Monday, 3 December 2012

Game Engine


     The gaming engine is a very important part of developing a game as it allows you to piece together aspects which you have designed and created, allowing them to be given meaning and “life” within the gaming engine.
      There are many different game engines, I have only had experience of using Unreal Editor. For me, getting used to the game engine was difficult at first because I was not used to navigating through the level as if it was a first person shooter, I kept forgetting that the controls were different to 3ds Max. Below are a list of different gaming engines and information about them;

  1. Rage Engine – Rage engine has been used in games such as GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption. The original author was Rockstar Games and was initially released in 2006. The platforms include Micorsoft Windows, Playstation 3, wii and xbox 360. This engine can handle large streaming worlds, complex AI arrangements, weather effects, many gameplay styles and fast network coding.

  1. CryENGINE – Far Cry and Crysis are among other games created with CryENGINE, developed by Crytek. It works with operating systems such as Windows, xbox 360, ps3, wii and android. And has features including Parametric skeletal animation, dynamic pathfinding and a tactical point system. According to Crytek, CryENGINE 3 is next-gen ready and doesn’t need additional support as it can handle it’s own sounds,physics and animations.

  1. Naughty Dog Game Engine – This engine has been used in Uncharted and Uncharted 2. This engine was designed specifically for the playstation 3. It provides crisp environments and interesting physics.

  1.  EGO Engine – EGO engine has been used in Colin McRae:DiRT, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising and F1 2010. EGO engine is usually used for driving games as it offers a highly playable driving engine across many different terrain types and allows clean details. It has a dynamic damage system, top quality AI and it makes great use of lighting, it is a very flexible engine that can be manipulated into the developers needs.

  1.  Unreal Engine – Used in Deus Ex, Killing Floor, Bioshock and Mirror’s edge. Developed by epic games, first illustrated in the 1998 first person shooter “Unreal”. Unreal favours First person shooter creations, however it has been used for other gaming abilities such as MMORPGs and RPGs. It can be used on a variety of platforms. 

  1. Avalanche Engine – Seen in Just Cause and Just Cause 2. An impressive collection of seamless gameplay, such as swimming and driving. The physics and AI is highly advanced and looks stunning. The visual effects are dramatic and eye-catching which makes this engine appropriate for open-world games.

     In conclusion, engines vary immensely, some are better for effects and some may be better for environmental reasons. Before making a game you need to make sure you research the pros and cons of using each specific engine, whether it favours a certain type, how easy it is to navigate and whether you are able to learn the programme. It requires a lot of thought as to which engine you choose, as you want the best result.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Documentation


    Documentation is key for a smooth running operation, it allows you to understand when and where you should be at during the project. This blog entry is a practise for the FMP in the third year, doing this will allow me to see where my documentation is lacking and therefore can be improved before the real thing.

 Project Outline:
   This project is designed to test my technical abilities and design plans. My personal aim is to improve my skills, plan efficiently and be able to create a scene that is believable to be in a ps3 game. The objective is to complete the task to a standard that would be acceptable in a game.
   As stated previously, I will be creating my project for the ps3 platform. As I have a penchant for the horror theme, I will be dedicating this task to that particular genre. This will allow me to express my gratitude and fondness of the genre.
    The audience will be for teenagers around 15+ and will not favour a particular sex. I chose teenagers, as I am currently in that age range so I will be able to project how I’d feel about the project as if I hadn’t seen it before, allowing me to change ideas and plans on how it appeals (or doesn’t) to me. Teenagers are the targeted audience for most games, which is another reason to base my game on this audience.
    The software and technology I intend to use are, 3dsmax 2012, photoshop cs5 and udk as  these are theoftware I feel most comfortable using which will allow me to create the project at the best of my ability and time set. Instead of instigating time to learn new software.
     The project will be based on the idea of a female protagonist fighting an apocalyptic world full of mutated, dangerous enemies ranging from small creatures to large bosses. The character arc will be that in order to protect the people she finds along the way, she has to make difficult choices which define her leadership qualities as well as overall, making her a better and redefined person from what she used to be, which was a nobody. She learns to respect the life she has been given.
  
Technical Specifications:
Lead Character (Protagonist):
 -    Female, Aged 25, white, English. Strawberry blonde with blue eyes.
-          3 x (512 x 512) diffuse texture sheets. (6 x ((512 x 512)) normal and speculars)
-          2,500 triangle budget
-          Functionality: Being the protagonist means that the game will be set around the character arc of this character specifically. This means that most effort and work will be given to the protagonist. This is so that the audience will become emotionally involved with her.


Non-playable character:
-          Male, Aged 11, Caucasian, black hair with hazel eyes.
-          3 x (512 x 512) diffuse texture sheets. (6 x ((512 x 512)) normal and speculars)
-          2,000 triangle budget
-          Functionality: The first person the protagonist saves. Represents her childish needs and the ability to be an authoritive figure to him.


Vehicle:
-          LandRover, black, 4wd, factory fitted body kit, leather interior.
-          1 x (1024 x 1024) diffuse. 2 x (512 x 512) diffuse. (6 x ((512 x 512)) normal and speculars)
-          3,000 triangle budget
-          Functionality: Mobility. Represents communism by being the newest land rover version, stolen from a rich, selfish man.

Enviroment:
-          Hospital waiting room, including stacks of chairs, a desk and a small childs play/waiting area (Similar to the ENT specialist waiting room at Leicester general).
-          2 x (1024 x 1024) 1 x (512 x 512) diffuse maps. (6 x ((512 x 512)) specular and normal)
-          8,000 triangle budget
-          Functionality: Hold up area for the survivors to fight off mutations and gather important medical equipment. Comments on the reliability of the human race on quickly learning the difference between what is needed and what is wanted. Also comments again, on communism as they encounter items which are not useful but are taken anyway.

