Final Analysis Report – Unit 12 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2

Introduction

In this report, I will be discussing and evaluating the knowledge I have gained while exploring my specialist area of level design. This discussion will be explaining both the research and the experimentation that I undertook to develop the knowledge and skills which would be relevant to my specialist area. I will be analysing what I have learnt about these contextual perspectives and how it could be used to inform my own practice. At the end of this report, I hope to have explained what have discovered from my research around my specialist area and how it has helped me develop my own skills in my specialist area of level design.

Introspection Techniques

Who Am I

Using a range of introspection methods is a way to gather information to better understand yourself. In order to help me understand the type of personality I have and my interests I undertook a series of introspective research tasks. I looked at various introspection methods to gain an understanding of who I am and what type of personality I have. I did this to develop my understanding of what would be the most suitable task for my final major project. The first method I decided to use was mind mapping the knowledge I had about myself. I was looking at what my focus could be for our final major project by figuring out the different areas of what I felt made myself. I explored this by creating a mind-map that used different categories, linking memories and events that define who I am. The use of the mind map helped link up all of those areas which allowed me to consider a variety of traits and characteristics about myself. Those were used to figure out the connections between my personality and my memories that I would have not considered before. The mind map was very useful when conducting research on myself as it spread out and easily manageable to find connected or new information.

Interview

The second introspection method that I decided to use was interviewing. I used interviews to see what I could learn about myself and how I apply it to future projects. This enabled me to consider a variety options for my final major project. I was interviewed by one of my colleagues who had learned about me prior to the interview so that they could ask questions around my interests, hobbies and future career goals. This was followed up by me asking those questions about the same topics to my colleague but based on my colleague’s interests, hobbies and future career goals. The use of interviews allowed us to ask and answer questions that we wouldn’t have otherwise thought to consider, which has the potential for us to gather more information about ourselves.

Myers Briggs Personality Test

The final introspective method that I decided to explore was the Myers Briggs Personality Test. The Myers Briggs Personality Test was a 100 question survey that would give us a categorised personality out of 16 others to give us an idea of what we are like. I used the Personality Test to give me a personality that would fit who I was to try and get a better understanding of myself, the result I got from that test was The Campaigner, which is said to be very sociable people that have poor practical skills but also were very energetic and enthusiastic at the same time. This tasks results made me think about different areas about myself that were somewhat hidden to me. This was continued with getting someone else to also take the test from what they preserved of me. This was done to see if the way I portray myself to my peers is similar to how I see myself. The result they got for me was The Protagonist which is really similar to The Campaigner but with the main difference between them being that The Protagonist is a lot more judging than The Campaigner. The new results given to me from my peer lead me to think about myself further to see if there are more hidden traits that I had not thought about before. The use of the Myers Briggs Personality Test was useful towards finding out more about our own personalities and what group we would have been categorised towards allowing us to think about what we would like from our final major project.

Out of all of these, I have found out that the mind map was the most useful research method towards finding out details about yourself as it’s easier to summarise to a conclusion, with the Myers Briggs personality test feeling the most inconvenient out of all of the introspective methods.

Research Methods

How to Research – Skateboards

Research is a large part of the work that I have done towards figuring out what I will have to do for my final major project so to further the research I have looked at two different topics that were there to practise researching. The first research topic that I looked at was skateboarding. This was chosen due to the lack of connections towards my specialist area or my hobbies and interests. I started to research skateboarding by being teamed by with two of my colleagues to create a mind map on the existing knowledge that we knew about skateboards. The reason we created the mind map was to gather all the information that we knew about skateboarding to be used as reference points to research further our research to be compared to our knowledge to the knowledge we had after we researched to what we had known before. After we created this mind map we watched the Dogtown and the Z-boys Documentary that talks about the beginning of skateboarding and how it has evolved over time, during the documentary we noted down important details that we used to further our research with more detail. We created a second mind map based on the knowledge that we had gained the new research and then compared it to our previous mind map, this was useful as it made me think about the areas that I knew little about and give me more details to do some research in too. While we done the research for this task, we used multiple different research techniques to help us to set specific criteria to our online searches, those techniques were Truncation Operators, Wildcard Characters and Boolean Operators. Those techniques were extremely useful as they removed the unimportant results that had nothing to do with the topic I am researching, which would be useful for future research tasks especially ones that would be used towards my final major project.

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How to Research – Level Design

The second topic that I was researching was a subject of my choice that had a relation towards my specialist area, the topic that I chose to research was level design focusing on the history and how it has evolved. I decided to research level design because I wanted to have a look at a different area of the game creation process that I felt I would be useful to learn. This will allow me to consider what I would like to do for my final major project. I began my research for this subject by looking at the first games to incorporate levels, which started properly with the Magnavox Odyssey’s plastic covering. I furthered this research by looking at games that popularised particular areas in the evolution of level design with key area’s looking at games that started creating games in 3D and games that used different perspectives to their advantage. I continued to develop my research by looking at the Zelda series particularly The Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past to talk about how the dungeon layouts have evolved as technology gets better. This task was really important towards practising my research skills but also is really important to further my research in to my specialist area and to what I am thinking about doing for my final major project.

