Sunday, 28 November 2010

Project Summary

I now think it’s necessary to briefly evaluate my work for this term, in order to ensure that I have done the work that was outlined in the learning agreement.

I started the project my creating an extensive research document, containing all kinds of necessary information that I needed to look at for my game idea and design document. I feel that the research that I have done was well thought out and relevant to my project. I made sure that I looked at current and emerging areas relating to my project, such as the current trends in game engines, art, fashion and new games. (LO1)

I also researched areas that will help me understand contextual, historical and ethical theories about my subject area. For example, I researched the common mechanics of platform games by looking at games designer Scott Rogers and also by looking at the levels of early Mario games from the 80s. I also look at various art and games. Furthermore, in my design document, I was conscious on how to portray female characters. This is due to the work on gender I done for my research report, where I thoroughly looked at the topic. I feel very conscious that I may have created too much research, yet I couldn’t cut any of my work out, as it was all vital to my project. (LO2 &LO3)

Using my research, I made many informed decisions and judgements about my project. For example, I research games engines to find out that Unity is the best kind of program for my game. My research overall helped to prepare for next term, such as what to make in 3D for my project. (LO4)(LO5)

Finally, I feel that my design document and research is well presented, with text and images, so that it is clear and easy to read. I tried my best to match the aesthetics of the documents to the theme of my game. (LO6)

Next, my aim is to learn more about Unity over the Christmas Break, and to get started on creating my characters: developing designs and making 3D models. Overall, I am pleased with my work this term and I feel that I have set myself up for some challenging and interesting work to develop.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Flash Game

In order to experiment with aesthetics with game-play, I made a very basic flash game, which I will include in my hand-in. To do this, I used tutorials from Youtube.

Here is (a very low quality) game-play clip of the Flash game.

Design Document Presentation

For my design document, I wanted the layout to match my research document and game idea, but this time I wanted some more minimalist. That way, there is a lot of focus on my own designs and concept art.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Here are some examples of artwork that were put into my design document. For some of the images, I have included the original drawing.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Angela Carter’s Puss-in-Boots

As recommended by Sharon, I read the Puss-in-Boots by Angela Carter from “The Bloody Chamber.” The author takes the original story of Puss-in-boots and uses parts of it to make an original story. In that way, the reader/audience is familiar with the story, but their expectations are subverted. Reading this was beneficial for my game’s narrative, as I can observe how to take parts of an older text and rework it into a new story. Carter has also reworked this story for a new audience by adding humour - mostly the flamboyant cat and his interactions with other characters.

In the story, the confident and humorous talking cat, Figaro, helps his master cheat at gambling to earn money and get food. He then goes on to help his master get with a women he has fallen in love with. The woman is already married to a horrible and neglecting husband, as is constantly watched by the housekeeper.

I was keen to read this radioplay/script, as I’ve heard that Carter is a feminist writer. Therefore, I paid particular attention to the heroine of the story and looked at how other characters interact with her. The heroine in this story is imprisoned in her house and not allowed to leave, because of her husband, who she was forced to wed due to an arranged marriage. The husband, Signor Panteleone, treats his wife as a possession, letting her only look out the window for an hour a day and only going outside to go to church. However, Carter takes the stereotype of princess locked in the castle and saved by a prince and subverts it. Once Panteleone is dead, the wife seems more assertive and aggressive, firing her housekeeper and snatching her husband’s keys from his body.

It has always been important for me to see strong female characters in games, therefore studying this text was beneficial for considering characters in my own game.

The Brothers Grimm

As advised by Sharon, I am going to research and explore a few Brothers Grimm fairy tales that have female main characters. To do this I read “Grimm: The Illustrated Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm” a very beautifully illustrated book which has a handful of stories.

The reason for doing this is because I wish to explore the narratives that surround these stories, in order to inspire a story for my game. I will also look at the female characters in a critical manner and a feminist viewpoint, as to ensure that my female protagonist has depth and doesn’t come across as helpless.

Little Red Cap (Illustration by Rilla Alexander)

Next, I am going to look at the Brothers Grimm version of Little Red Riding Hood. I thought it would be interesting to study this after playing the path.

The Grimm version of the tale is very different to previous versions, as Red Cap and her Grandmother are saved by a huntsman (rather than being eaten) and also the protagonist doesn’t remove her clothes for the wolf in this version. Overall, the story is more appropriate for children.

