Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Director....OF ART!!!

I've always wondered what it would be like to be an Art Director, I often think of how awesome it would be to have that much creative influence in the artsy workplace but then I think more into it and am scared of the amount of control I'll have and the fact that I'll be more concerned with timetables and who's working on what than actually drawing anything for the actual game.

You see the Art Director is the one who pretty much makes the initial designs and what not, he sets the mark to which other artists must meet, the AD then assigns different aspects to artists and instead of doing the work he makes sure they adhere to his vision, and making sure they stick to the schedule and standards set by the top guns (i.e : publisher or perhaps the boss of the developers).

This impression of lack of practical involvement is something I've still kept while reading the various articles from blackboard, as much as they enjoy it I'd probably lose interest in such a position over time, yes it involves a large amount of creative control over artists and what not, but it’s more of positioning the time and roles of artists and watching over them in making your vision...I guess I'm a bit too hands on in that when I want something done in my vision I prefer to be the one doing the tweaks. Also the qualities a Art Director must have are rather demanding, to become one alone is a daunting task, first they must show they have the technical skill and creative visual flair as well as being able to show good office skills in managership and probably have a voice which won't be drowned in the hustle and bustle of the office.

As for Art Directors compared to Movie Art Directors I think the roles are pretty much the same, except the people they’re in charge of would obviously differ yet in the end it would still be them taking care of scheduling and making sure that everyone adheres to their creative vision.
However I don't think I'd turn down the position either if it was offered, it still does seem like an amazing job and you never know by the time I reach that level of epicness I'll probably be a lot more confident and able to handle the job but for now I still think I'm too quiet for such a job. And hopefully capes and sunglasses would be the traditional wear of Art Directors by then.


Game Design, its goddamn epic.

How this task was set out makes my head hurt, but anyway I shall push foward and get this thing done. Here Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the wonderful world of Game Design, the Creative process behind all our games. A very long and thought out process from what I have read, I’ve sometimes wondered why some games take years in development and I think I’ve found my answer, turns out game design is one painstakingly epic process.

It’s far from my brains capability to explain the full extent of the process, but as far as I know it goes from goal > topic > Research > Design > evaluation>development > testing > post mortem, reminds me somewhat of my old ICT classes, its layout is similar to how programs are design and given to clients. The Goal is what the Designers want to achieve with the game, do they want a certain aspect to be prevalent, for example, a cheesy one at that, would be the value of friendship and the topic would be say a high school environment, (if you haven’t figured it out yet I’m talking about Persona3 :3 ). Next is the research which in the case of persona 3 could be how students act socially making the experience seem realistic as well as how the game will look and feel to players. Then there’s Design, where a lot of blood and sweat is spent, here several structures must be taken into account, the I/O structure, the game stricture and the programme structure where several factors must be taken into account. How the game will interact with the player, how it will all fold out and how will it all fit on the memory for distribution, I would say more about this portion but it does confuse me a fair bit. Next is the evaluation of the game design documents, this part of the process is to ensure that the structures made in the design stage live up to the goals set earlier, this part is also the decider to whether a game is sent to programming or canned altogether.

Next of course is Development but well that’s pretty obvious what happens here, the game is programmed and while it is something I’d like to delve into more my lack of knowledge prevents me. The play testing aspect follows and is where the game is polished for release, it’s tested for bugs and defaults and possible errors that can occur in the game and is also the point where using the feedback from play testers the designers and programmers can go back and forth until the game is perfect, or at least close to perfect. The last part is the post mortem which is evaluating the reception the game gets from critics and the public, this is the final part where it will be revealed whether the fruits of your labour have paid off, will the game become game of the year or bomb miserably?

Now that we have an idea of game design I’d like to look at gameplay an aspect of games which is often the result of the I/O structure part of design, the way in which the game and player interact with each other, in my eyes I see game play as the game mechanics the controls and the experience that comes with it in the form of story, art direction and musical score, in other words the whole package and how it affects a player’s experience. It is often said that companies like EA and Square are the forefront in game design, however I find that to be a bit of a misconception, I think it’s down to just how well known these companies are, personally I don’t find them to be that great at game design, yes they make games but more than often they make absolute stinkers or at least games which don’t live up to the potential that the game should have had and just feels like a license driven property. EA with its movie games and Square with its...well... just have a look below...


