jan
08

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response – What is it?

Hello, Kevin here.

For those of you who are in English class with me, you might remember that I had talked about the strange phenomenon which is ASMR. As a reminder, ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and is generally described as a pleasant feeling usually starting from the top of the spine and gradually extending to the rest of the body. To sum up my presentation on ASMR, I had basically said that this feeling is induced by « triggers » which can be… anything, really. Watching people perform a certain task such as towel folding, nail polishing, or painting (Bob Ross comes to mind), listening to sounds, be they someone humming or the light sound of drops of water falling on a water surface, or even – real or fictional – experiences such as going to see a doctor for examination, or videos simulating such an occurence, as weird and strange as it sounds! The best way of knowing what I am talking about would be to try and listen to one of those with a headset since most of them feature 3D sounds recorded with a binaural microphone. Do note that the “triggers” used to induce ASMR are different from one individual to another, and so a trigger which works for someone may not work for another person. Interestingly enough ASMR cannot be felt by everyone and scientific research is yet to be carried out in order to know more about it. I remember that my first ASMR video ever was introduced to me by a friend, and it contained a ton of different potential triggers over a hour series of different sounds. That was then that I discovered that lightly tapping on a plastic surface in a quiet environment was one of my triggers. You can find the said video on YouTube through this link. If you are interested in knowing more about ASMR in general, you can visit this link and any of the websites linked in this introductory text.

 

This is it from me for today, hopefully this short article will have cleared up a few questions you might have had when I was doing my presentation, or simply introduce you to the ASMR.

 

Let me know in the comments if you have any more questions about the subject. Although my knowledge is rather limited, I will try to answer you as soon as I can!

 

FANTESINI Kevin.

mai
19

The Lost World

You may recognise the title from the screen adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name; however I would like to talk to you about the first novel sporting this title: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original The Lost World, which has little in common with the film. Perhaps his most famous work after the Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, it depicts the fictional expedition, lead by Professor Challenger, into the Amazon and more specifically onto a mysterious and seemingly unreachable plateau.

400px-Cover_(The_Lost_World,_1912)The point of view from which the story is delivered is, for me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the novel. The events are related through the letters young reporter, Edward Malone, sends to his editor. Indeed each chapter is addressed to Mr McArdle and starts by either a short recap of previous events or by immediately setting the mood when the expedition group are in a tense situation. Doyle even plays on this sometimes having Edward write as though he only hopes his letters to be found when he is unsure of surviving or whether the letter reaches its correspondent at all.

This would have been particularly effective at the time of this novel’s first release (in 1912) as it was published serially in a well-known magazine. Although I wish I too could have experienced such a fresh and suspenseful reading, I found that the overall tone set by Doyle through Edward’s eyes and pen was still very entertaining. Moreover this novel being such a classic nowadays I already knew some of the main plot points, but nonetheless I caught myself several times pondering excitedly about events to come or the resolution of some predicaments the protagonist is in.

Not only is suspense well built in and between chapters but The Lost World handles the theme of discovery and exploration masterfully. Indeed it features great descriptions of the lush Amazonian jungle, taking us through what transpired as quite a varied landscape. The narration of the long journey to the actual destination and the preparations made, prior and during, really conveys the feeling of being involved in the expedition. Doyle manages to intrigue, if not amaze, his reader throughout the book.

The main characters composing the core of the expedition team are all well fleshed out and intriguing in their own right but the portrayal of the peculiar Professor Challenger outshines the rest. Behind the instigation of the whole journey he is depicted as an irascible individual convinced of his intellectual superiority, very provocative, aggressive even, in his speech and also prone to resorting to violence. He is a very interesting character whose interventions further contribute to the dynamic rhythm of the novel. Doyle later wrote four other stories featuring this prominent figure among the protagonists.

I will end this post by a warning, or at least a caution, some passages may shock you slightly as an underlying assumption of white superiority can be felt and more broadly that there is a hierarchy of “races”. Especially when it comes to the way the leading members of the team consider the rest of their party, composed mostly of natives. [Minor spoiler ahead] Notably it can also be perceived in their reaction to a specific primitive tribe and what they deem as acceptable or natural in how they treat them. However I thought this dated perception was rather enlightening; as long as you are well aware of it, the differences in mentalities helps to emphasise the changes since then. It can also be appreciated as a way to contextualise this piece of work and to some degree “ease into” a similar reading atmosphere, a kind of sample if you will.

