Thursday, 18 April 2013

Mechanic Document

Game Mechanic Document
Capture and Hold Mechanic - Skyrim
The capture and hold mechanic gives the player the ability to capture cities, towns and settlements within Skyrim. This mechanic would build upon the storyline in the Civil war quest line by making the civil war between the Stormcloak Rebellion and the Imperial Legion affect the player more while exploring. One of the major plots in Skyrim is the struggle for power over the province of Skyrim, the player can choose to join either the Stormcloak or Legion faction in game and begin the quest line. The quests are the same on both sides and revolve around the player securing dominance over Skyrim for their chosen faction. During this quest line there are a few missions to capture and defend certain forts and cities. The only time that the player is able to do this is when the quest is active, greatly reducing immersion into the story line as it doesn’t ever feel that both sides are struggling for power. The mechanic would allow players to capture locations without certain quests being active, adding to the immersion of the story. One of the biggest problems with Skyrim is the massive world to explore with seemingly very little going on, it never gives the feeling that there’s a civil war going on. To capture a location, the player must first of all speak to a high ranking soldier of their faction where they can choose the date, time and location as well as the number of soldiers to accompany them. This gives the player the opportunity to capture a town with a group if they choose. The player captures a location by killing all of the enemy soldiers there. Currently there are campsites belonging to both factions scattered around the world and occasionally the player may encounter soldiers of the opposing faction in the wilderness but they aren’t often hostile towards the player unless attacked. This mechanic makes the world more diverse and full of activity. If the player decides to kill all the enemies in a camp this is how it will remain, they do not respawn. The capture and hold mechanic will repopulate any camps with soldiers when they are wiped out over a period of time alternatively new camps can arise in the wilderness of Skyrim which the player can discover through exploration or clues from neutral NPCs in settlements. The mechanic would add many more patrolling Stormcloak and Imperial soldiers into the wilds of Skyrim, presenting more danger to the player while they are exploring. Adding more patrolling soldiers to the world of Skyrim will further add to the civil war that is meant to be raging. Enemy soldiers encountered whilst exploring should be more hostile than they are currently to further emphasise the feel of a civil war.
Locations are captured or defended by defeating all of the enemy soldiers in a location. When the player dies in Skyrim they must load a previous saved game therefore any changes made to the game after the save will be lost. This will cause problems to arise if a player is defending one of the captured locations and dies in the process . The player can’t lose a location if they die in the process of defending it as they have to reload a save .  The mechanic shouldn’t come into use until the player has started the quest line relating to the civil war and has chosen which faction they want to join. The player should require a faction to capture a location as this  compliments the story.
Ability to capture Cities, Towns and settlements outside of storyline
Locations are captured by defeating all of the soldiers and the leader of that location.
Capturing a city, town or settlement makes buying items from shops cheaper. Items can also be sold to shops for a higher price
Capturing a location will make the players reputation in the town much higher and thus the player is treated better by the inhabitants with lower shop prices.
Captured locations will be attacked by the opposing faction.
The player must be able to lose locations to give the sense of a struggle for power in a civil war.  If a player loses a location, their reputation will be much lower there making shop prices higher with the player’s items being worth much less.
Have the ability to capture a town alone. Player can speak to a friendly, high ranking
Solider to organise a raid on a town. The player can set the time, date, and location of the raid and can choose how many soldiers to bring along.
The player should be able to orchestrate an attack on a location, but should also have the choice of how to do it as to not take control away from the player.
Camps belonging to the opposing faction will respawn over time, new camps can generate elsewhere when one has been destroyed.
The player should feel like there is a civil war going on, new campsites appearing will make the player feel like the world is active.
Soldiers of the opposing faction will roam Skyrim in larger and more hostile groups         making the game more challenging and interesting by adding another element of danger to the wilds of Skyrim.
Job Roles
To make this mechanic a reality, a UI designer would be needed to create an interface for when the player is organising a raid on a town. A programmer would have the largest task. The programmer would be needed to raise or lower the player’s reputation based on which faction is holding the town. The programmer would be needed to make the organised raids work, camps respawn, and new camps arising, making the opposing faction attack captured towns and also the programmer would need to give the player the ability to capture location. A sound designer would be needed to record new voice acting for some of the new NPCs such as the high ranking soldiers of the faction. An artist would not be required to create this mechanic, all of the models and textures are already in the game. The pre-set models would suffice for this mechanic

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

War Card Game



  • The Game must be played with a minimum of 2 players
  • Deck is divided evenly between players
  • Each player reveals top card
  • The player with the highest value card takes both cards and places them on the bottom of their deck
  • If cards are equal, players reveal their next card. The highest card takes all the cards.
  • The first player to run out of cards is the loser.

