Friday, 28 September 2012

Some ideas on the type of game

With the research that I have done I believe that the type of game that Mayan Twins should be is a 3rd person action adventure game. This would be similar to the style of games that I researched into earlier: Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. I feel that due to the nature of the twin's story the game will have at least a 15 rating due to beheadings of characters and sacrifices. And in terms of design I feel more research is needed to be done to begin to understand how this game would look so that the design elements can be obtained from research within Mayan culture to make the game become more authentic.

The story of the game will begin much like Heavenly Sword, the twins know that their fate is doomed and the player will play out the final moments of the twins lives. The game will then cut to the beginning with the twins back at their grandmother's garden where they used their special abilities to make their garden chores much easier for themselves. Every day however the twins work would be in vain as the animals would undo everything and so in seeking revenge the boys aimed to capture the animals. The twins were able to capture a rat and singe his tail, the rat in an act of mercy revealed that their talents were wasted and that they were destined to be great ball players like their father and uncle. However the equipment their father used was hidden from them by their grandmother so through the use of their trickery the twins claimed it back. They began to play ball in the same court as their father which much like their father had disturbed the Lords of Xibalba, rulers of the Maya Underworld. The twins would set off to confront the Lords who after a game of Pok-ta-Pok (Mayan Ball Game) were sent on several tests. After each test the boys are asked to play a ball game with their aim being to lose to be sent on to the next test. After the twins complete the final test they head off to the final battle to act out the revenge of the killing of their fathers.

I think in an attempt to make this story link in with being a video game the twins need to be in some form 'level up', gaining new abilities along their journey. The game will feature co-operative play between two players where the players will have to work together to solve puzzles. Such as one player having to turn a crank while another has to protect the other, or through synchronisation players have to  press a series of buttons to pass a door. In terms of combat the players can work together to perform special moves, in terms of types of attacks and weapons that the twins would use I think will have to be based around the equipment used in the ball game. The unfortunate thing about this ball game is that not very much is known and what is known about the sport is heavily contested. What I have discovered is that the equipment used in the ball game tended to include '...stone yokes or belts, hand-stones, padlock stones, leather gloves, knee pads, chin pieces, half-masks and headgear.' (Blanchard, 1995) Also from reading the story of the twins in one of the ball games one of the twins - Hunahpu - uses a racquet in one of the ball games which I think opens a door to decide what type of attributes that the two characters will have.

I think Hunahpu's racquet can be turned into some form of weapon allowing the playing to use speed and ranged attacks however this character will be less powerful. So with Xbalanque I feel that with the types of equipment listed that he should be more of an up-close-and-personal character relying on brute strength to combat enemies while being less hasteful. This in turn could produce some characteristics of the characters with the fighter being slower in thinking and the ranged twin could be more intelligent. The game being co-operative opens up the chance for co-operative attacks with the characters so for example after the players defeat a certain amount of enemies each it fills up an attack bar. When this has filled then the twins can combine to perform a devastating attack which will merge the power of speed, range and strength all in one to defeat large number of overwhelming enemies.

Another feature I thought of to include was that when the twins had defeated the different tests they would gain a new ability in their combinations to become more powerful and use against enemies. For example after the twins defeat the fire house the gods would grant them the ability to enhance their attacks with fire which in turn could effect their appearance. This effect would probably come in the form of the Mayan symbol of that animal/element becoming part of their body art and in turn these attacks could help to solve puzzles in other tests for the story to advance.

Texts -

Blanchard, Kendall. The Anthropology of Sport: An Introduction, 1995 p.106 accessed on 28/09/2012

Thursday, 27 September 2012


Something to bear in mind and derive some inspiration from is the film Apocalypto directed by Mel Gibson using some actors who were Mayans who only spoke Maya and were not familiar with modern civilisation. Costume design and makeup was thoroughly researched and that was the same for set design with the use of actual buildings and sets rather than relying on computed generated images.

Gameplay of The Hero Twins

Thinking about the type of game that I want to create the hero twins for it will be a 3rd person action adventure similar to the type of game that Heavenly Sword is.
Heavenly Sword features the character Nariko who is the daughter of her clan's leader Shen. The clan look after the Heavenly Sword which is said in prophecy to be wielded by a male heir and bring piece to the land. The sword is targeted by the evil King Bohan and in order to escape from certain death Nariko wields it. Unfortunately the sword is cursed and whoever wields the sword is drained of their life force. The gameplay is based around melee combat where the player can choose between three different stances to attack the enemies Speed, Range and Power stance. The speed stance sits between ranged and power where the sword turns into two blades for the player to use. The ranged stance sees the sword become two blades chained together allowing for long reach but low power. Finally power stance sees the blade become a slow but powerful two handed sword.

Another game developed by Ninja Theory featuring similar style combat but a co-operative edge that I can take away from the gameplay is Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. In this game the player takes the role of Monkey who after being knocked unconscious finds himself under the orders of a woman named Trip because of a slave headband. She orders him to take her to her village, which after being told that if she dies Monkey dies, he has to comply.