Props:
Scalpel
-          Surgens scalpel found in the overrun hospital, blooded but in good use.
-          1 x (512 x 512) diffuse (2 x ((512 x 512)) specular and normal maps)
-          250 triangle budget
-          Functionality: Weapon, protection.

Bone Saw
-          Surgical bone saw found in operation room, un used.
-          1 x (512 x 512) diffuse (2 x ((512 x 512)) specular and normal maps)
-          250 triangle budget
-          Functionality: Weapon, protection.

Desk
-          Circular desk and reception area, with two chairs and a computer monitor and processor.
-          2 x (512 x 512) diffuse (4 x ((256x256 specular and normal maps)
-          1,000 triangle budget
-          Functionality: Hiding area

Childs area
-          Small childs table and 3 plastic chairs, small amount of childs plastic toys scattered on the floor.
-          3 x (512 x 512) diffuse (6 x ((256x256 specular and normal maps)
-          1,000 triangle budget.
-          Functionality: Another hiding area, comments on childish behaviour and oppressive psychological aspects hidden within the protagonists childhood.

Well......

I know I'm not going to sleep tonight! Oh silent hill, you do know how to please the audience!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Level Design



         Level Design is where the development of a game physically begins. It takes a lot of thought and process to be able to create a successful level and environment. You have to be aware of the space and general interactivity. As well as the importance of playability and the way the player navigates through the level. Level design combines the use of visual and geometric abilities all designed to construct the architecture of the level. It requires more than just an artistic way of thinking, it demands a structural and precise insight to the mechanical expectations of architecture. This is because level design is an expensive use of time, as if things don’t work or look right then the level, and therefore the game will look bad, and this will be shown in the sales of the games. Gamers want to play something believable, not something that is falling apart at the seems.
         Another important aspect of level design is the purpose of what is going to be placed in the level and why you are having it in the level, you need to consider what the purpose of the object is and how it will help you to get your end result. Deciding the location and environment will help you back up your general theme for a game. For example, in horror games such as silent hill, don’t you always see hospitals and abandoned theme parks? Why? Because they are creepy! So if you’re creating a horror game, you aren’t going to have the environment in a sunny field full of rainbows and unicorns. No. you will conform to stereotypical places ideal for your theme.


        So, with that in mind, the level must be constructed around the general story of the game. You must realise, before creating a level, what the environment and place has to do with the story and why the character(s) are there? This will help you decide assets and how the level is constructed.

      The layout is another important aspect of level design. You don’t want the player to have a headache because the level is designed like a maze (Unless your making a maze, then it should be maze-like) forcing them to give up because they’ve “Gone past this same tree several times now”. These are important things that you must keep in mind if you want to create a successful level.

      Another important stage with creating a level is what are the objectives and obstacles? As these will help to forward the plot and storyline. If these are missed out then the game will not have a meaning. You need to give a typical character arc to the character by setting tasks and having problems, like with any film or game. Your protagonist has some sort of problem to overcome which in the end makes them or the world better. (This cannot be typical of ALL game and films, just the majority) You must also create main focal points in your level. This will help draw gamers in the world, giving them something to concentrate on. Focal points must be visually pleasing and could often be the sign of where the player needs to go or the importance of that area.

    In conclusion, all these things are relatively important to the full aspect of a game. Poor level design will result in a overall poor outcome, as level design is classed as the “interface” (how the person reacts with the operating system) and will be an important and constant feature of the game.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Film



    Today’s lecture really made me miss my old film studies lessons. Watching “Paris, Texas” refreshed my film knowledge and I felt myself getting really involved with the making of the film. Makes me really miss Wednesday film afternoon’s, I loved watching films I wouldn’t normally choose to watch.
     I find bizarre films very interesting. Like one of my favourite French new wave films “A Bout de Souffle” (Breathless) directed by Jean-Luc Goddard.

                                   http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053472/

   I found it really interesting to learn how the French new wave broke the cinematic rules, with regards to things as breaking the 4th wall and a non-consistent character arc. There was many ways in which this film was interesting, and I enjoyed learning about it. It’s the kind of film you wouldn’t necessarily choose to watch, but once you watched it once, you watch it over and over and over…..


     Today just reminded me of the passion I had for films and the effort that goes into making them, I appreciate that feeling very much.

Visual Composition


     Visual composition is an important stage, this is the time for the artist to decide what emotions he or she wishes to provoke in a image. Pictures are used to tell a story and convey an emotional feeling resulting in a response. Just like film makers, it all relies on how you place objects in the scene (mise-en-scene) lighting, angles and much more. This is key to making a piece that the audience can identify with. Humans are emotional creatures, we find emotional stimulation in everyday concepts, there is not a moment that goes by where someone can not feel anything, understanding these feelings will help you gain an understanding of how different aspects of a drawing can make someone feel.
     For example, if I image is created looking up at a person, this means the artist has chosen to show the person from a low-angle creating the feeling that the person is strong and dominating. If the angle was reversed, the person would seem small and inadequate. A wide angle image, would provoke isolation emotions, as the person would seem invaluable being surrounded by the vast abyss. An extreme close up would allow the audience to sympathise with whatever the person was feeling, this shows that the audience is getting into the personality of the person in the drawing.
     Lighting and colours can also provoke different responses. Images with large amounts of red project the feeling of anger and danger as we recognise red from warning signs and the colour of blood. Whereas filling the scene with blue, gives a sad, cold and calming aspect. An object that is lighted by moonlight would give a scary feeling, if you were to replace the moonlight with sunlight, the object would appear much more friendlier.
      If you do not plan out your visual composition your image would be dull and could provoke the wrong emotional response, this is alright if it’s just a singular image, however creating images for a game would require some sort of continuity of emotional response. Even juxtaposed images need to be carefully thought out, as the audience will not want to be confused with what is happening. It needs to be clear.
     As an artist it would be important for you to be able to control and manipulate the feelings of an audience, however you gain this knowledge with trail and error, I useful trick is to detach yourself from your work and look at it like you’ve never seen it before, and then concentrate on how you are responding to it, are you happy? Are you sad? Frightened? If you feel nothing, you haven’t provoked enough response to convey a significant meaning. It would be best to look at other artists work then see how you feel looking at the image, and look at how they have planned the scene and setting.
     In conclusion, visual composition is the stage where you begin to aim your artwork in a general emotional direction, different artistic aspects change the way an image is perceived and this is important for portraying an image correctly and efficiently. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Concept

