Month: March 2016

Research Report for Trailer Production

Market & Audience Research 

My game has been designed around a very balanced audience from the start, aiming to appeal to all types of people (Unless you have Ichthyophobia, in which case this game would be terrifying). The current market facilitates this open-armed approach with the gamer demographic being more diverse as it’s ever been;

The gender-ratio remains around 50/50 throughout the market, alleviating any such need to appeal to a particular sex, as it’s clear from our data that males/females are already enjoying and buying whats in store. Our research also concluded that the age-range of gamers has also expanded dramatically, so creating a trailer/game that appeals to as many of these ages as possible gives me the best chance of boosting sale numbers.

Genderatio

Investigations into the current market is a logical step when considering production, as it’s important to discover wether or not your game is in demand.

The current media market (Games, Movies, TV shows) are currently brimming with remakes and reboots of older titles. This current trend works out perfectly for me, since my game is based of the movie of the name, JAWS from 1975. The familiar and iconic title should be immediately familiar to most people, and with the film being as successful as it was, I feel this will further boost the general positivity towards my game and/or trailer.

If you produce a product that you already know is in high demand, and peoples reactions to similar/related products has been positive, you can guess that its safe to release your product.

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However, to be more specific, my game is part of a sub-genre that has never been fully explored, and that genre is Underwater Exploration. During my research I came across a game Subnautica, a game which relies in the same premise as my own. It was nice to see that this game has been widely successful and that demand for such a game exists.

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Production Research & Required Resources

Production research is essential when creating a product. Production research helps you to identify what resources you will need to launch the eventual product and whether your product would be profitable within the current market.

Due to the nature of my project, I don’t necessarily demand any complex equipment such as that of green screens, lighting set-ups or recording studios. For the most part, the live-action portion of my trailer can be reordered indoors, within Plymouth Aquarium.

Filming in this particular location poses problems such as transport and peak times. To avoid getting in anyone’s way, I shall visit during the week, and during the Aquarium’s least popular time and day. After a brief search I found that the least popular time at the Aquarium is Monday.

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I plan on using a camera that can record in at least 1080p mounted to a tripod, for stability. The college has these in store and I shall film my subsequent footage with one such as this:

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This is a Go-Pro 3+, the same model I have acquired from the college. I do require at least one scene filmed out at sea and underwater, which is why this Go-Pro has a waterproof casing. This Go-Pro is capable of recording a 1080p at 30 FPS, the ideal resolution and frame rate for my trailer/animation.

As far as software is concerned, I require Adobe After effects for animating and Paint.net for asset creation, the latter being freeware, and the former being available for a month-free trial period, enough time for me to complete and submit my animation.

Rationale & Strategy

Based on all my accumulated research, I’ve been able to come up with a marketing strategy that should be widely effective and suitable for my game trailer;

The simple name or title of my game should be enough for initial peak interests, due to it being connected to a highly successful and well-known film series. Gaining that first interest in your product is key to ensure any future marketing success.

The main portion of my marketing strategy will consist of my trailer, being suitable and available for viewing on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. Social media (specifically Facebook) is an extremely powerful tool when it comes advertising, as it is able to fine-tune what individuals see through their search patterns and interests, ensuring that the right kind of person (my target audience) is exposed to my product.

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Using Youtube has it’s advantages as it’s able to be directly shown from Facebook and Twitter, and it’s also realativly cheeper to upload and get out there, as opposed to a TV advert of a large poster campaign.

Youtube-statistics

I plan to produce and release my trailer  in a format that is suitable for a youtube trailer, and this means taking a few variables into account. The first issue is what parameters Youtube has for it’s adverts. At present, youtube limits the maximum resolution of adverts to 1080p, and the maximum frame-rate to 30. The length of the ad also affects weather or not the ad is ‘skippable’, and this parameter varies for different regions.

These parameters are widely acceptable in most cases, and I aim to produce my animation to fit within these quality standards.

My trailer and game is aimed toward all ages, therefore providing me with consumer base. My trailer has to reflect this aspect of my product, and also appear suitable for all ages, presenting appealing colourful visuals and the emergence of a compelling game world that people will want to experience.

In conclusion I’ve geared my trailer to appeal to all ages, providing clean visuals and a mysterious narrative, features that I think will be popular with a wide range of people, thus boosting the size of my potential audience.

