Bootcamp

16
Aug

In tackling the animatic project, I wanted to combined several elements of work I’ve done this semester and other peoples’ work I wanted to incorporate as precendence. I knew that I wanted to involve typography as the subject, in order to both further iterate the hand-lettered type assignment and to explore a topic that has always interested me. Using Don Hertzfeldt and the xkcd.com comics as inspiration, I decided to draw a series of dark anthropomorphized letter forms killing a stick figure in various cartoon-ish ways.

The storyboard really came together for me with the addition of the quote: “Typography has a mind of its own. Respect It” that gave the whole animatic a larger sense of meaning and intention. With this tone, it has the sense that the stick figure has in some way not given these letter forms the respect they deserve, and is paying for this mistake the full 26 times.

To recreate the storyboard on a larger scale, I started by creating the frame that I would use for all the frames. I printed these 4×5 inch frames out 2-up on drawing paper and cut them in half to give each its own drawing surface, and proceeded to hand draw each of the letters’ murder scenarios in the new larger frames.

The Illustrated Panels

Once all the frames were illustrated, I scanned them all and touched each one up individually, then imported them into iMovie to use in the final animatic. Using the Mortal Kombat theme song as the background was inspired by the “GET OVER HERE” lower-case t scene, and I think it adds a definite kick to the mood of the piece. The intention of the animatic is of course to be darkly humorous, so this audio track lent exactly the right tone.

View the animatic here: Alpha Kombat—The Animatic

Going forward I would like to incorporate better transitions and effects in and between the panels as well as better audio effects, which I should be able to accomplish once I’m more familiar with the software. (This was my first attempt at using any type of movie software so the learning curve was a bit tricky at first…hence all the overly-repetitive photo zooms.) I would also like to incorporate some more sound effects and perhaps even the typefaces from Mortal Kombat II (the SNES game) to lend an even more all-encompassing quality to the MK reference.

Category : Bootcamp | Design | Blog
13
Aug

Bootcamp does funny things to people. I’m not a violent person. I was originally going to have little anthropomorphized letters acting out some as yet undetermined cute little awkward social situation. And yet within 10 minutes of trying to come up with a cute social situation to put them in, a conversation with a friend resulted in the conclusion that clearly destiny—through providing me with an assignment involving 30 frames and an alphabet with 26 letters—wanted me to draw a series of letters of the alphabet all killing the same poor little stick figure, South Park Kenny style.

Totally normal.

I really love Don Hertzfeldt’s animations so was interested the whole time in doing a storyboard that has a similar hand-drawn simple quality in some type of quirky situation. I’m also always really tickled by xkcd.com’s simple stick figure cartoons (a couple solid examples: “Tapping” | “Exercise“) so wanted to do something of a similar tenor.

My spin on these inspirations was to take the pseudo-dark mood of the Hertzfeldt cartoons and mix it with the nerdiness-appreciation of the xkcd cartoons, except using nerdy typography humor in the place of coder/gamer humor. (My love of typography really is unbelievably nerdy, so it seemed like a natural progression.) I had also been looking for a way to bring in the found typography and self-designed type assignments from last week due to said nerdiness and really enjoying hand lettering type, so I was really happy with the concept. The one issue I’m a little concerned about is the lack of actual story or plot. (Although in retrospect I guess kitchen cabinets singing a cappella isn’t exactly a full story arc either.) I’ve tried to put some introductory slides and a little closing sequence on the end so I think it feels complete, but it still isn’t the most narrative-exploiting piece.

I also am definitely going to try to ultimately set the animatic to the Mortal Kombat theme (inspired by lower-case t’s Scorpion-style GET OVER HERE death scene) so am excited to see what possibilities exist within the timing of the song for funny cuts. A quick youtube glance to remember all the nuances of the critically-acclaimed musical masterpiece also reminded of all the funny phrases that the narrator says in the game, and the “FINISH HIM”, “FATALITY”, and “FLAWLESS VICTORY” screens from my SNES glory days, which may end up making it into the final piece. It may look totally janky and awful but I think it could be really funny to bring in the highly cerebral reference of Mortal Kombat II. I also think that a few of these Mortal Kombat references might help give it a little more structure (like the occasional “ROUND TWO” or “LETTER Z WINS” for example) but will have to try it to know for sure.