Just browsing the web, when i found this really great piece of concept art. Really inspired me to get my draw on, so i thought i'd share. Work was created by a talented artist called Alex Bobylev

Monday, 29 October 2012

Planning and Concepting


     Planning and concepting is an important aspect of creating and finishing a final piece. It helps to develop an idea into something you can work with.
     To be a successful artist you need to first understand how to plan, this goes from planning what techniques to time and to spacing on a page. Everything needs to be efficiently planned otherwise time can be wasted, and time is very important in the gaming industry, as deadlines are a key part to a successful game. Planning is the first stage of developing anything. Even if you do not write anything down, you mentally create a “to-do” list and plan out how to tackle the problem in your mind. Plans will change as you begin working on them as you realise better ways of tackling issues. This is a natural process of planning.
     Planning is incredibly useful when it comes to tackling a brief or problem in a brief, timescales and lists are an efficient way of keeping track of the tasks you have to complete.
     Concepting is where you start putting the plan in motion, you have a general idea of how to conclude a task and you begin by sketching ideas, bouncing back and forth from one idea to the next to get a good section of different images. You find what works with an image and develop it further, sorting out any issues or design flaws or drawing failures. Concepting includes a lot of rough sketches and experimenting with styles and thoughts. Thumbnails are a great and efficient way of portraying a general idea in a small amount of time, these generally accumulate and evolve into a singular idea for a final piece to handle the brief. So from beginning with loads of random inspired thumbnails you can defer a better idea and develop it further.
     Concepting and planning can come in many forms, moodboards, spider diagrams, words, sentences, doodles, diagrams, thumbnails, they are all produced to create quick ideas and begin the means to an end. Before this stage, nothing has really been created or thought about. This is where you can begin the motion to getting a final piece.
     Without proper planning and concepting a project can quickly become mis-directed and lost within the see of imagination and thoughts. It is a lot easier for a human to understand a way of getting to a set goal if the plan is clearly in front of them, it then produces a design that flows well and reaches the end target, which is the main reason for a brief to be set. It is a key part for a gaming organisation to have staff members that are proficient and resourceful when it comes to the planning stage of the development cycle.
    When attacking a brief i will have to keep these two important steps in mind if I want to create a high-quality outcome for the project and the brief.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Year Two


Hello year two. It’s nice to meet you.

  A lot of things have become clear to me in the few months off over the summer. The break allowed me to go back and look through thee first year being critical of the work I have done and how I approached the course. Looking back at the first few pieces of work I produced for both visual design and game production made me feel both proud and embarrassed. I can’t believe I have come this far in the space of a year. Yes, the other participants on the course have done as well. I came straight from college with hardly any artistic knowledge and no 3d knowledge at all. Now, I know how to make my perspective correct, how to check anatomy and different techniques when it comes to drawing. With regards to the 3d work, I could hardly create a box when we first started, and now I’m creating knights and tree houses with textures and normal/specular maps. I’m learning something new each and every day.

   Year two I will concentrate on getting these skills correct and putting them into practise. The first year I was stumbling around, now I feel like I’m at walking pace. This doesn’t mean anything will be easier, definitely not. But at least I know where I went wrong in the first year and how I can improve on that, and that is important. It’s alright to make mistakes as long as you can recognise them and know how to change them or stop them happening again.

    I’m very anxious and incredibly excited about the upcoming work. I expect to develop my knowledge of digital painting and the use of colours to portray emotional concepts and meanings in my work. As well as testing and trying new and exciting methods of drawing and colouring, as well as developing a better understanding of 3ds max. I am here to learn new things and progress through to the next year with an even larger understanding of the artistic world both traditionally and digitally.

    I need to make sure to focus on my time managing skills as well, as this is something I found very difficult to control on the first year. I will need to make sure to give myself proper time limits and recognise when I’m wasting time on something. I also need to increase the speed at which I draw, I shall practise creating thumbnails at variable speeds to improve on this skill. However, I shall not just focus on one area of the course, I shall divide my time up to gain a “jack of all trades” understanding as this is the kind of thing that the industry is looking for. It means I wouldn’t be a specialist in just one thing but have a more rounded understanding. This is useful as technology advances very quickly in industry, so I would need to be able to learn things quickly and if I specialised in something that was replaced, it would mean that I would be replaced as well, with someone who can adapt better.

    In conclusion, looking at my first years work I know that I can do better this year, I have not yet hit my peak. I look forward to the opportunity to learn more. Knowledge is power.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Final Concept - Project Have Fun

   This is my final concept for the horror survival game that i wanted to create.  I wanted the final piece to be messy and dark, which is why i chose to do my concept in this style. In conclusion, i really enjoyed working on something like this as it gave me the freedom to make my own desicions and make something fresh out of my mind. If given more time i believe i could generate more concept sketches and develop the stroyline more in depth. I also like what i've learnt on this project. I don't use Photoshop alot so it was useful to mess around with the programme and learn it's commands. I hope that my concept piece gives off the correct perception, and that you can tell the genre it is.

WIP Final Concept


Monday, 26 March 2012

Project Have Fun art 2






Project Have Fun Art







Project Have Fun

     For my Project Have Fun idea I decided to do a first person survival horror. I love zombies, and if you don’t know this by now you should leave my life. Forever. But in all seriousness, I wanted to do a game that I felt passionate about, I adore the way survival horrors make me feel, the feeling that you get when your smashing a zombies head in, or when something jumps out at you and you jump through the ceiling.