The story clearly has a moral ending, warning not to talk to strangers/sexual predators and to do as you’re told (Not to stay from the path/venture into the woods). However, I am going to look at the meanings and representations of the protagonist. Many theorists suggest that the story is a metaphor for sexual awakening and transformation to adulthood. However, many critics say that the story has a gender imbalance due to suggesting that the female characters are weak and useless and could only be saved my a man. Feminist such as Susan Brownmille and Simone de Beauvoir disapprove of the Grimm and Perrault versions of the story, as they promote “passive, helpless, beauty-queen” ideas of femininity.

I will strongly consider these theories and opinions when creating my character. I want to ensure that my female protagonist does not come across as helpless and passive.


Cinderella is a story that is known to have originated in the first century BC. One of the most well-known versions is by The Brothers Grimm.

From reading Cinderella, I feel that the story tells of a women’s place in society. Cinderella, unlike her step-sisters, is kind, gentle and sweet, despite her troubles. Thus, because of her nature, she gets a marriage proposal of elevated status (she marries a prince). The importance of this high-staus marriage is emphasised by the step sisters cutting off their feet to fit the glass slipper. They are then blinded by pigeons for tricking the prince.

Little Snow White (Illustration by Kinpro)

I will now briefly look at the character of Snow White. Like “Little Red Cap” the writing suggests that Snow White is also vulnerable and helpless, it seems that she cannot survive without the help of men. For example, the huntsman who was originally supposed to kill Snow White saved her. Also, when Snow White is lost in the forest, she is saved by the seven Dwarfs. Finally, once snow white was poisoned by the Queen, she is saved by the Prince.

The stereotype of a naïve and innocent woman who gets into danger, only to be saved by a man is a common trait found in fairytales. For example, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Rapunzel etc. Of course, I have to take into consideration that these stories were written at a time of a male dominated society.

Studying these different tales has been very useful in helping my narrative. It has also allowed me to look at the different representations of women in fairy tales (most of which are poor). For my own game, maybe I could take a usual fairy tale setting, yet make my female character empowered, rather than useless and passive.

Research Document Presentation

As a requirement for this term, I have to hand in a research document. As I have done a lot of research this term, I feel that it should be well-presented and reflect my games idea. Here is an example of a page.

The design of the research document was influenced by the Rococo artwork I looked at earlier.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Making My Game

I will now think which programme I am going to make my platform game with. I will consider all pros and cons of each programme.


My first option is Adobe Flash, a program that I am familiar with, as I have used in past projects. Many indie developers that create games to publish on the internet use flash because it’s widely available and fairly simple to use.

However, although I feel confident with flash, there are many reasons why I do not want to use it for my final project. For example, I think it would be hard to import 3D models into flash. Also, in the last year or so, there has been a lot of talk about flash becoming obsolete and that it may be replaced with html 5. Because of this, I feel that I should keep researching into something more relevant to use.

Although I may not use flash for my final project, I may use it to make a prototype to my game, in order to experiment with game mechanics and ideas.

Yoyo Game Maker

I also considered using “Game Maker” to create my project, as it is known for being easy to use. Its appeal is that it can make interesting games without having to use any scripting or code. However, there is a built-in programming language, so that the user can make more advanced games. In Games Maker can make use of both 2D and 3D graphics, and is free to download.

However, I am hesitant to use this programme, as I have heard from internet forums that it’s 3D support is poor.

Torque Game Engine

I have heard very good things about the Torque Game Engine (TGE) as it is a powerful engine, capable of generating good 3D graphics. There is a good online community for help and it has a built-in scripting language.

However, I think this programme would be too much trouble for me to use. TGE seems to be limited to only creating first-person-shooters and third-person-shooters. I would have to modify the TGE source code (in C++) if I wanted to make a platform game.


I decided to use Unity to build my game in the final term for several reasons. Firstly, I was drawn to Unity because of the fact that the program can import 3D model and animations from Maya. This leaves me with more choices of what I can create for my visuals.

I also like the fact that the Unity engine can process game for various platforms, including Wii, XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, Google Android or an iPad/iPhone/iPad App. Although I have not thought about putting this game on any devices, it is useful to know that I can.

Also, Unity’s interface is very simply laid out and easy to navigate. My only worries about using this program are using scripts to programme to game mechanics and characters. Therefore, I will invest some time into researching Unity further, until I am more confident in using the engine.

Finally, the programme is free so I can use it at home, as well as in University.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros 3 for NES is one of my favourite platforms games because of its level design and challenging gameplay. Therefore, I thought it would be appropriate to look at some of the levels and mechanics for this game and see why they are successful. I have also chosen to look at early Mario games, because I think they are similar to Alice in Wonderland. For example, there is a normal character that is a fantasy world and there is an emphasis on growing and shrinking.