Should I be worried that this all seems completely normal to me by now?

Category : Bootcamp | Design | Blog
12
Aug

Check it.

Fancy some random movement?

One more time with feeling. [And bouncing].

Category : Bootcamp | Code | Blog
12
Aug

Today’s exquisite corpse exercise was a lot of fun in a telephone (the game) meets improv comedy meets art class exercise kind of way. While I’m not sure that there’s really much that I would use on what I received back in future projects explicitly (except maybe something involving the bird and worm dynamic?) I felt like I had a lot of ideas drawing on the other students’ pages that have opened up a little more creativity in my brainstorming.

The masterpiece itself:

It’s funny how far from your original thought the drawings/words can get—mine somehow went from a beach ball to a bird pooping on an upside-down peace sign—but it demonstrates how many ideas there are floating around out there that your brain just shuts out. It definitely reminded me to try to avoid getting stuck in a “brainstorming things I already know” loop whenever possible.

Category : Bootcamp | Design | Blog
12
Aug

After some play-testing today, we discovered many things that needed some sprucing up in our current version of the Rule Set. Most notable of these conclusions was the fact that the last one I drafted up was actually more of an overly-detailed and verbose exploration of the game than a working rule set. And when you write a 40-page non-bulleted page of instructions, it’s REALLY hard for the players to read it and retain any semblance of information. So—here’s the current working version of the rule set, designed to be clearer, shorter, and most importantly to-the-point. And don’t worry! I’ll include my discussion of the play-testing itself after the revised rule set.

Oven Mitt Projectile Catch: The Rule Set

An utterly absurd game by Liz Rutledge, Kate Watkins, and Michiko Charley

WHAT.

Oven Mitt Projectile Catch is a relay game for teams of three players. Players use a scarf to try to catch as many objects as possible in the given amount of time.

THE OBJECTIVE.

The objective of the game is to get as many points as possible in the allotted time by catching as many objects as you can!

SET-UP.

  1. Each team of three consists of one Thrower and two Catchers to start the game.
  2. The Thrower stands approximately 10 feet from the catchers with all the soon-to-be projectiles.
  3. The Catchers set up facing each other, creating a hammock with the provided scarf as shown in the diagram. They must hold each other’s hands inside the scarf at all times.
  4. The Thrower has to wear two oven mitts (one on each hand) at all times.

THE RULES.

  1. The game consists of three quick 45 second rotations. Each player must be the Thrower for one rotation.
  2. The referee will alert the teams when it is time to switch roles. Note: The clock is still ticking when players are switching roles—so don’t dally!
  3. The Thrower and Catchers have to stay behind the marked line, except when switching roles in between rotations.
  4. Only objects that still remain in a team’s scarf at the end of all three rotations count toward their total score. (This means that during the role switch-ups, the scarf needs to stay horizontal enough to keep your objects in the scarf.)
  5. Each object has an assigned point score displayed in large writing on the object itself. (In general, the bigger the object the larger the point value.)
  6. Objects may only be thrown one at a time! Note also that objects may only be thrown once, so be careful with those high-point items— you only get one chance to catch them!

THE END GAME.

When the referee calls time, each team counts the total point value of their caught objects. The team with the highest score wins!