    For the environment I decided to base my game in a hospital. I started by thinking of all the places I found scary, I went through all the stereotypical places, like a graveyard, hotel or abandoned mansion. I finally decided on a hospital . Hospitals are were all different people with all different diseases gather. Nobody enjoys visiting a hospital, and they can be big and foreboding with an air of death around them. What better place to set a survival horror game?

    So I thought of all the different areas you can get in a hospital, ranging from the CT scanner room, to the parking, to the reception area. I produced some concept art into my sketchbook and decided to base my concept art in a hallway as this would give me more scope when adding items into the scene. Mise-en-scene can play an important part in an environment. I drew some concepts of different types of hallway and decided to use different parts of a few of the ideas. I wanted to add a lift, to play on the fear of claustrophobia. If you are a fan of the horror genre, then you should know, if the apocalypse is to come, stay away from lifts. It is no time to be lazy. I decided to use an open ward in the background so I can play with lighting in the scene. I want my scene to be very dark, which will play on the phobia of the dark, Nyctophobia.

   Onto Character design, I decided to stick with two characters, a man and a woman because sexual tension sells. I decided to have the women have an authorities job, I played with the different job roles in the hospital. After looking at the concepts I made the decision of choosing to make her a surgeon. She will be head strong and an independent women. She will have to save the other character, by performing minor surgery on him. The male character will be used to emotionally manipulate the audience. He will be a minor criminal, using guns and robbing occasionally. He will end up at the hospital after getting into trouble with the law. At first, we  will see him as  a baddie, as he has done bad in his life, however, he changes himself for the better (this will be his character arc) by helping and protecting the surgeon. He will also teach the surgeon the way of using guns. This will show us a character change, as she used to save lives, but now she is taking the life away from the zombies. These are the basic ideas I have made for my characters. They each have an individual character arc, which will give them new meaning to their life.

    The final concept art will take place in a hospital environment, in a hallway with an open ward and a lift. There will be a small amount of lighting, as the game is mainly set in the dark. I will add some darkness in the foreground to make the darkness personified, to make it appear that the zombies are chasing the characters. I will place the two characters in the middle of the scene. The male will be standing behind the woman in a protective stance, grabbing his gun with another weapon in his other hand. The woman will be in front of him turning around to see the darkness behind them. The scene will have hardly any colour, except red for blood, to represent danger. The platform I will base my game on is PS3, and will have a recognized standard ratio of 16:9.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Rules for LIFE - Project Fun

Rules for Characters:

-          Always have a recognisable silhouette. You need the audience to be able to remember and recognise your character so that they can buy more games if the character is involved. If you make your character’s silhouette boring and standard then it will just fall into the pit of useless characters, which will be very bad for you and your company.

-          Do not over complicate your character. You will need to be able to produce quick sketches of your characters a lot, if you make them overly complicated then you will waste important time. Another reason, is that the audience needs to be able to remember your character. Fan-based armies rule the gaming world, you need your audience to be able to remember the few little traits that your character has, not every little tiny detail.

-          Use the correct colour theory. There is nothing worse than looking at someone’s overly saturated, brightly coloured character and having a seizure. Seizure’s are not good, you need to keep your audience alive to buy your games. Therefore, stick to the colour wheel and chose colours that compliment each other, not every single colour imaginable that looks like a clown has just thrown up on your character.

-          Check out characters that sell well, think of characters such as Lara Croft and think why they are so popular. Look and research why she is how she is and try and do the same for your character. Ideas can be stolen, but be careful not to just copy someones idea, this will be obvious and annoying to any fans of the original. Angry fans are angry, stay clear of them.

-          Make sure to research your ideas. There is no use designing a character for a game based in the 1800’s and give them the newest blackberry curve, with a tight short dress and massive killer heels. That may be suitable for this century, but you certainly wouldn’t see David Oliver Allen texting and friend requesting his homies back in the 1800’s.

-          Personality needs to be researched. You don’t want your character to be boring and guessable. You need the audience to fall in love with your character, (or hate them, if they are a baddy) Giving your character a mixed personality would confuse the audience. Nobody likes being confused, so don’t do it.

-          Don’t offend your audience by having massivly in-your-face stereotypes which could be taken as an insult.

-          You should have one strong idea radiating throughout the design. If you create a weak, flimsy, scared character, you don’t want people to get the wrong idea and think he’s a massive hero and then by shocked when he runs off at the first sign of conflict.

-          Make sure you know there back story. Don’t elaborate some BS because you have no idea why and what he’s doing in his life. You need to have a strong idea and be happy with it before making your character. Don’t make your character hollow, make sure he has a dedicated backstory.

-          It’s very difficult not to get “precious” over your designs. They are your little children and someone is there ripping them apart. These people who are criticizing you are paying your wages. Shut up and crack on.

-          Listen to other’s opinions on your character, don’t liet your pride get in the way. Listen and take on board what people say. Obviously if you totally disagree then don’t do it, but make sure you take in all the hints and tips from others and change your character if you think it would be best.

Rules for Environment:

-          Pathetic Fallacy. Use it. It was recognised for a reason, it will help you convey meaning and emotional response in your environment. Which will result in the correct emotion being displayed in the audience.

-          Don’t mess around with colour theory. Objects in the environment are coloured for a reason, you can sometimes use colour theory to provoke and emotion in the audience. For example, a darkened hallway will show danger and the audience will respond to that with the emotion of fear.

-          Have a dedicated light source. You may wish to have more than one light source in your scene, that’s fine as long as you know how to shade appropriately according to these light sources.

-          Like the character, research where you want to make an environment to make sure it is believable. Believability is what sells, people buy games to escape, you don’t want there to be blatant flaws in your environment which stops that.

