N1 Games Blog

I started my Co-op on August 19th and was ecstatic to have an opportunity to work with the group of people who formed N1 Games. I loved their content from when I first saw it in my game art class, in which the class was given the challenge of making one of the Books of Nine into a video game. I had the role of 3d modeler, and animator and was proud of my contributions, and the content  had stuck with me. I decided that I would approach Myra Baker and Dorothy Hatic for an opportunity to create another game together, but this time I would be programming, 3d modeling, designing environments, creating a character to interact with, creating animations, and even more! I knew this would such an impactful experience for my game creation skills, but I do not think I could have foreseen the impact that it would have on me on a much personal level.

The stories of N1 Games isn’t just one with themes and a multiverse of meanings, but each and every character is based off of the Enneagram, a personality system which works to help people understand themselves and others in the world, working to mediate problems amongst us and lead us to a better place. There are 9 recurring personalities, or types, and I had found that I greatly related with type 5 (although a strong connections to type 4 as well). When I relayed that to Dorothyand Myra, they invited me to check out Gristh’s story. I instantly fell in love and felt a connection with Robin Grant’s artwork for Gristh, and reading some of the story I knew that it would be the world I would want to capture in the game.

Artworks above and below –

Several personally impactful images of  Robin Grant’s artwork for the Gristh’s Story

Robin Grant’s art for Gristh’s card

Robin Grant’s art for Zarapath’s card

When reading the cards/ the story for Gristh, I greatly related to him and the other creatures of Ganesha. I often separate from the world into my own sort of swamp, for which I seek knowledge in order to further build this world of my own. What I can easily forget, is that I don’t need to be in this isolated, dream-world all the time, and that people are what are truly important, and their ideas, views, and knowledge can only grow my work and myself. And for me, this wasn’t a world I am in because I don’t want to learn and interact with others, it’s one I resort to out of my own fears.

 

The stars had all aligned correctly (as they always do) and Robin had actually been creating cards for all the characters from the books, so the idea of a card game came into play, and we are using the ten Type 5 cards to make a game in which users can come to the game with a question or idea in their mind, and with prompting, will receive one of the 10 cards in which contain a visual on one side, and text on the other. They then will have a chance to explore the unique environment of that card with Jayda, The amulet creature / guide for Type 5’s. **scheduled to release for free download this December!!**

In learning even more about the Enneagram through Myra, Dorothea and Robin, as well as other outside sources such as books and videos, I have started to analyze myself and really think about my personality, my actions, and all the things in the middle. I strive to dig deep into the parts of myself in which I try to hide even from myself, and  find a better balance of my enlightened self and the imperfect person that I am day to day. I am so very thankful for the time and important discussions we have had, our message is so important, so very contagious for lack of a better word, and I am so happy and grateful to start this journey and be a part of this vessel to bring these ideas to the world.

Part 1- Programming & intro animations

After learning and reading about Gristh and the Enneagram, I began to implement the actual programming/scripting  elements that would be needed. (This is still in progress– the 9 ball animation I have created  is currently a placeholder for a new idea, which animations will come later, it was just an introductory idea. )

The game then is scripted to give the user one of the 10 cards, which they can flip back and forth to see the text and visuals,  while the 3d scene for that specific character will eventually appear behind. Then the user can press a button to take them into their world for their own exploration. 

When creating this part of the game, I really related to Gristh, as I felt I was literally in my own library gathering up my heads, in this case programming/ scripting knowledge. I had never really had experience scripting in Unity, and honestly, It did get quite frustrating at times. I felt as though my ability to compartmentalize and put an intense amount of thought all poured into one general task made it a possible task. My personalities relating to type 5 were so important in this mission, and the achievement I felt in myself after doing something I had never done before was so rewarding. 

