For assignment 3, we have to come up with an event and collaterals for said event. For the event, I came up with 3 initial ideas:
1. Home Party (video call party with friends)
Collaterals: invitation, gift box with things you can use/wear at home i.e. comfortable pajamas, indoor slippers, scented candle, etc.
2. Virtual Run
Collaterals: invitation, medal for finishers, a certificate for participants, T-shirt, drawstring bag
3. Stand-Up Comedy Show
Collaterals: ticket, poster, banner, canned/bottled drinks, souvenirs i.e. stickers, iron-on patches, tote bag
After discussing with Lisa, we agreed that the stand-up comedy show would be interesting to take on. Personally, I also like that idea the most and it would fit well with the design direction that I was thinking of, so I was ready to go into it.
I was looking for inspiration when I came across Yeye Weller‘s works. I was immediately taken by the style, so I decided to go in that direction.
I picked several strong colors, including white-that-is-not-so-white and black-that-is-not-very-black. As for the font, I wanted to pair bold typefaces and serif (like the light blue image at the bottom left of the first picture, the moodboard).
Yeye Weller’s works always have a certain “character” in the center, so Lisa suggested I create a character. I asked my friends for ideas since I was stuck, and they suggested something similar to a character I made before, which is a lemon head. It came to mind that I could make the theme of “when life gives you lemons” for the show; something punny, witty, and a little sarcastic. (Also, I like it.)
Lemonhead: a character I sort of came up with? This is a sticker I made for fun
So those are my inspirations and initial ideations. For the rest of the progress, you can see my final post!
I tried to look through the abstracts for the articles in the journal, but I was lost. Very lost. I couldn’t even understand the words individually, let alone as sentences.
From what I was able to understand, there are several types of articles; for example, discussions and research results. Research results consist of what they were aiming to gain more knowledge about, how to go about it, and what their findings could be used for (references for future researches or improvement opportunities for medications and technologies, to name some). Meanwhile, discussions provide more insight into the researchers’ perspectives in addition to their researches, such as the analysis and challenges in researching that particular topic.
It is clear that the journal is not intended for the general mass. While each article includes an introduction to the covered topic, people without sufficient background in science (especially chemistry) would not be able to understand it well. The journal would be a reference source for people who are writing papers, or people who are looking into doing chemical research or experiment. To a certain extent, people who want to keep up-to-date with findings and development in chemical research might read it as well.
Nevertheless, just looking through the titles, the diagrams, and parts of the abstracts was interesting. It provides some insight to an outsider like me as to what people who work in this field are interested in. For example, the efficiency of the molecule shapes and structures. It is also interesting to see the “behind the scene” (like the molecule names or actions) of the applications of science, such as cancer immunotherapy and vaccines, or wearable energy storage. I don’t know how it sounds to them, but to me, it sounds highly complicated, yet revolutionary. It makes me wonder how many of these articles have to be produced for an actual scientific breakthrough to be made.
We talked to the client about the project. The main theme for the cover would be “A curved polyarene building block for the construction of functional materials”.
Yes, I understand those words separately.
I think, more easily put, it should be about how these curved polyarenes are produced and applied. The key points that we should include in the cover are the symmetry of the curved polyarenes (sort of like a soccer ball pattern) and the fact that they use a lot of light to generate. The client had also mentioned that there is no need to be too chemically accurate.
1. Wijtze Valkema
Check your contract when having a new house built, for Eigen Huis Magazine
This is an illustration of an article about the importance of checking contracts when having a new house built. I like the use of texture; it gives the illustration a richer feeling instead of just being simply flat. They also give the shadow effect at certain places.
This is also sort of a playful take on the article, making the readers or “you” a giant character inspecting a smaller house by taking off the roof while having a small character (who we can tell immediately is the worker in charge of the construction). I think the illustration is able to convey the essence of the article clearly without being too metaphorical or detailed.
