Week One – Walkthrough & Reflection

Year Three has begun.

It was revealed to us at the beginning of the week that our task for the semester was to create a plan for a game, which we would then actually build if we wished to in semester two. The game of course had to be amazing (it’s our final year, of course we’re building something amazing) and for that, we needed to have a good idea for one. Much of the first few weeks of this semester it was revealed would be geared towards idea generation, narrowing down hundreds of potential starting points to a few great ones and then finally to one perfect idea.

This generation of ideas began on Friday, where we were given a series of questions to answer that would in turn give us plenty of starting points to use for research. Adam (our tutor) encouraged us to pick starting points we found interesting, and to head down avenues we wanted to rather than ones that just looked good, as if we didn’t like the ideas we chose then it was unlikely we would make a good game out of them (“if your heart’s not in it” kind of thing). The questions we then answered were:

  • What really interests you?
  • What makes you angry?
  • What gets you excited?
  • What makes you cry?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • What stimulates you intellectually?

Rubbing our hands with glee at the chance to talk about pretty much anything we found interesting, we then set about answering the questions. Here are my answers as well as a few other people’s that I found intriguing:

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  • What really interests you?
    • Video games (obviously)
      • stealth
      • action
      • open world
      • exploration
    • Superheroes
    • Media in general; TV shows, movies etc.
    • Music – particularly film scores
      • orchestra
      • synth
      • thinking about how interconnecting rhythms form a musical tapestry
    • Atmosphere in media – (for example, Blade Runner, Dying Light etc.)
      • use of colour
      • use of music
      • setting – cities, ruins etc.
      • Examples of interesting atmospheres –
        • nature – Dying Light, Last Of Us, Lord Of The Rings
        • utopia – Star Trek, Tomorrowland
        • dystopia – Blade Runner, 1984, We Happy Few
        • space – Star Wars, Interstellar, Marvel
      • characterisation and how they are used
    • Post-apocalyptic themes in media
      • how people cope with the aftermath
      • how the apocalypse occurred – where did we go wrong?
      • thinking about how some of the events could actually happen
      • how would we prevent them in reality
    • Supernatural themes in media
      • how they occur
      • what they are
      • are they explained? Some supernatural events aren’t and that makes them more interesting – Doctor Who for example
    • Alternate future themes in media
      • are they good/bad?
      • how did humanity get there?
      • would I rather be there instead of right now?
      • how has technology evolved?
    • Space exploration
  • What makes you angry?
    • Evil and bad people
    • Slow people
    • Rudeness
    • Mass scumbaggery
    • Justice League (2017 movie)
    • Sony
    • EA
    • When things don’t work when they have no reason not to – like computers
    • People lacking in empathy
  • What gets you excited?
    • Uplifting, epic orchestra
    • Upcoming movies, TV series and musical albums
    • Upcoming videogames
    • Seeing humanity achieve something great – e.g. making plans to go to Mars
    • Thinking about what the future might bring
  • What makes you cry?
    • Hopelessness
    • Worthlessness
    • Humanity’s self destruction
    • Abandoned toys
    • People close to you dying
    • People not caring about eachother
    • Diseases – mental conditions, cancer, uncurable ones etc.
  • What makes you laugh?
    • Stand up comedy
    • Being with friends
    • In-jokes
    • Sarcasm
    • Reminiscing
    • Things mildly going wrong
  • What stimulates you intellectually?
    • Thinking about space exploration
      • how would it work?
      • where could we go?
      • what is out there?
    • Are we alone in the universe?
      • if so, why?
      • if not, where are they?
      • what are they like?
      • are they aware of us?
      • are they more powerful than us?
      • do they care about us?
      • why should they care?
      • what technology do they have?
    • Media in general; movies, TV shows, music, games
      • how it is created – the director’s vision etc.
      • how the ideas are generated
      • how the visuals are created
      • how the music is composed
      • how the mechanics are designed
      • how the stories unfold
      • how the characters are developed
    • Significance
    • Thinking about the future – how we will evolve
      • where will technology be?
      • where will humanity be?
      • will we explore the Universe?
      • will we concentrate on ourselves?
      • will we destroy ourselves?
      • will we get past our differences to create a better tomorrow?
      • what will we create?
      • who will we be?
      • where will we go?

