Week 6: Exploring Ideas and Mechanics / by Valzorra

Idea Generation

We have officially entered the Phase 3, the first phase focused on actually building our ideas and creating a variety of prototypes for them. Before, I could start crafting anything, I needed to come up with a sufficient number of potential projects to work on. I already had a few ideas floating around, but this was the perfect time to actually put all of them onto paper and hopefully to come up with a few additional good ones. To do this, I decided to use the Lotus Diagram for Idea Generation, as it maintains ideas rather focused around a broader central concept and the method is also very efficient at forcing me to come up with about 70 concepts. I have attached the Lotus Diagram I came up with below, with the words Chance, Probability, and Maths in the centre.

The diagram itself looks rather intimidating due to the large number of ideas and writing on it, however, after examining everything I had come up with, I decided to focus on a few points that really inspired me. The major idea categories I chose from the centre were to use dice to determine the outcome of a situation and to then change those results, to find a better way for visualising complex data, to use the Reimann-Zeta Function as inspiration for a story, to generate an interactive world through mathematical formulas, and to create advanced and sophisticated AI players could interact with. Below I have attached a series of images featuring the ideas I liked and felt inspired to work on, which have all been highlighted in pink.

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After this process of idea generation, I felt quite happy with some of the projects that came to mind and was eager to start working on them as soon as possible. Many of the ideas can be combined, and turned into a more complex and exciting project, which is what I have attempted to do. I will detail each of these in the next couple of weeks in a series of project proposals that will explain my thought process, the connection to my research, and the project itself in a lot more detail. For now, the four major ideas that I would like to dive into are:

  1. A new method for three-dimensional Data Visualisation: I believe I may have figured out a way to represent complex data through the use of three-dimensional solids. This could be used as both an educational and diagnostic tool.

  2. A game environment generated by the players as they move and interact with it it. This would be an exponentially more chaotic experience that would take player actions, feed them into mathematical formulas and functions, and change the environment as they move along. By the end, each player would have created a unique world.

  3. An experience featuring sophisticated AI and based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. This experience would have predictive and potentially emotive NPCs that would convey a sense of fear in the player, which can be fun and thrilling in itself.

  4. In a world where each individual has one of a set number of special abilities, you play as a character who has managed to figure out how to use all seven of them. You were naturally born with Telekinesis and have infused a standard six-sided dice with the rest. This allows you to control how the dice rolls, giving you power over chance. Additionally, this could incorporate a story loosely based on what may happen if a solution to the Reimann-Zeta function was discovered.

Tech Workshop

We began the Tuesday of Week 6 with an exciting exploration of how Calculus and a bit of Trigonometry can be used in video games to create smooth movement and over the shoulder cameras. I found James’s explanation really straightforward and easy to understand and for the most part I didn’t really have any issues following along. I quite enjoyed this exploration because it showed a very handy practical application of the things we have been looking at over the past few weeks. Additionally, this algorithm and the logic behind it would work equally well in any game engine, because it’s based on mathematics rather than on in-built settings. What’s more is that this is a very elegant mathematical methodology for handling this issue in games design, and I look forward to applying it in some of my future projects. I would be greatly interested in looking and other such applications of Calculus within video games, so hopefully we will be examining more of the sort in the coming weeks. I have attached the notes from that explanation below.

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After the lecture on a practical application for Calculus within video games, we entered our Building the World session. James took the time to have one to one sessions with each separate team and to try and help us with our design process. I was one of the first to have a chat with him and as I was interested in developing fun mechanics players can mess around with, James suggested I create a few pieces similar to storyboards, which would describe how those mechanics would work. I decided to start working on a fun idea I had early in this week, which involved a variety of special abilities the player would be able to take advantage of. The complete idea will be described and documented over the course of the next couple of weeks. I also took this opportunity to expand upon the mechanics I was developing last week and to make the illustrations a little nicer and more clear. Additionally, my work from last week (Week 5: Just for Fun) featured a few different abilities in combination with each other, whereas here, I have showcased each one separately.

An environmental sketch to showcase the mechanics onto.

An environmental sketch to showcase the mechanics onto.

The slideshow below described a teleportation mechanics, whereby the player can choose a position within a certain range and be instantly teleported to that location. Another option that may make the mechanic a bit simpler would be to simply teleport the player a set distance in the direction the camera is looking at. This would make the teleportation mechanic less strategic, however, it may simplify things a bit if there is ever a risk of making the game too complex. Additionally, it would be interesting to consider what would happen if a player was to teleport directly on top of an enemy. So far, I believe they will simply not be given the option to do so, but it may be fun if an enemy instantaneously combusts when they are teleported on top of. All food for thought.

A defensive shield would function almost entirely as expected. The player would me a lot less susceptible to damage and enemy projectiles would not necessarily be able to collide with them. I envision the shield as a armour-like material, almost like shards, which would wrap itself around the player and protect them from any danger. The shield would have a relatively long duration and it would last for a certain amount of time. Another option would be to make the shield last onto the player until it is broken by enemies, however, making it based on a timer may be a bit easier to implement and manage.

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The last ability I was able work on during our Building the World session was a blinding beam of light that would essentially stun enemies. Initially, I thought that this beam could essentially rise above the ground and shine brightly, blinding enemies with it’s light. The player would be able to pick a target location to place the beam over that location. All enemies within it’s range would be unable to see for a set duration, however, that does not necessarily mean they would not be able to attack. This ability could be a double edged sword as on one side it stuns enemies, but on the other, it definitely draws attention to the player. I may make another version of this in the future as I am not incredibly pleased with it just yet, but nonetheless, so far so good.