Part 2- Making Jayda into a 3d Character

I knew that in this project, I wanted to get the things done in the game that I knew I definitely didn’t know how to do for I didn’t know how long they would take, and creating a riggable 3D model that kept a certain likeness to Jayda’s character while also being a file small enough to not crash the game was challenging, and time consuming, but so worth it in the end when I get to see her move around in the game! I can now add a few more heads to my library, and a lot of confidence in my abilities. I was really surprised in how patient I was in this process, I made sure to create her in a way that she could be loaded into software that would allow her to move around, and I must’ve made at least 25 versions of her from start to finish because of some little issue that appeared. When frustrations came, I was able to find some excitement in solving them as though they were their own little mind puzzles. 

Robin Grant’s art for Jayda’s card

This task was an interesting play between my qualities of type 5 and type 4, as it required a lot of technical knowledge, with an equal amount of visual observance and connecting with the feelings that my 3d modeled Jayda was portraying at that moment. To me, Jayda is a strong feminine figure, possessing knowledge, intuition, and embodying the loving and motherly nature of us all. She is a guide for those in darkness, in need of her assistance

I modeled Jayda and her clothes in Maya, I then painted the model using either maya or substance painter. I then rigged her using Mixamo auto-rigger and the animations are from their site. She is brought into a test unity scene for this demonstration.

Part 3- Creating the 10 Environments

Environment 1 - Grevus

I wanted to start with Grevus’s area because I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what it would be early on,  I definitely felt a connection and fascination to the landscape.

Robin Grant’s visual for Grevus’s card (front)

Robin Grant’s visual for Grevus’s card (back)

Inspiration board I created to get my mind flowing for Grevus’s world, I also looked at a variety of swamp pictures from National Geographic’s website

When I created Grevus’s world, I wanted to capture that beautiful, but also the sort of dark and scary swamp from which the crocs of the story reside. The swamp to me has multitude of meanings, but the creepy nature of it all shows the strong, tough, façade that Grevus would put up to the world, sort of as a way to say “Don’t mess with me”, but in truth, the fear he wants to put into others, is truly the fear he feels himself. The crocs are also some of the most intelligent, this beautiful isolated world can also be a way for some to create some of the most brilliant ideas, inventions, art and more, but the swamp is dark and scary because the world is dark and scary to Grevus. To them knowledge is everything, but there is a lot to learn from others as well, with some exploration, I believe he would find the world to be a far more bright and enlightening place.

This video displays the area in which the card is shown,  with Grevus’s  world shown as the backdrop of the card. (Gertz card was just happened to be the card picked in the scripting algorithim, but I enabled Grevus’s card so it would automatically go into his world for video display) 

It then shows a screen capture of my walkthrough in the world I created for Grevus.

It contains free assets from the Unity Store, as well as my own custom 3d models (The building, the 2 trees with the moss, a fern, pondsticks, lily pads, and the backpacks in the scene) which I’ve assembled in the scene with audio elements from freesound.org

Environment 2 - Gertz

Gertz is a character I felt a strong connection to in Gristh’s story, I understand her needing to go off on her own sometimes to focus on herself and think. Her need for the sun and its warmth, I felt was a wondrous connection to a need for spiritual cleansing, and her ability to use her hooks to grasp for objects in the far unknown was reminiscent of the chance to grab great ideas out of a calm and meditative state. She also seems different than most 5’s, I really wanted to see how I could capture this aspect to many type 5’s including myself. 

Robin Grant’s Art for Gertz’s Card (Front)

Text for Robin Grant’s card for Gertz(Back)

This is the inspiration board I have created so far to get ideas and visuals prepared for Gertz’s world

Something I found really interesting when creating Gertz’s world, is the vast difference it is from Grevus’s world. Both are type 5’s, but each character represents very different asepcts of them. Gertz isolates herself in the desert, but I don’t imagine her doing it out of fear, but more of  a chance to learn more from a new world. She choses to leave the darkness for a more bright setting. I chose the music I did because I wanted it to have a calming, meditative effect as I imagined her world would have. Also the desert is not barren, it is full of life and an array of objects, perhaps brought there by Gertz herself! While I imagine her world can be so incredibly enlightening, I felt I was mentally relating to Gertz as I crafted her environment, and I believe it is also a state that can trap you. Like everything in life, balance is key, and I don’t know if it was excitement, a bit of stress about deadlines, or likely a combination of both, but I put a lot of extra hours in this week, using work as a sort of escape. I love to create, so the work is rather addictive to me, I love the feeling of achievement when I have created something I am proud of, but I, like Gertz, cannot spend so much time gathering knowledge, if it means that we are putting other important tasks to the side. 

