012: Semester Wrap-Up

With CHROMA less than a week away, I thought I’d tie up some lingering thoughts on my faculty critique session from last Wednesday, Thorn Village as a project, and set some loose goals for the summer leading into thesis year. Shall we?

My critique went well overall, but even so, I find that it’s difficult to celebrate myself and the work I’ve done this spring. As always, I feel like I could have done much more. The project is still in-progress. I continue to struggle with quirks in code and game mechanics. My models and UV maps could use some more finesse.

For a first-time foray into Unity and Blender, though, it wasn’t a lost cause. I was able to show Kahtcha’s quirky little arcade through Google Cardboard VR. (Special thanks to John for lending his phone for the viewing!) Point-and-click movement may not have worked as intended, but it was rewarding to see that space come to life in a new way.

Kahtcha’s Arcade – Editor View – Apr. 24, 2019

I’m also wrestling with tension between Thorn Village’s aesthetic differences in 3D and 2D. My faculty members agreed that the preliminary sketches had more life, energy, visual interest, and “me” to them than the VR room did. My inexperience with 3D definitely contributed. I struggled to inject myself into this space, and directly translating my two-dimensional sketches to three-dimensional models is not in my realm of knowledge or skill. There must be a way, but I think it will come with more practice than I could muster in a semester.

100 Days of Blips – Continue?

So…what’s next? I want to continue this path towards making non-games, or games which align with my personal themes of comfort. In my mind, “Walk With Me” (the BFA project I always talk about) is one of my most successful endeavors. It met its goals, I polished it more post-thesis. I had lots of fun and I think of it very fondly.

This poses some issues that have been simmering in my mind for awhile:

  • I don’t want current/future games to be carbon-copies of “Walk With Me” in concept or execution
  • The current release exists as a complete game, so I hold new projects to the same level of completeness
  • I feel as though I need to exceed myself with every game I create, or I am not satisfied

I worry (too often) that I won’t reach that level with my new work. While I want to challenge myself with new things, I worry (again, too often) that I’m missing out on critical moments to expand on what I was already proficient in: 2D illustration/game-making.

100 Days of Blips – Cosmos Collection

Over the summer, I think I’d like to take RPGMaker and 2D/pixel-based video game development for another run. I want to build upon my existing skills with the engine through animations, interaction branches, and UI/UX. Throw in a custom-built Arduino-based game controller and I think I’d have my dream project set for thesis!

Who knows, Thorn Village might translate better that way. Only time will tell.

I want to thank Amanda for showing me Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s creations. They’re an honest inspiration for how something weird, small, and simple can affect players. (“Witch Egg”, “Pink Zone”, & “Horrible Forest” were some of my favorites!)

Maybe I’ll write some bits on those in conversation with my work, and draw from her interview with Artforum…I’m a nerd for that stuff. Shameless plug: I’m compiling my current writings on video games, emotional trauma, mental illness, playtime, and how all of these interwoven parts inform me and my studio practice.


As a special end-note:

Congratulations to all of the second-year grads! Your exhibition was stellar, and I cannot wait to see what you create in the future. It’ll be difficult for us first-years to fill your shoes. Shoot for the moon, my friends!

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