Monday, 15 March 2010


I was just about to begin this blog post and read a little more down the page,

“We'd like to look at film in some detail, we're planning more on digital art origination and visual art theory. There will be more formal lectures covering things like key games, and we're planning to integrate the video tutorials into a more formal structure. We'd like to get out of the Uni more, and increase the amount of non-computer work, like sculpting for example. We've even had a suggestion for doubling the amount of traditional art...”

This sounds exactly what I wanted to hear, I love the arts side of it and would love to work in both digital and traditional but a chance to express my traditional art would be amazing. For me personally I think this course is structured really well, the pace is just enough to keep you on your toes but give you enough time to really enter your thoughts, I really enjoyed the sculpey task we were set and more hands on 3D like that would help some people get there head around the Max modelling. Recently our tasks have really taken a creative leap while staying in the boundaries of skill building. As far as the films, I agree we should analyse and crit them, id really enjoy seeing how various media bounce off one another.


I have to say I didn’t know much about the GDC and was surprised to read how amazing it looks, I have always known about E3 but this appears less of a convention. I was just flicking though the timetables and stumbled across a ‘Building an Open-World Game Without Hiring an Army’ talk. Its things like this that make me want to be in the games industry, I really love seeing people’s problem solving initiative and I admire it. This particular talk was on the game InFamous, which I myself have played so I could relate to what they were over viewing. I remember playing it and being amazed by the detail and style of the city, now knowing there was only a dozen artists im even more blow away. There is one part with a giant tower erupting from the city and I remember looking down at ground and thinking it must have taken a lot of people a long time to achieve.

From just reading the overview it appears they use various techniques allowing everything to fit with everything else and are able to change the appetence of buildings without changing much of the model structure. Then shortening the field of view and focusing on unique structures and how it all added to the final effect. I found just this small overview enough to make me wish I was there, I take a strong interest in the evolving game world and the creativity that goes into making things look right even if there’s not much to work with.

Where will this all take me?

So far ive really enjoyed the course and its really taught me so much already. I really enjoy the visual design side of things and am angling for something down that path, I can feel myself improving with every lesson with Chris and every task he sets, and now that the core knowledge is being put into place our weekly tasks are really opening up and I hope I can carry everything I have learned over onto these new tasks and really prove myself. I had never done 3D before here, I enjoy the development of the ideas and the execution of the tasks but I find my self getting bogged down on certain parts, its all about remembering processes and the more I work the closer I get to grasping it. The creative elements are not stopping me, I just need to get my head around how to go about it and hopefully the pace will quicken. So yes, I take a keen interest in all the fields I just feel that my visual is developing at a stronger pace. Im not closing any doors and will have to wait for feedback before I move on down this thought process.

Creativity and me

Creativity is ummm.. creative. Creativity is really amazing, everything around us man made was brewed up from someone’s mind, just merely a thought that this one said person chose to expand on and show others who in turn took into their creative mind and expanded and refined. Its amazing how much technology has exploded, they say we are merely a speck on earth’s massive calendar but we have changed the world more than any other living creature. I think what it really was, was curiosity which lead man this far, wanting to know the unknown and then wanting to play with it some more after. But I also feel creativity helped, having the ideas, strokes of genius on how to go about doing stuff.

Its pretty ironic I cant think where to go with this blog, and even more ironic that I see my self as creative and resourceful. Ever since I was little I would play with the simplest of things.

“I could sit there in a waiting room and let my mind wonder with what I had to interact with like a pair of glasses for example I could see it as a robot walker standing on its long thin legs, slightly curved at the end for counter balance with two great solar panels at the top for power.”

When I was bored in school or while revising I would constantly be making things with stuff I had in my pencil case or just the paper in front of me. At college I made a whole crane rig system out of thread and card and a hanger hook that could move a hook around my desk just to see if I could steal my friends ring shaped crisps.

I think everyone has creativity but a creative personality is that which studies the idea long enough for it to blossom, to adapt and change thought processes and absorb all the information. Imagination is a powerful thing and that coupled with creativity allows the ideas to come from your mind.

Creativity is everywhere, from the start of time it has expanded and altered our world even in the smallest of ways. (Just like those curly laces you had when you were a child that you didn’t need to tie).

Who's right?

“Some game companies want highly trained graduate artists and programmers. Some claim they really prefer creative individuals with a good Liberal Arts background. They can?t both be right can they?”

I can see sense on both sides, while on one hand its obvious why companies would want experienced pros I can also understand why companies would look for creative fresh original talent even if its from a more libral arts based background. Obviously they’d have to be good at arts too but im sure this background has its pluses.

Just speaking off topic to fill in some space, I think this course is really a true game arts course as apposed to the many others I viewed, while all claiming to be game design and very arts based this is the only one I knew of under the name of Game Art Design, here I feel I am taught way more arts based stuff than I ever thought I would be on any of the other ones (which is great!). I felt as though they had pushed the art aside and just built up on core skills generic to the industry.

Anyway.. maybe im more pro- highly trained graduate artists, after all it would take too much time and money to train up someone who knew little of the industry but was hired on an intellect basis.

