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    Hamburg Internship #5: Week 4 – Task List of DOOM

    Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Malin

    This week I did an artifact list – this means writing down what’s going to be on every screen; every sound, every animation, every image. I had forgotten what a pain in the ass it is to make one of these; and this one is only for a short story. Think of an epic RPG that takes weeks to finish. OH MY GOD. -head explosion-

    After that I wrote and designed a Powerpoint for the pitch I am to be making to the CEO (if I forgot to mention it, my project isn’t green lit yet) though all images were made in Photoshop first as the company’s equivalent of PowerPoint isn’t really that great.

    My concept artist was very busy this week, so I did a priority list for him so that he knew what to do once he had the time – most of it being images I needed in order to finish my presentation. My top priority was for him to draw a strap differently on one of the characters as it was too sexy (even though it looks gorgeous if it were to be a pinup picture!) Others were just more thumbnails for all pages.

    We also got down a concept and a sketch of the Grandmother of the story this week, and she is looking beauuuuutiful!


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    Hamburg Internship #4: Week 3 – Thumbnailing and Planning

    Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2012 by Malin

    This week I had a meeting with the Lead(?) Programmer for the first “game” that has the same structure as my “game” has. He wrote me an English “Lessons Learned” paper for reference, which was very kind. After that meeting I decided to have the same GUI for my game, as it is kind of a part of the first one and all the others. It only makes sense since those who might want to buy all games will be invited with a familiarity they trust and understand. (And the risk for the project lessens even more; the programmers don’t need to change as much.)
    I have also tried keeping my interactions as familiar as possible to the first game but with a few twists, of course. Risk even more lessened!

    More importantly I have started planning the project and calculating the assets needed. Backgrounds were planned to be re-used on many occasions (risk: people “playing” might get bored if they actually notice the repetitions), but in order to see how many images of characters/animations could be re-used I needed to know all the frames’ composition. I drew stick figure-mockups of the scenes, but I also wanted to know how much of the text would actually fit on each page, and I realized I didn’t want to composite every background; I know the concept artists are better at that and I trust them completely.

     

    The text needed another revise as one question arose from a few people who had read it. “Why does this character react the way it does?” Questions left unanswered after finishing a story is never good! I decided to cut one page that in reality wasn’t needed. I deleted a background in the process, and gave the page for an already-made background together text with character development for the character in question. The beginning and ending were also modified, and the story is more solid now.

    Bye, bye, playground! Bye, bye, children!

    I have two days a week to make use of one concept artist so this week I asked him to make thumbnails for the 20 pages of my story. This is so my own work-flow would go on without having to wait for him. I sat beside him telling him what I wanted in the picture and poked him when he was getting too detailed. A few pages I didn’t exactly know what I wanted in them, but while watching him draw I got some ideas. Great experience!

    Next week I am hoping to be completely done with the thumbnails and planning all the assets. Maybe even have a concept of my favorite character: The Grandmother.

    Fingers crossed!


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    Hamburg Internship #3: Week 2 – Characterizing

    Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2012 by Malin

    This week I was scheduled to have meetings for 2 days with a concept designer that was borrowed from another project, but I was lucky enough to get him for 3! In these meetings I brought up a Character Sheet with description of the characters, what was important in their look for the story, along with reference pictures of how the feeling of the character was to be. 2 characters were created to set the tone and style for the game; one being the main character. The other was free of choice, and I had a hard time deciding between a very whimsical and hilarious old guy, and a beautiful “damsel-in-distress”-type female. Needless to say, the young beautiful woman was created. I wish I could show the images, but I am not sure I am allowed, so… better safe than sorry!

    I made what hopefully is a great ending and beginning and for a short while even tried writing the story with rhyming parts. I didn’t like it and went back to the main idea: a beginning, a middle, and an ending. It needed to be something to first peak your curiosity and drag you into a world that you can portray as believable, and then leave you satisfied once it’s over. To understand this I had some discussions with intelligent people, read a book about writing fairy tales on a website where anyone can publish their PDF’s (which means the book itself was self-published and was… so-so) and also read fairy tales that already existed.

