Sunday, 12 December 2010

Task 18: Elements of Game Technology, part one: Game Engines

Well yes the group project is coming up in the 2nd semester and we will be using the Unreal Editor UDK which I haven't really touched much, opening the screen is a scary looking area. As Iv mentioned I had used the Quake 3 Engine but from what iv heard and seen from previous years Unreal is more powerful making my previous experience quite primitive in comparison.
With the quake3 engine it was really quite limited in what you could do, while I was using it the most you could do really is draw a box or something, player start and basic lighting. At the time it was scary to look at also but is so much simpler in comparison to what iv seen Unreal do. Quake3 is very obsolete now and I think I pushed it to its limit while using it, it had a very low tolerance to polygons in characters and textures and in terms of animation you had little control over what things did. You also couldn't see or test it in the editor. You have to export the map file each time you wanted to test it, from videos of Unreal it displays in real time which would be very handy and save a heck of a lot of time.
In Unreal it seems to have a friendlier interface for assigning textures to objects, a quick drag lines to the sorts of textures, type in values but seems to have more control over the tiling feature and how its displayed. Also has a key-framing feature like in 3dsmax which Quake3 didn't have, there seems to be a lot more freedom in what you could do with it. There is a lot more support with UDK as it has a proper website dedicated to it providing videos to those who download it. With Quake3 you were pretty much left in the dark about it.

Though I am more comfortable with the quake3 engine as I have used it quite a lot I think the navigation and general feel should be quite similar to each other.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Task 17: Elements of game design, part six: documentation

OK well as far as the Final Major Project goes im still quite unsure for what I would like to do but for the sake of this exercise I will invent a Project outline and see how I would go about doing it.

Project Outline, an example:
Design and model a small group of modern day pirates complete with a barren island.
The pirates after surviving a violent storm find themselves washed up on an incredibly rigid and dangerous island with a captive dragged along with them. Exploring the shore trying to figure out where they are and what their plan of action is. Eventually the Captive escapes and the group become separated, the player takes the role of the captive and goes on the run for survival.
The target platform is Xbox 360,Ps3 and PC and acts as a 3rd person adventure/survival game. Quite a dangerous scene it would be target more towards the adult audience. Would be using the unreal engine along with Photoshop and 3dsmax for asset and character creation.

Technical Specifications
The lead Character is the Captive, in game the gender and appearance will be user defined but for the sake of the project a Middle aged man. Battered around by the Pirates with tattered casual clothing (for use in colder environments) with a festival of wounds and scrapes.
As a main character the limit would be 9000 Tris, 2 Diffuse 1024x1024 texture sheets complete with 512x512 normals and specular sheets, rigged with no more than 28 bones.

NPCS
A small group of 4 modern day pirates each individual wearing worn casual/gang clothing, armed with Rifles and pistols with a few tattoos and custom accessories.

There is 1 major "Captain" who would be given the same technical specifications as the Main character, 9000 Tris, 2 Diffuse 1024x1024, 512x512 Spec and Normals, 28 Bones.

3 Other "drone" pirates that would have less tris than the main characters, 4000 Tris each with 1 1024x1024, 1 512x512 For clothing and Face/skin.

Vehicle
As the characters are survivors of a storm the vehicle would be the pirates ship, battered and in pieces on the shore.
1x1024x1024 Diffuse/Spec and Normals, 4000 Tris.

Environment
The environment is A rigid, Rainy Island; Shore, Forest area and Cliff face would be accessible with a human crafted sign nearing the end of the level. Run at 25 fps.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast


The other day we started our WotW project where we get to design and concept our own Tripod Machine which Im quite excited about - always liked War Of The Worlds and have seen it in an elderly and more modern film as well as listening to Jeff Waynes Musical.
Always liked it and the idea is British which makes a nice change..

Anyway yeah I heard and read about the radio broadcast which drove panic in America with some of its population believing it and trying to escape the alien invasion (I thought this was excellent!)But I never had the chance to actually listen to it until now and I was quite interested in how it was done.

