Film-making crossover part 1

As a film-maker and story-teller getting started in the game design industry, I’m finding the transition challenging.

There’s a lot of cross-over in the storytelling systems – the use of sound, camera position, composition, and even lighting. Not to mention, the rules of character development are the same in any medium.

But we’re not doing any of that yet. It may be many months before we get anywhere near doing the things I, as a film-maker, am familiar with – at least, in the ways I’m familiar with.

Right now, we’re just trying to create a working game environment – getting the look, feel, and mechanics down. I liken it to the set design phase of video production: we’re building the space. This comes after you have a script, but before you can film any story. You have to get all the stuff you want into the place where you want it. It’s a fun phase because you get to build things and buy things, and see your vision come to life in a real, tangible environment. Except, unlike in set design where you walk into an existing world and re-arrange to taste, in video games we start with the laws of physics themselves. It puts me in mind of one of my favorite things: Cosmos.

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first, invent the universe.

-Carl Sagan

We’re not designing a set. We’re making a universe. A custom universe – designed specifically for the game we want to play. Oh, and none of the stuff is tangible, and we don’t get to go on fun shopping sprees. Everything is made out of thought, and math. It’s very zen.

Yet many of the same factors remain. The positions of lights, sounds, textures, colors of the environment, the laws of physics – all must serve the narrative. It’s cool, but figuring out how is tricky. We just know some of these decisions are going to haunt us in the long run.

Anyway, while Reinan slaves away getting the engine to a place where it can accept input from us, Isaac is slaving away at 2-D concepts and empties for models and I’m honing my 3D modeling skills with tutorials from

It turns out, art department in a game design world is mostly a function of properly placed edge loops, and a lot of texturing.

I’m making myself three lists: First, things I know I already have a handle on (though there’s always more to learn):

  • Dialogue
  • Plot
  • Storytelling in a visual medium including:
    • Lighting as part of narrative
    • Shot composition
    • Very basics of block modeling

Things I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to know, but don’t know yet:

  • Better modeling
  • How to texture in blender.
  • How to export from blender to our game engine (we’re using Ogre, and while an exporter exists, it is exporting the meshes without scale, which is messing with our normals. To put this in perspective, last week I didn’t know what a normal was.)
  • How animations and texture properties in blender translate to our engine (Ogre).
  • How to animate in blender?
  • Skeletal rigging.

Things I don’t know I don’t know yet:

  • ????????

My goal at the moment is to take things out of the last list and put them in one of the other two. CGCookie is helping. So is failure.

Tally ho.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *