Sunday, 18 October 2009
He has such a loose style, its detailed but his art tends to insinuate detail even if he doesn't have to draw it in complete and utter detail, its something I love because of the raw emotion that seems to come from his art, it could just be me but seeing an artist's brush strokes is like imagining the painter's arm movements, but yeah its hard for me to explain these kind of things but in short his style his win in my book.
Now in regards to the style, it is no easy thing to emulate, especially on a computer program, I tried on different programs, Sai and photoshop and well they felt ill equipped to deal with it, hence why I started up painter for the first time in a year, and its where I found the perfect utensils to recreate this piece.
It was still tough however as I couldn't recreate the texture that this piece had, so I did the best I could and came up with this, its a bit wonky and what not, but I'm pleased with how it turned out.
Monday, 30 March 2009
Although enough of that, that’s for a later entry and in no way, am I bashing liberal arts, as confused as I was, it does pretty well and offers people a wide range of skills, especially in intellectual aspects, which sort of supports the idea of companies wanting creative individuals with a good liberal art background. It can mean that the people who have been through liberal arts have been exposed to much more than a normal art student, they are influenced by a wide variety of ideas and are probably quite good at analytical thinking, a good trait to have considering problem solving is a key aspect that I have found in most job applications in the industry. But this just means that they’re guaranteed to be somewhat employable, the real key is that the person meets the job requirements, and more than often those requirements are: Drive, passion, team player, problem solver and ability to work with deadlines.
Aspects which not necessarily can just be achieved in a liberal arts college, take our course for example, a straight forward specialised course, here we are learning all those aspects because we are aiming to get into the game industry. We learn to work in teams in our second year, our problem solving is developed through how we work through pieces and of course the deadly 3dsmax, and our drive and passion is apparent, considering we’re on the course and still at it.
So in conclusion I believe that both are valid, I mean of course companies would want the best, and well having a liberal arts would be indeed a great bit of leverage, but the idea that they want well trained is just as valid as we and graduates of the course are proof that even though we lack say the philosophy of Socrates, or the mathematical genius of Ms (insert teacher name) by the time we enter the industry we’ll have those qualities. So in the end is pretty much up to the individual and how they present themselves to the companies.
In series’, music is often remixed or uses a band contracted to the company, two examples of this include Final Fantasy, and we all know the victory theme, mainly because it has been in use since the very first game and has just been remixed.
The other example is sonic the hedgehog series, while i must say the quality has been decreasing, the music always seems do well, most of the games in the latest generations use the band Crush 40 an in house band at sega, and have a unique style which can be used to familiarise with modern sonic games.
I have to say the key sonic moments in my gaming history, well most of which are from sonic games, an apparent one would be the finale of sonic adventure 2 on the dreamcast, hearing the main theme blasting through my speakers as I dash at a giant space ship monster in space is a thing of beauty.
Actually most of my favourite music moments are sonic endings , here’s another of my faves. The part I really like is at 1:49
As for good times, I honestly have no idea, atm while I listen to it I think of GmTV, which reminds me I need food......
The key gaming engines that I’m aware of are The Unreal Engine and The havoc engine, the Unreal being the most used engine because of how versatile it is in being used for different gaming platforms and the ease it takes to modify gameplay and other aspects thanks to the unrealscript and the developers tools packaged with the engine. The Havok engine on the other hand is a physics engine and allows for almost realistic physics by allowing interaction between objects and or other characters in real time and by giving objects physics based qualities in 3D. The two engines are used widely, mainly due to how cost effective it can be to develop from readymade engines than making one from scratch as well as that it can greatly cut down on development time.
Of course though they aren’t the only engines around, some companies have ended up using their own inhouse built game engines. Such games include Dark sector with its evolution engine and Sonic unleashed using the hedgehog engine. The latter shows the advantages of having inhouse technology, the hedgehog engine is a new lighting engine developed to provide much more realistic lighting, it does this by calculating not just the normal aspects of a lighting engine is expected to do but coloured lightmaps for light filtering through transparent objects and reflecting off the world. In a presentation by sega, they were showing off development tools, showing that they may release the engine into third party licensing. Here Sega have a valuable asset at their disposable which they can keep exclusive amping up the company’s repertoire or as I assume they will be doing putting it up for third party licensing, the latter meaning they gain a profit from its use in other games.
