After a long break, here is a new post to give my readers an idea about new things I’m trying during my free time. My current obsession is making short stories, comics or other original concepts with the help of AI tools like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion.
Why AI Tools?
For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to work on my own concepts & short stories… to come up with something original and if possible, thought-provoking and creative. I’m not a proper artist. With the availability and access to these new massively engaging AI art generators, it’s quite helpful for me and others to generate concepts that align to our vision. Atleast, as close as one can get. It’s not without flaws, but the benefits they bring are enormous. That’s what I believe.
Currently, there is a rift among the art community on using these tools, even some of my friends and colleagues are a little split. In my opinion, as long as one can use the tech and the knowledge to get what they want to create, it’s all good and well. Few of my artist friends are already using these tools to save time and paint over, to further enhance the output. Truly, the possibilities are endless!
I’m creating all of my story/comic concepts using Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. In the future, I’ll explore other AI art generators and perhaps mix and match certain things. All my work (for now) is mainly shared on my other instagram account: uns33n.comics. Do note, most of the images I shared on the website here are of medium quality.
Here is a sneak peak (already present on my instagram account):
Check out some of my ultra photorealistic pictures made using Stable Diffusion:
Artistic & Creative
Midjourney gives me the best results when I want something to be more artistic, wacky and fantastical:
Old to Modern?
I also tried a sample to give a modern look or to make a character from a video game realistic. In this case, I went with Fran (from Final Fantasy 12), because I managed to find a good image to use as a reference. It is important to know that img2img also works, which can bring a lot of interesting and sometimes strange results. It depends on how we manage the parameters to achieve our intentions.
Someone completely different?
As I briefly covered img2img above, you can actually also shapeshift someone, create a doppleganger or a completely different person! Check my try:
These tools are also both supporting and competing with each other. All of them receive regular updates, improvements to their algorithm, more artistic possibilities, variations and so on.
I’ll continue making more concepts and stories. If you like the work, do support and give a like, follow and share: uns33n.comics.
As I mentioned in my last blog, Better Call Saul has so many memorable moments that if I wish, I can write heaps and heaps of critical material on them. Absolutely brilliant television show. For this post, I decided to analyze another scene, in my own way. In, “Klick” we took a look at how empathy towards characters change over time, case study around the first 5 mins of that episode. Now, let’s take a look at a scene from “Something Beautiful” – Season 4 Episode 3, mainly, in this case, ‘last 2 mins’, which is so exceptionally well executed that it took me down with sorrow for a while. Especially, due to Rhea Seehorn’s phenomenal performance as Kim Wexler. Goes without saying, for a show to convey so many emotions at such an incredible level of intensity, time after time and then also fleshing out chemistry between its characters with such precision, is a pure art form.
The following analysis contains *SPOILERS* so, I kindly request you to read further only after having watched the episode.
Chuck’s letter to Jimmy
First, let’s try to understand the subject of the scene – On a high level, it’s about ‘reading of a letter’. This time, I had to dive into analyzing ‘change in emotions over time’ for one of the show’s main character, Kim Wexler. Once I started digging deep into my process, I realized how impeccably well directed and performed these 2 mins are!
The letter, addressed to Jimmy are the last words from his brother, Chuck.
As a starting point, let’s use Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions. In my opinion, this wheel takes into account quite a lot of emotions felt at a decently granular level.
When I say last 2 mins, the scene times are from 39:30 to about 41:30.
Initial Frame and Timing
It is very important to understand the way this scene is directed and framed with regards to the performance of characters on screen and the message. The framing shown above is maintained as Jimmy starts reading the letter (after taking his first sip of coffee, with deep satisfaction) until 40:37 into the scene.
That’s a total of 1 min and 7 secs. This framing gives us, the audience the view of Jimmy (halfheartedly) reading the letter while having his breakfast, as Kim anxiously observes the whole thing (especially Jimmy and his reaction). This 1 min and 7 secs has a lot to say, in terms of the tension and emotional build up. Let’s dig into the gradation of emotions that Kim goes through, starting from ‘Interest’ all the way up to ‘Sadness’.
Range of Emotions
Following Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions with their appropriate color codes, Kim is going through the following during these 1 min and 7 sec into the scene (which is 3 paragraphs of letter), in sequence:
From Interest to onset of Sadness
By mapping these emotions to the scale from the scene, we get the following:
As the reading is about to begin, Kim hovers towards the side of ‘optimism’, which is close to ‘Interest’ and is looking for closure, for Jimmy. She spends most of her emotion in the range of ‘Interest’ until the shift starts to happen towards a very brief moment of ‘Surprise’ from ‘Anticipation’. To get a sense of scale, ‘Surprise’ lasts for about 3 secs – everything else is also in relation to it.
These change in emotions for Kim happen due to the way Jimmy reacts and reads the letter. Mainly because, Jimmy keeps reading casually, having his regular sips and munching over cereals, as if it’s just another letter to him. Why he truly is reacting this way, is out of the scope of this blog post 🙂 in short it’s denial and ignorance that he goes through at this moment in time in the show.
The moment of ‘Surprise’, which lasts for just about 3 secs happens during the reading of 2nd paragraph of the letter as she starts realizing how indifferent and emotionless Jimmy’s reading is.
