Entries in Sega (9)

Saturday
Dec112010

Virtua Fighter 4 - Website

Role: Art Director
Contribution: All visual design, UX and flash development work

Design Challenge: Create an international (translated in 11 languages) marketing site for the new Virtua Fighter 4 game franchise that showed off the new characters, stages and fighting styles. Even though this site was designed in 2002, over 8 years ago, it is still in use today - www.virtua-fighter-4.com

 

Virtua Fighter 4 - Intro

Clearly dated by todays standards of web design, this site, like many at the time contains the now ultra annoying "Skip Intro" button, but at the time, motion graphics on the web was something to actually sit through and enjoy.

 

 Virtua Fighter 4 - Home

The website's landing page was intentionally sparse to create maximum visual space for the game art and not add any additional elements to detract from rich character art. The site was divided intro three core areas - Characters, Fighting Styles and Stages, since each Fighter had a unique style, and a specific stage. The user could then cross navigate these areas, for example learning about a specific fighting style - Vale Tudo, would lead the user to Vanessa, where they would learn she fights on the Harbor stage.

 

 Virtua Fighter 4 - Character (Akira)

Virtua Fighter 4 - Stage (Temple)

The art direction and style established here would go on to be used in the follow up game the franchise - Virtua Fight 4 Evo and also used in print and other ad campaigns. The site was very well received by the notoriously picky AM2 development team, headed by the well known game designer Yu Suzuki.

Thursday
Dec092010

Pocket Kingdom - Game (Symbian S60)

Role: Art Director
Contribution: All visual design and UX work.

Design Challenge: To create the first ever massively mutliplayer mobile online game - MMMOG. Pocket Kingdom was a designed to be a deep RPG, including creating and army, crafting gear and units, supported by an online auction, upgrading your castle and doing battle against other players from around the world. This game would go on to win numerous awards, including 4.5/5 from Gamespy.com and 9/10 from 1up.com

Pocket Kingdom - Game Banner

Pocket Kingdom is truly unique and truly exceptional. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying, habit-forming game experience anywhere. It does for N-Gage Arena what Halo 2 did for Xbox Live ...

-- GameSpy.com

Pocket Kingdom - N-Gage QD

On a technical level, one of the huge challenges with Pocket Kingdom was the very small screen resolution - 176 x 208 pixels and the 12 bit color palette that only allowed for 1 bit alpha channels. This was some seriously old school programming and I had the great fortune of working with industry legend Ed Rotberg of Battle Zone and other game fame.

Pocket Kingdom - Battle Screens

One major distinction of Pocket Kingdom to the genre of RPGs was the breaking of the, "fourth wall" in videogames, by having a player's units speak in L33t speak, like online gamers at the time, including, "Pwn!", "Grief" and "OMG". This really helped the game stand out from the crowd of generic RPG fodder. 

Pocket Kingdom - Unit Screen and Battle Screen

One of the secondary design challenges was dealing with information overload for such data rich areas as crafting, unit upgrading and party management. All of these areas were stat heavy and lacked an connection to the actual units and items they were meant to represent. By simply adding in small images of the units similar to in the battle screens the player had a much better sense of relationship of the unit and it's related data. 

Pocket Kingdom - Main Menu and Notification Screen

Because of a relatively short development cycle we were not able to fully overhaul the existing IA for the game menu, so instead we created a work around of a personal fairy character who explained the various features of the game as the player accessed them. This character also acted as comic relief and set the tone of the tongue and cheek style of humor the game became famous for.

Thursday
Dec092010

SegaSports.com - Website (Dreamcast)

Role: Art Director
Contribution: Did all visual design and UX work.

Design Challenge: DCreate a unique web experience for the SegaSports franchise for the new Dreamcast platform. This design was to be built on top of the existing Sega Dreamcast web experience, but also take on a new look for SegaSports. One of the key challenges of this project was build a web interface for the Dreamcast browser which limited resolution (standard TV, including title safe area) and input via Dreamcast control, instead of a mouse.

SegaSports - Homepage

All the SegaSports games for the Dreamcast would have an online features, nearly all with multiplayer, which was unheard of at the time, so each game would have access to the SegaSports web experience from the Dreamcast console, allowing players to issue challenges, view rankings, enter tournaments and learn more about the other SegaSports games.

SegaSports - Games

Research data showed the user general bought more than one SegaSports game so a key feature of the site was to learn about other SegaSports titles as well as to keep the user coming back for info about games currently in development. This was back in an area of dial up access speeds so have insight into game development was nearly unheard of at the time. 

SegaSports - Challenges

Since SegaSports titles were some of the first games to have online multiplayer, a whole new system for player challenges had to be created, including a web interface for issuing and receiving them. 

SegaSports - Tournaments

To help grow the Sega Dreamcast community regularly scheduled tournaments were held and run by our community managers. Players could sign up for an check their standings in all open tournaments.

The SegaSports site would later under go a major redesign, making the site far easier to update and become a much more timely place for news and events as the overall pace for internet development and information increased. See SegaSports redesign project.

Thursday
Dec092010

Phantasy Star Online - Website

Role: Art Director
Contribution: Did all visual design, UX work and Flash development

Design Challenge: Details coming soon.

Thursday
Dec092010

Outtrigger - Website

Role: Art Director
Contribution: Did all visual design, UX work and Flash development

Design Challenge: Take an unknow IP, that is really a tech demo and make a makring site on no budget from a marketing team that could care less. Outtrigger was in some ways a total dream project for me, since after working on so many high profile IP projects I now had one that no one was interested in, giving me free reign to do whatever I felt like and in this case what I felt like doing was push my own skills of Flash, 3DS Max and Illustrator to their limits.

Outtrigger - Package Art

Outtrigger was really more of a tech demo for SNAP - Sega Network Application Package, which would become Sega network middle ware running in games on the Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecude and Xbox platforms. It would also be purchased by Nokia and rolled into the N-Gage and Java games platforms for Nokia.


Outtrigger - Main Menu

For Outtrigger we took the wafer thin story line of the game about a futuristic international counter terrorism force called, "Interforce" and imagined what that company's website would look like. I created a full 3D virtual character including using an early text to speech tool to give him voice and communacate with the user as the navigated the site. Multiple movies were rendered and randomly assigned to have our virtual guide talk, look around, blink and smile.


Outtrigger - Tactics Menu

Outtrigger was all about style over substance, there were multiple UX paradigms and gratuitous flash animations, just about everything one does not do today in modern website design, but at the time, if I could make it move, it did - nothing was static on the Outtrigger website.


 Outtrigger - Media Menu

The Media section of the site was most conventional, using a main window space for viewing all content, screens, wallpaper and movies.


Outtrigger - Character Select Menu

In a nod to Charlie's Angels, I added a character selector that randomly morphed through silhouettes of each character and would should full color renders on mouse over.


Outtrigger - Character Bio Menu

After selecting a character, the user would be taken to bio page, including information about weapons, extra images and how to play effectively with each character.

Outtrigger was not a particularly successful game, but it allowed me to further develope my technical skills so I could put those talents to good use on more important work in the future.