Development Diary #6: On location

It’s taken me a while to get going this year but, in between commercial bits and pieces, I’ve been working on some environments. Although the overall narrative for the game is still coming together, I have loads of different locations already in mind that I’m trying to wind the story around. Most are based on real places or, more often, a combination of places that have stuck in my head. This week I’ve been working on a Victorian swimming pool…

Pool #1
I went to art college in Edinburgh and there are loads of them hidden away all over the city, I used to live around the corner from this fine example. It’s the “hidden” part, I think, that first brought them to mind for a potential location, there’s something awesome about entering a building expecting one thing and finding something completely different.

Another influence here is Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours films, the swimming pool scenes in Blue have stayed with me since first watching years ago, the lighting in the above setup is pretty much lifted from there, although I haven’t been quite as brave with the black and blue. Weirdly, in my head, I remember the swimming pool being tiny but going back to look it’s absolutely huge…

So my reference folder for this is a bunch of images taken from the Edinburgh Leisure website, some diagrams and plans of different architectural bits and bobs I got off Google, and a handful of movie stills, and that’s pretty much how I’ve been tackling all the environments so far. This approach serves several purposes; thematically it’s very much in keeping with the style and feel I’m aiming for with the game, I want somewhere that feels tangible, but not necessarily a specific recognisable location. Mashing different places together and dislocating environments from their normal surroundings is also an overt narrative theme in the game, not to mention being representative of some of the characters mental states. In more practical terms it also means I have, or can get, actual reference for what I’m modelling. I find the process of getting an idea from my head to a finished piece incredibly difficult, ideally I’d be collaborating with a concept artist who could visualize and iterate super fast, but in lieu of that, this is a good jumping off point…

5 thoughts on “Development Diary #6: On location”

  1. Just stumbled onto your blog (I was searching for blogs about Unity, specifically those that use Playmaker). Absolutely love seeing the progression of your game. Keep it going!

      • Very cool. I actually read through your blogs and came across that you were reading a book (

        Beginning 3D Game Development with Unity 4: All-in-one, multi-platform game development) – would you recommend it? I’m tempted to pick it up. I’ve been going the Playmaker route, but I’m wondering if it’d be useful to follow along with the authors scripting tutorials.

        • To begin with I assumed I’d have to learn to code to make anything, and that book is certainly one of the more accsessible ones I’ve come across as a complete beginner. Having said that, I now use Playmaker for everything and haven’t written a line of code in months. It’s probably a good idea to have a basic grasp of how things relate to one another in scripting terms I guess, especially if, like me, you don’t have a coding background, but you can probably pick most of that up from the Unity Docs. If you have Unity and PM already I say just jump in! Good luck!

          • Great to know. I’ve actually been deep into some tinkering with Playmaker (albeit not as in depth as you it seems!), particularly with an online course on designing first person shooters (with unity + playmaker). I’ve always been intrigued by programming, and am mostly self taught so far, but tend to do much better when my learning is framed, start to finish, with a consistent project (hence my initial curiosity about the book you mentioned). Keep up the good work!

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