Play-Testing Observations

As noted above, the main discovery of the day was that we needed to write up a revised rule set designed specifically to be clear, concise, and generally less confusing. Little nuances of rules that we hadn’t thought about also presented issues. Some of the rules that had seemed crystal clear to us but which apparently got lost in translation and/or drowned in a sea of verbiage were:

  1. The concept of throwing one object at a time, as opposed to entire clumps of nested spoons. We had not specified it in the rules, but without this rule the game is, well, pretty easy and lame.
  2. The fact that the Catchers have to hold hands under the hammock (as it were). Despite the diagram, this detail got lost in all the complications and had to be corrected with both groups.
  3. The point system for the objects, while written down, was too complicated and completely non-tangible. Players had no sense of the point system, which is designed to add a little bit of a strategy element to the game. We decided that the point values should actually be written ON the objects to solve this problem.
  4. The time amounts for each rotation were constantly not right and needed adjusting. After the first test, 45 seconds was WAY too much time and we decreased it to 20. In the second group, 20 was not NEARLY enough time and it had to be bumped back up to 45-60. Since the second test was more in line with our actual intended rules, we stuck with that amount of time.
  5. Despite the fact that the rounds were obviously timed, for some reason in the second play test (shown in the video below), there was very little sense of urgency. We need to better emphasize the intended spastic/frantic and goofy nature of the game that the time pressure is supposed to create.

Basically most of the trouble we encountered had to do with the rule set being too cumbersome to really absorb. It was a very interesting experience to see how (or if) other people make sense of the rules that you create—and really impressed upon me the importance of making sure the rules are effective at communicating the essence of the game with just enough of the logistics to make it playable but not overly detailed. While I was admittedly getting a little crabby about the players’ apparent lack of attention to things that were written down in the rules—(next time I should clearly eat lunch before play-testing lest similar bitchiness ensue)—at the end of the day the onus of transmitting the information is on the game designer, not the players. The rule set has to be tailored to the players with as much attention as it takes to make the game itself.

Category : Bootcamp | Design | Blog
11
Aug

Twinklies 2.0!

Graaaadient.

The official Duncan Butterfly! In a room. With perspective. BOOM.

 

Category : Bootcamp | Code | Blog
11
Aug

The game of Grabby-Hands Oven Mitt Projectile Catch is a relay that can be played in rounds (or best-of series) or just once (if brevity is desired or perhaps in tournament-style play). Teams of three compete to catch the most projectiles while obeying a few silly rules. It can be played alone (in an iterative “beat your high score” capacity), but is better suited to be played with two or more teams of three.

Each team starts the game with the following equipment:

  1. Two oven mitts
  2. A sizeable pile of projectiles
  3. A towel or scarf with loops at each corner large enough to slide the loops up to your elbows, or which is folded in half and secured into a tube shape such that the arms can hold the scarf up from inside the tube.

Game Play

The basic structure of the relay is that each team must catch as many projectiles as possible over three rotations, where each player must perform all three roles to finish the game. The three roles are Thrower, Catcher 1, and Catcher 2.

Catcher 1 and Catcher 2 stand facing each other and loop the four towel loops over their arms and secure the loops up above the elbows to create a hammock. They then hold hands underneath the towel. (The hands must remain in contact, no holding the corners of the towels.) The Thrower stands 10 feet away from the pair with all the projectiles, wearing over mitts on both hands.

The Thrower then proceeds to pick up and toss the projectiles—different objects of varying difficulty levels that are worth correspondingly different amounts of points—toward the Catchers, who try to catch them in the towel. After 45 seconds, the players change roles in a counter-clockwise rotation. (Thrower becomes Catcher 1, Catcher 1 becomes Catcher 2, Catcher 2 becomes Thrower.) The tricky part is that they must keep all caught projectiles in the towel during this transfer to count towards their total catches—basically the towel needs to stay horizontal enough to keep all the projectiles inside while the Thrower transfers the oven mitts to Catcher 2.

The game is finished when all three players have performed each of the different roles, catching as many projectiles as possible in each rotation and trying not to drop any during the transfer.