Much like Heavenly Sword, Enslaved has a similar type of combat with Monkey using a a staff which can be used to attack enemies in close range and then also the staff can turn into a projectile firing weapon for enemies afar. Trip doesn't play so much of a part in combat within the game but does have a big part to play in the platforming sections of the game. Trip can help monkey be thrown into places out of reach so that obstacles can be overcome and also scout out the upcoming areas for enemies with a robotic dragonfly.

These games are two which I would like to derive inspiration in terms of the type of game that I will be creating the Mayan Hero Twins for. In the Hero Twins case I think that to create an experience that isn't concentrated as much in the gaming industry would be a focus on co-operative gameplay. With the characters being twins this opens up the gameplay for co-operation between them to solve puzzles within the environments. Also expanding on a similar style of combat like Heavenly Sword and Enslaved this can be incorporated in a more co-operative way with the two being able to combine their abilities and attacks.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Mayan research into symbols and costumes

A reason for focusing on Mayan mythology was because I went on holiday to Mexico during the summer and the resort that we stayed at had incredible Mayan cultural shows throughout the week. These shows would happen Monday until Thursday featuring some of the staff dressing up in traditional outfits and were covered in Mayan body art to recreate traditional Mayan ceremonies within the resort. I became interested in the patterns of the body art and for this years minor project I thought that would be a great place to gain some inspiration for a project.

Mayan hieroglyphics and decoration were generally carved into stone, bone or painted on pottery. The two main topics of these would be astronomy and religious views.

Just a few examples of Mayan Art and symbols-

Maya Hero Twins

In the lore of the Quiché Maya, One and Seven Hunahpu were the first generation of hero twins. These boys were passionate ballplayers. They were so good at it, and so noisy about it, that they came to the attention of the Lords of Death. The rulers of the Underworld sent messengers to summon them to a ballgame. They were told to bring their rubber ball and their protective gear. Instead, they hid them up under the rafters of their mother's house.

Then they set out for Xibalba, the kingdom of the Lords of Death. At the bottom of a cliff, they made it safely across a river of spikes, then a river of blood and a river of pus. When they came to the throneroom of the Lords of Death, they greeted them by name. Only these weren't the Lords of Death at all, but carved wooden replicas. This was a test, and they had failed it. "No hard feelings," said the Lords of Death. "Have a seat." The twins sat right down on a burning bench and shot right back up again. For failing tests like these they were sacrificed. Their bodies were buried under the ballcourt in Xibalba.

But the head of One Hunahpu was placed in the fork of a tree. A maiden named Blood Woman approached the tree, and the head of One Hunahpu spoke to her. And when she reached out her hand, he spat into it. The saliva of One Hunahpu grew into babies in the womb of Blood Woman. And she gave birth to the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque.

Here's how the Hero Twins found out that they were destined to be great ballplayers. They were trying to make a garden, but every time they cleared away the underbrush, the forest animals put it back again. They tried to snare the animals but had no success until at last they caught a rat. They held his tail over the fire (which is why rats have no hair back there). They were starting to kill him when the rat protested, talking fast to save his hide. "Look, you two aren't cut out to be gardeners anyway," he squealed. "There's something you'd be better at. I'll tell it for some food."
And the rat told them about how their father and uncle had been great ballplayers, and how they were cut out to be great themselves. "You just need the proper gear," said the rat. "And I happen to know where they hid it."

But the rat didn't want to get caught in the house by the Twins' grandmother. So they let him loose in the wall and then asked their grandmother for food and drink. The water jar needed filling, because they had secretly emptied it. So their grandmother went out to the well. And the boys let loose a mosquito that punctured her water jug, so water leaked out every time she filled it. While she was gone, the rat bit the twine that held the ball gear to the ceiling, and down it fell.

So one day they were playing ball like their father and uncle before them. Their gleeful shouts were heard down below in Xibalba. The Lords of Death were affronted. These twins were no more humble than the others. And so messengers were dispatched, summoning them to a ballgame in Xibalba. It broke their grandmother's heart to think that she would lose her grandsons to the Lords of Death, just as she had lost her sons before them.

But this generation succeeded where the first had failed. They knew that the Lords of Death expected to be greeted by name. So one of them plucked a hair from his shin, and it turned into a mosquito. And the mosquito went on ahead and bit the first Lord of Death. Only there was no reaction, since this wasn't a real Lord of Death at all but only a wooden replica. Then the mosquito bit a real Lord, and he let out a cry. "What's the matter?" asked the one seated next to him, calling him by name.

And when the mosquito bit the other Lords and each cried out in turn, the twins learned all the names. Then they entered the throne room of Xibalba and declared that they weren't about to say good morning to wooden dummies. "Then have a seat," said the Lords of Death, gritting their teeth in frustration.
"Not on that cooking griddle," said the Twins.

