Antariksha Sanchar

Transmissions in Space 

I started working on Antariksha Sanchar at Quicksand Gameslab in Delhi as my final diploma project for New Media Design at NID. Antariksha Sanchar is the brain child of Avinash Kumar who co-founded Quicksand and Blot!. My primary contributions to the game were in the  areas of research, environment design, story boarding and  art. It was a unique opportunity for me to work on an indie game with a team of diverse backgrounds and skill sets. 

 

A point and click adventure inspired by the dream theorems of prodigious mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, and originating from an opera by the classical dancer Jayalakshmi Eshwar, The narrative of the game engages with a diverse set of ideas, personalities and places.

Below are some images of the work I did during the process of ideation and development of the game, till mid 2016.

Role: Diploma Project: 2013- 14 New Media Design , NID

Mentor : Avinash Kumar

Role: Assistant Art Direction, Research and Level Design : 2015 -16

Developed by Quicksand Gameslab

Official Website : antariksha.in

Recognition : Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016

Find it on Steam

Key aspects to my inquiry

Video game as a new media object:

 

A critical look at video games as new media objects. The most important aspect of the video game that makes it a new media object is  that it transcodes the computer logic on to the human cultural logic and vice versa

Remediation:

A “Point and click Adventure game” repurposes a story book, cinema, theatre, etc. At the same time it also uses the mouse as the primary interface to . Apart from these video games repurpose folk tales, architecture, environments and many cultural artefacts to locate themselves in a context.

Aesthetic and Representation:

During the course of making the video game and representing various ideas and sifting though various world views , it became increasingly clear that the dominant aesthetic has to accommodate this pluralityThe game borrows representations from various media to represent its own reality. 

Small team and Indie game:

Indie games are known for their unique representation styles, gameplay and tight budgets and the team members have to become versatile in the kind of skill sets they employ. 

Process 

Being our first Indie game the beginning  of the process was to research on various references and quickly prototype the worlds, scenes and refine story boards. The process also included field trips to Madurai and various museums .The prototypes would include storyboards, playable prototypes, physical models, 3d Models, sketches, etc. Once the storyboards and the worlds started to freeze, the process developed into a natural workflow between the team. This workflow kept getting optimised as individual roles started to become clearer over a period of time.

Sketches and physical mockups at various stages of development, first attempts at creating a 3 dimensional schematics to the narrative

Shot during a research trip to Madurai, My interest in making a stop motion was sparked by the amazing stop motion videos made by Avinash Kumar. Shot from a simple point and shoot canon camera at the time had a lot of fun making the video and learnt a lot in the process.

Narsimha: Collage for conceptualising a level. Made very early on, collages were one of the key tool for prototyping

Conceptualising the world

 

The key reference for the world to be created was a temple town based on Madurai in India. How would a temple town be in the context of a civilisation that is influenced by the likes of Heckel, Kircher, victorian era steam punk and alternative practices from the Indian past. The context of the world had to be imagined and reimagined several times all through out the process of making. 

Initial Sketches exploring the temple complex and the spaces within, looking for opportunities for gameplay and story telling in the process

Morphology of a South Indian temple town: Temples dictate the morphology of the south Indian temple town. The town develops in concentric rings around the temple, with rituals designed to accentuate the temple as the center. As the rings add to the town the entrances (Gopurams) get taller. The ritualistic chariots of the gods (ratha) circumambulate these rings thereby acting as agencies of the temple that claims the entire town for itself. Our imagined temple town was on a hilly terrain centred around the temple geographically and metaphorically.

Conceptual map of the world, mapped on a horn.  - Concept render

One of the iterations of the story board of the game

Imagining the temple complex, with each temple dedicated to a sense - concept render

Imagining a chariot based on the amazing Rathas for the gods that are frequently used on various occasions in South Indian temple towns.  - concept  render

The House

 

One of the key sets in the game was the house of the main character and the cave below the house, that would become the lab of the protagonist. The house is inspired by agraharam houses in south Indian temple town and the deconstructed from there on into multiple scenes. The rock formations on which the house stands are columnar basalt, chosen for their natural geometric patterns and also because they are found on mars (where the story would develop in the future).  Below are some mockups of the various houses modelled in the process. Each house not only explored the space and resultant storytelling opportunities and its features but also newer ways of modelling and texturing that was a huge learning for me.

Layout of the house and areas
Layout of the house and areas

inspired from architectural sections and division of spaces in traditional houses facing the main streets of a south indian templetown

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Cave Schematic
Cave Schematic
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Platformer house
Platformer house

The first iteration/idea of the house when the nature of the game was still evolving

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Pixel House
Pixel House

trying to give depth to spaces and a simple flat pixellated texture

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Wonky House
Wonky House

As the story started evolving more imperfections started making their way into the house, the way it was constructed and resultant spaces

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Wonky House
Wonky House

Messy rooms and not so perfect joineries

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Hilly house
Hilly house

When we started changing the terrain of the town, it needed to reflect in the architecture of the house

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Hilly House
Hilly House

The house maintains the characteristics of an agraharam house inspite of the change in the terrain

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Frontyard
Frontyard

Making the front-yard the most public area of the house

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Final Level Design

 

Below are some images from the levels composed in the game during development in Unity

Gif of a space inside a giant automaton

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Gif of the music making mechanism inside a giant automaton

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Gif of the house

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Gif of the tin-toys inside the cave

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House_AbhinavPass_B
House_AbhinavPass_B

telescope room

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musical pillars inspired by the ones in Hampi

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Contributors

Avinash, Romit, Girish, Kabir, Tejas, Dhruv, Yuvraj, Sarbeswar, Abhinav

Platform:

Cinema 4d + Unity + Pen and Paper

Other works :

Cycle pe Gokarna:

Cycling through virtual visualisations of Gokarna to understand the Genus Loci of a South Indian temple town

Rabong Gompa

Details and working drawings for a buddhist monastery in Rabong, Sikkim