Recently, my Studio one class has concluded What Thou Art, a private game jam between classmates in which we adapt Mario’s Word 1-1 into the style of an established artist. This task was a test of my time management and problem-solving skills under pressure, and my failure to appropriately address the work makes this an excellent learning opportunity.
What Thou Art: Mario/Rene Magritte Post-mortem
What Thou Art was a project in which we were required to adapt Mario’s World 1-1 into the style of an established artist. We had the creative license to make changes to Mario’s gameplay to serve the overall aesthetic.
Approaching the task was a tough endeavour. The brief was very vague about the requirements of the task – only that the final product is an adaptation of Mario World 1-1 modified into the style of an artist. The brief left the door open to interpretation which caused major roadblocks in brainstorming ideas. While brainstorming, I reached a deadlock where I couldn’t come up with where and how to make meaningful changes to Mario’s world to serve Magritte’s. For example, making changes to gameplay was a tricky proposition, since it would widen the scope considerably amongst adjusting all of the visual assets to suit. Adversely, I wanted to use the meaning that Magritte instils in his artwork to inform the visuals in What Thou Art. However, Magritte has intentionally stated that his work isn’t meant to convey meaning and instead is intended to be humorously open to interpretation. The deadlock wasted three days of progress; I felt as though all of my options were closed off or too ambitious to pull off in the small amount of time I had.
The deadlock left me in a mood slump which negatively impacted the entire task’s productivity and caused lots of confusion and desperation to complete something. After consulting with other students, their consensus was to compromise by changing the visuals with no consideration for gameplay, unless the final product required it. To avoid losing time again, consultation with peers and teachers needs to happen immediately. Time spent stuck in a rut is time lost forever. I need to take the experience of being in a “rut” and use the experience to recognise when a brainstorming session is productive or just a grasp at straws. In future, I need to be more agile and source my ideas in a strict period, particularly if the project’s turnaround time is as narrow as What Thou Art.
To mimic Magritte’s realistic style, I made some of Thou Art’s 3D assets were made in-house to serve his aesthetic. Creating these assets took more time out of the limited turnaround period, but the assets themselves provided a realistic imitation of Magritte’s style. Learning much of the skills I’d learned over the course of my Certificate qualification meant that the time required producing the models was elongated. However, my limited experience with modelling and texturing resulted in an end product that wasn’t of a high enough quality to match Magritte’s realism. Production time can be cut significantly with more practice creating assets within 3DS Max, in addition to taking advantage of its advanced features to allow it to integrate better with Unity. I also used Substance Designer to create and modify PBR textures for the game. However, Substance also didn’t seamlessly integrate with Unity’s material systems, and as a result ended up with a sub-quality product
Time management affected What Thou Art’s progression, particularly with regards to my daily routine negatively affecting my ability to get long and consistent hours into the project. In amongst managing work, relationships, class, exercise and my personal life, achieving the necessary 18 hours of work to make sufficient progress was hard to squeeze in, and some factors stood out:
- Walking into campus in the mornings takes up to an hour and a half, as well as consumes a lot of energy, and it is too easy while on campus to let the exhaustion distract me
- Working during the afternoon on off-campus hours introduced anxiety into the hours beforehand, always checking the clock to ensure I’m not missing a shift. As a result, working undistracted was not easy for extended periods of time.
To reclaim lost time, walks to campus should be limited to mornings where progress isn’t essential first-thing in the morning, and the work that does get done should work around the days I am working. It might be wise to do work after a shift. Furthermore, doing work away from campus and home, where I am also without the internet may prevent distractions.