Week 3: Theme Research

Wednesday 16th February 2022

WEEK 3 -

TO DO: BEGIN RESEARCH AROUND THE THEME

PLAN

My task as seen in the schedule for today is to research around the theme of our game. On Monday 14th, I put together a research survey to gather responses in terms of which environments people prefer when it comes to winding down and escapism. I gathered some interesting responses and noticed the patterns between us. From these results, Kiera and I were able to narrow our options down and move forward with a chosen theme for our game, Getaway! Today, I will be doing research around our chosen theme and diving deeper into this, allowing us to identify which assets we will have in our environment and how they might function.

Survey Results can be found here: Survey Results.

WHERE DO I BEGIN?

To begin, I will be outlining the purpose of our theme/environment in our game and establishing how it will be used. This will then lead me to begin research into the theme, starting with a specific location.

GOALS FOR TODAY

My goal for today is to gather research around a specific theme, including mood-boards and relevant information around the topic.

PLAN FOR THE DAY

  1. Outline the requirements for the theme/environment itself, justify choices to identify areas of research

  2. Begin research into locations, document findings.

TASK 1

Week 3 - Requirements for Design

THE THEME

After evaluating the responses from my survey, combined with personal interests Kiera and I have decided to go forward with the theme of a natural environment specifically being, the mountains! We found that people enjoy the idea of being able to escape to somewhere not usually accessible to them and the idea of looking out at the mountains appealed to the majority of people that took part in the survey. To take this further, I'd like to look into a specific location and find out little details such as, what the architecture looks like (ski resorts/villages) and what kind of animals are present in the mountains. Our idea is that players are looking out into a static image of the mountains, with small animations around it therefore, I like the idea of having small moving parts.

REASON FOR CHOICE

 

Being able to escape to the mountains in itself is appealing. But the reason for this is the ability to escape to somewhere so far from reality. Basing 'Getaway' around the mountains allows us to transport players to somewhere they are able to go to and disconnect themselves from negative thoughts. In addition to this, the idea of the mountains is clean and refreshing which we feel would be perfect for those struggling with overwhelming thoughts or feelings. This environment also gives us the opportunity to explore the smaller details within it, which we love the idea of. We'd like to encourage players to observe the environment and notice the small animations/things happening around them.

 

THE REQUIREMENTS

 

The environment we design around this theme will eventually be projected onto the walls of the space, allowing players to observe the world around them and interact with it. This must be a static image with small moving parts in the form of animations. The environment must be peaceful, relaxing and tranquil in order to make players feel calm and at ease within the space. Because of this, the environment must be tailored to evoke these kind of emotions.

TASK 2

Week 3 - Theme Research

GETAWAY: TO THE MOUNTAINS!

As mentioned before, we were specifically interested in Hallstatt, Austria. This was inspired by both my love for the film 'The Sound of Music' (based in Austria) and our joint love for its appearance. I plan to begin looking into this location and learning more about the history behind it.

WHAT AND WHERE IS HALLSTATT?

"Hallstatt, Austria"

"Set foot in the village of Hallstatt and it seems a musical number might erupt at any moment"

NOTES

  • A small town in the district of Gmunden, in the Austrian state of Upper Austria.

  • Situated between the southwestern shore of "Hallstatter See" and "Dachstein Massif" - mountains.

  • The town links Salzburg and Graz.

  • Hallstatt is known for its production of salt

  • The salt has preserved many organic materials such as textiles, wood and leather.

  • In the 19th century, it was only possible to reach Hallstatt by boat or narrow trails!

  • Land between the lake and mountains was sparse.

  • Access between houses were via boat or small pathways.

  • Known as one of the first places of human settlement due to rich sources of natural salt!

  • Was then turned into a tourist attraction - "the most instagrammable town in the world" - replica then built in China.

  • Can hike on top of the Dachstein-Krippenstein.

  • Can be cold!

  • Stunning architecture

  • Vibrant facades

QUICK FACTS

"NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - Why is this Bronze Age town so popular today?"

"Hallstatt is a fairytale Austrian village"

"Set foot in the village of Hallstatt and it seems a musical number might erupt at any moment"

NOTES

  • Town's 16th-century architecture

  • Flower boxes drape windows

  • Cobblestone streets

  • Lake Hallstatt

  • Village has its very own waterfall

  • Accessible only on foot

  • Can hire pedal boats, rowboats and electric boats for the lake

  • Explore neighbouring towns, mountains and waterfalls

  • Authentic, old-world charm

  • Salzkammergut mountains

  • One of the world's oldest salt mines

  • Visitors can visit the mine via cable car and guided tour

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Salzkammergut mountains

THE MOUNTAINS

"Salzkammergut, Austria: Location & Facts"

NOTES

  • A region in north-central Austria

  • Region consists of the 'Traun River basin' and known for its lake and mountain scenery

  • Often called the 'Lake District'

  • Has more than 30 lakes, including the Atter, Traun, Mond, Wolfgang and Hallstatter.