 

-Guillaume C.

 

mai
14

Book presentation: Stephen King’s « The Dark Tower » cycle

Hello everyone!

I bet you know Stephen King. You loved the movies adapted from his books. Shining, Mist, Misery, Desolation… no, not The Lawnmower Man. Please. Anyway, great movies, but I think you haven’t read his books (I mean, the books that were not adapted into a movie or a TV show). What a huge mistake. Stephen King is an excellent writer, and almost all of his books are masterpieces. If you have the opportunity, read some, they absolutely worth it. Try to read Cellular, because a film based on it will be out in 2016. Basically, it is a story about people becoming zombies because of their phones (it is a bit more complex than that, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, sorry).

But I’m not writing an article about that. I’m here to talk about the major book series by Stephen King, The Dark Tower series. It’s a set of 8 books that tell the story of Roland of Gilead, travelling the Mid-World to find the Dark Tower. The Mid-World is an imaginary world invented by Stephen King when he was young, alcoholic, and addicted to heroin.

So, here is the background: the Mid-World is a parallel world that has lots of connections with our world. It is a blend of magic, chivalry, post-apocalyptic sci-fi and old westerns. The Mid-World and our world are maintained by 12 Beams, some sort of pure primal energy. The Dark Tower is in the center of all the Beams, and therefore its destruction would end the two worlds. Bad luck, some dark sorcerers want to destroy it, to create another world where they would be gods.

 

The Dark Tower

A concept art made by Guillermo del Torro. No big deal.

The main character is Roland of Gilead, the only remaining Gunslinger, an old order of knights founded by King Arthur. Roland has been trying to find the Dark Tower for years, without success. But somehow, he manages to enter our world and meets his future companions: Eddie, a junkie from the eighties, Odetta, a legless schizophrenic lady from the fifties, and Jake, a kid from the nineties.
Together, they will travel the Mid-World to find the Dark Tower.

latestThis is an un-official map of the Mid-World.

But, you know, sometimes, the journey is more important than the destination. Stephen King created a very complete world, with lots of elements, stories, cities, and characters. Roland and his companions will travel around this world and meet tons of people, villages, enemies, and will hear lots of stories. The places vary a lot from book to book: a post-apocalyptic city with a civil war, the remnants of old kingdoms, small villages with lots of traditions, huge forests, and even a time-travelling station.
The descriptions are very precise and it’s really easy to imagine yourself in that world, imagining extraordinary places, and roaming around with Roland. And if you can’t, there is a lot of fan art on the interwebs.

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Another very interesting thing, is that All of King’s books are connected with The Dark Tower series. If you read Black House (Territoires in French), From a Buick 8 (Roadmaster in French), Hearts in Atlantis or even Mist and Shining, you will see connections, sometimes obvious. In Black House, the final part of the story takes place in Thunderclap (Tonnefoudre in French), a very hostile place in the Mid-World. In Hearts in Atlantis, there is even a common character: the main character of this story is helping Roland in the 6th book. But the best and best exploited connection is definitely Mist. If you know the Dark Tower extended universe, you can guess where the mist and the creatures come from. I will not spoil it for you of course, but if you are a fan of Stephen King like I am it is really awesome to have additional knowledge of the stories because you’ve read The Dark Tower.

So, anyway, if you like Stephen King and you have lots of free time (the 8 books are about 4500 pages), give it a shot. It’s totally worth it. Plus, huge news, Sony Pictures decided to fund the Dark Tower movie project, by Guillermo del Torro. So, if you want to say to your friends “Oh my god, the books are SO much better than the movie”, you’d better start reading now 😉

Yours in reading,

Grégoire Meyer

mai
08

A major triumph for humanity : Philae to explore the universe !

The 12th of November was a big day for the scientific world : the lander has succesfully touched down the comet « Tchoury ». Indeed, the European Space Agency (ESA) had warned that such a manmade object’s landing was not guaranteed.

