CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College

 
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
Alberta College
Management and Production of Entertainment Industry
              Computer Game Development

                   AIVIS LINDE

                 Qualification thesis

    CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS
 DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME
             PUZZLE WORLDS

                      Riga 2014
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
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                                    Performance and evaluation sheet
                                              Qualification thesis
       Datorspēles Puzzle Worlds vizuālās koncepcijas un grafisko elementu izstrāde
                                    (Kvalifikācijas darba nosaukums latviski)
           Concept Art and Graphics Development for Video Game Puzzle Worlds
                                    (Title of the qualification thesis in English)

developed according to the study program Entertainment Industry and Production
                                                                 (Title of the study program)

With my signature I certify that this thesis has been written independently.
This thesis is allowed / not allowed to be published. (Underline the selected)
Author: student             Aivis Linde                                    ______________
                            (Name, surname)                                (Signature, date)

I recommend this thesis for defending.
Supervisor:
Computer Arts, Animation and 3D Modelling lecturer,
MSc Animation and Visualisation, Līna Ivanova                              ______________
(Position, degree, name, surname)                                          (Signature, date)

Allow to defend the qualification thesis of the study program
Entertainment Industry and Production in the defence committee.
(title of the study program)
Director of the study program:
Lecturer, Mg Sc. Envir., Kaspars Šteinbergs                                ______________
(Position, degree, name, surname)                                          (Signature, date)

Qualification thesis defended at Alberta College state final evaluation committee in
______________ 2014 and evaluated ______________.

The secretary of the state final evaluation committee
____________________________
(Signature and full name)
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
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                                    ANNOTATION

      Author started to create the video game called Puzzle Worlds within Alberta College
study program Computer Game Development during an internship in the company called
Amber Storm. The game was created by the author and two other interns from February 3rd till
April 25th 2014. The creation of the game also continues after the internship.
      The qualification objective is to create graphics for the game according to the
developed guidelines and the concept of the game. The qualification tasks are:
   1. Identification and analysis of similar game graphic user interface elements;
   2. Creation of mood boards and style concepts inspired from existing games;
   3. Development of graphics for the game;
   4. Usability testing, analysis of the gameplay and summary of the results.
      The qualification thesis structure consists of an introduction, the core content,
conclusions and proposals. The core content consists of three chapters and nine subchapters.
The first chapter describes the research process, methodology, potential problems and
solutions. The second chapter describes practical contribution and includes the development
timeline. The third chapter describes usability tests, obtained results and their analysis. The
research methods used are literature analysis and game prototype test.
      The main conclusions are:
         1. Puzzle genre is a good choice as it is very appealing to a wide range of people.
         2. The game GUI’s functional aspect is more important than the visual design.
         3. Pre-production and research is essential for the practical actions.
         4. Usability tests are necessary because players are the best indicators of mistakes.
      The main proposals are:
         1. The developers should publish their game.
         2. The GUI’s functional aspect and visual appeal should be balanced.
         3. More time should be spent on the pre-production process.
         4. The developers should do tests on as many people as possible.
      There are 51 pages in this thesis, 1 table, 19 images, and 10 attachments, with the
overall document size being 57 pages. A number of 17 bibliography sources were used.
       The keywords of this thesis are: Game development, Puzzle game, Concept art,
Game graphics.
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
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                                       ANOTĀCIJA

      Autors izstrādāja video spēli Puzzle Worlds prakses laikā uzņēmumā Amber Storm, kas
notika Alberta koledžas studiju programmas Datorspēļu izstrāde un attīstība ietvaros. Spēles
izstrādē piedalījās vēl divi praktikanti, un tā norisinājās no 3. februāra līdz 25. aprīlim. Spēles
izstrāde turpinās arī pēc prakses.
      Kvalifikācijas darba mērķis ir izstrādāt grafikas datorspēlei atbilstoši izstrādātajām
vadlīnijām un spēles konceptam. Kvalifikācijas darba uzdevumi ir sekojoši:
   1. Līdzīgu spēļu grafiku un lietotāja interfeisa identificēšana un analīze;
   2. Mood boards un stila koncepta izstrāde, iedvesmojoties no esošām spēlēm;
   3. Spēles grafiku izstrāde;
   4. Lietojamības testēšana, spēlēšanas procesa analīze un rezultātu apkopošana.
      Kvalifikācijas darba struktūra sastāv no ievada, galvenās daļas, secinājumiem un
priekšlikumiem. Galvenā daļa sastāv no trīs nodaļām un deviņām apakšnodaļām. Pirmā
nodaļa sastāv no teorētiskās bāzes, metodoloģijas, potenciālo problēmu un risinājumu
apraksta. Otrā nodaļa sastāv no praktiskās daļas kā arī ietver izstrādes grafiku. Trešajā nodaļā
apskatāms lietojamības testēšanas process, tā iegūtie rezultāti un analīze. Izmantotās
pētniecības metodes ir literatūras analīze un spēles prototipa tests.
      Būtiskākie secinājumi ir:
          1. Puzles žanrs ir laba izvēle, jo tas ir patīkams plašai publikai.
          2. Spēles lietotāju interfeisa funkcionalitāte ir svarīgāka par tā vizuālo risinājumu.
          3. Pirms-producēšana un pētniecība ir būtiskas sastāvdaļas praktiskajam darbam.
          4. Lietojamības testi ir nepieciešami, jo spēlētāji vislabāk spēs norādīt kļūdas.
      Būtiskākie priekšlikumi ir:
          1. Izstrādātājiem vajadzētu publicēt savu spēli.
          2. Lietotāju interfeisa funkcionalitātei un vizuālajam dizainam jābūt līdzsvarā.
          3. Vairāk laika vajadzētu ieguldīt pirms-producēšanas stadijā.
          4. Izstrādātājiem vajadzētu veikt testus uz maksimāli daudz cilvēkiem.
       Šī kvalifikācijas darba apjoms ir 51 lapa, 1 tabula, 19 attēli, 10 pielikumi un
 kopējais lappušu skaits ir 57. Darbā tika izmantoti 17 bibliogrāfiskie avoti.
       Kvalifikācijas darba atslēgas vārdi: Spēles izstrāde, Puzles spēle, Koncepta māksla,
 Spēles grafikas.
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
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                                             TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................... 6
1.      ANALYSIS OF GAME GRAPHICS AND GUI .......................................................... 8
        1.1.     Review of literature ................................................................................................ 8
        1.2.     Analysis of similar game graphics and GUI......................................................... 17
        1.3.     Review of problems and possible solutions ......................................................... 20
        1.4.     Proposed solutions for achieving the objective and justification of the choice.... 22
        1.5.     Methodology......................................................................................................... 23

