Reflections on Group Work

As a group I feel like we gelled and naturally became more cohesive as time went on.  Through the use of a Facebook group we were able to keep in constant touch with one another, sharing ideas and images and furthering our development.  It helped greatly within our group, particularly when trying to meet away from university.  Emily, Emily and Jamie are all resident at Ty Pont halls, and Andrew is in Student Castle a mere minute’s walk away.  Living at home in Radyr it was sometimes difficult to meet at short notice, as the other members of the group were able to convene at a moment’s notice in Cardiff.  Our Facebook message feed has over 1300 messages in it, and I think that contributed greatly to the success of our final outcome.

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Clearly I’ve left PLENTY out of this, but this is just a brief overview of the type of relationship we had within our group.  I found our Facebook messaging infinitely helpful and often hilarious.

4 large fries 4eva xoxoxox

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Eclypsia Presentation

As you can see, our presentation relied heavily on the images we had made.  Obviously it would have been impossible to actually create a video game as none of us had the know-how nor the time to complete such a feat.  Here is an overview of our presentation with the subsequent notes that were said with each slide.

  • CD – Charlotte Davies (myself)
  • JS – Jamie Stevenson
  • EU – Emily Unsworth-White
  • EP – Emily Panizzi
  • AH – Andrew Ho

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JS – This is Eclypsia! EP – It is a futuristic world where the ‘Fuels’ – an ancient society of unsustainable energy resources, have risen up against Eclypsia after years of being forgotten about to steal the Sun’s power and plunge Eclypsia into darkness.

AH – You, as the player, will be helping the people of Eclypsia to fight back against the Fuels, restore the Sun to her former glory, and bring power and light back to Eclypsia! EU – As a group we decided to come up with an idea for a futuristic video game – one which would be aimed at young children. The ‘moral’ of the game would be to raise awareness of clean energy, sustainable resources, all through the medium of a playable video game.

CD – We felt that the issue of having clean and sustainable energy is an important one, particularly within our group. We have designed a game which looks to educate and promote awareness of sustainable energy resources, whilst also being a fun and enjoyable experience for those who play it.

JS – The purpose of the game would be to subtlety yet effectively promote the use of ‘clean’ energy resources, namely solar, wind and tidal powers. When the Fuels plunge Eclypsia into darkness, it becomes sad, dark, and would appear negatively to young children. Through the use of power-ups from the sun, and various other aspects of the gameplay which seek to promote the use of clean energies, we feel that this will leave a lasting, positive impression on young children – they see the clean energies as a positive influence on Eclypsia, and we hope, the rest of their real lives

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CD – Initially, our individual interest were varied – at first we struggled to marry our ideas together. We used mind-mapping and group discussion to find the common themes within our work. As a group we looked at the idea of futuristic cities, particularly transport and clean energy, and the impact it may have on the lives of the people in that city.

EP – Our main stumbling block was that our thoughts were far too vague. In an effort to condense our ideas, we tried to find one avenue of a potential future, which could be used effectively to promote the use of clean energy resources, but in an easily accessible way.

JS – After further discussion and research, we came to the idea of creating a video game, designed with promoting clean energy in mind.

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EU – Our story begins with a young child flicking through the television channels. It briefly stops on a story about global warming. There are melting polar icecaps, the earth has a warmer climate, and it’s changing the world we live in. He changes the channel. “BORING!”

JS – Lying asleep in bed, they are awoken by frantic whispering, and someone pokes him sharply in the face. “Ouch!” He opens his eyes to see a group of tiny little people looking very expectant and panicky. They seem flustered. “What are you doing in my bedroom?!” He asks. “We need your help, quickly! They squeak. “The Fuels have stolen the Sun and without her our planet is dying! Come quickly, we’ll explain on the way!”

EP – One of the little men pulls what looks like a large pocket watch from out of his backpack. He turns a few dials, and then places it quickly onto the bed. The next thing he knows, a great bright light shoots out of the contraption.

CD – One by one they jump into the light and disappear! He’s very scared, but slowly kneels over the strange object. Next thing he knows, he’s bumping and crashing down through a great, light-filled tunnel, when suddenly – CRASH! He arrives in Eclypsia.

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EP – In an age long ago, the people of Acornia lived in harmony with creatures known as the Fuels. These peculiar children of the earth were born of rock and gas and flowing fire, with hearts of pure molten energy. In return for lasting friendship and the freedom to go wherever they pleased, the Fuels granted our ancestors all the energy they needed to power an entire civilisation.