 

Philae is a Rosetta‘s robotic space probe lander which aims is to collect information about the comet « Tchoury » in order to make a detailed study of the star. All comet studies should help humans to understand the creation of the universe and of our Solar System. The Rosetta project was developed by the ESA and the spacecraft was launched March, 2, 2004 on an Ariane 5 rocket, from Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. As a matter of fact, the intensity of gravity is less important at the equator than at the poles. Consequently, it is more economical in fossil energy. Moreover, engineers use the gravity of stars and planets to help spacecrafts reach their goal with a minimum energy consumption.Rosetta's_Philae_touchdown

Rosetta arrived on « Tchoury » last august and launched Philae after a few months of observation. Its landing on the comet was filmed and broadcast « live » on the 12th. It did not happen as expected by ESA scientists. Would you believe that Philae bounced twice and during 2 hours, before it really landed ? In fact, the harpoons, initially expected to anchor the engine to the « soil », did not work suitably . It provoqued dust clouds that revealed the existence of complex organic molecules on the comet. This discovery may imply that stars are composed of amino-acid or even complicate molecules that could have been transported (we do not know how) to the Earth and are suspected to be a factor of development of life on our planet. The person in charge of the German-built COSAC instrument which detected these molecules, Fred Goesmann, said that one of them has been identified, without saying more.

Moreover, Philae is equipped with a thermometer-hammer, MUPUS, which measured a – 150 Celsius degree temperature and a soil « hard as solid ice » (ESA). But according to scientists, the entire comet can not be that dense because of its porosity.

French Toulouse « Etudes Spaciales » team leader, Philippe Gaudon, revealed to the press that, Philae is slanted at a 30% angle, stuck near a cliff. After 57 hours of data collecting, Philae went into sleep mode because it had no more energy. But it is equiped with batteries that can recharge thanks to solar pannels. Unfornately, Philae’s location did not allow it to receive a lot of solar energy (only 1 hour per day). But the engineers succeeded in redirecting its solar pannels in order to improve the duration of exposition. Anyway, it had enough time to send a large amount of data that humans will analize during the months to come.

 

Nevertheless, the goals have been broadly fullfilled. Indeed, even if all Philae’s instruments may not have worked according to plan, ESA scientists did not expected to go that far in the mission. The data collected will probably give some answers to a lot of questions about our universe. This progress can be compared to 1969 Apollo 11 & Neil Amstrong’s first foot on the moon.

Niels.

mai
05

Unbroken : a short film review.

Unbroken is the second film directed by Angelina Jolie, based on the life of the Olympic athlete and World War II veteran Louis “Louie” Zamperini (whose life is described in Laura Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken : A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption). Once a troublesome kid, Louis Zamperini became a very promising runner thanks to his big brother dedication. Joining the United States Army Air Forces as a bombardier during World War II, he had to survive in a raft for 47 days along with two other members of his division after their plane crashed in the middle of the ocean, only to be found by the Japanese Navy and sent to a camp dedicated to prisoners of war. There, he had to endure all the torments and cruel trials ordered by the war criminal Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe who tried to break him as much as he could.

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With this film, Angelina Jolie wants to pay tribute to Louis Zamperini who passed away on July 2, 2014 at the age of 97. If I was kind of afraid it wouldn’t match my expectations, it was a good exercise and a very inspirational story.

Let’s say it immediately, the film has been criticized and considered by some as yet another movie made to glorify the all mighty America, but it shouldn’t be watched with this mindset. You may regret the fact that Japanese soldiers were the only ones presented as cruel and merciless military forces. As long as you keep in mind that there are no nice guys and bad guys in times of war, you can concentrate on what’s important and the goal of this film : to portray the strength of mind of Louis Zamperini. And this detail is what makes this movie a little bit more than yet another story of epic American soldiers fighting against the Big Bad Japanese. You’re not watching an American hero trying to endure the treatment of Japanese executioners, you’re watching a formidably tenacious man keeping faith and hope even when exposed to the worst trials that humans can inflict on each other.

