In the first 6 weeks of Semester one designers will work with the developers on projects. The aim of this is to ensure that both BA and BSc students develop a good practice in working collaboratively.
In this first short project we are commissioned to design the visual assets for a Flash-based game.
Each BA student was teamed with a BSc, with whom they had to discuss concepts and formats for a Flash-based game. It was the developer’s job to draw up a written Design Brief. After this first step they had to work to the brief to create a set of assets, in a format of the developer’s choosing. The designers were given the option to sway the idea if they didn’t like it, but any deviations from the written Design Brief has to be explained and be clear and logical.
The students will have to show evidence of having developed aesthetic ideas from initial rough drafts to final versions. They have to prove that the final assets have been aesthetically considered and improved, from the concept to the end.
Description of the game
After a short discussion around a possible game idea our group decided to do a 2D platform, side scrolling platform game for children. In style and game play it is very similar to the Mario Brothers games. The idea was inspired by Walt Disney’s cartoon Lilo and Stitch.
The game will require use of the arrow keys to direct the character and the spacebar to jump obstacles. Collectables will be placed throughout the game which give the player points. The higher the points collected the better. If obstacles are not avoided a ‘life’ will be lost.
The plot of our game is the following:
An unknown element has been discovered on Hawaii by aliens from the planet Zgwarth. They send their best scientist, Ed to research this unique X factor which can be dangerous. His mission is to keep element X safe.
Meanwhile on Earth, a local Hawaiian scientist called Edwina does some research in the forest and discovers something strange, element X.
Soon he meets Ed who explains the situation to her. They team up to protect Earth from X.
Other aliens from planet Ypuio find out about this so they send a troop of TT-s ( Total Terminators) to invade the island. They capture Edwina.
Ed has to save her and send the TT-s home.
We wanted a really good sounding name for the game which would sound mysterious at the same time. First we thought of Ed and Edwina, The Eds and so on, but finally we opted for Element X, because we thought this is intriguing and it would draw children’s attention.
We debated on the two good characters, the good alien and the scientist as well. The initial idea of the whole game was inspired by the cartoon Lilo and Stitch, where an alien flees to an exotic island where he meets a girl. After many adventures Stitch becomes friends with Lilo.
We had two choices for Ed, one was to make him an animal (like Stitch is a dog) or rather like a robot, for example Wall.E. In the end the designer opted for the combination of the two.
Edwina was first meant to be a princess, but then the story made no sense, so we chose her to be a local scientist.
Since the whole game has to be aesthetic, the bad aliens’, the TT-s (Total Terminators) appearance has to follow the same style as Ed’s.
The game would be constituted by four levels which are the following:
Level 1: Beach (Ed is walking on a beach where he has to jump over obstacles such as umbrellas, boats, seagull, cliffs, rocks, seaweed, nets and TT-s)
Level 2: Forest (The obstacles in this case would be logs, rocks and TT-s)
Level 3: A house in the forest ( The obstacles would be furniture and TT-s)
Level 4: Spaceship. In this last level Ed would defeat the remaining TT-s and would free Edwina, who he then will take home.
According to the brief the designer had to base designs and assets for the game on the basis that the overall game will be created 1024 pixels wide and 768 pixels high in 2D.
All graphics have be optimised for streaming. Low bandwidth should be
considered. Graphics that are for the background or that do not need to be
transparent should be saved as optimised JPGs. The quality needs to be compared
to the file size to ensure that the file is as small as it can be without losing quality.
For graphics that need to have a transparent background they should be saved
as PNG’s and again the quality needs to be compared to the file size. Animated graphics need to be delivered as animated GIF files, optimised for streaming if possible.
It was the designer’s duty to prepare a story board for the first level, where the assets are placed. An introduction screen was also needed that includes the game title and a graphic as wells as the ‘click to play’ button which will get the game started.
A second screen was also needed that includes a short explanation of the story
and simple instructions such as ‘use the arrow keys to move and the space bar to
The story is told through stills. Furthermore a closing screen was also required for the end of the level which would lead on to the next level or reflect the number of points that the player has collected.
The beach background for the level had to be carefully designed by both sides so that the graphic appears to seamlessly scroll.
There were added additional images to the foreground and background such as a net, shelves, palm tree, seaweed, a log, seagulls.
These are the obstacles which the player has to jump over.
The level requires Edwina the scientist, Ed the good alien character and the bad
guys, a few of which are required to be obstacles. The characters have to
be animated as if walking and jumping accompanied by a still image.
Collectables are also provided for collection throughout the level along with Element X that the player receives at the end of the level.
At the top right corner a graphic shows the feedback when the
collectables are picked up, the lives left and ‘-1life’ if the player runs into a bad guy
or down a hole.
The team decided to use sound clips when the player collects
points, jumps and for any other actions that the designer feels necessary.