I created Gertz’s desert oasis with my own custom 3d models, such as the cave, the chair, journal, tumbleweeds, umbrella, gears, Gertz’s hook (directly modeled from her 2d image created by Robin Grant), the red jewel, binoculars, and a fern. I used free assets from the Unity asset store such as the rocks and plants, and free sounds from https://freesound.org/

Environment 3 - Yithicka

From very early on, Yithicka was certainly one of my favorite characters from Ganesha. She has a bad reputation with the other creatures, and she is forced to stay on the outskirts because of her oddities, and her abilities which can be used to help or hurt. I related to Yithicka, I feel there is a part of myself which is quite mystical and eccentric, and for awhile and still to today, to an extent, I try to exile those characteristics from myself. Yithicka is a very powerful character, and she is capable of being extremely helpful to those around her, and so are the many traits that we have, but we push down because we don’t feel it fits the person we think that we are. 

Robin Grant’s Art for Yithicka’s Card (Front)

Text for Robin Grant’s card for Yithicka (Back)

I wanted Yithicka’s environment to be very mysterious, but not necessarily scary. Yithicka is a healer, one that works with dreams, so naturally I wanted it to be dark, but she is someone that the citizens of Ganesha go to in a time of need, and the light of the fire  (though for her cauldron) also stands a beacon in the darkness for those who seek her. She is exiled though, after all, so her area is sort of make-shift, simple, and hopefully temporary but because of its remote location, Yithicka would also possess the ability to put her fire out, to hide away from all and their problems. 

In this environment I created the Cypress house and most of the objects inside (besides a bottle and a bag), as well as the other tree and the cauldron coming it. I created the cattails, pond sticks, lilypads, and the fern. Otherwise I used free assets from the unity asset store and free sounds from freesound.org.

Environment 4 - Throth

From early on, I slowly collected my thoughts on how I would display the characteristics of Throth. His mind-controlling abilities keep other creatures of Ganesha far at bay, but he is also forbidden to leave the area. I wanted the area to express both the loneliness and hostility of the area. I decided this scene would appear rather barren with little to no signs of life, but behind the falls, the player can enter a place of contemplation and study for Throth. 

Robin Grant’s Art for Throth’s Card (Front)

Text for Robin Grant’s card for Throth (Back)

I was really inspired by the idea of waterfall lair for Throth, therefore wanted the scene to be mainly water, with plenty of rocks and islands for the tortoises to bask and collect information. I also enjoyed the architecture art created by Robin Grant, and wanted to include the tortoise shape inspired building that are shown in the book.

In the video it shows a video of my gameplay in Throth’s world. At the end of the video, is shows one of the few areas in which when players enter, it plays a disorientating sounds meant to replicate the feeling when a tortoise would perhaps try to control the player’s brain for entering their land. 

In this scene I 3d Modeled the building in the distance, a bookcase, desk, and other indoor objects except the potion (with 2d textures found online), and a fern and some trees. Other assets are free assets from the unity asset store. I found all the sounds on freesound.org.

Environment 5- Zarapath

Now entering the middle ground, (5 environments done and 5 to go!) I decided to choose The Cobra Queen as my next environment with much excitement. Zarapath is such an very important character in Gristh’s story, and visually I find her so captivating. I find that Zarapath (like most all of the types 5 characters) is often using her mind rather than her heart.  Therefore the environment can seem rather cold and scary, and she probably has little thought that everything about her might be frightening to the outside world.  She might even want to display herself as such to ward off others, but either way, it isn’t helping her. 

