this our emotional state can become affected.

(Check out Vsauce, as this was the foundation to where I found my sources)

Joyland, USA

Joyland amusement park is located in Wichita, USA. It began its journey as “Mackenzie park playground” but later on was changed to “Joyland amusement park.” The park was founded by Lester Ottaway and was open for around 55 years opening from 1949 to 2004. In regards to size, the park itself is rather small (as shown in the picture) in comparison to other theme parks. The park itself featured around 24 rides some of these were a log jam, roller coaster, the whacky shack, zumur, giant slide and a ferris wheel. The roller coaster which was named both “Nightmare” and “Roller coaster” was one of the last surviving wooden roller coasters plus one of the only roller coasters in north America using vintage rolling stock with lap bars. The Carousel within the park was built in 1949 and contains all of the original horses. Within May 2014 it was restored and donated to the Botanica (Public Gardens) in Wichita.

The park encountered a few issues. One of these was an accident in 2004, the accident happened on the Ferris wheel in which a young girl fell from the ride and was seriously injured. This was one of the reasons why there were many safely concerns and due to this the park faced financial issues. The park closed within 2004 and was open again in 2006 for a single season but since has been closed and left with no up keep of the park. The park has faced a lot of vandalism since its closure with nearly everything within the park being touched by some form of graffiti plus signs have been stolen from within the park. In 2012 the maintenance building within the park managed to catch fire in which people believe was caused due to arson.
Within the park there was an animatronic clown called Louie the clown who plays the organ located within the park. This clown was stolen but returned after being found within a former Joyland employee’s home after a decade. Looking at the clown reminded me of similar animatronics I have seen such as the T-rex in Jurassic park and the characters from five nights at Freddy’s. I find these animatronics to be really ghoulish and that it is something which should look motionless becomes animated. This causes people to become nervous and uncomfortable as its unnatural and something that we associate with horror films. I feel having something such as a doll or statue slightly move within my environment would be a good way of causing the player to feel uncomfortable and keep their interest within the environment.

Umoja Childrens Park, Zanzibar

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Not much information to share about this theme park as its opening and closure remain a mystery although I did manage to find out, from The Rough Guide to Zanzibar by Jens Finke, that the park was a fun fair that was open for fifteen days a year. These were to celebrate Idd al-fitr and Idd al-Hajj celebrations, Christmas and New Year. The park itself doesn’t look old, and as far as we can predict it was probably just abounded due to poor ticket sales. The size of the park looks on the small side and the park is still around to visit today. The park itself consisted of around 10 rides, such as a small car rollercoaster, a train roundabout, a ride similar to teacups, swing boats and other various rides.

The park looks very worn with rust taking away most of the paint work and metal hangers completely missing meaning that some of the seats to rides were placed on the floor. Some of the rides were lost in large forestation and most of it having graffiti. On the other hand, there are a few rides which look as if they have only recently been placed and have not suffered the same fate as the others. Looking at the images, the park itself seems to be missing a lot of signage, I’m assuming this was taken by either the park or people breaking into the park. Judging on what remains of the park, I feel the park is spacious and if someone was to come here at night it would make the individual very uncomfortable because the park itself does look creepy. I really like how the seats to the rides are placed still in the vicinity yet detached from the ride itself rather than just missing from the ride altogether as it allows you to work out what the ride actually was and gives you some idea of the park. Some of the rides seem to also be buried in mud slopes suggesting they have been there for a very long period yet the nearby graffiti makes it look as if people still often visit. It gives me the idea that if I want my park to look occupied by an unwanted guest than this would be a good way to show to the player that someone has been here. I could make the graffiti have a darker tone to scare the player as they explore, maybe allow it to tell a story of the individual as they explore the park.

Research: Flamingo Land, UK

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Flamingo Land is located within the UK near Malton, North Yorkshire and is around 276 acres and consists of 52 rides, 9 being rollercoasters and 2 being water rides. The featured rides include Mumbo Jumbo, Velocity, Cliff Hanger, Flip Flop and Kumali. The park was established in 1959 as a zoo, then in the 1960’s the park had rides on site in the form of a fun fair to go alongside the zoo temporarily. Within 1970’s the amusement rides were in the park to stay and has become the very popular UK theme park we know today. The zoo within Flamingoland hosts up to 120 different types of animals such as lions, rare fish, penguins and camels.

The park is still in operation and is still very popular as it offers a holiday village and has been in the public eye many times featuring on ITV, Zoo Vet, ChuckleVision, ITV Weather and Talk Flamingo and currently is the new sponsor for the 2015-2016 Championship season for our very own local football club Hull City.

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I believe what makes this park very atmospheric is the sounds coming from the park, the lights and the water featured within the park. Although this isn’t the kind of atmosphere that I am wanting to create, I can use some of the ride designs and experiences that I have gained from visiting the park a few years ago. When researching into this theme park, I began to notice how important music is as well as natural sounds from the environment. The reason why this is as important as it adds to the mystery of the environment and keeps the player on their toes. It also create a mood and can make a player feel uncomfortable such as if a record was to stop playing a player could feel like something big is about the happen within the environment.

Okpo Land, South Korea

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Okpo Land was located on the Geoje Island within South Korea and closed in May 1999 and demolished in 2011. The park itself was pretty young but I have been unsuccessful in finding a date but it would be correct to assume the park opened around 1995. The park itself was small in comparison to other theme parks consisting of around 11 main rides and attractions such as a swimming pool, bumper cars, roundabout, small arcade machines, duck rollercoaster, The Viking. The park was abandoned due to several accidents and two known deaths. The last death was in 1999 in which a cart derailed and caused the death of a young girl. The owner fled soon after and due to this the park was closed until its demolition in 2011. All the rides were left in place including the cart which caused the death of the young girl.

