Retro – Game Level

Task 1

Research 5 different Retro Video Games

  • Why do you like the game?
  • How does it work?
  • Visual look?
  • Story?
  • Character design?
  • Background design?
  • GUI?
  • The setting of the game?

Pac Man

I like the 8-bit art style and colours which represent individual features in the game, although it’s simple the game becomes progressively harder over time making the overall experience challenging which is why it was so popular during the 1980s.

The player controls a small yellow ball (Pac Man) which starts at the bottom middle of the map. It’s surrounded by blue outlined walls which contain ghosts and small circles which represent points. The player has to use tactical and strategical manoeuvrability in order to capture all the points throughout the map.

Near the corners of the maze are four larger, flashing dots known as “Power Pellets”, these provide Pac-Man with the temporary ability to eat the ghosts and earn bonus points. The enemies turn blue, reverse direction and then their movement is decreased.

Once a ghost is eaten, its eyes remain on the map until it returns to the centre box where it is regenerated in its normal colour. The character design is simple; a Yellow Circle Outlined in Bold black with a segment cut out of its head to represent the mouth, the game features an animation where the mouth opens and closes instead of it being static. 1UP and High Score are situated at the top, while the number of lives and Fruit is situated at the bottom.


I like the game because it’s easy to understand and is fun to play. There are two types of game modes, Single Player – this is where the player has to progress through different levels defeating enemies. Multiplayer – this is where players have to eliminate each other to become the “last man standing”.

Each player must strategically place down bombs which explode after a certain amount of time, various power-ups are randomly spawned across the map giving players an advantage in-game, for example, larger explosions or the ability to place more bombs down at a time. The original Bomberman, released in July 1983, was an 8-Bit top-down video game.

The Bomberman character has a circular head which is unproportionate to his body. The game incorporates a simplistic design, only three shades of colour are used to represent a 3-Dimensional look throughout the scenes, props and characters. The HUD is also simple, it shows the necessary information i.e. the number of people and the amount of time left, this is displayed at the top of the screen highlighted in a bright orange banner so that it’s clear.

The story is set in a galaxy called “Bomber Nebula”, as “White Bomber” becomes bored of creating bombs in a factory located underground, he overhears a rumour that robots reaching the surface become human, once he escapes he transforms into an organic being known as the “Runner”. Each map contains cobblestone walls which players are trapped inside, these walls have to be destroyed in order to eliminate opponents, every other square is a grey block which can’t be destroyed.

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong was an arcade game released July 9, 1981. It’s one of the earliest platform games and so the concept is simple. Donkey Kong was also the first platform game to feature “jumping”, for example, over obstacles, gaps and approaching enemies this would grant the player points as well as destroying objects with a hammer power-up and collecting items such as hats, parasols, and purses.

Furthermore, the player has to climb ladders in order to reach higher levels of the map and to ultimately save Pauline. Mario was originally named Mr Video and then Jumpman. The characters, scenes and props were flat in colour; some had lighter shades to represent the light source and others had darker shades to display the shadows. Donkey Kong incorporated a simple HUD into the game, showing the 1UP and High Score at the top of the screen and to the right, the Bonus meter.

The player must take on the role of Mario, a carpenter, whose girlfriend (Pauline) is kidnapped by an Ape known as Donkey Kong. In the original Donkey Kong game, Mario’s outfit features a red hat and overalls with a blue t-shirt.

Space Invaders

Space Invaders was released in June 1978. I like the game because it’s simplistic in design and mechanics; thus creating a friendly user experience. In Space Invaders the player controls a small green laser cannon which fires at descending white aliens. The objective of the game is to defeat the advancing enemies while manoeuvring below a number of defence bunkers.

The player earns points by shooting the aliens, however, the animation speedups with the music to create an intense atmosphere and challenging gameplay. The game ends if all the defence bunkers have been destroyed, or the aliens have reached the bottom of the screen. Occasionally, a small red “Mystery Ship” will cross the screen, this grants the player bonus points if shot down.


