Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Photo Edits/Designs

I digitally altered some of my photos to help comunicate my ideas. I experimented by desaturating them and adding blood, I wanted to figure out wether violence was necessary in horror games as many of them are often gory.

I feel that although violence is not necessary to make a good horror game it can certainly help to build tension and fear as blood can give the player the impression of danger, it can be a warning. Of my edits I really felt that the red blood on black and white worked best, it helps emphasise the gore compared to the pure black and white one where it just looks like dark smears also it looks more stylish and artistic sort of like the sin city movie.

Video Reference

I have also taken some video footage to use as reference, I have also added a black and white filter here to give an impression of the style I want my game to look like.

The lights in the basement at work come on automatically when you are within a certain distance of them so it can be particularly creepy as you are forced to walk into the darkness before it will light up.

I walked past a malfunctioning light at work and it seemed like an opportune moment to capture some footage

Reference Photos

I work in a large and very old department store and I often do the delivery shift which requires me to be in before 7am when it is still dark outside and the building is rather empty as most employees have not arrived yet. I feel that it can be quite a creepy place to work and thought that it might be an interesting setting for my horror game which would also allow me to take lots of reference photos and videos.

Mood Boards

I like to begin a project by creating a series of mood boards linked to the subject matter to help comunicate my initial thoughts and ideas.
In this case I have looked at a number of my favourite horror games which I will be referencing throughout my project.

Resident Evil is arguably the largest horror video game franchise with over 15 games released so far and more planned for the future.
Silent Hill is most probably the second largest horror game franchise after resident evil
Bioshock is a 2007 FPS which has a horror elements to it, the game was notable for featuring a distinct art style as it was set in an Art Deco designed underwater city.
More Game Inspiration

Black & White

I recently purchased and have been watching the original twilight zone box set and realised that there aren't many games in black and white so i figured that this may be a good idea/route for my project which could set it apart from other games.
I have looked at some other classic black and white horror/sci-fi movies for inspiration. As they didn't have the technological advances of modern day film to make their movies scary they found alternative ways such as trick with lighting and the contrast in film to induce fear.
A few games in the past have experimented with black and white to varying degrees of success.
(please see my RVJ for more in-depth analysis of the mood boards)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Case Study - Alan Wake

Alan Wake is one of my favorite games of recent years, it is a horror/thriller game which draws inspiration from twin peaks, the twilight zone and stephen king to name a few and clearly wears this on its sleeve. The game follows fictional writer Alan Wake who goes on vacation to the beautiful rural town of Bright Falls with his wife to help overcome his writers block however what follows is a series of nightmarish events as Alan must fight to stay alive after a horror book he doesn’t remember writing begins to come to life. The enemy creatures in the game are shrouded in darkness and alan must use light to help him defeat them, the battle between light and darkness plays a heavy role in the game both metaphorically and in a real way. The creators said that they wanted to play with how light and darkness can evoke emotions in the player, Oskari H√§kkinen head of franchise development on the game said “Stimulating emotions is what good entertainment is all about. It’s apparent that we worked with components such as light and dark for instance. We felt they are emotional touchstones that can be used in a wonderful way in a thriller – we all have a primal instinct where light entails safety, while darkness and creeping shadows evoke fear.”[1] These are themes that I also plan to play with in my own project.
My Alan Wake Mood Board

Sam Lake creative director of the game said that when coming up with the game they “look for sources of inspiration in pop culture in general. It's very important for us that, when it comes to storytelling, we don't look into other video games,” says Lake. “We'd rather look into other mediums – movies, television series and books – for sources of inspiration.”[2]

"The TV-series Twin Peaks is one of our sources of inspiration. The location in the game is similar, an idyllic small town in the state of Washington with something threatening waiting under the surface. The TV show also had an excellent nightmarish atmosphere. The works of the author Stephen King is another source of inspiration. He has used the idea of a writer whose life turns to a nightmare in several of his stories."[3]

Alan Wake opens with the following quote Stephen King once wrote that nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations. They’re antithetical to the poetry of fear. In a horror story, the victim keeps asking why, but there can be no explanation, and there shouldn’t be one. The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest, and it’s what we’ll remember in the end.” which I feel not only sets up and explains the game to some extent, it also rings quite true and maybe something to keep in mind whilst creating my game.


When developing alan wake members of Remedy (the games producers) took close to “60,000 photo references” as they felt it was important to “get a baseline of reality”[4] Having the game clearly set in a realistic environment allows the player to get more invested in it and so it makes the scares scarier as it feels like a realistic place where these events could happen. When producing my level I will take inspiration from first hand photos that will inform my production and make the environment seem more real and hopefully more frightening because of that.

[1] http://www.vg247.com/2011/01/29/remedy-shares-its-thoughts-on-alan-wake-inspiration-what-consitutes-a-thriller-mr-scratch/


[3] http://forum.alanwake.com/showthread.php?t=1216

[4] http://www.cgsociety.org/index.php/CGSFeatures/CGSFeatureSpecial/alan_wake

Intro to Specialist Study

In my final year I have decided to specialise in Animation for Video Games Design and I will more specifically be specialising in Environment and Level design. For my project I plan to create a level/environment for a horror game. I will create the level texture it and produce assets to fill the level I also plan to light the level and experiment with how lighting can be used to manipulate the player and cause various emotions/feelings such as fear or feeling safe. I will take into account limitations of the game engines and when the level is complete I may import it into one to test it. I will look to other games and films to help influence me as well as paintings which can help inspire me when lighting scenes.

Another Year Another Blog

Here we go again, 3rd year 3rd attempt at a blog. I really do plan to keep this one updated on a regular basis this time, although I said that last time as well to be fair but 3rd times a charm right?