If you’re not interested in this kind of inspirational film, or if you’re fed up of those war environment movies, you can still do it your way : it’s a good and well-paced story, but not a masterpiece you’re forced to watch. In contrast, if a more insightful vision of the will power catches your attention, you should enjoy this production.

It deals with the faith of a man, of how your life and that of those around you can forge your mind, of how far one can go and endure just for the sake of not giving up. Not a masterpiece, but still an inspirational movie about a man whose will, story and courage command respect.

Maxime Bak.

mai
03

Sketching the numeric way

When you come from a traditional background, sketching in a notebook or on a simple piece of paper appears very natural, and allows you to feel free in your drawing. It is as most people say, a direct way from your mind to your hand. The quicker and more instinctive the sketches are, the more dynamic they appear.

So when crossing over a numerical media, it’s sometimes difficult to keep this natural vibe while drawing. Here are some tips and ideas for sketching on photoshop. These are all my way of approaching the numeric media, and they are in no way universal.

  • Photoshop is a different tool , take advantage of what it offers.

Sure you can draw lines on the software and pretend it’s a sheet of paper, and most of time it can be quite good looking, but while you’re at it, why not try what’s different ? Unlike a pencil and a notebook, here you can draw the masses, and the volumes by drawing with a large brush.

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  • Learn to adopt new useful tools

Some tools in photoshop are particularly adapted to speed painting/sketching. Let’s just talk about two of them.

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First, the lasso tool is a great way to experiment and draw neat forms. You can just start a painting by doing random forms with the lasso and paint in them with blur brushes or even texture brushes. An amazing artist, Jama Jurabaev, did some videos about his process on the lasso tool, it’s quite instructive : https://vimeo.com/12201858

Secondly, the burn/dodge tool is very useful to quickly adjust values. Use it with a round blur brush to highlight the parts of your drawings that are more exposed to the light.

  • Play with the fusion options of the layers

In photoshop you have access to many fusion modes on any layer. This fusion mode expresses the way the colors and values and the layer will react with the layers that are beneath it. You can try many things and get unexpected results by testing fusion modes. One that works well : create a new layer and paint light on it with a saturated color, then put it on the density color – mode. It creates colorful lights and gives depth to your sketches.

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  • Learn some shortcuts

When working fast, the last thing you want, is to spend time looking in your toolbox. Here are some useful shortcuts I use to make life easier :

Alt (while having the brush tool) : color taker

L : lasso

B : Brush

Ctrl + T : transform

Ctrl (while transforming) : stretch one point of the transformation square to give a perspective feel.

V : move a layer or a selection

Alt (while moving) : copy layer or selection

Space + mouse : navigating into the canvas

  • Not all filters are useless

Generally speaking, filters are to be avoided when you are painting. They are quite messy and can make you think that it will hide the flaws of the painting underneath. But when nicely used, they can be quite useful. Some filters like strength, add noise and the various blurs can have a great effect when used with precision.

  • Have fun painting

Try your best to not be restricted by the software, use one tool at a time. If you feel confident and secure while you’re painting, nothing bad can happen.

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There, I hope you’ve enjoy these tips, these are obviously  my opinion and from my experience, and I am in nowhere near to being a good artist, but I feel it could help some.

Keep drawing, painting and posting.

Lucas

 

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27

Level design : Cover systems

Is this cover organic or architectural? Am I exposed from the left flank? Can I cross the courtyard without losing half my life? Is the destructible cover piece going to last through the rest of the fight?

Cover combat establishes a language between a designer and a player. Do it right and players feel rewarded by making smooth transitions between crumbled columns and overturned tables. Fail, and watch controllers bounce off plasma TV screens as spittle flies out of angry mouths, gamers loudly cursing your name in a friends living room or a parents basement. Every now and then the process is intuitive and almost effortless, with the space directing the designer’s hand. Other times, we are locked in mortal combat with an environment that refuses to bend to our wills. It is those times that are going to test our design chops, where the weakest of the herd are going to succumb to something that is often referred to as “cover vomit”.

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Cover vomit is exactly what it sounds like; Designers barfing out cover in every direction in a hap hazard attempt to ensure a line of defense from both the player’s and enemy’s perspective. Cover vomit usually breaks the pacing of an area, unnecessarily blocking valuable real estate and adds more work for the artist(s) responsible for translating cover proxy to final assets.