It sounded authentic to how radio stations have been/are still done with news reports and musical numbers inbetween, I was surprised to how quickly it seemed reported and the "journalists" going to different areas of the country (whether it was just edited into Youtube sections or not im not sure) quite quickly but still kept its "Nah nevermind, heres something we hope you REALLY like!" which was quite fun.
I could imagine being frightened by this in that era (back then not being as sophisticated as modern times) with people not really understanding the media or how things work (no offence to them its just how it was).

Yeah it was done quite well I thought that the "reporters" still tried to keep their cool about the situation, quite amusing to hear something to the effect of:
"Wha--Whats that comming out of the cylinder, a--- a WHAT IS THAT? Whats that nozzle comming up? AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!"
"Sorry we are experiencing minor technical problems (*insert Spanish Flea Jingle*)"

Quite funny in a dark way for me being the listener in this modern era.
Yes I was glad I managed to hear it as it was quite interesting and entertaining.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Simon Reed

Quite an interesting talk we had today, someone who works in the industry as a game interface designer. Im fairly interested in this as I had touched on this a bit during my game modification days, was changing the original splash screens/menu images, colours and also icons which were used in game. Its good thinking about how things are designed, things such as cashpoints and mobile phone menus etc. Although I already realised that design goes into these its easy to take it for granted, usually its done very well but there are some points which are a bit confusing with certain designs. One example is that i recently bought a new phone and while txting was trying to select a person to send it to but I was confused to what was actually highlighted. All that you seen was what looked like a white background and a blue selection area, scrolling up and down looking for what was selected on the blue but in fact the selection was in white and the background was blue, after realising this it became very logical but at first sights I was unsure. (Also on my old phone the selection was in blue on a white background) The thing about interface and HUD's is that it must be easily understood and have a certain logic to it from the first sight.
I studied a course in graphic design (and also knew about it as my dad's a graphic designer) so I get the jist of how things work, at some points doing graphic design seems like a natural talent to me. Although its not really a skill im wanting to go into buisiness with creating things such as interface, DvD/Game covers is sometimes quite enjoyable.
Anyway yeah the talk with Simon was quite informative and reminded me about interface design, one thing which I thought was interesting is that technologies are changing and so will the interface. Rather than boring old text in 4 corners of a screen its constantly evolving to be a lot more innotive and creative, seen in the presentation was the use of the 3d menu's as if the screen is your head turning and looking for things (like in a FPS game) which adds a lot more interest to simply finding the "Start Game" button. Another interesting example I seen in the talk was about in a 3rd person shoot-em-up where rather than the health being a PNG/ALpha overlapping everything it was actually visible on the back of the characters themselves. This was a sci-fi shooter where things like this would work rather than a game such as Crash Bandicoot where basically 1 hit and you die.
I would be interested to see that interface in action. Yeah it was a good talk and had a lot of insights, he originally worked in 3d but didnt want to stop there, kept his options open but sort of a contradiction in the fact that as 2nd years we are meant to have a goal thought about and go towards it, but I believe Simon was referring to in the professional world outside of education.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Task 16: Elements of game design, part seven: level design

I would agree that level design is not only visual, but more like stage design as it is creating an environment which characters can interact with, but only what is available to the players. During my attempts at level design in previous years the key thing is that you as the designer have to think about the limitations of the game engine, for example having a large area where every single side of the models have a texture on where you wouldn't necessarily see or want the players to be able to see is more cost effective to frame rate and general compatibility.
Like in stage design there are many things in the background, underneath the simulated floor boards and walls/environment which are not meant to visible to the audience, but can aid in keeping the environments/props up. With the engines iv been using the way which you can reduce frame rate, rather than drawing every side(even if meant not to be seen) is by using shaders - known as the CAULK shader as seen here: http://www.richdiesal.map-craft.com/tutorials/gc102lsn1.html
Basically a texture is applied to a mesh or a model and then you select the areas of the model which are not to be seen by the players and apply this shader which tested in games doesn't draw these sides, if seen behind the model (areas players aren't meant to access) the sides would be completely transparent where you could see in but players couldn't see out.

Yes level design is very close to set design in films, areas need planned based on;
-The size of the player in game
-Whats meant to happen in game
-Triggerable events.

