I recently had the chance to revisit one of my first game projects, Full Feather. Full Feather’s original look was a colourful mish-mash of textures and patterns. Birds chirp in the background. Feathered animals growl and eat grass. Light is filtered over the character’s body as they run between the trees. I really wanted the forest to feel as alive as possible.
After updating the game to work with Unity 5, I experimented with different styles. With a minimal aesthetic, the smallest changes in colour variation, detail or ambient light dramatically affected the tone of the space. Even if I don’t end up using this style, it made me more thoughtful about how all the elements were working together.
After working as a concept artist and modeller intern at Wero Creative (an indie games studio in Toronto), I was excited about the creative potential that 3d modelling could provide. I became the modeller and animator in a game development collaboration between OCADU and University of Toronto computer science students. Over seven weeks, we built an atmospheric stealth/exploration game.
The world of Chrominance had a beautiful, minimal style that won third place for Artistic Achievement at the Level-up showcase.
Players control a cloaked figure that can change colour to blend in with their environment. They have various other abilities that can allow them to evade the monsters that roam the world and eventually purify areas.
I had the pleasure of collaborating with some pretty awesome people from UofT. This included John Axon, a coder and designer on the team who also made the soundtrack for the game. Sophia and Elaine Huynh did an enormous amount of work on game design and coding and had a huge hand in making the game as unique and pretty as it is now.
The game is available for all to download on Itch (with builds for PC or Mac):
I find that a lot of fictional worlds, including that of The Grand Budapest Hotel are memorable and immersive because they more or less consistently follow a set of visual rules. The viewer becomes subliminally aware of these rules. The world starts to make more sense and can take on a life of its own inside one’s head. That’s when cool, weird things happen, like feeling nostalgic for a place you’ve never been to, but that feels as real as a childhood memory.
There’s also the depth of detail that can add to the strength of a fictional world. Mendl’s Courtesan au Chocolat, the re-occurring, precariously assembled pastry is my favourite. Replicating details like this in real life or in other mediums is one of the ways I can feel closer to a place I once inhabited in my head.
I was thinking a lot about environmental story telling and how objects can tell you things about the people or beings who used them. The act of making these things is relaxing and can be a way of engaging with stories, much like how I would imagine the intentions of the characters when I made houses in the Sims. The Sims games often didn’t have the furniture I wanted, so I’d come up with explanations like “maybe Annie’s grandmother gave her that chair and that’s why it doesn’t match the rest of the decor”, and I’d care more about the characters as a result.
I’m thinking about the smallest details, like the taper of the feet, and it’s helping me to build a larger world in my head.
I recently helped to create an experimental game with Sally Luc and Samet Choudhury. It’s all about alchemy and deciphering different combinations of symbols, which are actually given to the user through the motions of a peripheral device. The digital part was made in Unity and the physical part used an Arduino, a servo and an RGB LED.
Here’s a screenshot some of the modelling I did for the game.
An example of one of the puzzles: the Arduino device points to the alchemical symbols for water and fire to tell the player that they can collect the steam from a geiser to make a mysterious potion. I really liked our mechanic of symbol combinations and researching symbols was so easy to get lost in. There are so many interesting pictorial languages.
Creating the environment was really satisfying, especially when it was time to play around with the colour and rendering in the game engine.