Thursday, 29 October 2015

Maya poses

The first set of poses I did for the Maya lesson, with the Norman rig.
 
 




 
 
The after/before poses
 




 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Games night with Justin and Alan

When we stayed longer for the games night, I was in a group with Alan who played some quick games with us to show us how game mechanics work and how the theme can be irrelevant as long as the mechanics work well, it's enjoyable no matter the theme. We played guillotine, camel up and different versions of snap.

Guillotine is a card game that takes place in the French revolution. Some cards have nobles on them, those ones are placed in front of the guillotine in a line. The players have to save them from getting their head chopped off and part of the game is to take the first noble in the line - unless you have an action card that can change the order, then you can pick a different noble, but pick one you must. Every noble card has a certain number of points from -1 till 5 and the player with the most points wins the game. The nobles and action cards balance each other out and create a thought-through game that is very enjoyable.


Camel up is a betting game in which 5 camels race around the track and the players decide each round whether they want to roll the dice to move a camel, bet on this round or bet on which camel will win the whole race. It's a game that explains the theory of betting in a simple and easy to remember way. It has clever mechanics as only one camel moves at a time and the dice is 1-3 so all the camels are likely to be in a certain range of each other, especially with the twist that the camels stack if they stay on the same square and move with if the camel underneath them move. This keeps the game entertaining and randomized with an uncertain ending.


The third game we played was Dobble, a game alike to snap where every card had random items on it, in different sizes. The main objective was to quickly recognize the items that your own card and the one on the main stack shared and shout them out, so the player could add their own to the middle and slowly lose cards this way. The first player to lose all their cards wins the game. Dobble teaches you about speedy recognition of items despite varying sizes and is great fun, especially for quick games with the family or on train or car journeys.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Character Lesson 20/10

In this weeks character lesson with Justin we talked about variance and how variance in shapes helps create more unique character designs to turn a smiley face into a real character that has got a story and history. By changing some straight lines into curves and adding variation in angle, length, thickness and shape we would be able to create characters unique to a world we set them in if we apply the same rules throughout the whole designing process.
He also advised us to choose our influences wisely and use them in a subtle but clear way and to go for something big like the difference between dwarves and elves in the lord of the rings where every single detail shouts where they belong to which leaves the viewer in the satisfied position of being able to tell them apart easily.
Important points to consider when creating the character are:
- the history
- representation, what race
- who are they as a person
- where do they come from
- feeling
- world view, what's wrong with the world
- what are they going to do about the world?
- where is it set (local area)
- factions, allies? enemies?
- abilities
- what is the achievement at the end
- how does the process of progress work
- what mechanisms does the game use?

The task was to imagine a character who is part of a specific setting; ours was monsters and heroes in a 1950's B movie taking over New York and in my final idea, a party girl in her 20's is the only "lucky" survivor in a New York, that has been run over by all sorts of gruesome monsters and aliens and has to fight her way out to try and clean the city up again. As a first person shooter the player doesn't see the character much except for the hands. Every time a monster falls the player can chose to loot it and add it to the armor of the girl which is still wearing her party dress, but it comes at a price. Every piece of monster turns the girl gradually into a monster herself, inside and outside until the character by the end becomes much harder to control and turns out to eventually take over the city herself, game with a twist. The inspiration for that comes partly from the shadowrunner book and game series in which the people live in a postapocalyptic world and broken limps get replaced with metal, which turns people into cyborgs where only a certain percentage of metal is tolerated by the body, otherwise it turns into a emotionless killing machine. This topic can be found in Captain America as well as Steve's best friend Bucky who has a metal arm, is a gruesome killer due to memory erasing techniques employed by Hydra.

For the character project I will have to design a robot that looks fairly human as the main character and Justin gave me the ideas of looking into Japanese robot design and cars, as I wanted something with a speedy design that looks authentic. He also mentioned Tron and how the character could morph into different shapes but would need resources or energy for that. The core would stay the same but it could have stuff wrapped around it depending on the situation and that I should look at materials used and how I could apply them to my designs. We also talked about scale of the robots to each other, the world and how it would affect their relationships.
Justin advised me to not go for rolls as it limits the character but rather go for flying with certain limits like energy and resources.