However the real problem now lies in next gen gaming, as games become much more detailed and realistic, using proprietary engines might not be the best route as new games may need specific engines to work, thus fuelling the need for in house technology.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
The ever eternal image of gamers being in dark, dark rooms playing their war craft is still an apparent image in today’s world, however in truth the gaming culture has changed tenfold, heck it’s nowhere as geeky as it once was. The gaming culture has become a much more widespread phenomenon as gaming has become more main stream, gaming icons have become pop icons, Mario and sonic being the main contenders appearing on shirts at top shop, who would have ever thought it?! It’s also become a much more social past time; while I have never met anyone and stayed in contact with them on an online game, I’ve heard of people who have made great friendships with people they’ve met over Xbox live or counter strike and in some cases even find their soul mate.
I have however found myself engulfed in the Online Sonic culture, as some may know I’m a sonic fan and when meeting likeminded people online I sort of got sucked into the whole thing. And I must say it does encompass a large part of my life, while not obsessive I have an extensive list of people on MSN who I have met through sonic websites and some just randomly met on other forums, which while I have never met in my life (well except for a few when I went to a con) are all a joy to talk to. Of course in a non-stalkerish way I’d one day want to meet these people in person, especially since it gives me an excuse to go on a round the world tour for something other than sightseeing.
Summer of Sonic 08 pic of smallish concert with Richard jaques and Bentley jones. See if you can spot me in the pic ;D
Of course while I’m buying the game, the recession is having a serious impact on the gaming industry these days, more than often have I overheard stories of the third years being worried about going into the industry at such an unstable time, and so they should be, as companies have been dropping employees left right and centre as well as a fair few reputable companies going under.
Companies such as Sony and Microsoft have laid of hundreds and Free Radical, made famous for their Time splitters series were closed suddenly due to the credit crunch meaning more lost jobs. This entire situation has now led to a much more competitive industry for people like us, with more jobs being lost it means more people are returning to the job pool and are a hell of a lot more experienced than us. This may sound very daunting yet it is true, we are in drastic times people and only the best shall come out!!
But seriously it puts this course into perspective, I now truly understand why the course is structured in such a way, it’s to give us the best push into the industry. Not only does it develop our creative skill set but it also allows us to develop as creative thinkers, not just through the art but in the form of these blog tasks, which I think will be a great help indeed especially when talking with co-workers in the industry, as in one website I read said, it’s always good to have connections, if not for the social aspect, having a friendly face in a company you are trying to get work in is both a comforting feeling and an amazing advantage.
I rather bold claim which I believe is quite the opposite of what Creativity is, granted it does apply to some circumstances were creativity is wasted but if you were to look around you right now, everything you own may it be clothes or a toaster are the result of someone’s creativity, which while they may seem insignificant are what your daily lives are reliant on in one way or another.
It’s so significant that even the government is getting in on the creative action, but what exactly is this thing called creativity, I’ve heard a fair few variations of it, some call it the simple ability to come up with new things, which isn’t wrong creativity is what conjures all new inventions, however creativity doesn’t just revolve around our ability to think of new things, it goes a step farther, it manifests those new things...
The Imagination is a wonderful thing isn’t it, everyone thinks up dreams, random oddities that only the imaginary world could create, yet more than often this vivid imagination is put to rest in lay of other more important matters such as that important maths test next week.....okay that example doesn’t quite fit us at nowadays but does bring up the idea that education is blocking our creativity but more on that later, first I must explain what I believe creativity to be, now creativity I believe is defined by its results. Sure people can have a creative mind, but to truly be creative in my minds is to make your imagination, your creative brain spasms a reality. Like I said before Creativity is everywhere, and is in everyone, it’s only truly defined when it is a given a value, or shall I say an outlet.
An outlet can come in many forms, as a writer, as a musician, a cook and even a programmer. They use their minds to create amazing pieces of work from a symphony to that code of lining that allows me to write my name in msn....anyway I’m sure you get my point by now. Creativity is only truly apparent when it is given a value and is so ambiguous because it comes in many different forms.
The gaming industry a relatively young outlet for the creative minds of the world, the creativity shown in obvious aspects such as the concept art, but it can also be found in more low key aspects such as the design document, a whole lot of writing but the result of people’s creativity merging into one formidable powerhouse to create a game. And even then the development stages, while things like modelling may seem like they’re simply following a concept design, they’re using their creativity to make a mesh that adheres to the design without losing its original charm.
Among the industry however I’d say creativity varies, because while I believe that creativity can be conjured up anywhere, in some cases with sequels and remakes, creativity is a lot less apparent as studios are reusing previous wells of creativity. This is where I praise companies like Rare, Atlus and other various studios who often make original games, even if they are sequels, I mean looking at Rare’s latest Banjo Kazooie game, they completely revamped the way the game plays introducing a new mechanical workshop aspect to the proceedings and in the case of Atlus they are responsible for games such as persona 3, Trauma Centre, Odin Sphere and Bonk’s Adventures, such uniquely different games, all of which I have enjoyed immensely.
