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.

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Visual decision making

This week was our one to one with tutors and after a conversation with Paul we managed to highlight a few areas that have been possibly overlooked or just not considered enough. I have made the decision to go back to basics and address the importance of good visual decision making.

‘Another body of web user experience research shows that website users are powerfully influenced by aesthetics, and that positive perceptions of order, beauty, novelty, and creativity increase the user’s confidence in a site’s trustworthiness and usability.’

This statement only backs up the importance of making the correct visual decisions otherwise it will affect the users perception of your work, either it be a website or a game. This does not mean that visuals should come before making work function, but visuals should enhance what functionality your product has because there’s lots of evidence that beauty enhances usability.

I thought I would address this matter by looking at how people critique art as the process would be the same as when choosing out designs, creating sketches and helping in my development of a project.

  1. Technical Skill

How good is the technique? Is the style suited for the target audience e.g. Cel shading, Realistic?

In art there is a lot of experimentation in which the results do not achieve the goals desired for example Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” used an experimental technique when mixing the pigment and plaster and because of this the artwork began decomposing. It takes a lot of practise for the skill to meet what your dream results but as you grow so will your art so that you will be able to achieve the results you want with study and practice.

I feel technical skill when designing games is important as we follow a design process and each stage of this has to be correctly applied meeting with good skill in order to produce effective results. This is why we should not ignore drawing or other important parts of the process but challenge it and in time the end result will be worth it. Reflecting over my work, I have felt like my technical skill is still in need of development but I know this, and I feel that with every passing year this is continuing to improve. I do not feel as if I compromise as often anymore, although sometimes it is present I try my best to apply the skill and expand on what I know to avoid this in the future. An example of this is my work within UE4, I feel as if Blueprints has been a struggle for me although I did pick up some skills within it, it is not where I would like it to be. I have intensions of tackling this issue during summer so that when addressed with the dilemma again I will be able to tackle it with less issues.

  1. Composition

Composition is when we look at how elements interact with each other. For example does the colour, shape and texture work together or do we need to make changes for it to do so. Did the artist just throw this together or did he do his research and made educated changes? Does the result appear awkward, if so, why?

We have to remember that not everything is perfect and as humans we notice these things but fail to notice why or if it had been done intentionally. I feel composition can be researched and applied effectively, and no matter the result of this as long as you have points to back up your decisions rather than making uneducated choices then your work will have its own stability. In games design, we must make decisions on things in things such as the development stages of our projects and if we cannot get the composition right then there is little point in developing this into a final product otherwise it will fall through for many reasons, for example it may not meet the target audiences needs or fit the brief completely as you are compromising decision making.

In reflection to my composition, I feel this is the thing that I have compromised the most as I feel I have researched only generally and have not considered things such as if the colours are working correctly or if I am using the correct text and images for my project. A clear example of this has been within my ongoing gamification project. Yes, I did research into this in regards as the app itself and its target audience but I did a fragment of research in regards to the visual side of it and because of this it has made the app look visually poor. Due to this being a project I have intension of completing over summer I have every intension of approaching the issue and having a complete do over in regards to the visual side of things and consider things such as correct fonts, effective colour pallets and a better interface. With all these together, plus the recent adaptions to the project such as having it appear more realistic by having an animated hand using the app. I feel as if it will bring the gamification project to its peak and will be able to distinguish itself as an application rather than an animation.

  1. Content

In art it is important that we have a feel for the message that the artist is trying to convey to us as the audience. It is important that we can see how well the artist transfers this message to us and how effective they have been at doing so. For example if we were looking at biblical art showing Hell then we would expect harsh colours as Hell is portrayed as the worst place to be. We would expect Heaven to be perfect with light colours and perfect in every way possible.

