Hey all! Since I’ve finished up almost everything for this block, I thought I’d do a little post here, in order to get something constructive done today. The remaining few things to do may take a little time, but they’re sort of passive in a way. Because of that, it feels like I’m not really doing anything, so let’s get to the usual reflection post about the past block of work and education!

Since I’ve been working with building upon something that I had done previously, a lot of the practical or workflow related points that I wrote about in my previous reflection are still relevant in some ways. Instead of going with the traditional list, I thought I’d write about the past shenanigans in general more like I do in my regular posts. I found that when doing the lists, I often stalled in my writing because I was trying to force out concrete points out of the things I had done.

To summarize my original goals; I went into this block with the aim to build upon what I did during the last block, the Mortal Spire project, which had thus far turned into a couple of levels in which I experimented with different guidance methods in level design, which I had documented during the block before that one. In that way, I had a nice progression in my work, going from research and documentation, to testing the methods out practically, to finally building upon that foundation and adding a storytelling and more details to the levels that I had made.

I had a pretty clear view of what I wanted to do and how I should do it already at the start of the block. In hindsight, I can say that the process worked much like I had anticipated and yielded the positive results I had hoped for. Even with around a week off in total for celebration of the holidays and new year’s, I feel that I got enough work done and that it has helped me better my skills.
Even if I did do plenty of work while I was back at my parents’ place, the change of scenery and the days I took off work to just hang out with the family back home did me great, as I felt a lot more relaxed and motivated when I got back to my apartment last Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, I love working with game development, but I also love just hanging out with family and friends and just feel like all the cares and plans of the future can wait, without any dire aftermath. I could go into detail discussing the importance of free time and not overworking yourself, but that’s a sidetrack, perhaps for another time.

I feel that I have achieved my goal of bringing some storytelling into the Mortal Spire levels and that the results of this work has broadened my vision and skills. I got to listen in on the track for the first level that Anders had made for the game just a little while ago and I think that when we’ve implemented it in the game, it’ll enhance the mood greatly, so I can barely wait!

As with any creative work, I found, or rather confirmed, that it helps to jot down some ideas and evaluate them on paper before starting to integrate them into the practical work. With almost all of the storytelling elements I added, I first sketched them down along with some keywords and short descriptions, to envision whether or not I thought they would fit the theme and mood of the level.

The subtlety that I aimed for is another thing that I feel I should mention. With all the details I added, I was aiming to create a general and as recognizable a symbolism and association as possible, whilst still retaining the mysticism and interpretative nature of the complex that you’re in in the game. The reason that I opted for this type of storytelling as opposed to something a bit more simple, like textual and dialogue/monologue oriented storytelling, was because part of my goals with this block was to retain the mystical and sort of otherworldly feel that the levels had before I started this block’s work.

From the results I’ve gathered so far, it seems that at least the first level has worked fairly well in pointing towards the theme I had in mind (the first test only had the first level), whilst still remaining interpretative. The beauty and perhaps curse as well, of this dopey approach to the story has and will probably yield in very varied ideas of what’s going on in the game world and what might happen next. I’ll have a more detailed results post during next week, discussing the playtest more in detail.

In short, my learnings of this past block could be summarized as follows; through careful planning and taking into account the already established mood and expectations of a project, you can add to that project a form of storytelling of any kind (preferably in a way that works in harmony with the established foundation) in order to greatly enhance its depth. It also adds to the sense of there being a lot more detail in the world, as such the work/project itself feels a lot more elaborate. I personally find that if a work feels particularly elaborate and detailed, it contributes to feeling immersed as a player in the game as well.

This lesson could probably be applied to different processes as well, or different chains of progress in the work being made. Overall, this block has been a lot of fun and very creative so far, which I expect it to be for these last few days as well.

That’ll be all for this reflection. I should get to shopping some groceries and cleaning up this place a bit. This evening, board games, a film and pizzas await! Until next time, take it easy and enjoy some entertaining pastime. Like video games, a film, drawing, writing, whatever floats your boat! Except if you consider killing people a fun pastime. Don’t do that, dude.

Marcus out.