Experimentation

Experimentation – Fear

Continuing on from the research tasks, I looked towards experimenting with different skills and techniques which would allow me to improve my skills towards my specialist area and try out new techniques. These experiments will be useful towards allowing me to research and apply practical skills to my work. The first experiment explored the theme of fear, this started me off by researching multiple different pixel art level designs that where designed to give off, doing this research I looked at different examples of games that work with like Super Metroid (1994)Castlevania (1986) and Shovel Knight (2015). While I researched these games levels, I focused a lot on colour, shading and shape of the backgrounds compared to the foreground. I focused on the pixel art and how the shape and colour also add to the effect of fear. After researching and comparing the games I used as examples to give me a better understanding of how they used the level design to recreate fear, I decided to create a level screen shot based on my findings. I created a level screenshot based on the opening cut scene of castlevania using different reference images to create a “Fear Mansion” as seen below. I focused on colouring and shading to recreate fear. This experiment was extremely useful for developing my skills and allowing me to indulge in a topic that I strongly connect with.

Experimentation – Lonely

The next theme I decided to experiment with was Loneliness, with a focus of looking at multiple different games from different eras of gaming. I focused on techniques that makes people feel alone and isolated within their level’s colour scheme and design. This time I looked at games like Metroid Prime (2002), Silent Hill (1999) and Limbo (2015) as all of them were recommended from a Reddit post that I had read called Loneliness in games by Komputerwel (2013). This time I focused on the most common element that each of the games use in terms of colour and environmental feel while the player explores these games. Following this research I took all of the common elements that created a feel of loneliness and using a few reference images I created an image that I believe helped create the feel of loneliness. The Image I created was a forest that has been covered in show with a thick fog surrounding the forest to give of a feel of isolation and being enclosed in a tight area I was proud of how this experiment went with multiple of my peers giving me positive feedback on the finished experiment. This experimentation allows me to continue exploring my specialist area as well as learn new ways to create different feels through level designs.

Lonely Forest (Darker)

Experimentation – Using Different Materials and Mediums

The next experiment that I had a look in to wasn’t too much based on a theme but instead of looking at a theme, I decided to look in too using a different medium of creating levels that I didn’t intentionally think about looking in too. For this experiment I looked at designing levels through the use of graph paper. The use of graph paper was originally done by Shigeru Miyamoto when designing the levels for Super Mario Bros (1985), I decided to follow this method to get an idea on how levels were originally designed to get an to see how useful it would be for creating levels. When designing the level I created a Key to map out what tiles would have been used as well as designing the pixel art using graph paper to be recreated in Photoshop where they will be used to map out the level if it were being created for a game. I did decide to follow a theme of a children’s fantasy game where the enemies were pigs and the collectables where apples. Each tiles was made to be 10 by 10 pixels with collectables and enemies being 5 by 5 pixels and the player character being 5 by 10 pixels. This experiment connects strongly to my specialist area and allows be to think outside of my comfort area to get an idea of how games where originally designed.

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Practitioners Report

The final research task that I had to do for this unit of work was the practitioner’s report, in that report I spoke about two different practitioners that work within my specialist area of which is level design. The practitioners that I decided to look at were Shigeru Miyamoto from Nintendo and Michael Herbster from Yacht Club Games. My research for this task, I focused on the history of both practitioner’s to as much as my research would take me as well as how they design there level. I focused a lot more on the tutorial levels on their most popular platforming games and how they teach the player the games controls mechanics through their level design instead of using dialog or voice recordings. From my research I created a Venn diagram to compare the similarities and differences between each games levels and mechanics to see how I could apply it to my own level. This research made me think about both how my level should be designed around the mechanics of the game to teach the player those mechanics and how they should be designed to also get the player engaged with the game.

Conclusion

To conclude this report, I have shown that I have improved my understanding of different research methods, techniques and processes as well as the practical skills and techniques that all can be applied towards my specialist area through each task. The introspective tasks where a good way to set up my research task with the mind map being a simple and effect starting point of each of my research tasks. Interviewing allowed the use of other peoples questions about any relating topic and allowed me to follow up with answers to those questions including some that I may have not thought about before, especially if there is something I don’t think about when looking at existing information. The Myers Briggs personality test allowed me to look at what personality group I was a part of and how it could connect to the work I do, even allowing me to compare multiple different results and consider personality traits that might not have accrued to me before. The next research tasks allowed me to practise and try out new research topics that would be both relevant to my specialist area and a general topic that would help me learn these new techniques. The research on skateboards were based to learn new research techniques like furthering knowledge I already had by noting them down and then looking at those keywords in online search engines and books, I also learned some techniques that are exclusively useful online like Wildcard Characters and Truncation Operators which streamline the research process. The research on level design was more based on my specialist area which allowed me to look in to area in more depth. After the research tasks I looked at experimentation with different themes that would help me practise and learn new techniques that link to my specialist area. For each topic I had to research those topics to gain some understand of what I should experiment with and how I could apply it to get an end result. Two of the experimentation topics were based on specific themes were I could create pixel art level screen shots using Photoshop and techniques I had learned from my research while the final task got me to create a level using graph paper and then recreating that level in Photoshop. The practitioners report allowed me to look into different techniques that were used by different developers to create levels to teach a player how to play the game just from the levels design alone. All of these tasks were extremely useful in teaching me new techniques and skills while also allowing me to develop my previous skills which I hope to use when developing my final major project.

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