-          Imagination will help you design environments that are interesting and beautiful to the audience. Let your imagination run wild, but make sure you have the believability still there.

-          Props are important features in the environment, too many or too little will shape the way the audience reacts with your environment.

-          Makes sure you don’t use colours that could cause an injury, we’ve all seen them scenes were you have to squint your eyes really far so that you don’t get a raging headache when trying to read a sign with white writing and a bright yellow background. Don’t do it, your audience will thank you.

-          Take criticisms and use them to your advantage. It will most likely improve your work which will improve your pay check. They may seem harsh, but make sure you take them on board.

-          Stay within a recognized genre. Don’t mix them unless it’s the very very last thing you need to do in your life. You need a strong clear idea of an environment and genre, don’t stray too far from this genre and you should be safe.

-          Get a steady balance of reality and imagination. Both of these will prove useful in your environment. But you need to make sure you don’t go OTT on both. A steady mixture and flow will help create an environment to be appreciated.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Personal Review

     This year I feel like I’ve been dropped in, head deep in water, trying to paddle my way against the strong winding current trying to pull myself to shore. The weird thing is, I liked it. I was in a world that I’m not used too, things happened which I didn’t understand and I worked my way around so many obstacles and problems.

     I have enjoyed the first year, it felt like I was actually somewhere were I was meant to be. I look back and see my early game production and visual design work and I can see how much I’ve learnt just in this first year. I have retained important information and have learnt more than I ever thought I would do. I enjoyed learning, I wanted to learn, I thrived to learn. What is it all for? You have to chase your dream, I feel so lucky to have been able to begin chasing for what I desire. I hope that my efforts are enough for me to progress through to the second year. I have had this chance, which is more than what most people get and I should be grateful, which I am. Only time will tell if my heart weighs the same as the “Game Art” feather of truth and justice.

     The general structure of the course is something that I have found interesting, I was used to being constantly fed information at school. Coming to university made me realise that learning doesn’t have to be boring and aggravating. You need to be able to find things out for yourself, and this helps you remember and recall anything which you’ve learned. I like the freedom we got, it’s not just a single pathway, you have to decide where you need to go.

     The different elements of the course have been intriguing too. The movies on a Wednesday afternoon was something I wasn’t expecting, but totally enjoyed. It gave me a reason to watch a film that I wouldn’t usually choose to watch. My film studies history allowed me to see these films in a different perspective.

     Looking back, I see what I have done wrong. I wish I could go back and change it, but I can’t, I have to live with these little decisions I have made throughout my life. I’d love to be the perfect game art student, I know I am not and I don’t think it’ll ever happen. I just hope that I can do enough to make people realise that I am not going to give up on this course without a fight. I will use every strength in my flimsy body to push for my dreams and chances to come true.

    Now for the constructive feedback for the course. As I said above, I enjoyed the variety of lessons and structure of the course as I found it completely motivating. The enthusiasm from the lecturers was inspiring. It’s nice to see that the lecturers enjoy the course as much as the students. It’s also nice to learn about the personal artistic backgrounds of others. It makes them seem more approachable and I have found this excellent for me to progress. I am incredibly happy with the teaching I have received here. I appreciate the knowledge I have gained.

      The only thing I’d want to change is possibly how the course is marked. I would prefer that I had knowledge of exactly how people mark work. Also, I have found that some people use cheating methods to attain there end renders. I dislike cheating because I want to be able to make these things myself. I have come from nearly none knowledge of art to what I am now, and I did this myself. It upsets me that some people ask for help all the time without trying it themselves. Surely it means more for someone to learn by themselves the hard way than having someone else do work for them. I would hope that there was a way to stop people cheating or perhaps applying this to end results. I am by no means saying that people should not ask for help, because I think it’s good to receive help when you are completely stuck, but sometimes I’ve seen people not even try because it’s easier to ask someone to show you and do it for you. It is the students artistic capability that should be judged, not someone elses.

      However I think the course offers a fantastic selection of lessons and tutorials. I would not be at the stage I am now without it. So I thank everyone who has made this possible. Hopefully I will be here next year to see myself progress further, but I am incredibly thankful to get this far.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Level Design and Enviroment

    Level designers construct and decorate the environment in ways so that the audience can enjoy and understand  the game. Good navigation is key to having an enjoyable game. We have all been there, running around a level and passing the same rock 20 times, we wonder if we’re just running in circles or whether there are several rocks using the same texture sheet. Either way, it’s really frustrating to the audience. We don’t play games to make us agitated (unless your into that sort of thing in a weird sexual way) we like to be able to know what we are doing and where we need to go.

    So it’s the job of the level designers to make navigation easy for everyone. They do this by using items and backgrounds to tell us where we need to go. This might be as simple as a “Go this way” sign or arrow, but mostly, the use of inanimate objects block different pathways off so that we follow the one directional route that we are supposed to take. Things like buildings or bushes may also be used to blockade an area off. These construction methods will make the game easily navigated, causing less stress and confusion in the audience. The level designers may also use the decoration to suggest routes to take, like for example, they may use lighting sources to show a correct route, or brighter colours or symbolic colours such as red to suggest danger in a certain area.

    The environment influences the atmosphere of a game a lot. Certain tactics can be used to create a specific feel to a game. Pathetic fallacy is used most games and films to create atmospheric values. For example, a horror game may be set mostly in the dark with rain, this will signify to the audience that something bad is likely to happen resulting in a sad ending. Pathetic fallacy is used all the time to help persuade the audience to feel a certain emotion. How an object is created can also help display certain emotions in the audience, for example, a tree in a horror game is likely to be shown as dead, with lots of branches spiking out. If this tree was to be placed in “happier” game that it would seem out of place. A fantasy game would usually use a lustful tree with bright leaves shimmering in the sunlight to create a more positive influence.