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JS – However, after a time, something changed. The population of Fuels seemed to dwindle and fade, and their power was not as it once was. Our ancestors made a terribly difficult choice – they abandoned the friends that had been their lifeblood for so long, turned their gazes to the sky, and saw their future shining down on them. Our people, here in Acornia, discovered the Sun’s infinite energy and embraced Her as a new source of life.

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AH – But now, they have returned! Up, up from beneath the earth they come, with fire and stone and fury, bent on revenge! They see our bright new world and they are jealous. They want it for themselves!

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CD – One evening, not long ago, just as the Sun was returning to the West for Her sleep, those monstrous Fuels came out from the ground and took her from us! They sheathed Her precious light, casting not just Acornia, but all of Eclypsia in darkness.

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EU – Even now we hear her cries of pain, but we are powerless to help her! Without Her love and warmth we cannot survive.

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EP – We grow weaker with every passing day, our bodies turn cold and lifeless. We have not the strength to fight the Fuels. The people of Acornia are doomed.

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JS – You are our last hope! You are strong and brave, and we know you have what it takes to go into the darkness and stop the Fuels! They are plotting something, we are sure of this. Our wise elders have seen visions in the darkness – visions of terrible monsters, and dark energy. We fear they are using our Sun’s power for their own evil schemes! If you will help us, you must travel across all the worlds throughout Eclypsia, defeating the Fuels and saving all the lost Sun fragments. Once she is whole again, our strength will return and we can stop this evil together! We’re counting on you!

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JS – We started the whole process by designing possible characters for the game, and tried to keep the art style quite child-like and friendly, to appeal to children. These are a few initial ideas.

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JS – We realised colour would be very important to communicate positive and negative connotations to children, so we wanted the friendly characters to inspired by the shapes and colours we see in nature. Hence, the “acorn people”.

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CD – I wanted to draw a few ideas for what the ‘coal men’ might look like.  I wanted them to reflect the negativity of fossil fuels, but still keep a childlike appearance.  Obviously nothing too sinister as the game would be targeted at younger children.

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EU – From the beginning, we knew that character customisation would be necessary within the game, as it is in all games of the current generations. We want the kids to be able to create a character that they can relate to and interact with. These are some ideas for various facial expressions.

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EU – Here are some possible hair and accessory designs. We felt that a humourous, even silly element is important in many games, and we think these customisations options provide that.

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AH – As a child embarking on an adventure, naturally your first instinct is to take your bicycle with you. But as you arrive in a whole new world, you are provided with a form of transport more “appropriate” to your surroundings. We have stuck with the bike as a default means of travelling and exploring throughout the game, and a foundation for extensive upgrades and customisation options that will allow you to better tackle enemies in the game as you progress.

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AH – Your vehicle at different times throughout the game will reflect the world you’re in, and the encounters you’re faced with. On a planet that revolves around wind power, you might be able to use a bicycle that floats on tiny hurricanes, and use the power of the air to defeat your enemies. Each style of bike will reflect a different type of renewable energy, further emphasising its importance to the player.

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JS – Once we’d established the story for the game and some of the characters, We set about designing the worlds you explore throughout your quest. We felt this sketch of a futuristic tree city was a bit too serious, too sci-fi and not cute or friendly enough for a child’s game.

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JS – We liked the idea of buildings inspired by trees, and the concept of their inhabitants being like fruit or seeds. We came up with this idea for a house, and it soon developed into a kind of city structure.

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JS – We thought it would be nice for the buildings and characters of the Acorn world to react to the loss of the sun in terms of appearance, and they would wither and fade just as plants and trees do.

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EU – These are some examples of acorn people and their homes that I made.  

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EU – And here are some 3D model examples of the playable characters.

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EP – This is a more rendered idea of what some acorn creatures and their world might look like soon after it’s been thrown into darkness.

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EP – By contrast, we wanted to keep the Fuel creatures synonymous with themes of industrialisation and gritty, dirty environments. This is a very rough idea of what a world might look like after they have taken it over.

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CD – Something else to consider was the User Interface for the game, which would include menu screens, Heads Up Display, and everything that displays information to you during the game. Again, we felt this should remain quite simple and cartoony, and this is a very quick sketch of one possibility.