 

 

 

 

Sound Production – Conclusion

I’ve never done anything even remotely similar to sound production beforehand, so I was required to learn a variety of new techniques and technical knowledge, which for the most part I found quite enjoyable. However, with this lack of experience I found myself just not hitting the level of quality I had in mind.

Unfortunately due to technical problems, Garageband was not updated with the instruments I required until rather late into the project, leaving me very little time to actually compose my pieces. This fact, coupled with my lack of knowledge, I fear my soundtrack lacks polish and is generally mediocre.

I hadn’t used any (except for 1) MIDI files in my soundtrack simply because anything I could find on the internet wasn’t suit for my purpose. And this didn’t help the development time of 3 whole college days to compose my soundtrack.

I found my iPhone to be surprisingly suitable for recording sound effects. It managed to pick up a lot of small detail sounds and even small sounds in the room next to me, of which I had to edit out. When I came to recording wind and outside sounds such as wind, it proved extremely ineffective. Without the cover of a wind muff, the audio become a white-noise crackling mess, and was thus unsuitable.

The very nature of my animation isn’t very demanding in the way of sound, relying on my soundtrack more than anything. so I wasn’t required to capture anything particularly interesting, and my animation is set underwater which means I ended up heavily editing all muffling all of my sounds, meaning that by themselves they sound awful. Hopefully with the context provided by my animation, my sound effects will seem natural enough.

In conclusion; I found the experience to be quite enjoyable, but my lack of prior experience left me falling short of my expectations. The equipment I used was very suitable (with a few exceptions), and file management and editing process was mostly a breeze.

 

Sound Asset Creation

All sounds and sound effects I created can be found here, while the sounds I downloaded can be found on my profile (I could not find a way to add them to the main playlist)

Soundtrack

The soundtrack creation was perhaps the most difficult part of the course so far. With near no-prior knowledge of musical composing, I had to take a random approach- hitting notes in different orders and finding sequences that sounded good enough for me to use.

In the end, I ended up with something that almost sounded like a cohesive melody;

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I mainly used strings to get the main part of the track, and then laid drum beats and base lines beneath and slowly built up the composition.

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I only used a MIDI file for a single piece, and that was OST – Finale. I couldn’t seem to get the famous ‘Jaws’ tune right no matter how much I tried, so I eventually found myself downloading the tune from midiworld.com

At this point I was using volume control to fade in/out certain instruments. I found this especially helpful when using the strings, to help them sound more fluid. The other pieces (OST – Adventure and Peaceful) were composed using much the same methods.

The final part was to save them and choose a file format. I instantly knew what format I wanted to use, the .MP3 lossy format. Through degraded slightly in quality, MP3 is widely accepted by almost all programs that incorporate audio.

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Here you can also see a few custom sounds I edited through Garageband. I found myself needing some oddly specific sounding instruments, I found them through playing around with various sliders and adding different effects. I subsequently named and saved my new creations so I could carry them over to any new composition, should I need them.

Sound Effects

The more practical side of the task demanded that I think carefully about what sounds I needed, and more importantly what sounds were possible for me to create. I instantly ruled out the possibility of getting recordings of Humpback Whale song and angry Tiger roars, so I was forced to download those from the internet, and further edit them myself. The rest of the sounds I needed were well within my reach however; I used simple techniques and a few edits with Adobe Audition to create my final sound effects.

AUDIO LOG

The nature of my animation didn’t demand any truly dramatic sounds, as I plan on my soundtrack and visuals to carry most of the weight. My animation will also be completely void of dialogue.

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Saving and Recording Process

I used my iPhone 4 to record all of my current sounds. I found it suprisingly good at picking up even the most minute sounds.

The app I used was surprisingly good too, allowing me to name and organise my sounds within my phone, making them very easy to then recognise and use in other applications.

It also allowed me to upload my sounds directly to Google Drive.

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Sound Production

Bubbles Stream

Very basic indeed. Blowing air into a bowl filled with water sounds silly, but it provided me with what I needed.

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WL Bubbles_1

 

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I tried producing bubbles at different elevations inside the bowl, and that provided me with  some different sounds and tones.

Metallic Impact/Soft Impact

The first sound I created were simple impact sounds. And the way I created them was as simple as sound production gets;

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Simply hitting a stone with a knife at different angles until I got a desired sound. I also used the same rocks to get the soft impacts by dropping them onto a carpet. I felt this didn’t even warrant a photograph.

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Regulator Cycle/Blast

This sound would have been very hard to obtain/re-create had I not already owned SCUBA equipment, so I felt lucky on this one.

