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New Direction and focus

While working on my new direction I found it's actually really fun figuring out how one can even develop a floor map of a space. taking a snippet from one specific point and blowing it up you begin to look into the nitty-gritty of a space. where should I place things so that the player has the freedom to maneuver, but knows the right direction to move?

photo credit Matthew sean murphy developer of The Stanley Parable


moving from loose ideas to finished product you can see the level of information that has to be considered when conveying where you need things to be. That being said if you're working on your own, you can do pretty much anything. But I'm choosing the former. The structure of labeling everything out and defining the accessible points of a room suit a team better. not only that but it ensures that down the line one can look at the map and say, "I need these specific assets to be available at these specific times." while 3D a can be utilized to test out how someone can maneuver a space.

Production notes

After meeting with Scott something I failed to notice in my flow sprung up and a lot of things clicked afterward.

you need to consider the context of the space your grant your player. How does a space function for them? what queues are handed to them? and without being promoted what will they explore?

my initial designs focused too much on giving players freedom in a space that it made it easy for a narrative to become nonlinear if a player wasn't on some kind of track. and altering the context of a space like a home, it's hard to make it feel believable when you want a player to move.

Moving forward

Moving forward I plan to finalize this layout and talk things over with Scott as I finalize the other room, while simultaneously working on the white box in unity for the first room.

Thesis Writing

my thesis at this point has had to be restructured but thanks to actively engaging in the practice of level design I have a lot of fresh information.

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Advisement Meeting

This advisement meeting was actually pretty surprising. Through the course of the 1-hour meeting I had with Maria, Peter, and Scott I was informed that I did not need to develop a project as I had initially envisioned. 2 versions of a self-contained story, one whose narrative was liner and embedded, and the other the same exact story but emergent. However, thought the course of the work in master I had been developing games the entire time. applying the same techniques and elements to said projects.

a new idea was floated my way that seemed appealing. rather than a full game, I'd refine my scope a bit more and produce a vertical slice of it. one room. "you could spend months on a levels design, with the amount of back and forth it goes through in production," Scott said. and while I don't have a month I do have a heck of a lot of enthusiasm for the practice.

my thesis project would shift from developing a project document showing that I have developed mastery in the process of level design. with the same thesis question, I had when proposing my project. What effect does narrative delivery have on the footprint of a level?

here we have the level design of the game I had envisioned a 2 story home. the narrative which is scripted to have 8 scenes, displays the story of someone trying to understand and empathize with a person they never met.

It's a story inspired by Gone Home. You lay a character who was asked to come to pick up the belongings of a relative who you remember from when you were a baby but nothing else. over the course of the game, your character tried desperately to find some connection to this estranged relative. you spend time ruminating on the person they were and who they could have been if they were in your life. The project is meant to look at the idea of how one mourns someone they never met someone they theoretically should love.

Production notes

Taking my time this week

While this week should have made me feel the pressure of delivery like everything should have been done out of an anxious need, I find myself content. I agree with my committee I know what I want to talk about I just need to devote it to text. but I have decided to write out a timeline in accordance with the deadlines set by the school.

I've set up a timeline in accordance with this timeline set by OSU's grad program

and here's the first pass at my schedule. actually seeing how much time I have left to work is a little invigorating. I have worked for this I know what I'm talking about and I'm just excited to share the process as well as the evaluation of the work.

Thesis Writing

I have been advised to reach out to the writing center as well as my peers to look over my work, and that's really where I've gotten. I still have a lot of organization to get done, but as it stands I think I'm in a good place.

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Writing and building.

This week being a break week I felt the need to take a break myself, and just take some time to write out my introduction. As was advised by Scott my head advisor. and in doing so I realized the gravity of my thesis. I danced around the subject, not because I didn't know what it was I was talking about but because talking about always felt so insignificant. "I want to know" should be followed by grand questions, the secrets of the universe, the answer to unsolved questions. not " I want to know how design levels." but that isn't the question I'm asking in the end. I want to know in this case is followed by how to have a conversation. now that is such a simple concept, "hello, goodbye, and the stuff in between that makes the conversation feel fulfilling" as a designer you have to put that into all your work. visually this could be creating something for the viewer to ponder, or even leaving more informed. what are road signs but a designer telling you where you are or where to go?

in-game design that conversation is the same but it's one that evolves if you want it to.

how do I jump? how do I walk? the initial questions. then you get to the complex one. if I do this will I get hurt? if I go here will feel satisfied? what is satisfaction what does it look like in this space?

and so on and so on. I saw level design as the avenue for this because what better way to tell a person where to go than to make the road they're on. the space they have to play in is all designed by me. led by a narrative. and compelled by the design to allow choice. How do these decisions made by a designer result in a pleasant conversation?

Production notes

in terms of game production I hit a bit of a brick wall. I'm still in the middle of white boxing two scenes but neither chooses to behave and I feel as if I'm too fried to think. perhaps I am. one game scene I want to feel cinematic with a scene of a player falling from a great height into an abyss below. BUT I don't remove choice. how do I do this? can I make it a collection of scenes rather than an actual place? does omitting space mean I've removed one vital aspect of my own thesis's argument? or am I just tired?

regardless I rebuilt the last level from my previous game project. hoping to make the player enter a border crossing. walking atop a bridge each step further they sink just a bit deeper and eventually they fall. the problem is. my NPCs Ai is not behaving so I need to think of an alternate.

my other white box is actually going much smoother, and I rather like the goal. I want players to be able to play guitar versions of Mexican folk songs. for this one, I chose La Llorona. the same song Disney chose a character to sing in Coco.

Thesis writing

here's an excerpt of my introduction from my thesis.

"The process of designing games is a collaborative one. Regardless of the size of its team or audience. There is a conversation that is had between player and designer, expressed through the decisions a player makes, and the queues left behind by the designer. The flow that is created when a player gets from point a to point be, and the desire that forms to continue all the way to points C, D, and Z. This is the inherent bond shared between narrative, choice, and level design. How do you design a narrative space around a story that is meant to be walked through as opposed to reading? Or watched? And how are a player’s choices meant to be received? Actions propelling a story? Or ones bound to it?

It is my goal to explore these questions through the generation of 2 versions of a game using the same narrative. One that follows the linear progression of a story, and one that follows a nonlinear path. It is my hope that this exploration will find key differences in how one orients themselves as designers when considering the engagement they wish their games to have."

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