Zen of the A470
Designed during the Dimension10 training scheme with project partner Mike Burvill, the brief was to design a fun obstacle game in which the user has to navigate a car from North to South Wales along the notoriously long and slow A470. Along the way they'll encounter problems such as the ubiquitous log lorries, crawling caravans, stray sheep, etc. Small graphics should be incorporated depicting major landmarks.
Research was compiled and design ideas were storyboarded. The look and feel of the graphics and game play was finalized during the production process.
In order to provide a visual structure for the project a map of the entire road, from Glan Conwy to Cardiff, was printed out (sourced from multimap) and stitched together in Photoshop. Photographs and descriptions of the landscape around the road, specific landmarks and points of historical interests, specific events sourced from the Internet were collected and linked to the map. Friends and colleagues were asked for their experiences of the A470. Write ups of the exhibition ‘A470’, commissioned in 2001 by Ffotogallery in Cardiff and Oriel Mostyn in Llandudno, was a useful source for ideas and impressed upon us the historical and social significance of the road.
We story boarded ideas for the look of the game and game play and experimented with the views, either from the drivers point of view or using platform format.
A main feature of the road is the changing landscape. By using a montage of photos representing significant features along the route and stitching it together as if it were one constant landscape we created the basis for a background illustration. This was then produced cartoon style as a vector graphic. As vector based illustration lacks photorealistic fills, the colour palette was chosen carefully to represent the feel and ambience of the landscape.
In order to take the drivers view we decided to use a simplified version of the idea of parallax; things in the foreground move quicker than in the background. Because of the time restriction of the project we used just one background image (the landscape) and the foreground motion (roadside telegraph posts). Even though it was simplified version of the concept, the relative movement of the two layers gave a reasonable impression of moving through a landscape. If there had been more time another layer in the mid ground would have improved the look and game play.
Although we developed the brief to the best of our ability within the time constraints.
One issue we were disappointed not to have time for was to slowdown the car when behind an obstacle. This would give the game a much more realistic feel and give the player a reason to try and overtake.
Due to the unpredictability of the welsh weather it can be a gamble to attempt a journey on the A470. Equally depending on journey time and time of year the amount of daylight would vary. To really get the feel for the road change of time of day and weather conditions, perhaps by periodically darkening and lightening the screen.
More vehicles as obstacles, such as caravans and cows and sheep would add to the variety and interest of the game. We had storyboarded the possibilities of livestock on the road, and changing the log lorry graphic to a caravan or a C reg reliant robin would be easy.
More functionality incorporating the idea of meditation to make the journey easier and more pleasant, we had the idea of using a key press (perhaps ‘M’ for omm) to clear obstacles.
visit the site: www.katewatkiss.co.uk/flash/a470/a470zen.html