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These are the ‘Regulators’, or the mouthpieces of the SCUBA gear. They can produce a variety of  hissings and wheezing sounds, but what I needed most importantly was the familiar breathing cycle always associated with underwater exploration.

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Plenty of air to go around meant I could get some powerful air blasts, though I found that it clipped the audio too much and ended up having to using a more delicate sound.

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Water Movement

I wanted to the gentle wish-wash of water to emphasise movement within my animation, and I felt that a sink filled with water and a wooden spoon provided what I needed. It’s really nothing special.

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Sound Editing

With all of my sounds, a certain amount of editing needed to be made to have them suitable for my animation. Again, the techniques and processes are relatively simple.

I managed to pull multiple sounds from the initial, individual sounds I created. I plan to make more advanced sounds using these techniques.

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Cropping is the basic part of sound production. Trimming away at unwanted portions of recordings helps make them more neat and concise. It can also be used to surgically remove small portions of unwanted sound from your piece, something I found came in handy when editing the water splashes.

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The second part was editing the levels/frequencies of my sound through the FFT filter. I found this technique to be essential when creating the ‘underwater’ effect I needed. I also managed to remove some of the crackling and general white noise I came across in my recordings;

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Planning a 2D Animation Sequence

Inspiration/Source Material

Jaws_(NES_Screenshot)

This is Jaws. More specifically, the Jaws game on the NES. I’ve always wanted to design a game based around underwater exploration, and this little number from 1987 provided me the basic foundations on what do build my project on.

The original game had very simple gameplay. You’d control a diver from left-to-right and shoot various innocent animals with your harpoon gun to collect shells, and then drive your tiny sprite boat from port-to-port to purchase upgrades until your final showdown with Jaws. Even for 1987 it’s pretty bad, and it’s certainly nothing compared to other games of the time like Contra and The Legend of Zelda II.

I want to bring this game up-to-date, and provide a unique platformer experience focused around atmosphere, exploration and action-puzzle solving. As far as I know, underwater games have been in short supply as of late, and I think brining an atmospheric style of game to the public would be a breath of fresh air.

However, the only underwater exploration game I’ve ever played is Endless Ocean.

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Endless ocean was a game released on the Wii in 2009. It was a game heavily based around atmosphere and exploration, which is exactly the premise of my planned remake. One of the features I loved so much in Endless Ocean was the ability to identify and collect all the different species of marine life. I’d like a similar feature in my Jaws remake, as an incentive to explore and perhaps even learn a little bit.

The visual style of my animated pieces is going to be relatively simple. I want the intractable features of the game  (Main character, sea creatures etc.) clearly divided against the realistic, live action backgrounds to help the audience differ from what is part of the game, and what is simply a moving background.

Overall, I want the animation to be simple and visually appealing, with an emphasis on atmosphere and mystery. The game would be something anyone can enjoy, suitable for all ages, with an absence of gore and only mildly scary themes. (Unless you have Ichthyophobia, in which case this game would be terrifying)

Development Sketches

Once I had my visual style pinned down, it was time to create some assets. The thing about my game is that the majority of the design work has been done for me, the biggest assets in my game are simply fish.

I did have the opportunity to get creative with some character designs, however.

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My main character is called Finn, and she is the diver you would take control of through the game.

The design comes from modern SCUBA gear, but compressed and far-less cumbersome. The idea of the helmet comes from me wanting to be clear about which way the character is facing, as this becomes difficult in 2D, especially with a simple visual style. The large Fin and visor’s location on the helmet can be used as clear directors of which way the character is facing, and can be easily animated.

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Here are a few different designs I drummed up to explore a few new ideas. In the end however I couldn’t decide, so I ended up with a mixture of all 3 suits to create my final character;

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Colour was the next step. I was so indecisive during this phase that I tried countless pallets and designs. Here are but a few:

Development Screenshot

The devlopment for the animation assets was a realativly simple one. I wanted to give the look of a 3D object, but I felt I didn’t have enough time to model and texture each asset individually in Cinema 4D, so I thought I’d have a crack at giving the illusion of 3D, through something called Polygon Art.

Tunawip 1

Jaws Tuna

It’s essentially taking the rough shape of an object and seperating it into ‘polygons’, on which you apply shade and colour. This was a development screenshot of the Tuna fish.

Clownwip 1

Jaws Clown

Ditto, with the clownfish. All my curret animation peices use this method.

