Feeling Melodramatic – Reflect on Life

Such an exaggerated title post… Well recently I’ve been thinking about what I’ve been doing for the past 11 weeks as I start to approach Week 12. Seeing as it’s my final year and I only have one more sem till I graduate, it just feels a little nostalgic. I’ve taken cinema major subjects, attended three studios as well as chosen crazy electives that I both enjoyed and regretted. Out of three studios I have chosen, despite Story Lab being my second choice, I feel that it was the more interesting studio! True, the beginning was really dry and heavy, as Dan reminded us almost every week, but the theories and reasonings helps back your ideas.

Overall, this story lab has gave me the opportunity to create something I love to do. I have a keen interest in board games and puzzles. This project proved to me that there are many ways to tell a story rather than digital platforms like films and television. When the guest lecturer, Ben McKenzie, came in to gave us an overview of what he’s done, I was in awe. Honestly, I think I was amazed till I had no idea what questions to ask him at all. Everything was all so new to me. Growing up in a traditional, reserved family and country, you do not get much performing arts interest. My college had hosted an arts festival, me volunteering as an entertainment assistant manager, we had so much problems gathering sponsorships. Coming to Australia exposed me to the world of arts – from busking to art exhibitions/galleries and live games like Pop Up Playground.

As a budding filmmaker, taking a step away from the film narrative has given me a new insight of telling a story. Maybe one day, I would create puzzle narratives in my films as a combination. My essay on mind games being an agency of transmedia storytelling has sparked my interests even more than before in these puzzle elements. I had been experimenting on interactive videos but interactivity works passively as well ! Learnt that when I was doing my story lab essay.

Well, on the down side, I have been neglecting my other assignments because of this fun project! Still managed to finish them in time, don’t worry ! one logo design assignment done, another one test, one story lab project and one audio experimentation project to go! *shootmepls*

Project FOUR – The Progress #3

Video logs and audio logs ! We met at uni on a Friday morning to shoot our video log. We wanted a digital platform to help drive the narrative so Steven wrote up the script for the resistance’s leader. Griffin and I collaborated on finding the best lighting that would create a mysterious feel by creating a silhouette of the leader. Griffin took production courses prior to this so she had the most experience in lighting. We finished shooting within an hour and a half. Efficiency ! Well, it helped that we only had three small parts to film. Farina raised an interesting idea of recording our audios for the in-game experience for Dan so that we have proof recordings of the game experience to go with our project. So while we are to act as our characters on the day itself, we can also have an audio file to hand in with our project.

After the progress update on Wednesday, I tested Griffin’s puzzles and we worked on rewording her questions to give a clearer instructions on what the players should look at. The puzzles were relatively easy and requires a little bit of effort in thinking. I enjoyed the puzzles and the ideas Griffin came up with. Farina was working on the logo and the base layout. As she worked on the base layout, I realised there were three doors on the map and decided I should create puzzles for each door for the hacker to unlock.

Therefore, the puzzles I’m thinking of was becoming more complex like decoding audio wave files, creating a puzzle and circuit flows. Typically all those movies you watch on automated security doors, I visualise what it would need to unlock those type of machines in a simple puzzle. I’ve also simplified the sudoku and I might probably use riddles and hints to help the players.

That’s the end of the third update! Till next time.

WEEK 11 – Progress “Talk”

Just this week, we had the progress update “talk”. We say talk because presentation is so formal and intimidating. So this talk was about updating our peers on the progress of our work – both the finished and the future progress. To summarise the talk, here are some slides that we created to show our progress:


160518_Informal Presentation  (5)


160518_Informal Presentation  (4) 160518_Informal Presentation  (3) 160518_Informal Presentation  (2)


160518_Informal Presentation  (1)


160518_Informal Presentation   (0)


160518_Informal Presentation

That’s just about what we have done for the past two weeks after the Week 8 presentation! It’s very exciting yet daunting at the same time to see the project coming together. Hopefully the players that play our game will have as much fun as we had making these puzzles.

WEEK 10 – FEEDBACK + The Narrative

Week 10 was the week where we finally solidified our narrative. We have been going around the narrative, creating a rather complex story and then narrowing it down. The endless puzzle ideas have created a disorganised workflow and we were running out of time. It went on an endless loop of debates. Finally, as a group, we finalised the narrative and we stopped thinking of the puzzles that could  complicate story any further. We decided to fit the puzzles according to the narrative instead.

Before the meeting, I have created the first puzzle for ‘The Hacker’. This puzzle is a sudoku piece with a hidden password in it. The reason is to create a false sense of “algorithm” decrypting act. As a terrible hacker, I can only create puzzles based on number games I’ve come across before (DISCLAIMER: I have never learned to hack nor do I have the interest to be one in the future! …but they’re cool). I took 12 minutes to complete the puzzle. After solving the puzzle, I added a little flare by inserting a hidden password so it gives a sense of completed decryption. Bringing this puzzle to the table, we have finalised the narrative and since we have an overlap of “location” puzzles, I’m changing my hidden password to unlocking doors that have been shut tight during the lockdown.

At the same time, we received feedback for our pitch presentation that we presented in Week 8. It was a little disappointing but admittedly reasonable as our pitch was all over the place. We tried to keep information of our puzzles, in fear that we would have exposed our ideas too much. That led us to our slight downfall. During the feedback, we were told that we did not explain much of our puzzles and it was disappointing because we actually had the idea in mind at that time. All in all, it was a valuable experience that we should be as detailed as possible without giving out too much of our motifs.