Robin Grant’s Art for Zarapath’s Card (Front)

Robin Grant’s text for Zarapath’s Card (Back)

While I do want Zarapath’s environment to be the farthest on the creepy scale for this game, I still think there is a great beauty to be seen, and the necromancy I believe has great symbolism to other taboos, such as psychic abilities and otherworldly experiences. In this world (and any!) it would definitely seem like it would be an evil, morbid person to practice necromancy, but this story teaches us that not everything is what it appears to be. Zarapath brings backs the fallen for their knowledge and wisdom, and despite her appearance of literally being a snake, she is one of the most driven to save their world, and very loyal to those around her.

In this scene I modeled the tree house directly referenced from 2D images found in the book (created by Robin Grant) of Zarapath’s Treehouse. I created a few trees (as seen in Grevus’s environment) and the fern. I created the skybox using photoshop. The rest  of the items are free assets from the unity asset store. The sound was created using free sounds from freesound.org

Environment 6- Gristh

I was considering leaving Gristh for last as a sort of finale, but I simply couldn’t resist! I knew from the beginning that this would an indoor scene, and likely the only one in the game, because Gristh’s environment definitely needs to stand out in its own way.  Gristh is the main character of the book after all, and his development  is the focus to help Type 5’s.  His story was impactful for me, and I wanted the environment to reflect the terrible state Gristh is in, he doesn’t know how to help his land of Ganesha and behaving is the same fashion as he always has isn’t working for him anymore. 

Robin Grant’s Art for Gristh’s Card (Front)

Robin Grant’s Art for Gristh’s Card (Front)

I  pictured Gristh’s library to be a sort of mix between a traditional Gothic style with a bit of Roman and Victorian styles mixed in. It would be luxurious on one hand, but also sort of cold and dark. I wanted a dome shape to make the player feels as thought they were trapped in a mind chamber, as Gristh is for most of the story. The shape of the room, as well as the chattering heads serve as a way to disorient the player, as Gristh would feel, as he is failing to unlock the true path to restoration. Only when Gristh starts behaving according to his heart will he be whole, and this scene is meant to express how one might feel when they are stuck deep in their head, without thought to the rest of their body and feelings.

In this scene, I modeled and animated everything. I found free textures online and the heads are taken directly from Robin Grant’s 2d art for the characters that ended up in Gristh’s bell jars.  The music was edited together in premiere pro but downloaded from freesound.org.

I said earlier on this page, that I felt as though I was Gristh adding heads to my library. I realize now this is something I’ve done for quite a long time, especially since I’ve joined art school. I have gathered all this knowledge, but for what? I certainly knew I was working toward some distance goal that would eventually turn up, but I was also just hoarding and storing knowledge just for the sake of it for a long time. I have been slowly piecing together who I am as an artist, what I want to show and express to the world,  and realizing even more clearly through this story that my pursuit for knowledge is now not only for a head, but for an entire encapsulation of mind, body and heart in my art. I haven’t been gathering knowledge for the sake of it, I have been gathering knowledge to create something that can help people. There is a true and passionate cause in accordance with this entire Universe of N1 characters, and this story really helped me to visualize the true importance of the cause for which I am gathering knowledge, and to make decisons on accordance to that rather than just being sternly logical, and I hope in turn, my work, my writing and the information I have gathered can be expressed to help and inspire others. 

Environment 7- Jayda

Jayda was another one of the characters whose environment required some more mental digging to uncover what I wanted the scene to express. This scene is all about transformation, signified by Gristh’s transformation from snake to human in the book with the perpetual help of Jayda throughout the book. I wanted this scene to be the most contrasting to the rest of the scenes, and to show how the swamp of Ganesha could be transformed into a beautiful forest. Also this particular place is not necessarily a true setting from the book, but I felt it would be very symbolic to the story, and inspired by woodlands in Ohio, it is a place of personal importance and transformation for me.