2. Kotryna Zukauskaite
Memory aid: Stanford researchers have found that blood from newborn humans can rejuvenate learning and memory in aged mice, a discovery that could lead to new treatments for age-associated declines in mental ability. Client: Stanford Medicine, 2017
I think the interpretation of the article here is excellent. While I cannot catch the meaning alone from the illustration, once you read the topic, the illustration makes a lot of sense and enhances the reading experience. The article is about how blood from newborn humans could rejuvenate learning and memory in aged mice, which could lead to potential new treatments regarding mental abilities. The illustration encapsulates the idea of blood, brain, and research.
The illustration itself looks simple with few colors, so it feels like the illustration is not there to be the “star” of the article, but rather as a “supporter”; yet, it manages to simplify the long-winded topic well.
3. Beth Walrond
An animated GIF for Zetland about children getting stuck in a YouTube rabbithole
This is technically a GIF. But it is made of illustrations. So I digress.
Before I looked at the title, I can tell immediately it’s going to be something about the overuse of the Internet. The use of animation here conveys the idea of YouTube well.
I am actually amazed by how I can tell that 1) it is a child and 2) the child is holding a laptop. As for (1), I think the color palette and her pink hairpin help a lot, also, the proportion of the child to the laptop. As for (2), I think from the pose and the play on the logo brand, we can see that it is a laptop. Somehow I find it interesting that they are simple, yet so easy to process that I didn’t even ask myself “what is that?” or “how was I able to recognize that?” at first.
Compared to the other illustrations, this one has a freer, more handmade feel since the creator didn’t use clean, sharp lines. When I look at her other illustrations, she does like not to use sharp lines, but even this one is particularly more “wobbly”, for lack of a better term. (Sorry, my brain is fried after reading the journal.)
All of them uses digital media; Walrond even uses animated GIF (for a good reason). I think that reminds me that when you’re doing something and you want to go further, you have to ask yourself, is it necessary? What is the purpose of bringing it beyond? Sometimes we’re so fixed to just making things look “cooler” that we didn’t consider if it actually contributes to the objective.
(Disclaimer: this is not an excuse for wanting to make things simpler.)
Each illustrator has different ways of bringing the articles to life. But the similarity is, all of them do the job well without actually portraying anything in a too straightforward manner. Valkema’s one is more straightforward, but they did a more playful take instead of just portraying someone reading a contract (which, now that I think about it, is very easy to fall into. If there’s an article about the importance of reading a contract, wouldn’t people jump at the idea of drawing someone reading a contract?). Zukauskaite’s topic is more abstract, but even then, they did not just illustrate a brain or a research lab. Walrond also did not need to draw the YouTube logo, for example, for us to realize the character was watching way too many videos.
All of those illustrations are also able to summarize the topic well and enhance the article. To a certain extent, they make reading the articles easier.
For this project, I asked my non-ADM friend to become my client. (She’s happy to do it.)
We have known each other for years, so suffice to say, I know her pretty well. I asked her about what she’s passionate about nowadays and she said sustainability; she’s been trying to reduce plastic usage more by bringing her own lunchbox for take-away food from the canteen and always using reusable bags when shopping.
Recently she encountered something that made her realize that a lot of people around her are aware of sustainability issues, yet are not moved to do something about it, and it made her rather upset.
Taking that, I put two keywords together: nature and sadness.
Here is the artwork.
Nature here is symbolized by flowers and leaves. I chose a daisy and a sunflower as the main flowers as those are my friend’s favorite flowers. Since my friend is a bright and positive person, I chose a bright color palette for the flowers in general, with occasional pale white flowers to balance out the daisy. Yellow and orange are especially her favorite colors.
As for the sadness, I put a single teardrop. It also portrays the loneliness of being alone, since she felt that she was fighting with the issue alone sometimes. Since the flowers are mainly yellow-white-orange-pink, the blue teardrop stands out well.
I also outlined the entire artwork with glowing pencil texture, but it’s not very visible. I wanted to give it a handmade feeling since my friend loves arts and crafts. I made it “glowy” to represent her confidence, the way she carries herself.