Looking at the environment from photos taken by an individual in 2009, the park has building waste around the entrance consisting of rubble and pipes. A lot of the buildings have large marks on them showing water damage and general wear due to people visiting the park unauthorised, wildlife and that the park has not been maintained for 10 years since the photos. Discarded items which would have been used within particular attractions have been left behind such as tickets and swimming noodles create the image that the park shut down rather quickly. The smashed windows, opened doors, broken tiles, rust and large pools of water on the ground really make the environment feel worn which I feel is something that is important when creating the atmosphere I am looking for within my piece. There is a lot of forestation around the rides and signs which I feel is also very important to consider, especially with them entangling the rides themselves to really give the park some age.

More images can be found at:

http://abandonedplaces.livejournal.com/1814560.html

http://www.uer.ca/locations/viewgal.asp?locid=26860&galid=24327

Research: Prypiat amusement park, Pyrpiat, Ukraine

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This amusement park was located north of Kiev, Ukraine in a city called Pripyat. The amusement park was built in 1986 and was meant to open May 1st 1986. The park itself was created to celebrate May Day and was going to be a great attraction to the 50,000 residents living in Pripyat at the time. The park itself was only meant to be temporary and was meant to entertain the power plant workers and their families as many of the people living in the town worked at the power plant. Sadly, the amusement park never opened for the May Day parade due to the Chernobyl disaster which occurred on the 26th of April. Instead, the park opened for a few hours on the 27th of April to help keep people distracted and calm while people were being evacuated.

The park itself was rather small and had four main attractions, these were the ferris wheel, bumper cars, swing boats and a paratrooper ride. The area in which the park is situated within has had to remain abandoned due to the levels of radiation and will probably never be habitable during several life times although many people visit the town for a few hours in the less dangerous zones.

The park appears in many different games and films such as Chernobyl Diaries which is a recent film that was released in 2012. The film is about a group of friends who are going to visit a relative but decide to detour and take a tour of Pripyat. After returning back to their van, they discover it’s been tampered with meaning that they have to stay in the van till morning despite two of their group being attacked trying to find help. The film is a horror and it is trying to capture the side of Pripyat that many find chilling so by playing on the idea that something is alive, mutated and wanting to harm them is a great way of getting an audience hooked.

Sadly, the amusement park never opened for the May Day parade due to the Chernobyl disaster which occurred on the 26th of April. Instead, the park opened for a few hours on the 27th of April to help keep people distracted and calm while people were being evacuated.
The park itself was rather small and had four main attractions, these were the ferris wheel, bumper cars, swing boats and a paratrooper ride. The area in which the park is situated within has had to remain abandoned due to the levels of radiation and will probably never be habitable during several life times although many people visit the town for a few hours in the less dangerous zones.
The park appears in many different games and films such as Chernobyl Diaries which is a recent film that was released in 2012. The film is about a group of friends who are going to visit a relative but decide to detour and take a tour of Pripyat. After returning back to their van, they discover it’s been tampered with meaning that they have to stay in the van till morning despite two of their group being attacked trying to find help. The film is a horror and it is trying to capture the side of Pripyat that many find chilling so by playing on the idea that something is alive, mutated and wanting to harm them is a great way of getting an audience hooked.

This park was also in a few games such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl. This game is a FPS (First person shooter) survival horror game created by GSC Game world and published by THQ. This game also had a prequel released in 2008 called S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Clear Sky which was also created by GSC game world but released by Deep Silver.

Another game which featured this theme park was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare which was released in 2007 which was developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. The game is a well known FPS and is one of the instalments from the Call of Duty franchise.

Both of these titles are known for featuring the park although the stories within each of the game don’t solely feature the park but in fact feature the entire area of Chernobyl but do touch on the park as something iconic to the area.
This area is very atmospheric and is somewhere I will focus my attention to the most when dealing with designing my park because of the film and reasons for its closure, I feel it creates an mournful and vexatious vibe which makes the audience feel uncomfortable when watching and playing games which feature this park. It makes the player feel unsettled and for myself personally, it makes me feel as if I am not alone within the environment which is something that I want to create when putting together my environment. I feel one way for me to do this is to give my park some backlog of information to give the player a reason to feel unbalanced and uncomfortable in order to trigger an emotional response by connecting the player to a tragic event.

The beginning of my final major project

Before we finished university for our second year, we were asked to think of a project that we would work on throughout our third year. This meant coming up with an idea which could stand the test of time by being something that I was very interested in and wanted to produce but that would be something that I was passionate about enough to not grow bored of the idea. After throwing some ideas around, I settled on two keywords, “Horror” and “Theme parks”. Two contrasting things as horror is something that is scary and not to be taken lightly, but theme parks are something that we love from a young age and are full of life and laughter. I decided that I would make an abandoned theme park which would play on the atmosphere and things that would scare a person, but would show a theme park and its previous life. I want the environment I am designing to tell a story but to also show what the park has become after being left for years without any maintenance.

So for the general breakdown of how my project will run, there will be;

  • some presentations: These will be put online too to gain response from people outside of my own studio and also for self reflection purposes.
  • a lot of documentation: this will mean from web, books and from personal experiences on things such as other theme parks, horror films, art, looking into how we as humans respond to things etc
  • A more regular blog: I noticed last year my blogs were not very spaced out so this is something that I want to maintain that little bit better with a wider range of experimentation than last year but to keep this regular so that people can comment on my works for improvement
  • 3D: This is something that was few last year when developing my project so this will be my main focus in regards to improvement. I also want to have a play around with some new software and expand on those which I found very helpful last year. All of this will be well documented on my blog through written works and video.