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CD – This is an idea for the character customisation screen. After the initial cinematic, this will be the first thing you see when you play the game. You will be able to reach this screen at any time during the game, to give your character a makeover, or add accessories you have unlocked along the way.

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EP – Aside from the obvious function of the game to provide enjoyment for the children playing it, the overriding goal of the project was always to create something that has a lasting, meaningful effect on the issues we’re addressing.

EU – One idea we came up with was that the game publisher could work in collaboration with schools, or retail stores that sell the game, and promote the idea of recycling by offering in-game rewards for any recyclable materials brought in by the children. For instance, if a child brings a certain amount of cans or bottles, they receive a code which they can enter in the game to receive an upgrade or accessory.

EP – We feel this would be appealing to children because it gives them something they actually want, whilst also having a tangible impact in the real world. If initial projects are successful, more could be implemented, and it could help build the image of the gaming world as an effective medium for educating children and engaging them in meaningful activities to help against climate change and other world issues.


Even if nobody else was, I was incredibly pleased with how the presentation went and proud of my group buddies!  Our audience seemed very receptive to our ideas, often finding it humorous and I felt were thoroughly engaging with our idea.  From what they said I felt as though they could really see our idea becoming a real game.  One girl remarked “I could definitely see my little brother playing this game!”  *weeps*

The night before our presentation was a nightmare.  Collective panic set in when we lost our entire presentation and all of the work we’d put into it, notes and all.  Damn you technology!  After managing to retrieve our work we saved it on as many memory sticks and in as many folders as possible, not wanting to risk losing our work for good next time…

Overall I think the group work has been nothing but beneficial for me.  I enjoyed working with the people in my group and I feel that it will help me in the future to think more outside the box with my ideas, and perhaps not just stick to the ‘safe’ option.  Not that I’m a ‘safe option’ sort of person, but it has certainly helped me in as far as realising what potential I have and the sort of ideas that can arise just with some careful thought and a bit of imagination.

Our Final Presenation – A Huge Success!

At long last, we finally presented our finished idea and concept to our audience – our fellow CSAD students.  After drawing our name in 5th place, we had a little while to wait before we could start.  I was itching to get it done though, mainly because I was so excited about our idea!  We really brought it together in the last two weeks, and I think we’ve really coalesced into a real collaborative group.  One that works well together, and one where we can bounce off one another’s ideas and come up with something as wild and imaginative as the world of Eclypsia.

ECLYPSIA title screen

This is what I imagined for the title screen of the Eclypsia game.  I wanted it to be fun and appealing but obviously with a precursor to what the game would involve.  Clearly there is something afoot in Eclypsia as half of the title screen is being overcome by the negative fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas.  On the right hand side it is bright and positive, with wind turbines and solar panels to be seen.  The water is clean, and there are many trees.  This is a theme that we wanted to have throughout the theme of the game.

Eclypsia!

Before our final presentation, I wrote a brief introduction to the game.  A brief summary of the gameplay, but also what we hoped to achieve with the game.

This is ECLYPSIA.

It is a futuristic world where the ‘Fuels’, an ancient society of unsustainable energy resources, have risen up against Eclypsia after years of being forgotten about to steal the Sun’s power and plunge Eclypsia into darkness. You, as the player, will be helping the people of Eclypsia to fight back against the Fuels, restore the Sun to her former glory, and bring power and light back to Eclypsia!

As a group we decided to come up with an idea for a futuristic video game – one which would be aimed at young children. The ‘moral’ of the game would be to raise awareness of clean energy, sustainable resources, all through the medium of a playable video game. We felt that the issue of having clean and sustainable energy is an important one, particularly within our group. We have designed a game which looks to educate and promote awareness of sustainable energy resources, whilst also being a fun and enjoyable experience for those who play it.

The purpose of the game would be to subtlety yet effectively promote the use of ‘clean’ energy resources, namely solar, wind and tidal powers. When the Fuels plunge Eclypsia into darkness, it becomes sad, dark, and would appear negatively to young children. Through the use of power-ups from the sun, and various other aspects of the gameplay which seek to promote the use of clean energies, we feel that this will leave a lasting, positive impression on young children – they see the clean energies as a positive influence on Eclypsia, and we hope, the rest of their real lives.


After much group discussion we finalised the ‘story’ of the game.  What had happened, why you are there, what you have to achieve.  I think it’s pretty darn good!

