Bed Warmers-Game Play

If you are playing this game you can click at the start of the game to skip the intro. After testing we got bored of waiting for the 100th time and we thought people marking it might too…

Anton’s Attempt

Jev’s Attempt

Jack’s Attempt

Dimitri’s Attempt

All Options

Not really how the game is meant to be viewed but means you can get a quick overview…

Dropbox Download link

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/pe2l3t87a289nyr/AAA_7xmIDh-zWiWO4Nq-L2Kha?dl=0

Download the zip file for the device you are using. Unzip and enjoy! (Note this product must not be used for emotional blackmail)

 

Bed Warmers – Testing and feedback

Our Reflections

Now that our interactive video has been constructed we are enjoying playing it through and exploring all of its different variations and plot paths. What we think we did well was building the world in which the character inhabits – playing / watching genuinely feels as though you are in the characters head, and the flow and continuity of the settings and items in the room are consistent and logical. Set pieces such as the gig, radio excerpts and photo album are entertaining and believable. There are a couple of issues, mainly tech related that could be improved upon in future. It was apparent that when using the radio (on the Mac version) that no radio tuner cursor appears until the mouse is moved, so it may not be apparent that the player should use the mouse to scan the frequencies. Another thing to note is that, being an app created in unity with the non-linear functionality of the radio tuner it is not possible to play the video in a browser, so all users must download the app. We have concluded that this is a worth while trade off as the file is available for both PC and Mac and is easily distributed due to the small file size, and the radio tuner is a crucial mechanism in our story so it is important that we did include it.

Play Testing

We also put the video in the hands of some people that had nothing to do with the creation process because as much as we enjoyed the experience, we knew what to expect and where to find all of the content. The first thing that we noticed is that the majority of players, no matter which route or outcome they finished on in the plot were intrigued by the setup, which was a good sign as our intention was to draw the player in with the introduction. Users were generally extremely keen to find the solution to the mystery, and would show genuine interest in making a decision, which we took to be a major sign of interactive engagement. Another common reaction was that most players, at the end of their plot journey would laugh heartily at the outcome, no matter which of the plot routes we took. This is interesting because we had been thinking of the outcomes as fitting into win/lose categories, however seeing as enjoyment has come from all possible outcomes, any outcome can be enjoyed by a player, and therefore can be considered a positive experience.  We found that a typical run through for a first time player was often quite quick, as they would very quickly pick an option that would lead to a conclusion. Although this did mean that our testers were successfully completing the story, we would find it meant that the majority of them were missing out on a lot of content which we would consider the most important / entertaining. This is something we have thought about improving for any future projects.

Social Media Test

Seeing as a download is required to play this game we thought it would be interesting to use social media to test it in a way that can be enjoyed by the casual online user. A Facebook Live stream was set up which incorporated the  video being played live by Niall and Ben and Facebook users could comment to suggest actions for them to take .

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The live stream got 107 views and 38 interactions. Those who interacted were often passionately trying to give their view on which action should be taken, which was the same reaction as during the play tests. The key difference was that the nature of social media meant that the live stream was viewed by an audience we did not specifically have to ask to play the video, they were casual users who just had to click a link to join in with the experience. Another interesting point is that this setup meant that users could discuss (and argue) between themselves about what the next action should be. This meant that a video we had designed as a single player experience had become in effect a multi-player platform by being incorporated into social media.

Conclusions

Overall, we did well to not only achieve our goal of creating an engaging experience, but also having the unexpected result of creating a multi-player experience with multiple entertaining outcomes. We did notice that a typical play-through can miss a lot of content which we would look to change for two reasons. The first reason is that there is content that we believe to be the most crucial or entertaining, such as the radio excerpts or the festival gig.  Another reason to make this change is that if many users have a similar experience with the video they would be able to discuss this with each other and be able to compare notes on what happened to their character, sharing their enjoyment with others. To address this we would look to create ways that any user would eventually come across certain plot points regardless of the actions they took.  In future we would look to make similar projects more complicated, with plot routes which are purposeful dead ends and loops. We would build in more structures that prioritise certain pieces of content so that more than one option leads to this piece of content meaning that although a player may be moving forward through the plot, a change of behaviour is required to break the cycle and reach a desired goal.

Bed Warmers – Production/Post Production

Production

By Niall

For the set of this film, we chose my bedroom – I live a pretty minimal life and don’t have many possessions, so it was easy to turn my barren room into a post-party hellhole. We collected the oddly large amount of alcohol in the house, scattered it around the table-tops, and threw around some old clothes. Hey presto – you’re life’s a mess in no time!

