• Roger Matthews

10/31/19 - Project + Paper outline

Next semester

I have confirmed with Amanda and Ulm that I can switch to Ulm's studio next semester as a designated design lead on her VR project. I have also decided to work on a VR project next semester, after working on ideas for VR projects this semester in Ulm's VR class. As a result, I will also be switching to Ulm as my advisor for my next semester project as I work in VR.

Research Paper

Amanda let us know that the research paper outline is due next week (not this week), and suggested we spend this week discussing the provided outline format. So here is the starting point of an outline to discuss -

Paper focus - Finding ways to tell stories that are unique to the interactive medium.

Structure -

- Start with John Carmack's 1990s quote“Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not that important.”

- Explain how this statement reflected a general attitude towards storytelling in most of the gaming industry.

- Counter that *all* components of a game are potentially storytelling, not just a dialogue heavy cut scene. Good narrative design is tying together the entire game experience into a collective narrative.

- Arrive at main argument that in order for games to tell stories, they must make think of stories that can *only* be told in the interactive medium. What can a game offer that a book or film cannot?

- Argument1. A problem is that AAA titles are risk averse by nature, banking on marketing old familiar tropes to players. This keeps us stuck in the 1990s "Story in a game is like porn" mentality. The solution to this is smaller budget indie games that are able to take risks and find ways to tell, as mentioned, new stories in ways that are unique to the game medium.

- Argument2. Expand on the role Valve played in enabling storytellers through Half Life 2 and Steam. The Half Life 2 game's focus on storytelling and (at the time) advanced modding tools led to innovative story driven mods such as The Stanley Parable and Dear Esther. Steam then also created a marketplace for these new creators to sell commercial versions of their Half Life 2 experiments.

-Argument3. Focus on the trajectory of The Chinese Room and their success with the aforementioned Dear Esther. Their work was a series of academic experiments pushing the boundaries of game design, but the results ended up leading to critical acclaim. Go into their other projects such as Korsakovia and Amnesia: Machine for Pigs to tie together the over arching goals of their projects.

- End on a new quote from John Carmack on Twitter - "

“[My old porn quote] still pops up, but I caveat it today -- there are undeniably lots of games where the story is the entire point, and they can be done well. I do still hold that the most important games have been all about the play, not the story.”

Write closing thoughts in response.


Mainly spent this week troubleshooting a few issues in Unreal, mainly related to difficulties with the lighting. I spoke with Keo Heng for a while on Wed, which helped with some issues. /He didn't quite seem to know why the lighting was looking strange, but further poking around revealed that there are a lot of extra unnecessary lights as a result of merging assets from different sources. While playing around with this, I came up with a new idea -

You could start the game in a black and white, low light, high contrast look. I started playing around with Post Processing to manually adjust the game's exposure and saturation.

As you walk forward, I start adding a few high contrast lights, so there is a progression towards getting progressively brighter.

And finally, when you pick up the phone on the ground and hear a voice angrily yelling at you, I was thinking the saturation and exposure could return to normal values. The subway sort of comes 'alive' as a result of that voice on the phone. Lots of high energy noises could start - clocks ticking, machinery running, to make it feel like the space is alive.

For now, this is just a concept I would need to finish implementing. (I'm mainly coming across ideas inadvertently while trying to fix things currently) I'd love to have the train either disappear or ride away when exit off of it, as I have a Blueprint train animation, but it might not work with my customized train now. Not a high priority.

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