The ethos of Student As Producer is invested in allowing the student to positively and non-passively contribute to ongoing research projects being developed by the staff at the school and beyond, this includes the Rabbit Heart game project.
This mini-brief looks at allowing students to further the development of this ongoing research project, whilst taking “ownership” of that contribution. Furthering not only the overall project, but the students self-development as a researcher/creative, examining existing attitudes to teaching and learning pedagogies and the relationship of student and learning institution/project value.
Regarding the Exo-suit:
Within the Rabbit Heart game concept “The Exo-Suit is part vehicle, part sanctuary, part weapon, and part new friend/familiar to the primary character of Ululu.
This sentient mecha is one half of the developing player/character for a significant part of the game concept.
The in-game/diegetic rationale for the suit is that it has been created as a working military advance exploration suit by the “secondary culture” that is evident in the tutorial level of the game. This culture has tapped into the primary “Ancients” culture artefacts and environment, which has provided esoteric power opportunities, advanced technology, which has been hybridised and adapted for the suits, and the aesthetics which has been drawn from the ancient sculpture and archaeology of the primary culture evident in the caves and beach/bridge/dock areas of the tutorial level.
The Exo-suit (one of a numerous battalion in storage in the tutorial levels caves) is activated only if the player (playing as Ululu) finds and adds to their inventory the pilots headgear (a lightweight flying helmet with goggles) and takes it to the exo-suit storage area, subsequently triggering the suit to “come to life”, and so begin the bonding experience with the new pilot.
Much like the development of relationships between dog-handlers and their dogs and/or cavalry soldiers and their mounts, the diegetic AI in the exo-suit requires nurturing.
The player will have at times to leave the suit to enter areas to small for the suit to follow, this “abandonment” will; need to be monitored with the player as if left too long, the bond between the suit will weaken and the suit may leave, returning (auto-pilot) to cave where it was discovered. Thus the “empathy” and the bond must be encouraged between the player and their NPC sidekick, at present the idea of returning to the mechas side and touching it will be enough to maintain the bond, as the game develops this bond grows stronger allowing the pilot to leave the suit for longer periods.
When playing as Ululu, we run in 3rd person, over the shoulder mode with suit behind or to the side of us, or perhaps running ahead if the terrain is difficult.
If in the suit, we see a 1st person point of view as Ululu might see it including her reflection in the blast door visor/screen.
Regarding the Aesthetics & Contents/Inventory of the Exo-Suit:
Various incarnations of the suit have shown an armoured samurai warrior aesthetic (including large samurai sword), with the pilot’s cockpit in the chest, the blast doors of which open to allow access. A large almost seam-punk engine sits behind the pilot’s cockpit and in many visuals spouts exhaust fumes. The articulated headpiece of the exo-suit is themed to resemble a rabbit, with large control surfaces resembling ears.
The suit itself has smaller control surfaces across its armour that suggest possible diagnostic checks (useful for idle animations perhaps) and subtle hidden accessories not seen when we first encounter it.
This is to be the case. As the game progresses the Rabbit will become more aggressive looking. With more weaponised areas of the suit being revealed.
The rear limbs of the exo-suit are animal shaped.
i.e. in the case of the “rear” legs the upper part of a rabbit’s body parallels a human leg structure with upper thigh joined to hip at one end and knee joint at the other end, and with “a lower thigh” leading from knee to heel in place of the human shin and calf. The rabbits’s heel doesn’t always touch the ground, however; it is represented by the hock joint and the human foot becomes the rabbits’s rear pastern, and what would be just the human toes are his rear paws.
Visual 01 – Visual 02 – Visual 03 – Animation Test
This may make it move differently to a regular biped. In fact, we had discussed having it move on all fours when moving at speed over open ground, which again might effect its over all anatomy (longer front limbs for example).
You are asked to develop, alongside and in consultation with Paul and myself any element, concept, function, or animation of, or related to the rabbit exo-suit you wish.
This might include:
1 – 3D/2D concept development – variations on the existing design showing the key elements and functions of the suit, always presented with a scale showing Ululu where possible. This might also include interior/exterior texture/material tests, graphics, interior design details etc.
2 – Animations/animation rigs for/of the whole suit, or parts of the suit. This might include head and shoulders, the blast doors for the cockpit, the legs/limbs of the suit or areas with moving control surfaces. Idles, or player functional movement will also be useful even if just in rig form with no surface detail (inc. simple blocked out test animations). How does the exo-suit run, fight, or fall? How does the rabbit behave when on its own (as seen from afar by Ululu and the player)
3 – The environment area that the exo-suit resides in prior to Ululu’s triggering of its motion.
4 – The view from within the suit, i.e. the HUD through which we see the world in fight mode.
5 – Weapon tests. Experiments that involve the exo-suit’s weaponry interactions, either when used by or against the suit. Simple block-out models can be used rather than fully rendered materials.
6 – the animation, triggers and individual motions involved in a nine year old girl accessing or exiting the exo-suit (considering the height issues, that cockpit could well be 25/30 feet off the ground for instance).
7 – Specific Concept Art scenarios – To be negotiated based on existing ideas, please refer to Paul and Gareth.
8 – Diegetic iterations of the rabbit suits, or potions of those suits, that may be part developed within the cave and science facilities left behind by the secondary culture.
9 – …finally, negotiated content development. If you have an idea relating to the exo-suit not encompassed by the outlines above, we are open to discussion.
ALL ELEMENTS OF EXISTING DESIGN ARE OPEN FOR NEGOTIATION OR REAPPRAISAL, we are happy to discuss/negotiate within reason, we won’t for example be turning the major aesthetic theme of the suit, from a rabbit to a lion for example.
All research strands must be presented as a mini-proposal on your blogs prior to any approval from us or commencement on your part.
Once approved by the staff, you may get started.