2.      DEVELOPMENT OF THE GAME PUZZLE WORLDS .......................................... 25
        2.1.     Development timeline........................................................................................... 25
        2.2.     Practical contribution and its description ............................................................. 27

3.      USABILITY TEST AND ANALYSIS FOR THE GAME PUZZLE WORLDS ...... 38
        3.1.     Description of testing ........................................................................................... 38
        3.2.     Obtained results and their analysis ....................................................................... 39
CONCLUSIONS ..................................................................................................................... 42
PROPOSALS .......................................................................................................................... 43
BIBLIOGRAPHY................................................................................................................... 44
PRESENTATION SLIDES ................................................................................................... 45
ATTACHMENTS ................................................................................................................... 52
        1st Attachment – Puzzle Worlds logo variation ............................................................... 53
        2nd Attachment – Puzzle Worlds logo variation .............................................................. 53
        3rd Attachment – Puzzle Worlds logo variation............................................................... 54
        4th Attachment – GUI elements for Puzzle Worlds ......................................................... 54
        5th Attachment – Graphics for the game Puzzle Worlds ................................................. 55
        6th Attachment – Graphics for the game Puzzle Worlds ................................................. 55
        10th Attachment – Graphics of collectable objects for Puzzle Worlds ........................... 57
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
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                                     INTRODUCTION

      Author started to create a video game called Puzzle Worlds within Alberta College
program Computer Game Development and Management during an internship in the company
called Amber Storm. The game was created by the author and two other interns from February
3rd till April 25th 2014. The creation of the game also continues after the internship.
   In the beginning author wants to briefly introduce the reader with the game itself and the
development team so it is easier to follow the production process. Puzzle Worlds is a 2D
puzzle genre game, which is room based and it has a square area. The main idea was
influenced by the already existing puzzle game Adventures of Lolo. The player can walk
around, move, collect or interact with different type of objects and battle with the enemies –
froze and move them around or just shoot and eliminate them. The main mechanic in the
game is to open a portal and move to the next room by collecting a crystal. Puzzle Worlds is
developed by three people – Delvers J., Poriķe A. and Linde A. Delvers J. is the idea author of
this game and works as a programmer, he also inserts contents and cooperates with the
designer and artist to build levels. Poriķe A. is the game and level designer and she also works
on the character development. Linde A. is the author of this thesis and is the artist who works
on graphic development.
      The author believes that all the development stages of the video game are very
important. The game could not be powered without programming and development of
mechanisms. Also the game and level design creates the gameplay exciting and meaningful.
But the author believes that particularly his subject, research and development of graphics, is
very important nowadays because a player first sees the introduction screens, menus,
characters and the game level visual designs and only then he/she examines mechanics and
the quality of game level designs.
      User experience or usability has been a very topical subject in different interactive
design areas and it is also very important for the author to think about in the game
development. This is particularly important if in the future the specific game will be adjusted
to smaller sized screens with even more limited space than computer screens. How much
information or graphic elements would it be possible to show and in what sizes. An on-going
concern for the author is how to create a player-friendly and clear game environment.
      The qualification theme is Concept art and graphics development for video game
Puzzle Worlds.
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
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      The qualification objective is to create graphics for the game according to the
developed guidelines and the concept of the game.
      The qualification tasks are:
   1. Identification of other similar game graphic user interface elements, their analysis
       determining advantages and disadvantages, creation and implementation in the game;
   2. Creation of mood boards and style concepts inspired from existing games;
   3. Development of graphics for the game;
   4. Testing of the first playable game prototype and analysis of player gameplay and
       orientation in graphic user interfaces, summary of the results.
      The research methods used are:
            1. literature analysis;
            2. game prototype test on a person unrelated to the game development.
      The main resources used are:
            1. Pardew, L. Beginning Illustration and Storyboarding for Games;
            2. Fox, B. Game Interface Design;
            3. Feldman, A. Designing Arcade Computer Game Graphics;
            4. Rider, R. Color Psychology and Graphic Design Applications
            5. Seegmiller, D. Digital Character Design and Painting: The Photoshop CS
               Edition
            6. web page developer.android.com;
            7. web page unity3d.com.
   The qualification thesis structure consists of an introduction, the core content,
conclusions and proposals. The core content consists of three chapters and nine subchapters.
The first chapter describes the research process, used literature, potential problems and
solutions, proposes solutions for achieving the objective, justifies the choice and describes
used methodology. The second chapter describes practical contribution and includes the
development timeline. The third chapter describes usability tests, obtained results and their
analysis.
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
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            1. ANALYSIS OF GAME GRAPHICS AND GUI
                                1.1.    Review of literature