  • Players must reveal cards at the same time
  • If tied,  war is active.  The next card wins all


If each card was given a numerical value, there is a total of 104 per suit and a total of 416 per deck. Therefore, the person to reach a numerical value of 416 is the winner.


  • Don't conceal cards form opponents
  • Don't hit opponents
  • Dont steal opponents cards

War Card Game Variants

My variants of War:


- Deck is shuffled and divided evenly between players
- Players take top 5 cards from deck, these are in the players hand
- players have a choice of 5 cards to play each round
- The player with the highest value card wins and puts both cards on the bottom of their deck
-Each round the player takes a new card from the top of their deck so that they always have 5 cards in their hand. The exception being when a player does not have 5 cards, in which case all cards are held in hand
-The winner is the player to obtain all the cards

-Deck is shuffled and split into multiple piles (2 or more)
-Each round players draw a card from whichever pile they want
-player with highest card wins, winner of round takes both cards and puts them in a "win" pile.
-First one to get all the cards wins

Constituative and Implicit rules remain the same.

Potential Problems: What happens if a player has one card remaining and "war"occurs? This goes for the standard version of war aswell.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

What does it take to get hired?

In the previous post I outlined the basic skills required to be an environment artist. Those skills as well as a strong portfolio and relevant experience are essential in getting hired.  Environment art, along with every other role in the games industry is a competitive field. Instead of asking what does it take to get hired, more important questions are:

What does it take to be a good environment artist? and How can I make myself stand out from all the other wannabe artists?

Anyone can learn the skills required to be an environment artist, but in an an ever more competitive field, standing out from the competition is a must. While researching on the topic of standing out from the other artists, a few people mentioned the relationship between modelling and texturing and how these should be viewed as an equal partnership. Texturing is just as important as the modelling process and an equal amount of time and effort needs to be spent on it. Many junior artists are guilty of pouring all of their effort into modelling and slacking on the texture work. 

I've done this... A lot.

As well as strong texture work, it is important  to show diversity. Experience creating models photo real textures and hand painted textures will make me more desirable to a potential employer. Showing strong  visual story telling and composition skills will also make work stand out.

It's important to show all of your work; finished model, wire frame, flat textures, normal maps, ambient occlusion maps, UV unwraps etc. This shows understanding and competence in creating models, someone looking at my portfolio will see that I understand how to do all of these things already and independently.

It is a good idea to show a broad range of knowledge and skills outside of those required to be a good environment artist. Showing an understanding of other areas within games design can make you more desirable  especially to a small team.

Being active on social media and blogging regularly can help to get your work out there and get noticed.

What do I need to improve on to best myself as an environment artist?

My research has shed some light into the steps i need to take in order to improve myself and make myself more attractive to an employer. Based on my research I have been able to formulate this list of goals I need to meet in order to move forward.
  • Give equal attention to both modelling and texturing when creating 3d models. This can be achieved by timing myself on how long it takes for me to complete a model and then dedicate an equal amount of time and effort to the texture sheet. Timing my work will also teach me to be more time effiecient when working, with more practice I should be able to achieve desired results within a minimal amount of time, skills which are desirable within the industry. Creating props is a good way to do this as most will not take that long to model but will help me practice both modelling and texturing.
  • Create higher poly models. The models I create are typically very low poly. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, I can create models very efficiently because of this. The downside to this is that I feel that my models are lacking in detail. It is important for me to properly familiarise myself with using Mudbox and learn how to use it.
  • Start thinking about my portfolio. While I am creating work constantly for university projects, it would be beneficial for my to work on a few personal projects outside of university with a strong emphasis on quality and efficiency. 
  • Time Management. Time management is currently the weakest aspect of my work. For as long as I can remember I have been horrible at doing this. Fortunately it is a relatively easy area to develop. Creating timetables focusing my day around working is the solution, providing I stick to the timetable of course.

Industry Research

Desired Role:

Environment Artist.

Role Description:

An Environment Artist specialises in the indoor and outdoor locations of a game. An Environment Artist is responsible for the overall visuals the player will encounter on screen. Environment artists may be required to build and texture anything from architecture, terrain, foliage and props.