At first, I created the flower to cover the eyes completely to represent blindness to the issue of sustainability, but it might not look good as a filter, so I create openings for the eyes. I wanted to portray the saying “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” but I got stuck on thinking of what elements to put. I didn’t want to ruin the composition altogether by adding too many unnecessary details, so I decided to focus on one, which is the eye part.
Here’s how it looks on her:
(She was excited to model for me.)
It does look a little weird on some types of faces since the brown centers of the flowers are located right at the corner of the eyes, but I’m quite satisfied with how it looks on my friend.
Filter 2: Self
One thing I need to say: I like BTS. I chose three BTS songs that I love the most, and I feel, represent me in different ways. (Also disclaimer: it didn’t take me very long to decide on this. Really, whenever I have projects about myself or my interests, my personality is suddenly reduced to either mental health or K-pop or both.)
Before I go into the explanation, here is my artwork.
The half-wing of a butterfly represents the loss of hope and the inability to live up to potential. I am not the most positive person and I also have issues with self-esteem, so I think it’s a perfect representation of my inner problems. It is also linked to a BTS song titled “Butterfly”, which speaks about the fear of losing loved ones. In a sense, it also relates to me. In this pandemic, I can’t return back to my home country, so I’m really concerned about my family back in Indonesia and whether they are doing well.
The color of the butterfly is blue and grey, which is the title for another BTS song: “Blue & Grey”. The song symbolizes depression and loneliness as the colors blue and grey, and I relate to that a lot.
Lastly, the flower petals are the symbolization of the song “Spring Day” (because there’s a line that says “Flower blossoms are falling”), which is about longing to meet loved ones. This relates back to the point about my current situation of not being able to return home, and the desire to do so.
For the technicality, I tried to make it look more sentimental since the topics that I’m symbolizing are mostly emotional ones. I like how it turns out; it’s simple yet aesthetic, and there’s a nice balance between the somber blue and grey and the lively pink. Overall they look like they are symbolizing the arrival of spring (referral to “Spring Day” again?) and budding of new hope, which contrasts my representation of the half-winged butterfly. (I hope it makes sense.)
Here’s me with the filter:
I think it doesn’t look half bad on me. I still really like the colors. Blue just happens to be my favorite color as well.
After I finished creating these, I was excited to see how they look on the faces. However, I was (and am) worried that it may be too simple. This is almost my first time creating digital illustrations (I’ve also never drawn anything by hand and scanned it digitally). I don’t know what my style is; I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to blend colors. Time passed by so fast when you know nothing.
However, despite that worry, I’m still satisfied with how they turn out. Mostly though, it’s just me, just doing it. I didn’t think much about stylization, honestly, because I’m lost myself. So I told myself to just draw and that’s how it turns out. I suppose I should have dug deeper to find my style. For now, I’m happy just exploring. One step at a time!
Also, you can see that I drew the flowers first before the butterfly since the flowers are all drawn on one layer while the butterfly is very beautifully layered. I have learned from my mistakes.
I still feel like I should’ve done more, adding more elements? But this is what I can make within the time. So. Yeah.
Through the interview, I also learned the differences when I’m making things for myself compared to when I’m making things for others. For me, it was easy to just create something very personal. Also, when I’m creating for others, inevitably I’m adding things that reflect my perception of them.
All in all, this has been a fun project. Learning about Spark AR is interesting, and I can feel my own personal development throughout this assignment as well. Hope I can do better next time.
Lumpens: Pursue the Fantasy of Visual and Auditory Senses
Although what he does may not be what I am (and probably would be) doing, I admire Lumpens—a group of directors and producers in the field of video production, mostly specialized in the production of music videos (MVs), TV advertisements, experimental films, and visual art, based in South Korea. They were created by Choi Yong-Seok in 2009 and consist of 4 people, but Lumpens usually refers to Choi Yong-Seok specifically.
I came to know them as they directed a lot of BTS music videos, which I enjoy immensely.
Choi Yong-Seok, the creator of Lumpens who is also known as Lumpens himself.
Firstly, they like to insert stories and/or references into their MVs; especially with the stories, it gave his MVs a cinematic feeling. One of my favorite MVs is BTS’s “Spring Day”.