Its very hard to specify exactly what level design is, its very technical compared to the concept artist where the designers have to figure out where/how to place objects, to work out the lighting and general game physics, and to be able to do things which a game engine can understand. Its a way of working out how to do things which Iv experienced myself, for example;
In a previous level I worked on my task was to suggest to the player that a stone door doesnt work, the opening mechanism is operational but there is a mechanical problem i.e a large piece of debris on the other side which has crashed into the door and the door cannot open.
The way I did it quite simply was to have a trigger where I wanted the door switch to be once pressed (simultaneously)
>It would play a sound which I edited, in this case a Stone door attempting to open upwards, and then a piece of machinery giving way - out of sight
>It would activate a timer which at the precise moment in the sound effect where the machinery gives way a "Trigger_Breakable" would self destruct.
The result is an interpretation of a door refusing to open.

Where this is very long winded to explain its basically solving problems based around the limitations of a game engine. Its a large area where you could go on and on giving examples of how to suggest things in a game but its taking a concept, thinking about it and translating it through the senses.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Task 15: Elements of game design, part six: visual composition

Well yes visual composition is perhaps one of the most important thing in presenting work either for a portfolio or in the gaming universe and I think it takes certain skill to be able to judge this and to be able to use the "artists eye".
If im honest im not that confident with my artistic judgement. While working/ giving crits to other peoples work, there are a few things which I notice to look "wrong" but that is mainly just about finishing the image but to be able to say to myself something to the effect of "oh perhaps if i put a few cans of beer on that street corner it would help" a basic example but at times I feel like I have a few problems with it. I dont think im able to easily recognize areas that need improvement or to be able to suggest things that can be done. I believe this judgement will develop in time - as anything it needs practice and I would need to immerse myself in different pieces of artwork and be able to analyze them properly and professionally.
Composition can do a lot for a subject/asset, for example in producing a 3d model/drawing which I am not terribly pleased with, it can be set up in such a way that makes it interesting to look at, almost like designing a portfolio. To the general public visual composition is usually taken for granted and they often dont realize why things work, but contrary to this they can usually tell when something looks obviously wrong (I believe its partly to do with the media-based era we are living in). In one of the previous blog tasks where I looked at that 40 page essay on concepting and planning, it made me realize even more how important this is. My final piece for the Bradgate park had evolved more than I thought it would as I spent a little bit of time doing very quick sketches of what I wanted and also trying to work out how things flow in the final image. During my first year I didn't really do this and I think some of the reasons things worked was because of this "random chance". This year I realized that for things to look at their best - even if the subject matter isnt that interesting - planning the composition is the way to go and if the concept is visually engaging more interest will spark in your artwork which also acts as the driving force to get you producing more interesting and exciting work.
I believe that this year the quality of my work has increased and am able to put more hours into it without getting tired/bored of them as opposed to last year. Though I wouldn't say I am particularly strong in my technical skills, brush strokes - easy texture construction etc, because I have more of an understanding of how things work together visually and compositionally the work Im producing has been enhanced. For these skills to develop I basically need to continue to really look at produced things and differentiate the good points and the bad points.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Task 14: Planning and Concepting

"Art Process Boot Camp. Bring a helmet."

I found this to be a very interesting read, almost as if i really needed to read it. To be honest I dont feel like im much artistically and I really need to improve in my work.
It was good to see how a professional would produce things as it emphasizes how much the planning means to the final outcome, I dont believe I plan enough and my work suffers - sometimes I manage to produce some good finals but with more planning I believe they will drastically improve.
I like the way she has given rules of thumb in her tutorial as it gets me to remember them, I feel like writing them out and sticking them around my room.
It was quite a read and I think I would have liked to seen some more "Work in progress" pieces between the main pictures posted.
Its good that she posted "Rule 7: Always be aware at how the element materials of your painting affect and are affected by the environment" and then gave some examples, in my work I dont think I pay much attention to the actual materials - sure I want them to look as realistic as possible but I dont feel like I understand it particularly well at the moment.
Yeah it was a good read and I believe it helped me a bit, she has obviously done this quite a lot as it shows in how she has painted areas, Im still relatively new to digital painting (And general art work) but she stresses that these steps she has listed seem more important than ability - the ability comes with time and practice.
I really like her final image and also how she has used the motion blurs to emphasize certain areas, its interesting that to me this is a very good piece but she her self still has problems with it, almost at the point of binning it - this shows that she still feels like she needs to improove a heck of a lot.
(I feel the same way with most of the work that I produce also)

I defiantly need to develop the skill of planning and concepting, I dont feel like the work I was producing was that very well guided and almost felt like I was just doing it because it had to be done rather than doing to improve in understanding and production. I wish to be able to produce work faster and to a better standard than my previous productions, as i said in previous posts about wanting this 2nd year to be a vast improvement from the first and that I need to develop, this gives me tools(skills) that i need to now continue to use but more importantly, to use and develop.