The camera frame change happens at 40:37, as mentioned above – this is where we are brought in for a closeup view of Kim (side perspective as she tries her very best to continue looking at Jimmy, albeit with extreme sadness, as Jimmy continues reading the letter).
The moments of sadness begin for her with ‘Disapproval’ as a zone of emotion from the wheel:
During the 3rd paragraph is when Kim starts getting teary, when Jimmy reads aloud ‘… as we are brothers…’ line from the letter.
As the 4th paragraph ends with the line ‘… share the name McGill’, Kim is unable to control her emotions further and begins to cry.
The aforementioned 33 secs in the image are the moments of ‘buildup of sadness’ in terms of emotions for Kim. The masterful change of camera at 40:37 with Kim’s closeup of face is meant to drown the audience (like me) further down the rabbit hole of sorrows.
The boat of sadness, where she remains for the most of the duration:
From Sadness to onset of Grief
As the scene progresses, Kim keeps drowning further into the sadness as she finds it harder and harder to make sense of the situation. By staying into sadness for this long, she finally dives into ‘Grief’. This is where the final camera cut intensify the situation further. These also clearly help in understanding the change in ‘chemistry’ between Jimmy and Kim – as Kim exits the room with uncontrollable grief… the door closes halfway in on Jimmy.
Mapping further, the ‘Sadness’ and ‘Grief’ from what’s observed on screen results into:
Now, for all those who have watched this episode, there is one camera cut/angle that I’ve not mentioned in this analysis. That one, is quintessential to the whole 2 min too 😉 I won’t put the screenshot here – that frame is when we get to NOT see Kim, but make a mental model of what she’s going through as we get a closeup of Jimmy reading the letter from a declined perspective and then switching back just before finishing ”say what you will, the man can write a letter” as he ‘finally’ sees, for the first time (during his read), what Kim is going through… that is also the moment when he just finishes reading the letter. The ending of this cut to the one mentioned above takes Kim further down into the territory of ‘Grief’. Especially, as this particular moment is preceded by Jimmy’s ”its okay its a nice letter…” phrase. This breaks her further.
Domain of Sadness
As I was working on this analysis, I tried remapping these emotions in a different form, keeping their scales in terms of ‘secs on screen’, I was astonished to come to this conclusion:
Container of Emotions
It is incredible to notice, that all the emotions Kim goes through in these 2 mins, collectively lie in the ‘Domain of Sadness’. The numbers correspond to all the aforementioned emotions, listing them again for reference:
Sadness (level 1)
Sadness (level 2)
Sadness (level 3)
I truly enjoyed working on this analysis, wanted to do it since the moment I watched this episode and got teary eyed during the recital of the letter – Last 2 mins.
Hat’s off to Better Call Saul! If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad and this show too, I would love to hear your take on this 🙂
Few movies released in 2018 have really grabbed my attention. One of them is ‘A Quiet Place’. Usually, when I truly adore a movie/series/ any media, I tend to watch/play them multiple times. If possible, that is. I do try. This particular movie is such a brilliant work that I went to the theater again about a week later and re-watched it! My post isn’t going to be a review or a rant but more like an overall high level observation.
Before you read any further, please take note that there will be massive spoilers ahead. Proceed only after watching the movie at least once 🙂 Goes without saying, whatever you’ll read below in my personal take. Let’s begin…
Contrast is extremely important. I believe ‘Timing’ and ‘Pacing’ to be few of the main factors that can really boost up contrast (when not talking about color). What is this contrast that I’m talking about? Well, from its ‘utter silence’ (read, lack of vocals/speech, sign language) as the movie begins to the point of reaching ‘first speech’ (read, voice or almost a sign of sound that makes a voice). The audience is slowly absorbed by the way they communicate i.e., the sign language within this long uncomfortable stretch of silence until the carpet-lantern-fire accident in their home during the kids’ play session! This is the first moment when you actually get to ‘almost hear’ their younger male child ‘mouthing’ the words… “I’m sorry”. This to me told quite a few things… like ‘he truly doesn’t practice sign language properly’ and is ‘still trying his best’ to fit and survive in this severely restricted and inconvenient situation that they’re all in.
A scene that comes in later wherein Emily Blunt is teaching him math, she has to whisper clearly and make him learn signs as clearly as possible. These moments are meant to make him realize that ‘he needs to adapt early’ and ‘grow up to be a strong survivor’ to ‘take care of the family’. These first whispered words are indeed calming to ears, mainly because this is absolutely the first time as an audience, we actually get to hear some vocal speech… first real vocal exchange of words.
Path from Bateswood Country Park to Red Hall Lane
Mise en scène. One of the first things you notice is how smoothly this movie tells its story. In ‘A Quiet Place’, surroundings, structures, placement of objects, scribbled whiteboards, design structures and other such elements coupled with ambiance form the storytelling and strong narrative part of the environment. Perhaps, an excellent showcase of ‘Show, don’t tell’. Apart from these, there are obviously few scenarios where the movie indeed sticks to ‘Tell, don’t show’. Earning the knowledge of these creatures/ aliens as we get to glance at the whiteboard (in the radio/ brainstorm room) for the first time is done quite smartly. There are few shots that zoom in the ‘much needed info’ so the audience most definitely can get a second chance to catch phrases in the environment. Personally, I would’ve loved if some of these second chances at reading the environment were cut/edited out (as their absence would make it an extra notch brilliant ;))
Plus, don’t forget the wide-angled ‘bonfires’ shot that bring the remaining human survivors closer to each other… the presence of life and the comforting nature of knowing that other survivors do exist!