     There are many sources where this topic has been discussed and researched by other
authors – books, different types of publications, researches, internet web resources and others.
In order to better understand the chosen theme author researches and analyses its theoretical
aspects and reviews the opinion of professionals in this field who have researched it before.
     Since the game primarily can be included in the puzzle genre, author offers to take a
look at what has been said about this genre. Examiner.com (2012) offers the following
explanation:
     “Puzzle games usually focus primarily on the players’ ability to figure out or memorize
     patterns and solve various forms of puzzles. Players enjoy the intellectual challenge of
     solving problems and answering riddles inside of games.” [9]
While Feldman, A. (2001) states:
     “Unlike the other arcade game sub-genres, puzzlers [puzzle games] don’t necessarily
     rely on fast reflexes to play or enjoy. They certainly can, but usually they tend to stress
     clear, coherent thought over fast action in order to accomplish the various objectives
     outlined by the game.” [3, p 6]
He also notes:
     “Puzzlers are chameleons of the arcade game space. They can essentially take on the
look and feel of any genre described here and still be considered a puzzler because of their
emphasis on thought and strategy rather than hand-eye coordination.” [3, p 7]
         This genre was chosen because it has proved itself to be appealing to a wide range of
people. Author agrees to first explanation by Examiner.com that many players enjoy the
intellectual challenge. He believes that many people play puzzle games to escape from
everyday life. Author also agrees to Feldman that many games contain at least some of its
elements, whether it is a simple 2D mobile game or a complex 3D RPG. The author has
observed that it is also very popular nowadays and some of the top games are actually puzzle
games.
     Author’s qualification theme is Concept art and graphics development for video game
Puzzle Worlds. Based on that author determined the qualification objective, which is to create
graphics for the game according to the developed guidelines and the concept of the game.
Pardew, L. (2005) in his book states:
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
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         “The concept artist is responsible for designing the visual aspects of the game, and
         works hand-in-hand with the game designer to craft the foundation upon which the
         game will be created. This foundation is called the game design, and it is the document
         that defines all of the aspects of a game. [..] Game designs include extensive amounts of
         art to help the game developers create the final game. Some of the art typically found in
         a game design includes:
               •   Game layout charts
               •   Storyboards
               •   Level layouts
               •   Environment illustrations
               •   Character designs
               •   Model sheets
               •   GUI 1 designs” [1, p 1-2]
Author believes that Pardew’s division of art in game design is very accurate. He also wants
to note that in larger companies there are often separate artists who are responsible for each
task of the game art. However in smaller companies one person is more likely to do several of
these tasks. Author thinks that Pardew’s provided list is a guideline rather than obligatory
amount of art that needs to be included in the development process. As mentioned before this
is more of a typical division, but author considers that these tasks can take a different form.
Author wants to break this down and look a little deeper into every aspect of the graphic
development theoretical point of view. Pardew, L. (2005) about Game Layout Charts writes:
         “The first task for the concept artist and the game designer is to lay out the game in a
         game layout chart. This chart is a visual representation of the game, showing how it
         will be played and all of its components. The purpose of the chart is to help the
         development team understand how the game goes together. This is particularly
         important when game development involves a large team.” [1, p 2-3]
Author agrees that this step is very important in large teams. He believes that it can help to
build the structure of the game and better organise the game flow. It can also help to keep in
mind the main ideas of the project. However he thinks that in smaller teams, where it is easier
to communicate instead of creating layout charts, they can simply write down some basic
ideas about the game, for example about levels and their flow. Later on during the work
process everything can be created based on what was written or felt logical and correct for the