Of these ideas, I then went through and selected the ones I found most interesting as topics. The list was then something like this:

  • Atmosphere
  • Abandoned toys
  • Superheroes
  • Future
  • Post-apocalypse
  • Supernatural
  • Orchestra
  • Mental conditions
  • Reminiscence
  • Hopelessness
  • Mass Scumbaggery
  • Stealth

It was stressed right from the start of the week that ideas need to flow freely for the next few weeks, and that you shouldn’t get too locked in with very specific word-based ideas, so with that in mind I threw a few away that despite my interest didn’t really work for research. Post-apocalypse and Steath for example I felt were too narrow avenues to go down, as they locked me into either specific events or genres, despite the fact that I found them rather interesting topics. Mass Scumbaggery and Abandoned Toys had a similar issue, and despite my love for Superheroes it was definitely a genre that represented too tight a research avenue. After all, what can you really get from superheroes as a topic that doesn’t eventually evolve into a superhero game? Not that a superhero game is a bad thing, but it doesn’t exactly let me explore a lot of options game-wise, especially this early on in idea generation.
I then looked through the words that were left, and with some narrowed them down just a little so that the topics weren’t too general (just as some idea avenues can be too narrow, some can be too general, leaving you stuck with so much to research and not a clue where to begin). Atmosphere for example I then chose a subtext of; dystopia. It’s definition is an imagined place or area where things are bad, which is an incredibly interesting and rather open avenue for potential research, both in fiction and non fiction. It’s specific enough to concentrate research but not too specific so that it locks you into a narrow avenue, which is damn near perfect for idea generation. I then narrowed Mental Conditions ever so slightly into Mental Breakdown, as not only is it a more interesting area to look into but it represents a lot more than just mental conditions (for example, hopelessness, stress, paranoia etc.).

With the culling then over, the list looked something like this:

  • Dystopia
  • Future
  • Supernatural
  • Mental Breakdown

Despite the shortness of it, this list represents a significant amount of ideas. There is so much you can get from just these four words, and the prospect of it excited me so much I began diving into the words pretty much immediately:

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This took me a little under an hour, and it really gives you an idea of just how much interesting stuff you can get from a few simple words. Instead of four ideas, I now have literally hundreds, all with different avenues I can go down. Ones I find particularly intriguing right off the bat are Oppression (from Dystopia) Escapism (from both Dystopia and Mental Breakdown) and Paranormal (from Supernatural). Next week I will go into these as well as a lot more ideas with a bit of a fine-toothed comb, and this combined with some research will hopefully give me some really solid ground for honing just what my eventual game could be about. I have two weeks to come up with four of these solid ideas, and hopefully what I have come up with this week will allow me to do just that.

 

Reflection On The Week

I must admit, I was initially very skeptical about the methodology Adam wanted us to use to generate ideas at the start of his workshop. I thought answering his questions was interesting (as it allowed me to show off things I really found interesting or intriguing) but as idea generating avenues a lot of them weren’t particularly great. As the lesson went on however (and we started crossing some out and honing the ones that worked) it became pretty apparent that there were some solid grounds for research amongst the hundreds of dead ends. What I also found particularly useful was looking at other people’s ideas as well as my own, as that allowed me to find very interesting avenues that hadn’t even occurred to me at the time (for example, Supernatural and Mental Breakdown). By the end of the workshop, I had found a lot of interesting words and phrases and upon further expansion of them suddenly I had hundreds of potential idea generators, and I then realised how useful the session actually was. I do still think that some elements of it weren’t so good (for example, crossing out ideas that you didn’t like – just because you don’t find them interesting doesn’t mean they aren’t!) but overall the session allowed me to find a lot of potential research avenues (and some that I would never have thought of on my own) and so in that respect it worked great. All-in, this week has been a pretty good launch pad for ideas, and I look forward to the coming weeks to see what else I can come up with.

 

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