 

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The Set

 

 

Andreas brought down his go-pro for the shoot, which was attached to a belt and wrapped around my chest. We thought about using a helmet for affixing the camera to me, but it just made me seem unnaturally tall with arms too low down my torso. The big light in my room was turned on to counteract the harsh light coming in from the window.

Ben’s makeup was a particularly funny thing to do – instead of real makeup, we used tacky face-paint, adhering to the traits of the try-hard party-animal student characters we created. It was quite horrifying really. More than quite. Especially when he rubbed ketchup on his chest and put tomato paste in his teeth. Yeesh.

 

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Ben showing the girls how it’s done

 

For the ‘leave’ and ‘psycho’ endings, we GENUINELY dropped a go-pro out of a window. we had Andreas and Dom down in the garden with a sheet, ready to catch on my cue. It felt strange to be dropping hundred’s of pounds worth of camera out of a window so casually, but the result was ace in the end. It was a struggle to not get a shot of either the sheet or me sticking my head out of the window, but we managed it after i perfected my release.

The audio taken from the go-pro was fairly hissy and tinny, so we spent a couple of hours in the newton studios re-dubbing mine and Ben’s dialogue. We used our fave vocal set up – a sennheiser 441 and a U87 – to do all the lines and as usual it worked a treat. While we were in there, we hashed together three ‘radio broadcasts’ with each member of the team contributing to one. Ben and I made a Rick and Morty style advert for wigs, Andreas did a wacky music show announcement, and Dom did a BBC style news bulletin.

 

Post Production

By Ben Jackson

The game was made in Unity. Using the code that I spent too long trying to make work. But more on that later…

First I took the footage into Adobe Premiere Pro and edited each ‘scene’ as an individual subsequence this meant that I could quickly jump in and out of scenes as well as having a master sequence that I could use to check if the edits flowed properly. I also used the master sequence to add a colour grade over the project to give it a more cinematic feel over the washed out go-pro look. A slight de-warp was applied to make the wide angle lens effect less extream.

 

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The Master sequence with multiple paths as layers

 

 

Once the editing was done it was time to head back into the studio to dub over Niall’s dialogue, (see above) this was then exported from ProTools and dropped into the corresponding sequence. In ProTools, we added compression and a slight reverb to make the voice have that ‘inside your head’ feel. We also used ProTools for the music track at the start as well as the radio adverts. It was important to get all the clips to the same level so that the user wasn’t constantly having to change their volume, which would have broken their immersion. Finally, I exported each subsequence as an h.264 file ready to import into Unity.

In Unity, I added all the files to the project. This converts them into Ogg Theora format which makes them easier to play in the unity engine. This does mean a loss in quality, but from my own experience with games, quality is pointless without a good story. (*Cough* Crysis *Cough*). To enable the videos to be seen I used the old school method of using a cube to project the image on as a texture. This meant making unlit textures for every video file I had. Note the word ‘unlit’, the first tests I did, I ended up lighting and they came out sunset red. It took a whole night of panicking before I realised… The video textures are fired using a script called run.cs, which basically says when the scene opens to play the video. Then another script called ‘Wait.js’ waits for a programmed set of time and then goes to a different scene.  I use public ‘Vars’ or variables to set the time and destination so that I could reuse the script over rewriting it. Must like Bill Gates said “Choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

An interactive video that follows on automatically isn’t interactive

So to fix this I added the options scene. This is just the last frame of the clip behind some 3D text which shows the options available. This is again powered by a script that can be reused to go to different places. The script also accesses the “rend.material.color” function to change the colour of the text as the user’s mouse hovers over each menu item, I then added a beep tone to the mouse up action. These are both important as they give user feedback and helps guide the user through the game without needed extra text.  Much like the pull side of the door having a handle and a push side with a push plate. Rather than both having a blooming handle!!!

Next, I chose to tackle the radio scene. This took two nights to program and still is a little broken. But the effect was worth it. The effect uses the user’s mouse position to affect the X translation of the cube acting as the tuning stick. I then use X position to test whether the stick is over one of the channels (2,5,8). If they are the white noise is turned off and the radio show is played. There is a slight lag as the files swap over but this helps the user work out where the channels are so I kept it in. As the channel plays, I also enable the click function which moves the player to the next sequence. (This is easier to say than do, See below)

 

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What my nightmares look like now

 

The final bit of coding was the camera which is just a slideshow cut up to act as a camera playback. This then cycles between images as the user hits the mouse button. At the start, if they choose to remember the go to ending ‘A’ but if they choose to go to the end of the photos they end at ‘B’. I also had to double back on myself as I realised that I disabled the mouse cursor during the radio scene so I quickly enabled the mouse after the radio scenes.