Can you predict the weakness?
Deferred First revelation.
It is made pretty clear that the family and other surviving humans aren’t aware of the creature’s weakness. I’m not sure if it was clear for everyone or not but at least to me, the first revelation of their weakness is clearly depicted in the farm when the alien creeps up behind Regan (their deaf child). Funny thing is, I actually observed this properly when I watched the movie again, not first time though :/! The way this worked is that even if the audience did notice the weakness during this scene, the characters aren’t aware of it. That is indeed another brilliant touch! Regan actually connects the dots in the final scene and that’s their true first revelation of finding the creature’s weakness! In case, the audience does miss the evident farm scene… they would find themselves on the same page as Regan!
Defensive to Combative.
The main characters and perhaps, most other surviving humans in this post-apocalyptic scenario are primarily staying alive by ‘protecting’ themselves every step of the way. The family survives purely by escaping, hiding, barring themselves, most importantly staying out-of-sight(hearing)-soundproofing knowing that the opposition is infinitely stronger and agile than them. The parents are mainly defensive. Almost everything they do is intellectually correct in such a survival situation. At least, they try to do their best. They know, they cannot hunt or attack the creature.
Unfortunately, this stance changes. They, especially the father (John) progresses towards being combative. The trigger to this particular change of stance/ survival trait occurs after their new baby is born… when Emily Blunt makes it clear that they are nothing if they cannot protect their kids and makes John promise that he must protect them at any cost. Later in the farm, is when he tries to make a move to be combative and attack the creature with an ax in hopes of doing some damage and saving the kids. In the end, the only thing that ‘truly protects his kids’ is sacrificing himself.
Lovely knotted hearts.
Overall powerful tidbits.
Loved the ‘Point of View’ audio moments throughout the movie. Especially, as it serves such an important narrative meaning, helping to establish certain characters during the early sections of the movie.
Neil Young’s Harvest Moon is without a doubt a perfect choice given the scenario in which it is shared and fits so well with the overall context of the movie! Neil’s vocals truly boosts the aural mood and takes it to a calm, relaxing, intimate and comfortable zone 🙂
The direction, synchronization of audio and masterful editing with transitions during the ‘bathtub scream‘ with rockets flying in the air is perhaps the true solid peak of the movie. It is just so well done! Sound design is super important, especially for any thriller/ horror flicks out there. ‘A Quiet Place’ is a shining example in this case.
This last one might also be a trivia for most readers, as I got to know about this only after watching the movie… Millicent Simmonds, the actor who plays the role of Regan (deaf child) is actually deaf in real life! After knowing this fact, I must admit, my respect for what I saw has easily doubled! Fantastic work!
That’s it folks. Thanks for reading! This movie is now going to be in my ‘favorite list’ of all time 😉 Do comment, discuss and share if you liked this movie too!
My friend of mine, who is a fellow movie connoisseur has posted a pretty great rant on ‘A Quiet Place’! I highly recommend checking it out if you’ve already watched the movie.
I tend to post a lot about games, game design and everything games in general whenever time permits. Blaming ‘time’ for being lazy is a sorry excuse. To experience different times and moments, I and wifey finally decided to take ‘time out’ from our game development schedule and go on a fun filled vacation… Bali!
I would like to present a gist of our adventure in Bali with some pictures and free tips 🙂 This isn’t going to be an exhaustive moment-by-moment ‘what to do, where to go’… more of a ‘we did this’ and it was ‘fucking awesome!’ No, seriously, there will be some takeaways in case you are planning to visit Bali so keep reading 😉
August 29 to September 4
We started our journey from Kuala Lumpur on August 29. In case you struggle to find a decent place to eat at KL International Airport and love European cuisine… just take a chance with ‘Dome’. Fantastic place to munch, gracious soups and heavy sandwiches 🙂
August 29 – Day 1
After checking out various places to visit in Bali, we both narrowed down to stay at Ubud and Seminyak. This way, we get to see the best of the scenery, greenery and rice fields of Ubud and clean and less-crowded beaches of Seminyak region.
A true scenic and tranquil view of rice fields and away from the super-busy, narrow streets of Ubud. Look at the beautiful view you deserve!
Green Field Hotel and Restaurant is a true ‘hidden gem’. Wonderful staff, beautiful rooms with serene views of fields, cold breeze and amazing breakfast. Location of this hotel is its main highlight – close to so many tourist spots!
Our first visit was meant to be at either Goa Gajah, Mask Museum or ARMA… instead we stumbled upon a ‘Cat Cafe‘… which was wonderfully kitty xD and so close to our hotel!