[List of the rules]
Rule #1: If it doesn't work at the size of a postage stamp, it won't work at any size
rule #2: If it doesn’t work in value, it won’t work in color
Rule #3: always try to avoid centering anything and avoid odd tangents.
Rule #4: the farther from the focal point, the blurrier the details in an atmosphere.
Rule #5: the stronger the contrast, the more the focus.
Rule #6: the stronger the saturation, the more the focus.
Rule #7: always be aware at how the element materials of your painting affect and are affected by the environment

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Blitz Guest Lecture2

Last year We had a similar talk about the Blitz company and a lot of the areas were recovered, Speaking about the importance for artwork in the arts and animation department and also looking at the different areas in Blitz.
Last year I didnt really have a goal to go towards which wasn't as bad this time around, looking at jobs I was quite interested in the environmental area but also in asset creation. At the moment I dont feel confident enough to be able to specify exactly, looking at what was done in the lecture I seemed more interested in the character side of things - but my skills at the moment wouldn't be up to their standards to do.

It would take a lot of practise but I wish I would be able to get to that sort of standard by the time I finish this course, I would also like to speed up quite a lot in my work.
I think now is the time to actually try and make this possible, not having much of a goal last year I wasnt entirely sure about what I wanted to do but from what I seen in that lecture I was mainly interested in the things which looked the most interesting and complex, things which jump at you having in-mind the awesomeness.

I would like to be able to get competent in both 3D and my 2D skills to be able to do things to that standard, I think im steered more towards the 3d side of things but to be employable I really need to be equally good in both areas.

Was interesting to see the sorts of things they work on again and although im not sure about working for Blitz it gives me more of an insight in what I would like to be doing as a career.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Momento


An interesting film that kept going back and fouth between the past and the present.
The actual story played backwards but also had some sections in black and white which played forwards and the climax was actually in the middle of the story.

Was quite interestingly done but you had to stay very focused on what was happening along with the other sections in the story. Its hard to know what to say about it as a lot of things happened but I really enjoyed it.

It was all well done but I am curious to if it was played in a more linear way - start to finish if it would have the same effect. I would say that it may not have been as exciting but to know the climax before it was meant to be known (But with no Back knowledge of the scene makes it just as thrilling)
The scenery in the film did represent what was going on, using a fairly cheap motel as a starting point where you would expect this sort of corruption to happen, although its quite obvious why them areas were chosen for filming but still the scenes worked very well.

The ironic thing also is that you would need a pretty good memory to put together all the scenes in backward, chronological and in a middle order. This simulates what the character may have gone through which was a good touch but Im not sure this was intentional. Myself not having a perfect memory i found myself trying very hard to stay focused and help the story playout in my mind.

Was a good film but at the very end of the film I was a little bit confused with things, the explanation from the Teddy character, as this was trying to remember all the time line in a non linear fashion.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Airplane!

Well I already seen this film before and it is still quite good, personally I prefer the 2nd one (i also seen these films in the wrong order, first the 2nd then the first). Although its quite dated its still watchable and still quite rude by todays standards, it uses features which were commonly used in filmography such as a blue screen behind a car set with a rolling film. The creators/directors work with this to make it obvious to what it is and they add elements to it making it funnier for the audience.

Another feature is the dialogue, common phrases which we have all heard are mistranslated in the film in a funny way;
A good example is the scene where the doctor tells the stewardess that he has to get a patient to a hospital where the woman replies "What is it?" referring to what the medical problem is but through direct listening its as if she is asking what a Hospital is where then the doctor replies "it's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now." Typing it down doesn't give it justice but the idea was good.

