Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Im starting to concept now after settling on a final roof idea. Ive dropped the appartment idea and just gone for an industrial rooftop. Its now 2 levels for more variety and ive moved the sign to a better place so its not too crowded near the watertower.

Lights and Logos

By now im sure im having a neon company sign in just the right place so its realistic but somewhere the player can see it from. Also, i needed a company name for my sign. I knew i wanted industrial signage so to the point, and maybe with a logo would do.

I wanted to call it, i dont know, something like 'EMPIRE', something grand. However i really didnt want to get into all that copywrite stuff so was extra careful on my name. I thought i could make a take on the word empire and 'logoise' it into something more company like. I played with combinations like :


But most turned out to already be out there a small companies. I really liked the way EMPR looked on my building but this was an Australian Hardware company. After contemplating some additional symbols i came up with EMP-R, which i think still reads empire and doesnt breach the Aussie name.

Here were some logo designs before and after settling on EMP-R:

And this was to be my final logo.

Roof shapes

Exploring layout i couldnt settle on a shape for ages. I wanted something fun from both the player view and above while maintaining a realistic scale and shape. I didnt want something too oversized and barren nor did i want something too small and crowded.

After researching New York buildings i began to get a sense of the assets i needed to provide my rooftop with.

Little things like:

Air vents
A/C units

Aswell as these i wanted one/multiple main focal points for my level to give it something extra.

Water tower

These would be the biggest features and the most interesting so would require the most budget when it came to the modeling and texturing.

I was struggling with the shape of the building so tested some shapes in max.

Here you can see how my idea fits into the city scape as not being the highest building and giving it a more enclosed feel.

The EMPIRE Inc Rooftop

We have been given two projects to complete by Christmas and i am starting with the rooftop project. For this we are required to build a unreal level designed for a 3rd person action shooter situated upon a New York style skyscraper. I really liked the sound of this and after using UDK last year for the first time feel i know the basics enough to get started and get exploring.

So i knew the rooftop had to be situated in New York but still needed to think about the layout, who would use it, what condition would it be in. To get ideas i began browsing the net and using Google Maps over New York to get a good idea of the average rooftop design.

A smart thing to do would be to look around existing game levels because the idea was going to be used for a in game shooter. I had a look at multi player levels because these would need the most diverse and interesting cover and structure, essentially being an arena it would be intreresting from wherever you were on the level.

In the brief our tri count was heigh enough for us to get creative but the texture budget was going to be a challenge. This really limited me to what i could have in the way of unique 'hero' assets but was something i could work with easily and was happy to accept the challenge.

After exproring plently of images of high rise buildings and rooftop gardens i settled on an industrial style building, not the highest but high none the less. And possibly with a rooftop appartment that the player could look down into giving it an edge on most basic rooftops.

The catch-up

I was just informed that we are to produce a blog for semesters 1 and 2 aswell as the FMP blog so excuse me while i try to catch you up on the past few weeks events.

Id like to start by saying, well, here i am in year 3. The uni experience is drawing to a close but hopefully not without a bang! I'm running a parallel blog to this which will cover FMP related posts which can be viewed here:

This blog (my continuation from the last two years) will cover until Christmas. It should present you with some exciting works from rooftop level design to vehicular modeling but first ill catch you up on what ive been getting on with over the summer. In August, Arena Net announced a year internship at their base in Seattle and being such a huge fan i thought this a perfect opportunity to try to get a foot in the games industry. However with the announcement being so late in the summer break i was unsure weather to apply as i wouldnt really have a choice in leaving uni that close to term time. But then i saw it as such a big thing to miss even their acknowledgement that i would go for it anyway. I then dedicated the remaining weeks of my holiday working solidly on the project brief set by ANet to see if i was deemed worthy.
Still feeling a little unprepared and overwhelmed i gave it my best shot because afterall it was practice of my 3D skills. The project was to produce a house or character, both with the orthographic views supplied along with the texture budget and tri count. Heres the brief:

These were my outcomes.

After the deadline i did hear back from them but not the news i was hoping for. In the end it was all practice and will hopefully help towards this year.

Monday, 4 April 2011

End of Year 2

Well thats another year gone, just like that. But again i have learnt so much and really got my teeth into the more open projects. Working on the group project was my highlight. It really made me realise what it was to work as a team making a game and how we helped each other to produce something i am proud of. I think our time management ran well on that and we structured and planned to achieve a high quality product. The visual design was very similar to last year although we had a little more freedom and interest. I really tried hard to get into photoshop a lot more and feel im getting somewhere with that.

After returing from summer holidays i got straight into 3D and something clicked, i suddenly enjoyed what i was doing and felt like i was creating interesting good quality outcomes. I thought my self portrait 3D was the best and that kind of spurred me towards 3D characters. I intend to try and blitz Zbrush over summer and be ready for 3rd year.

What next?

After another year on this course i have come to realise the previous ambitions of 2D art was a distant dream, and i don't mean that in a bad way. Just that it has brought me to realise the areas i find more comfortable and would have a stronger place in the industry. Since the start of the year, especially the group project i have really come to love 3D and get along with it much better. I still need to explore paths within this field but I know this is what I want to do. Ive always had an interest in character design and would need to work hard but this would defiantly be something I would look into. There’s not a lot I dislike or wont do when it comes to modeling and will give everything genuine interest and commitment.