1
    GUI – Graphic User Interface
CONCEPT ART AND GRAPHICS DEVELOPMENT FOR VIDEO GAME - PUZZLE WORLDS - Alberta College
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game idea concepts. Author thinks that storyboards also can be a great help in game
development. Pardew, L. (2005) on storyboard topic writes:
       “Storyboards are series of sketches that indicate how sequences of events should take
       place. In a way, they are similar to cartoon panels because they have pictures with
       captions explaining the scene and any possible dialogue. In games, storyboards are
       used to show how the game will work. [..] Storyboards are also used to define
       cinematic sequences in a game. Often story elements in a game are developed by
       using short cinematic sequences. These sequences are linear video clips, and they are
       often as sophisticated as any motion picture.” [1, p 3-5]
Author thinks that in the game development there is not always a necessity for storyboards as
it would be for animation or movie production. He thinks that it depends on the game itself,
whether the game has a story or not. Author believes that storyboards can help in linear type
of games. He agrees to Pardew that storyboards need to be used if the games have in-game
cinematic sequences or cut-scenes. Then they can help to better overview the story flow and
to make all necessary choices before the final rendering. Otherwise he believes that it would
be more time-consuming or more expensive to correct the finished work. If the game is more
technical than story driven, for example a top-down puzzle game, it does not necessarily
require a storyboard, it rather takes the form of level layout designs. Author finds it important
to mention Pardew’s, L. (2005) description of the game level history in this context:
       “Games are often broken up into levels. The term level has its roots in the beginning
       of game development, when games were restricted by technology and could have only
       a limited number of graphics loaded in the game at any one time. Each time the player
       moved from one area to another, the old graphics had to be eliminated and new
       graphics had to be loaded. Therefore, games were broken up into areas. Usually they
       progressed from simple areas to more complex ones as the player learned how to play
       the game.” [1, p 6]
Despite the fact that technology has evolved and it would be possible to create more
complicated levels, author believes that it is a good practice to create separate game level
divisions into the game. Author thinks it helps to create better order and structure in the game
just as this qualification thesis has chapters and sub-chapter. Pardew, L. (2005) on this topic
continues:
       “Level layouts are drawings created by the concept artist to show all the elements in a
       game level. These elements include a map of the terrain and all interactive characters
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          or objects within the level. Often these layouts are drawn to scale on grid paper or
          with the use of a grid in a digital drawing program.” [1, p 6]
Author believes that creating level layouts can be a huge help when designing game levels. It
gives good overview of the game area and in this way the game maps can be easier to
structure. However author believes that sometimes there is no need to create a map of all the
game territory in a single layout. In some games levels can be little separate puzzles and can
easily be created independently. Since the author mostly researched top-down games, he
thinks that part of the level layout creation can also be development of an overall concept that
would visually unify the game. He believes that it can be done by creating environment
illustrations. Pardew, L. (2005) describes this process as follows:
          “Environment illustrations are full-colour illustrations of a game environment as it
          will be seen in the game. [..] Environment illustrations help the concept artist
          communicate to the development team the feeling and mood of an area. They are used
          to show color schemes, as well as greater detail in critical areas that is not possible in
          the level layout.” [1, p 7]
Author thinks that environment illustrations are similar to the story boards in the way they can
be used. He thinks that it depends on the game style and view whether they are necessary.
Author believes that these illustrations may not be made if level art is very simple 2D
graphics and it does not seem necessary to create them. Author thinks that instead of creating
illustrations to communicate the feeling and mood to the development team, sometimes it is
enough to create mood-boards. They can contain other game visual graphics as references,
different photographs and colours suitable for a game. Mood-boards can be a huge help for
the artist to develop colour schemes for the game. Fox, B. (2005) writes the following about
colour:
          ”One of the major challenges when working with color is finding a set of colors that
          work well together. When colors look good together, the effect is often referred to as
          color harmony.” [5, p 45]
Colour is very important to create an appealing artwork whether it is a painting or game
graphics. Author believes that the creation of a limited colour palette that would be used for
the whole game can help to achieve a unifying mood. There are many tools that can be used
or different techniques that can be applied to achieve harmonious colours. But the author
believes that the easiest way is to select the basic colours that would be necessary for the
game and create a table of transitions. Then a black fill layer can be applied at different
opacities to achieve several shades. Author thinks that this can decrease the colour saturation
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and bring the colours closer to each other providing a more harmonious look. The same thing
can be done using a white fill layer in order to achieve the same effect with lighter shades. As
some objects can require a larger variety of hues, the palette can be improved with additional
colours. Author believes that colours can also be blended between themselves to achieve more
interesting colour variations. He also thinks that Rider, R. (2009) gives a good advice on
using colours:
       “Good design incorporates color in all its subtleties—shade, tint, hue, and chroma.
       Designers should use color to relate with their audiences, rather than as a tool for
       psychological manipulation.” [2, p 12]
There is a great amount of information available on colour psychology, and a lot of research
has been done on this topic. It is good to be aware of it, however author agrees to Rider’s
opinion that great amount of research should not be invested in finding what colours are liked
more and how each hue affects a human emotionally or psychologically. Instead the colours
should be chosen based on what would be necessary for the game environment to be clear and
easily comprehensible. They should rather be used to help to communicate with the player.
Game artists can use widely known colours as guidelines, for example the red colour is
commonly used to indicate something unpleasant or dangerous but green colour is used to
show informative contents. Author believes that it is also very important to choose the right
colours when creating the game characters. A good character design can make the whole
game appealing for the player but a not so good character design can ruin it. Pardew, L.
(2005) on this subject writes:
       “A character design is a sketch of a character that will appear in a game. Characters
       are people or creatures in a game that are controlled either by the player or through
       artificial intelligence. [..] The process of designing characters can sometimes be
       extensive, with the concept artist creating multiple sketches before coming up with just
       the right design for the game. Once a character design is chosen, the artist will
       usually create a detailed color rendering of the character.” [1, p 8]
       Author agrees to Pardew and thinks that a great amount of work should be spent on
creating the characters. They will bring the game to the life and it is especially necessary
when creating main characters of the game, because the player will spend most of the time
looking at them. It will be easier for the player to connect with the character and complete the
game if it will be more appealing. Author believes that if the main character is good designed
it will speak for itself and will perform a variety of functions such as advertisement of the
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game. Author thinks that Seegmiller, D. (2004) gives good advices on designing the game
characters:
       “Using stereotypes.     To add a degree of familiarity to your character, you can
       carefully use stereotypes when appropriate and not offensive. [..] Fooling the
       audience. Don’t try to do this. Make bad guys look like bad guys. Make the monsters
       threatening, for example. [..] Being sensitive. Always remember to be sensitive and
       careful when you are dealing with and using cultural and symbolic elements in your
       creations.” [4, p 46]
The author agrees to Seegmiller that stereotypes need to be used very carefully because
nowadays a lot of games become too stereotypical and therefore very predictable. Stereotypes
should rather be used to create characters and environment familiar to the player and not to
fool the audience as Seegmiller continues. Author believes that artists should try to design
characters according to their required character personality while trying to create something
more or less original. The author wants to add what Seegmiller, D. (2004) has written:
       One of the easiest ways to communicate your character ideas is by using comparison.
       If the character is soft and delicate, make the character round without many angles. If
       the character is rough and ready, the design should be made of angular shapes. [..]
       Build characters out of basic shapes. Just about everything we see in the world
       around us can be built out of a few basic shapes: cubes, spheres, cones, and cylinders.
       Try to base your character on these basic shapes. [4, p 47]
Regarding characters, the author agrees to Seegemiller’s opinion to keep things simple and
clearly show that these characters are not so friendly. Therefore enemies should be designed
edgy, angry expressions, sharp teeth and nails etc. However, the author thinks that if the idea
or context of the game allows doing differently than it was described by Seegmiller, it can be
done. Otherwise, if there is no such justification, it can confuse the player. Seegmiller, D.
(2004) also writes:
       “Providing scale. Remember to give a clue as to the scale of your character. If you
       create a giant, you must place something near him to give a sense of scale. Without
       anything to identify the scale of a character, the audience will have no idea of its size.
       [..]Connecting the character to reality. Make sure that there is some connection to
       reality. Your character needs to have a point of reference. If you create something that
       is unrecognizable, your audience will not relate to the character.” [4, p 46]
Author thinks that providing a scale for characters differs on the game type and style. If puzzle
is chosen as the game genre, he thinks the game developers should focus more on the game
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itself rather than creating a visually realistic game. For example if the playable area of the
game is a square, which is divided into smaller squares or units, each object can fit into one
unit and they are more like checker figures on the checkerboard rather than real objects. They
are not scaled to each other and do not fit into a specific measurement system. However, the
author agrees to Seegmiller that if the game was based in the real world, it should use a
measurement to provide a unitary scale to the game objects and characters. Usually part of
character designing process is its arrangement into the model sheet. Pardew, L. (2005) on this
subject writes:
   “A model sheet is an orthographic, detailed drawing of a character or object used by the
   development team to create the character or object. Model sheets are like drafting plans
   in that they show multiple views of the character. [..]Most include front and back views of
   a character. Some model sheets also include side and top views, particularly if the
   character is a quadruped. [..] Sometimes model sheets are created for important objects
   in a game. [..] A good rule in game design is to create a model sheet of any object that
   plays an important role in the game.” [1, p 10]
Author thinks that this subject also varies on the game type. If the game characters or objects
will be seen only from one side, as it is common in some of puzzle genre games, then there is
no need for model sheets. But for some games it is simply a necessity to create the characters
from all four sides so that they can walk forward, backwards and also to both sides, then it is
obvious to create a model sheets. Also usually characters are made from all four sides into a
model sheet so that other people, rather than just the creator, can work with them more easily
whether it is 2D animation or 3D modelling. However, objects in the 2D top-down games can
mostly be seen from one view only so there is no need to create model sheets for them, but if
it were a 3D game, then it would be necessary to create them. Author also thinks that it
depends on the game development team and whether they find it necessary to create model
sheets.
          Another major task for game artists besides game graphic creation is to create GUI
graphics. This task usually is done in cooperation with the game designer and programmer
who bring it to life. Pardew, L. (2005) in his book writes:
          “The GUI (Graphical User Interface) is made up of the onscreen game elements that
          are used to give the player information or allow him to navigate through the game. [..]
          The GUI needs to perform a function and, at the same time, it needs to be cohesive
          with the design of the game. Sometimes the GUI is as important to the mood and feel
          of the game as the rest of the game art is.” [1, p 11]
15