The main reason I preferred to look at the early Mario games as opposed to other early side-scrolling platform games, like Sega’s Alex Kidd and Wonder Boy is due to the fact that its levels are explorative with hidden rooms and items, making the game experience more enriching and encouraging the player to re-play the levels, in order to find all the items and hidden levels.

I particularly like the levels with floating platforms, (such as world 3-6, above) as they are more challenging. The player has to be precise about where they jump, which route to take and which floating platform to use.

I also think they are very dream-like because of how surreal they are (floating platform are obviously very unrealistic). When I think about designing my game, I imagine these kinds of platforms to create a dream-like atmosphere to suit the concepts of the narrative.

Platform Game Research: Scott Rogers

Next, I will move on from researching art and and will be looking at what makes a good platforming game, as this is my first time making a level. I will start by talking about a useful 21 page document I found by Scott Rodgers, who has worked on God of War, Pac-Man World and Drawn to Life. The document can be found on his website:

Firstly, Rodgers talks about the importance of the game's protagonist. The character's height, for instance, can make a big difference to how they are perceived. He says "Small/short = Plucky, Tall/Big = Heroic, Skinny = Fragile, Fat, = Funny" He then goes on to say that it's important to consider the characters reach, as well as creating metrics for your game world.

Rodgers explains controls and jumping, obviously an important aspect of platforming-based games. He really emphasises the importance of jump zones where the player jumps from) and landing zones (Where they can land safely). Also, he warns designers not to make the game feel inconsistent with the placement of platforms, in order to make the game fair.

In the document, there is a great deal about how to approach a falling character. For example, Rogers explains that most players will cautiously approach an edge and that the designer should think carefully to include a teeter animation to the game. On one hand, it acts as a warning, but it also disrupts the players’ control.

After talking about the basics, Rogers explain how to simply make the game more enjoyable though hidden items, design and aesthetics. For example, he says to make the music more exciting than what’s happening on screen and to create "Perceived Danger," where the character looks like they are in more danger than they actually are.

Finally, I will explain Rogers’ theories on enemies, which I found extremely useful. Although I am not sure that I will include enemies in my platform game (due to time restrictions) I still think it’s important to learn about them. He starts with explaining the basic kinds of enemies that are often experienced in these types of games.

He then stresses the importance that fighting enemies is supposed to be enjoyable, and that the designer must give the player reasons to fight the enemy. For instance, taunt animations are a good way to make the player dislike the opposition. Also, narrative elements can encourage the player to fight, such as the enemy kidnapping a girlfriend, burning down a village etc.

Overall, I gained a lot of knowledge from reading Scott Rogers' informal document and I think it has prepared me for designing my own levels.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Sue Wong

Finally, I wanted to look at Sue Wong’s Collection that she designed in collaboration with Disney for the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie. Sue Wong always seems inspired by the past - a lot of her designs for this collection seem to be influenced by fashion from the 1920s. However, on the collections website ( it seems that each dress is inspired by environments from the movie. I really like 1920s style clothing, so the combination of that along with Alice in Wonderland has made some very nice dresses, in my opinion.

Angelic Pretty

I also found the Japanese fashion label “Angelic Pretty” to be quite inspiring. The brand started in 1979 and specialises in “sweet lolita” style clothing. From what I understand, Sweet Lolita is influenced by Rococo style, Victorian and Edwardian clothing. Some of the common themes in Angelic Pretty are Alice in Wonderland imagery, showing designs of white rabbits, tea parties, playing cards, cake etc.

Japanese girls seem to like angelic pretty because of their unique prints and patterns. Therefore, I may look at them further next term when I develop my character design using an iterative process.

Vivienne Westwood

Next I will look at one of my favourite designers, Vivienne Westwood. These wonderland inspired outfits from her Spring/Summer 2010 Ready-To-Wear collection are almost the complete opposite of the last collection I looked at, as they are over-the-top and messy. Westwood’s designs seem to capture the insanity and quirkiness of Alice in Wonderland. Most of the designs remind me of the Queen of Hearts and The Mad Hatter.

Luella Bartley

Like the context of my game idea, I want my protagonist to be inspired by Alice in Wonderland as well. However, I still want my character to look original and contemporary. Rather than looking at how Alice is shown in book illustrations and animations, I wanted to look at how the wonderland theme is expressed in the fashion world. After studying textiles and fashion at A-level, I have always been interested in the latest collections and I hope this comes across in my designs.

Firstly, I wanted to look at the Luella Spring/Summer 2010 ready to wear collection. I am reminded of Alice in Wonderland because of the ribbons in the hair, pastel colours and an emphasis on the silhouettes of the dresses. I like these outfits because it’s almost like a very mature and subdued version of Alice and Wonderland. These garments also remind me of the rococo architecture I looked at, because of the pastel colours.