As a game designer we would also want to convey a particular message to our audience, this could be about the pains of war to things such as the struggle of managing our own farms. Game designers have the opportunity to show games in fully immersive 3d and even more so with equipment such as the Oculus rift now readily becoming available we can show our content in a more dynamic environment. In comparison to other media, we have more ways to express ourselves than ever before and to not use this as a way to bring home our message to the audience would be one of the worst decisions that we could make.

When considering my project work, I feel as if this is something that I have managed to do rather well as I have always made sure that the application meets the requirements of its audience and thus being portrayed in the correct way. I have tried to make my projects engaging although I do know improvements can and will be made in the near future I am satisfied with how I have dealt with the content side of things. Although, I do feel like my considerations with the composition may have affected my content side of things, I do feel as if my overall message or idea of my projects have managed to come through.

Gamification: Create an App: More research

For this blog post, I have decided to investigate my target market so that I have enough research in order to begin to understand who I am developing an app for so that it is more effective. I also want to begin to make a decision on what game mechanics I have intensions to apply so that it can be implemented as soon as possible rather then having to backtrack when making my designs.

as mentioned in my previous post, I began to look at who I had intended to aim my app at for it to be most effective.

Who is this app aimed at?:

The app is aimed to individuals who are;

  • Young and unemployed (Aging between 18-30)
  • People within the Hull area
  • Bartle’s achievers/socializers but more dominant on the achievers’

I firstly wanted to investigate how employment was within Hull currently, and the more I read, the more I began to understand that a lot more people were becoming unemployed. Here are some of the articles I found during my research;

http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/Hull-s-unemployment-rate-falls-2-000-work/story-22715249-detail/story.html

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/358487/Unemployment-blackspot-that-has-7-000-jobs-going-begging

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21755034

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-humber-20317983

Unemployment is sinking, so with this in mind I feel as if my app would meet a reoccurring issue so hopefully it will make a difference for people and help keep people feeling motivated. I thought that because a lot of these people will have spare time, they will most likely be using applications such as Facebook and twitter as it common these days for most people to be using social media. By allowing my app to share to Facebook it gives those individuals who are defined as socialisers to show their progress on Facebook which would also benefit the app as it will gain awareness. For the achievers, having points and rewards are important mechanics to implement. With many individuals owning smartphones, this app would be accessible to many, especially those who are considered more at risk of not getting a job such as young adults who have left college or university in hope of finding work yet struggling to get into the field.

I began thinking of how I could keep the user engaged, and I felt as if the best way for me to do this is to use positive and negative reinforcement so I began to look closer at this and began to think of ways that I could implement this within my app.

Positive reinforcement:

  • Points
  • Levels
  • Experience bars
  • Certificates
  • Unlockable content (Stuff for customising the character)

Negative reinforcement:

  • You can lose exp each day you don’t use the app (You can’t lose levels)
  • Your characters expression will alter depending on the usage of the app (e.g. if app not used for over 20+ days your character will be sad. If you visit your app every day for a week, the character will show a happy face. This could be used to show an employer that you are committed to finding work?
  • If you don’t complete the daily objectives you will not gain bonus experience

When designing my app I will try to implement these features within my design but this is an on going process so not all of these will be used but each will be trailed to see what works and what doesn’t.

 

 

Game idea development – Diagnosis

An element within my game was to use the game to help with the diagnosis of autism within children. The first thing that I felt to research was what actually is autism? why is it an issue? and how do we find out if ourselves or an individual could have it?

Autism.org.uk defines autism as;

‘Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.’

So basically people with autism see the world through a different lens and act accordingly to their own world. For example they may have a unique way of communicating or they may respond very differently to a situation then what an individual who didn’t have autism would.

Autism can be a struggle for both the individual who has it but also the people around the individual. People with autism find it difficult to imitate hence why development can be slow in these particular individuals so because of this they may not connect with other children. An example of this in the real world could be a child feeling secluded because they can not partake in an activity that other children of that age may be finding easy and enjoyable. This could advance further as the child sometimes may act out due to not being able to fully understand the situation and could respond in a negative way which could involve anything from physical or verbal abuse to other individuals to being distant or depressed. which would cause concern.

