Tuesday, 3 May 2011

End of the Line.....well nearly

So I've come to the end of the second year and I've learnt a lot as I've gone through it. When I started out I wrote about how I had no idea of where I was going and wondered where this year would take me. I found that getting into the swing of things and trying to push myself and improve my work was quite hard. It relied on me motivating myself and finding out why I wanted to be a game artist and why I was even here doing what I was doing.

It wasn't really to the second semester when everything started to come together. I think this was down to the group project we were assigned and made me realise what a real game artist does and what I would have to do in order to get where I wanted to. It made me evaluate where I was at and the skills I had and how they could be improved upon to give me the best tailor made portfolio for the
companies I would want to apply for.

I know that I still have some way to go before I can go knocking on the doors of the games industry; but over the summer I plan to start really practising the tools and techniques further in order
better my work flow and help in creating some real pieces that contend with the thousands of others competing for the few places up for grabs.

I'm also going to look a the processes of other leading artists more closely and try as hard as possible to build their work flow into mine to hopefully increase the quantity of work I put out as well as the quality. The main focus is really being committed to the deadlines and projects I set myself and also making sure I complete them as any other piece and see it not as work to be taken at a gentle pace but keep churning it out and making it look better till I could say I think it's getting to industry standard and would be proud to put into my portfolio and show it off to all the lead artists throughout the games industry.

Well I know what I have to do so enough talking about it on here, I guess I should go on and do some actual work before I fall any more behind everyone else out there!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

From generalist to specialist...

So its been a while since i last posted which I'm sorry about but thank the group project I was Team Leader on for that! Though whilst we are on that subject, I have to just say how much it has made me grow as Game Artist which I can actually say now and mean. I was given the responsibility of leading the team, reluctantly I might add, but have found out something interesting about myself. Apparently I have somehow manage to acquire some sort of leadership qualities along the way and have found I really enjoyed it.

The fact I looked at this blog and found I was writing about something that I had previously perceived to be an impossible task, has now become something very straight forward and natural. Throughout the group project I have found that I started to really find what I wanted to do and enjoy.

The project was about creating a survival horror level environment and we thats what we did, and in my opinion we succeeded in pulling off an impressive and fun to explore level. It really drove me to want to create environments and generate the world in which the player can move and run around in. The project also made me want to explore the option of looking into perhaps managing a team or working in area like that.

I've quickly realised from the working environment we were put in and put ourselves in, that working in a team of hard working and driven people as well as specialising really helps in creating a piece of art/ work really possible and more importantly rewarding.

My reward was learning more about me and where I want to head off to and gaining the skills and determination to get me there and hopefully making me a great asset to the games industry.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Interaction Design

Right interactivity has been a major driving force in pumping out more add ons for consoles and becoming the consoles themselves like the wii for example. However, consoles have also become not only a way to play games in new ways but also simulate the real thing. The gadget show did a great episode looking into games and if the add ons and peripherals could really help you in becoming a Martial arts fighter or pilot. Check it out its very interesting to see the results


The physical interaction with controllers has been something that has always pissed me off, like i need to buy extra crap to make some stupid animated monkey dance on screen where I have to then clear it up after it has made mess all over itself through joyess amounts of fun its had after watching me dance round like a epileptic dog on crack and i'm meant to find this entertaining even though in real life no one wants to clean up someone elses mess or be tired out even more from the soul sucking and boring life of the everyday office job drudgery. I tend to put games down straight away if the controls are in any way awkward or messy or both and get frustrated when simple tried and tested control systems aren't implemented that would make the game run smoother and actually make it slightly enjoyable.

Now, I don't have small japanese hands so the PS3 controller makes me incredibly angry and want to throw it out my window, where as the ergonomically designed 360 controller sits in my hand as if I evolved to have a joypad in my hands from birth. Oh and not to souund like i'm whining about all the peripherals I have to find new places to store them in, but whose genious idea was it not to have the Wii remote come wiothout the knunchuk attachment and the strap already put on to avoid morons from throwing it at their TV through them waving around frantically to try and gain more points!


Well I must admit to playing singstar, lips and just dance and next on my list for the 360 Kinect dance central and they are fun. Though Just Dance gave me a real work out, no i'm being serious I mean i'm pretty fit but that put me through some sort of real dance studio exercise I woke up the next day with muscles aching that I didn't even know I had! I can see how these new healthy games are meant to make you fit but only if you actually put more effort than it takes to raise your hand that you usually use to stuff a cheese burger or pie in your face...

I don't think we are on the verge of a major breakthough with the interactivity of games not until we start entering the worlds of films like The surrogates, and GAMER (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0986263/)
(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1034032/) oh and just for the record The surrogates graphic novel is way better than the film.

Even weith the release of 3D technology games are still no where near taking that technology any further, even the best 3D films are still a little ropey here and there and its mainly just a gimmick these days to get people to buy more stuff to stop the world from ending because we aren't already paying enough to every man and his dog who are being taxed by everyone else.

Interactivity involves people getting up and being interactive themselves and with other people, not just being the bedroom gamer that xbox live and PSN have seem to push people to be. I mean am I sooooo old that I can't see that playing split screen and having friends over for Pizza and to earn bragging rights on the latest games isn't as cool as making 14 year olds with no social skills cry over the internet as you here their sobs down the microphone after repeatedly spawn killing them?