More than often I look to more unknown developers like Atlus for example, as I mentioned Persona 3 earlier, a wonderful game which combines a traditional RPG fighter with a school life sim. Apart from my love of anime with the games aesthetic it creates an interesting image of school life, granted quite different from our school environment where academic smarts will probably get you beaten up and while combining two different gaming styles it does them surprisingly well with the integration of the two where the social links made in the school life aspect of the game strengthen the character in the fighting aspect of the game, and all of this within one town no need to go all round the world.
Now back to an earlier thing I said about game design, how I discovered more than one person made it, well that’s obviously a given especially in today’s industry, where games are never a simple graphical calculation but now an intricate twining of many design principles and something I don’t believe one person can do on their own without going kookoo. A game needs designers, concept artists, programmers, writers, 3d modellers etc all to make a game even possible and it’s what I believe sets apart the game design of such games as pac man, leaving out the obvious nature of technology to games, game design now is just so much more epic, while it adheres to some set genre design principles such as , referring back to persona 3, the turn based actions of RPGs, or say the rear behind view of racing games, games of today have much more behind their designs, the look of characters, the environments, the way a character moves etc. Its more on par with making a movie than an arcade game made in the 80s.

AND FINALLY since I think I’ve talked for too long on this topic, what I find most important when I play games is....well I don’t find anything in particular important, well of course I would love amazing controls and a story which would make me cry tears of joy and what not but if I can enjoy both excite bike and Bioshock then I think I can accept anything really......well as long as its within my way in hell am I playing petz.....

Friday, 12 December 2008


Reviews for me are always somewhat hit and miss, I guess it’s often down to who’s reviewing them, normally this wouldn’t be a problem as you’d trust professional reviewers but when you have incidents such as the Gamespot employee being fired for giving a game a poor score, it makes you wonder what’s going on behind the scenes, and it isn’t helped by rumours on the internet which often discredit the sites, which while rumours are still affecting my judgement. Although enough about the sites, I’m sure there are a fair few reputable reviewers out there...I hope, after reading the articles about new games journalism and of course the examples of NGJ I actually felt somewhat enlightened, especially with the article “bow nigger” instead of the usual list features, it portrayed an actual gamer’s experience and while a portion of it sounded bad how it ended reminded me how great gaming can be and showed off more than just what the game has to offer, but the community and culture surrounding it.

"Gotta Love Google"

It felt really personal and I could really imagine the scenario even though I’ve never played the game itself, I’m not sure if it was an exaggeration about the way the game handled but it was good example of where the game’s features, which are often described by many of the game reviewers out there, did not define the game, but the experience itself. This is something which kinda hit home with me especially with the sonic games, especially with the latest game Sonic Unleashed, sites such as IGN have simply said they hate the werewolf’s concept, now I understand since it’s an odd feature but to lower the score so much based on the idea alone is rather harsh considering the gameplay wasn’t so bad, however from what I’ve seen despite low scores a fair few sonic fans have enjoyed the game greatly and embracing the werehog and many of the games features, which has led me to believe that no matter how good or bad a game is, it can still be enjoyed which makes me now understand why games like high school musical 3 sing a long exist T,T. (However I think a part of why unleashed isn’t liked so much cos IGN believe only they can make a good sonic game as shown in their lil what will make a good sonic game feature, it’s like adding insult to injury.....)

Previously the only reviewers I truly followed and like are the reviews in Gamesmaster magazine, I haven’t bought it in years as I kind of stopped caring about reviews (especially with my purchase of Megaman Battle Network for the Gamecube, WHICH I LOVE BTW DESPITE ITS HARARSEDNESS) when I read their reviews they would often make many jokes within it yet still outline the features and their opinions of it, they also used a percentage rating system which I thought back in the day was brilliant compared to the out of ten system. Now the way they wrote it, made the reviews feel like they took their time with it and as much as I now like NGJ in how it shows the experience of a game it often just focuses on maybe one or two features which the reviewer encountered during his gaming experience which is great and all but sometimes you just want to know more about the game itself.

Now I don’t mind the objective style of writing, it’s usually in-depth about features and while deadlines and pressure from companies having an impact on them they can be an interesting read and often help in deciding to buy a game, the scores pretty much have no affect on me though as I’ll buy anything that interests me. NGJ basically made me want the game, but thinking more into it, I felt less inclined as I did not know much about the game apart from the fact there are some twats out there who think they’re the big man and give very cheap blows. NGJ can make for an interesting read but I don’t think I could use it to determine fully if I want a game or not, it’s more like I would read them if I want a better insight into the gamer’s psyche and finally figure out why warcraft is do damn addictive to people!!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Now here we are in the 21st century a period of gaming I'm sure a majority my readers (if any =P) are aware of but alas I shall delve into them, this period introduced to us the like of the playstation 2 one of the most successful consoles to date, and while I hate it for killing off mah precious Dreamcast, I still love it to bits as it has brought me many moments of gaming brilliance such as this one time our first play of vice city we managed to mess up crash horridly on a bridge, but with perfect timing a faggio scooter just went pass as if nothing happened like IT WAS MOCKING US =P, it had us on the floor for a good number of minutes.