Robin Grant’s Art for Jayda’s Card (Front)

Robin Grant’s text for Jayda’s Card (Back)

One of my all time favorite activities has always been enjoying nature by going on hikes. I have such a great love for the landscapes of the Midwest forests and it holds such a special and powerful place in my heart. I find my time hiking (especially in my small hometown of Carlisle Ohio) is always reflective and introspective.  I am much calmer and even headed afterwards, and I wanted to project that feeling into this scene.  To capture this look, I used all of my own pictures for the inspiration of the scene, and included only certain animals in the scene that signified transformation. You might come across butterflies (caterpillar to butterfly), a frog (tadpole to frog), or even a tiger salamander (aquatic larvae to terrestrial adult). When hiking, I sort out thoughts and get new ideas and in this scene, at the end it sort of signifies that with a riddle that Jayda gives in the end (straight from the book!)

At the start of the scene, the player first enters into the Jewel that represents Jayda’s Heart Crystal. Since this is the Jewel she appears in for Gristh’s story, I thought that it would be a good introduction to the scene, as though perhaps this whole green forest is captured in the jewel itself along with Jayda. I created the Jewel, digitally painted several textures (Leaf litter and Pine Needles), created the blue flowers, and completely modeled and painted Jayda. She is rigged and animated with Mixamo. The remainder of the scene was created with assets from the unity asset store. The sound changes depending on your location in the scene and all sounds are from freesoung.org.

Environment 8 and 9- Inga & Slicken

This environment is unique because rather than being a place reflective of one character, it is instead a reflection of two characters who consistently work together. I wanted to emphasize their partnership, it didn’t feel right to me to separate them. That being said, they are as different to each other as they are to any of the characters in Ganesha, but use their abilities  are used in combination for a collective goal, but that could also lead into a collective of paranoia.

Robin Grant’s Art for Inga’s Card (Front)

Robin Grant’s Art for Slicken’s Card (Front)

Robin Grant’s text for Inga’s Card (Back).

Robin Grant’s text for Slicken’s Card (Back).

This is the inspiration board for Inga and Slicken’s dual environment. I wanted it to be swampy, but still contain a lot of beauty and detail. I felt a strong connection especially to Slicken because I am very observant to the smallest of details, and sometimes can find myself obsessing about them needlessly. I knew Slicken would be very attentive over this environment, therefore he would likely even care for it, preen it, not to pristine perfection but to a sort of natural, self sustaining appeal. I wanted it to also include a dry meadow area where the portal would be, and since Inga is a toad, it would be a place more fitting for her species.  Due to Inga’s paranoia, her swamp vines/ thorns pierce through the edges of the environment, keeping their secrets but also imprisoning them to their concealment. 

Inga is a very powerful character in Ganesha, and even from the beginning, seemed to be naturally very kind and caring. She just falls victim to, like so many of the other characters, of turning inside rather than reaching out. They take the entire problem and place it on themselves, out of wanting to protect those around them, but instead put themselves and their friends at an even greater risk. Inga’s area, compared to Slicken’s, is rather nondescript and without the glowing portal the player might not be so drawn to it. This is to perpetuate the secrecy Inga wishes to impose on the portal and her knowledge. Her companionship with Slicken also sends both of their tendencies for paranoia and secrecy into hyperdrive, as Slicken compulsively scans the environment for changes, Inga uses that information obsessively to hold a state which cannot be upheld for forever. 

I was very eager to create this environment, I had a vision of more exotic and a larger array of tropical plants than past environments, and I knew to achieve that I would have to create some more on my own. It is quite interesting that as I create each environment for the characters, I feel a mental and visceral connection to them. I was certainly feeling the part of myself that connects with Slicken because of his attention to detail. I get quite inspired by the little things in nature, and I felt the connection as I  excitedly created the new plants for this environment, the thorns/vines that surround it, and also while very carefully placing them in the far larger than average environment. I also can related with being overloaded with sensory stimulation. Certain noises can make cause a dazing affect on me, and I wanted to express Slicken’s overstimulation in this way. I do not wish to send people off in this spiral themselves if they are affected in such a way as I am, but all of the sound in the game are tuned to a frequency, either 528hz or 432hz to have a loving and calming effect on the player as they discover more about the characters and themselves. 