Yeah its a comedy film at the end of the day full of jokes based around a serious subject of a plane crash. Its better when you see these sort of films the first time around since you don't expect them to happen the way they do but they are still good. As I said i prefer the 2nd one to the first one which sometimes doesn't work with sequels, there was more going on in it and I believe it was a bit longer in feature length.

Anyway Airplane! is a worthwhile film to watch, i'd recommend to anyone.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Task 13: 2nd Year Reflection

Well, here I am in the 2nd year now. The first year went alright I believe, I did many different things in both Visual Design and Games production and found it interesting to work with the different weekly essay type tasks.
So in general it was a good year but if I am honest I wasn't very happy with some of the work I produced, I didn't feel particularly confident in the things which I was doing.
Since I came from a more technical based background I struggled a bit with the visual design drawing section - but also even though I had experience with 3ds Max I wasn't able to do as well as I would have liked. I feel like the first year was like a taster course and I was happy to be accepted into the 2nd year where I now promise to myself that I would work harder, and be able to have more confidence in the work which I produce.

In terms of ambitions, im not really sure. In my spare time during and before the first year I found myself making many playable Game modifications including a bit of character design,
graphical HUD's and Menu design,
sound design,
Level Design and
3D playable vehicles.

Over the summer I found myself going more towards the level/environmental design as I was producing a set of story based game levels, but I still have an interest in making the assets for games. I think im more geared towards the actual development of games, thinking about a wider picture of things within a game and then working through it. I'm not really sure as I haven't really looked on what sort of things are available.

Looking at Blitz Game Studios.com
3d Modeller & Texture Artist - looks quite interesting
Technical artist - im not too keen on
Visual Effects Artist - Looks interesting but it doesn't get me excited
Concept Artist - This would be a good pathway but as I am at the moment I wouldn't feel confident to be able to do it. I struggle with envisioning and designing products (As seen in the Vehicle From Shapes project of Last year)
GUI Artist - Although I have worked a bit on this a while ago in my spare time But it wouldn't be something that I would like to Specialize in.
Texture Artist - Again Im still not that confident with the texturing side of things but seems quite good if I was able to do it reasonably well.
So I think my main interest would be to go into the 3D modeling & Texture artist specialism.
Looking on the Games Design section of the Blitz website I am quite interested in the Level Editing/Designing section as I have done this before on my own and have enjoyed doing it although Im not that engaged with the scripting side of it.

Im still not fully sure what I would like to go into the most, Ill look on the Eurocom website.
In the open vacancies the 3D artist (Environmental Artist) I think would be the one to go for, in its description it is very similar to the Blitz specialism although focuses more on the Environmental side which I find myself more interested in. It states about producing props, weapons, and other things, also in the 3D Artist Job Description it also has a section on Character Modeling which as a whole would be quite interesting as its not specialized in 1 small area but is actually quite vast and exciting.

I have no interested in programming what so ever, otherwise I would have searched for a different University course than this one.

Looking on these 2 websites as a start Im interested more in the Eurocom 3D Artist
which covers all environmental but also character and prop development.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

District 9

I bought the dvd of this film to check it out - I was interested but didnt get a chance
to see it.

Well yes it was very different, following an interview style narrative (kidding along at
the start with the prefabricated "The views in these interviews....") Quickly jumped you
into the world of the film using news reportage with the typical shakey camera effect you get with the media - also the type of lens. This made it very believable as it was using things which we could identify with; Again the CGI, Design and effects were excellent but compaired to the New Star Trek film I recently seen, the story and the way it was told was far superiour.
It was a British film suprisingly and wasnt Americanised (which I was a bit afraid of) and it had elements which me, as a british person, could identify with.

Its hard to summarise the film as there was a lot happening, loads of effects but it also had a darkness towards it with the xenophobic attitude towards the aliens, but also the aliens seeming quite corrupt - as seen in dark alleys in cities dealing in weapons and drugs.Each were balanced but in some ways throughout the whole film the Aliens were treated as scum and unable to have their own voice with humans prodding forms into their chests, failure to follow these structures and they would be shot.