Author also wants to add discern of Fox, B. (2005) that GUI needs to be functional. He writes
in his book:
       “Even more important than the visual aspect of interface design is the functionality. A
       poor interface can ruin the entire video game experience. The game experience will be
       negative if the user is confused and can’t figure out how to navigate the front-end
       menu or if he can’t understand where to find information while playing the game.” [5,
       p 2]
The author agrees to as Pardew and Fox that the game GUI needs to be both practical and
visually appealing but mostly practical. The author thinks that GUI needs to be as simple as
possible, so to speak invisible. It should be self-explanatory not something that the player
should spend time on studying. Author believes that if GUI is well designed it will blend into
the whole game design. Game developers should invest additional time on designing GUI and
on its usability tests because who will better test it than the users. Author agrees to Pardew
that GUI should be cohesive with the whole game design and look – it should reflect the
visual theme of the game. At the same time author also agrees to Fox that it should be more
practical than visually impressive. Author believes that nobody wants to spend most of the
time understanding how the GUI needs to be controlled while the time could be spent on the
game itself, unless the GUI is a huge part of the game. The same could be said about the
HUD. Author found Pardew’s, L. (2005) explanation useful to describe this topic:
       “An important part of GUI design is the heads-up display—or HUD, as it is
       sometimes called. The HUD is comprised of all the onscreen interface elements
       present during normal game play. This display is primarily used to give the player
       critical game information, such as health status or the current score. [..] HUDs are
       tricky to design because they must look nice while remaining unobtrusive to the rest of
       the game. They usually occupy the edges of the screen to allow the main play action to
       take center stage.” [1, p 12]
Author believes that developers should give even more attention when designing HUD.
Player will see or interact with it during the game. As author wrote before that GUI needs to
reflect the visual theme of the game he thinks that the same should apply also to HUD. It
should be designed in a way that will not distract the player from the game and also pull him
out emotionally from the environment of the game. Fox, B. (2005) also writes:
       “No one likes to read a lot of text when playing a video game; therefore, text should
       only be used when it absolutely necessary.” [2, p 87]
16