As for a career I would get my teeth into anything I possibly can. I could quite happily work making rocks and trees to go home and say I work in the games industry, with this approach I could easily work on personal portfolios and work my way up the ladder of success to pursue my strongest suits.

Small companies would be where the real fun would lie, getting a bigger part of the action and seeing every aspect take shape but even working for a big company appeals to me. I don’t mind being told to get down to it and come back when im finished, rinse and repeat. Because at the end of the day im still part of something that is going to be viewed by millions of people. Something that I can say I was a part of. When the 3rd year graduates moved on to places like Codemasters and were making the trees for Operation Flashpoint. The first time I saw that trailer I pointed out that someone 2 years older than me, fro my course had done those. It impressed the whole room and I felt impressed to know of him.

These little victories make something I would love to get paid for and love to be a part of, that bit more exciting.

So yes, after this year gone, I want to do 3D. Over the summer I will be exploring my skills and taking them further so by the time 3rd year comes along I can really shine and prove myself. Hopefully I will have a better understanding of what I really want to do before 3rd year comes round aswell. Bring it on.

Creative wannabe vs corperate pro.

Last year i stated that i had mixed views on this topic and i dont feel my views have changed all that much.

"“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."

I suppose it all depends on the role and the project. If i was designing a game which i was unsure of its style i would hire a creative person who could provide input and design into his concepts. Maybe someone who could visualise something in a more powerful way than i could imagine. However if my project had a strict art style, maybe a film game or a sequel. It would be more sensible to have someone who maybe cant create and adapt too much but can churn amazing concepts and get an idea i explain across to further artists.

I really dont know how to answer this question/discuss this topic. Because i feel a well structured industry should have both.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Interactive Design-Dead Space were even going as far as to drop the pause menu all together.

Interactive design is important in games because it bridges the gap between the player and the game. It allows the player to input and receive all the information required to enjoy a game. Interactive design covers everything from the GUI (general user interface) to the controllers used to play it.
The GUI is used to tell the player important information like objectives, health, and ammo. GUI began to creep in from all corners of the screen since the first games and have ever since clouded the screen with numbers and bars. It is o
nly recently that the GUI has begun to back off and become more of a subtle presence. Games now tend to have dynamic UI's which disappear when not required, making the player feel the realism. Games like Dead Space dropped the UI all together and used lights on the suit for health and holograms for ammo and objectives. They were even going as far as to drop the pause menu all together for added drama but this came across as too intense for players who were not able to escape the action when it all got too much.

The controller has been around since the dawn of games for obvious reasons but has evolved quite a bit in its time. One constant remained the same, that it was to be controlled with buttons by hand. This made sense as we use our hands for everything else.
The joystick was a perfect idea for fast action game play. The player could move in all directions without changing button creating a fluid and natural process like pointing. But as games advanced and became 3D the player had to be able to explore forwards/backwards as well as up and down. The implementation of
the analogue sticks was added so a player could walk with one and look with the other. Of course there are more buttons to press and these had to be close at hand for quick presses so the analogue sticks were not left unattended for too long. Shoulder buttons were added to be used by the index finger so could be used simultaneously with the sticks. A lot of ergonomic design has gone into controllers but something even more comfy and natural was coming.
There have been several attempts to break the mould. Time Crisis implemented light guns which gave the player a more real feel for the predominantly gun based action. Guit
ar Hero had a guitar peripheral which was played using a series of frets and a strum bar giving the experience of playing guitar to the inexperienced.The ultimate peripheral had to be that of the Steel Battalion game which provided a full mech dashboard for the mech fighter sim including foot pedals, gears, ejector seat and a full ignition sequence that was required should the player run into an EMP or other dangers.

Wand controllers like the Wii and Move have been released giving the player expressive freedom of movement. Holding two individual controllers means the player inst confined to a small proximity device. This, with tracking means the player can implement a series of expressions and movements to control the game. This adds a much more family friendly aspect and ultimately succeeds in interactive design.
I think the future of game interactive design will be that of Minority Report. The technology already exists and gesture control is already implemented in the Kinect. I think 3D technology will really bring the HUD out of the screen and we will actively reach out to interact. But at the end of the day i feel nothing will beat the mighty controller, well maybe the keyboard and mouse, but thats another story.