Similar to the thought process that goes into laying out a level, it is imperative to think of the overall experience. What kind of combat is this area going to contain? Are players fighting melee or ranged enemies? How much verticality is going to be in each section? How do players manage transition from cover to cover? How many flanking routes are present in each section of a level?

Cover placement is primarily driven by the environment. Environments are driven by core gameplay systems that dictate both player and AI behaviors. Systems depend on a strong engineering foundation and so on…

While it is hard to isolate one facet of level design, there is a combination of primary elements that form a strong cover layout.

  • Both players and AI need easily accessible cover
  • Cover variety offers tactical choices
  • Well placed destructible cover creates an intuitive guide though a combat space
  • When in doubt, cover should favor the player
  • Lateral movement allows for interesting cover transitions
  • Verticality changes the pacing of a fight and exposes additional cover opportunities
  • Create “dead zones” that ask players to make tactical decisions when traversing a combat play-space
  • Offer strategic cover choices and reward players for taking risks
  • Create flanking opportunities
  • Create cover layouts that build a forward momentum
  • Avoid repetitive cover layouts
  • Architectural and organic cover translation

Cover choice, variety and verticality

Provide players and AI with easily accessible cover. Both sides need cover to create a tactical combat experience. Add cover variety to further emphasize these choices and change the pacing of a fight. Full-height cover offers a more defensible position, partially breaking visibility based on the player’s position while crouching cover provides clear lines of site at the expense of revealing additional player mass to danger. Mixing both types of cover creates dynamic transitions, rewarding the player by providing tactical cover choices.

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Verticality adds another layer of gameplay, drastically changing the playing field. Players experience a sense of vulnerability fighting towards an elevated position. Capturing a section of high ground rewards players with a superior vantage point creating a push-pull mechanic and changing the pacing of a combat sequence.

Destructible cover, dead zones, pacing and forward momentum

Destructible cover plays a key role in combat pacing, demanding a level of commitment during forward progression. When used correctly designers can guide players through an environment offering additional strategic choices. Cover combat is about advancing battle lines and creating forward momentum.

Aggressive players move forward when cover is destroyed; Cautious players retreat to a more defensible/solid position. Most importantly, destructible cover creates tension, changing the beats of a combat encounter.

Combined with dead zones, destructible cover creates beacons of safety that draws the players’ attention while dynamically changing the battle field. Dead zones on their own merit, create an additional rollercoaster effect that designers strive to achieve during level layout. In conjunction with well designed combat spaces, dead zones build on the architectural foundation of a level, acting as high tension combat areas.

Whether using destructible or solid cover, it is crucial to avoid layouts that encourage players to pick off enemies from a safe distance. Placing cover away from doorframes or chokepoints asks players to advance into a given playspace.

A large portion of player forward momentum directly relates to encounter placement and enemy reinforcements.

It is entirely acceptable to allow players to walk into a combat space, assess the layout and the potential dangers and let them have the first move. Reinforcements are easy to come by and ultimately this is a small price to pay for players committing to a given cover layout. Another popular solution is to allow players to enter the room, tripping an encounter in an area that provides multiple cover opportunities while playing up to the strengths of a given cover layout.

Lateral movement and flanking

Lateral movement is synonymous with flanking, rewarding players for making smart choices and creating gameplay variety. Lateral movement allows players to change their strategy during a fight and turn a losing battle into a tactical victory. Similar to level layout, cover creates flanking opportunities, offering non linear transitions through a combat space.

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Flanking is an excellent tool to empower players and provide gameplay rewards for taking risks (A slow moving character has difficulty turning in sync with player movement, exposing an armor weakness on the back of the character model).

Conclusion

Ultimately, all of the proxy cover is going to be transformed into final art assets. While gameplay remains king, it is important to think of how our cover layouts translate into a final product. I like to think of cover as architectural (i.e. pillars, walls, facades, etc.) and organic (broken pillars, rubble, cars, etc.) Using this approach helps me come up with new cover layouts, creating distinct gameplay spaces. Most importantly, organic cover breaks repetition that is easy to fall into when building linear combat spaces.