Music and Sounds in games

Music plays as important a role in games as it does in Film and Televison. It is used to create suspense, a sense of awe and dramatic quick passed action, without sound in our games most would be lifeless and not be able to hold attention long enough for even the first cut scene. My personal favourite is when sound is used to emphasise a vast landscape filled with a safe friendly vibe or sense of mystery. Sound in games however can be used on other levels unlike film and other media. Because a game is interactive, sounds can be used to help the player, or manipulate their own play style. For example, secret areas can be signified by a short twinkle or a dramatic 5 second track, a heartbeat can tell you that your character is low on health or is struggling. The more the player plays along side these sounds the more subconsciously attuned they become to the game and the more enjoyment and reward the player will feel. For me I remember the shrill dramatic sounds of the Tomb Raider games, even finding a secret area ended with a sudden loud chime which almost every time scared the life out of me especially when I was on my toes after a dramatic music build up. Also the cinematic within Halo for me are filled with beautiful orchestral vibes that I just cant get enough of, it really enhances the games feel and drama.

Game Engines

So everyone knows about games and what they look like and how they feel but what are the building blocks of a game? Instead of reverting to raw code every time a developer decides to create a game they will use a starting point called a game engine. This is what allows physics, audio, graphics and rendering and a whole host of other aspects. The developer will start with this basic core structure and build on it until it is a diverse and original game. Games can all use the same engine and still be amazingly unique, its like the engine is the canvas and paints for an artist and the artist then using the same materials creates a range of completely different masterpieces. Now, not all developers own their own engines and they are faced with the option of constructing their own or buying the rights to another pre-made one. An advantage of buying the rights is that it is ready and waiting to get building on and it is hopefully reliable and accurate. A plus side of making your own, if you have the ability to would be that you could create something with totally new and unique properties, new more realistic physics and graphic quality, (Geo-Mod engine for Red Faction) but then of course you have to make it and this is time consuming.

There are two ways the games can be made from these engines, additive and subtractive. An additive design is one where the developer starts with nothing and builds in a sky box, slowly filling in the world from within the sky box. Engines like the Half life and Quake engines all use the additive method. The subtractive method begins with the opposite of the additive, a infinite solid which the user begins to hollow out into the world, this will reduce the chance of leaks (empty space outside the game being visible) but is a little trickier to handle. Game engines that use this method are ones like GeoMod and Unreal.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Games Culture

Am I part of any games cultures? I don’t know, I know what im into, action adventure and puzzle. I’d have to say the closest I get to being part of anything though is probably within MMO’s although I don’t anymore. I used to play GuildWars, a fantasy MMORPG of which I would play for hours, I think it’s the idea that it’s a real thriving community that evolves as you play, people discover ways to bypass things and loop holes in the system, that’s what I enjoyed most about it. I spent far too long on GuildWars, too many hours to say but each one was fun and fulfilling. I started playing the role-playing story side of it but it soon simmered down to player vs player where you could really go to town on the way you chose to set up for battle, finding the perfect balance of skills was what kept me playing for so long, and the thrill of victory as you take down a well known and well feared fighting type, it’d take too long to explain what im on about but take my word for it, it was fun. I had a few friends on GuildWars that I talked to about lots of different things not even related to the game, even though I didn’t know them in person, I got to know I guy who was playing in his spare time but worked fixing military aircraft and was situated on a foreign base, I don’t know how true any of that was but it was a fun concept. Also as you may have guessed, on of the main features of GuildWars is that you are part of a Guild, during my early playing days I was part of a really social American guild and it was really fun, but they all left for WoW. Now I suppose I could say im part of the xbox live community although for me that isn’t really social, I just enjoy that because it’s more satisfying to win against a real opponent than a computer, way more satisfying.

Games Industry, still holding strong?

Everyone who’s anyone knows were in a recession, something affecting nearly everything in the economy, but how about the games industry, it’s hard to tell. Many CEO’s have said that the industry could pass through the crisis virtually untouched. According to sales figures of December 2007, video games appeared to stay afloat while other industries retail figures fell.

I feel that whatever the economic state, entertainment like film and games will stay somewhat level due to their intentions and target audience, children and teens have to worry very little about the recession and will continue spending as long as there are new exciting things being released. At the end of the day people are still going to want to be entertained, yes they may not buy as many but the design of the industry normally works around people buying things they have been waiting and wanting for a while.

As well as all this, game hype and quality is on the rise, more money is going into advertising and developing, making more attractive games. Games like CoD have even received red carpet premieres so the industry must be doing something right.

Well if games are more or less unaffected by the recession what do they have to worry about? Id have to stay staying on top of originality and living up to peoples expectations are the main things, the industry is growing so fast its making giant leaps in technology with every sequel of a franchise. Game developers must stay up to date with this technology or they could lose there sales to a rival, and losing fans is a big deal. Because they are advancing so much, the consoles they release are going to go out of date a lot faster than before, this could be a problem when put with the financial status of the market, if they go and make better and better games for better and better consoles they could find themselves discouraging people to stay on top of new games and take their time with older games for the consoles they own.