     Colour theory is highly important and must be understood by the level designers. They need to be able to add certain symbolic colours to items to provoke a needed emotion in the audience. This will help the narrative and the overall gaming experience. Colours such as yellow and orange stimulate positive thoughts. Colours such as blue and red will provoke negative emotions. This is because the audience will be used to seeing such things as warning signs, which are red and blood, which is also red and will therefore recognise that red most will be most likely to occur in dangerous situations.

       The amount of realism and stylisation needs to be carefully decided so that the audience can believe what is going on in the game. Realism can be used to make the audience believe that the game is real. Games like modern warfare will need to relate to reality. It is no use having unicorns in the sky if they want to create a realistic effect. With stylisation it is much harder to get a convincing environment, as it isn’t real. The stylisation needs to have a realistic base structure, so that the audience can believe that it may be true. We have to be able to realise when something is real and when something is fake, but imagination will allow us to decide whether the environment is plausible or not. This will have to be given a lot of thought about by the level designers. There needs to be a good balance of both of these things otherwise the game will not be convincing.

    For me, I believe a really good environment I have seen is from a game called Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Designed by Thomas Grip, Jens Nilsson and Mikael Hedberg. Throughout the game you automatically get a sense of foreboding and evil. The environment is constructing mostly within a large house. The creators used a lot of unsaturated greys, blues and browns to provoke a frightening response to the audience. Mist is a common feature scene in the environment and light plays a key part spotlighting specific gruesome areas. Most of the rooms have very little natural light and keep the character and therefore the audience, in the dark. This will show the audience that this is a horror game, as most horror stories take place in darkness, because humans fear what they cannot physically see. It also plays on Nyctophobia, Lygophobia and Achluophobia all being related to having a fear of the dark. It pays homage to any generic haunted buildings in the world, the dark rooms and scary environment is commonly scene in horror films and games and can be related to most of the haunted houses that are well known. It is a general horror-based environment, but does very well to provoke the correct fear response and emotion in the audience.


Amnesia: The Dark Descent screenshots of the enviroment.
 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Blind Contour

Blind Contour! I really need to make my brain stop thinking so much sometimes!!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Characters

      The whole idea of a character is the emotional connection between them and the audience. The director of a film, game or even book will have to decide what kind of emotional response they want from a character. For example, the audience will need to feel hatred towards an evil person for there bad doings, if you make the evil character likeable, then the audience will get the wrong impression and therefore might make the narrative more unpredictable and confusing. It is better for the roles of characters to be clear, in case of people of lower intelligence. Unless for example, in “Blade Runner” the director, Ridley Scott manipulates the audience from hating the main bad character Batty to feeling sorry for him at the end by such things as iconography. It takes a lot of skill in cinematography to get away with a manipulation on that scale. So this is why most types of entertainment featuring people are very simple, audiences have been dumbed down by films and games, so anything new and different can be problematic for audiences.

     As a human, we read into people’s body language sometimes even more than conversation. This is why it is important for characters to be easily read, confusion between the characters and audience may make the narrative not very enjoyable and pleasing on the eye. Audiences like to feel comfortable while watching a film, passive viewing has become more and more appropriate for audiences in recent years, as having to work to understand a character means too much effort, as these sort of entertainment is mainly for enjoyment purposes, people don’t want to work to understand the characters and narrative.

    The audience will project there alter ego onto a protagonist in a game or film, meaning that they will see themselves in that kind of role. This means the audience will sympathise and recognise the protagonist as the good role. This is why I, and the audience will see them as good and wish them well. Same can be said for the antagonist, we recognise the bad behaviour through how the character acts and therefore we feel negative emotions towards.

    As a character, it is important for all aspects, such as script, acting and appearance to be of a good quality and easily understood. The script will have to suit the characters personality otherwise the audience will once again get the wrong impression. If for example, an antagonist is being really polite and kind, you are going to get confused as to what his specific role is.

     The acting of a character is also important so we can read the correct body language. If all the acting is very poor it may be misunderstood and the audience may not be able to properly relate.

     The appearance will also need to be in the same kind of style as other features of the character. These three features influence the way the audience reacts and feels towards a character, if one of these is done poorly, then it will affect the overall performance the character gives off. This is why it is important to understand the roles of a character and give them background as to why they are like that rather than just making a character like that because they think it looks good.

    The kind of stories that I love are mostly one where there is some sort of zombie apocalypse. The first reason being that I am totally obsessed by zombies. The second reason is that I like to see how the actors (the characters) react to this sort of apocalypse. In many zombie films, it is shown that the humans are more scary than the zombies. Zombies just follow there basic natural instinct to find food and eat. In the films, the humans tend to push others out of the group and basically show off how horrible they are. In most films zombies are shown as more human than the actual humans. This is because the zombies are killing for food, to keep themselves alive, which shows humanity in them. The humans sometimes end up killing another human because he or she doesn’t like them. For example, in “28 Days Later” cinematography is used to show how mindless humans are, by repeativly using camera angles where the top of the human actors head is cut off, this shows how thoughtless people can be towards each other. Disaster brings out the real personality in a human.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Pacman Vs FEAR