The above mentioned principles should serve as a foundation for building successful cover layouts. These cover layouts should be further refined by complimenting enemy types, smart encounter placement, strategic enemy entry points, line of site adjustments and lighting readability. Hope you enjoyed the tips.

Ryan

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24

About Level Design and Remember Me : framing, light and color as gamespace modification tools

This is a sum-up of (a tiny extract of) a piece of work done along with other SIG2 comrades. Don’t hesitate to tell me if you have more detailed interogations about Remember Me’s use of space, particularly in terms of gameplay or narrative, I’ll try to answer as best  I can. Enjoy :)

When it comes to developing AAA games, very few actors of the French video game industry can compete. However, some companies like DONTNOD still have the power to stand out and release work (and money) on heavy projects.
With their first project called Remember Me, the DONTNOD team (formerly a group of 5 friends ) grew to over a hundred developers, which was enough to draw the attention of both the press and, most importantly, gamers!

When the game was released, critics went mad over the original atmosphere the game put the player into, offering a superb visit inside the futuristic French capital, (Neo) Paris in the role of Nilin, a woman with the power to control other people’s memories though technology. However, some issues made the experience somehow less… fun: fighting was boring, most gameplay sequences were hollow and the key-feature of the game, called “Memory Remixes”, was way under-used. In a nutshell, Remember Me missed its opportunity to enter video games’ history.

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The fact that Remember Me was, for numerous reasons, a failure, doesn’t mean everything it tries to make up is pure trash. For instance, the mastery of the game space for both entertainment and narrative purposes works rather well, which is why I’m gonna tell you a bit about it.


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Controlling the frame

As Remember Me was originally based on a very detailed universe (a 3000 pages bible written by Alain Damasio, one of the game’s scenarist and author of the famous book “La Horde du Contrevent”) and on a very strong imput from the project’s graphic team, level designers had to adapt to these constraints by showcasing the world’s appearance everytime they could.

The first element of this permanent highlighting is the use of sporadic panoramic views thorough the whole experience. These panoramas act as

-rewards: aimed at the player for completing a sequence, showing her / him a unique and breathtaking environment, –teasers: showing an important building to drive the player forward in order to anticipate the following sequence) or simply –landmarks for non-French players to immerge in the world by observing the landmarks of the capital, ie Sacré Coeur…

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Panoramas in Remember Me were also cleverly placed , having their top part slightly above the on-screen avatar’s height (in order to ensure an impression of vastness) and always following a tighter gamespace. Indeed, most of the panoramas are presented after long corridors, strenghtening the impression of being overwhelmed by the cityscape when the gigantic scenery is revealed :

Here’s a video

Another interesting choice by DONTNOD was to restrict or modify the camera frame from time to time so as to reinforce the visual and narrative aspect of specific sequences (which is allowed by the use of the third person camera). For instance, the specific camera view at the beginning of Chapter 1 highlights the main theme addressed by the narrative at this precise moment : Nilin’s loss of identity due to the manipulation of her memory.

The presence of masks subtly reminds the player that Nilin has lost her own mémory. Even though the meaning may not appear to everyone, the original composition makes the  very easy platform sequence more visually appealing.

In other sequences, the camera also tends to step back from the avatar to induce a feeling of smallness in the face the urban environment, which is quite common in sci-fi games. One of the most interesting uses of this feature is situated in Chapter 3, where Nilin is hanging above a vast and dark emptiness emphasized by convergent lines running deep into it. This scenery provides a great sensation of vertigo by upseting the player’s perception of space.

Chapter's 3 platform sequence makes a great deal of making the player uncomfortable with space thanks to converging straight lines.

Finally, the frame also provides great visuals and sensations when used freely as a composition tool to highlight an entire game scene.  This contrasts with the forced camera method seen earlier, which is much more directive and only applies to very small level chunks. In chapter 5 for instance, Nilin is placed above a flooded city street where common citizens are struggling to arise from the waters. The player can also hear cries and senses, by the use of flashing lights, an atmosphere of anarchy. Here, the reader may have noticed that, in the game’s narrative, this flood was directly provoked by Nilin in a previous chapter, making this passage an observation of the consequences of the caracter’s actions. However, by chosing to put “normal people” down in the streets below the avatar, DONTNOD makes the player understand that he’s litterally above these people’s problems and has to focus on his own important mission.

