Friday, 23 December 2011

A talk with an architect

The other day we had a talk with Jack Greasley our resident architect. He helped us alot with layout and design aswell as talking us through the right periods of architecture and what works well together. Most of the time was spent helping us get the core of the buildings old architecture sorted which helped Steve a lot. Jack did spend a little time on the interior and gave me some good pointers as he scribbled his ideas on a piece of paper. He seemed to click to my vision and really understood what i wanted to achieve. He then showed us lots of books and even had some marble textures i scanned for reference and texture. I am still designing my lobby area but Jack has really helped push my idea and made me even more excited about the finished thing.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Design Pitch

The Bank Heist

Design Pitch

Tom Lawson

[Design pitch for the joint FMP by Steve Jones (exterior)

Tom Lawson (interior)]

As the smoke settled,

the true extent of the

damage was revealed.

The Idea

The Midas International Bank level is a environmental piece telling the story of a well planned bank robbery and the chaos surrounding the event. The game is a first person action/shooter and the player will be free to explore the post-heist scene from the police filled streets and beautiful plaza to the shattered grand lobby smoke filled bank vaults. The player will possibly play the role of a detective or police officer after arriving at the scene however this is undecided and will play little part in the story telling of the environment.

This is a joint project along side Steven Jones who will be creating the outside exterior and I will be constructing the interior of the fictional Midas Bank.

I will be creating:

A lobby


Vault room

Midas Bank is situated in a unspecified metropolitan city within Europe (including the UK). The exterior will explore these cities architectural influences (Roamanesque Revivial, Medieval Gothic Revivial, Jacobethan, Neoclassical, Romantisism, Renesance Revival) and will be based on a set design once the style has been explored. This will flow into the architecture for the banks interior lobby and will affect the size and look of the room. These factors will be mutually agreed on before progressing with design however the banks other rooms will be fully converted into modern day interior spaces and will be easily adapted if at all to meet any changes to the outside.

“The level is to be a day time scene with a sense of calm after the sudden raid. Sirens can be heard but not much else, only the echoes of destruction and the distant radio chatter from the officers outside. At the moment the scene feels very cool, like a crisp spring morning so will be filled with warm yellow sunlight and ice blue shadows. The sense of being in the direct daylight is warming, emphasised by the glare of the low morning light and the shadows should feel colder as the lighting dips and shifts hue to the opposite shades. A gentle breeze blows through the shattered glass sky dome and ripples over the flags and banners inside the lobby.”

The Breakdown

The Midas Bank lobby will be the largest part of the interior with an open 2 story room with support pillars and central feature (fountain or sculpture). There will be a sky dome in the ceiling where the robbers have entered from via ropes. There will be a main desk and surrounding help desks and self service units like found in modern banks.

The aesthetic will be reminiscent of the exterior in architectural style terms but will have been built on and over as it was converted into the bank it is today. E.g. There will be the old building stair case and pillars however there will be new glass walls and dividers where the cashiers sit etc. The room will have tall towering windows with large shafts of light pouring through onto the marble and carpet floor.

This large entrance will flow nicely into the darker low ceiling offices behind the main desk. These will be accessible via a glass door or security barrier. The low lighting and roof will provide a complimentary contrast to the previous room and will enhance variety within the level.

This area will be split via dividers and will be separated office spaces with desks and computers. Paper will be scattered and bullet holes will riddle the walls as the robbers made for an escape maybe. Toward the back of the offices will be an elevator and staircase that can be followed down to the vault. There may be a side room here for server or security purposes but that may be relocated to the vault floor.

As you go down the stairs to the vault level you will pass through security checks as the alarm becomes more apparent. The building design down here will be very modern and practical with floor lighting and cold concrete walls.

The safe entrance has not been finalised yet but will include a small set of stairs moving down to the vault door. The door its self will be large and a-jar with smoke surrounding it. Within the vault its self will be lock safes covering the walls and maybe an empty centre piece hinting that something valuable was stolen.


Lobby may not have banners.

Lobby shape will vary as concepting progresses and settled with Steven on a mutual shape.

Time of day: Possible day/night cycle if time allowed.

Character persona may vary depending on final plot.

Lobby centre piece.

Room locations and player path.

The Specifications

Tri count: 500k

Platform: PC

Software: UDK, 3DS MAX (may use Cryengine depending on time and learning curve)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


We finally took our trip down to London to gather reference for our FMP and get our heads round scale and positioning of both the exterior and the interior. Steve's part of the trip went well as nearly every building down there seemed to have been a bank at some point and were all grand exteriors with excellent detail. As for my side we came across a few interesting interiors but most we were unable to photograph and even worse i didn't get any vault pictures. The Silver Vaults was very tight on security and we couldn't even enter, but that was as i had guessed however the Bank of England museum had none either and that was my best bet. On the other hand we did get to go in all these places and nosey round as well as coming across some nice design surprises that inspired me with better ideas and design.

I think i have a lot now to use in the way of concepting but it is going to have to be up to me to put together a full space from scratch.

Review: Round 2

Had the second and last lot of crits over our FMP proposals and now i think its pretty final that this is what im doing. Im collaborating with Steve for definite now and were set to take a trip down to London to get reference and a feel for the style and setting we are aiming for.

As for the crits, not much was said but they gave me the go ahead as i showed them my advancements in ideas and design. I tried to prove my idea would not be boring because it was 'after an event' by showing them scenes from other games and films where action is absent and yet drama and suspense was everywhere. Before the film Super 8 was released in cinema Portal2 released a teaser level where the player awakes after a train crash. The player walks freely around the level of destruction not seeing another soul or solving a single situation until he is finally greeted by a dramatic cutscene and the titles. This was my best example to hold against the 'boring level' statement as it is so dramatic.