Character Lesson with Justin 13/10

As homework for this week, Justin had asked us to write down the one idea we want to go with for the character project and with the cards Robotics, Disease and Cure/Medicine I came up with:

The game is an RPG where the player plays a robot in a huge world that is a brain (with the environments including memory, emotion, subconscious and body control) and in a small team of two or three robots the player progresses in the story to restore the brain that is infested with tumors (or something like that, could be more metaphorical) and on his way, he has to solve puzzles, meet different factions living locally and become stronger to eventually fight the boss at the end which will save his whole world and end the story. Some factions will help the player in his quest while others are corrupted themselves and try to hinder him and the main quest line has the quest of obtaining a powerful weapon over time with strong abilities so the character's skills and abilities constantly evolve.

Character and World

This week, Justin told us that creating the story rules and then everything else makes the game more authentic in the long run and the design easier, as we don't have to realize 3 weeks before hand in that our design doesn't fit with the story.
Our first task of the day was to draw a character after a random character we received from Justin with the elements of theme, emotions, colours, lines/shapes and movement.
My character was a very happy guy in block colours and strong black lines and the theme I applied to him from my cards was disease so the emotions were sad and hopeless, maybe yucky. The colours I decided on were dimmed, muted but also the colours of infested wounds like dark green, grey and dark purple like boils. The lines would be fluid rather than rigid and straight and the movement would be slow as the disease saps all the energy from the body, limping and bent, maybe pulling one foot after the other, twisted rather than straight. It was very interesting to imagine the character in completely different circumstances and how far you can push his characteristics without losing him completely. (A picture will be added later.)
For the second task, we talked about how the silhouette has to be distinct to that character so that he is easily recognizable, for example if the character has a big weapon the silhouette should be identifiable as a person with a weapon, not a person that has been pierced with a sword because it's hanging over his shoulders in an awkward position that isn't clear to the viewer. Also, if someone has really big hands like wreck it ralph he should be portrayed in a way that doesn't hide the hands in the body but puts them out into space and makes the feature easily distinguishable from other people with smaller hands. I applied this technique to robots (my second card) and drew three easily recognizable robot silhouettes, with their unique abilities on show. (Pictures will be added later.)

Character Lesson with Justin 6/10

 In the first character lesson with Justin we talked broadly about games, types of games and how their mechanics make them playable, enjoyable and what games evoke what kind of experience. We established that board and card games which you play with real people are about entertainment, competition, the social aspect and in many cases about acquiring skills like logical thinking and applying certain rules to a situation to come out as the potential winner.
Video games on the other hand also offer entertainment and often competition, but along with wish fulfillment they are usually very immersive, they have a huge narrative and let the player create the world, build weapons etc. which is not possible in board games, but unless you play with another person sitting right next to you, the social aspect is much lower and often neither necessary nor desired.
 Our first task was to put a game into a different medium of what would usually be played in, for example a video game as a board or card game. I chose League of Legends, which is an online tower game and tried to transform it into a board game. The essence of the game is to fight alongside minions and gain control of the enemy base. There are two teams, red and blue so I decided that each player would have a set of minions, probably about 7 and starting in the middle, the players would roll a 6 sided dice and they'd be able to move one minion per round. The board three rings that have to be circled before the minions can start attacking the enemy base. Whenever there are two minions of different teams on one square, the players have to roll the dice and the minion with the higher number stays while the loser has to start again from the middle. Every minion that has gotten to the enemy turret takes one life point away from it per turn so from the original 20 (or any number) there will soon be no life points left and the team who's turret is still alive wins.
 League of Legends is a game very much built on luck as a lot depends on the all over skill of your team so I think replacing the other players abilities with a dice is an appropriate choice. Goal of the game is to move the right minion at the right time and sometimes provoke confrontation when necessary even when it's risky.
 The second task was to invent a game from the props of city of shadows which I found very difficult to do. We were given a big map like board which had about 30 (?) squares with names from locations in London so I came up with an app game in which a thief has stolen something of worth from Barnet (the first square) and the player has to complete puzzles or encrypt clues for every stop to try to catch the thief and if he wasn't fast enough, the thief would escape and the game would be lost.