By the time we reached and left Cat Cafe, it was almost 6 pm. One thing to note is that almost every tourist place in Bali closes by 5 pm. So, we just walked around in Ubud till late night, had some nice Balinese food and slept off. Gearing up for the day ahead.
August 30 – Day 2
Early morning, after filling our stomach with some heavy breakfast we left for Campuhan Ridge Walk (without a guide). Do note – if you really want a guide here, you might have to book in advance by sending an email or hire nearby guides. We went ahead without a guide though, just roaming around the ridge.
After a decent walk in Campuhan, we were on our to visit Ubud Palace. The heat was killing us… we decided to refuel ourselves. That’s where we found this interesting ‘Vegan Ice-Cream’ restaurant. The Chef over there also conducts cooking classes!
Finally, after having 2 scoops of Vegan Ice-Cream (try Vanilla, its better than their coffee chocolate flavor), we reached Ubud Palace (not too far from Campuhan Ridge Walk). Much of the Palace was closed for renovation. So, it didn’t take us more than 15-20 mins to see the entirety of it.
Next on my itinerary was ARMA… not the famous war game, this one expands to Agung Rai Museum of Art. Beautiful place with 2 main complexes – Traditional Bali Art and Modern Art work. Everything over here is excellent! A definite, must visit for artists and anyone remotely in love with experiencing some amazing artwork. Apart from the well maintained art museum, their entire compound has beautiful architecture, animal structures, greenery and a free ‘coffee/ tea’ with the entry ticket.
It was almost evening and the place was closing down. Then, we made our way to what looked like an amazing ‘Paradise for coconut lovers like me’… Tukies!
Tukies Cafe in Bali is a coconut joint, here you get everything engulfed in coconut ❤
For dinner of the day, I was really in the mood for some Pizza! If you love Pizza’s do not miss ‘Mamma Mia‘ in Ubud. Great variety and amazing value for money. True, original Italian taste 🙂
August 31 – Day 3
Fresh after waking up, eating muesli with bread and eggs in Hotel, we made our way to one of the most famous place in Ubud – Tegallalang Rice Terraces!
Absolutely breathtaking views! Do prepare to climb and walk your way to heavenly landscapes.
Do keep in mind – as you walk on terraces, explore your way, you’ll come across several ‘Donation boxes’. Idea is to put Rupiah here and move on to explore further. Many of these boxes have a ‘minimum Rupiah’ – so make sure you put them first and then move ahead. Do not forget to go all the way up! It is completely worth it!
Next destination was Luwak Coffee Plantation. There are several plantations in Ubud… we chose to visit Satria plantation and it turned out to be pretty great!
Luwak Coffee comes from Cevat Cats! Do read up more on it on internet if you aren’t aware about this. Below you can see coffee beans extracted from their Poo. Considered as one of the most expensive coffee in the world. Apparently, also has health benefits!
As part of the tour, you get to sample 12 beverages! 6 amazing varieties of coffee and 6 teas. The guides over there are pretty great at explaining each of them, their benefits and are friendly enough to answer any questions you might have about coffee/ teas. Sampling these beverages is completely free of charge.
What isn’t free is a sample cup of Luwak Coffee! Once here, you must try it out for yourself. It is not everyone’s cup of tea… erm, I mean coffee! Pretty strong, heavy and has an acquired taste. However, it isn’t as bitter/ strong as their original Bali Coffee!
Next up, we visited Gunungkawi Temple. It is a beautiful temple with quite a lot of walking around to do and great scenic views. Do note, when visiting temples in Bali, one must wear decent clothing with Sarongs.
After this, we visited Goa Gajah temple. Do keep your Sarongs on!
No pictures here, but one of the busiest place in Ubud one must visit is the famous Ubud Market! Lots and lots of different items… clothing material, spices, local utensils to Sarongs and everything traditional is out there! Everyone is willing to negotiate nicely, so do go ahead!
September 1 – Day 4
This was the day we were supposed to check-out from Ubud and make our way to Seminyak. Now, one of the most famous tourist place which was so close-by to our Hotel was none other than ‘Sacred Monkey Forest’! Before checking out, we decided to check this place out.
That’s a monkey, lying on the road at the entrance of the Monkey Forest. Now, pay attention… this place is unique. For some, it can be a true, one of a kind, excellent experience as one journey through forests with monkeys roaming, fighting, jumping all around. For some others, it can be a truly horrifying experience. Regardless of what rules you follow, there are high chances that monkeys may just start harassing/ attacking you.
That is exactly what happened with us. Be careful, extremely alert and careful. This is not a joke. These monkeys are wild animals and can be very dangerous. Read all the rules posted outside the forest and try to follow them. Just take my tip – even if you follow them, there is no guarantee that monkeys will leave you alone. There is no Monkey King or Hanuman that can come to your rescue here.
We just had to leave this place within 20 mins after one monkey approached my wife and chew off part of her dress (newly purchased one) and in next 5 mins, another monkey just used me as a stepping stone to reach a branch on the tree opposite to the bridge I was walking on!
Saying that, the forest inside is truly beautiful. If you get lucky, have fun 😉 else just leave this place as soon as possible!