I was researching into how children are diagnosed professionally and I discovered that they can take a test known as CHAT when they are at 18 months to help the parents to see if their child does indeed have autism. CHAT stands for ‘the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers’ and the test itself is designed to help identify which children are at risk of social-communication disorders. The test itself consists of two sections;

It consists of two sections: the first nine items are questions asked to the parents, and the last five items are observations made by the primary health care worker. The key items look at behaviours which, if absent at 18 months, put a child at risk for a social-communication disorder. These behaviours are (a) joint attention, including pointing to show and gaze-monitoring (eg looking to where a parent is pointing), and (b) pretend play (eg pretending to pour tea from a toy teapot).

Depending on how the child scores on the test will vary if the child is at high or low risk developing a disorder such as autism.

Also, there are little tests online that an individual can take to give a individual an idea to if they should get tested properly for autism. This particular test (here) I was looking into was created by a psychologist and his colleagues at the Cambridge’s autism research centre. The average score of was 16.4 and those who had autism scored around 32 or higher. I was interested in the test so I decided to take this test myself and here are my results;

‘Agree: 2,5,12,13,22,39,42,43,45,46: 1 point
Disagree: 1,10,24,32: 1 point
Score: 14’

Once I have looked into the finer details of how a child is diagnosed and how these are put into testing conditions I will try to implement features of this within my game so that anything that could trigger a response to show if a child has autism then my game will help that individual to becoming properly diagnosed. I am unsure to how far I will be able to push this but if I can even implement small bits then it will be worth it as it would not only make my final product a game, but it will make it a tool to help educators and parents become aware that their child may be living with an undiagnosed condition.

Whitefriargate research: Email research proved useful

I thought I would keep you guys posted with what I’ve been doing recently within the research task for our client project. I thought I would start doing some more online based research, and thankfully I managed to find some interesting results. I was browsing a local forum and discovered that there was a shop on Whitefrairgate called Kardomah, which then made me think of the venue Kardomah94 not far from where the original Kardomah was located. Turns out Kardomah Café’s were a chain of coffee shops which were located throughout England, Wales and Paris so I thought it would be in the best interest of the project that I emailed Kardomah94 to see if there was any relation between the two, the response I got was rather interesting. This was the email I received.

Thanks for being in touch.  There is no link but I do have a couple of photos of the old Kardomah in Whitefriargate from the 60’s.  There’s also a photo book in the History Centre with a photo of the frontage of the Whitefriargate Kardomah as it was exposed a few years ago. .  A book ‘Memories of Hull’ has a page about ¼ way in showing the Kardomah frontage with crowds in front, assumed to be waiting for a procession. Good luck with it.  There is a website dedicated to the Kardomah brand with further info.  Radio Humberside did a radio article not too long ago, contact June above.’

This was great news as the individual who wrote to me managed to give me plenty of leads for our project and also showed us that we had missed some information from one of the books we had in the studio. I have written back to Malcom and waiting on receiving information to see if we can get hold of the photographs he mentioned but regardless he managed to get me contact with June who works for the BBC. I followed Malcom’s advice and contacted Joan in regards to our project in which she was very helpful and gave me the name of another shop called ‘The Lions Café’ and has set up a visit for me to meet her in person and discuss things further. Once I have spoken with Joan I will post more about my research and have plenty more to tell, and possibly might get us some exposure about our project in regards to the BBC. Also want to thank both Malcom and Joan for providing us with information to help us with our project.

I also wanted to note I found some images on the net which could have been useful although they had no date on them although they looked 1950-1960’s but I didn’t want to take the risk so decided to contact them personally. After speaking to a member of the Library staff the only advise they gave me was to write to them and to see if someone in a higher department could step in and help me for my research although im unsure of how successful this lead could be.