This was supposed to be my easy semester – focus on research and get things done so I’m ready to graduate in May – only four jobs and ten credit hours later, it’s not really working out that way. Despite the sleep deprivation, I’m having a blast. I love everything I’m doing, and I’m getting a ridiculous amount of experience in a lot of different fields.

As far as classes go, I was able to get into Jason Leigh’s video game design and development course over at the EVL, which always fills up and is notorious for its long wait list.

This class. I love it.

Totally not for anyone with just a passing interest in games. This class is my life right now. We’re broken up into teams of five or six (we have five) across two campuses – UIC and LSU. Each team has only one artist (that’d be me), so the work load is pretty heavy. In the past week I’ve done identity design work, web design work, storyboarding, and concepting. I’ve spent nearly all my free time in front of my computer in meetings and chats with my team. I’ve come up with such ridiculous ideas for absurd games, that I’m beginning to question my sanity. But it’s been a blast.

We just got done presenting our initial storyboard concepts today in class, so I figured I’d post them here.

Storyboard concept

Sufficiently creepy, right?

So  my proposed game is a surreal, psychological platformer that revolves around the concept of nightmares, fears, and phobias. When the game starts, the player wakes up in a six-sided room with no apparent exits. Each wall holds a door that, when activated, pulls the player into a world in stereo 3d that exploits some innate human fear. The goal is to conquer each fear and break the walls down of the room you’re trapped in, thus freeing yourself. The order the player chooses to complete the levels has an effect on gameplay – addition of weapons in later levels, decrease in enemies, etc. Shown above is The Chase – a level based on the nightmare of being chased or attacked. A sea of hands reaches out to grab the player as they maneuver themselves through an erratic, unsettling environment.

The focus for the class semester is stereo 3D, which is why that’s an important feature in my game. As these nightmares progress and the player spends more time in the level, the stereo effect will change. I’d be inverting the cameras, changing depth measurements, moving the cameras closer together, whatever it takes to get the degree of disorientation and discomfort that I’m going for. The “home” room is in standard 3D, further separating reality from the dream.

So that’s where I’m at! We got feedback today, and Jason was really enthusiastic about my idea. He said my illustrations made him want to get into the world, play and explore – and that’s exactly the goal behind concept art. So…success! We’ll be revisiting all of our ideas over the next week and settling in on a concept. I’m crossing my fingers that we end up with at least some aspects of mine built in…I already have such a clear idea of what I’d like the style of this to be, and I think it could be really interesting.

And now, for some much needed sleep.

Check out our team website to see more of our concepts, and check back as the semester progresses to see how our game turns out!

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