The author thinks that there are different players who prefer various types of games. If the
game is specific and requires a lot of text, then it is appropriate to use it but the author
believes that numerous games do not. This could especially be said about GUI. Author thinks
that if possible text should not be used for GUI and HUD, as Fox writes only if absolutely
necessary. The developers should rather use commonly known symbols instead. But author
believes that the chosen symbols should be tested on people to make sure that they are easy to
understand. However this subject depends on the developed game.
       One of the greatest difficulties nowadays the author believes for developers are the
different devices and their resolutions people nowadays use. The Unity manual (2007) advises
users to create textures using the power of two:
       “Ideally texture sizes should be powers of two on the sides. These sizes are as follows:
       2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048 etc. pixels. [..] Non power of two texture
       sizes generally takes slightly more memory and might be slower to read by the GPU,
       so for performance it's best to use power of two sizes whenever you can.” [12]
The author believes that the Unity manual gives a great advice on this subject. Therefore
graphics should be created in large scale and later down-sized as necessary for specific
platform. The actual screen sizes of different devices are grouped in small, normal, large and
extra-large according to Android Developers:
       “The small size screens require a resolution of 120 dots per inch (dpi), extra-large
screens require 320 dpi.” [10]
Because of the same reason to down-size in the future, the artists should start with the use of
320 dpi for all the game graphics. Android developer guide also warns:
       “Be aware that not only do different devices operate in different orientations by
       default, but the orientation can change at runtime when the user rotates the device.”
       [10]
Author believes that this could be avoided in the games if they would be designed for the
wide, also known as landscape orientation. And also to avoid difficulties of changing the
layout, UI and other graphics, games can be fixed to run only in landscape orientation.
However this also is game sensitive subject and depends on the game type that the developers
are creating.
       The author concludes at the end of the Literature Review that there are many people
before him who have researched this theme and acknowledge it as significant. Author has
reviewed only a small amount of the resources available but in his opinion the most necessary
information for his qualification paper theme Concept art and graphics development for video
17

game Puzzle Worlds. It confirms authors proposed opinion that particularly his subject,
research and development of graphics, is very important nowadays.

                      1.2.   Analysis of similar game graphics and GUI

       The first task or solution to achieve the objective author set was to identify and study
other similar game graphics and graphic user interface elements. Author also set to determine
their advantages and disadvantages. As this task helped to set further game graphic creation,
author finds it important to look at it in more detail. He researched and studied a large amount
of different game graphic solutions but will look briefly at only a few of them that were the
most important in graphic creation process.
       As the base idea came from the game Adventures of Lolo, author looked at it first. He
discovered that the game was done in 2D graphics made in top-down view. Author found
these solutions to be suitable also for his game. Fig. 1.1 below shows a screenshot of the game
Adventures of Lolo.

                   Figure 1.1 One of the levels in the game Adventures of Lolo [6]

An interesting observation author made was that the floors, paths, walls and water can be seen
from the top view, though characters and objects can be seen from the side view. In this way
18

the game has a visually unrealistic feeling, however everything is comprehensible. The author
found this idea attractive and implemented such an unrealistic perspective also in his created
graphics. The goal of the game is to collect all of the hearts in every stage and then get the
ball from the chest to open the door to the next room. [7] Author noticed that in Adventures of
Lolo there are doors in the walls that can be opened to move to the next level. Author’s
created game also has a level to level system but in his created game there are mostly outdoor
environments. To solve this problem he chose to create magical portals that will teleport the
main character from level to level.
       Tripple Town is the next game that was studied by the author and also by the game
programmer. They noted that this game consists of game tails or in other words the
background consists of individual segments that are put togather establishing one continous
picture. Fig. 1.2 shows a screenshot of Tripple Town game area.

                   Figure 1.2 Screenshot from the game Tripple Town [14]

Developers got an idea for a mechanic from Tripple Town – the game characters will move
from one field to another. For the author it also gave an idea to create the graphics for paths
19

and rivers as tails. In this way the tails can facilitate the creation of paths and rivers. After
researching Tripple Town author decided that one segment will contain only one object at a
time. So the research of this game also helped to set some base rules for the graphic
development.
       One more game that inspired the author was The Binding of Isaac. The author noticed
that the creator and the artist of this game Edmund McMillen chose a similar path for the
game view, which is top-down. The HUD of the game attracted the author’s attention. [11]
Fig. 1.3 below shows the screenshot of the HUD from the game The Binding of Isaac.

           Figure 1.3 Screenshot from the game HUD for The Binding of Isaac [15]

He liked an idea of the HUD beeing placed at the top of the screen so he decided to use the
same solution in his game. As author discussed before about text exclusion from the game
GUI, he noticed that in The Binding of Isaac HUD some of the elements are shown with
symbols and numbers. For example it was done for the collected money, ammunition and
keys for the doors. The idea was consistent with author’s and he addapted it for all of the
Puzzle Worlds HUD and GUI elements. This was not the only solution he adapted from The
Binding of Isaac.
       One more solution the author found suitable for his developed game was the game
control tutorial. Fig. 1.4 shows a screenshot of the control tutorial in game The Binding of
Isaac.

                 Figure 1.4 The tutorial from game The Binding of Isaac [15]

Author found it very simple and cleverly done - the tutorial was simply embedded into the
game environment floor. After doing the game test it showed that the user was confused about
the controls that need to be used. As Puzzle Worlds was set to be very simple and self-
explainatory, this discovery felt consistent with Puzzle Worlds developed concepts and
similarly will be embeded into the game.
20

      One more idea for GUI that the author borrowed from another existing game Kingdom
Rush was this games GUI visual compatibility with the overall game mood. Fig. 1.5 shows a
Kingdom Rush screenshot with the GUI.

           Figure 1.5 Screenshot with the GUI from the game Kingdom Rush [13]

Author found it nicely made and pleasing to the eyes – the unity between the game
environment graphics and GUI. So it was decided to try to achieve such unity in the author’s
created game. He also created wood-like icons, menus and HUD elements. Such a choice will
help for the players to better dive into the game emotionally.

