The New World

The New World was my 4th selection for CG&FN this term. Terrence Malick is visually one of my favorite filmmakers and The New World captures a sense of emotion which I feel is often lacking in mainstream film. It is also a showcase for the power of physical sets and real world settings, something I think we forget in the digital media industry. The New World might be considered a classic like some of the other films this term, but it is certainly worth a viewing for the cinematography alone.

Posted in CG&FN 2010 | Comments closed

The Story of Bungie

This week for CG&FN we will be looking at the history of Bungie and playing Marathon 2 LAN. Specifically I will be talking about the role narrative has played within Bungie’s games and in the community built around them. Bungie has always engaged with its fans and created experiences deep enough that people remain engrossed long after the game is released. The same can be seen in Blizzards games, though they do it through continually refining (and thus enhancing the depth) the gameplay of their titles, rather than through narrative like Bungie. Being a Bungie fan in the late 1990’s was almost like participating in an ARG. I find it interesting that Halo 2 had one of the most successful ARGs to date.

Further Reading:

Downloads:

[Marathon 2 for OS X] [Slides]

Posted in CG&FN 2010 | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Precipice

Precipice
About Precipice:

In collaboration with Global EESE, a student team at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, BC has been working on an interactive simulation. The simulation intends to make vivid some of the future scenarios developed by Global EESE. The experience takes place in a 3D environment where the player is presented with a familiar scene set in the present day and a future scene set in 2032.

The future scenario manifests the worst outcomes of the present scenarios. Within the 3D environment are a series of characters with whom the player can interact. Through these conversations the player learns of the characters situations and perspectives on the environment. As the conversations progress the player makes certain decisions, influencing the characters to be more aware of the environment and potential risks. If the player successfully convinces the characters to be more aware they create a positive change in the future. The player can move between the future and the present as they complete puzzles and conversations to see the effects of their choices. When the game is completed a montage depicting the future sums up the consequences of the players choices.

The simulation was built in the game engine Unity using traditional game design methodology combined with the research and work of Global EESE.

The team at the Centre for Digital Media consists of artists, game designers, writers, and programmers.

The process behind Precipice.

My Role:

Our initial project assignment was to create a “vivid” and “human” representation of scenario data compile by the Department of Energy. To meet these needs I worked with our lead game designer to create the concept of Precipice. Officially I held the role of Team Lead on the project, but I also assisted in a number of other areas in addition to scheduling the project and integrating the work of team members.

A key component of our game is the dialogue engine which display the comic panels in sync with audio clips and text. We originally purchased a pre-built dialogue engine, knowing we did not have time to start from scratch, but it quickly became apparent we had needs that would require lots of customization. As the most experience coder on the team, I worked with the designer and art team to create the comic layout system and modify the dialogue file format to speed development of our specific product.

One of the greatest challenges on this project was the sheer amount of content we had to create, and I utilized my visual art skills to assist the art team in keeping on schedule. Working with our writing team, I designed all of the in-game posters, bulletin boards, and narrative artifacts such as the newspapers. I also created a number of the comic panels, following a style guide created by our art lead.

The last major component I created was the User Interface for tracking as players progress and displaying text on the screen. We had initially wanted a minimal UI, but through play testing it became apparent we needed more feedback in our game. Since everyone else was still working hard on getting content finalized, I took on the task of designing and coding the UI.

Precipice was an ambitious project, we started with global scenarios and distilled that information down into one 3D Café and 400+ comic panels in two time zones. Due to the level of skill and dedication the team brought to the effort, we were able to complete all major features and deliver a product the client loved without having to work significant overtime or extend our schedule. There remains, as with any project, many good ideas left on the cutting room floor, but I am proud of what we accomplished.

[Download]

Posted in Projects | Tagged , | Comments closed

Jimson and the Jazz Crabs

Jimson and the Jazz Crabs is a simple adventure game created in the classic style of Sierra On-line. I started this game because I needed a project to keep busy while looking for a job after graduation. The game character Jimson is based on one of my roommates in college and the Jazz Crabs were inspired by a song titled “Jazz Crabs” by You Say Party! We Say Die!. The game was created in Adventure Game Studio since it would allow me to get right down to making the kind of a game I wanted.

Originally I began this project just to keep busy and entertain my roommates, but people who don’t even understand the inside jokes seem to enjoy the game. I stopped development when I first moved home, but one day I had an idea how to complete a quest line I’d been stuck on and sat down to add it into the game. A few days later I had finished the game and had a some friends test it out. Taking their feedback into account I streamlined the game so it made more sense and released a final version. I have to say the feedback from my initial version was key, without that I am sure many of the people who have played it since my final release would have gotten frustrated and not completed the game.

[Download] [Walkthrough]

Posted in Projects | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Happy Bunny Garden Panic

Happy Bunny Garden Panic is a 3D puzzle game created in C++ and OpenGL. I acted as the project manager, program architect and game designer on the project. Learn more and download Happy Bunny from the game page.