In an age long ago, the people of Acornia lived in harmony with creatures known as the Fuels. These peculiar children of the earth were born of rock and gas and flowing fire, with hearts of pure molten energy. In return for lasting friendship and the freedom to go wherever they pleased, the Fuels granted our ancestors all the energy they needed to power an entire civilisation.

However, after a time, something changed. The population of Fuels seemed to dwindle and fade, and their power was not as it once was. Our ancestors made a terribly difficult choice – they abandoned the friends that had been their lifeblood for so long, turned their gazes to the sky, and saw their future shining down on them. Our people, here in Acornia, discovered the Sun’s infinite energy and embraced Her as a new source of life.

Her loving touch provided us with food and light and warmth, and so began the happiest days of our people. Our homes became like trees and plants, and our bodies like fruit and seeds. We were people of nature, the “green” people. After a while, the old days were forgotten. The creatures of the earth faded into nothing but a distant memory.

But now, they have returned! Up, up from beneath the earth they come, with fire and stone and fury, bent on revenge! They see our bright new world and they are jealous. They want it for themselves! One evening, not long ago, just as the Sun was returning to the West for Her sleep, those monstrous Fuels came out from the ground and took her from us! They sheathed Her precious light, casting not just Acornia, but all of Eclypsia in darkness. They have smashed Her energy into a thousand pieces, and scattered them far and wide. Even now we hear her cries of pain, but we are powerless to help her! Without Her love and warmth we cannot survive. We grow weaker with every passing day, our bodies turn cold and lifeless. We have not the strength to fight the Fuels. The people of Acornia are doomed.

You are our last hope! You are strong and brave, and we know you have what it takes to go into the darkness and stop the Fuels! They are plotting something, we are sure of this. Our wise elders have seen visions in the darkness – visions of terrible monsters, and dark energy. We fear they are using our Sun’s power for their own evil schemes! If you will help us, you must travel across all the worlds throughout Eclypsia, defeating the Fuels and saving all the lost Sun fragments. Once she is whole again, our strength will return and we can stop this evil together! We’re counting on you!

Four Large Fries, now with a Coke!

THANK THE HEAVENS WE ARE WORKING WELL AS A GROUP.

Finally, we’re getting somewhere.  We’re learning more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and certainly our own shortcomings too.  After the incredible blunder that was our last presentation (may it haunt us forever), we’re truly moving forwards and with an increasingly quickening pace!  After thinking more about clean energies as something we wanted to explore further, the idea arose to make promoting the use of clean energy as something fun, positive and rewarding.  As a Graphic Design student, I know that there are plenty of things in existence already that serve to promote the use of sustainable renewable energy resources.  There are websites, posters, apps to see how much water you use, and a general forward-moving consensus that the best method of promoting the use of clean energy is through social media and information media.

For example, these apps can show you how much household energy you’re using, and there are several ‘clean energy’ websites all looking to help you live a cleaner, greener existence.

The Renewable Energy Association

Good Energy

Greenpeace poster GREEN ENERGY

We wanted to come up with a new way that would sew the seeds of a clean, green future, being constantly reinforced with positivity and accessible information.  Without having a wealth of knowledge about ‘clean energies’, where our information would have to be spot on and accurate, we had to look at other avenues rather than one which would look to inform people of facts, figures, and that clean energy is good.  Most people are aware of the benefits of solar, wind and tidal power, but it’s seldom shown in a way that is accessible, particularly from a young age where we feel that getting across the idea of clean energy it is at its most important.  For example the act of recycling should be reinforced to children, but not forced upon children.  It is a conscious act of good in the World, not a chore.  Not wasting food is a necessary observation to be made – don’t throw it away, why not compost?  All of these ideas were things that we wanted to show, so we found ourselves drawn to the idea of a children’s video game.  One which would be fun, thoroughly enjoyable and personal, along with subtle yet poignant suggestions as to how these children can help to be more green!  The whole game would be underpinned by an ethos of clean, sustainable energy resources and how they have a positive influence in our world.


ECLYPSIA

Premise – Eclypsia is the name we have developed as the title for our game.  Not only will it be the name of the video game but also the name of the World within which they will be playing.  The people of Eclypsia have existed for thousands of years, much like humans have on Earth.  They grow crops, keep animals, and rely on the Sun to provide them with the power that they need.  After centuries of hiding under the surface of their world, the Fuels (fossil fuels) have risen up and stolen the Sun and all of her power!  Eclypsia has been plunged into darkness.  It is up to you, the player, to help the people of Eclypsia to rescue the Sun and return her to her former glory!

