I know, I know…
The basic objective of this game is to get from the start to the finish, by navigating a path across an archipelago of very small islands. No bigger than oversized stepping stones, infact. The player does this by controlling the position of the moon in the sky, and by extension, the beam of light cast upon the water. The player would then be capable of walking on the surface of the water as long as they are standing on a visible beam of light refracted off the water.
That’s the concept, now there’s the design questions which all need to be addressed before this makes the leap from gimmick to game. Namely:
- Where is the challenge? Can the player lose?
- How does the player know they are doing the right thing?
- Is there more than one correct route?
Then there are more pressing technical issues:
- How can water be programmed to respond to light?
- How can I make sure that the light will be cast onto the water correctly?
- How can I make sure the player can’t cheat?
- How do I decide where to the put the different little islands?
So - walking on water! How can we do it? Nobody can, obviously. While the character’s feet may be stepping on water, it is the moonbeam’s refraction that they are walking on. Where there is no moonbeam, there is no path. So technically, what I have to do here is create an illusion. While we will only see a pool of water in-game, underneath it will be an invisible segmented area of near-equal radius. This segmented surface will be programmed with what are known as “colliders” - a property that makes an object solid and touchable in any CG environment. These colliders will respond to the stretch of light cast across the water. Basically, it’s like walking on glass that disappears when there’s no moonlight on it.
This gives the character something to walk on, but how can I get it to actually respond to light? Light is not a solid object, and as far as I know, you can’t add colliders to it. I think the answer to this problem requires some lateral “outside the box” thinking with the tools of 3DS Max and Unity.
More to follow…
The Imagine Peace Tower.
I want to tell you about this fantastic fixture created by Yoko Ono as a memorial to John Lennon. The Imagine Peace Tower is a sort of altar on the Viðey island near Reykjavik, Iceland that represents a beacon of healing light, hope and wisdom, that spreads across the Earth from the north to the south.
I love the minimalistic, clean cut design of the tower and the way that the light shoots right up into the sky. It can be seen from Reykjavik city centre like a giant blue floodlight piercing through the clouds, and this has inspired me on a project to create a high quality 3D model, created with high attention to detail.
Obviously, it’s a little too simple a structure to simply re-create as is, if I want a decent grade from it as a University assignment. So, I will be taking inspiration from other sources, and adapting it to create something a little more spectacular. Right now I’m picturing features such as small moats, arched gateways, steps, and various pieces of Roman-inspired architecture.
The aim is to develop the whole thing into something that may become a feature on my Planet Roneira, (the basis of a video game series I am conceptualising.)
As some of you may know, I am one of those people who are head over heels in love in Iceland, even though I haven’t ever been there. It’s a huge source of inspiration for me and based on what I’ve learned about Iceland and seen of it in videos, I already feel a very strong connection to their quirky culture. I hope to take a long trip there as soon as possible, but I’m trying to gather enough money, ideally a few thousand pounds, because when you go on the holiday of a lifetime, a budget is the last thing you want on your mind.
Coming back to the real thing, Yoko Ono comes to Iceland on October 9th, John Lennon’s birthday, every year, to light the Imagine Peace Tower. It is then lit by staff every evening afterward until 8 December, the date he was murdered.
Here is a 10 minute short film from Yoko Ono’s own Vimeo channel about the realisation of the Imagine Peace Tower. Enjoy.
Otherworldly experiences and new discoveries.
It’s difficult to come up with a title for this post that’s both concise and truly accurate, so bear with me here, because this probably isn’t exactly about what you might imagine.
I’ve been interested in alternative therapies and psychological wellbeing for over a decade now. In my early teens I got into crystal meditation thanks to a CD of meditation music bespoke for crystals that I bought from a hotel gift shop while on holiday in the faraway Pacific island of Guam. With the symptoms of my Aspergers Syndrome still leading a lot of my decision making at that time, I seemed to make this conscious choice and effort to adopt some of the beliefs surrounding it, and get into the mindset - but its not the crystal meditation that’s the point here. It was my decision to get into it deeply. To immerse myself in it and I suppose by extension, create a placebo effect that it was working.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying crystal meditation is a load of rubbish, but it is my opinion that these sorts of wishy-washy things cannot have a totally independent effect on a person. The person has to be at least willing to believe in them. I no longer believe that a crystal possesses biologically measurable energies that exist independently, even though I’ve not seen any scientific evidence proving this true or false.
I feel that the change of a person’s mindset to accept beliefs is a topic off the beaten path. I believe this is mostly due to religion and politics being such a powerful influence in society. The all-encompassing truth is, every single idea changes depending on how you look at them, and if you are willing to let go of your inhibitions and just try to go along with something, to make a conscious effort to believe in a way of looking at things and act as though you do, you will be extremely likely to discover a feeling that you never had before, or even didn’t know you could have! Metaphorically speaking, you could discover a whole new world. This is something that fascinates me. To use logic to intrinsically break down and understand a conventional system of belief, present an entirely new one, help an audience to understand it bit by bit, and to get in touch with a state of emotion or a new idea as a result is something that I would like to do, somehow, to leave my mark on this world.
I hope this isn’t too difficult to understand what I’m trying to say. In a way, this is something I have been doing my entire life, just to understand the world around me and how to behave appropriately. Even realising this just now blows my mind! My entire way of thinking is not as driven by Asperger’s Syndrome as it was when I was a kid, but now, almost without knowing it, Asperger’s Syndrome seems to be inspiring it. For me, that’s self-revelatory and something I really want to believe in, and I feel like as long as I hold that belief close to my heart, it gives me the strength and determination to know that I have something completely unique to offer this world, and I want to do it through interactive entertainment.
