Month: October 2015

Upgrade – Rough Concepts

A few rough concept ideas for Upgrade. These sketches were done to help me realise what certain parts of my game should look like.

I’m really not proud of these sketches, and unfortunatley I don’t have a scanner available so I had to make do with my camera phone.

I’ll start with the half-decent stuff.

Mood Board

Upgrade mood board

This is what I want the general feel of my game to look like, cold hard and calculated, while being colourful and striking enough for players to find the game enjoyable to look at. Of course, an emphasis on the colour red is an important aspect of my game, so made sure to use that effectivley.

Main Menu

Upgrade Menu

This is the start menu of the game. I wanted to keep it minimalistic and sharp to represent the art style of the game itself. Since this isn’t a big budget title either, I wanted the players to feel involved in the game’s progression by providing a live feed of features and fixes in any upcomming updates for the game.


My game foucuses on a minimalist and sharp artistic style, so I need the HUD to fit that critera also.

Upgrade HUD

I know it doesn’t look like much, but anything more and it would draw the player away from the in-game enviroment and destroy the immersion. I want the HUD to sit quietly on the screen while you play and only provide the essential information; health (white bar), energy (blue bar), and currently eqiped upgrade (white box).

Concept Artwork


I’ve been inspired by many different things throughout the design process of my game (notably Half-Life 2) At the end of the day, these are just rough concepts and absolutley everything is subject to change.

Upgrade Concept Unit

The main protagonist/antagonist of the game and who you play as; Unit 7. My currenent 3D renditions of Unit are really quite rough and flawed in many ways, and this is really how I wanted it to look. I wanted it to feel more biomechanical, so I added strange animal-like hands and feet, and I plan to make it seem very animal like in how it moves also.

I didn’t even realise what my inspirations for Unit were until I had finished designing it. The apparent inspirations include;

D0G from Half-Life 2, and the Antlion Guard from Half-Life 2

d0ge Jeffery


I don’t have a sketch of my enviroment per se, but I have sketches of objects that will populate the enviroment.

Upgrade Concept Arm 1

This is a crane arm that protrudes from the wall and enables different dynamic game events, such as lifting a platform or transporting the player. The idea is is that players will come to recognise these crane arms as things that aid progression, and figuring out how to use them in conjunction with the enviroment and puzzles is a strong game element. The main inspiration for these are a range industrial manufactoring arms.

Upgrade Concept LED

This is in essence a health charger, an object the player will come to know as LEDs (Liquid Energy Dispensers) They are bright yellow in appearence and are scarcley populate the enviroment. The player can use them only once to regenerate their health, so knowing when to use them in the most effective way is something players will come to learn.To avoid confusion between full and spent health chargers, the light in the center will change from blue to red.

My main inspiration for the health charger was the HEV suit charger from Half-Life


The smaller and more common counterpart to the LED, is the LEC (Liquid Energey Capsule)

Upgrade Concept LEC

These can be easily found throughout the enviroment due to a blue glow they emmit. They are smaller, and thus only recover a smaller amount of health for the player when they pick them up. They are normally found in groups of 2 or more.


The enemies in Upgrade are almost always other robots or units.


This is a design for the ultra-heavy platform Unit 2. It’s like a tank with the movement of a crap of sorts. Of course, it’s main weapon is the giant cannon on its back. I aim for this to be the first boss you encounter in Upgrade. I’m not really sure what the inspiration for this is, it’s really just an idea. At the moment it doesn’t reflect the style of the game at-all, and I’ll probably end up completley revising the design at a later date.

The inspiration for this probably comes from the Scarab Tank from Halo 3, and a small part of the Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell.

2061722gallery  Tachikoma


Research on Visual Design

Artistic direction influencing gameplay

This research is aimed at providing insight into how big game developers handle the issues that I face making my own game.bsmfe4sdiwqphao3c9nl

Mirrors Edge uses bright red items or objects to help guide the player throughout the enviroment. Players are eventually trained to focus on red objects and think about how to progress through their applications.


Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 15.16.30

My game will feature similar design choices to help guide the player through the levels. Certain enemies, objects and powers will be red and/or a bright colour.



Team Fortess 2 is a class-based first person shooter, with an important emphasis on team play. The characters in this game are extremely unique, and can be told apart from eachother even from their silhouette. This is an important strategic element.



Palette choices are important in creating mood and atmosphere. This magazine cover uses a cool scheme of blues and purples for the background and uses strong white to highlight headers. No particular colour is lost among any other and they all create a wider visual feel.

Source: Computer Arts Magazine, issue 211 March 2013


A low polygon model is a minimalists’ approach to graphics. Not only does this greatly reduce the amount of processing power required, but presented correctly, can be viewed as artistic. Using flat textures as shown here will further reduce processing power and make the model significantly easier to make.



Aside from being minimalistic in design (as is my game), the characters in Pixar’s WALL-E express complex emotions and characteristics through simple animation, rather than facial expression. I plan on using these subtle movment cues to express emotion in my many non-human characters.

Source: Disney Pixars’ WALL-E, M-O (2008)

Research log, displaying all sources and information.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 14.47.57