                     1.3.   Review of problems and possible solutions

     Within the qualification thesis author wants to review potential problems so he can find
corresponding solutions for them as soon as possible. As he developed Puzzle Worlds within
the college as part of his studies and the only invested value was his time, then it is the only
investment that can be lost. But if there were other investments like money, then it would be
very important to find the best solutions as soon as possible. The author believes that
21

solutions need to be possible to realise and cost effective. He thinks that the solutions need to
solve the problem occurred instead of creating more problems.
      Currently the game is developed for Windows PCs but later it will also be ported for
Android based hand held devices like smartphones and tablets. In authors opinion the biggest
problem is one of the greatest difficulties for all the developers nowadays as he wrote before -
the different devices, their screen sizes and resolutions. For him this is the greatest problem to
solve because he is inexperienced in this area, and it takes a lot of time to be solved. Author
needs to create graphics and make sure that they can be viewed in the best quality on as many
devices as possible. For the solution author firstly looked at the Android developer website
and their recommendations. They give advice to declare which screen sizes the created
application supports, as they write that it is possible to ensure that only devices with the
screens supported by the author can download author’s application. They continue that
declaring support for different screen sizes can also affect how the system draws the
application on larger screens. [10] Author believes that this is one of the possible solutions but
he thinks that there are pros and cons to it. As for advantages, the application or in this case
the game will be seen on the selected devices in good quality as it should be. However, a
disadvantage is that the game will be available only for a limited number of users. Author
looked further and found another solution. Android developer site recommends providing
different layouts for different screen sizes. They continue that by default Android resizes the
application layout to fit the current device screen, and that in most cases this works fine. They
write that in other cases UI might not look as good and might need adjustments for different
screen sizes. They give advice about larger screens that the author might want to adjust the
position and size of some elements to take advantage of the additional screen space. They also
give an example about smaller screens - the author might need to adjust sizes so that
everything can fit on the screen. [10] Author believes that providing specifically adjusted
graphics and UI for the necessary screen sizes is the best possible solution. Although it will
take extra time to provide all the adjusted graphics, it will guarantee that the maximum
amount of users will be able to download the game and see the graphics in the best quality.
This refers to both – Android devices and Windows PCs. As author already wrote in the
previous chapter, it is necessary to work in the power of two scale system and to create the
largest possible graphics sized 2048 x 2048 pixels. Afterwards these graphics can be down-
sized for the necessary devices and resolutions.
       Another problem that author faces is the use of text in GUI icons and GUI in general.
As the quote by Fox suggested, text in the game [including GUI] should be used only if
22

absolutely necessary. [5] The author wants to use commonly known symbols instead. But this
kind of choice can confuse the players if the symbols chosen are misleading in some way.
Author believes that the solution for this problem would be many tests on people for the
chosen symbols. The players would be tested and interviewed to hear their thoughts and make
sure that the symbols are easy to understand. Author wants to note that the tests and
interviews will apply to the whole game.
       These are the major problems for the author, but there are several others, which were
revealed through the first game test. One of them for example is related to the game controls
because the test subject did not understand which keys should be used. Author can solve this
problem by visually including the tutorial for the game control use in the beginning of the
game. Further details of the test can be viewed in the third chapter.

        1.4.    Proposed solutions for achieving the objective and justification
                                                of the choice

      The qualification thesis objective is to create graphics for the game according to the
developed guidelines and the concept of the game. To achieve the objective author proposed
several tasks to solve the objective.
      First of them was identification of other similar game graphics and user interfaces. As
this was the first time the author had to deal with such objective he wanted to be
acknowledged with other existing games and what visual solutions are chosen for them. Part
of the first task was their analysis determining advantages and disadvantages. As the Puzzle
Worlds was inspired by several existing games, author first started with their analysis. This
analysis helped to understand what direction to choose for example it was decided that the
game will contain 2D graphics and will be made in top-down view. He analysed other games
as well and the studies of them helped to understand how specific graphics are made and what
visual solutions should be made. UI was also researched in existing games. It was done to find
pros and cons to make sure what solutions will work in his developed game.
      Next task or solution for achieving the objective was the creation of style concepts
inspired from existing games. As written before that existing games were researched and the
pre-production concepts were done to communicate with the development team as there were
several variations for different graphics. As part of this task was also mood-board creation. It
was done to create colour schemes for the different chapters of the game and to communicate
with other developers overall mood for the game.
23

      Another solution to achieve the objective was development of graphics for the game.
Author believes that this task is speaks for itself and do not need justification. Without it the
objective could not be achieved as it is the objective itself.
      Final task or solution the author set to achieve the objective was testing of the first
playable game prototype and analysis of test subjects gameplay. This task was done partially
because the game prototype was tested unfinished. The author at the moment knew most of
the errors that need to be corrected and tasks that need to be finished however it was done to
justify the author’s confidence in his presumptions and make sure if the author and other
developers have not missed something that needs to be finished.

                                         1.5.    Methodology

      Research methods used by the author are literature analysis, qualified as monographic
method or analysis, and the game prototype test on a person unrelated to the game
development, which is qualified as a qualitative research method.
      Author began with the literature review. This method was chosen because the author
wanted to find out what other specialists have researched and discussed on his subject before.
The research was done as a part of the game Puzzle Worlds development. He found it logical
and useful to research only subjects that were related to the creation of the game. At the
beginning of the analysis author created a structure and created a list of topics that will be
reviewed and analysed. They included pre-production of the game graphics such as chosen
game genre research and analysis, concept art, game graphic development, character concept
art and development, GUI development and technical requirements for the development of the
game. The author reviewed detailed information on each subject and analysed it from the
view point of a game artist for the game Puzzle Worlds.
       The next step by the author was the identification of the necessary resources and
literature, which met the requirements of the chosen subjects. He reviewed different resources
and digital books available on the internet. On one hand these resources were chosen because
of the easy access. On the other hand most of the specific information nowadays has been
published online or in the form of digital books. Author researched a lot of resources and
books but as many of them discuss very similar information, he chose to review only those,
which look at the information most accurately and closely to his chosen subject. The author
started with the internet resources. He was already familiar with the theme so he looked first
at the guide for developers of the game engine, which was chosen for the game development.
24