  • Alien Invaders: 10 points (bottom two rows), 20 points (middle and second rows), or 30 points (top row).
  • Mystery Ship: 50, 100, 150, or 300 points.
  • The “Mystery Ship” varies in points
  • There are three main colours used in Space Invaders; Red (Mystery Ship), Green Defense Bunkers and Laser Cannon) and white (Score and Aliens). Various animations are incorporated for explosions and laser beams. The necessary information is displayed at the top of the screen for clarification on the advancement and progress.


Asteroid was released in November 1979. It’s an arcade space shooter where the player has to control a small white triangle (Space Ship) through and Asteroid field in order to blow up incoming projectiles and occasional alien crafts, whilst simultaneously dodging counter fire from the alien attack.

Although the game’s interface is incredibly simple, with lines to represent the various props, it becomes progressively hard overtime as the number of asteroids increase and fragment once destroyed. The triangular spaceship rotates left and right and can thrust in any direction but eventually stops after a short period of time.

The player can also enter hyperspace, causing the spaceship to disappear and reappear in a random location on the screen, in case of self-destructing or appearing on top of an asteroid. Objects; Spaceships and Saucers wrap around the screen edges to cause a continuous loop until destroyed.

Asteroids break into smaller pieces once hit and therefore become faster and more difficult to eliminate. Two alien ships appear periodically on the map; the “Big Alien Ship” shoots randomly and badly, while the “Small Alien Ship” fires frequently and accurately over time. As “Asteroids” is set in space, the background is black. Contrastingly, the Aliens Ships; Asteroids and the Shuttle are represented in white lines. The score and number of lives are displayed at the top of the screen.

Related image

Investigate Action Games apps


  • What does it do?
  • It’s Purpose?
  • Complexity?
  • Clarity of communication?
  • Ease of use?
  • Design of UI/ UX (User Journey)?

What does it do?

  • Action games commonly represent fast-paced surreal environments where the player has to control a character throughout a given scenario, for example, Jet Pack Joyride, features a small cartoon character (Barry Steakfries) who finds a scientific lab that’s testing and developing Jet Packs. The character breaks into the facility and steals the Machine Gun Jet Pack. The mechanics of the game are simple, the player has to tap on his/ her mobile device while flying through the arena and collecting power-ups randomly dropped throughout the game. Specific power-ups grant advantages that can benefit the player. 

It’s Purpose?

  • The purpose of an Action game is to encapsulate the player into an alternate universe thus creating a unique and immersive gameplay. An action game has to represent eye-catching visuals; Character Design, Scenes, Props etc. Furthermore, popular games are memorable and stick with the player even if they’re not playing. Action games evoke intense emotions, for example, Anger, Frustration, Excitement, Happiness. It’s important to create a friendly user experience so that it doesn’t deter the player away from the game.



  • The state or quality of being intricate or complicated.
  • Mobile apps, including Action games, have to be simple. Lengthy tutorials before applications discourage people, especially if the target audience is teenagers (Action Games). Jet Pack Joyride allows the user to download the game and instantly play.

  • Jet Pack Joyride features bright contrasting colours (Blue, Gold, Orange and Yellow)with bold black lines surrounding the text. Additionally, the information represented on screen is limited due to the fact that it has to be displayed on a mobile phone. The Home screen of JetPack Joyride isn’t complex, the menu is tucked away in the top right-hand corner of the screen whilst the “Events” notification is displayed at the top left.

  • The arrow reveals nine sub-categories which take the user to different

What makes an app successful?

  • Free for all to use.
  • Simplistic and engaging user interface.
  • Low storage space.
  • Appealing visuals and designs.
  • Easy to understand inputs.
  • Exciting gameplay/ user experience.

Flat Design is important as it’s small in size thus allowing the app to load different menus faster.