…till September 4 – Day 7
After reaching Seminyak, we checked into a wonderful Villa, Villa Coco… just 5 mins walk from Double Six beach! Again a very friendly staff, beautiful location, spacious and scenic villa with private garden space and my favorite… Hammock!
The Double Six beach is a famous one for surfers out there. There are multiple Surfing schools operating here and overall, it is pretty clean, fresh and well managed.
We came to Bali for relaxation, scenic views and to sit around and enjoy the beach! For all 4 days, September 1 to September 4 – we stayed around Double Six and Legian beach and walked around watching sunsets, surfers and wonderful restaurants… and chilled!
When in this region, do not forget to roam around, visit shops, traditional art exhibitions that sell wonderful items for good price and eat at two of my favorite restaurants… Sacred Ground and Zanzibar!
Here is Sacred Ground… excellent ‘Gado-Gado’, Chicken Avocado sandwich and super yummy Unti (or Dadar)!
Zanzibar over at the Double Six beach is where you should go if you want some excellent Italian and middle eastern food! Yes, I know… so different, yet so awesome!
There are several amazing Spas everywhere! We chose to visit Sicilia Spa in Seminyak and it was wonderful! 🙂
On the final day… we were feeling so sad leaving this wonderful city. Idea was to enjoy, relax and take ‘time out’ and we managed to do just that. Bali was truly a wonderful experience for both of us. We definitely plan to visit this place again 🙂
After saying goodbye to the wonderful Seminyak and Villa Coco, we made our way to the Ngurah Rai International Airport.
Hungry again, we ate at Made’s Warung… repeat ‘Gado Gado’ and a burger for me!
I’m pretty sure by now, most of the readers have already played Witcher 3… or at least have heard about this gem. I finished the main game about 2 years ago and clocked in ~100 hours! For me, this game is without a doubt, one of the finest RPGs of this generation. It just does so many things right.
This post isn’t about what makes the game great, it is about how the game provides multitude of game settings that players can make use of to further intensify the entire game experience by making it more immersive (personalize to your liking). Some of you might know about this, as the game is a little old now… to me though, after trying some settings that I’ve mentioned down below, I can vouch for the increased ‘fun’ the whole thing brings.
How I used to play?
I directly delved into the game by making minimal adjustments to the game settings (apart from visuals and audio) and finished the main game in ‘Blood and Broken Bones’ difficulty. It was an excellent experience.
This is how I played the game (~100+hours):
Take a note of the contents in the RED BOX.
The game itself is exceptionally beautiful, with lots of details in terms of the way interactions work, the way in which the world feels real with some truly well designed geography (with noticeable locations, terrains and points of interests).
Now, with no changes made to the game settings and keeping them at default, this is how it (over)populates the HUD. Unfortunately, I noticed the problem after countless hours of gameplay. Not really a problem per se, more of an hindrance. Everything inside the RED BOX is meant to simplify exploration and ease the players into the game. Give better, detailed directions to what, where, when and so on. In short, easing by hand-holding. Once we start playing the game this way, naturally we progress quicker and feel great about it. However, after paying close attention, we realize that by playing this way, our eyes are mostly focused at the RED BOX. Especially, glued to the glorious, beautiful, rotating, mini-map. This is when, we stop ‘truly playing the game’ to ‘surfing the game’ because of the minutiae brought about by the mini-map. In short, eyes glued at the wrong place… a tiny place in relation to the entire rest of the screen that is filled with intricate details… real details which are begging for your close touch and exploration.
This is how I play the game NOW (~10+hours and counting):
Trust me, with this way, my experience with the game and immersion it brings about has increased by a lot! To me at least. This is something that I would seriously recommend you all try too. I started with this personalized setting with the expansion ‘Blood and Wine’.
Toggle the following ‘Off’:
Do not forget, we can open the main World map whenever we want to see the destination objective marker, explore and find our own way and traverse like a real ‘Witcher’. Let’s just not look at the shortest way to reach there with dotted lines on your mini-map with the exact distance of footsteps it’ll take you! Try it out and see the experience being enriched.
Along with this, I also found 2 more settings that can really add a little more twist and increase the sense of danger. This can be a little subjective, but worth a try 😉 Turn ‘Off’ Boss and Enemy Health Bars. Yes, sounds scary as frak! I can’t really recall right now, but few other games also have the setting for turning off HP bars. So, try this out here… a Witcher, after all doesn’t really know how much HP the opponents have (unless witcher-vision provides the touch) 😉 role-play!
In short, I encourage every player to try and personalize and find settings that suit you best. Turning Off the mini-map is highly recommended as I personally found that it truly enriches the experience. Everything else, well tweak and play around with them, see if it works for you or not.
This is the beauty of a true player-friendly PC game. Tweaks and tips to dig deep and escape!
I’m pretty sure most of you have already started playing Clash Royale by now. Even if you aren’t one of the Royale players, you might very well be aware of the game. Clash Royale is Supercell’s next gem for mobile devices.
I’ve been playing this game on a daily basis since it launched in India. I wanted to jot down and do a few write-ups focusing on design.
