Monthly Archives: June 2014

Making Games and Being Inspired by Miro

Pana intro

Please click link to a short film about Pana’s Labyrinth

A little while ago I made my own game, it was the first time I had ever programmed anything, and I found I really enjoyed it!  Above is a little film I made so show a bit about how the game works.  I made my game in Unity 3D, I have never programmed before, but I found something new and logical that I have a keen interest in. The initial inspiration for the game came  from a choice of famous paintings, I was drawn to, ‘The Escape Ladder’, 1940, by Joan Miró. The main reasons being: Miro creates some fantastic characters in his paintings, (the stylisation is so ahead of it’s time and I love his paintings), they also have a naive macabre atmosphere, and finally it reminded me of,’Horace and The Spiders,’ one of my favorite Spectrum games!! I used to enjoy stomping on the webs, (I have to say here that I actually like spiders, they are the good guys, it was just very satisfying having a good old computery stomp on their webs)!

MIRO-Escape-Ladder

So I had a painting I really liked, characters and spiders I really liked, so I thought how do I make a game out of this?  Then my tutor suggested it could be a game involving ladders….!  And suddenly the game idea just clicked. I could have a game involving spiders and ladders……in a dark labyrinth!  I also decided to make a game that I would enjoy, something with puzzles, platform activity and funny characters! The game is named after my dog and one of my favourite director’s films. The game is called Pana’s Labyrinth. My dog is called Pana after the Inuit God who cares for the souls of the underworld.  One of my favourite films by Guillermo del Toro is Pan’s Labyrinth.  I chose to mix the two, so the game is about a guardian of an underworld labyrinth who has managed to lose some of his souls in his very own personal labyrinth. This probably comes from years of addiction to Sonic the Hedgehog followed by complete adulation of Ratchet and Clank.  So after many years of playing games, I was actually exploring how they are made and also putting this into practice and this I found fascinating.

Screenshot from Pana's Labyrinth
Screenshot from Pana’s Labyrinth

My son’s verdict on the game was, ‘it needs at least two velociraptors and zombies, it’s missing zombies!’ So that is my next mission, to explore putting in some enemies with AI, (artificial intelligence).  This will be a great deal more challenging than what I have done so far and take a great deal more programming.  However the AI side of games really intrigues me as I have been studying Machinima, (films made within games).

Machinima makers use the AI within the game to get other non player game characters and also other game elements etc to react to them, so that they are in fact using the AI to make action happen within the film.  Paradise Decay recently sent me a link to a fascinating video which shows how he makes the AI work for him in Minecraft.  He also shows other aspects of the gameplay which make it possible for him to make movies within Minecraft. There some really good camera tricks especially to get the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace!

It also shows the complex effort and time that Machinima makers put into their films. It is particularly fascinating for me as I come from a much more standard approach to making animated films.  I use programs such as Maya to create models and animation then After Effects etc for post production.  I have to say that some Machinima makers use a lot of ingenuity to get the shots and acting they require for their films.  I will enjoy observing and researching into the film genre of Machinima and it’s developments in the future as game design begins to evolve further.

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