Maya poses using the Norman model

video
 
I have posed Norman after these pictures:





Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Film Review with the Archetypes & Hollywood Formula



The Lone Ranger – A review using the Jungian Archetypes


 The Lone Ranger is a western genre movie, narrated by an ancient Native American named Tonto whom tells the story of the Lone Ranger to a small boy lost at a circus exhibition. This story will be analysed with the Jungian archetypes in mind. 

Fig 1: Lone Ranger Poster (2013)

 In the film John Reid, a lawyer, is confronted with his brother Dan Reid’s reality who is employed as a ranger in a small stereotypical American western town. On a man hunt trip all of the rangers get killed by Butch Cavendish’s band of outlaws but just as Tonto, played by Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean)  gives them all a proper burial, the white spirit horse resurrects John Reid back to life. Reid and Tonto team up to attempt to save the Wild West from a conspiracy evolving the Indians plundered silver.

 It all starts with the Herald Tonto, who is an exhibition in a circus is 1933 and gets visited by a boy who is interested in the story of the lone ranger. As Tonto starts talking, the Hero John Reid is being introduced into a normal western setting, on a train to visit his brother’s family, his home town. Adventure awaits as the train falls victim to a robbery which reveals Butch Cavendish the Shadow of the story. Butch is already handcuffed and tied up right next to the Tonto who shows himself as the Mentor.

 After the whole train being hijacked John and Tonto narrowly escape with their lives Butch escapes and John insists on locking Tonto up in his brother’s prison cell because he must have been handcuffed for a reason. In this setting we meet Dan’s wife, Rebecca who embodies the Maiden as John clearly desires her and cares for her son Danny who, being an actual child, fills the Child role in the Lone Ranger. 

Fig 2: Hero with Maiden and Child (2013)

 As Dan and John ride out with a party of rangers, they come upon Butch’s band of outlaws and get themselves killed. Tonto finds the bodies and starts to bury them, trading items he desires with the dead. He doesn’t seem surprised when the white spirit horse, who takes the role of the Trickster, shows up, Tonto then tries to persuade it to resurrect Dan instead of John as Dan is a “great warrior” but the horse persists on John which is the beginning of John’s and Tonto’s allegiance. Tonto tells John that Collins, one of the rangers, betrayed them and is a member of Butch’s group, gives John a mask to hide his face behind as he is believed dead. Tonto continues to offer wise council for the rest of the film.

 Only having the goal to stop Butch, they visit Red Harrington who functions as the Threshold Guardian as she gives vital information that alters the hero’s paths. According to her Dan and Collins have been fighting over a cursed silver rock which lead to Dan and the rangers getting killed.
In the meantime, Rebecca and Danny are captured by Butch and nearly killed, but Collins reveals himself as a Shapeshifter out of guilt and protects them long enough for them to run away, even though he pays with his own life.

 The ending of the film is quite long and requires all the hero’s characters to work together to defeat Butch and turn him in to Cole and Fuller, who up to this point were believed to be trustworthy people but reveal themselves as shady with the potential to be shapeshifters, as Cole (a trusted character in the film) reveals himself as Butch’s brother and can’t let his criminal past reach the light of day. Rebecca and Danny get captured again and the showdown is a long battle on a train where John finally gets to kiss Rebecca and save Danny for good. John is recognised a hero after all is over but prefers to ride away with Tonto to right any injustice he comes upon as the lone ranger.