  • Highest mountains in the region - the Dachstein Gruppe

  • Its name means "Salt Chamber Possessions" - referencing the salt deposits which have been mined since "the Iron Age".

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FAMOUS MOUNTAINS IN AUSTRIA

"Dachstein Krippenstein"

What can you do in the mountains?

What are they famous for?

Regions: Upper Austria

Highest Peak: Hoher Krippenstein (2108m)

WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO THERE?

  • Long-distance hikers

  • Climbers

  • Skiers

  • Snowshoes hikers

  • Freeriders

  • Prospective hunters

  • Cave lovers

  • Hut-goers

  • Climbing

  • Paragliding

  • Bike tours

WHAT DO THEY HAVE THERE?

  • Signposted snowshoe trails

  • Cross country skiing

  • Ultramodern cable car

  • Alpine huts and lodges - where you can relax or party!

REFLECTION

 

WHAT DO I LIKE SO FAR?​​

It seems to be a great place for tourists and those interested in skiing, as well as having beautiful scenery. I love the look of the snowy mountains and old architecture. I think I could create a really pretty and cosy environment using what I know already and I am excited to put together mood-boards of these things that'll help me visualise things a bit more.

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?

My favourite thing I have learned today is that your only form of transportation is walking or by boat. I think this is really interesting and I love the idea of narrow pathways and even just the sound of surrounding water. As I've learned that lakes and water are a massive part of the town Hallstatt, we should definitely incorporate this into our design. From my survey results, I learned that the majority of people did in fact find water calming so this would be a great addition. I am eager to begin gathering images to inspire my own design.

A collection of Images

HALLSTATT-DACHSTEIN

Salzkammergut

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Hallstatt-Dachstein - Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape

MOOD-BOARD INSPIRATION

MOOD-BOARD: Hallstatt

Pinterest Link: https://pin.it/2emtTkZ

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​​Kiera and I love the idea of a snowy mountain environment best, so this location in Winter is perfect. I feel as though we could combine a general snowy mountain scene with this location, and incorporate some of their architecture to make it a little more personal and unique. To do this, I plan to document a collection of images from scenes that I think would fit perfectly for Getaway.

MOOD-BOARD: Environment Inspiration

Pinterest Link: https://pin.it/5evO0sE

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MOOD-BOARD: Ski Resorts

Pinterest Link: https://pin.it/7hO0Ff2

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"Dachstein Krippenstein" located in Hallstatt is known to be a tourist attraction for long-distance hikers, climbers, ski tourers, snowshoe hikers, freeriders, prospective hunters, cave lovers and hut-goers! I like the idea of incorporating a hill of houses/ski village into the mountains as I think this would give it a nice homely/cosy touch. To get the best representation of this, I plan to look into the architecture specifically in Hallstatt and incorporate this into my own design. In addition to this, I think a great little detail could be cable cars/ski lifts, as I've learned they have cable cars to take tourists to the salt mine and ski lifts for skiers.

MOOD-BOARD: Cable Cars/Ski Lifts

Pinterest Link: https://pin.it/3FSkNQw

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MOOD-BOARD: Dachstein Krippenstein Ski Resort

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VIDEO: Blizzard in Hallstatt

DESIGN CHOICE

I found this video of a blizzard in Hallstatt which I found could be interesting to look at. Looking at videos of this location will inspire my imagination and help bring my vision to life. In this video you get an idea of what it might sound like to live their during a blizzard, and this specific video is used for relax, study and sleep therapy! Falling snow should definitely be an element of the environment that we include.

NEXT STEPS

I have a greater understanding of the location itself, but to be able to create an environment of my own, I'd like to gather some more inspiration around it. An important element of the game is the bird, the bird is the main character in which players direct across screen to collect musical objects. It would only be right to base the design of the bird off a species that are typically found in snowy/mountainous environments like this one, so I intend to find more out regarding this. Also, I'd like to look specifically at the species of tree they have in Austria or typically found in the mountains, so I can represent this realistically in my design.

Our Main Character - The Bird

WHICH BIRDS ARE FOUND IN THE MOUNTAINS?

"Snow-Birds"

Which birds are found in cold climates?

Which birds live in the mountains?

WHY A BIRD?

