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.