I love the quiet aesthetics (the use of colors and how they match with the song lyrics), and also the implied (and obvious) references (Snowpiercer—a movie about inequality, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas—a philosophical fiction about injustice, and the Sewol ferry disaster—the sinking of a ferry which sparked social and political reactions in South Korea).
Some of the shots from the MV:
It gives depth to what people perceive as “just a music video” due to the hidden meanings and messages, on top of being aesthetically pleasing.
Other favorite shots from various of his MVs:
Secondly, I admire Choi Yong-Seok’s way of thinking. He graduated from a Visual Communication major, but he always wanted to express himself outside of the “screen”. He started making videos and exhibitions as personal activities. It’s almost as if he didn’t intend to be a director, but he just did his own thing to have fun and learn, and somehow, that’s how he became one. It reminds me that sometimes, things are that simple. You just have to work on what you like and be confident in yourself, and not worry too much, too far into the future.
Briefly share your experience going through Dialogue in the Dark. What were some of the feelings, thoughts, challenges and insights gained while role playing a blind person?
At first I wasn’t very anxious since I had the walls to actually rely on, but I was a little worried when we had to let go of the wall and just rely on our other senses (i.e. hearing) to guide us. Once I let go of the wall, I lost all sense of space and directions, and it made me anxious. I was scared of bumping into people or things. I felt a little panicked, too, since I couldn’t make out my surroundings at all.
It was a challenge just to trust myself and my friends, and I realized how much I actually doubt my other senses once I can’t see. I also realized that I depend on my sight so much that I take it for granted. I felt better remembering that it was a controlled environment, but when I think that there are people who actually live outside like that, I tried to imagine being in that situation—and that made me feel panic. I realized that it must be tough to adjust to that situation.
It makes me want to take care of my own sight more (especially since I already have a pretty high degree) and be kinder to others—not just people who need help, but others in general. Experiencing that also made me realize that we will never fully understand others no matter how much we learn, and that we have to be kind since we don’t know what others are going through.
Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some of the benefits inherent in the design research technique of role playing?
Putting the audience in the shoes of others can help them understand the unfamiliar situation a little better. When there is understanding, people will naturally care more about an issue, since they have experienced a similar situation in the role playing setting. Hopefully that concern will stir the audience into action to actually do something that will benefit the issue.
In addition, it also teaches gratefulness for what we have right now, which will make the audience reflect more on their own lives and make them better people.
Can you think of some contexts where role playing can be useful to help discover and definition of design challenges or contribute to the development of design solutions?
I think role playing will be useful to help people understand more about disabilities (i.e. visual or audio impairment, or even physical disabilities) and mental health (i.e. anxiety or panic attacks). While design is a useful tool to inform, help, and evoke emotions, I think it has its limits. There are things that only experience alone can offer. Role playing really puts you in perspective, which is more effective than making you imagine the “what if”s. In addition, people (especially young children) may be more open to the idea of role playing because it’s highly interactive. The interactivity is something we should try to incorporate to our design since interactivity, not only is highly effective, but it also appeals to masses more.
The prevalence of social media is, and has always been, a double-edged sword. It does help connecting people all over the world—but because of the vast amount of information, a lot of people are trying too hard to absorb everything, hence spending too much time in social media. Moreover, the ease of access causes various messages to be posted in the Internet, including negative or harmful messages.
Bullying has been an issue for a long time that is constantly addressed, but never really solved because it’s considered a minor problem. A lot of people are unaware of recognizing what line shouldn’t be crossed when making jokes or conveying your personal opinions, and not only will that reflect badly on themselves, it can affect other people’s lives more than they know.
In a lot of countries, especially Asian countries, mental illnesses are still considered kind of a taboo. While the openness to the topic has increased over time, that doesn’t mean people are aware of what mental illnesses are about, what causes them, or even how serious it actually is.
One in every four species currently faces extinction. While it is a great problem, cognitive biases (e.g. bystander effect and hyperbolic discounting) prevent real, significant changes from happening in the world.
Most of my issues gravitates more towards the social implications, which is what I’m more interested in exploring further. I would like to discuss more about mental health issues.