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Even though this design choice might be seen as vaguely immoral if seen in the game’s context, it works perfectly fine in showing the player that he is, indeed, a step ahead of the rest of the game’s characters.

The frame control used in Remember Me shows the attention paid by DONTNOD to the composition of the game’s space, both from a macro and a micro point of view. This process allows the designers to center the player’s attention around the graphic assets provided by the team and adds a substantial amount of new feels and meanings into the space of Neo-Paris.


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Colors and Lights : influencing feelings through repetition

Since DONTNOD’s level design on Remember Me was first thought in a graphic fashion, its quality may seem to depend a lot on the use of lights and colors to tell the player something meaningful :

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As we can see, lights and colors are very important to set the global mood of Remember Me’s levels, primarily to step away form other cyberpunk-ish universes which often portay the future as dark and dull. However, these elements also have specific meanings that are taught to the player through repetitive patterns in every level. For instance, a glowing blue aspect will usually refer to a peaceful and calm environment, which can potentially hold a secret reward, whereas red will alert the player to dangerous threats.

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These patterns allow the player to automatically recognize the use and potential of every game space so that the experience in itself doesn’t feel odd by being too surprising. A fighting sequence will, for instance, never be displayed in a blue-illuminated environment.

The environment’s color tones and scenery are also heavily influenced by the heroine’s state of mind during specific game sequences. Consequently, a same gameplace can look totally different by changing both color moods and visual elements. For example, in Chapter 6, Nilin is showed (through a dialogue with her boss, named Edge) as being very disappointed by the turn of events, questioning the legitimity of the “errorist” cause (the main opponents to the hegemony of a few over everyone’s memories). Consequently, the environment of the “Bastille” was made very dark, with agressive silhouettes and a great use of warm colors diplayed by fire, reflecting Nilin’s story.

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This staging choice makes total sense with the flow of the narrative : when Nilin first came to the Bastille earlier in the game, with a brighter and clearer mindset, the environment was also displayed as a lot brighter and clearer.

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These light and color associations make a great impression on the most inattentive player by subconsciously making her / him feel the stakes of the narrative.

Simultaneously, a great effort was made to symbolize danger by using both light and space in gameplay situations. Indeed, light and dark hold special meanings  in Remember Me, characterizing the heavy use of the player’s primal instincts. For instance, many fighting sequences display a special interaction with the environment : turning on lights to make invisible enemies fightable (as Nilin is only a prey to these enemies when the light is turned off). In these sequences, darkness becomes a threat in itself by reflecting the enemies it could hold.

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In another level, Nilin will struggle to escape the lightspot of an helicopter (being revealed by the spot would result in a certain death).

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The numerous (there’s more than 2 !) uses of lighting through gameplay sequences make the player rely on a certain scheme to undestand the gamespaces :

-When she/he is in a predator condition, heavy-lighted spaces become places to take advantage of bad guys. -However, when  in a prey condition, darkness becomes the only way to escape the most dangerous enemies (like the helicopter).

In short, this constant play between light and dark but also between warm and cold colors remains a good way to influence the player’s own feelings and behavior through her / his own given instincts.


In a nutshell, Remember Me’s use of framing, color and light didn’t just showcase simple visual elements but embrassed the globality of the experience, reflecting Nilin’s own trip through her neo-parisian adventures. Using level design to induce feelings and meanings is not an easy thing to do in the entierty of a game development pipeline and it is to be noted that DONTNOD achieved a great sense of balance between all the elements in their obsession to deliver the best possible experience. This process involves techniques and tricks to be noted by any aspriring level designer, may she / he be working on a AAA title or another type or project, even in an architectural fashion. As Le Corbusier used to say…

“Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light.”

 Thank you for reading 😉
-Anton

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18

Freaks’ Squeele

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Have you ever wanted to know how super-heroes came to be what they are nowadays ? How did they learn their skills and gain their fame ? If yes, then wait no more, and check out this fantastic series !