Finally, I made an over the top credit scene which we’ve all grown to love in ‘indie’ games. To do this I used After Effects to create multiple text layers and then automated a camera to move around the 3d space.  Vola a cheesy outro sequence!

The Code that was forgotten

Originally we added some background music to the piece this was done using an audio source than never got destroyed as the scenes changed. We then realised that it clashed with other music sounds so I automated the mixer to turn up and down a fader to kill the music. After all that work we decided to scrap the music completely. I left the code in as a little tribute to that one guitar loop.

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RIP KillSound.CS

References:

Gify.(2017)’ The Hunger Games'[Online] Available at: https://giphy.com/gifs/the-hunger-games-WlvFyTDoXn9Uk/ [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017]

Sources:

Unity Manual. (2017) [Online] Available at: https://docs.unity3d.com/Manual/index.html [Accessed up till 27 Apr. 2017]

Unity Scripting API (2017) [Online] Available at: https://docs.unity3d.com/ScriptReference/index.html [Accessed up till 27 Apr. 2017]

Interactive Film – Pre Production & Planning

For our CMP group project, our initial goal was to try something different. Faced with three options, we quickly turned to interactive film.
We set up a meeting that same day and had a brainstorming session.
Murder mystery was the first feasible idea, we thought the simple concept would lend itself well as a balance to the complexity of interactivity. We played around with a few ideas, but ended up with something even simpler.

The main character wakes up in a room. There’s bottles and empty beer cans everywhere. He’s obviously feeling very rough from the night before.
There’s a bunch of objects in the room that might serve as clues to where he is, and why he’s there. As icing on the cake, there’s a woman lying next to him, and he doesn’t know who she is.

At this point the character stands up, panicking, the camera switches from 1st person view to 3d person, and he’s now faced with a series of decisions. This makes the basis for our project.

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I personally have always liked the idea of mixing game and film. I almost find the story progression and cut scenes in games more intriguing than the actual playing, and I’m not sure I have the patience for a lot of films out there. This left me baffled for a few years… Not really knowing what was wrong. In steps Telltale games from California, and literally put to words what I’ve been after. Every single one of their games is heavily focused on the story, and the characters, but don’t think for a second you can sit still. Because if your interaction with the game isn’t swift enough your favourite character might die and not come back.

To make the interaction smooth, and to improve the feeling of the user experience –
we took direct inspiration from the aforementioned Telltale Games, which specialty is user interactivity-styled pieces of film (games).
A thing they do a lot in their games, and specifically in Batman: The Telltale Series game (Telltale games, 2016) is have a set of choices displayed over a screen that is moving slightly. The game won’t continue until you’ve made your choice.blog pic 1.jpg

Another Telltale which is a good example is The Wolf Among Us game (Telltale games, 2013) where they offer the user small non-meaningful choices as the story progresses to enhance the experience. This will result in something happening, but not altering the meaning or progression of the story.cmp pic 2.jpeg

We wanted to include some of these styles of interactivity in our film, one plan for doing this was filming the character for 20-30 seconds, and finding an appropriate place to loop the footage. Serving as one place for the user to make a choice.

Another feature we wanted to implement was a slideshow type thing displayed on a camera. The player is supposed to scroll through the pictures, and can at any time right click move through. The twist is that there’s a situation that’s escalating in these photos, and if the player flicks through too many, he/she will be thrown into a completely different ending. By using different types of interactive features we’re hoping to immerse the viewer/player further into the experience.

For further immersion we made use of high quality audio throughout the game. We did overdubbing voices, we all did our own radio advertisements, and we even wrote a little intro song for the start of the film/game. We felt its important that we make use of our strengths, and audio production is something we’re all comfortable doing, so that influenced our final outcome for the better.

For ease when coding all this, we planned it all as sections in time, grid 1+2+3+4 corresponds to a certain order of things happening, every grid has its own set of choices that will alter the story, and even let the user experience different endings based on what choices he/she would go for.

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This is an excerpt from our pre-production sheet, which was shared conveniently for the team via Google Drive. This is grid 2.1 in the story, where the user has made a choice to examine a radio. The idea is that scrolling through frequencies will play different radio messages, which will lead the user to a new place in the story.
This particular interactivity is more ambitious than just clicking through to the next bit in the story, we felt it important to showcase our ideas and the interactivity in different ways.

In the end we’re hoping all these things end up in a piece of enjoyable and playable content. By doing a lot of research and planning we’re confident we’ll achieve our goals!

Telltale Games, Batman: The Telltale Series, video game, PlayStation 4, San Rafael, California, United States

Telltale Games, The Wolf Among Us, video game, PlayStation 4, San Rafael, California, United States