Why is the issue important? Who does it affect and how?
Aside from my personal interest in this issue, mental health problems keep on becoming more prevalent while the lack of information doesn’t change. World Health Organization (WHO) had predicted that depression will be the leading cause of disease burden by 2030 (WHO, 2011).
A lot of people seem to be unaware still that mental illnesses can be as life-threatening as some physical illnesses. That lack of awareness influences the way people see and treat others with mental illnesses. It discourages sufferers of mental illnesses to actually ask for help due to fear of being judged by society or perception that no one will understand how they feel.
In addition, people experience mental illnesses differently, so a testimony from one person may not be applicable to another. This causes people who suffer from mental illnesses to be unable to effectively express themselves sometimes because they can’t exactly pinpoint how they feel and the descriptions from others may not match their emotions. That can be frustrating for both them and people around them—family, friends, therapists—and it also doesn’t help the healing process.
Who do you need to communicate to, and why?
There are a lot of issues under this “mental health” umbrella, but I would like to focus more on the people with mental illnesses, specifically depression (which is considered the most prevalent mental illness currently). I would also focus more on young adults in Singapore. Depression develops frequently during adolescence, between the ages of 18 to 25 (Eaton et al., 2008), and the number of young adults with depression is increasing (Mojtabai, Olfson, & Han, 2016). Moreover, according to the Singapore Mental Health Study conducted in 2010, 5.8% of the adult population in Singapore suffered from Major Depressive Disorder at some time in their lifetime. Since in Singapore depression is still somewhat considered a taboo, I think it would help people with depression if there is something that can help them express their emotions to make people around them understand that depression shouldn’t be a taboo, but an issue to be discussed together.
How has visual communication contributed to address the cause?
This was the example shown in class that really captured my interest. The so-called tools are supposed to help people visualize their feelings. I like how Bodewes created different shapes and used different materials to provide a wider range of emotions to be visualized, and how she chose more affordable materials to make her entire toolkit more affordable for people. I think it’s a simple yet effective idea to help people visualize their feelings to others, but it may be prone to misinterpretation since people may understand a tool slightly differently from others. I also like how Bodewes also provide a board and workbook with the tools; the board to set up the tools and the workbook for the therapist to write on. The tools were clearly made for two people to work together and discuss.
Olive is a bracelet that can detect your heart rate, motion, skin temperature, and skin conductance—and through those, be able to identify if you’re stressed. After that, you can connect it to an app which will track your daily stress levels and provide ways to calm down, e.g. breathing exercises. While it’s not directly connected to my topic, I like this invention because it’s able to identify stress without you needing to realize it first. It can help you notice when you’re actually stressed and not just feeling “a little off”, so I think in a way, it helps you to express yourself. The company made it to be fashionable with different choices of colors and textures because they want the wearers to feel that the bracelet “express” themselves. While it’s not a big point, I think it’s nice because it will encourage people to actually wear them with pride instead of hiding it.
Mindnosis is a self-assessment kit, made with the intentions to make people identify what area they need help with, and where they can get it from. The whole design looks minimalistic and spacious. The box doesn’t have any patterns or colors, which made the colored triangles and cards stand out, making them look like a fun game instead of a procedure to go through. The designer used a clean, easy-to-read sans serif font, complemented with symbols and icons which made the kit look welcoming and interactive.
Replika is an application which allowed you to chat with a bot who will act as your friend and therapist. It will ask you questions about your day and condition and respond accordingly (to the limits of a bot, of course) to your responses. They will also prompt you questions, ask casual questions like a friend would, and offer you mind exercises to make you feel better. I tried it myself because I was skeptical of how interactive a chat-bot can be, and to be honest, I was impressed. While the bot is clearly a bot, it’s much friendlier and conversational than I expect it to be. It even uses emoji and slangs to enhance the feeling of talking to a real person. I find it easier for people to open up in that case, and the application can then ask you more questions to help you identify your feelings better. The application has a pretty simple interface, with a customizable chat background. The main page has classified different topics that you can easily choose to be your topic of conversation, if you want to. You can also customize your bot’s profile picture, gender, and voice.