The first design overview I felt like covering is the gameplay concept map. Please note:
This concept map focuses only on gameplay elements
It does not teach you how to play the game
Shows the inter-relationships of different elements
Now, I am not explaining what each element (especially the ones taken from the game) stand for. Obviously, if you have been playing the game, you’ll be aware of the intricacies. In case you haven’t tried the game out, this’ll help you understand (a little) the concept of gameplay in Clash Royale (inter-dependencies, skills needed, synergy and complexity).
It is informative to look at the game, realize its scope and go through its various concepts. Do check it out, it’ll be fun to discuss more on this (especially if you have already been playing the game).
Keep checking here for further updates, I’ll most likely do more write-ups by focusing on different features. They may not necessarily be in sequence and will most likely be a little independent of each other.
Do shoot your feedback and rants. It’s always fun ;]
I finally gave in and bought one of the games that was lying at No.1 spot for a long time on my Steam wishlist – Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut. I am a huge fan of the classic Fallout 1 and 2, love post-apocalyptic scenarios and isometric role-playing games. Most of the followers of the genre already know that Wasteland 1 is what inspired classic Fallout.
I always had in my mind a very particular set of characters, which I believed would be really interesting in a game like this. I love Firefly. I felt like coyboys, sci-fi and wasteland would be a perfect fit for me to roleplay (as a party). I went ahead with that decision and I am seriously so in love with this game.
Firefly party creation and composition:
There are so many amazing characters in the series, I had to shortlist the best taking into account character skills (TV series), ones that would really matter
Their chemistry – if made as an away team in a party
I know the game to be combat heavy (like Fallout Tactics, unlike Fallout 1 and 2), so made an appropriate selection – since 4 is the maximum number of party members allowed at game start
Unfortunately, biography for characters I made in Wasteland 2 party is blank at the moment (I thought those could also be edited after starting the game, but I’ll need to modify saves to do it – will update this later)
I’ve tried to make my party as close to their characters on the show as possible (attributes, characteristics, personalities and skills)
Quirks were truly interesting – and it took me a long time to choose!
State of Firefly characters – Party creation process
I’ll now share how the characters grew in around 30 hours of gameplay. Most of the characters in my party are Level 13 as of this post. I tried to roleplay and add only those skills which made sense to me (staying in line with their show counterparts and also helpful in the game/ but not always)
Without any thought, this guy had to be there. There was no question about it. A leader. Smart Ass. Charmer. Can make horrible/ bad choices ;]
Character Screen – Coordination, Charisma
Quirk: Opportunist [description from Wasteland 2] –> It takes a certain ethical flexibility to take advantage of others, and it’s a flexibility you possess. Your predatory nature means that you kick your enemies just a bit harder when they’re down. However, you’re also equally timid and fearful of harm coming to you, and as a result, you do less damage to those that are healthy.
I believed that quirk to fit Mal perfectly in this game ;]
Skills – Leadership, Smart Ass, Handguns
Skills: At this moment in the game, Mal is kind of above average in handgun combat. He also has Pulse Rifle as secondary weapon. Leadership helps during combat and Smart Ass provides interesting dialogue options in conversations (wherever possible). He is also perceptive and overall failure in safe-cracking.
Perks – Know-it-All!
Perks: bonuses for your characters as they level up.
Mal is pretty much having bonuses in Conversations and a little combat advantage. Overall, I use Mal for primary communication with others in game.
I really needed a character that can be strong in combat, hardcore and a true, good friend of Mal. It had to be Zoe. Bad-ass, strong and aware.
Character Screen – Coordination, Awareness, Strength
Quirk: Now, I went through the entire list present in game, couldn’t really feel like a particular quirk to fit Zoe. So, in this case, there is no quirk! No plus, no minus.
Skills – Shotguns, Field Medic, Assault Rifles
Skills: So, I really wanted Zoe to be a shotgun expert, bad-ass and strong. Her Field medic expertise (coming from Army) really helps out the other members. She also has average Rifle skills, really really useful when friends are in the way ;]
Perks – Hardened!
Perks: Without blinking, as soon as I got an opportunity to give her the first Perk, I chose Hardened. +1base armor. Perfect for this character.
At this moment in game, she is one of the best combat lady in my party and really messes up raiders and other critters in-game! Just amazing :]
Now, Jayne is a very interesting character. In the series and also in this game. I wanted a brawler, hard-ass and ranged expert at the same time. Jayne is all that and perfect Watchman!
Character Screen – Awareness, Strength
Quirk: Thick-Skinned[description from Wasteland 2] –> All the boys ‘n girls in the playground used to pick on you. They called you stinky, fatty, ugly, and beat you up until you were bruised and sore. But the more you took it, the more you learned to shrug it off. Sticks and stones won’t break your bones. Years of physical abuse have left you thick-skinned and you can shrug off attacks more easily, but you’re heavier and more sluggish, and as a result, you move slower.
Isn’t it perfect for this guy? Such an easy choice for me – works especially well in the game too!
Skills – Sniper Rifles, Hard Ass, Brawling
Skills: I did mentioned I wanted Jayne to be ranged expert but also a Hard Ass. Like how he really is. Brawling works wonderfully, when someone makes a mistake to jump on him ;]
Perks – Watchman
Perks: Now, being a strong-willed sniper, Watchman it was! Also, we have here intimidating and Hoarder – all Jayne bonuses ;]
Right now, after around 30 hours, Jayne is one of the best combat specialist in my party. Ranged destruction FTW! I have even seen him breaking down a Robot Crawler by brawling him!
