On art and narrative 

Since the conclusion of my 4th year thesis project, I have been thinking about the role of narrative in media; in particular the relationship of how messages are portrayed, and how an audience actually perceives it. 

Marshall McLuhan said “The medium is the message”. In that, how a message is perceived ultimately manifests itself in the form of how it’s delivored. However, this question of “how it’s delivered” is what separates a simple object and a sophisticated art piece. 

In 4th year, I was lucky enough to be taught by Max Dean, and he once asked us: “When is an art piece complete?” Back then, I thought the answer was “when the artist feels that nothing further can be added to the piece to convey his idea or message further.” Now I know it’s much more than that. An art piece, whether an artist perceives it as a success or failure, is never independent of itself. Even a simple art piece is an extension of the artist, to the artwork, and to the audience. And when I say the artist, I mean every part of him/her.

An art piece doesn’t stop with the art piece. If that were the case, art would never produce an emotional impact. It is an invitation by the artist to share an important piece of the narrative that is part of their life, and a trust to an unknown audience that recieves it. That is why an artist is sensitive towards his art and why art is not meant for everyone. 

An update on where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to 

It’s been a while since my last post. Today I decided to download the WordPress app to keep up to date whenever I have time. 

I recently graduated graduated from my New Media program at Ryerson. I was a year and a bit late from having to divide my time working part time working on a research project contract job at UfT, part time laser cutting at Ryerson, and overnight cash at Sobeys.
  As of right now my contract with Ryerson has ended and they no longer need me as they have opened up a lab for students that includes my job and more, and the project for UfT has been suspended temporary (hopefully not permeant as we were really close to completion).  All I have left is my overnight job at Sobeys which I work half the week to cover my expenses. 

Because I now have more free time than I have had in a very long time, I’ve decided to, for a while, dedicate as much time as I can to working on an interactive narrative art project which I started on a year ago but have made lackluster progress. I’ll discuss that in my next post. 

Games as a medium – issue of stylization? 2D RPGs and Visual Novels

The past week I’ve been playing with RPG Maker VX Ace, a game developer software that allows you to create your own rpg (role playing) games.

As you can see from the above, the graphics are 2D and look very old school. The objects and sprites in the game are actually separated as square “tiles” , which may act as collision, activate a script, etc.
You can actually get away from the default tiles if that’s not the appeal you’re going for, but all in all it will still be a 2D top down game.

Systems of encourage / Achievements

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The above image is a photo which I took at my little brother’s Kumon Center. It’s a chart that shows the students’ progress , however it does so in a way as an achievement system that encourages the students to work hard or continue to do so. The two columns on the left display if the student is working at a bronze,silver, or gold level – with bronze being 1 grade level higher, silver being 2 grade levels higher, and gold being 3 grade levels higher. The two columns on the right show the various milestones – such as whether they have reached C level before grade 3. The columns to the left edge show the number of years they have been a Kumon member and whether or not they are a “rising star”, meaning that they are on their way to earning a medal.
Finally the column to the very left is their current grade.

Single player vs Multiplayer designs – how they’re similar, but mostly : how they’re different

If you haven’t already read my short thesis paper on the Application of Game Theory within Online Gaming Culture and Institutional Education, I highly recommend you check it out (it’s a short read, I promise!).

In it, I discuss how video games have become a social norm in today, that modern video games often contain complex themes and obstacles that parallel to those in reality, and that online virtual spaces within video games possess many elements of choice making and problem solving that mirror Game Theory. 

Right off the bat – I’d like to make the distinction that single player video games are vastly different than multiplayer video games. Even in the case of most video games, where there is a single player “campaign” , alongside either a multiplayer arena/pvp (player vs. player) or co-op (play with a friend) game mode, the two need to be seen as two separate entities within the same family – almost like brother and sister. 

The main reason for this is that the design that goes into each has a totally different objective.
Let me start with the single player objective:

In the single player campaign of a game, a player usually begins by being given an introduction as to the identity of the player as in the character they are playing as (usually the protagonist), the “scene goal” of the character (as in what they need to achieve at the moment to progress further through the game), and the “life goal” of the character (what needs to be accomplished to win the game).

So for example, using the most simplest and perhaps most well known of video game characters: In the classic Mario games, Princess Peach finds herself kidnapped by the main antagonist Bowser, and it’s up to the player, identified as Mario, needs to conquer each castle (scene goal) in the mushroom kingdom until he finds the castle that Princess Peach is held in, and defeat Bowser to rescue the princess (life goal). 

Continued…