Saturday, 28 June 2014

The British Library Visit

(Gothic architecture example across the road from The British Library)

On 2nd April The British Library hosted a workshop for the Off the Map participants so that we could view the source materials, some of which we had been able to download from the competition page previously.

The first section was a set of presentations by the library and GameCity, about the competition and the forthcoming 'Terror and Wonder: the Gothic Imagination' exhibition.  We were then able to ask questions based on the information to get a better idea of what we are required to do.  There is no set brief or direction that we're expected to take our creations in, only that they are clearly inspired by and relatable to the source material.

Afterwards we were able to view the maps themselves, as well as some supporting pieces from the library's archives.  Seeing the actual artifacts was quite inspirational and started giving me some ideas for each of the themes.  I took lots of photos of everything, as I hadn't yet decided which of the themes to choose.  The decision would go to whichever of my concepts I liked the most after I'd had time to think about them.

The Whitby materials had additional maps of Transylvania, due to the town's part in Bram Stoker's Dracula.  This increased the scope for which a full game could be made using multiple locations, or even try to be a bit different and set the entire thing in Transylvania.

(Map example of Transylvania)

I was quite fond of the idea of creating a virtual Whitby on the hill up towards the abbey, which gave me more ideas for a Dracula based hide & seek game, where players would be chasing the shadow of a beast.  A particular map I liked showed a panoramic view of the Whitby coastline together with images of important landmarks (see below).

(Panoramic style map of Whitby's coastline)

(Detail drawing from the panoramic map)

The Masque of the Red Death was the next set of resources I looked at, which were probably the most horror orientated assets on show.  When I looked through the asset pack online beforehand, I saw some great potential, especially with how strong (sometimes abstract) some of imagery was.  I also believed that this may be the hardest to create a game with, given the potential number of characters required, as well as the specific structure and length of the story itself.

(One of my favourite images on show for Masque of the Red Death)

Given that I have less time than most I decided against working on The Masque of the Red Death quite quickly, as all of the ideas I had for it would have taken too long for one person to do.

The last set of artifacts I looked at were for Fonthill Abbey.  I really wanted to have a shot at this one as there are a number of things the final creation could become.  It could be a portfolio piece to show off art assets (which would allow me to dedicate my time to 3D modelling and texturing, something I have not yet had a chance to do outside of my team managing and engine work during university projects).  It could be a recreation of the building and / or the surrounding grounds.  It could potentially be a number of different game types including horror, puzzle or exploratory.

(Map of the area around Fonthill Abbey)

My initial idea for a game for Fonthill Abbey was an ambitious one that would definitely require a team to complete, but I liked it so much that I held on to the idea for a while.  Without going into too much detail, players would explore the building and come across a creature that would chase them, breaking through doors etc.  The game would inevitably end with the destruction of the building.

Of the materials on show, my favourite was a book called 'The Delineations of Fonthill and its Abbey'.  Anyone wanting to recreate  the building could do so with an immense amount of detail because of the descriptions given in this book.  I found myself wanting to take photos of every page just so I be as accurate as possible.  At this point I had an idea of maybe picking an area within the abbey to concentrate on, making it possible for a single person to realistically create a finished playable piece.

 (Colourful interior view of St. Michael's Gallery in Fonthill Abbey)

(Decoration designs used on the ceilings of the building)

After the session I took the time to look at another exhibition where they were displaying the Magna Carta.  I thoroughly enjoyed this visit, it was well worth the journey to London to see it (all the way from Newport in Wales).  The next entry will be about the map I have chosen.

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