 Fig 3: Mentor with Trickster (2013)

 Altogether, the film is a decent western which is good entertainment and fills nearly all the Jungian archetypes without making them seem forced. It has a complex story with funny elements and lots of action with shootings on trains, horses jumping on roofs and a happy ending, and while it is a good film, it’s not one of the best. My personal score would be 7/10 as the second half feels quite long and has action for the sake of it rather than for bringing the story forward.

Illustration List:

Figure 1. Disney (2013) Lone Ranger Poster [Poster] available from: https://fabiusmaximus.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/lone-ranger-poster.jpg (accessed on 20/10/15)
Figure 2. Disney (2013) Hero with Maiden and Child [Lone Ranger still] available from: http://frontrowfeatures.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/jun24wilson01_hi.jpg (accessed on 20/10/15)
Figure 3. Disney (2013) Mentor with Trickster [Lone Ranger still] available from: https://filmfork-cdn.s3.amazonaws.com/content/Lone%20Ranger.jpg (accessed on 20/10/15)

Film Review for the Narrative Structure & Hollywood Formula



Rat Race

 Rat Race, in the cinemas in 2001, directed by Jerry Zucker, is a film in which a human rat race is performed for the delight of the wealthy betting audience, to provide unique entertainment. Sinclair (John Cleese, famous for Faulty Towers) is the owner of a hotel in Vegas and has to come up with new challenges to keep his patrons entertained, so he drops 6 gold coins to random people in the casino who he then invites to a meeting in the hotel pent house. At the meeting, he announces that it’s a race for 2 million dollars, gives every team a key (which has a tracker inside) and lets the betting commence as the teams are off. Rat Race is an action comedy and family entertainment which has lots of jokes and comedy sketches in every scene.


Fig 1. Rat Race Poster (2001)

 The 6 teams consist of Enrico, who suffers from narcolepsy; a mother and her long lost daughter; the brothers Cody with one of them not being able to speak properly (probably worsened through his tongue piercing); a Jewish family that was going on the first holiday for years; Nick who was initially not interested at all but then meets an attractive blonde woman and Owen, a football coach who’s just gotten incredibly unpopular by calling a super bowl game incorrectly costing one of the teams the match.

  All teams race to Silver City where the 2 million await them whilst trying to sabotage the other teams, for example when the Cody brothers break the communication at the airport they force everyone else into land vehicles – except for Nick, who catches a ride with the pretty blonde girl who turns out to be a helicopter pilot.

 At the first glance the teams splitting up creates a structure consists of mini plots, but since they all lead together by the end of the film it could be better interpreted as an arc plot where every team has their own arc which simultaneously leads to the same outcome in the end. This explanation also leans towards a 3 act structure with the initiation being the first 20 minutes or so where Sinclair and the teams are being introduced and the race being announced. Act 2 is the race itself, which also takes up the biggest part of the film and has the most action. Act 3 offers the conclusion in which they all discover that the locker is empty, chase after the money which was stolen by a hooker and end up giving it all to charity.

Fig 2. Race Ending (2001)

 This leads to the ending of the film which can be described as a partially closed ending as all the characters have contributed their bit to the story and there seem to be no open ends left. It is not a closed ending as all the characters are still alive and by a very unlikely stroke of fate, they could potentially have future adventures together.

  Rat Race has the typical 3 Act structure that has been used over and over again and proven effective, paired with and arc plot with every team having their own little arc, but altogether remains at arc 2 having many varied elements in different places but still plays together with 3 arcs in total. The ending is partially closed as every character is open to their own future but all the strands that were shown in the film were closed and doesn’t leave the audience with more questions than answers. Altogether, this film is a great easy comedy to watch it once or multiple times and is suitable for children and family viewing, my personal score would be 7/10.

Illustration List:

Picture 1. Jerry Zucker (2001). Rat Race Poster [Rat Race still] available from:  http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51TVH6J6YDL.jpg (accessed on 20/10/15)
Picture 2. Jerry Zucker (2001). Race Ending [Rat Race still] available from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/aa/88/cd/aa88cd88397723794e4f5069a5e2391a.jpg (accessed on 20/10/15)