Character Sheets

Finn

Jaws Finn

Finn is the main character you would control throughout the game, and also the character present throughout the whole animation. I designed Finn would be an anonymous and silent character to help lend a sense of mystery, but also so the player/viewer could find it easier to identify with the character.

Extras

A collection of extra characters that will appear throughout the animation. (If fish be classified as characters) Most of these “characters” simply appear as part of the scenery, but are none the less essential to the animation.

(Not presented to scale)

Oscellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

Jaws Clown

Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)

Jaws Tang

3-Stripe Damselfish (Dascyllus melanurus)

Jaws Damsel

Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus)Jaws TunaHumboldt Squid (Dosidicus gigas)

Jaws Humboldt Side

Giant Squid (Architeuthis Dux)

Jaws Giantsquid

Jaws (Ultracarcharodon carcharias)

Jaws Jaws

Storyboard

Here is the storyboard displaying the basic premise of my animation.

JawsBoard 1The very first scene in the animation shows the character slowly falling to the sea floor. The first scene is crucial in that is sets the tone for the rest of the animation. Here we see Finn alone, and that’s a key point that drives the narrative through to the end.

JawsBoard 2The second scene is where the explorative segment of the animation starts. Finn begins to explore the environment and identifies a couple of sea creatures in the process. This sets another key point in the animation, it showcases that the game contains exploration.JawsBoard 3Ditto in another scene with some Clownfish.JawsBoard 4Finn pauses momentarily over a drop-off, and then bravely dives into the abyss. This sets the tone and premise for the deep water segment, displaying to the audience that the game isn’t restricted to shallow water and that the environments are varied. JawsBoard 5A simple scene where Finn encounters some Jellyfish. (The Jellyfish may or may not be animated, depending on what footage I am able to obtain)

JawsBoard 6Finn continues swimming in the darkness, and red squid zoom past her. With her spotlight she looks downwards to reveal a Giant squid swimming silently beneath her in the depths Another key moment in the animation, it shows that not all the creatures are necessarily friendly, which flows nicely into the next scene;  Jawsboard 7Finn approaches a Moray Eel, only for it lunge at her, causing Finn to step back in caution.JawsBoard 8Finn uses her harpoon gun to launch herself over an undersea canyon. This displays another gameplay element.JawsBoard 9This scene begins the mysterious segment of the animation, on which the music is almost stopped and the animation focuses on proving a lonely atmosphere. Finn is here simply watching a school of fish swim overhead.JawsBoard 10Finn is once again exploring a darkened environment, and is startled as she spots a large shadow pass behind her.JawsBoard 11The finale of the animation is Finn at the surface. She dives down briefly beneath the waves, only to come face-to-face with Jaws.JawsBoard 12The ending of the animation, on which the title is displayed.

Backgrounds

The backgrounds of my animation will be mostly the live-action footage from the aquarium enviroments. For example:

JAWS Banner

These are my art assests composed onto a real-life background.

Presentation

The final presentation can be found here.

Motion Graphics/Animation Proposal

A sheet containing both my animation and motion-graphics proposal for my project.

(I had to re-upload this post due to WordPress being seriously un-cooperative. Hopefully this one works)

Proposal 1

Proposal 2

This text exists only to prevent the blog post from bugging out and breaking. It seems that WordPress doesn’t like posts with just images, you have to have at least some sort of text to go with it.

Research – Presentation/Conclusion

The group presentation I conducted can be found here.

Conclusion – Personal 

I can say with confidence that the research I conducted has given me a greater insight into the world market of video games, especially when comparing how the sales different platforms/genres differ from region to region.

As far as my personal project goes, it’s helped me realise how popular remakes have become in recent years, and what sort of people might interested in buying my hypothetical game. I’ve discovered how versatile and efficient social media is when it comes to displaying ads, and I would certainly aim to advertise my product on Youtube and Facebook. As far as platforms go, I’m still convinced PC (through Steam) is the most ideal setup for my game, as it provides multiple services for small indie developers such as myself. The most logical option after that would be to head for consoles if/when the game succeeds after that, as many developers have.

My game is part of a sub-genre that has never been fully explored, that genre is Underwater Exploration. During my research however I came across a game Subnautica, a game which relies in the same premise as my own. It was nice to see that was indeed demand for a game such as this, albeit not a huge demand.

In the end though, everything is hypothetical. I’ve geared my trailer to appeal to all ages, providing clean visuals and a mysterious narrative, features that I think will be popular with a wide range of people, thus boosting the size of my potential audience.