Whichever team finishes with the highest score is the winner (and may or may not have incurred a few bumps and bruises along the way). The reward is pretty much the glory and satisfaction of being the best! Or maybe it’s just knowing that even if you just spent 90 seconds looking like a complete idiot in public, at least you won. ;o)

Brainstorming Session Notes: Oven Mitts and Hold Hands

Brainstorming was definitely an entertaining process with such a funny challenge (how exactly does one hold hands while wearing oven mitts, or put on oven mitts while holding hands I ask you?) that resulted in some equally entertaining ideas. The oven mitts for our game came with hot pads and dish towels, so we started to incorporate these into the design as well.

Enjoying the act of snapping a towel, we played around with the idea of somehow having to swat one of the hot pads out of the air via towel-snapping. This became confusing and borderline wreckless when we tried adding in the constraint that the person “pitching” the hot pads had to hold your other hand—those towel snaps hurt!

After this fail, we went in the direction of dodgeball, having players dodge while their opponents huck oven mitts/hot pads at them from across the playing area. While entertaining (especially since you’d have to be dodging in pairs while holding hands) this type of game is really best with a large amount of players, so for this particular project we wanted to scale it down a bit.

Another idea was to model it after a frisbee game (whose name escapes me) where one person would “serve” the oven mitt (i.e. throw it towards 2-3 other players) while calling out a random point value. The players must then try to catch the oven mitt out of the air, and whoever catches it gets that amount of points. Once we added in hand-holding again, however, it started seeming pretty dangerous as it played out in my head. (I guarantee somebody would have gotten an elbow to the eye socket in that scenario.) So we moved on from that idea as well.

Finally we ended up with two working ideas that had further development-worthy potential. The one we liked but didn’t end up using was modeled after a bizarrely warped Mise en Place competition, where you would have to perform tasks involving manual dexterity while wearing an oven mitt and holding hands with your partner (i.e. you would be controlling the right hand with an oven mitt while your partner is responsible for any movements of the “left hand”). You would then have a series of tasks (writing out messages, picking up objects, cutting a shape out of paper, etc) and the first to finish would be the winner. We ultimately decided that while it made good use of our parameters, it would be more frustrating than fun to play, so we opted for the game described above which, while completely ridiculous, certainly has found some fun (albeit asinine) mechanics to really physically engage the player. In our testing so far, it really isn’t possible to play the towel-basket mitt game without laughing hysterically and making a fool of yourself—which happens to be exactly the vibe we were looking for.

Category : Bootcamp | Design | Blog
10
Aug

I was going to get into the intricate rules of Robo, a Princeton-specific drinking game with so many rules it’s amazing that anyone with a few beers in them can even manage, (Muscle memory my friends, muscle memory,) but decided that there were WAY too many rules to go into in a blog post.

Instead, I decided to switch to beirut (beer pong to some of you heathens) as it’s a much less complicated but still fun game involving delicious hoppy beverages. So as I play the game in my house (rules tend to change with the location) the rules are:

  • The game is played in a 2v2 format. (Variations exist for 1v1 or even larger numbers, but I’m focusing on the standard.) Each team of two stands on opposing sides of a ping pong (or other 8-foot long table) where they will be for the remainder of the game.
  • Each team gets 10 cups, and must make a triangle with them lining up with the center line of the table. A traditional isosceles triangle is required, no funny business.
  • The table has two ping pong balls in play at any one time. (Each team also gets a cup of water in which to rinse the ping pong ball.) The teams take turns shooting the ping pong balls at the opponent’s cups—if you make the ball into the cup, the opposing players must drink the beer in the cup and remove it from the triangle. (Traditionally the drinking goes every other among teammates, but this is not crucial.)
  • To start off the game, one player from each side takes a ping pong ball and shoots at the opposing cups on the count of three while making eye contact with the opponent. If both players miss, the other two players take their place. It proceeds like this until somebody makes a cup. (Honestly though if it takes more than a couple, you should be ashamed of yourself.) This cup does not count as a “hit” cup so stays there, it’s just to determine who goes first.
  • Teams take turns shooting on the cups under a chosen set of rules until one team eliminates all the other team’s cups. Whoever wins the game gets to stay on the table to play the next challenging team.