As for me showing my creativity I like having my art put up on websites, shown to people, but what I think what truly defines my creativity when people can purely enjoy my work, I guess which is why I want to work in an industry such as this, because my work will somehow bring enjoyment to people, of course if I work on a game like high school musical, I’ll both be glad for my work giving people enjoyment but also punching myself thinking WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!!!
An example of where I thought I had an experience of good game play is oddly Tony Hawks Pro Skater Underground, a game which is amazingly addictive, it was the first tony hawk game to incorporate a story and still retaining that good ol control system, I spent hours on this feeling like a pro skater even though in reality I’ve only ever owned one skateboard, I never rode it for longer than two minutes and broke it while trying to climb into my locked house and while the story wasn’t amazing it did give me the incentive to beat the rival and become the ultimate skater! But my point here is that, the game is a sequel that uses elements to produce good gameplay, thus what i’m saying is that good gameplay isn’t the product of a random factors put together on the hope that it makes a good game, this game while random as heck wasn’t the result of randomosity.
Of course while I say that gameplay is the entire experience, I still use it in the context that it can relate to certain elements of a game like with first person shooters, I would call the whole setup with the gun in the view of the player and of course aspects such as reloading, gameplay elements of a first person shooter, and racers with their accelerate button, brake button etc.
Characters in all media outlets are relatively treated the same way, I don’t mean in terms of how much depth is given to the character but in this kind of process; all characters in whatever media or story give a first impression, this is often the bait to get you into liking or disliking (in case of villains) the character and the worth of a character I believe is in how they develop past this first impression. An example of such a thing which uses a fairly simple setup is the character of Simon from Gurren Lagann, an anime yes but a story and character nonetheless, anyway the first impression you get of Simon is a young weak driller kept under the protective eyes of his “older brother”, his character develops greatly over the duration of the show as he is hit by the responsibility of being a protector and the death of his brother, he develops to the extent that from a digger boy he becomes a loud hot-blooded warrior facing a threat on a universal scale.
In games, I’d have to say a most of the interesting characters come from RPGs, mainly because being a role playing game, realistic characters or engrossing ones are a must or else the game would have nothing else but to rely on the game play which while good is pretty much the same for most rpgs. The idea of developing a character is quite apparent in RPGs because unlike other media such as movies and books, you play through every important event as them you witness these events the same time as they do however small or large they are and in some cases are the trigger behind such events. Looking at a game such as persona where he is a mute most of the time, at least to the player who basically controls the person completely, his social links the way he fights, everything, now this may be seen as a lack of character, which it is, but the other characters in the story are so rich with character it almost feels like you have taken the place of the main character and are interacting with them as ya do with normal people, take the character of Junpei Iori, the main character’s (basically you) best friend, he acts so much as a high schooler lad that people have found it easier to relate to him due to him reminding them or someone they knew during their high school years.
So of course I do think that a lot of dependence is on having a good script, however its goes hand in hand with the likeability of the characters involved. As for me the kind of stories and characters I find myself enjoying a lot in media are the ones who start of weak but become someone better through trials and tribulations, pretty much Simon from Gurren Lagann who I mentioned earlier, I believe this is so cos I often want to better myself and I’m sorta placing myself in their situation where they achieve that goal. I’m also a fan of absolute obscure things too oddly, but I think I’ll leave that for another time.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
My favourite controller atm has to be the xbox 360 controller, it fits perfectly in my hand and I like how the buttons and controls are placed, also the convienance of having the xbox menu button in the middle is a welcome addition. As for console wise I love the design of the dreamcast, it was a block but it looked modern sorta like a really sci-fi chip pan, but that was still cool in my mind. Of course others may see differently assome consoles are nicely made such as the ps3 with its chrome finish and the xbox with its simply yet slightly retro design.
A good example of how I think games will turn out is the film eXistenZ it was a movie about a game where you would plug it into the back of your head, much like the matrix, in doing so you are totally immersed into the game world. As errie and depressing the film was I can easily see games turning out like this, but a question it brings up is will it get to real for our liking...
Monday, 9 March 2009
This however isn’t always the case, because out there as many of us know are games which have no story at all, I look at games on the Wii (well a majority of them) and games like rock band or tetris. These have no stories and frankly don’t need them as the novelty is in the game play or other factors such as music.
