Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Giving gaming a shot...

So, I'm terrible at this whole 'blog' thing. I think that's pretty undeniable at this point so I'll just leave it at that and move on...

About a year and a half ago I was living abroad, teaching for money and doing freelance work on the side. A friend of mine, the incredibly intelligent and ridiculously hyper game designer Eric Robinson, had been toying with an idea for a game all his own but lacking the artistic abilities to actually do anything aside from coding. Seeing some of my work and knowing we had free time to spare, he asked if I'd help him make a play-able demo of his game.

Thus 'Kanji Kami' was born. The game is practically useless to the Madden Football video game crowd unless one of those gamers happens to be studying Japanese in between virtual touchdowns. Who knows? You may be out there... It's basically a game that helps students of Japanese strengthen their kanji skills by 'absorbing' the correct roots to a specific kanji and 'repelling' the incorrect ones.

Eric created the concept and coded the whole game while giving me artistic direction. He had a specific look in mind for the game, mimicking old sumi paintings. To get that look, I inked all the animation and background elements on paper with a caligraphy brush I picked up at the Hyaku en Shop (Japanese equivalent to our $1.00 Stores). Then I scanned them into Photoshop and used the brush setting to recreate and color the gradient wash, trying to give it a watercolor look without actually having to break out my set of paints. I also created a simple 3D scroll in Maya to create the borders to the left and right of the game play area.

We finished the demo just in time for the annual Sendai Art Gallery's Foreign Exhibition and got a chance to reveal the play-able demo there. Since then, Eric and I have returned state-side and 'Kanji Kami' has been recognized on the web, featured as one of several games built using Torque:


If anyone is curious about taking a look at it or downloading the demo, it might be easier to just head over to Eric's site (as oppose to scrolling through the list of games featured on Garage Games till you get to the 'K's). You can do that here:


Enjoy! More blogs will follow like lemmings, with any luck...

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