Chez moi, the rules during play include:

  1. If you shoot the ping pong ball over the edge of the table without making contact with the table or any of the cups, you have to choose one of your own cups to drink as a penalty. (Rule instituted to keep games moving.)
  2. You cannot swat the ball out of the air (i.e. goaltending), however if the ball bounces on the edge of a cup, you can then block the ball from going into a cup. (During this maneuver, care should be taken not to knock over all the cups. Major party foul.)
  3. If your opponent eliminates all but one of your cups, the overshoot rule is no longer in effect. You can sail that baby 3 feet beyond the table if you want with no penalty. (Basically you can’t lose on an overshoot.)
  4. You are allowed two reracks (reorganizing of the cups’ formation) during the entire game. Most formations are allowed as long as the front cup is no closer than the original top cup was.
  5. If one team makes the final cup, the other team gets a chance to rebut. Both members of the now-losing team get to shoot. If the first player hits, he continues to shoot until he misses. Once he misses (if he made any at all) the second player gets a chance as well. If they don’t even it up during the rebuttal, the first team wins.
  6. If both teams make the final cup, the game goes into a 6-cup overtime. Each side gets 6 cups which they place in a 3-2-1 triangle. Play resumes under the normal rules noted above.

Holy crap, when you write it all down, even the dumbest games of all time take like YEARS to define. And I’m sure I left out a bunch of stuff. Turns out game design is really complicated and detail-oriented. (Duh.) Hopefully the games we make won’t be too horribly intricate!

Category : Bootcamp | Design | Blog
10
Aug

Retaught myself some sweet array action in order to make a night sky/desert landscape depending on your mouse placement. There are a bunch of Boolean variables up top that you can change as well (whether you want the “stars” round or oblong, if you want them to bust a move/dance in place, if you want a seizure from rapidly changing colors, etc.)—and most importantly, you can choose how many stars you want.

OOH also if you click on the image, some of the stars will stop. And then if you click again, more will stop, but the ones that were JUST stopped will start back up again. And if you hold down the pointer, they all disappear black hole style…until you let go and then they boingy right back!

Take that, Processing.

Also, here’s my golden ratio spiral for good measure.

Category : Bootcamp | Code | Blog
9
Aug

I started my poster process by sketching out a few thumbnails. I ultimately ended up choosing the first of the sketches as it had the most humor and I felt that a largely typographic treatment would be appropriate, but including elements from the second (the cup).

My next iteration of that concept was to illustrate the cup (opting for a somewhat kitschy illustration style to go with the grunge-leaning typeface) and place it with the typography. The event information seemed too boring/out of the way, so I decided to add some visual interest to the bottom right corner.

With the highlighting, the event information stands out more clearly, and the subway information is colored according to the color of the subway line. (The F information is accordingly a little harder to read, so I changed the type to black in later iterations. ) I liked this composition but wanted to try something with the cup illustration to make it a little more interesting.

I created a clipping mask for the shape of the cup and ran a combination of the words Code Web and Design (along with some random characters) in lines to create a depth effect. I first just laid it over the existing cup to see if the added texture would be interesting enough to be worth it.

Detail of the text overlay with the cup illustration still visible:

I decided that the two together was unnecessary (it ruined the kitschy simplicity of the cup but didn’t stand out enough to be an interesting treatment on its own) so I tried removing the cup from behind using only the text for the body of the cup.

Detail of the text-only cup treatment:

Satisfied with how this looked, I tried adding another cup at a diagonal (and in the visual background) to create a little more movement in the composition. I like how this composition came out, but think I may actually prefer both single-cup compositions.

I still am waffling between the one cup styles, either the text-cup or the highly-simplified style.

Versus:

After asking several classmates and bootcamp instructors, I decided that the cup featuring the text treatment was much more interesting/nuanced. To make up for the fact that it was lacking in compositional weight, I brightened the red and made the cup slightly larger. Ta da!

The native Illustrator file can be retrieved with a quick little click riiiiiight here.

Category : Bootcamp | Design | Blog