The sucess of sound

Sound in games is as important as in any other form of media. it is used for suspense, drama, action, and atmosphere. Where a film has a scripted soundtrack a game must have a dynamic and intuitive one. this is because a film has pre determined sequences and while this is technically true for games the timing and order can be completely random depending on the player. This requires ambient loops which in theory could go on forever and can be interrupted by the next sequence whenever the player 'chooses'. This brings me to my next point, when a scene needs to change music for dramatic or suspense sequences the music needs to blend to a heightened state, smoothly increasing tempo.
Sound is also used like that of real life where by we use it to locate, be alerted to, or interact with. As in real life you would expect to hear noises created by the surrounding creatures and environments, submersing the player and giving them a f
air advantage on the field. In the past sound in computer games was very basic and acted as warnings and ways of letting the player know that an event had occurred. Later games developed sound tracks to immerse the player but still remained very mono-phonic and nothing life like. Back then speech did not exist and was a series of beeps and scrolling text. With the introduction of poly-phonic sound and real sounds games took another step forward and could now talk and interact with the player like never before. In fast paced games objectives could be shouted to the player and they could passively listen while they kept their eyes on the game.
Of course the importance of sound depends on the game. There are so many types of games, unlike the big action and RPG story based games some don't require as much sound. Arcade style games will only use the sound as an enjoyable ambiance or to indicate an event. This is just enough to hold a simple, enjoyable experience.

Overall i feel sound is extremely important in games, as i discovered from playing COD in the labs. The day you forget your headphones is the day your kill/death ratio goes out the window. Putting ambient/dramatic noise aside, just not being able to hear foot steps and gun shots can be the difference between life and death. Game sounds these days are getting better and better with people going out and finding real sounds to record and serious composers getting involved in big blockbuster games. the line between film and games is blurring and sound is a large factor.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Creativity can be shown through many different outlets. A way in which one person can be creative is totally different to how someone else could be. For example you could put a chef next to a sculptor. Both have a sense of freedom in the end product that they want to attain. However, a person who is creative in one field would be more likely is more creative in others. From personal experience of creativity I like to draw as an outlet of creativity but also have been making small pieces of writing in my spare time.

I feel that you are born either creative or not and it’s not something that can be taught; although you can be taught to be a painter, a chef or a writer. There is a drive and desire that is inert in creativity. Art and creativity are highly synonymous and I think it is because of a drive that you have to create something great. A person could spend their life working to succeed in their aspirations of art because a satisfaction of your own creativity is hard to achieve. It is what drives people to become great.

I think that creativity leads to new things and there is a link between the acceleration of an art through creativity. E.g. the impressionist painters only got to paint outside because someone was creative enough to make tubes to store paint in, this then leads on into the impressionists painting differently and more creatively because they had less constraints to hold them back. They are able to move outside and change the way they paint. This was the first time where you could paint in a way you wanted against they way people were ‘trained’ to paint.

Creativity cannot be rushed as much as it can’t be wrong.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

Pablo Picasso

Monday, 10 January 2011


For this project i would like to design a brief i could possibly look into using for my FMP. Obviously this is a very rough cut and will most likely change along the course of my progression through the year.
I enjoy the 1930s/40s mob Mafia scene as I think it is the most interesting era to present day. I am not doing the future as I want other people to be able to relate to what I am creating.
I want to use this 'noire' period as a core art style on which I can introduce different fictional styles like the introduction of superheroes / steam-punk.
This game will most likely unfold as a 3rd person action adventure featuring environment and logic puzzles and a heavy 'cause and effect' story line. This mainly being a choice based system that will effect future character alliances. In the game you will fight along side a Semi NPC character which will fight and follow you but the player can jump in and take tactical control of their power using both characters in unison during a fight. The side-kick will also assist with puzzles and utilise their own powers for each unique puzzle instance.

The Characters

The main character:
this will be a masked super hero who is very dark and mysterious and doesn't talk but is spoke for through the side-kick. His powers are telekinetic based, being able to throw objects and debris as well as pick up, pull and push objects. As well as these superhero based powers he will come across various weapons and use a slick hand to hand combat against his foes.

Tri count: 12,000
1024x1024 D/N/S

This will be a NPC that can be somewhat guided by the player in combat and puzzles. They are a smaller more agile character that darts around using their unique teleport ability, they will most likely be female (or animal or even a robot) and will be dressed somewhat similar to the main character.

Tri count: 9,000
1024x1024 D/N/S

The main character will have a motorbike that fits with the times, when ridden the NPC will dart from building to building behind him keeping up.

Tri count: 15000
1024x1024 D/N/S

An inside of a mansion with towering columns and lots of destructible elements with possibly a courtyard aswell.

Tri count: N/A

I will have various scenery including vases, statues, desks, chairs and other household items.

Tri count:2,500

The main characters weapons will be duel long pistols,
Tri count:2,000

The NPC weapon will be some kind of melee weapon (if they are humanoid) Retractable batons.



Pencil and paper
traditional media

3ds Max
Z Brush

Level design

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


These last 3 weeks have been a good time to reflect on semester one, I feel I have really started to push my self and have put a lot of time into studying, coursework and personal practice. Easily 200% on last year so lets hope it shows. :)

I'm feeling really confident in all areas of this course at the moment and although I have room for improvement and I don't feel like my own standard is what it should be (its close, okay). But I'm doing everything I can and I can see from what I started at the start of this summer to now, how steep my learning curve has been.

The work has'nt been too hard over the holidays as I tried my hardest to stay on top of everything. The only things left were some therapeutic models I could sit down and really get into.

Now im just ready for next term and group projects, that i really want to be a part of and i hope we work efficiently as a team and produce something amazing. :D