As our main character is a flying bird, I thought it would be best to identify the different species that live in similar climates and are typically found in the mountains. Once we have identified a species, we can choose one to progress with and begin to design and animate our own! We chose a bird to symbolise the freedom players have within the environment, and to experience flying as this breathtaking and once in a lifetime thing. Players will be in total control of this bird, immersing themselves into their surroundings, making them feel like they are taking flight in a room full of peace and tranquility - in other words, distracting them from negative thoughts or worries.

Kiera and I felt it was best to base the design of our bird off a species that are typically found in an environment like ours, so will identify our favourite through research.

BIRDS FOUND IN SNOWY ENVIRONMENTS

Top 10

  1. Red & White-winged Crossbills

  2. Northern Goshawk

  3. Snow Bunting

  4. Lapland Longspur

  5. Ross’s & Snow Geese

  6. Bohemian Waxwing

  7. Evening Grosbeak

  8. Snowy Owl

  9. Rosy-Finches

  10. Hoary & Common Redpolls

DESIGN CHOICE

After reading the description of each bird species, I was drawn to the 'Snow Bunting bird'. In terms of the environment itself, I feel as though this bird would look fitting in the space as well as be a good representation of a bird that might soar an environment like this one.​

WHAT IS A SNOW BUNTING?

"The subtly beautiful, sparrow-sized Snow Bunting breeds on the high Arctic tundra, where they nest in rock crevices lined with feathers, fur, grass, and moss. Often found foraging in flocks in snowy winter fields! 

SNOW BUNTING BIRDS

"Key Information - Snow Bunting"

Where are they found?

What do they look like?

FACTS

  • Also known as 'Plectrophenax nivalis'.

  • Bird Family - Buntings

  • A sparrow-sized bird that breeds in the Arctic

  • UK conservation - Amber

  • What do they eat? - Seeds and insects.

  • Usually around 16-17 cm in length.

  • Wingspan 32-28 cm

  • Weighs around 28-50g

  • An average lifespan of 3 years

  • Build their nests in rock crevices on bare mountain slopes or rock shores and lay four to six eggs.

WHERE AND WHEN TO SEE THEM?

Snow Buntings are best looked for in winter on coastal sites. They are most commonly seen during Winter, from late September, leaving in February or March. 

HOW TO IDENTIFY THEM?

Black and white during the summer, but buffy and streaky in the winter time! When they fly, they look black and white, with white patches on their wings and black wingtips.

SNOW BUNTING: REPRESENTATION

"Bird Book - Snow Bunting"

What do these birds represent?

NOTES

  • Sometimes seen in large flocks

  • Like giant snowflakes drifting across the open country

  • In Winter appear with a more cinnamon and white "white coat"

  • Only stays where temperature remains cold for a long time

  • Name comes from the Greek world Plektron, meaning a claw-like tool for striking a Greek stringed instrument - the lyre.

  • Male snow bunting birds sings to attract a lady-love! "A broken twittering warble".

BIRDS REPRESENTATION

In the Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska, they are regarded with "such respect" that people build nest boxes for them! It is believed that Snow Bunting birds have spiritual significance and bring "good fortune" to those that build nests for them.

WHAT DO SNOW BUNTING LOOK LIKE?

MOOD-BOARD: Snow Bunting Birds

Pinterest Link: https://pin.it/4eJn5Z6

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  • Small white and brown birds

  • Full, rounded body

  • Often travel in flocks

  • "Cinnamon and white winter coat"

  • Stripes on wings

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SNOW BUNTING IN ACTION

Considering we are eventually going to have to animate a flying bird, I thought I'd gather some reference images and videos to help us with this. Witnessing these birds flying will give us a greater understanding of the way they move, their wingspan and proportions when they fly. This combined will help us achieve a more realistic representation of a Snow Bunting bird!

REFLECTION

REASON FOR DESIGN CHOICES

SNOW BUNTING BIRD

We initially chose the idea of a bird to represent feeling free yet in control of an environment during moments where players might feel out of control or a lack of. Birds represent freedom and eternity, often due to their ability to soar through the sky. Every bird has their own symbolism, and the snow bunting is perfect for this. This bird in particular is used to cold climates and snowy surroundings, often found on the slopes of mountains.  As well as this, the bird itself is small and compact and has a sense of vulnerability about it, in this case, representing the player during one of their weaker moments. The player will want to be gentle with this bird as they fly through the environment, therefore, encouraging them to move slowly and delicately. This is a great way to influence slow movement and motion to reduce heart rate - physical regulation.

To summarise, I think this could be a great addition to the environment and would make a great design for the main character. It has delicate markings and a unique shape, which I think will work well with our chosen art style.