This sort of attitude was clear in the film and it made you connect with the species.
All in all it was a great film full of political and moral controversy, its hard to specify anymore what was good or bad about it. There was a lot in it;
you could connect with the characters,
you could see the corruption in the media and humanity,
it gave you a picture of world events (even if set in an alternate reality)

Was just very well done and had a strong storyline and I really enjyoed watching it.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

This was an interesting, dark British film with Jason Statham (from the transporter films) staring as 1 of the characters. Personally im not a great fan of these dark crime based British films as the living conditions portrayed in the films involving lieing, deceit and violence would definatly not be the way I would like to Live.
Anyway they are very good at showing these.

The film was produced in 1998 but for me while watching, seemed to be late 80's - early 90's. The film grain was apparent and although I know it may not have been intentional because of technology, it helped supplement the dark atmosphere of the film. The characters were as you would expect and at the start of the film were clearly labeled by a narrator.
Its hard to think of what to say more about this film, the story-lines all interlocked where at the start things seemed to be all over the place. Towards the start when a character apparently lost the Casino game, although the card game was explained in the film I was still confused to what were classed as good or bad cards, the sequence where the main character puts cards down and walks off i was in mixed thought as to what actually happened but due to the way the camera was going around the character (almost like an artistic impression of a headache/migrane) quickly suggested loss and defeatism. Was quite well done even though I didn't fully understand the card game.

The film carried on switching between the gangs and individual characters and eventually wound up at the destruction of them all (Apart from the main character Group) which was quite well done. Hard to pinpoint exactly what was good about it, it had a pinch of dark humor about it.
Although I dont care much for those who deal in crime, I was happy to learn that the group who we met from the start ended up to be the ones who still survived.
The "Cliffhanger" at the end of the film was a good touch, where the group could still get a lot of money from the stolen rifles - although a few minutes ago, thoughts of police looking for them, tieing the group to the investigation, wanted the rifles destroyed. (Doesn't do justice in words) and having the ending where the audience could choose what happens, if the character drops the rifles into the river, or if he answers the phone.
Personally for me, I would like to just leave it at that situation rather than choose what he would do.

So it was quite a well done film, quite dark in setting, lifestyle and humor and although not my first choice for a film to watch It was quite entertaining.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Victory Of The Daleks - Doctor Who



Well I have a very passionate blog entry today talking about the new series of Doctor Who, in-particular the 3rd episode of this new series "Victory Of The Daleks".
For many many years I have been very fanatical about the Daleks (since I was about 6 years old approximately) and was excited to learn that they were coming back early in this new series. I am sure I was not the only person who was interested about this.

Now I had a huge amount of problems with this episode, the best way for me to type them is in a list form.

First of all, as usual with these new Doctor Who series over the past 5 years the stories have travelled very quickly at an increasingly rapid level. Fitting a story/even a world into 45 minutes just does not work particularly well. In comparison to the original series where there were 20 mins per episode (and then usually 4 episodes per story) it made you want to continue watching and tune-in the week after to watch it. Obviously I wasn't actually born during the old series but even through old videos of the stories I found it very hard to stop at the end of 1 episode, wait another week, and then continue. This proves how interested people got with the TV show if they were very impatient to see and know what happens next.

The First of the new series with Christopher Eccleston starring as the doctor was alright. You quickly got used to the actual time frame and it didnt matter that much.
Then the second series (David Tennants first series) was alright.
Then the third series (David's 2nd series) things started to move faster
The fourth series things started to get quite fast also.
The fifth series (Davids last series) got even faster still
but this series... its like everything is going EXTREMELY fast which really annoyed me. This "Victory of the Daleks" episode was quite possibly the fastest episode I have ever seen with loads of things happening, usually 1 minute for 1 thing, then continuing for the duration of the 45 minutes. I hated it since you couldn't really get immersed into this world or story. After the halfway point everything started going too fast and it really ruined it. Im sure they could have spread this story out into 2 45 minute parts and it would be SO much better... Show scenes of the Daleks doing more for the actual people to maybe trick the viewer even more to think that these Daleks were of a changed heart, friendly and at the end of part 1 (if it existed) have the terrible truth that it was a big Dalek deception, and the part 2 would be the conclusion.
..........Anyway all this is problem number 1 ^

Problem number 2:
The other major problem was the economics of sound, for most of the episode I was really struggling to understand what people were saying. The music was far too loud, the speaking was far too quick... even the Daleks with their louder voices for crying out loud !
I was still struggling to hear....

