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Kubrick Project | W1

This project is the first digital project of the MA course, and I will be making a very simple game (toy-like, playful experience) in Unity. In this post, to begin with I mention the brief of Kubrick Project, and explain how I got started.

Project Brief:

  • Watch 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), a film by Stanley Kubrick, visit the film's achieve in LCC and create an interactive piece, playful artefact inspired by the achieve and the film.

  • How do you respond to the achieve and film?

  • Research should include reference to artefacts, a response to something you have learnt there.

  • Include case studies and games design related research

  • It should be a robust and complete experience; software should make sense and be executable from opening to closing.

  • It must run on PC; you can include a Mac version.

  • Create a concept, plan your project timeline and execute.

We visited the achieve as a class before the start of the project, on Wednesday 15 November. I had not yet seen the film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The documents in the achieve were pretty interesting. I was also exited to see documents on management of the production, including research process and marketing materials. Even thought I had absolutely no information about the film, I really enjoyed looking at the visuals. I appreciated the material design and the usage of colours. Kubrick had managed to create a very neat picture. I also liked the concept design images of the outer space, which were oil paintings.

Some of the notes I have taken during the class achieve visit:

The Rand Company - research company consulted for realistic predictions on the future

In the movie there are "feeling of aliens" but no aliens visible.

Astronauts play games in the space station.

What is a Bush-baby?

The quote on a advertisement material (Kids Menu): "Tonight you will sleep on the moon."

Later I did some research on these subjects:

Moon-mining / Lunar Mining

Lunar Base

Water in the moon / Lunar water

After some research, I arrived to the subject of water. Scientists always look for water whenever they are examining a planet, and they associate water with potential existence of life.

I thought about the hand held water games we had as a child. I remember thinking that they were really cool and magical. The toy was very tactile and seemed like a mini aquarium with moving particles inside instead of alive fish. The particles were responsive to my actions. The game that the toy incorporated was very intuitive and simple; the mechanics only involved pushing one button for applying force to the particles, and shaking and rotating the toy to move manipulate the movement of particles. I watched some Youtube reviews about these retro hand-held water games, and then I made a mood-board on Pinterest; here are some visuals:

In those days, I kept seeing Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi everywhere in the news and social media. The orb in the painting called my attention; I am drawn into sphere objects. It was fully transparent and had 3 dots inside. There was also a discussion about a the orb representing Earth, but the mystery was that the painting was older than Galileo. Another interpretation was that the orb in the painting represented the universe.

After finally watching 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) on Tuesday, 21 November, I came back home and decided to reflect on the film. I researched about the film reviews, the significance of the three black monoliths featured in the film and the transfiguration of the main character.

In the achieve, we have learnt that Stanley Kubrick did not prefer to write his own scripts from scratch, but he adopted novels and stayed loyal to them. I came across an interpretation, I liked:

"It is based on a passage in the book by Arthur C. Clarke:

The monoliths look like tombstones. (As, in the book only, Dr. Heywood Floyd thinks, when he first sees a monolith.) Therefore they represent Death - and Transfiguration, too. Philosophically speaking, their first appearance in the film heralds/produces/accompanies the transformation of the almost-dying-out man-apes. The man-apes transfigure into more advanced and advancing man-apes, and eventually something like the current human species. In doing so, they both died (Death) and transfigured (Transfiguration).

For something new to be brought forth, sometimes the old form of it has to go.

Literarily, this is emphasised by Clarke, since the man-ape Moon-Watcher's father is found to have died in the night, at the beginning of that section of the book. The father dies, the son is transfigured.

The tombstone-like monolith is their doom, but in their descendants, their salvation also."


Death and transfiguration of the main character is a significant part of the film's impact on the audience, and it leaves the audience puzzled at the end. As it can be seen from the image below, the essence (or the new form) of the main character is inside a shinny, transparent sphere. The essence is represented by a fetus.

New form of character after transfiguration

The fetus watches the Earth from the the space, at the last moments of the film.

After seeing the transfigured form in the film, I decided to go for the orb idea. Plus, I decided to keep the asset design in the game all spherical, except for the 3 monoliths which had to be rectangular prisms. Some of the orb images, I found for my mood-board on Pinterest:

I was thinking about creating a 3D digital water game in which you can apply force to the monoliths as if they are inside water. In my basic concept art, I drew a transparent orb and imagined that it was filled with water, just like the hand-held water games. Inside the transparent orb, there would be the 2 planets (Earth and Jupiter) and the moon featured in the film and planet Mars as extra. The 3 black monoliths featured in the film would be also inside the orb. The monoliths would float, as they are tossed in the water by a force coming from down. I thought about not making the orb a stable object, so that the player could rotate or shake it to move the monoliths inside, just we would play with the hand-held water toys. The purpose of the game would be having one monolith stick to the Earth, one to the moon and one to Jupiter, making a reference to the film. I would put the player in the position of the aliens, whom we feel their existence but never see in the film.

I made a basic concept drawing for my game.


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