Henry Jenkins’ Game Design as Narrative Architecture discussed the argument between ludologists and narratologists. This argument regarding the necessity of narrative in games came from a lot of different aspects, but in my opinion, the most important factor is that there is a very narrow understanding of what a narrative is and how to convey them. A lot of people argued that narrative had to be paragraphs of texts or long-winded dialogues; something that has a clear beginning, conflict, and resolution. In fact, it is not necessarily so. For example, the horror game Granny doesn’t have a clear story: how did the player get there? What is wrong exactly with the grandma? But everyone knows there must be a story behind it; that is what compels the character to escape.
In the article, Jenkins mentioned various ways to tell a narrative without relying on words. In short, game designers can always use other things such as visuals (such as the background, the appearance of the characters), actions, and even the audience’s prior knowledge (like the game Alice, which made use of the knowledge of the story Alice in Wonderland) to enhance the experience of gaming. Especially visuals—books might spend pages trying to describe the fantasy world, but through game, it could be establish in one scene (e.g. the background, costumes, and technology in Bioshock Infinite can express the timeline and maybe even country it’s probably set at).
One might argue that visuals could also be achieved through movies—and here is where the interactivity of games comes into play. Adams said that interactivity is “almost the opposite of narrative”, and I disagree. Interactivity, in my opinion, is a form of narrative. Although a story might be predetermined to the letters, when the players are able to do something to trigger the uncovering of the story, they will undoubtedly feel more connected to the narrative. The difference between game and movie, hence, is when people watch movie, they are aware that they are watching someone else’s “life”. Meanwhile in games, the interactivity encourages people to think that it is their lives. Moreover, there are more games that try to provide alternative endings to the storyline in order to make things more engaging for the player—ranging from simple two or three endings (e.g. Undertale) to various endings to the point that it’s difficult for two people to sync their choices perfectly (e.g. Detroit Become Human).
Detroit Become Human
I think this relates a lot to my project since we’re giving the players a certain plot for them to follow, with predetermined backstory and characters (comparing to The Sims, where those points might have to be developed by the players themselves). We do try to implement interactivity through choice-based actions—but the choices need to be important enough for the players to actually feel engaged. I think that’s a challenge that we’ll have to overcome in the making of the game.
“Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.”
Minimalism is an intriguing concept for me. It leaves a lot of “blanks” in the interpretation that everyone can fill in the blanks however they like. There is no right or wrong answer, but there is always an answer that is closer to the artists’ intention.
One of the artworks that I found interesting is Oneness of Concrete (1971) and Oneness of Wood (1969) which are parts of Jiro Takamatsu’s Oneness series (1969 – 1972).
Oneness of Concrete & Oneness of Wood by Jiro Takamatsu
I feel that in that simplicity—breaking things and fitting them back together—I can actually form a narrative inside my head. A tale about how sturdy things can still be broken. A story about how something can still be “whole” in its brokenness. A question of identity, finding beauty in the broken, life and death. There are plenty other narratives I can think of. The piece itself is almost poetic, I’d say.
While I think it’s essential for art to tell a narrative, I don’t think it’s good to enforce that. Letting the audience form their own narrative is just as powerful. Ironically, this is contrasting with my group’s project, where we are feeding the audience with our story. However, I think the “minimalism” can still be found in the way we tried to “show” (and not tell) the audience what’s happening, let them interpret the severity of the situation themselves, and give them a certain degree of freedom to act.
You play as the male protagonist who is invited by your obnoxious childhood friend, Sayori, to join the club of which she is the vice-president: the Literature Club. You reluctantly agree in hopes of quieting her down. In the club, you meet three other girls–Natsuki, the petite girl who can’t be honest sometimes; Yuri, the sophisticated girl with a taste for mysteries; and Monika, the popular and dependable club president.