Freaks’ Squeele

Freaks’ Squeele is a comic book series, written and illustrated by Florent Maudoux. It tells the tale of Xiong Mao (a young normal « human » woman) and her two friends Chance (a demonic girl) and Ombre (a big nice wolf) as they enter the super-hero cursus of the F.E.A.H. academy. But, it is not so easy to become a super-hero… And between the classes and the crazy projects, to which you can add some problems with the management of the university and the bad relationship with students from other schools, life is not so simple for our three wannabes heroes !

The books are mostly in black and white, creating beautiful images based on light work, but there is always one colored chapter, which is also quite nice to see. The style of the author is frankly amazing, with a lot a realism, which is directly inspired from manga and cinema. It creates a very dynamic alliance, with a lot of details and different viewpoints.

 

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There are also a lot, and by a lot I mean truly a lot, of references from different genres. You will stumble upon a look-alike character of Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, and then see the face of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a photo without any warnings, before discovering that the archive’s room in the library seems quite familiar! And oh, where are your old Gaston Lagaffe comic books again so that you can check a thing or two ? And those are only three of a wider number of references, believe me!

Freaks’ Squeele is a seven books series, even if the last one has yet to be released. Next to that main story, you will also find two spin-offs currently in the making (one by another author, Sourya Sihachakr), and two little stories in the first and third Doggybags albums.

In short, if the style is appealing to you and you like stories which can be serious with a great deal of humor, don’t hesitate to run right now to your favorite library/book store : you won’t be disappointed.

 

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Lucie PELLETIER

avr
17

A MAZE. : An independant game festival

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Next week, most of the European independent game developers will gather in the same place: Berlin. In the historical German city an outstanding event takes place every year: the A MAZE. festival. First launched in 2012, it has been growing larger and larger ever since and is now one of the largest independent games festival in Europe, alongside Gamescom. So, 2015 sees the 4th edition taking place and it is already full of promise!

From April 22nd to April 25th,  the A MAZE. will stand out as the most interesting place to be for game developers eager to share and create together. Over the four days of the festival, take part in various talks about the industry and workshops where you can play or make games. But one of the most awaited event is of course the A MAZE. Awards. A few months before the opening of the festival, every game developer can submit a game that will be played and reviewed by the jury. This is a unique opportunity for independent developers to bring light on their work and it’s a significant achievement to be an A MAZE. nominee.

This year, no less than 225 games from 25 countries have been submitted. They will all be exposed and playable at the festival. After weeks of playing, the jury (close to 200 experts, professionals and journalists) will have selected the nominees that will receive awards during a show. Some 20 games from 11 countries are running for the 5 different awards.

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Play. Share. Interact. A MAZE. is all about sharing experience among developers, journalists and fans in a very familiar way. Everyone can just pass by and say hello to a booth, play a game, and chat with the developers. It is a great opportunity for students or budding developers to start building an interesting and reliable network. Showing your work will get you advice from confirmed developers. Alongside the talks and the workshops, music performances and parties are thrown for the participants to relax and have fun. You can easily grab a sandwich or dance with your favorite indie developers at A MAZE.

This year, Supinfogame will be at A MAZE :Anarcute is a game made by a team of 5 Supinfogame students. It will be presented at the festival and previously won the PING Award in 2014 for best student game. Anarcute is the cutest riot simulator ever in which you lead little rioters and wreck the city! Learn more about Anarcute here.

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This festival is the perfect place to try and experiment with games. Existing technologies or brand new ones are exposed in the booths. Take Cyborg Dating as an example. Cyborg Dating is a game with a new use for virtual reality: it is a two player game in which one ‘Cyborg’ player teams up with another person to achieve a shared goal: have a successful date. Learn more about Cyborg Dating here.

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If you want to discover more games, here are this year’s 20 nominees.

 

– Antoine

Recent comments

  • DigZon technology

    18 août 2015 |

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    10 août 2015 |

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  • Mathieu

    22 mai 2015 |

    Very interesting article. Could be usefull to me in 2nd year, that is if LePivain makes us study this one.

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    15 mai 2015 |

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  • admin

    10 avril 2015 |

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