    After that hard part was over another came along; while slicing up the text into iPad pages I realized I had nothing less than 26 of them instead of 15-20. I tried to ignore this fact, but after researching other iPad storybooks I realized how I got bored out of my mind to flip page after page after page… I had to face the fact; cut down the story as much as possible, even if it is heartbreaking.

    “But what about all my pretty sentences!!!”, I winced. Well, they don’t even matter if your reader is too bored out of his/her mind to even turn the page. “Ohhh you’re right, brain…” Yes, I know.

    All my pretty dialogue was to be summarized and shortened, but some other time I would love to create a tale that is nothing but pretty sentences; to see just how much you can tell with imagery and how little you can tell with text. A little bit of artsy-fartsy stuff has never hurt anyone, right?

    In the end I merged and compressed 3 pages while the other 3 pages was to be an optional feature. All of them feature 1 or 2 sentences being said about how awesome the main character is with a very specific image. It’s nice and you understand the character’s decision easier if you read them, but the story can be understood without them. You just need to read between the lines a little.

    It might just be my stubbornness, but I refuse to delete them completely. With a little bit of game design I am hoping people will want to read them instead of being forced, and that’s always good.

     

    Other than that I created a small PowerPoint presentation for those who do not have the time to read the whole story, and also went on the hunt for music that fit the story along with a theme tune for each character.

     

    This is the song that fits the damsel-in-distress; a Nymph who I wanted to look like something Alphonse Mucha would have done:

    Next week I’ll be meeting with my project manager and am hoping this game will be starting real production! Fingers crossed!


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    Hamburg Internship #2: Week 1 – Cynical Fairytales = Bad

    Posted on Saturday, January 7th, 2012 by Malin

    This week has been amazing. I get to work from 9 am to 6 pm on something I love.

    Writing.

    ^That could be this whole entry, but I’ll continue for more detail.

    Monday morning a nice room mate went up early to show me how all the buses worked and how to get to the Game Studio, and showed me to the Human Resource Manager’s office. I had no idea what time I was starting, and as far as I know, I still haven’t been told. Most people get there at 9-10 and go home at 6-7, so I do the same.

    I just have to say I am so lucky to have room mates that are willing to help and socialize with me. I even spent New Years Eve with one of them!

    (First day I was going home alone from the Game Studio, and without thinking about it I went on the wrong bus. This is one of my greatest fears; not knowing where I am. Of course panic ensued as I went off it, trying to find my way to an U-bahn and localize how to get on the right one. I swallowed my tears as they tried to push their way out on multiple occasions, saying to myself “You have to get through this”. I think also started humming “every little thing is gonna be alright” to keep my cool. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. Forced into chaos, and then coming home realizing it all went okay.)

    All the people I’ve met at the Game Studio are very welcoming, and very happy. The atmosphere is – to put it into one word – Friendly.

    The first day was confusing to say the least, but after reaching out to people who walked past, and setting up some ground rules to my project, and receiving a project manager (who’s very kind and let’s me do what I want, but if I have some questions, he tries his best to find answers. So far, he’s found out most of them!), it all started falling into place.

    What I’ve also found out is that it’s okay if I don’t understand the lingo at the office – in fact it helps my work. The German sentences people say to each other becomes white noise, but the happy tone the comments have still stay with me. When they’re going out to lunch they ask me if I want to join, and if they’re making tea they ask me if I want some, so I’m not left out at all. Yesterday our room made a salad. Team building in its truest form, while being healthy!

    I am sitting in a room with a few animators, concept artists, game designers and one writer. The same writer that wrote the dialogue for A New Beginning in fact. He gave me feedback on my first draft. Dat’s kewl bro, amirite?

    Needless to say, my first draft kinda sucked. It was cynical, there was no moral and it was just… Not Good. Without realizing it I made the young female character run away from an evil world together with a much older man she didn’t even know. Do you see anything wrong with that picture?

    I was missing a lot to say the least, and so my whole week consisted of re-writing, re-writing, and re-writing. My main problems were these:

    And boy, did I struggle! I had four or five drafts where I just couldn’t figure out an ending. All felt forced and not heart-warming at all. Asking for advice from my mentor, he told me amongst a lot of other things, to watch the Pixar movie Up!

    I watched the intro. It was enough to make my heart tender and my eyes filled with tears.


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