I want you to feel how I felt. I want you to be in unfamiliar surroundings where you have no idea of what the accepted conventions are, and I want you to explore another world, where piece by piece, using nothing but hard logic and emotion, you build a very literal understanding of how the world works, and you learn through trial and error to survive in it, and then live it. The thing is, everyone who is born on Earth start out knowing nothing, but we do learn what the human race’s culture and conventions are, and this is where I am different. I did not possess the ability to pick all of this up through unconscious instinct. I could not learn what you learned without knowing how you learned it. How do you think you would feel if you learned how to live and fit into a whole new world with your adult mind? Everything you already know is nullified. You have to start all over again with a blank slate, and learn how to be in this new world, one solid, literal building block of knowledge after another, cold and hard like computer data, undeniable like mathematics. When your jigsaw puzzle is complete, you see a new picture, and finally you understand everything totally differently. What are your emotions? What’s changed from before? What will you do with this new knowledge? Does it replace anything, or does it build and expand on the old?
It’s not easy having Asperger’s Syndrome.
But let me connect the dots here. This isn’t about Asperger’s Syndrome, this is about challenging typical patterns of logic and convention, and creating something entirely new out of almost nothing. As an artistic project, referenced sources and points of inspiration may be scarce. When neurotypical (read: normal) people are presented with new and unfamiliar ideas and conventions, we naturally jump to conclusions and make (often cynical) assumptions that are based on what we already know, and yet what we don’t realise, is that these new ideas are not supposed to be seen that way. They’re supposed to be taken at face value, seen exactly for what they are and nothing more. This is another trait of Asperger’s Syndrome. Am I lost, and trapped in this condition that I have? Am I unable to think any other way? If I look at it one way, the answer is yes… but if I look at it another way, I could be really onto something, and I could create something profoundly thought-provoking that leaves audiences in awe. No prizes for guessing which way of thinking I choose to believe in, because this is all my brain, and I have complete control over what I choose to believe…. and what I believe affects the choices I make, and the choices I make have a direct effect on the direction that my life takes. And that - that is something rock solid. Scientifically proven, and logically undeniable.
Think freely, and believe in yourself. If something doesn’t work, break it down and understand it, then reconstruct it so that it does work for you. Explain clearly to others how your different ways work. Persuade them to open their minds. When you have your vision, never let it go.
If we all did this, who knows what we could create?
I really suck at keeping blogs, ok?
Anyway, I’ve not had a massively productive summer since I’ve been jumping a lot of life’s hurdles and finally got to leave the UK for the first time in over 2 years in early September for a much-deserved week in the Mediterranean sun.
One thing I do have to show you, though, is this:
Remember “Jeff and Rudy”?
Well that was for an animation project about Aspergers Syndrome. Rudy never quite took life due to my incompetence with Vector based imaging software and Flash, but I did manage to get this done over the summer as part of some catch-up work on my degree. It’s not brilliant, but considering I barely knew what I was doing and it took me a grand total of 3 and a half hours, I’m quite proud of it.
As for the official Blaclite Studios website, I haven’t been able to find a suitable hosting platform for that yet, and there turned out to be some design complications that I couldn’t figure out which would have made the website’s functionality a little… unconventional. Hopefully I will have an opportunity to sort that out in the Autumn, but I can’t promise anything there.
As it turns out, I’m going to have a very large workload this Autumn, because some of that catch-up work is still outstanding, and I have to really focus on getting through it, as well as keeping on top of all the upcoming projects. It’s a challenge unlike any I’ve ever had to face before during my time at University, so I have to find the strength to make the best of it. It’s always easier said than done, but I’m used to fighting for my successes.
FInally, to close this first passage of the new chapter here’s some inspiration from a new band I’ve really gotten into this year… Mt. Wolf with this wonderful video for their song “Hypolight” - make sure to watch ‘till the end for a stunningly shot fractal catherine wheel!
I’m going to see them live in November. :D
Laz’Uli ; A mind map.
I’ve decided to name the island I’m building “Laz’Uli”, pronounced “Lazz-you-lie”. The name comes from Lapis Lazuli, a type of crystal.
Let’s see where it goes from here…
To build an island…
I have a new project underway for the winter. I am going to be (attempting) to make a 3D video game level set on an island. I have decided to include the concept of the island in what will eventually become Planet Roneira, which is, as some of may know, my personal long-term goal for Blaclite Studios.
The inspiration for the island will come from the real island of Utsira, which is just off the western coast of Norway, in the North Sea. I have personally been to Utsira twice, and it is a really beautiful, isolated sanctuary with wonderful scenery. It’s only about 1.5 kilometres to walk from one side to the other, so it’s really really tiny! Here’s a photo of me on the island:
I actually got stranded on Utsira for one night in 2011 with a friend… simply because we missed the last return ferry. We ended up staying in a well-kept but disused lighthouse for the night that literally must not have been re-decorated since about 1959. It was so cute, like stepping back in time, with it’s black and white “wires on the top” TV set, curvaceous pastel coloured kitchen appliances, chequred vinyl flooring in the kitchen and quaint net curtains over wooden shutter windows. It was a bit like staying in a doll’s house, except with views right out to the North Sea, with nothing but water between that lighthouse, and Canada. No beds in there either, we snuggled up on two couches and kept ourselves warm with a giant (really… HUGE) stuffed snake we found in a nursery room. Yes, an actual nursery room, not far off the kind you might see in Mary Poppins.
Anyway, I go places, I love to talk about them, but I could do better. I could re-create them in 3D and add my own stories and ideas to them. I hope this will be the first great piece of 3D work I will feel satisfied with enough to share publically. More information to follow, so stay tuned, and keep warm!