"dun DUN DUN!!!!!1111"

It was also where a third party was once again brought into the console wars with the emergence of the xbox console made by Microsoft, an attempt to plant their hook in the gaming industry, despite the xbox being expensive to produce, it managed to match the gamecube's sales by the end of its production run and managed to secure Microsoft's place as one of the BIG THREE of gaming. Speaking of the Big three, the 21st century was also a turning point for Nintendo, who focused on innovation more than graphics and power like sony and microsoft with their powerhouses. This is where the consoles of the DS and wii came in, both made with new input devices to change the gaming experience, the DS with two screens, one being a touch screen and the Wii with its unique motion control system.

The only other changes to consoles would probably be there power, especially for the xbox360 and ps3 the successors to the Xbox and ps2 respectively and the EPICNESS THAT IS HIGH DEFINITION GAMING, I just recently bought a hdtv and playing games on the thing is like a dream *_____*. In my opinion it feels like the roles of both the xbox and playstation have reversed in recent years, especially with the Xbox having a more established presence than the ps3, just like how the ps2 was around before the Xbox arrived.

"dun DUN DUNNNN!!!!!!!!!!11111 the sequel!"

Other big developments that have happened so far in our fledgling century are the rise in online gaming and casual gaming. Online gaming has become a much more popular due to franchises such as Warcraft and Final fantasy making the leap to Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games drawing in millions and the Xbox 360 and its Xbox live setup bringing easy online gaming access to console gamers which I LOVE IT for, I swear Halo online kicks ass so much that I have totally neglected the main campaign =P.

And this last bit, is that casual gaming has become much larger, especially with the inclusion of titles such as guitar hero and singstar and of course the Nintendo Wii, which regardless of the hardcore games on it, its main intention is blatantly a console for casual gamers, I mean the thing was packaged with wiisports which is basically a game of mini-games intended for a quick game or two. While I don’t condemn casual games as I love wiisports and have enjoyed guitar hero with others, it’s ending up with a slew of cheapass games being made in an attempt to cash into the casual game market. For example the High school musical game, it’s basically a bloody singstar ripoff with Disney people in it....

"seriously -.-;"

Hmmmm now as for the future of gaming I want to see more games that aren’t so UBER REALISTIC AND USE A COLOUR PALLETE OF BROWNS AND GREYS, this is why I’ve been looking forward to games such as Sonic Unleashed, it just oozes colour and vibrancy. And more games with something new to bring like Mirrors Edge, I wouldn’t mind seeing some hybrid genres, like n MMORPG with the fighting system of Devil May cry, so basically I want more focus on gameplay styles than fancy ass graphics, something I think capcom have realised with the release of Megaman 9 and its return to the 8-bit stylings of old. Also I want to see the wii develop into a proper 1:1 motion controller, yes its getting close with the new 1:1 attachment but it won't be truly you swinging a sword around, hmmm thinking about it I might as well just wish for virtual reality gaming like that holo deck on star trek except with less chances of dying everytime ya use it =P.

"This guy has the right idea"

Monday, 8 December 2008

Chronicles of Miles....

And now with my second history post done I guess I can continue on with my personal gaming history during the middle be quite frank, not a lot actually happened for a looooong while after I got my NES, I barely bought games and just played sonic, streets of rage, and duck hunt for a couple of years....this was until I got myself a gameboy, yes the original and one of the greatest handheld systems EVER despite its brick like qualities. This brought me back into up to date gaming once again, and I found games like super mario and the 6 golden coins and of course that worldwide phenomenom that involved a cute furry yellow rat.

"Just like Mine.....except I had pokemon stickers all over it >__>"

To be fair I was pretty much a nintendo fanboy on everything except Sonic (WHO I SHALL NEVER ABANDON) *crazy mode off* buying almsot exclusively nintendo consoles for a couple of years such as the game boy sequels and the oh so epic Nintendo 64, I loved it not because it was my first experience with 3D gaming but at the same time I had my N64, I also discovered THERE WERE COUNTRIES OUTSIDE THE UK and I had my very own import 64 a cartridge which allowed me to play games from abroad, well as long as I had a game that never saved, which was mischief makers, a game which absolutely rocked, I loved its odd style and 2-D platform gaming.