Project THREE – The Progress

I was intrigued by Steven and Farina’s story pitch during the Story Market session. I am a fan of puzzle games, especially brain teasing games so I was leaning towards that pitch compared to the rest. Hence, I, along with two other members, was chosen to join Steven and Farina’s group.

The narrative of our transmedia storytelling is that aliens invaded Earth and five humans volunteered to sign the ‘peace treaty’ to the public. Away from the public’s eyes, the volunteers were used as the aliens’ subject experiment for research in exchange for sparing their race. The first thing on our agenda was to solidify the story while we each tackled on the following tasks:

  • alien design
  • audio log script (to be used as the pitch trailer)
  • the resistance poster
  • develop the characters
  • research on past successful campaigns

After a week, we regrouped to share the results of our research / designs. I took on researching the most famous transmedia campaigns that came out a huge success – Dark Knight, Tron: Flynn Lives, Coke Zero: Drinkable Ad, etc. I also tried designing the alien logo but it was put on hold (even I was not happy with the result !).

During the second meeting, our thoughts on our project started changing after the talk with Ben McKenzie and after some consultation, we decided to create the puzzles which we would then create the narrative around the puzzles. Our original plan was to have the audience work with the resistance but to make it more interesting, we decided to create four characters with four roles – i.e. The Brain, The Doctor, The Spec Ops and The Hacker. To sum it up, we scrapped our original plot and designated a character to each member to think of a list of puzzles that could relate to their roles. During our meeting in class, we have finalised our characters and their names and completing our audio log script. We had written four scripts for the audio log and we chose Steven’s script because it was less dramatic and very mysterious. We did not want to give too much information.

Getting down to the workflow, we created a checklist so that we won’t miss any aspect. We left a member in charge of finalising the task (to supervise) to keep track of the group’s progress. From past experiences, it is essential for a well organised, smooth sailing project. Aside from that, the work is still done as a group effort, brainstorming and giving suggestions collectively. The checklist below is for the first task, the presentation pitch for Week 8. My role is to to organise our work for the presentation and on the side, helping out with the designs for the alien. It is still on drafting stage and it was not our main focus right now.

The Checklist #1

The Checklist #1

My role is to to organise our work for the presentation and on the side, helping out with the designs for the alien. It is still on drafting stage and it was not our main focus right now. I just love organising work to set the best and efficient way of working. Also, Farina did a great job on the resistance’s poster after taking into consideration the suggestions of the other group members. We communicate mostly through our Facebook Group. This is the result:

Poster Design

Poster Design


Stefan did an amazing job recording his voice and distorting it to create the eerie and mysterious atmosphere for the trailer. Here’s the draft !

WEEK 7 – Guest Lecture // Pop Up Playground

We had a guest lecture, Ben Mckenzie on Week 7. Ben is an indie game developer that focus more on live games that you play in the real world. His company, Pop Up Playground has created plenty of interesting games such as “The Curse” (my favourite) and #TrueRomansAll. These games were located in the heart of the city where they play a narrative throughout the city streets. The Curse was an interesting study for me because I have always been paranoid with these kind of transmedia storytelling, what if people really believed it? For example, what if the participants took the curse for real because your actors acted their fictional characters well that it feels like it is in our real world? There’s no stopping what the players would think or feel. Cynical but it could cause a downfall in your marketing strategy. The fact that McKenzie still went at it shows that we are storytellers that cannot live up to the standards of every single person. I believe that’s the main gist I’ve gotten from the lecture. We’ve learnt about writing for the niche audience and blockbuster films and I definitely can relate to this because there are only so many that love games like these and are willing to go out of their way to play these that require time, effort and a lot of acting.

Comparing it back to my home country, Malaysia, I believe these games would not be such a hit as our people are a little more reserved. Honestly, I’ve never seen the concert hall full of people dancing and singing out loud like the concerts I’ve been here. I guess that’s why successful campaigns like Dark Knight and TRON’s Flynn Lives were held it during the Comic Con in America – the perfect target audience. Nonetheless, be it in the States or in an Asian country, I believe there’s still a small group that are on a lookout for these sort of games. The interactions and the total immersion would grant their wish of living in another person’s shoes temporarily.

WEEK 5 – It’s MARVEL Time

Week 5 was about stories in big industries like MARVEL, DC and other big projects that aren’t related to comics. We watched shows involving the character, Agent Carter. The links between the characters like Howard Stark, father of Iron Man or even Jarvis, Iron Man’s computer have shown a realistic link between other MARVEL films. This link is categorised under the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) where every character are linked in each story. A more recent event, Captain America’s Civil War.

MCU was a terribly difficult read. I honestly got confused and lost half the time trying to pinpoint the events and chronological timeline of when each superhero appeared. From Iron Man to Hulk to Captain America and Thor ? It was a dreadful thing for someone who never caught up on MARVEL. I usually watch them as individual movies unless they’re sequels. It was amazing how MARVEL fans have the ability to reason the chronological timeline such as below. It is definitely arguable to some events due to repeats of events that shows contrast to the previous scene. Things you can look out for are objects used, characters and their overlapping motivations, events or history that could lead to the next film as well as the atmosphere and location.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

Despite their success in blockbuster movies, MARVEL has various series signed under NETFLIX like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. In my opinion, though many oppose to, I prefer these Netflix series. Because they have the ability to churn out content with no constraints unlike blockbuster movies, I enjoyed the dark edgy themes that Daredevil and Jessica Jones have. During class, someone mentioned that the style of content written is unlike writing for films. I agree with that statement because Netflix is catered for a niche audience – some will enjoy it and others might not.

Niche audience will be discussed in week 6 !

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