Mohammad Musbah Sablouh ~ Collaboration 09.12.20
Designing and Integrating the ARG
NOTE: Unfortunately due to file restrictions and the shoddy internet signal of my area, I was not able to upload Mo's final animations to this journal entry in time for the submissions. I will be sure to remedy the situation, perhaps in another section of my portfolio, but for the purposes of examination, the university may find them in my B.O.W. submission, under the file name 'CollaborationMMS'. Thank you.
A Specialist Brief:
I had the unique opportunity to receive consultation about briefing a creative team, not only from an industry specialist but from my prospective collaborator's boss - Aline El Cham.
This was absolutely perfect for me because it ensured that I would avoid one of the major downsides to team efforts (finding the best briefing method) by giving me a template to use that is literally proven to be effective on my collaborator, specifically. Speaking to Aline was also a fantastic way to satisfy one of the learning outcomes that has repeatedly sidestepped me in this term - reaching field specialists.
Following the shown Whatsapp chat and email chain, I proceeded to debrief Mo over the phone to Aline's recommendations and showed him a perfect example of the kind of puzzles I was looking to create through the above-pictured Game Theory upload: 'Game Theory: We've Been Hiding Something From You...'
This is an interesting one because the subject of it is their very own ARG, which they deconstruct, step by step, for the benefit of an audience that they should hypothetically be keeping in the dark. If offers a unique chance to see an ARG from the inside, and know, for once, what the creator actually intended for the audience to find. No doubt, this was an invaluable starting resource to our team.
Below is a screenshot of the plan we built together for the contents of each video, based on ideas gleaned from The Game Theorists' informational video. As the whole prompt for this originated from the idea of bringing Polaroid images 'to life' (similarly seen in the Harry Potter franchise) I immediately started by thinking of the life that I wanted this character to lead throughout this experience, and came to the following conclusions:
^^ document available here ^^
The goal was to show the absolute degeneration of Deccker's thought processes as she becomes increasingly paranoid and unstable. Specifically, it was important to show certain aspects of her personality bowing to others, in order to better represent both the uroboros and inferno prompts I laid out in my research.
To do this, Mo and I separated the story into themes/emotions, decided which of those would be dominant and which would be submissive, and then focussed on how the 'voices' of these meta characters would interact with each other when presented with the stress of the uncanny scenes.
We assigned types of encryption methods to individual categories that, behaviourally would make the most sense (e.g anxiety acting as the hyperactive, unrelenting beeping of the Morse code, whereas wrath exploding in invasive, inconsistent bursts of superimposed imagery, as anger often does). A real highlight stride in this line of analysis was when Mo then designed and implemented his own alphabet (which he called Hevinica) to turn into the voice of paranoia (specifically, paranoia concerning the existence of of a demonic creature which talks in alien tongues) and provide the concept with that extra, innovative edge.
As the story progresses, you will notice the relationship between these conversing voices begin to change in favour of the more aggressive ones (wrath and paranoia) as opposed to the neutral (consciousness and facts) or passive ones (anxiety), to the point where, by the end of it the character is completely changed. To illustrate this, we took the portrait of Deccker, and repeated it twice in this sequence, once with very tame internal interference from the voices (with the puzzles barely noticeable) and then once more at the end wherein you can hardly keep your eyes off of the erratic glitching words strewn all over the scene. A 'description' of her which exists in a neutral state for the starting piece, is then distorted into half encoded messages for the last one - all culminating with the message of 'Gone' written solely in Hevinica over one corner of this last image - signifying the complete departure from the person who was once there.
The fact that the only way to discover that Deccker has disappeared at all is for the player to get deeply involved in the conversations between these fictional internal voices, is the one of many crowning moments for this concept, and I am incredibly proud of how the resulting combination of mine and Mo's skillset has taken this concept to new levels.
Sadly, the idea of turning these into AR-ready Polaroid images for the submissions (printed and recorded as 'coming to life') is no longer feasible due to a combination of financial and technical difficulties I am having with the camera itself. However, despite knowing this, Mo was kind enough to invest extra energy into rendering out separate, square versions of the original videos with their own Polaroid-exclusive puzzle, just in time for the deadline, so I might display a facsimile of my original idea and show proof of concept. Really a wonderful team member!
It was a massive pleasure to work with Mo on this concept. When I pitched it to him, I imagined he would only have the time to spend maybe a total of 10 minutes on each drawing to superimpose assorted phrases here and there and then pass them straight on back to me for submission. What I got instead was a series of pieces that I am genuinely overjoyed to show off in any and all capacities.
Re-discovering my passion for art has been an incredibly fulfilling and challenging expression of this joy, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this new concept art specialisation, not to mention the ways it will continue to improve me as professional individual.
- R Cipolletta