Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Super Orin Character Concept


Hello again,

 I still am not quite ready to post about Ish yet, but plan on doing it in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I did want to keep up on posting.  Lately I have been working on projects for my kids.  I am focusing mostly on a game for my son Orin right now.  It is called "Super Orin", after his super hero persona.  My children love playing as super heroes and all of them use "Super" in front of their names when they play.


 Anyway, as I discussed game development with my children, it came up that my son wanted a super hero game.  As we discussed it more, it sounded like he wanted a platformer, and so that is what I am making.

I guess I should step back a little and talk briefly about Ish, in order to give a better idea of why I am going the direction I am now.  Ish was never meant to be as large of a game as it has become.  It was going to be a small game that would help set up some pipelines and processes for future games.

 Instead, it grew to become something larger.  I couldn't stand the thought of releasing a game I wasn't proud of.  That was part of the allure of working on my own projects.  So, what started as a six month project turned into an incomplete 3 year project.

It wasn't a total loss or failure though.  For me, it was a way of keeping up my skillset, as well as a way for exploring and developing new skills.  I have learned a lot through the process of developing Ish.  It also allowed me to keep my curriculum up to date at my day job at the college.

 Anyway, after looking at the amount of time it would still take to complete Ish, as well as keep it up to date, it no longer felt good to continue down that path.  As a family, we have been discussing (as we often do) our future, and what our priorities are.  Right now, being a good teacher at the college is important to me.  Spending as much time as I can with my family is also very important to me.  Getting my own game studio off of the ground doesn't seem as important if it means sacrificing the other two.

 So, after talking as a family, I felt like I should pursue smaller, one level, projects.  That way I can see them through to completion.  The trick though, is that I am also doing them with my family.  That way, I still get to do game development, keep developing my skills and knowledge, as well as spending quality time with my family.

I am treating my family as if they are my clients and I need to develop the game for them.  We have meetings (usually around the dinner table), they give me feedback, and then I bring them updates based on their feedback.

 As an example, for Super Orin we started by talking about what the game would be.  After getting some ideas of what it was going to become, we began talking about the main character.  I then hooked my computer up to the t.v. we have in the living room and, with my children surrounding me and shouting out feedback, started sketching.  The first image of this post shows some of the sketches based on their feedback.  They wanted Super Orin to be slightly short and pudgy, but they also wanted him to have big hands, big feet, big ears, and a big nose.  He was supposed to be loosely based on my son Orin though.

 After the base concept was decided on, I went through a series of costumes.  Once again, all based on their feedback while I was drawing.  One with a bike helmet, one with spikes (lot's of spikes to shoot lightning out of), a bug, and etc.  Those are shown in the second image of the post.

I then printed out copies of the different costumes, and at dinner we looked over them and everyone discussed what they liked, didn't like, and still wanted to see.

 That discussion led to the composite character that is in the third image of the post.  I then took that, and some additional feedback and created a series of characters in a paperdoll like fashion, where each of the components could be separated out and combined to explore new directions with the costume.  Those are shown in the fourth and fifth images.

At another dinner, everyone looked them over and gave their suggestions for combinations.  Those selections are what ended up as the sixth image.

 After discussing once more what everyone was leaning towards, we came up with a pretty solid feel for the character.  There was discussion about some of the elements, such as the belt, and those where explored in the seventh image.

We then talked about exploring different costume patterns, as shown in the eighth image.  But, in the end, we decided on staying with the first pattern.  There were many other variations we explored, but rather than post a ton more pictures with slight variations, I just decided to post the final product.  That is the ninth image.

 At the end of the process, once the costume was decided upon, the character looked too much like an old man because of the large nose and ears.  My children still wanted the large feet and hands, but I made the face that of my son Orin, who liked it even better than the big nosed character he originally wanted.

With the character design complete, I then did a shading pass to give the character more dimension.  I was also planning on using it as a foundation for the colors.
 For the colors, I printed out a series of the flat images and then gave them to the family to use as coloring book pages.  Everyone pulled out crayons and colored pencils to explore different costume colors.  I then took their colored images and used them as the foundation for some of the digital color variations on the character.  The eleventh image shows some of those color variations.

 After we had decided on a color pattern that mostly worked, I then explored some additional color changes to the cape, gloves, and boots.  Image twelve shows those.

Once the colors for Super Orin were settled, I then had to work on the shield coloring, as shown in the thirteenth image.  Everyone seemed to lean towards the red shield and cape.
 At the end, I did some tightening of the colors and lines, and the final image shows how it ended up.

I am now working on the prototype for the game and am getting the base functionality in.  I will post that some time soon to show the process I am going through.

I don't know if anyone is actually interested in seeing these progress images, but I wanted to share anyway.  I am trying to be better about blogging.

 With two posts this year, I am already doing better than last year.  I will continue to post more.

Feel free to let me know what your thoughts are, or if there is anything you are interested in seeing.

Thanks,
-Henry

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hello World!

Hello world,

Its been a while.  I have been checked out of blogging for the last year and a half.  In some ways, checked out of more than that.  So, this is my attempt to get back in to social media.  I am going to be trying to show more work, and possibly talk about my processes.  I know that you have all heard me say this before on my blog (metaphorically, because you would have actually read it), but we will try again and see if it works this time.

To start, I am posting a video of a talk I gave last December at the first ever Ohio Game Developer Expo.   It was a great event and I am grateful for the opportunity I had to talk about setting goals.  I applied it to game development, but I think it applies to any kind of goal setting.



After every time I talk, I have a mini conference in my head about what I said right, what I said wrong, where I miss-spoke, what I need to improve for next time.  Basically I go through the talk the way I wish I had done it.  So, in that spirit, I had a miss-speak in this talk that has been driving me nuts.  I will use this post to make a clarification.  At one point in the talk I speak about working for Sensory Sweep in Salt Lake City Utah.  It is about time marker 25:20.  The miss-speak is that I say that "I came from developing platform type games."  What I was saying in my head though, was that I came from developing multi-platform games for various consoles.  I was trying to relate this to my new direction with developing indie games for the mobile market.  It didn't come out that way though.  So, just to clarify, I didn't just work on platformer games for Sensory Sweep.  I worked on a sports title, an rpg, a platformer, a rhythm based game, and etc.

I am sure that wasn't the only mistake in my talk, but despite the mistakes I still think it came across well overall.  Oddly enough, the thing people talked to me the most about after the talk was with trying to balance my bi-polar disorder with game development.  I think that there are a lot of people that are trying to succeed, but have trouble figuring out how to manage mental health issues and keep a productive workload.  Most folks are actually embarrassed to admit that they have any issues.  I would like to hear about any experiences or questions people have on this subject.  I am fairly open about my mental health issues, and am happy to give advice if I can.  I think that the more we talk about these things, the easier it is to manage.  They don't have to be debilitating, and they can sometimes be a great asset.

At the end of the talk, I speak about a game I was working on.  I talked about Ish's Adventure a bit on the last post on this blog.  It is now on an indefinite hold.  I was not successful at my goal to get it finished... yet.  Who knows if I will come back to re-approach the game in the future.  Instead, I have had to re-prioritize my goals to work better for my family.  I will try to do a post-mortem on Ish in the next month or so to share what I have learned, and explain things a little more.  For now, I will sign off.  Take care.

-Henry