A group of Second Year De Montfort University students studying Game Art Design.
This blog is to document our participation in the 'Off The Map' competition from Game City, Crytek and The British Library.

What Is The Gothic?

What is "The Gothic"? That was the first question we asked ourselves when we looked at the project brief for Off The Map.

The three areas we could focus on in the brief were Whitby, Fonthill Abbey and, of course, Edgar Allen Poe's The Masque of the Red Death. These gave us the basic areas of the gothic to work with; architecture, literature and atmosphere and those were three things that we knew we needed to incorporate to really get a great gothic level.

So, of course, before you make the level you need to know what exactly the level is going to be. Brainstorming ensued and we came up with some really awesome ideas. However, the one that we stuck with focused around this idea of literature. I'd previously studied Gothic Literature for two years during A level, so it seemed like a natural choice. Obviously, the literature we already had provided by Off The Map was great, but we wanted to build on that, rather than just copying the story word for word.

So we decided on a Manor House completely filled with plenty of references to gothic literature. We wanted it to be one big celebration of the Gothic with each area containing a different reference. However, rather than having the references punch you in the face, we wanted subtlety; a gentler approach. We also wanted an exterior as well as an interior, which is a pretty huge undertaking but we hope to be able to bring it all together. 

It all starts with the research so we filled up Pinterest boards, made mood boards with ideas and images, decided on the atmosphere. It was a lot that we got done in a week, as well as beginning the concepting. We got some great images early on, nailing the colour palette we were aiming for, as well as the atmosphere we wanted. Let's hope the project continues on this well.


As well as presenting this as part of Off The Map, we're also required to present it to our  University to be counted as part of our final grade at the end of March/April so that will be a good time to make sure we're on track and give us a definite deadline to work towards.

We'll keep you posted.

- Hannah

Make It Useful and Good - Concepting Our Level

Just after research and creating moodboards concepting was the next step on our level creation pipeline. It was undoubtedly one of the most important steps because we were brainstorming and getting our ideas out of our heads, which meant that we were deciding on how the level was going to look like. Additionally, at this early stage concept drawing allowed us to clearly present to our tutors what was on our minds without needless vague verbal descriptions. One picture is truly worth a thousand words.

From the very beginning we knew that capturing the right mood and atmosphere was going to be challenging, so we spent reasonable amount of time focusing just on that one aspect in our concepts.

As you can see on the pictures below we were considering whether we want to have snow/rain/mist in our level.

One of the most crucial themes in the 'The mask of red death' story ware different coloured rooms. So, we also focused on creating a range of interior concepts.

Apart from being concentrated on the general atmosphere of concepts, we also focused on some specific aspects of our project, such as modular pieces of walls and gates. Therefore, we came up with a range of possible ideas, so that then we could choose the final one from a variety of options.

Concepting wasn't only a pre-modelling stage, but it lasted throughout the entire process of the level creation. Some of the concepts for smaller assets were designed as we went through the project.

Beside of drawing from scratch, we used photo bashing and we were drawing over simple 3D models to make the process of concepting quicker and more efficient.

 Even though concepts weren't the final outcome and they won't be something visible to the player, it was a crucial part of the project. I'm glad we spent such a significant amount of time on this process as it allowed us to communicate our ideas better and helped us to prevent many mistakes and misunderstandings.