     Is FEAR that much different from Pacman? At first you think, well yes of coarse! It’s completely different, for first Pacman is 2D, FEAR happens to be 3D, which is a massive difference in the way the game is designed. FEAR would have taken a lot longer with much more intricate detailing, design and art.
     Basic controls are used in Pacman, direction arrows allow the player to move around the maze avoiding the ghosts at all times, unless the roles are reversed by eating certain fruit. The controls in FEAR are more tactical, with the controls ranging from the shooting to running and general moving, with flash lights and object interaction. A lot more detail had to be made for FEAR to work, Pacman is more simplistic, although for the time it came out, it was pretty futuristic as not many games had been made then, so audiences wouldn’t have expected as much as people do now.
     In FEAR there is also a more comprehensive narrative, it takes you through different stages and levels with a more varied storyline.  Pacman however, is basically the same simplistic story of being chased by ghosts around a maze over and over again. FEAR has a single-point narrative, however you can go about getting through this in a couple of ways, maybe alternating ways of killing and such.
     But FEAR is very similar to Pacman! Why you ask? Because the creators use the same emotion to fulfil the gamers desires, fear. Yes, pacman is not scary because recient developments in film and games had numbed audiences into brainless “zombies”, nothing scares us much anymore because we are used to the reaccuring themes. But when Pacman first game out, audiences were scared, it is basically a yellow person trapped in a maze being chased by ghosts. Now if that happened in reality, I think we can all say we’d be pretty scared being chased by a never ending round of ghosts. FEAR is very similar, it plays on the primal instinct of the audience of being frightened, it is on a more in depth level than pacman, as it uses psychological and physiological (if you get THAT scared by it) fear to make the audience scared. Every game is deigned to provoke an emotion, this is how the audience relate to a game. Pacman and FEAR both use the same emotion to stimulate the audience.
    FEAR is a glorified version of Pacman, in both games you are being chased around some sort of maze (One is a building and surrounding area, and the other is an actual maze) by something evil that wants to kill you. However much the fundamental controls in FEAR are different, it is still the same sort of chasing fear that the game uses. If you change the games down to there basic rules, be chased, run and kill, they are practically identical, and the only reason why FEAR is different is because it was made in an era where horror is more glorified, and gaming technology has increased.
    In conclusion, when we ask the question is FEAR that much different from pacman, we immediately think, of coarse! But on deeper analysis, they are quite the similar type of game.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Art Director Role

     A Video Game Art Director’s role consists of constructing and criticising the quality of art that can be incorporated into games. They need to be well educated in art, as they will need to be able to recognise aspects of art such as drawing, 3Dmodels and colour knowledge. Creativity is a key point as the Art Directors needs to be very visual with the job at hand. You need to have an open mind to different types of art if you want to be a good art director, as art that you may not like, may be popular. You have to think beyond your own personal preferences and into the ideas that will be most popular with the target audience.

    A director also has to be very good working in part of a team, he will have to correspond around the art team so that all the different departments can communicate with each other, so that there is a consistency in the art that is produced. The art director must be able to pick and choose the best styles of art that he think will be most popular. Within the team, there will be a lot of different opinions, it is the art directors job to manage all the thoughts and decide on which ones would be best. The art director will have to make sure that the art fits in with what the Game Designers what the game to be like.

    I believe art direction in games is similar to the art direction in films. In film, cinematography is incredibly important in setting a scene and emotions throughout the narrative, it is how the audience reacts and interacts with the story on screen. Games are a little different to film, in the fact that games are heavily based on art direction. Films also have a very strongly based art direction, however if the art is slightly off, the director could possibly make up for it in other areas, where as if there is some disjointed texture on a character in a game, it will be heavily scrutinised for being a lazy effort from the artists in the team. Game and Film art directors both need to have similar creativity and enthusiasm with art based knowledge, this means that the roles that they have are incredibly similar.

   The qualities that would be expected of you if you wanted to become an Art Director in the gaming industry include confidence, you are in charge of an important part of making a game. If you are not confidence and back up your opinions and knowledge with good judgement, then it will be difficult for your game to become popular, which is going to pay your wages. Another important quality you must have is ability to manage time and plans to make the best out of the team and the time limit. There must be quality and quantity of your work. An obvious value that is needed is creativity. You need to have a creative mindset that allows you to wonder through the different ideas of others, stealing, changing and making them better. This is the most important role you need to have to be successful. The drive to become something spectacular should be in your soul, you need to have the push to become what you want.

    Personally, I think the role of the art Director is one that would be very interesting and appealing to me, I could quite easily see myself in that role. To do this I need to strive my artistic capabilities to the highest possible limits.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Angel-A

    I personally really enjoyed the movie “Angel-A” that we watched today. There were certain characterises which were reminiscent of the French New Wave style films from the 1950’s. Although there wasn’t much that was there, on a couple of occasions I noticed similarities. There were no conventional protagonists in the film, the main protagonist was an arab, scruffy bloke with a life that’s leading no where, and the other protagonist was a tall, blonde “slut”. They are by no means the perfect male and female role models that normal heroes are.

     The typical black and white scenario was very strange however, the dusty desaturate black and white tones gave the film a feeling of French New Wave,  however it wouldn’t be considered as FNW as some of the film like “A Bout deSouffle” or “Une Femme est une femme” by Jean-Luc Goddard. I found it a very artistic film, there was no need for the film to be in constant black and white, but it was, giving it an old, more cultural feel.

      Normally, having to read the subtitles for me can be a little bit tiring, but the whole emphasis of the storyline, theme and the bizarre mix of characters makes this a very unconventional film. I started the film with a negative attitude, as I’m sure most of the audience did, but once I got into the story and created an emotional attachment to the characters it interested me more and more.

    The general cinematography also helps the ambience and artistic presentation. In the film, France is romanticized, like once again in French New Wave films. The slow, lingering shots of France and the ever changing scenery glorified a lot of the areas in France, for example the restaurants and the clubs. Angela and Andre are shot on the same level, however tall Angela is over Andre. They are shot on a par with each other, which helps emphasis the relationship they have as being equal.