Now the Twins were challenged to a series of ordeals, each in a special "house". In the Dark House they were given a torch and two burning cigars. They were supposed to return these in the morning just as they had received them. Their father and uncle had let the torch burn out, and they had smoked the cigars. But the Hero Twins knew better. They swapped a macaw's scarlet tail feathers for the torch's flame. And they stuck fireflies on the ends of their cigars.

When they were sent to the Razor House, sharp blades were supposed to cut them to pieces. But they convinced the blades that their job was to cut up animals, not hero twins. And when they were sent to the Jaguar House, they distracted the tigers by feeding them bones. The Cold House they survived by locking out the cold. The Fire House didn't burn them to ashes, but only toasted them golden brown.

It was when they were sentenced to the Bat House, they made their first mistake, in accordance with their destiny. Hunahpu decided to peek outside the blowgun and see if it was morning yet. When he did so, a bat sliced off his head and it went rolling out onto the ballcourt of Xibalba. His brother called all the animals together, asking each to bring its favorite food. The coati brought a squash, and with the help of the gods this became a new head for Hunahpu. Meanwhile the Twins told a rabbit to hide outside the ballcourt.
When the Lords of Death started the game, they used Hunahpu's head for the ball. As far as they were concerned, this made them victors automatically. But when they kicked the ball, Xbalanque deflected Hunahpu's head flying toward the rabbit's hiding place. The rabbit hopped off, and the Lords of Death thought it was the bouncing ball and raced off in pursuit.

The boys got Hunahpu's head back and put the squash in its place. When the game began again and Xbalanque gave the ball a particularly energetic boot, it split open and all its seeds came spilling out. The Hero Twins had defeated the Lords of Xibalba.

So the Lords of Death, with all their tricks and all their tests couldn't kill the Hero Twins. But still the boys knew that they would have to die for their quest to be complete. They even knew how the Lords of Death would kill them. So when they were called before the Lords of Xibalba and challenged to a new and different game, they knew it was a trick. "See this oven?" said the Lords of Death. "Bet you can't jump over it four times."

"We're not falling for that one," said the boys, and without any further ado they jumped right into the flames. At this point the Lords of Death made a big mistake. Instead of throwing Xbalanque and Hunahpu over a cliff or hanging their bodies in a tree, they ground their bones on a grinding stone and sprinkled them in the river. This was the only way that the Twins could come back to life. And come back they did, first as catfish and then as their normal selves.

Only now their outward appearance was different. They looked like tattered beggars, the kind who go about dancing and performing tricks for a living. And their tricks were amazing. They'd burn a house down and then make it like new. They'd even sacrifice each other, laying down under the blade then springing up again. Word of their renown reached the Lords of Death, and they were summoned for a command performance.
The Lords of Death asked that a dog be sacrificed and then brought back to life. And when this was done, they asked that it be repeated with a human. And when this too was accomplished, they asked the Twins to sacrifice each other. So Xbalanque dismembered his twin and cut out his heart. Then he started dancing and commanded Hunahpu to get up and join him. And when Hunahpu got up as good as new, the Lords of Death were caught up in a frenzy of delight.

"Now do us!" they cried. And so the Twins sacrificed the two foremost of the Lords of Death. Only they didn't bring them back to life. And the other Lords knew that they had been defeated, and from that day forth Xibalba had lost its glory.
The Twins took the head of One Hunahpu from the tree in which it hung, and they put him back together and restored him to life. They left him there in a place of honor beside the ballcourt in Xibalba. And then the Hero Twins, Xbalanque and Hunahpu, their heroic quest complete, ascended into the sky and became the sun and the moon.

[Based on the Popul Vuh., translated by Dennis Tedlock, published by Simon & Schuster. Available in paperback and highly recommended.]

3rd Year: Proposal

Aims –

Last year I attempted to create a character for a platformer video game based around Japanese myth. Video games are my interest and this year I want to increase my skills and knowledge in techniques in game design. The aim of my year is to concentrate on increasing my skills in character design further to be able to develop my abilities in deriving sharper character design and increase my skills in producing that design in a 3D format ready for a video game or video game cut scene. I also would like to improve my skills in concept art as well. Seeing as I concentrated last year on character design I may branch out and design the environment of a game to better my skills at concept art for environments and modelling skills for environments as well.

Idea –

A video game based around the two hero twins from Mayan mythology. The video game design will be heavily influenced by Mayan colours and Mayan art. The twin characters can be characterised as opposites to create an interesting narrative and in being twins the way that the characters interact with things within the game could be based around combination. This could be incorporated in puzzles within the game to create interesting challenges for the player and also brought into the combat of the game where they have special attacks they could combine with each other to take down foes. By researching more into the twins tale I can think about designing props and interactive environments within the game to create a ‘character set’ which will fulfil the criteria of gaining a better skill set in environmental  concept art whilst giving the characters an environment to ‘belong’ in. 

The Hero Twins shooting a perched bird demon with a blowgun