Personally I feel people are becoming too dependant on living life through a tv screen and wondering what things really feel like rather than going out and doing them for real and not for more achievement points or trophies. I mean whats more fun going bowling with mates and wearing those ridiculous clown shoes watching people fall over down the alleys or sitting at home waving a stupid white stick at a tv which tells you, your an idiot be better at waving the white stick!

I leave it to you....

Sound in Games

Sound is such an invisible force in games. You don't really notice it whilst it's there, but if we were to take it away, you would surely see people quickly checking the audio options bumping up the sound levels and frantically cecking all the audio cables are still plugged in.

Now its not just the sound of footsteps and the realistic sound of brains splattering up a wall when you get a head shot with a 50. cal sniper that i'm talking about. I'm talking about the atmospheric and and epic scores that are composed just to make you cry, laugh sit on the edge of your sofa or other bum cushioning device. But before we get into the whole live orchestra sat in front of MGS4,
I want to point out far in game sounds have come and affected our everyday lives.

Travelling home the other day I was just on the train to London, pretty boring and normal when all of a sudden I hear a few seats in front of me the mario coin collection sound go off and a guy picked up his phone ans started reading a text. Now pretty much everyone had looked up and a slight smile on their face remembering the Super Mario games and then immediately began to scowl at the crosswords they don't understand. Still on the subject of Mario, a great viral youtube video of a guy who took the original 8 bit sounding theme and thought it would be cool to beatbox it with a flute!

A little less recently another ringtone/ text alert sound caught my attention as the classic "!" MGS sound went off and I almost caught myself running for a cardboard box to hide under... well ok so its not all about making cool sounds for your phone, but games have really tried to make gaming a wholistic experience. Sound is a very emotional part of our sensory perception of things and can totally change the way we view dramatic moments and relate to events that happen in games. Halo in my opinion, really honed in on their music with large orchestral scores and grandious "LETS KICK ALIEN ASS!" style music to coincide with the games very dramatic intergalatic war based shooter. Uncharted 2 was something that was clearly inspired by the indiana jones scores and kept the music very tight to the way the environment and culture would be represented throughout the level. For example quite eery tibet throat singing was used throughout the creepy tibetan ice cave level in the hunt for the chitamani stone. Now i'd hate to say it but COD Modern Warfare 2 did have a few moments of great music to go along with the mindless killing of NPC's, especially in the Gulag level towards the end of the game (which by the way was totally stolen from the film THE ROCK starring Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117500/).

Little Big Planet is actually quite thoughtful in the way it allows you to create levels. I mean sure all the visuals and cool interactive effects are there to keep you entertained but they also give you a variety of soundscapes and the use of sound triggers They even went as far as allowing the characters you can make to have a sort of weird simlish
language (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simlish) to communicate with you, with the help of added speech bubbles! I've created and messed around with the creation tools in LBP and the levels really only come to life when the sounds are added, which is personally the last thing I though would make the levels fun and totally made me realise how stupid I had been in overlooking the most basic of senses that I clearly take for granted!

Actually really good sounds to look out for are in Dead Space 2 well and the first one! That is a prime example of a game that without sound just wouldn't work at all. You can hear the necromorphs running through vents and the humms and buszzes of generators and the clangs of metal falling all help to make wet stains appear on the front of your trousers as there is nothing more scary than the sudden loud bang of a door opening next to you randomly and you can never tell if something is going to come running at you from the dark. Even the futuristic gun sounds are interesting, this is clearly a field waiting to be played in further and hopefully one that big composers can really influence the gameplay just as they influence the story and character in the film industry.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Game Engines

Game Engines are the foundation and major tool in allowing everything that is modeled and created for a game to come to life. The Game Engine is not only a way of visually creating a space for the player to move in but also a way to create animations and interactivity for the player to have a more rounded and fun experience in this virtual world.

Recently I have have been toying with the Unreal Editor, which at first seemed kind of daunting but actually once I sat down and watched the incredibly useful tutorials they provide I found that it was actually quite fun. The Unreal Engine is one of the engines I seem to notice more when I'm playing games at home with releases that use the engine such as the Gears of War series, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Splinter Cell: Conviction, Bioshock, Mass Effect 1 and 2. Each of those games is very different but uses the same engine which shows in my opinion that the Unreal Engine has a lot to offer companies in search of a good Engine.

Now don't get me wrong Unreal isn't the only Engine out there and some games just wouldn't run right on it, which is why there are probably about another 100+ for you to try. Now, I won't go through all of them, I'll just pick out a few that have made me go oooooh, ahhhh,GEEZUS!

Ok so one of the cool engines out there that has to be mentioned is the Source Engine. Games such as Portal, Half Life 2, Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead have all used this engine. Well the first thing we should notice is that all the games I just mentioned are all first person shooters, however they all awesome FPS's. The Source Engine seems to keep expanding its potential with each release of a new title on it. Well something that is very cool about the Engine is that it's run by Valve who with Steam can automatically distribute updates with new versions of the engine. This means that games will run smoother and faster and means people don't have to shell out a load of money for latest release of a new engine package.

Well Cry Engine 3 has been shown and it looks very impressive indeed. Not only does it make everything look 10 times better than in a lot of game engines, but the physics and attention to the interactivity in the world is astounding. Smoke looks and behaves realistically, Fire and Water and explosions have never looked better on screen in a game. From what I've seen it seems like one of the most powerful engines out there and I think Crysis 2 will definitely show us what it can do.