Task 2

  • Create a story and game concept. Include its purpose, plot devices to be used, character types and a backstory and the type of narrative used. Write a treatment for this to be presented as a Blog entry.
  • Develop character, scene, prop and interface elements in your sketchbooks. Produce digitized Concept Art of your chosen Level environment using creative digital artwork techniques of your choice.

Checklist of evidence required:


Blog – Include scanned visual planning.


Visit: Art of the Title

Story & Game Concept


In the year 3000, Earth has been devastated by a virus produced by Z-Corp. Their goal was to control everything – to have power. A rogue soldier known as “Agent-X” travels across America, a deserted plain to reach the city to take down the superior. Throughout Agent-X travels, he encounters the un-dead, re-animated by the Z-Corp virus, however, he finds friends who help him on the way to defeat the superior.


Working Title – Afterlife

Genre – My project is going to be a platform video game

Duration – Six Weeks

Target Audience – My main demographic would be Male and Females Ranging from 18 – 49 years old (47% of gamers are between 18 and 49 years old).



In the year 3000, Earth has been devastated by a virus produced by Z-Corp. Their goal was to control everything – to have power. A rogue soldier known as “Agent-X” travels across America, a deserted plain to reach the city to take down the superior. Throughout Agent-X travels, he encounters the un-dead, re-animated by the Z-Corp virus, however, he finds friends who help him on the way to defeat the superior.


Agent-X Starts off in an army camp where he has awoken from a hospital bed, his whereabouts are unknown and he can’t remember who he was. He fights his way through the camp and stumbles upon scientific documents of Z-Corp research. He realises the destruction they’ve caused and becomes enraged. Within the Army-Camp are various research labs and control center’s where he equips armour and weaponry. Throughout his journey across America, he encounters people who help him navigate towards the Tower at Z-Corp. Agent-X later finds out he has been engineered and is actually a cyborg with superhuman capabilities (Which is why he can’t remember who he was and why he ended up in the hospital bed at the beginning).

Character Breakdown

Name: Agent-X

Age: 30

Race: White

Gender: Male

Visual Elements/ Mise en Scene – The scenery is dark, with a grunge-like effect across all scenes. The scenes are always lit with lamps or torches, this effectively conveys that the atmosphere is covered by clouds and dust thus creating an ominous feeling. Additionally, the camera is fixed to the characters position, various props will be used to aid the player’s progression throughout the map, for example, energy rifles, armour, vehicles, and power-ups. The costumes will be fixed for the “Friends” (Characters) however, the player can customise “Agent-X” with different outfits and designs, this forms a diverse experience for the player as he ventures through the game.

Audio – I would design a 1980’s retro soundtrack to fit the dark and eerie feel of the game. Sound Effects such as gunshots and explosions will reference those of 80’s arcade games, producing an 8-bit atmosphere.

Rationale – I have chosen this idea as it depicts the futuristic environment and how the player would react if given a post-apocalyptic scenario. Furthermore, I have various artistic capabilities which will aid the development of my work, however, I will have to learn how to use the pen tool further to create a better trace of the character, props, and scenes.

Primary and Secondary Research – I have researched 5 retro video games that have shown me the time period and development of how the game was created and the fundamentals of GUI.



I created a reference board above to gather similar artworks of games that I was intrigued by, this will help my character and scene development.


I imported different representations and variations of characters used in art, games and real life. Most of the colours used are dark greens, greys, blacks and some areas of different designs featured bright reds. Most of the original arcade games were side-scrollers/ platform games and thus portrayed and 80s 8-Bit vibe.


I researched a variety of different retro arcade games that related to platform and 8-bit. To further enhance the work I developed; I incorporated “Tron” – a futuristic sci-fi film, with real-life representations (paintings) of an apocalyptic scenario.

Additionally, the platform/ side-scroller games in the mood boards feature lights which illuminate dark areas conveying the effect of night. Furthermore, the colours used are greens, blues, greys.