And then we have games like second life, games where a story is made by the gamers, in second life, people are given a clean slate from the get go and how their stories and adventures go is entirely up to them. It’s a game based on the player’s imagination, their ability to create a story. This could suggest that a story isn’t very important in games if the player just makes it up, but I believe in the opposite, many games out there have benefited by adding in epic storylines, heck recently I bought Dynasty Warriors 5 empires not for the game play, mostly for the chance to learn more about the whole romance of the three kingdoms malarkey. Stories are always like looking through a window, especially in books and films, in games it’s more of a possession and seeing a storyline unfold due to your actions as you play is always an amazing feeling, for example in splinter cell I had the choice to shoot someone, I chose to shoot him (yeah I’m evil) and I felt the repercussions as in doing so I lost the trust of the NSA but I got deeper into the terrorist plot!
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
I'm actually quite glad that I was proven wrong because while the mist did herald death, not by a poison mist but by Cloverfield's relatives. After a good while of viewing this film I began to wonder what I would do in that situation because, the way those people in the film reacted I found it to be irritant and made me say many times to myself, why would they do such a thing? Especially with how they rallied with the religious woman. Are people so fragile that they allow themselves to follow a mad woman shouting out cooky phrases like she is the vessel of god...I'm sure if God ever chose for someone to be a vessel he wouldn't allow such a self righteous cow to be it. I really hated how she would so loosely link the bible to what was happening, it was like she was mix and matching to her own needs imo.
But what really hit me and what I thought was the biggest kick to the balls anyone could ever dish out someone was the ending, my god that was a depressing ending, even though I suspected it could happen I didn't think that they would actually go through with it, the fact he used the same gun he used to protect themselves to off them was just gut wrenching, and then only to find a few minutes later the military come strolling by without a care in the world.
Man that was a depressing film, and the fact that he survived made it worse, I think I'm going to watch Dead Set, at least there everyone died and it felt I got some closure but here, its just weird....
Sunday, 11 January 2009
I may be an art student but for some reason I rarely appreciate the design of a console or its controllers, I guess I’ve always been a fan of the games themselves. There is however one instance where I truly looked at a console and gone phwoar, but I’ll get back to that later, although I think I’ve already mentioned it in a previous post =P.
The design of consoles and their accessories have often followed the times, with early home version of pong and the Atari 2600 following the grey plasticy dullness of the 70s and this trend of greyness following through to the 90s with the snes, the megadrive and neo geo only breaking the trend by being molded in black plastic and of course as time went on the consoles changed with the times, now we have the applewii, the shineh3 and the at the moment looking like something from a hippie film 360. The interface controls of these consoles have rarely changed, with there being the on button, bit where you plug in your controller and the place where you input your cartridge/disk. The main differences would be the inclusion of memory card slots.
Now as for controllers, *whistle* they’ve been through the most changes starting off as being a lowly rotary dial to move a stick up and down a screen to the wiimote. It seems that controllers only seem to get more complicated over the years, well I say complicated, more really the number of buttons has increased. Have a look at the Home Version of Pong developed in 1975, a simple setup, like I said one dial, or two in this case because it was a two player game but this was all that was needed back in the day.
The next stage was changing this dial into a stick, or as it was more aptly name THE JOYSTICK! This piece of kit was basically a stick which took over the place of the dial and offered much more in terms of maneuverability, the joystick of the 80s often had one extra button, probably for shooting games, joysticks still live on today but are often used for other things, flying aircraft and for laying the beat down on kids at your local arcade, they are rarely used for mainstream consoles and have been replaced in spirit by the analog stick, I’ll go more into that later.
Next the revolutionary design of the Nintendo entertainment system, the first real joypad, with directional pad, start and select button and the action buttons while only two offered an interesting gaming experience, I have to say I loved this controller when I had one, although I have to say it was bested by the sega mega drive’s controller which offered the same layout but was much more rounded and more comfortable to handle. The next incarnation of the entertainment system the SNES rectified this and also had a rounded controller, although I can’t say much for handling as i’ve never actually owned a snes D:.
Now another controller that came out on the nes tickled my fancy much more, and also began the start of the additional peripherals to play certain games, in this case it’s the first light gun! Or otherwise known as THE ZAPPER, this was a gun shaped controller used for games such as Duck hunt, an amazing piece of kit which lives on today as light guns in arcades much like its joystick ancestor.
Now Next in line for the heritage is *drumroll* the playstation flight controller which introduced to the world THE ANALOG STICK, yes this lil beauty is the joystick in spirit form, well it first came in a package of two, designed for use with flight sim, this dual analog system was them imported over to the playstation, which became the next staple controller, with its four button interface and dpad, stick layout which is the basis for later controllers such as the dreamcast and Xbox.
