Monday, 11 March 2013

The Group Project

I've been quite busy for a few weeks now since starting the group project and I've neglected posting the progress and the work I've been doing for the project. That being said, I thought I better get a post up and show some of what I and the rest of the group have been up to before we've accumulated too much work to fit on one post!

So, before we jump in, I should say that there was slight confusion before starting the group project as to what we were actually going to be doing! For many years, the second year group projects on the Game Art Design course has always been to recreate one of the university buildings in the survival horror theme. There had been lots of rumours leading up to this years project that this was all going to change, there was excitement and plenty of apprehension to say the least. A few weeks before the project was due to start the rumours were put to rest and the new project was revealed, we were going to be given the opportunity to take part in a project/ competition operated by Crytek in collaboration with the British Library and GameCity.

The project challenges students to draw inspiration from maps provided by the British Library and then to turn the inspiration into interactive environments using Crytek's free CryENGINE 3 SDK game engine. Specifically we were told that we would be focusing on 17th century maps of London provided by the British Library and re-creating a scene from the city of London in that era. Oddly, and truthfully there were mixed reactions, myself included. I'm not entirely sure why, but from my own perspective I can say that the main reason is that I was fairly certain we would be doing the survival horror project so I had already started to process a few ideas as horror is one of, if not my favourite genre in games, films and books, so I was slightly disappointed that I wouldn't get the opportunity to take things further. This also took everyone a little by surprise, and I know initially I was struggling to try and visualise things and I was a little worried about having to learn a new engine after a short time with the Unreal Engine. Apart from those things though, and as well as not being alone with my thoughts, the project outlined by Crytek seemed very interesting and something fresh for the second year.

A week or so before the project was due to begin the groups were decided by our Game production tutor Heather and outlined on Blackboard. I was pleased to find myself in a group with five other hard-working, talented and like-minded students so the project was immediately off to a good start! Unfortunately things took a bit of a turn when arriving for lectures the morning group projects were due to start. A few students apparently had some issues with the groups they had been put in and out tutor was what you might say, pissed off. Because of this all of us second years were told to decide our own groups as well as being told that we could also chose between the Crytek project and the Survival Horror project from past years, all sorts of balls up in the air! Now, it needs to be said we were all aware, or at least should of been that when were put into groups by the tutor we weren’t going to be with our closest friends and that, that would be hugely beneficial for our future careers within the industry. So when we were told too pick our own groups, despite other students quickly jumping at the chance to change groups, it was immediately obvious that myself and the other students from the initial outlined groups wanted to stick with our tutors decision to place us in that group.

Once we had decided on the team we were going to be in for the next 15 weeks the next decision was which project we were going to do. The team was split and we actually had a good, lengthy discussion on the merits of each project. I personally felt 50/50 between the Survival Horror Project and the Off the Map project, more so that I was happy to do either on depending on what the group decided. It soon became clear though, despite having to change a few minds that we all thought that the Off the Map project, which we were all initially meant to be doing anyway, had lots of potential, as we began to edge towards a final decision we discussed the elements involved within old, dirty narrow 17th century streets of London and the imagery finally began to compose itself inside my mind. We also discussed the potential, not only within the project itself, but that fact that it is also an industry run competition meant that if we were able to complete the project at a good standard there was a possibility of having our work assessed and shared by members of the games industry as selected Off the Map entrants would have their work chosen by a panel of judges and showcased at events worldwide, including GameCity8 in Nottingham.. The last thing we felt we needed before cementing our decision was to discuss the options with our tutors but it soon became clear that there really was no option, our tutors were all confident that our group could construct a successful and interesting Off the Map project, so it was final.

So now you know what the group project is about I will go on and discuss the work I have completed as part of the project week by week up until this week, week six, and continue with feedback on a weekly basis.

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