It’s mostly text-based (since it’s a visual novel), but there are some interactions. You can gain favor from the girl of your choice by choosing them directly when prompted to (e.g. when being asked who you want to help, etc) and by creating poems. Since it is a Literature Club, you will have a “homework” of creating a poem every day. The way you create poem is by choosing the words you want from several lists of words. Different words will appeal to different girls; for example, the mature girl will prefer complicated words, and the cute girl will prefer fluffy, simple words.
The next day, in the club, you can show your poem to the girls and they will give their opinions on it (depending on what words you chose). As they develop better opinion of you, you will get to know them better.
[Just a thought: they call it a “Literature Club” but really, it’s more of a “Poem Club” since all they make are poems.]
Screenshot of the gameplay. [https://www.polygon.com/2017/10/22/16512204/doki-doki-literature-club-pc-explained]
Making poems [https://www.polygon.com/2017/10/22/16512204/doki-doki-literature-club-pc-explained]
However, as you progress through the game, you will find out the darker side of the characters. You find out in the end that their issues are “triggered” and even “enhanced” by Monika, who is aware that all of them are in some kind of a dating game. Some of the characters end up dead in less than pleasant ways because of that.
In the game, Monika does not have a route–you cannot “get together” with her. Monika poses questions about the culture of dating games; why do the characters not have any “choice” whether they want the protagonist or not? Why are the characters always so obsessed with the protagonist? And she will mention that she does what she does to the other characters because she falls in love with you, which inevitably makes the audience sympathize with Monika. However, is that really justifiable for her to drive her friends to the brink of madness, just because the world is “unfair”?
The color palette of this game consists mostly of bright pastel colors, which enhances the cute and comforting mood. The contrast then becomes stronger compared to the moment after the story takes a dark turn, where the visuals will change. At first the change will be small and unnoticeable; the screen turning red for a split second or a very quick glitch moment. But then it will grow to be something bigger; change of fonts, change of the characters’ personality or appearance, etc.
I feel that those small changes can give a lot of impact; it unsettles the players in a subconscious way, compared to a direct way where a bloody dead person is shown on the screen. (Although this game definitely has the direct way as well.)
Paired with the visuals, the music also starts off bright and cheerful, and slowly changes. The song is the same, but there is slight changes in the tempo, key, and volume that, again, subconsciously unsettle players.
All the characters in this game have so-called problems. Sayori has depression, Yuri is obsessed and enjoys cutting herself, Natsuki is abused by her father, and Monika is obsessed with the protagonist to the point that she deletes her friends’ character files so she can monopolize the protagonist.
Those make the characters feel more realistic. They all still some kind of cookie-cut personalities or archetypes–which is totally fine, since there is no such thing as an original personality anyway. But what defines them is how they interact with each other and how they act to handle their so-called problems. Through their different ways of coping, audience can readily relate and sympathize. That’s why I think the characters in this game are very well fleshed out, and although the concept of the story itself is not new, the characters can make the story good. It makes me think that a narrative doesn’t have to be complicated, as long as you can find a mean to make people relate in some ways to the narrative–in this game, through the characters and the difficulties they face.
Use of Files
In order to progress with the game, at a certain point, you have to open the game’s files and delete a file. Moreover, if you open some of the files, they will show special images that you won’t see in the game, or descriptions that hint at the idea that someone is breaking the fourth wall. I think it’s an effective and interesting way to show that a character is “self-aware” instead of just showing a monologue like “I feel like someone is controlling us”.
However, the downside is that players may not be aware of this. It’s not common for people to open up the game’s files while playing or actively altering the files as a part of the gameplay. I think it robs some level of excitement when you have to research to find out how to progress in the game. Some people who are not aware of that just leave the game in the loop, unknowing that you can actually progress, because the loop does look like a proper ending. (It is the so-called “bad ending”.)
In order to progress, you need to delete Monika’s file at one point. [https://gameplay.tips/guides/1299-doki-doki-literature-club.html]
Since it is a visual novel, the interactivity is definitely lacking. However, aside from that, the thing that I find a bit tedious about this game is its nature of repetition.