The next in line for the analog stick awesomeness is the N64 controller, which offered a pressure sensitive control stick which acted more like a digital mouse and offered almost 360 degree movements. However the N64 changed things around a little bit, it had an interesting setup having c buttons and a z button at the back alongside the normal setup, I have to say it was comfortable and on some occasion felt like there were two controllers in my hand as switching to the dpad made it feel like I was changing the controller completely. It also introduced the world to the rumble pack, which was just amazing in how it made the player feel like they were getting hit, a revolutionary trait which has continued in mainstream consoles to this day, to give it that extra edge.
The next set of controllers ranging from the Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube did little to change the experience except maybe update the aesthetic and in the case of the Gamecube change the cbuttons for a cstick. The real update comes in the latest generation of controllers. The main aspect (shown with the gamecube’s wavebird) is the fact all of the latest controllers are wireless, getting rid of that restriction and fear of pulling the console to the floor.
But of course the true innovation is the motion sensor aspect of this gen, while the ps3 has tilt sensors, the wii is where it shines in motion sensor gaming, allowing players to emulate the characters on screen for a more immersive experience.
Ergonomically, I see that controllers have become more suited to the hands, like in holding the Xbox 360 controller, my hand wraps around it neatly making for a comfortable experience, I would say the same for the ps3 but in honest opinion I feel it’s gotten less comfortable than the ps2 controllers, possible due to the new design of the R2 and L2 buttons.
But enough of these controller talk, I want my virtual reality D:
A game where I believe the story to have a good story is a lil game known as Fahrenheit or Indigo Prophecy in the lands of freedom and maple syrup, the game followed the main character Lucas Kane as he wakes up in a toilet cubicle only to find a dead body on the bathroom floor and his arms severely cut up from knife wounds. The main aim of the game is to find out how he ended up in that situation; the game also follows two police officers as they investigate the crime. The player takes control of these characters and in a unique way must do certain actions that propel the story in one of the various story routes. For example at the beginning when Lucas finds himself in the toilets, he must decide whether to hide the body, clean up the blood on the floor using a mop and to clean up his hands, if the player fails to do one or more of these actions the likely hood of getting caught by the police officer who enters the diner where the bathroom is situated will rise. The consequences of each choice become more influential as the game goes on; in some cases failing to save someone’s life or failing to acquire certain items can lead to an alternative ending.
This is the type of game that a strong storyline, well a well conceived one (especially since it had alternate endings) can help propel a game’s success, the same can be said for many role playing games such as the final fantasy games and World of Warcraft, the first despite having similar game systems, the stories are what keep fans and new players coming to the franchise. The latter however is more open ended, and while it has an immense back-story as I’ve heard (too much to read for my head) which helps set the games context it seems it relies more on people’s own stories, creating their own plots and what not as they immerse themselves in their custom made characters.
The key point I’m trying to make in mentioning Fahrenheit and well games like WOW is that these are games which immerse you into the character you’re playing, Fahrenheit makes you panic with its quick time events and small aspects which make you relate to the character and often put yourself in his place as you panic to clean up the apartment of any signs of blood before the police officer investigates, and with WOW well you create your own story. Personally for me I often immerse myself in the stories, get in the same frame of mind as the character, although in some cases I like to just sit back and watch things unfold like with metal gear solid =P.
Now one thing that bothered me in this entry’s brief, that call of duty was mentioned in the line up of games were we had to question whether a game had a story, I’ve played various fps war games and despite the outside look of that they’re all the same, I rather enjoyed their stories, like call of duty on the Xbox, titled the big red one...yeah....I enjoyed it because it portrayed the campaign of the 1st infantry division of the US forces, as the title, the big red one, aptly named for their big red patches.
Now compared to a game like second life.....which I’m not even sure can be called a game could it? It’s more or less the internet with avatars :/ but ah well I dunno, for now I’ll compare it to COD, SL doesn’t have a set story and while a huuuge online game of sorts, it doesn’t even have the back-story of warcraft its basically a big world where everything is made up by its users. But considering its popularity I guess it stems from the fact it’s a huge world with user made content, it allows them to create their own stories from scratch even though they may not be as well thought out as world of warcraft it still gives them satisfaction.
So in short I believe a strong story can be a very helpful factor in creating a successful game however I believe that it’s not always the case as even with a weak storyline, players can often make an amazing experience by adding their own personal touches to the game.