The role of an environment artist is not black and white, however. The job description is likely to differ from studio to studio and knowledge in other areas of game design will be beneficial when applying for jobs.

Key Skills:

  • Knowledge of 3d software such as 3ds Max and Mudbox
  • 2d texture creation
  • Drawing/ Painting
  • Knowledge of Architecture
  • Experience working with level editors such as UDK
  • Time Management
  • Teamwork and Communication skills
  • Understanding of the latest techniques and trends
  • Accepting of feedback/ open to new ideas and concepts

Environment Artist Job Roles and Progression

Junior Environment Artist
Salary: 18-20k

Environment Artist
Salary: 24-28k

Senior Environment Artist
Salary 34-37k

Board Game

Back of Cards

Board Layout

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Heimdall blowing Gjallarhorn

This is the first piece of concept art I completed for my Future Norse Myths project. The aim of my project was to create artwork for 6 different scenes in the Ragnarok story from Norse Mythology in a future or sci fi setting.

This piece depicts the god Heimdall blowing the horn, Gjall. In Norse Mythology, the sound of the Gjallarhorn signals the onset of the events of Ragnarok in which almost all life in the nine worlds will perish.

When designing this piece, I wanted the character to have sci-fi looking armour but I dont think I achieved this in this particular artwork. The armour looks more like fantasy armour than sci-fi armour here and other than that there is nothing in this piece that even suggests a science fiction or future setting.

The mountains in the background get less and less saturated the further away they are as they should, but the shape of the mountains and and the light and dark areas are not defined properly. None of the shading is done consistently in the painting, this is probably down to me not having decided where the main light source in the scene is before applying a paint layer. This can be easily fixed in the future, however, with a little bit more planning before i begin painting.

I do not think the choice of colour palette was very good in this piece. The blue armour was meant to appear to be science fiction, but as mentioned earlier, I do not think i managed to achieve a science fiction feel in the painting.

What I did like about this painting, however is how the character is drawn. I think this is one of the best drawn characters in the entire project. The anatomy and proportions are good in this character, this was the result of good sketchwork and planning.

Loki Freed from Chains

 In the Ragnarok story, Loki breaks free form his shackles and rides north to fight Heimdall. To make this story fit a sci-fi/ future setting, I changed the shackles for a prison and had the character in this painting escaping from prison.
I think this piece has a very painterly style, perhaps more so than some of the other paintings in this project. I like this painting a lot, I think it tells a strong narrative and is easy to tell what is going on in this scene.
I attempted to paint this piece with little to no sketch work underneath, with the exception of the characters face I think this went quite well. I think the lighting on the scene and on the character is done quite well.
I used a gaussian blur effect on the fire in the background this creates the effect of the character being really sharp and in focus with the background being out of focus.
To improve this painting,  need to study some more anatomy and get the proportions of the body and face correct.

Thor vs. Jormungand

This is the third piece I completed for the Future Norse Myths project. In norse mythology Thor fights the Midgard Serpent, Jomungand during the events of Ragnarok. Thor slays the serpent and takes 9 steps before he falls to his death from venom.

I wanted to avoid taking the stories so literally from this point so instead of featuring an actual serpent to fight Thor, I used an image of a snake as a sigil for the character in the background. To represent the 9 steps Thor takes before his death, the character's bomb vest is set to detonate after 9 seconds.

The proportions of Thor's face is slightly off. The eys are too wide and the nose is too long. The facial proportions of the character in the background are better, although there are some problems with his feet and arms.

More anatomical studies are required.

Unlike the other paintings on this project this was the only one that I kept some of the line art. I really like the colour palette on Thor's face and hair in this painting, the saturated,  vibrant colours I think look good with the dark line art.


Aesir Arms Shipment

Freyr Vs. Surt

This piece is my personal favourite from all of the paintings I completed. I love the contrast between Freyr, the god of fertility and life, and Surt the fire god.  I wanted to continue using symbolism as much as possible instead of taking the stories literally.

I think the anatomy of the boar and the 2 faces is done really well and for the most part the brush strokes are done well. The face on the right does not look as good as the one on the left. I spent too much time on this piece, and it took away from time i could spend on the other pieces.

I like the small things in this piece that bring the painting to life, such as the distant trees, blades of grass and city skyline in the background.


Nastrond - The Shore of Corpses