Details within the Environment

REASON FOR DESIGN

Small, intricate details are especially important within our visual design. We'd like to provide players with details they can attend to, and capture the small meaningful moments within the scene, through animation and still imagery. This will encourage players to think about what they are appreciative for and find themselves fascinated by the smallest details. I'd like to research into a particular style of architecture for our environment as well as species of foliage as these are both elements of the environment that will engage and appeal to players, especially in an environment like this. Having these details set in stone makes it easier for me, as Art Lead, to define the look of the game and direct the visual design during development. I plan to look into the architecture in Hallstatt, Austria as well as other ski resorts, and look into the different species of tree found in snowy mountain environments.

SKI ARCHITECTURE

"Deep Dive into American Ski Architecture"

NOTES

  • Transformed from summer resorts into winter recreation.

  • Uphill transport

  • Picturesque mountain villages

  • Architectural ornament

  • Essential part of the resort mountain experience

  • Rustic experience

  • Embrace a "mountain recreational lifestyle"

  • Brutalist modern style - disliked

  • "Snowbird's' architecture

  • Pointed rooves

  • Wooden pillars

  • Fences, balconies

  • Chimneys

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HALLSTATT, AUSTRIAN ARCHITECTURE

How can we represent this location in game?

  • Alpine landscape

  • Wood architecture

  • Steep mountains

  • Old boathouses

  • Monasteries

  • Castles

  • Abbeys

  • Churches

  • Criteron (iii) - valleys between mountains.

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WHAT CAN I SEE?​

  • Snowy Roofs

  • Pointy Roofs

  • Steeples

  • Irregular shaped Roofs

  • Balconies

  • Fences

  • Chimneys

  • Lakes

  • Trees

  • Small windows

WHAT CAN I SEE?​

  • Shades of orange, reds, yellows, browns, whites.

  • Flowers/vines/ivy on houses

  • Churches

  • Pathways

REFLECTION

REASON FOR DESIGN CHOICES

ARCHITECTURE

For the design of our environment, I think it will be best to combine both American ski architecture with the unique architecture of Hallstatt, Austria. To have our own take on its design I feel it would be best to create a composite of different locations and elements to achieve our own unique environment. I can experiment with different elements when I create my environment concepts which I plan to do this week. I like the idea of having a unique village and houses layered on top of each other down a mountain slope, consisting of chimneys and irregular shaped roofs. As well as this, trees and foliage will bring the environment together by giving it a bit of life and reference to nature. These things I can experiment with and create concepts for, before creating the final designs.

TREES THAT GROW IN THE MOUNTAINS

"Mountain Ecosystem"

Which trees are typically found in snowy environments/the mountains?

NOTES

  • Species found in mountain regions are usually Pines, Firs, Spruces and Larches.

  • Some areas have broad-leaved deciduous trees and smaller plants found beneath them.

  • Lupins and pasque flowers are low shrubs that are examples of plants that grow beneath trees in meadows.

  • Tree line forests - dominated by only one or few different types of tree

  • Usually broad-leaved

  • Alpine trees - grow abundant. Lose their leaves during winter but change hues in the autumn.

  • Also known as broadleaf trees, they grow broad and flat trees as opposed to coniferous needles.

  • Trees that grow in the alps - oak, beech, elm, chestnut, mountain ash and birch.

  • Pine - scaly orange-brown barks.

  • Different types of Fir Trees.

  • Conifer trees - e.g. pines are adapted to survive higher up on mountains where deciduous trees cannot live.

Images taken from Google Images

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MOOD-BOARD: Mountain Trees

Pinterest Link: https://pin.it/1VHZmrI

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WHAT CAN I SEE?​

  • Skinny, thin trees

  • Broad leaves

  • Sparse

  • Rounded and pointed

  • Shades of browns and greens

  • Droopy

REFLECTION & REFLECTION

THEME RESEARCH

I feel I have a good amount of research around different locations and elements to be able to create a composite that reflects my findings. I am excited to begin making environment and asset concepts and feel inspired by my research today to put a lot of detail and effort into it. I am happy with what I have learned, and know I have enough content to create a detailed Art Bible once I have experimented with and established an appropriate art style.

NEXT STEPS

Tomorrow, I plan to begin creating these concepts through simple drawings, sketches and environment mockups. This will be a quick task to help myself prepare for asset creation in a few weeks time, in around 2 weeks I am scheduled to begin the Art Bible which will require me to practice with different surfaces and materials beforehand, so this was extremely helpful and I am glad I can check this off my to do list.

Further documentation for this can be found here:

Concepts & Mock-ups

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