Lastly, I thought it was very telling that Slicken had such a tough exterior but inside such a gentle and observational qualities. I think myself and many others can often put on this facade. It doesn’t always have to be through clothes and external appearance changes, but even a perpetual angry or uninterested face can be used to ward off all others. In my case, I do not even always realize I am doing this, but if I really think about it, I do this to keep myself away from others, in fear of being hurt or rejected by them. Type 5’s also enjoy their alone time, and may, in fear of not being able to access that, choose to keep other’s out. Breaking away from this is extremely important! Opening up to others can be difficult, but it is always more enlightening than being controlled by fear.

In this environment I created 3d models for the portal, the pitcher plants, the thorns (first 3d modeled, then turned into a planar texture and digitally painted in 2d),  the saw palmetto, the tropical flowers, and the red pentas. I used free textures for the plants and created the a procedural skybox in unity. The remainder of the assets are found for free on the unity asset store. The sounds were found at freesound.org and edited in premiere pro, then finally tuned to 528hz.  

Instead of including a video component for the last Environment, Ganesha, I invite you to check it out yourself in the mobile or web gl version. Since this is the environment for all in Gristh’s story, It includes portals to all the other environments.

 

Now that the game is ready and accessible to the public, and my co-op semester comes to an end, I bring this journal/blog to an end. I have spent 419 hours in totality on the project, and the experience has been quite life changing for me. I have created my first mobile and web game, and this is the first time I’ve ever listed something I’ve made for download on google play or any site. I thank my team so much for their ongoing support and words of advice. I am so grateful to have met them and have such insightful (and incredibly gorgeous) material to work with.

My last week of work for the game, in order to get it completely downsized, built and uploaded to the proper places, was admittedly very stressful and time consuming. I took my time and finished everything with great care, I didn’t want any time and effort I spent making the game up until this point to be sacrificed with sloppy work at the end. I learned a lot this week, this is someone I had previously had little experience with but now my mind sees how some of these problems in downsizing could be prevented in the building process. This week mirrors my entire semester though, a huge, unpredictable learning experience for me. I am so proud of my achievements, but I have learned more than game development this semester. Gristh’s story has helped me realize just what I do my work for. I chose this line of work because of my interests and passions, but the reason for working, going to college, or pursuing knowledge is ultimately to help support my family. Life isn’t about work, belongings, intelligence, skills. Life is about the effect we have on all others. Putting work over those I love is defeating the purpose of why I work in the first place. I started off working a lot of extra hours, but in the end, when I was focusing more on love and family, I was putting out far better work despite working less hours.

Like previously stated, I did work extra in the last week, so I could finish the game in order to have time with my daughter before my next semester of school starts. I crave the uninterrupted time, without any thoughts but how much I love and cherish our time together. But, being a mother and having a family didn’t make me any less of a hard worker, in fact it’s no doubt to the constant character-building task of being a mother to a young child gave me the strength to complete this project, working at least 3h 20m everyday since August 19th. This story has made me realize that its not the intelligence or talent of a person that makes them impressive or put out great material, its the all the heart and passion from all those around them.

 I conclude with an invitation to please check out the game and let me know what you think about it, the website/blog, or any questions. Thanks for taking the time to read about this game and my experience making it!

App is now released!

check out the games on the google play store! 

Ganesha EXPLORE

N1 Card Adventure

 

if you would prefer to play on a computer, check it out here:

https://simmer.io/@Rmills1997/type-5-card-adventure

One thought on “N1 Games Blog

  1. Thank you Rachel, seems way to small of an expression to complement your incredible expressions and sharing your self, your family, and your journey with us! I am so proud of your personal growth, work ethic, desire and passion to learn, create, and manifest your wishes and desires!

    You Inspire Me…and are always part of this journey with Conscious Dimensions and N-1Games!

    Love, Peace and Awaken Your Character!!!

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