The images below represent props that I want to integrate into the design. As the Platform SideScroller is set in a post-apocalyptic scenario; the majority of items convey a deeper meaning thus forming a relevant analogy. For example, the tank would’ve been called in for the army to help irradicate the “Re-Animated” Zombies and to help control the crowds of people. The gas canisters and oil barrels portray the desolate area and need for fuel within the period of destruction and scarce resources.




Sketchbook Work



Using reference sheets and various media previously downloaded, I started to produce the concept for the environment and background. “Afterlife” revolves around an 8-Bit aesthetic of an apocalyptic scenario; I incorporated dark colours e.g. Purples, Navy Blues and Turquoise into the background to highlight this aspect of the game. The multiple layers will move separately in a parallax formation.


Plain Artboard

I started off with a plain artboard in Adobe Illustrator so that I could develop the background.


Sky (Gradient)

Once I had created the artboard with the specified dimensions, I then proceeded to add a gradient using the “box” tool and changing the fill colour that blended from dark purple to pink.


Skyline Layer 01

I wanted to create a parallax background which would enhance depth within the game. Firstly, I produced the silhouette for skyscrapers, layer_01. I drew the structure using the pen tool and altered the fill to dark purple so that it contrasted the background.


Skyline Layer 02

With layer_01 complete, I then progressed to create Layer_02 which would consist of additional detail. Again, I drew the structure using the pen tool and then changed the fill to an even darker shade of purple. Furthermore, I incorporated windows which added more depth and detail.


Skyline Layer 03

Layer_03 portrays a gradient that transitions from dark purple to transparent, this creates the illusion of city smog or general fog within the city, suggesting that it’s cold or heavily industrialised.


Skyline Layer 04

I drew one more structure using the pen tool and dark purple to complete the silhouette of skyscrapers.


Skyline Layer 05

As the buildings were closer to the player, I decided to create windows. Each window was coloured with a dark green to show that they were empty and abandoned.


Skyline Layer 06

Lastly, on layer_06, I drew lines to intersect the windows producing further detail and depth within the background.



Throughout the early development of idea generation and brainstorming, I came across the idea of an 8-Bit art style (Pixelated) effect.



Cargo Container (Fence)

Container Hospital Building

HospitalMain Watchtower

OutpostPavement Lamp







Background (Development 01)




Crashed Car


Oil Tanker








Oil Barrel






Crashed Attack Helicopter


Background (Development 02)


Background (Development 03)


Character (Agent-X)

Test Walk Cycle


The original “test” walk cycle didn’t function. Pixels were unaligned and stretched to match the overall body and proportions of the figure. Additionally, the character wasn’t coloured, however, the “walk cycle” did flow well and showed that it needed small adjustments and tweaks.

(Idle Cycle)


(Shoot Cycle)


(Walk Cycle)


Walk Cycle (Improved)


Shoot Cycle (Improved)






An Evaluation reflecting on the finished product (at least 200 words – Blog entry).

Afterlife depicts the scenario of an abandoned apocalyptic dimension, explicitly, through the use of dark ominous colours, for instance, black and purple. These bold colours represent power, mystery and magic thus, justifying the plot of an evil corporation using a “virus” to control the world. Furthermore, the skylines “abandonment” conveys the desolate atmosphere of the city, immersing the player in a universe of chaos and bewilderment. Broken buildings with trickling blood paint the picture of disaster, alongside tanks, crashed helicopters and cars, blown up oil tankers and scattered junk which reinforces this image, a run-down society. The overgrown foliage reveals the evolutionary stage of nature and the downfall of mankind, whilst, the undead roam the street in an animated manner allowing the player to realise the devastation and his isolation within it. I chose an 8-Bit style to enhance the definition of “Retro Games” and to produce a 1980’s arcade atmosphere. Preparatory work, sketchbook drawings, illustrator and photoshop designs, with re-development, aided the improvement of the game. In conclusion, I’ve enjoyed the journey throughout the production and have learnt new skills and abilities, such as Unreal and Blueprint coding. Additionally, it’s been exciting to see drawings come to life through the use of digitisation and coding within various industry standard software.