Babel’s team had a great time in its first outing at Bit Bazaar’s Arcade. Bit Bazaar is a Toronto celebration of comics, arts and crafts, and the local game development community, brought to life at Bento Miso by Jennie Faber and her team of awesome volunteers. For the short amount of time that I was able to peel myself away from Babel’s station, I was able to get to know some really diverse and engaging talents from Toronto’s comics and game development scene.

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Although we are really only one month into crucial development time, and even less if we count that towards building our showcase level, it was a great way for us to really come to face how to develop as part of a community rather than in isolation. It was also a great milestone for us to aim for. Some might say a little prematurely, given that we were rubbing shoulders with game devs with over a year in development for the games that they are showcasing. At the same time, we already share a common understanding that, regardless of the game, the development process comes not only great design and focused themes, but a lot of consistent hard work. We learned a lot from these experienced developers and how they connected with their audience at the Bit Bazaar Market.

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We generally got great critiques and feedback from people who engaged with our niche game, and we really want to thank people who tried out our game to give us such thoughtful feedback! We heard back that the atmosphere clicked with a lot of people who tried our game. Some found that the pacing and melancholy was different from the norm but was an interesting vision that usually isn’t articulated in video games. Some really got it, that it was meant to be an artistic interactive experience in the same vein as games like Dear Esther and Cat and the Coup, or even closer to arthouse cinema, from which it gained its inspiration (Chungking Express and other Wong Kar-Wai films). Personally, I am delighted by the interest from academics, who see potential of Babel as a way to describe and contextualize difficult narratives of political and personal identity within the format of interactive puzzles.

At the same time, we want to push the boundaries a bit further to blur the categories of artistic and emergent gameplay experiences, so we will look to redesign better puzzles, both relying on logical and lateral puzzle-solving. We know that we can push the emotional emphasis to the game a lot better, while more gradually revealing themes and conflict of the narrative. We will keep honing the script, level design, art, and game logic to that end!

Thank you Bento Miso and the Bit Bazaar organizational team for such a great experience.
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Alexander Martin (@Droqen of Starseed Pilgrim fame) checking out our game! Thanks for the feedback! Looking forward to incorporating the changes.

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Yasin really liked our game! Thank you for all the fantastic feedback!

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Thank you team! From L to R: Me (Tanya), Blake Withers, Mikki Benaglia, and Rob Richard.

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For the video walkthrough of the prototype level, click here!

 

This is just something that I just started developing after coming out of Bit Bazaar and the first Babel build. I started thinking up the idea of creating a slice-of-life story of a girl who grew up in an entertainment agency and wants more than anything else to step into the role of an idol, just because that’s all that she grew up with. As everything else that is so manufactured and under the watchful eyes of another, I think there’s room to create a world of dreams as well as insurmountable nightmares, pressures, and fears.

I created this chapter in Twine over the course of eight hours (with plot outlines that I’m not showing you, of course!). Some GIFs are sourced from performances. Unmoving images are my own.

You can play the first chapter here.

Just newly built on Dec 7th, 2013!

Here is the artwork from Babel’s first prototype, built in Unity and 3DS Max. Story and art driven, Babel was a challenging one month build because I had to ensure that the first chapter’s script was comprehensible to the world that I had to level design for, while keeping the authenticity of East Asian urbanity. I had over 75% of all model assets to complete for a six-minute puzzle game.

It is an experimentation with a painterly acrylic look to the art assets. The rest of the models – including the NPC – are created by Mikki Benaglia and Blake Withers. Rob Richard was the lead for programming, real-time deployment and optimization.

Gameplay: You throw a projectile to hack into electronics, in order to reveal game dialogue. We are going to continue to develop this gameplay mechanic further so that there’s more iterative puzzle solving.

Our timeline for this build:
2 weeks of preproduction: Script writing, script editing, level design, asset list, concept art, core systems
2 weeks of production: Voiceover recording, promotional printing materials, modelling assets, building the level, coding scripts, lighting, video editing

In engine (Unity):

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In Max:

 

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Babel_Preview_FavoriteElectronicsSome of my favorite electronics.

 

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Double Blind is a project that first started in Aug 2013′s Indiecade/Oculus VR Slow Game Jam.
It is a multiplayer PC first person game using the Oculus Rift Head-Up display.

It features a tag game between two to four players, where one person plays at the Medusa, and are able to freeze other players in their tracks. The other players seek out fortunes in the ruined temple within which she resides…

I was the Lead Artist for this project. The majority of the art assets, excluding pillars and the Medusa herself, are created by me. I also designed the look and feel of the world based on Creative Director’s greybox. I designed lighting and also build some shaders in engine. It is built in Unity.

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Created a large format store-front display for Le Chateau Eaton Centre location using 3D rendering and design of a steam train. The main focus of my work was on texturing, composition, lighting, rendering, and post-processing in 3DS Max and Photoshop direct for print. Collaborative work with modeller and in-house graphic designer for additional Logotypes and snow effects.

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Feb 2015: Updated business card for 2015 that matches with my older painting for Babel (Solace State).

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Dec 2013: Promotional material for Babel designed in time for Bit Bazaar Winter Market (Dec 7 2013). Small painting on business card by David Kan.

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This is the first concept art that I did for Babel. It was at first just a vague idea in my head that I wanted to do something about Eastern Asia and mass consumption. I started the drawing in Hong Kong, specifically in the Wan Chai neighborhood. I finished it in Toronto.

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Freelance illustration for Autodesk, using Autodesk Ink app on tablet. About: The affect of being scrutinized by such disinterested parties.

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Autodesk freelance illustration, using Autodesk Ink app on tablet. About: The underside of the city shows a different palette of conversations, running counter to all that rigidity, all those grid lines.

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Autodesk freelance illustration, using Autodesk Ink app on tablet. About: In the mirror, she has to think twice about the subversion of the object into Subject.

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An area concept piece for Cindering, an adventure game. My original IP.

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Babel is a single-player 3D video game that encourages the player to explore and solve puzzles to piece together a complex, narrative-driven world. This world is set in an alternate-history, current-day Hong Kong. This vertically structured urban jungle will tell the story of a people with contrasting cultures and ideologies, with dreams of improving their social standings, coloured by their personal ethics and fears. As you search for a missing friend, you are drawn into a brewing discontent between an underground group claiming to speak on behalf of the people, and a conglomerate that owns most of the city.

I’ve since changed the art direction for this significantly, since I created this in a few days in time for an ideation roundtable with local game devs! Nonetheless, it shows some of the themes that I will be developing for, even though I will likely change the Engine from UDK to Unity.


Please view in full screen in HD for optimal quality. Thank you.

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Wastes is a fully realized environment running real-time in UDK. It is meant to be an art showcase piece rather than a gameplay environment. In a team of five, we created a post-apocalyptic environment from ideation to real-time deployment.

This cinematic showcases our vision with the storied, post-apocalyptic space.

I played dual roles of Producer and Environment Modeller for this project. I had ensured the quality and timeliness of our art team to create a realtime interior environment, and advised on scale of work in cooperation with level designer, art director, and executive producer.

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The fire escape sleeping area is the asset that I independently created for the environment. It is rendered above (with grey background) in Marmoset. The ones in level are real-time in UDK.

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A parturition surgical bed for an atmospheric thriller showcase piece. Real-time in UDK.

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Original concept art piece for Parturition Ward.
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Low-high poly process.

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