As well as this i pitched a new layout i was considering to fit with Steves current level designs. Both are going to adapt in the near future so they truly compliment each other.

The extra editions are the more linear pathway and the added vault entrance room. The middle part of the building will now be a low celling office space with cubicles. I think this will flow nicely from the grand main lobby into the smaller offices and down into the smaller still vault. I just hope i havnt bitten off more than i can chew.

[Two vault entrance concepts]

Sunday, 6 November 2011

This week has been mainly focused on my current project but time has been spared to continue contemplating my idea and how to execute it. After the last reviews Steve has been lost with where to go with his idea and suggested maybe we collaborate. I thought this would be a solid idea but have always wondered how marking something shared would go. How would they properly judge the overall piece with other peoples work creating the scene. Steve was thinking about maybe doing the outside of the bank so would sit next to my FMP but would not be mixed in with the assets. I think this would greatly add to both pieces while maintaining whole areas of personal work.

He is still undecided about this though and will be something we will look into. As for me, i have had a weekend of watching bank robbery films and am still confident in my idea. Later next week when hopefully i begin some preliminary concepts the idea will come together.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Post Crit

After critiques with the panel i have received some decent feedback and recommended to watch many heist films. One of the biggest crits that stood out for me was that Mike stated that i may find that i cannot convey the story as well as hoped and find that its the excitement from the action of the robbery that out ways the environmental feel of the place. I feel what i have in my head is pretty gripping stuff. Having dynamic things like unsettled smoke and alarms blaring will be enough to hold some tension while the player explores the atmospheric set. I think if i nail the lighting and shape i can pull off a well rounded level. He also hinted at there "being something there" which i aim to prove in the coming weeks.

Other feedback was less insightful, stating my level would consist of basically two boxes. In the coming weeks when i begin to concept and explore designs i aim to prove a well structured layout.

Give me time :D

The plan (Before crits)

After my talk with Chris i felt i should stick to my guns and follow the path of the bank robbery scene. I began looking into places that could provide the adtitional reference i would need like bank vaults and doors etc. After a lot of searching i found several places down in London that were my best bet of getting some solid reference.

The flyer above from what i can gather is an old insight into what the 'Silver Vaults' down in London used to be. Alot of the background of this is very hush hush and is hard to find accurate evidence but from what i have found it looks like this place 'the Silver Vaults', is now a large jewellers situated in old vault rooms. The quality of the products is so high end i am unsure of what i will be able to gather in terms of reference and thats if im allowed in at all. If i am not allowed to take pictures at least i will have first hand experience of some ex-vaults. But like i said there is not much information on any of this so i might have to wrong end of the stick compleatly. Wish me luck.

As well as this there is the more reliable 'Bank of England Museum' which is bound to feature old and new bank assets that i am sure to be able to photograph. Ill be able to pick up a bit of background history there too and the building i believe is an ex-bank or again ex-vault.

The final one is less interesting and is the Hard Rock Cafes: 'The Vault' which is an underground exhibit of rock memorabilia locked in an old vault. Picking through the photos and guitars there is bound to be some reference hidden away down there.

360 view.

These references are pretty weak and unreliable but i will continue looking.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


After having a crit with Chris im a little confused as how to advance with this. He says i should maybe look into doing a gallery which i like the sound of and could still include most of the features i wanted in my first idea. But then he went on to suggest doing the local New Walk museum so i would have direct reference with everything i would need. This idea is okay but to me im feeling its lacking the edge of creativity i would get from doing the other two ideas.

As well as this, the gallery idea takes away my idea of 'one large lobby and simple corridors to a safe'. With this new concept i would have to have several gallery rooms which i feel would take away from the initial idea.

I am still undecided on this but as it stands i am still collecting reference and depending on how hard it is to get more bank pictures (especially of the vault) will determine my ultimate outcome. I feel i can get both ideas to work but am still loving the bank scene.

Monday, 10 October 2011

I am wanting a grand lobby for my level like found in many old buildings still used as banks. Today i took a trip into town to collect some photographs for reference for creating the lobby.

For the several bank interior shots i asked permission and only took photographs above the head as not to include any people. This is some good starter reference and is already giving me ideas on how things should look.

[Banner image by: Tamas Gaspar]

This is blog will follow the progression of my FMP for 3rd year game art.

Deciding on a final scene fit enough for an FMP was challenging but i had a rough idea of where i was heading. I wanted to do an indoor scene with many detailed smaller assets and grand architectural foundations. A public place or at least a place where many people visit on a daily basis. I also knew i wanted an interesting story to my environment, shown through exploration and discovery of the level. Remaining a still scene, the surroundings would portray an interesting plot from a visual level.

The idea that fixated me the most was a bank robbery. The scene would be littered with debris from where the robbers had entered leading to the vault, sprung and empty. Sirens wiring and distant exterior police sirens blaring this level would be full if excitement and interest even though it will fundamentally be a still piece. I am personally interested in interaction so there will be plenty of things the player can interact with. Maybe lasers to be tripped or metal detectors to beep.

I want the setting to be a still morning with a strong sense of natural sunrise in the lobby. light shafts pouring through the celling where the robbers made their entrance. Dust will still be present in the air allowing for some interesting lighting and effects.

This will be the Next Day.