In video games there are several different factors that separate the final product from being a huge success from a disappointing mess. Despite the vast evolution of the gaming industry over roughly the last 30 years, I think that these factors have not changed. Furthermore I think that they are more important now than what they have ever been before. In my opinion, characters and sound design are two of the most important parts of any game. They are the key principles that allow the player to invest their interest and relate to what is happening within the story. This week we worked on both character and sound design, learning about the processes that are carried out to get the assets for a final game.
Throughout the week we were asked to design and create character concepts with pixel art for our game. To start we needed to design the basic outline for the character on paper. I found this helped me get a good idea of what the characters pose should be like and how their body language will play a big part in the process. Before starting on each design I found a reference image that would help me recreate the iconic elements of each character. I felt that this was important as it would make the game more accurate as well as allowing the audience to easily notice who the characters are and what their intentions may be.
Once I had finished creating the outlines I coloured each image. Whilst doing this I thought about colour theory, considering how vibrant and contrasted each image should be and what effect the colours implemented may give. For the heroin of the game (Ada Lovelace) I used positive bright colours as I felt that this would give the visuals that would have represented the clothing she would have worn. I also felt that this would give the vibe that she is a hero in the story, and the character that should be liked. During the earlier stage of the design process I also thought about shape theory in the fact that rounder, smoother shapes are often perceived as positive or ‘good’ subjects. Therefore I chose to have her clothing be smooth and rounded which would create the sense that I wanted her character to have. As well as this, in the few reference images I could find of Ada Lovelace I noticed that she was wearing clothing that was very smooth and rounded. This was a very common trend for fashion in that time period so I found it easy to make the decision to use this style.
For the villains (Tutankhamun and mummies) in the game I still considered colour and shape theory, however I wanted to create the complete opposite effect. With this in mind I chose to use less saturated, darker colours. I felt this would give the characters a negative aesthetic which is what I wanted. As well as this I used sharper more jagged shapes for the characters as this would also give a negative feeling.
After finishing the initial designs I scanned and opened them in Photoshop. Here I could digitize my drawings to create a pixel art image. Using what I had done I could create an exact replica as the two images would be made on a canvas of the exact same size.
What were the most important developments in game sound between early games and the 16 bit era?
At the beginning of the gaming era, technology was in a very different place, therefore the earliest games didn’t have any sound included. Since games were completely silent, they were hugely different from what is seen in today’s gaming industry. Pong, the first game with sound was developed in 1972. After this the sound in games became a much more regular occurrence. Up until 1975, the sounds were made using hardwired circuits, however when ‘Gunfight’ was developed microprocessors became more common. In my opinion this was the most significant change in the era.
What were the main limitations of consoles in this period?
Up until the 21st century, the gaming industry has suffered due to lack of money, time and attention. Therefore the earlier consoles had huge limitations since the technology had not been developed. The main limitation of the consoles were that there was not enough power to support the more demanding, higher intensity games. This meant that pixel art and 8 bit processing was a huge part of the gaming industry since it didn’t need as much power to be processed.
What creative solutions did sound designers develop to solve these problems?
Over the gaming era, there have been several revolutions in game sound design that have removed the limitations that had been holding back the technology. One of the main improvements that was made was the use of power. Developers found ways to vastly increase the amount of power used in the gaming consoles which allowed games to be more demanding and complex. This in turn created a better user experience.
Gamespot Staff (2005) A History of Video Game Music. Available at: http://www.gamespot.com/articles/a-history-of-video-game-music/1100-6092391/ (Accessed: 9 February 2017).
The 8-Bit Guy (2015) How Oldschool sound/music worked. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_3d1x2VPxk (Accessed: 9 February 2017).