[Link]

Posted in Projects | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Newtonian Drop

Newtonian Drop is a physics-based Source-Mod. Players navigate a science research center where they interact with with objects powered by the Havok physics engine. The intent of the project was to create an interactive illustration of basic physics principles.

The mod was created by a team of 5 students for our Building Virtial Worlds class.

Walkthrough Video

I was primarily responsible for combining, texturing and polishing the individual exhibits into a single coherent environment. The greatest challenge of this project was the lack of fidelity and control over physics in Half-Life 2. The physics objects work well for the fast paced gameplay of death-match, but values such as fiction and gravity are not editable from within the level editor. This greatly limited which concepts we could successfully illustrate, but I feel the final product demonstrates the value of our original vision.

[Download]

Posted in Projects | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Vale of Tears

Vale of Tears is a small game I made with Matthew Hanns Schroeter for our Game Design class in Fall 2009. We have a very limited time to make the game as the focus was on testing the product. I did all of the coding and menu/background art, while Matt did all of the character design and animation work. We pitched the game as follows:

In a dystopian 19th Century England, a novitiate of the Second Order with the passion for spiritual life is gifted with the ability to fly from the darkest areas of inter-natural communication. Left to test her strength of character against a ravaged landscape littered with temptation and sin, she must return to the cloister to prove that everybody – no matter how evil they are, can be saved.

The player assumes the control of Sister Clare, guiding her through the air to dodge and absorb helpful spirits who can be helpful.  As she collects spirits, the sanctity of the cloister is re-enforced against the assault of evil. In the end she faces a minion of hell in a true test of her virtue.

We set out to make a game so dark and ridiculous that the serious subject matter could be taken lightly. I am not sure if achieved our objective, but the simple gameplay is entertaining for a weekend, and I enjoyed putting it together.

[Check it out]

Posted in Projects | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Suzy’s Curtain Call

Suzy’s Curtain Call is an interactive storybook about the life and death of a young girl. The project was created for my first Visual Story class at the Centre for Digital Media during the Fall 2008 term. Suzy’s Curtain Call was the first time I took on the role of Producer in my graduate studies. I pitched the initial concept of a ruined carnival as the death-world for a little girl and formed a team around the idea. One of the biggest challenges of the project was the amount of art assets and the difference in style between the two artists on the team. One of my major responsibilities was working to integrate the two styles and ensuring characters and locations were recognizable when transitioning between the cut-paper look of the memories and the painted look of the death-world.

All of the memory art assets were created using hand drawn images which were then torn and scanned into Photoshop. I assisted in layering, coloring and finally assembling the individual objects into the scenes. For a number of the memory scenes I created the background image and edited the music selections.

The complicated art production process took far longer than we had originally estimated, causing the whole narrative to come together only at the last moment. I really wish we had been able to test the experience earlier because the final product is a bit confusing on first viewing. Small details we spent hours designing are not even noticed by users because we didn’t set them up correctly.

That said, of the team projects I have worked on, this probably reflects my own personal style the most and I am proud of what we accomplished. I hope someday to take the assets from this project and create a more interactive game experience.

[View]

Posted in Projects | Tagged , | Comments closed

Annie Hall

The CG&FN for January 20th was Annie Hall. I selected this film not just because it is a classic, but because it is an extended rumination on love and what makes us happy in life, which are themes games almost never attempt to tackle. Despite the age of this film, I think almost everyone can relate or empathize with some part of Annie and Alvy’s relationship. The non-linear, often exagarated presentation of the narrative only makes the film more accurately reflect human experience, rather than being realistic, it represents reality. Ryan Nadel said it better last year in an article for our visual story class. [Link]

Posted in CG&FN 2010 | Tagged , | Comments closed

The Road Warrior & the Monomyth

The CG&FN for January 13th was The Road Warrior. This film is interesting for a number of reasons, from stunt work to pacing, but I wanted to focus on how George Miller creates a post-apocalyptic mythology. To focus our attention I created a simple worksheet outlining the stages of Joseph Cambell’s Monomyth. I hadn’t gone through the film looking for parts of the Hero’s Journey before, but as a group we found elements of almost every stage. Download the sheet and try it yourself!

Posted in CG&FN 2010 | Tagged , | Comments closed
  • About

    Seth Marinello, game designer

    I began gaming in the early 90's during the heyday of PC shareware gaming. Somewhere during my Computer Science undergraduate studies I became interested not just in playing games, but creating them as well. I completed my Masters of Digital Media degree at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, B.C. I am now a level designer at Visceral Games

    Altereddreams.net is my online notebook and portfolio. Here you will find my thoughts and presentations on gaming as well as the projects I have worked on during my studies.
  • Content

  • XBOX Gamer Card