Okay, so I’ll be frank, the aforementioned 3 selections (Mal, Zoe and Jayne) were easy choices for me. I mean, I had to have them in my party in Wasteland 2. For the final one, I took some time to decide on the best one.
I wanted the last member in my party to be one of these:
Going with either of those, can give rise to their respective benefits, personalities and skills. After thinking a lot, I almost went with Kaylee. I mean, wouldn’t she be perfect for Mechanical repair, toaster repair and also charismatic? Then it hit me, River is someone who must be tremendously more interesting to have here, because she is so different. And, that is why, even in the game (after finally choosing her) she is so different – useful and oftentimes useless – but oh so interesting!
Character Screen – Intelligence, Strength and Luck!
Quirk: Manic Depressive [description from Wasteland 2] –> Mania and melancholy are two sides of the same coin, and you have known it all your life. You are subject to intense mood changes, and those around you say you’re almost like a different person each time they see you.
Perfect! Ain’t it? Also, so damn risky. This directly means, her attributes keep shifting every few mins (~15mins) – depending on whether she is feeling Mania or Melancholy! Trust me, because of this the gameplay and how we play around it has become tremendously more enjoyable for me.
Skills – SMG, Mech Repair, Computer Science and Animal Whisperer!
Skills: Obviously, since I didn’t choose Kaylee, I still needed someone skilled enough to repair stuff, break into locks and use her intelligence to hack into computers and blast into enemies using Submachine guns!
Also, I loved using her Animal Whisperer skills to tame more than 20 animals including gila monsters, goats and worms! :]
Perks – Weathered
Perks: For bonuses, I’ve selected her to have Weathered (resistance to crits) and Camel – which is really useful in this wasteland. Save, conserve and efficiently use precious water.
During gameplay, if possible I always try to use her whisperer abilities to tame animals (unless its impossible – level difference is high). It is really interesting to make choices based on her mood-state in the game. Many times, I had to wait for her to regain her abilities so that I could lock-pick an important safe!
Well, so that’s about it! I’m currently engrossed in Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut and find the role-playing pretty enjoyable. Especially, with a team like this… what can go wrong?
If you are reading this and love Firefly, RPGs or have been playing Wasteland 2, do post your thoughts.
I had an immense pleasure of organizing this year’s Design Workshop at Nasscom’s Game Developer Conference held at Mahratta Chamber Of Commerce Industries & Agriculture (MCCIA) Towers.
The idea and topic was pretty simple – understand and learn to deliver a game pitch in less than 7 mins. The basis of presentation technique was PechaKucha (chit-chat in Japanese).
A part of my preparation was to come up with interesting topics for participants.
I started creating topics…
Preparation – creation of mindboggling topics ;]
Once I demonstrated the PechaKucha technique to participants, they were asked to be comfortable, form power groups (which were made to ensure friends don’t stick together and teams feel balanced).
The topic – a mandate on which participants had to create their game pitch consisted of 2 parts:
A subject/ core matter
Preparation – Cards in disarray!
The stacks were then made, successfully (before the workshop began, at my home):
Cards tied in RED –> Core/ Subject matter
Cards tied in YELLOW –> Game Genre
Power Cards… are READY!
At the workshop, once my presentation was over and groups were formed, I asked one member from each group to draw cards from the stacks I had made. Interesting topics are created when randomness comes into play ;]
For eg: A group picked cards that gave them FOOD as Core Subject and SURVIVAL HORROR as game genre!
The rules were laid out:
use internet connection
Images, images and images!
20 sec per slide rule
Max slides 20 (due to time restriction – I didn’t enforce 20 slides as MUST – it was a max limit for this workshop)
Fast and Furious 7 :: PechaKucha!
Here are some pictures from the workshop:
Getting to know team and discussion within was paramount!
A team brainstorming on their game pitch
Team getting their slides ready!
Team game pitch kickoff!
Team game pitch kickoff!
Team game pitch kickoff!
Team game pitch kickoff!
Team game pitch kickoff!
I apologize for some really shaken pictures! :]
My badge this year.
I had an awesome time conducting the workshop, discussing terrific ideas with everyone who participated. If you are in the picture, you participated or were a part of the team – do share 🙂
As many of you already know, I’m currently addicted to Hearthstone and it is the ONLY game for which my iPad is turned ON! No pun intended. Also, I have made no effort in playing this game on my PC. Coz, touch is for now best interface to play card games with.
I present to you a brief analysis I did few days back. This is not about the game design part of Hearthstone. But, more about how you gain benefits, its shop and various layers. Please feel free to comment.
·Hearthstone has only ONE in-game currency = GOLD.
·The only other method of purchase is via hard cash.
