Communication Lab 6
Due: Thursday, March 10th at 11:59 pm
The focus of today's lab is to start thinking about the architecture and design
specifications that are due before technical prototype. These may seem a long way off
(so far off that we do not have links to the instructions yet). However, it is helpful
to start thinking about them right away. This is particularly true for the programmers,
as it gives you a chance to try out the techniques that we just talked about in lecture.
In the past, this lab has only been about the programmers, giving them a chance to finalize
their architecture. However, we have a new exercise for the designers this year which is
just as important: specifying an art style. This is a brand new idea, but our
design TAs have been heavily
involved with coming up with this new activity. Please ask for help if you do not know
what to do.
Programmers: CRC Cards
This lab is the
exercise that was described in the
lecture. You can do this either with actual index cards, or with
sheets of paper that are torn up. However, we really do want you
laying out the cards on the floor, or the table, or whatnot. We want
this to be an active exercise.
Remember, that the goal of the exercise is to have each card touching
all of the other cards that it collaborates with. If you cannot do
that, it is time to refactor your design into more (or less) cards.
Also, make sure that you have all of the major elements of your
game that you can think of.
In designing your CRC cards, you should take the following all into consideration:
Respect the Model-View-Controller Pattern
Each card should be categorized as either model, view, or controller. No card should ever
straddle multiple categories. This means, of course, that you will need a minium of three
Respect Your Milestone Document
You should separate the cards so that they represent the order in which you plan to
implement technical features. Each card should either be implemented all at once or
not at all. For example, if you are implementing character AI by alpha release, but
are going to delay pathfinding to beta, then these need to be on separate cards.
Each card should be assigned to exactly one programmer in the group. That programmer
should be able to implement every responsibility listed on the card. If this is too
difficult for that programmer, or one programmer has too many responsibilities, then
you need to reorganize the cards.
Designers: Style Guidelines
The design document is a brand new document that we are still finalizing at this time.
But we have enough of an idea about what we want for you to participate in an exercise
while the programs work on their architecture.
As designers, your job is to create a slide deck of inspiration and style pieces for
this assignment. We encourage you to use slides because the layout is easy to manipulate.
This is not a set of slides as for a talk; use them as storyboards or "mood boards," with
chapters, for this assignment. Think of them as a "deck doc" (slides instead of pages
for the document's layout).
The first slide should list contains the team name, the game's name, and a list of all
team members. After that, we want slides that address three main features.
High Thematic Statement
We want a cohesive statement describing how the team wants the game to look and feel. Do
not write an essay; rather, write enough so that anyone who reads the statement will have
a good understanding of what you aim to achieve as designers. Include in your statement
the general vibe of the world (e.g. "the game Dash is portrayed in a mystical,
Oriental-themed universe") and the feelings you want to evoke (nostalgia, adventure,
comedy, etc.). Of course, this may have changed somewhat since earlier documents; this is
expected and welcomed because it demonstrates a maturity of the team's vision of the game.
Inspiration and References
Art styles hardly ever evolve form from nothing. They are influenced by other art or games.
We want you to put words to those influences. You should have slides that address the
Create several slides that will include collages of pieces from different art styles you
think will best portray the game. These slides will be inspiration slides, setting the
mood and tone for the team to work from. We recommend you put multiple images on one
slide so you can compare styles and see how they can fit together. We do not want to see
just pictures, so explain your points. For example, you may like the lineart from one
artist yet the coloring of another, so you could put both of them on the same slide to do
a side-by-side comparison.
Group these slides by themes that you find appropriate; for example, you may have a couple
of slides that show what "dreary" means (because "dreary" in Call of Duty is
different than "dreary" in Cursed Ghost).
Another major portion that influences the feel of a game is sound. In this part of
the slide deck, link clips of soundtracks that best support the game. Try to find
royalty free music or have someone create a soundtrack; this is important, because when
it is time to put sound in your game, any copyrighted material used in Showcase is a
breach of academic integrity. For now, however, feel free to collect and link any music
and sound effects that serve as inspiration. Copyrighted material can be placed here for
reference but make sure to not use it in-game.
In the last set of inspiration slides, include include slides that reference photos for
your art assets. These include photos of animals, environments, poses, and objects. It
is highly suggested that these be real images rather than drawings because with drawings,
as sketches from other artists (not you) insert a design or interpretation layer between
the real thing and your game. For assets, it will be best that you interpret subjects
yourselves, within the team, rather than creating an interpretation of an interpretation.
We also suggest you group images together by subject such as feet references, cloud
This last section is all about outlining the development of the art style for this game.
These slides should describe the specific tools needed for developing the game's style.
Some of the parts we would like you to outline are color palette, line type, and animation
Since foreground elements have to stand apart from background elements, what colors
palettes do you plan on using to differentiate the two? Will there be different color
schemes for different worlds, if there are any?
Is there a type of brush that all characters will be created with? Or is the style you
are going with going to be flat or 8-bit? Will you have hard borders with no alias, or
soft borders? Making sure all artists have the same photoshop brush, for example, can
help make the game's style feel more consistent.
Animation styles can vary widely, too, in the level. Some animations styles are very
exaggerated and cartoon-like while others strive to be more realistic. For this section,
please provide some gifs or frames that inspire you as you move forward with the animation
process. Again, these can be taken from others and do not have to be your own.
Putting it All Together
This is a lot of work to ask of you to do in a single lab. Therefore, we want you to
spend the majority of the lab time brainstorming references from materials online. For
each of the sections outlines above, right down a list of references that you are thinking
of. Then, as time permits, you can fill everything in.
With that said, since you have a week to work on this, we do want a proper slide deck
submitted by the deadline. Expand your notes into slides. Please include the elements
below in your slide deck, in order. Understand that each "chapter" does not have to be
called that, but it should be clearly labeled. Each chapter may also contain more than
- Opening slide/page
- High Thematic Statement
- Chapter 1: Mood
- Chapter 2: Sound
- Chapter 3: Photos
- Chapter 4: Art Style (Color Scheme)
- Chapter 5: Art Style (Lines)
- Chapter 6: Art Style (Animation Style)
Due: Thursday, March 10th at 11:59 pm
The architecture specifications are never perfect the first time, so we would like to see
what you have done as a rough draft. This way we can give you comments before we look at
your official specification in two weeks.
The same goes for the art style activity, as the design bible is a completely new document
this year. We honestly have no idea what to expect from this document, and we expect many
of you to become examples in future years.
With that said, you already have a lot to do this week with milestones and the
upcoming gameplay prototypes. Therefore, you will notice that we are asking for this
document much later -- well after gameplay prototype. For programmers, it is going to take
some time to assemble your cards into a single document. For designers, it may take a
while to assemble all of the collages and references.
When you do submit this document in a week's time we want two submissions put in CMS.
From the programmers we want an overview of your CRC cards. You can submit this as the
text file crc.txt or the PDF
crc.pdf, which ever is easies for you. Since the
designers are submitting a slide deck, it should be the PDF style.pdf.
You only need to submit one of each file for the entire group.