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.
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 plurality. The 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.
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
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.
inspired from architectural sections and division of spaces in traditional houses facing the main streets of a south indian templetown
The first iteration/idea of the house when the nature of the game was still evolving
trying to give depth to spaces and a simple flat pixellated texture
As the story started evolving more imperfections started making their way into the house, the way it was constructed and resultant spaces
Messy rooms and not so perfect joineries
When we started changing the terrain of the town, it needed to reflect in the architecture of the house
The house maintains the characteristics of an agraharam house inspite of the change in the terrain
Making the front-yard the most public area of the house
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
Gif of the music making mechanism inside a giant automaton
Gif of the house
Gif of the tin-toys inside the cave
musical pillars inspired by the ones in Hampi
Avinash, Romit, Girish, Kabir, Tejas, Dhruv, Yuvraj, Sarbeswar, Abhinav
Cinema 4d + Unity + Pen and Paper
Other works :
Cycling through virtual visualisations of Gokarna to understand the Genus Loci of a South Indian temple town