Inky Whale “KUN”

Introduction

《Inky Whale “KUN”》is a game built during April and August, 2018, which help us won the first prize in the “NetEase 2018 MINI-GAME university competition”.

In general, the game is of Horizontal clearance type with Chinese culture.

I was the Solo Artist in our group ” Photon Studio”, which is constituted with other four students in ShanghaiTech University. I was in charge of all of the artworks including character designing, storyboarding, animation and visual effect developing.

The passage will give a complete description of building process of 《Inky Whale “KUN”》F

Story Design

The most difficult and determined part is from 0 to 1, instead of 1 to 100. Our group has discussed for days around the given topic.

The topic in “NetEase 2018 MINI-GAME ” is about “KUN”, which is a monster whale living in ancient Chinese legend. KUN was huge for thousands of miles, and can transform into a huge bird called “PENG”. Here are thousands of KUN’sstories, but most only depicted how tremendous KUN was.

We decided to develop our own story of KUN based on legend.

The story is about a devil’s self-redemption.

Its soul broke up into six parts. Five parts of it are evilness infected all other monsters in China into devils. China was in chaos. The last part of the soul is the only goodness KUN used to have, existed as an ink droplet. Since then, this lonely ink droplet stepped on the journey to find its lost body and turn China back to the right order.

In the teaser, we put our character KUN as an underdog: An evil monster that arranged and was destroyed by god.

The following story is all about how plays could help this tiny ink droplet, this soul fragmentary to accomplish its journey, to redeem everything back.

Character Design

KUN.

Every level has a shaping stage of KUN, from an ink droplet to a complete form. By now, we have designed two stages of it other than ink droplets.

Stage 1: Bone Fish (骨鱼)

Bone Fish is a fish looks like a sturgeon. I redesign the texture on it in Chinese style. Bonefish demonstrate that KUN has the basic bone structure starting from a single soul fragment.

 

Bone Fish Design graph

 

Complete modeling

Stage 2: KUN Complete(鲲最终形态)

KUN complete is used for the final level, while Kun has already turned back to its original body shape but in black (when it was vicious, it is in red). I design it with hampback as reference.

 

KUN Complete Design Graph

Enemy.

Bo fish(薄鱼)

Bo Fish was a Chinese ancient monster recorded in 《Book of Mountains and sea》(《山海经》) about 3000 years ago. It was a sign of evil omen. I designed it in red to indicate its fiendishness, and with a white face which indicates Treacherousness in China.

 

Bo Fish modeling

Hou Yi (后羿)

In legend, Hou Yi was a brave soldier who shot nine suns down to avoid ten suns keeping burning China. In our story, this great hero was infected with evil soul of original KUN, and became a tyrant.

Xing Tian:(刑天)

In legend, Xing Tian was a thespian giant whose head was cut down in war. He uses nipples as eyes and navels as mouth. He kept fighting with invisible enemies all the time. In our story, he was also infected with original KUN’s evil soul and turned to be a devil.

Thunder God(雷公)

Thunder God was in charge of thunder on sky. He had a pair of powerful drumsticks. Samely, he was infected with original KUN’s evil soul to be evil.

The Spirit of Taoism and Chinese Traditional Painting.

The reason why I set the game into a 2D Horizontal clearance type is that we want to render a scene like a roll of Chinese Traditional Painting. All of the scenes, roles, and color using are standardized into Chinese painting style. Players would feel like controlling an inky brush to paint something in a picture. Every screencut would be a static Painting.

Taoism is an ancient Chinese religion and theory. Most Chinese deities and monsters including KUN are depicted in Taoism. It is representative and abundant. When we designed the levels for a journey that Inky whale stepped on, we took the material from Taoism, like HouYi(后羿) Thunder God(雷公). In level designing details, I will discuss more.

In Taoism, black represents goodness, integrity, adamancy. Red indicates voracity, inexorability, sin. Samely, black and red divide objects into two camps, one standing for goodness and fight for justice, and another working as challenge and obstacles. Players can easily tell the difference without too much training.

And we also combine TaiJi pictures into the game. At the end of each level, KUN will dive into a TaiJi picture, integrate with black, justice and goodness without hesitation. This demonstrates a complete redemption at this level.

Also, the 5 levels in this game have 5 boss and 5 elements in “Taoism Five Elements Theory” corresponding. In “Taoism Five Elements Theory”, world is constructed by five basic elements: water, fire, wood, earth, and mental. They all have mutual exclusion.

In our level design, the relationship with levels, enemies and five elements is as following:

  1. level 0___ torrent _______water : KUN in ink droplet style
  2. level 1___ HouYi(后羿) ____fire : major obstacles are fire
  3. level2 ___Bo Fish(薄鱼) ____wood : major obstacles are plants
  4. level3 ___Xing Tian(刑天) ___earth : major obstacles are mountains
  5. level 4 ___ThunderGod(雷公)_ mental: major obstacles are lightning

Life System

When enemies are destroyed, they will remian some black points, which are energy to be collected. Energy will be recorded in left botton TaiJi sign to demonstrate. When energy does to zero, Kun dies and start from this sub-level(divided by rushing port).

We try to low down the verbal representation to zero. The dashboard of energy is a representation of stamp, in Chinese Painting, artists use a stamp to sign their name.

Mechanism Designing Details

We didn’t design so many approaches for KUN to attack others. Players should use objects in the scene like hiding in a black area or using torrent to destroy enemy to win the game. In general, we can conclude all the mechanism.

  1. self-defense: smog, fleeing
  2. with the help of scene: hiding in any black area, activating the trigger, dodging behind torrent, rushing.

I will introduce this mechanism above in details:

1. smog

By hitting specific key, KUN can use some energy to release an ink pulse behind, anything red hits on this temporary pulse will decrease its energy.

2. fleeing

different from smog, KUN will have a brief acceleration to puncture forward rapidly, leaving a small smog behind to block enemies following.

3. hiding

Kun can move into any black area in the picture as a conservation region, while anything in red will be destroyed stepping in. To prevent Kun hiding in conservation region for too long, KUN’s energy will keep decreasing inside, and color will change to white to be obvious.

4. activating

Fighting with boss is no longer annoying as long as you can find some trigger to activate nature power. For example, if you move KUN’s ink droplet to cover the empty region(heart) of soldier below, he can shoot a ink pulse to defeat HouYi(后羿).

5. dodging

Torrent is activated periodically. Torrent can hurt enemies and also KUN. So players have to control KUN to induce enemies hitting on torrent, while avoiding hitting on it by yourself.

6. rushing

When the tunnel comes to narrow down, the speed of fluid will increase. Carefully drive your KUN when speeding up, some unexpected obstacles are waiting for you.

7.Others

Flower Sea, toxic(red) flowers are blooming periodically. You can wait and predict the region where is occupied by flowers, and find a invisible path out.

Tunnel, you can only drive your KUN inside black area before all the energy running out. Tunnels are tests for your driving skill.

Flow Path

I always stress the importance of fluency. I want to present a consistant animation starting from openning animation, level selection, loading page to game completely. The flow path is as follow.

The Future

We could only accomplish three levels of game, remaining two to be done. And there is a lot of optimization remains to be done. For exampleScene is lack of gradation, and animation of charactors looks a little bit ossified.

We will try to make it perfect in 2019. Your advise and support are highly valued!!

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