From manipulating shapes, layers, and vector graphics, to coding keyboard controls and enemy AI, I feel that I have learned quite a lot about the intricacies of animation and videogame design in games class this semester. I also have a great deal more empathy for companies and designers whose games are plagued by bugs and errors, and feel slightly worse for complaining about these so much over the years. Here I want to briefly discuss each of my projects and provide links to the finished products.
This is a short animation I made in Adobe Flash. My goal was to make a short surrealist video that stylistically would fit in with a bump from the Adult Swim programming block. I was inspired to tell the story behind bizarre poster I have hanging in my room (made by Kim Nguyen from games class). The animation, as well as the poster that inspired it, features an astronaut riding a shark, in space, holding a trident, surrounded by beer bottles. While the visual elements were all manipulations of the original poster, I used a number of sound effects obtained from YouTube. Notably, the astronaut’s breathing sound effect is Darth Vader’s breathing sound from Star Wars, originally created by George Lucas, slowed down significantly. I also used the theme “Also Sprach Zarathustra” from 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, as the video somewhat parodies aspects of the movie’s style, which is also where the animation gets its title. Well, that, and the David Bowie song.
This is my take on the classic “Hangman” game. I was attempting to come up with a reason for why you would need to figure out some kind of keyword where guessing incorrectly would come at a cost. From this, I came up with the scenario that you are playing an employee at a nuclear power plant that needs to figure out the override passcode before the reactor melts down. And from this, I decided to make the game about Homer Simpson, whose passwords are the names of people he knows, and he has left himself some hints. Graphically, I chose a digital font and designed the screen to look like an old computer terminal complete with a screen, keyboard, and meter indicating danger level of the reactor. I designed all of the graphics myself, minus the picture of Springfield in the “Game Over” screen, and the keyboard keys. I still wish I had included an Any Key. If you guess a letter incorrectly, the meter moves closer to melting down. I had a lot of fun putting in sound effects for Homer whenever he messes up or succeeds, and I tried to get very creative with some of the hints so that it would appeal to fans of The Simpsons.
This was my final project for the course. The prompt was just to make a playable game. I decided I wanted to make something different from what we had learned how to make so far. I ended up recreating the game Space Invaders, with a few changes that make the game a bit more unique and original. We had not previously discussed creating a shooter of any kind, so it took a fair amount of time to teach myself how to create bullets. That being said, a lot of the code I used was based off of fundamental concepts I learned in the class, and it was really exciting when I imagined a game mechanic I wanted and then realized that I essentially knew how to implement it already. You can move left and right across the screen and fire bullets at the enemies, which will fire bullets back at you and slowly across and down the screen. However, you can use certain “wormholes” to move between the bottom and top of the screen, adding in a new element to the classic game formula. If you lose too much health, or the invaders reach the bottom (or top) of the screen, you lose. I also implemented two levels of difficulty. Easy mode features fewer enemies, more health, and shields that block bullets from the player and enemies. Hard mode lacks these features, making it harder to successfully defeat all the enemies before being invaded. The font I chose is meant to look somewhat 8-bit as a reference to the original arcade game, and the ship and enemy graphics were acquired from a free online collection made by Millionth Vector. The scrolling space background was also adapted from my animation project. The game is still a bit buggy, and I wasn’t able to include the sound effects I had intended to, but overall I am very happy with the finished product I was able to make. I especially want to thank Kim and Dr. Delwiche for their assistance and guidance in this and all other projects.
I want to emphatically state that at the beginning of the semester, I would never have thought I’d have been capable of designing and creating any of these projects in only a few short weeks. I also built a functional guitar from simple tools and household items, which I still can’t believe I did. I’m very proud of myself for this, and since I’ll have some free time over the break, I’m planning on modifying my guitar so it sounds and looks better. I also had a great time playing, discussing, and designing games with Dr. Delwiche and the whole games class 2015 crew. It’s been a lot of fun guys, and I agree that we should hold informal gaming sessions next semester as well. Have a good break everyone!