Sunday, 7 November 2010


In my game, I want my environments to be inspired by Rococo architecture and art, in order to expand on the feminine themes in the game. During the late 1600/1700s, a lavish, decorative and ornamental style of art, furniture, textiles and interior design became popular in Europe, originating in France. It did not last long and eventually lost its popularity because most people associated the style with aristocrats. I want to take common elements of this art style and apply it to my environments, platforms, items etc.

Here are some common characteristics of the style that I can use in my work:

  • Pastel colours, gold
  • Highly decorative, with lots of small details
  • Ornaments/patterns shaped as shells, flowers, plants, clouds, and coral (inspired by nature)
  • Light, elegant, graceful and feminine
  • Asymmetrical Shapes

Notable artists: Robert de Cotte, Jacques Ange Gabriel, Francois Boucher

Junko Mizuno

Next, I will look at art styles that influence my game and idea. Unlike the art I looked at before, these artists don’t reference Alice in Wonderland.

Firstly, my project’s style is primarily influenced by Japanese artist Junko Mizuno. I first dismissed Mizuno’s art as another cute, but creepy style, but after looking into her work further, I found that her art uses some very interesting themes, such as pregnancy, maternity and sex. I also found that there were feminist messages in her comic books that she had written. For instance, the women in the comics were often poorly treated by the male characters. Mizuno says that “In Japan, today still, men use to judge very strictly women who are not pretty.” So maybe this is some kind of reaction to the treatment on women in Japan. Mizuno’s characters are also very strong-willed and independent, representing the kind of woman she aspires to be.

Her work also links in with my study on narrative as she likes to base her work on famous western fairy tales, but change certain aspects of them to make them her own. For example, in her comic “Cinderalla” the protagonist is a waitress and prince charming is a zombie pop star. Rather than leaving a glass slipper, she leaves an eyeball behind. She also wrote her own version of Hansel and Gretel and a little mermaid style story.

I really like the style and themes that Junko Mizuno uses and I would like my own game to take inspiration from it. Her overly feminine imagery would be perfect for my target audience.

I also came across some artwork of hers that would make interesting platform level aesthetics. One is from her “Mizuno Garden” website and the other is stationary:

Tutorial on Storytelling

Recently, I had a very constructive tutorial with Sharon Sage, who helped me with my game’s narrative. I want to expand on the narrative of my game, in order to strengthen my project. After explaining the basic concept of my game, its aesthetics and target demographic, Sharon seemed to understand my intentions of making this game and was interested in helping me come up with ways to communicate storytelling, rather than action/violence for its own sake.

Firstly, after explaining how I want my narrative to express a kind of Alice in Wonderland theme, she suggested that I read Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales that have female characters. I am interested in reading (or in some cases, re-reading) Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Cap(Little Red Riding Hood), Little Briar-Rose (Sleeping Beauty), Snow white and Rose Red and The Girl Without Hands.

Sharon recommended that I may watch a few Disney movies, as well as Shrek to see how adult themes and humour can be worked into these classic fairytales. Sharon also stressed that I should read (or listen to) Angela Carter’s Puss in boots Radio play.

I was also recommended to read some of the Arabian Knights stories. These stories have episodic narrative and a “Frame story,” where a story is told within a story. These two narrative structures would be interesting in a game. For example, each level could tell a different short story (or fairy tale). I am also interested in how these stories use satire and parody.

Next, I will read a few short stories from The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. Many of these stories are about love and tragedy, so they might inspire good ideas for developing a narrative that appeals to women. Like the Arabian Knights stories, The Decameron is structured in a frame narrative. Sharon advised me to play particular attention to the character Fiametta and reading the stories based around her, as I may want to base my main character around her. It will also be useful to read some stories of The Decameron because of its use of themes – a new theme is in each story. When I first spoke to Sharon about a story that I want to create, she stressed the importance of themes. These stories also use multiple viewpoints, which maybe an interesting narrative device to use in my game. For example, seeing everything that is happening in the protagonist’s world, even if they cannot see it themselves. Sharon also advised me to read or watch “To Kill a Mocking Bird” and pay particular attention to its storytelling.

Lastly, I will look at the short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which have elements of magical realism. From what I understand, magic realism is a literary movement where magical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere or environment, almost like an altered reality.

Reading List:

  • Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales with female protagonists
  • Angela Carter’s Puss in boots radio play
  • Short Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Arabian Knights stories
  • Stories from “The Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio
  • To Kill a Mocking Bird (Or watch the movie by Gregory Peck)