The next logical choice for the author was to look at the provided information on the guide for
the operating system, which was chosen for Puzzle Worlds development. Finally author
reviewed books by various authors who have written about the chosen theme. Some of the
books were freely accessible on the internet but others were available through online libraries.
The author briefly red over the information and had a closer look at the chapters, which
immersed into the topic. But in his review author shortly quoted only the most specific and
appropriate parts of the chapters. After the quote, whether from an online resource or a book,
followed authors view on the basis of the developed game. At the end author concluded the
researched information.
       The second method used was the game prototype test on a person unrelated to the
game development. Puzzle Worlds developers including the author of this qualification thesis
considered several game testing methods. They can be viewed in the third chapter of this
qualification thesis, but as the final method they chose individual testing for only one person.
This method was chosen because the author and the developers were aware of the most of
errors that needed to be fixed, however they wanted to compare their opinion with the test
subject. They also wanted to make sure if there is something left unnoticed by them. Test
subject was chosen a 21 year old girl. There were no specific criteria chosen for the test
subject. The positive aspect for the subject was her prior experience in playing video games of
various genres.
      The person was instructed to speak out loud about any made actions, guesses on what
should be done or what that made action will do. The person was also instructed to speak
questions out loud as if they were asked to the developers only the answers would not be
given. It was told that the developers will write down what they will hear or see and later will
analyse the gained results. Testing process started as if the game had been already installed on
the computer. Test subject needed to start by clicking the game icon. Further the author wrote
down his observations and the subject’s spoken information. The goal of the test for the
player was to play all of the made levels so far and also to test the in-game GUI. The results
of the testing can be viewed in the third chapter of this qualification thesis.
25

       2. DEVELOPMENT OF THE GAME PUZZLE WORLDS
                               2.1. Development timeline

       The game Puzzle Worlds was initiated to be developed within the internship of Alberta
college study programme Computer Game Development and Management. The internship
took place in a company called SIA Amber Storm from 3rd February 2014 till 11th of April
2014. The development continues after the internship within qualification thesis preparation
and the developers plan to continue the work on the game afterwards as well.
       Since the process between different development stages and developers are connected
and runs alongside, for better overview below in Table 2.1. author has summarized
information about the whole work process in a timeline. [17] The objective for developers
was to create a working game prototype, but because of their lack of experience in such
projects, development of the game was delayed.

                                                                                    Table 2.1.
                               The game Puzzle Worlds timeline

                                      Artist -           Designer-       Programmer. -

                                                             Week
 No.              Task            1    2    3    4   5   6   7   8   9   10    11   12    +

         The game base idea
  1.
         development

         The game design
  2.
         concept development
         The game visual
  3.
         concept development
  4.     Programming
         The game mechanic
  5.     development and
         implementation
26

                                                                   Table 2.1. continuation

                                                       Week
No.              Task          1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9     10   11    12    +
      Character concept and
6.
      design development
      The game graphic
7.
      development

      The game GUI
8.
      development

      Level concept
9.
      development
      Level implementation
10.
      in the game
11.   Character creation
12.   Character animation
      The game graphic
13.
      element animation
      The game menu
14.
      creation
      The remaining graphic
15.   creationa and
      animation

      Testing of the game
16.
      prototype

      Test result collection
17.
      and analysis
27

                                                                           Table 2.1. continuation

                                                              Week
 No.              Task             1    2   3    4   5   6    7   8    9     10   11    12    +
 18.     Prototype correction

         Continuation of the
 19.
         game development

 20.     Attraction of finances

 21.     The game publishing

                   2.2. Practical contribution and its description

       Although it seems that author’s objective is very simple and mostly artistic, it also
requires technological and software knowledge. Since the game is planned to be released for
a different variety of platforms (Windows PC, Android smartphones and tablets), he has a
very important task – to prepare the graphics for a wide range of necessities. For example,
author needs to prepare them in different resolutions. Also as the game development team is
very small, author has to become acquainted with the game development engine Unity, which
was selected for the game development.
       For the practical contribution the author defined specific tasks, the first of them being
research and analysis of games with similar visual solutions. As the main idea for the game
comes from the existing game Adventures of Lolo, the author analysed it first and decided to
create Puzzle Worlds using 2D graphics in a top-down view. It was also chosen because the
game developers were already experienced in this field and felt confident about their
capabilities. From his research author concluded that the ground, paths and water were
portrayed as if looking from above. However, the character, enemies and objects were in a
side view. This created an unreal sense of perspective. Following these conclusions, the
author analysed other similar games. Based on the research he developed guidelines and the
28

overall concept of the game, as well as decided to change the perspective of some objects.
Fig. 2.1 shows a screenshot of the game in development process.

                       Figure 2.1 The screenshot of the game Puzzle Worlds

     Puzzle Worlds is a puzzle genre game but author wants to note that the game Puzzle
Worlds can also be included in Action-Puzzle sub-genre and RPG (Role Playing Game) genre,
because it will contain some of these game elements, for example, shooting to eliminate
enemies or potions to change the character look and gain different powers etc. Creators of the
game wanted to make it more interesting and the chosen genres felt right for the game. Also,
as he mentioned in the first chapter, this genre was chosen because it has proved to be
appealing to a wide range of people.
     Author wrote his opinion in the first chapter that he believes the creation of layout
charts may be skipped if the development team is small. Instead of them before Puzzle Worlds
development, the author in cooperation with his team brainstormed on different game aspects
and came up with a simple game design document, which consisted of fundamentals of the
game – base mechanics, some ideas on game characters (protagonist, enemies) and their
properties. It included base ideas on game levels and their flow, some objects that will be
included and others. Because of the size of the team, they were able to easily communicate in
the process of the development and change something if necessary.
     The game developers had many discussions on the game format, user interfaces and
story. Since the game play is very simple and quick the author advised not to overcrowd the
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