    Overall, I would definitely recommend this film for anyone who likes something abit different in a film, not just generalised sex and violence like in most Hollywood hits, with there conventional narratives and boring protagonists. It is a simplistic storyline, but good art direction and cinematography helps make this movie something different.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Elements of Game Design

     The act of gameplay or in fact the playing of a game is where an audience or member of an audience uses a gaming interface to interact with the game following a set of premade rules. Gameplay usually consists of challenges and overcoming these challenges to reach an ending goal. The important thing with gameplay is believability and the relationship an audience has with the characters and plot. People like to get lost in the idea of a game, that’s why we play them. For the escapism of life. This is the same type of style film directors use, usually in a film (But not in such films as in French New Wave) a character has some sort of goal, and they overcome obstacles to get there, this is a traditional character arc. By doing this, the character gets to learn more about him/herself and better themselves in some way, whether it’s by saving the world or learning new abilities. This is the same in gaming mannerisms, except the gaming has somewhat a larger, although not complete turn in the characters lives. Although saying this, the character will predominantly (Only on solitary storylines) end up at a singular ending point. It is the game designers job to make the story believable enough for the audience to emerge themselves entirely in the story and get emotional involved and manipulated.

     It’s difficult to say who the leading people are in Game Design, as it’s a matter of opinion on the games they help create. A Game designer must have a selection of different qualities about them, including being very creative, obviously, everything is a cliché nowadays because everything has been done before, several times. But if someone takes one of these ideas and make it so much better, cutting and pasting scenes and ideas from various movies, games or general inspirational places and creating something a little bit different. After all, consumers know what they want, and they seem to be in a trend, this means that game designers have to make games to fit that trend so that the games are bought. It’s one big circle of gaming that can be very difficult to get out of, people want things that they knew will please them, as trying something new is normally slightly out of character and outside there  normal comfort zone, so the game designers have to follow the trend. Game Designers also have to be able to work well in a team and work efficiently in these teams. There are always strict time limits in creating a game and there will be many problems and adjustments on the way, being able to handle these problems with the time set and with other people are qualities that you must have to be efficient in corporations. Taking criticisms and adjusting correctly to these will also be an important part in a Game Designers career. It’s very easy to get attached to the work that you produce, because when someone criticizes it, it feels like they are criticises your child, you poured your blood and sweat into it and they are ripping it apart. But this is something you need to get over, because you are not creating a game to suit YOU, you are creating it to suit an incredibly wide audience, so your ideas may not be the same as the general publics.

    I think a very important “leading” Game Designer is Will Wright, who was one of the designers of “The Sims”, which is a very popular series of games that is still going. The games appeal to a large audience and is an incredibly enjoyable game. Will Wright has done a great job of taking an almost simplistic gaming mechanism and create so many different variations and add ons. This shows how successful he has been.

    Modern developers must take into consideration the importance of Game Design, as with most of the job roles in the gaming industry. It is one of the first roles taken upon a company, as without the designers there wouldn’t be any backing to a game. You have to build up the storyline and figure out what storylines and characters work well together, during this time, many ideas will be scrapped and edited. This is a natural process in Game Designing, and is important to get the right mixture of ideas to produce a game that will sell well. After the initial designing has finished, modellers and concept artists will be able to begin working  on there parts, although the designer will have to liaise with the rest of the work team to see if the game is coming along to the plan.

     It is by no means the sole responsibility of one person, one person may be the main backing to an idea for a game design, but there will be much input from inside and possibly outside people of the industry. It is all part of the process of getting the correct mixture of ideas and views to create something the public will like and purchase.

     With the mixture of genre’s you will have to have a slightly different input with regards to the different principles of the variation of gameplay. However, somebody who is more comfortable to adventure may struggle to mix the design if they were asked to make a horror, however they may be able to give a unique adaptation to the horror theme with regards to there adventure theme. Because someone is used to making a certain genre, doesn’t mean they are incapable of changing to a different genre, however there may be some subtle giveaways if there are. There will definitely need to be a change in principles, as the principles are normally set around the targeted audience, it is no use making a horror game for an audience of 5 year olds. Certain parts of different genres could be mixed to make the games more interesting, but not too much as the genre will become a blur between different types.

    When I play a game it is important that the storyline and characters are believable, I like to taken into the gaming world and not released till I’m done, I want to be so caught up in the game that I don’t realise that a full day has gone by. I want to feel emotionally attached to the characters and get upset when one dies, or feel happy if one completes there tasks.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Woah, it's past your bedtime!

     I seem to be drifting off into a bubble of comfort. Yesterday, I wondered what it would be like if things were different. If I could go back in the past and see where ive gotten to now. I wonder if I would have done anything different and how much my life would differ now. Maybe, but that’s something I will never be able to know.

   I’m enjoying this course so much I couldn’t of asked for one that fit my personality more than this one. I feel like I actually belong here, and that maybe I could be someone. That’s why I know I’m meant to be here, I’m here on this course for a reason. That reason I’m not quite sure for definite yet. I know that given myself this opportunity has allowed me to gain better experience in something I hold so dear to my heart.

    It’s nice to be able to enjoy and learn so much from the lectures. Each of the three of them. I appreciate learning 3dsmax for it’s complexity. Such a difficult programme takes time to nurture and learn the different tactics of creating and texturing a 3d model. This is one technique that I can truly say I’ve learnt a lot by, going from no knowledge of the software at all to what I’m at now. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself, no I might not be the best but atleast I’m trying and learning from my mistakes.

    Ahhh, visual design, such a vast variety of techniques and styles being learnt in such a fantastic and friendly environment. What more could an artist want? In college, we were taught to copy. Not steal and make it better, copy. This drove me absolutely insane. I love the artistic freedom we gain from Visual design, I love the environment that the lectures give us. I’ve never felt so comfortable in a learning environment. The drive to learn more is far greater than it has ever been. I love visual design.

   And critical studies, reminds me a lot of my film studies a level. I love being able to see films that I wouldn’t necessarily choose to watch. And give my own opinion and critical analysis of the films themes and cinematography. I’ve always been interested in why, what and how a film is given a certain edge and the reasons and techniques behind it. With the added benefit of learning about video games, it’s such an interesting and vast topic that we are just scratching the surface. I can’t wait to learn more about my love and addiction to video games and why. Three out of three of the topics in the course I love. How much better can this get?

   I thank my life for ever opportunity of letting me get here and the people that allowed this to happen.