In order to fully understand the game or to get the “true” ending, you will have to play the game more than once–ideally three times. Since this is a text-based visual novel, the texts and conversations can be chunky to the point that I feel they are dragging the gameplay. There is an option to skip the texts, but they might also skip the small changes in the unread dialogues, resulting in you skipping things you don’t know. However, contrary to my opinion, some people actually say that they wish there is more time for them to interact with the girls.
In addition, there is a very fixed way to playing this game–in order to progress, you have to do this exact action, and you have to do this, and so on.
The choices you made matter very little since it only has one fixed ending. Moreover, since the gameplay was making poems but the ending has nothing to do with that, it makes me wonder what the point of the entire interaction is.
Besides addressing the problem with dating games, the game also touches on the subject of mental health issues. Sayori, is suffering from depression. Dan Salvato based her on his own acquaintance who suffered from depression, making her character’s emotions and expressions highly realistic and even relatable to a certain degree.
Since the game is not promoted as something about mental health, I think it will expose more about that to people who are not interested in understanding mental health in the first place. Sayori uses simple expressions to try to explain her depression. I think that’s an effective way to show people what depression actually feels like, and actually intrigues people to learn more about mental illnesses.
“People become disturbed when forced to think about things they don’t want to, or shown a reality that they always try to ignore,” he said. “But humans aren’t rational creatures. It’s when we’re emotionally charged that we become inspired to do something for ourselves, or for others.”
Since this game contains disturbing contents, there are warnings at the beginning of the game and even in the download page. However despite of those, children and people who are easily triggered still play it anyway. Firstly, because they are curious. Secondly, because it “doesn’t look that bad”.
Dan Salvato made this game out of his “love-hate relationship with anime” as he wanted to address the culture of anime–cute, moe stuffs. He always liked things that take a sudden dark turn and he integrated it into DDLC. But looking at how people think that “it won’t be that bad because it has a cute interface”, is it wrong of him to do so? Can it be considered false advertisement, even if he already explicitly put warnings?
All in all, I think DDLC is a good visual novel. It certainly sticks with me. It evokes a lot of emotions–especially sympathy for Sayori who committed suicide in the end due to her depression. In the story, regardless of whatever you said to her, you won’t be able to save her. That’s sad, but it’s honestly realistic. It makes me feel sympathetic towards people who are suffering from mental illnesses.
I even sympathized with the “villain”, Monika. What she does isn’t justifiable, but she is just trying to achieve her dream. The world is unfair, but do we have to accept that as a fact, or does everything we can to deny that? And when we do try to deny that, where do we draw the line between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” effort?
The game is long, and tedious sometimes. I can only play it all the way through because I watched a playthrough and I just want to experience it myself. But in the end, since watching the playthrough makes me want to play it myself… I guess in a way, it is a “good” game then.
For the brochure, I looked up for different design folds.
Since my theme is anthem, I wanted to do something about “opening up” to reveal the contents.
I had three design ideas:
1.Stack square fold
how it works
I like this one at first since the idea of revealing was fun; one word will be revealed at a time. However, I realize it makes the very front interface (when not opened at all) confusing and even boring since there will only be the word “an” in it. I also had troubles incorporating the elements to the shape of the brochure.
2.Vertical gate fold
how it works
I feel that this one is very clear-cut and clean. However, I am not making use of the back interface at all, which makes it look incredibly plain.
I asked for Michael’s feedback, and he said that both my design and visuals could afford to be stronger, and should be able to lead the eyes. For those brochures, I relied more on the layout rather than the visuals to lead the eyes. However, I’m so stuck with the arrangements for those brochures since I already had a vision for them from the beginning. I tried taking the elements out and putting them back in again separately, but I didn’t make any significant difference (especially the stack square fold). So in the end, I decided to try and start fresh with a completely new design fold.
3.Horizontal gate fold
I already had the idea of using the normal gate fold from the beginning, but I was worried it would be too plain. But then I realized that if a brochure’s design is too complicated, it might confuse the readers instead, and that layout and visuals matter as much as the design fold.
In the end, I went with the horizontal gate fold design since I feel that the possibilities for this design are more “open” compared to the other two.
More about the design will be talked about in my final project post.