"Shake Shake Shake"

However after a while I did break the nintendo exclusivity, by getting a SEGA DREAMCAST, OH YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I have to say my most favourite console to date,I don't think nothing can surpass the sense of awe I had when I played it, its menus its games (one of which included SONIC ADVENTURE) were insanely addictive and I swear I played that thing to literal death as it did go up in smoke, and you think I lie, my sonic adventure 2 disk is proof!. I'm rather quite sad that this console didn't reach the same levels of success the playstation did, it had style and substance and didn't disappoint, while I love the playstation 2 I really do blame it for the DC's for xmas I'm finding me a dreamcast to reminisce...

My three favourite DC games:

Sonic Adventure - obviously I bought this cos I love sonic, and after missing out on the games on the sega saturn I had to snap this up, sonic adventure from a time where 3D sonic games weren't held in contempt.

Soul Calibur - A brilliant experience, fast fluid fighting game, and the first fighting game I have ever truly got addicted too, I swear Kilik and Maxi kicked ass just for their weapons alone. I need SC4 SO BAD!

Trickstyle - A really stylish racing game, I'm a sucker for sleek futuristic cities, especially when they don't involve a post apocalyptic setting. Plus races were fast and so full of eye candy.

And thats it for this installment of my gaming history, hope you enjoyed your stay *bows*.

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Epic (or not so epic in some cases) history of gaming part DEUX

Well we come to the second part of the Epic History of Gaming, this portion will cover the multiple generations of gaming and the innovation and failure that took place within them.

After the home computer boom of the seventies, the idea of having personal gaming consoles became a reality, however even with the now added privilege of having gaming in the household. It was often limited to one or two games. The second generation of consoles took care of this by introducing game cartridges where the microprocessors in the consoles would read the cartridge memory and play the programs stored there. Consoles like the Atari 2600 dominated this area and allowed gamers to amass a large collection of games.

"Old skool *buttroc*"

However the second generation of gaming didn't just herald the ability to have multiple games, it also spawned and defined many of the gaming genres we know of today such as the side scrolling shooter made famous by Defender, and pole position setting the "rear view racing format" that even games of today still use. It also brought the rise of many publishing houses including electronic Arts and Activision.....however this growth would bring the industry to its fall. The Video game crash of 1983 occurred, due to a number of reasons, it was mostly the product of the industry being too ambitious at such a young age, this is apparent with many developers trying to ride off the gaming boom of the arcade with a plethora of games and consoles coming out, a majority lacking in quality, a prime example is the legendary E.T game for the Atari 2600, which was advertised like crazy because of the film, it had a multitude of copies made for it in the idea that it would be an insane hit, but alas word of mouth got round about the game's poor quality, which is no surprise considering it was rushed and made in 6 weeks leaving it unwanted and with the publisher with a few hundred copies left over from the production run. This portion of history irks me because it makes me think about how stupid people in high positions can be at times, it somewhat feels like they're always taking the easy way out and focusing more on projected sales than the quality of the products......


After a year the gaming industry was revived, thanks to Nintendo who brought out the Nintendo Entertainment System (or Famicon to some)which heralded the third generation. It introduced the concept of using a joy pad to play games, and of course with it many of the gaming world’s most famous Franchises including Zelda, Metal Gear and that plumber bloke. It also brought more restricted publishing houses with more quality games being produced, to ensure another crash didn’t occur, the years that followed (or the 1990s in general) brought more introduction of genres, such as real time strategies and first person shooters. It also brought competition in the form of Sega’s consoles, and mascots if you count a certain blue hedgehog.

"Who will win plumber or giant mutant hedgehog?!"

An important aspect of the 1990s is the birth of the fifth generation, which, even though 3Dish games had been achieved previously, offered the capability to make full 3D gaming available and made the console wars evident in fans, those of which chose a system based on system capabilities. The obvious winner of this console wars at this point was the Playstation, mainly due to its use of CDs an idea that made square soft choose to continue developing for the system as Nintendo had decided to keep with the cartridge system and its wide range of genres available, especially at launch which managed to bring a huge user base towards it.

"And the Winner is..." FOR NOW!!