·The game makes sure to SELL ONLY Expert Card packs
oEach Expert Card Pack consists of 5 Cards out of which at least 1 is rare or above
·The game doesn’t allow trading of cards or packs
Hearthstone – Shop Screen (Currency is INR)
I made a small table to illustrate how the shop works [the currency here is Euro – €]:
(The image shown above is from my AppStore account – so it is in Rs. Talking in Euro makes more sense internationally. Sorry for the confusion)
Without wholesale discounts – Compared to Cost for 2 Packs – Actual Costs
Expert Card Packs
NOTE: Player can always purchase 1 Expert Card pack using in-game currency GOLD but to buy more she must invest in hard-cash (one way). The only other method is to keep accumulating GOLD and buy 1 Pack after another as needed.
Looking at the table above it is very clear that the player can understand and see benefits that keep increasing the higher she goes in spending for card packs.
Overall – € 8.99 and € 17.99 for 7 and 15 Packs are most interesting for players. Good amount of savings.
·Hearthstone provides a very interesting Quest system
oDaily Quests are given to the player [valid in ONLINE play with strangers or Arena mode]
oA maximum of 3 can be stacked at any given time
oQuests come in various categories which provide rewards
oRewards = GOLD [40-100] – depending on quest difficulty/ length
·Ideally, a person who doesn’t want to use hard-cash to purchase Card Packs (grinder) – the best way is to ALWAYS make sure to keep finishing Quests
·3 Consequent wins with same hero – 30 GOLD
One of my example match in Arena (strength of the key – color)
·This is my personal favorite and one of the best game mode in Hearthstone
·Arena mode requires an entry fee
o150 GOLD OR € 2
oChoose one of a random hero presented to the player (choice among 3)
oMake a card deck from a set of random cards
–Interesting part is – almost entire deck in Hearthstone is available
–This includes every rare, epic and legendary cards
–However, the order and selection is random
oPlayer keeps progressing in Arena to unlock better and better rewards until she loses three times
–The player is basically unlocking “KEY”
·Keys come in different variety and open the specific reward box
Check the table below that gives an idea about the rewards presented in Arena (wiki helped here):
Random reward pool
1. One expert pack
2. One random reward
One common card
1. One expert pack
2. One random reward
One common card
1. One expert pack
2. One random reward
One common card
One rare card
1. One expert pack
2. 25-35 gold
3. One random reward
One common card
One rare card
1. One expert pack
2. 215-235 gold
3. One random reward
One golden common card
4. One random reward
One golden or regular rare card
5. One random reward
One golden or regular epic card
One golden or regular legendary card
One expert pack
NOTE: The important point to note here is that if the player loses all 3 games in Arena (doesn’t win even a single one) – she still gets 1 Expert Card Pack and any one of the random reward.
So according to the investment made (if used GOLD) to enter Arena –
Player is for sure going to get in return 67% GOLD back in terms of 1 Expert Card Pack
25-40 GOLD or dust
For any non-payable player this is almost completely a win scenario.
Arena offers almost fair play as the deck is created in this mode itself + all cards are made available.
No. of wins a player gets in Arena is directly proportional to the rewards she shall reap.
·Player can disenchant any of the cards (except soulbound – hero basic cards) to earn what is called as “Arcane Dust”.
·Can be termed as other currency (indirect) as this cannot be purchased anywhere/ nor converted from GOLD
Check the table below:
Rarity in Card Type
Considering that the reward in Arcane Dust for disenchanting is anywhere from 1/8th to 1/4th – it is just TOO LOW for anyone to make a significant card.The only way is to sacrifice certain unused cards or to dilute extra cards… in other words earn more cards from Arena/ Expert Card purchases.
·Pushes player to purchase card packs
·Disenchant additional cards
oTry crafting common or rare cards
oCrafting a legendary card revolves around sacrificing other strong cards in huge portion
·There is no energy system or waiting time
·Without putting any real money, a grinder can still win many games to her satisfaction by involving more
oCasual Online play
·The game statistics screen NEVER display
oWin/ Loss ratio (similar to Kill/ Death in multiplayer)
oIt is interesting to note that usually in multiplayer games the ratio is very very important to players
oHearthstone goes in a different direction by
–Increasing motivation – by NEVER showing how many games one loses (apart from in Arena – where it is part of core loop)
–Wins are presented strategically and in appealing fashion
–Even Arena category outside on stats page – always display the KEY till which player has reached till date (showing only positive side)
·An average player will keep earning GOLD in loads if she keeps finishing quests and thus can easily keep purchasing Card Packs
·The monetization is still going strong for players
oWho do not wish to grind and wait
oExcellent savings provided in card packs’ price
oVery important – player NEVER knows which cards are there when she is buying Expert Packs
–So, there will be duplicates (but they can be disenchanted for dust)
–In case she doesn’t get good enough cards she’ll just go ahead and buy more packs!
It has been a really long time since my last website update. I was thinking over and over and wanted to spark Senseless Stories section. This post isn’t going to be a big one. More of an announcement really.
I finally sat down, busted grey matter in hand with my keyboard. Some senselessness should do good, right? Isn’t it what the world desires? Needs even? What’s the point in learning only from matter that makes sense. Why not otherwise? Everyone is entitled to waste their time! One way or another… it must happen and should happen to every single soul on this planet.
Without further whatnot, I forcefully invite you to just go ahead and read one of the first senseless pulp from my side – A Random Encounter?