To travel around the world of Eclypsia, you as the player will be equipped with an energy bike.  It will gain power and speed the more you progress throughout the game.  As with most playable games, the better you are doing in the game, the better your arsenal of weaponry becomes.  Obviously with it being a game targeted at younger children, the ‘weaponry’ is things along the lines of slingshots armed with bits of coal, water bombs and the Sun’s fire to help you.

futuristic-tree-city

Above is an initial illustration from Jamie which depicts a futuristic city within Eclypsia.  As you can see, it is incredibly futuristic and sci-fi, and he commented that it might be too ‘harsh’ an environment for a children’s game.  He would look to soften this into something more child-friendly.

I guess everyone has to do a bad presentation once in a while…

Weeeeeeeeell that was not good.

As a group, we’ve struggled.  Our ideas aren’t meshing at all and frankly we’re a bit stuck with where to go and what to do.  Unfortunately Andrew was unable to make it in today for the presentation of our initial ideas so was unable to explain his input, and as a group we struggled today.  When trying to find a common denominator between the five of us, something that came up was the dynamism within a city and the effect of things like signage, street art and cycling.  Certainly the main influence behind the cycling avenue was Andrew, as this is something he’s pursuing in his individual work.  I am a keen cyclist but it was not particularly something that I wanted to explore, so from my point of view it was difficult to reach a common ground between Andrew and I’s ideas.

The presentation was a bust.  Aesthetically it was challenging to view with a great deal of writing and not a great deal of coherency between our individual ideas.  Somehow we ended up describing a situation where we would in fact each be doing different things, under one common theme.  Our fellow students to whom we presented to were baffled, and as confused as we were to where we were headed.

There had been some discussion about future cities, energy of the future, and how energy will be used in the future.  Obviously the future is hearsay and not something tacit or tangible, and is something that is obviously an unknown, but the idea that in the future there will be a greater emphasis on clean and sustainable energy is something that we are collectively passionate about and we have found to be our common denominator.  It’s definitely something we need to explore further, as we don’t have much time to have failed ideas!  Hopefully a collective wave of inspiration will hit all five of us at once…  We can but hope.

First Group Session!

After picking the sub-theme of Power and Technology within our ‘City’ brief, I was placed with Olwen in Llandaf (phew!) to meet with my fellow students who had also chosen to pursue this theme in their work.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend our initial meeting after we had been put into groups, but upon my return I was put with Emily, Emily, Jamie and Andrew!  Fortunately I already knew Emily x 2 and Jamie through the trip to Berlin, and Andrew I already knew from art foundation the previous year which certainly helped with the initial meet-and-greets.  I know that some groups struggled with their initial meetings as Olwen was insistent that we go in groups with people from different disciplines, so there could be more collaboration between the subjects but in some cases this led to a few awkward days together for some groups.  I was certainly happy with Olwen’s insistence as it really forced us to work out our weaknesses and strengths as individuals, and our weaknesses and strengths as a group.

As Olwen is my course tutor as well as my tutor on this project, I know well her methods of getting large groups of people to take down some of their boundaries and really feel at ease with one another.  One of the ways we did this was by gathering together and finding out a little bit about every person – what their interests were, their names, their disciplines, and their aims throughout the year.

MY GROUP

  • Jamie Stevenson – Illustration
  • Emily Unsworth-White – Fine Art
  • Emily Panizzi – Fine Art
  • Andrew Ho – Product Design

From a personal perspective, I’m pleased with the people I’ve been grouped with as I think together we can get some really good ideas going, which should hopefully end up as something cohesive.  Jamie and the Emilys are quite forward thinking, with vivid imaginations like myself.  Andrew is a lot more practical, but I think together we’ll be able to come up with some really clever ideas, particularly as we’re all from such varied disciplines.  The next step will be finding something that appeals to us all which I think will be the tricky part.  Once we’re over the initial stumbling block of how to mesh our thought processes together we’ll really make quick progress.

As well as having to explore the ‘City’ brief as individuals, we have to collaborate as a group and come up with an idea.  At this stage we have little to nothing, but we’re getting there!  Working with students from different subjects is going to be fun, I hope it’s something good…