Problem number 3:
There was an error in logic and common sense which was impossibly stupid. Not only did a Dalek programmed Bomb, Android... THING was able to produce the Daleks (via orders from a nearby Dalek spaceship) in the time-zone, with the limited equipment, in the heart of the war, with a German invasion progressing.
THEN sending a squad of spitfires out of the Earths atmosphere... able to breath in outer-space with a tiny spacecraft... SHOOT lazers... having communications and sensors (that expand all the way to the moon!), specialized equipment that could destroy the german invasion with the British laughing their way to victory.
The pilots would need special training which in that period wouldn't have existed, I dont care if their excuses could be that "ohhh... but you see it was a parallel Universe!" it is just frustratingly illogical. (parallel universes can possibly exist and Im not arguing about this technicality, but of the time period and setting of this episode)... its just SO frustrating and it angers me that this new hyped-up series misses very critical points of Logic.

SIGH....
Problem number 4:
The new Daleks that were featured... OH MY GOODNESS. they looked absolutely terrible compared to the design genius of the Daleks featured in the last series.
These new ones are;
BIG...
BULKEY...
and very CHEAP looking....

... It really angers me about the apparent "design skills" used for this next generation of Daleks..
It makes me sick to be honest...


PROBLEM NUMBER 5!:
The scene where the Daleks were planning to destruct the Android to wipe out the Earth if needed. Fair enough, would have been a good story line that would be typical of the evil of the Daleks. A programmed bomb, an Android which had a life which was another deception.. Fair enough.
Apparently the way to actually disarm the bomb is throw limericks of the "Human condition" to this android to proove that the actual droid was human after all..
The Daleks arnt as stupid as that...
Fine.. there could be some flaws in the Daleks design which the Doctor was able to figure out and save people in previous episodes (which were also a bit Extra-ordinary) but to accidently produce an android-bomb (whatever you want to call it) that could design the Daleks via orders, detonate if needed and that talking about what it is to be a human and alive, this is how you save the day and the episode! Yeah... right.

Because of all these frustratingly idiotic sections of this episode, and the fact that Daleks are featured (which I have really liked from a very early age) its made me very disappointed and angry towards this new episode and this new series, which I have lost a lot of interest in now.

Sigh.. its just terrible.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Lost in space (1998)

I actually went to see this film when it was first released (I would have been 7 years old) and at the time I really liked it. It was on tv tonight but I missed the start of it and caught it at about the half way point, It was good and nostalgic seeing it again as I was actually a little bit fanatical about it (the character Will Robinson I looked very similar to at that age which other people also recognized) at the half way point of the film with the spiders and the fighting blue robot everything seemed to work well together. Towards the section of the film at the end (the large time bubble) I felt like everything was starting to get very rushed with the story, quickly going from 1 thing to another with not a lot of sense. I was trying to remember what happened in the film but yes a lot of what happened didn't actually make any sense and was too quick, it almost made me want to imagine that part of the film going twice as slow at least. The last 30 mins of this film was dreadful unfortunately, I didn't remember it being as bad as this when I first saw it...

Well yeah at the very end it had the remixed music which actually given me goosebumps, at the age of 7 I thought it was amazing and I remember walking out of the cinema with this theme beating in my mind, it was one of the best parts of the film this music.
Although it was nice to see it again it saddens me that in fact the film was a lot worse than i initially thought

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Week 24 - Feedback

Well this year has been quite challenging and I have worked through and I have seen an improvement particularly with Visual design and I have finally managed to 3d model a humanoid character which I never did before properly and the result I was fairly pleased with. For me personally I think I am hoping to move more into the 3d modelling side of the industry (Drawing will still be needed of course) but I would like to be able to 3d model more complex objects and improve all my texturing skills (which are Lacking at the moment). I have used digital painting briefly this year but would like to expand it a little since I quite enjoyed it.
So Far I am happy with what’s happening, this year has been more about learning the skills and from what I understand in the 2nd year it goes up a notch (which I wanted it to do) working with a team of people and working with initial ideas and an exploration of what I would like to do. Although the drawing side is important this year it hasn’t particularly related much to projects we are doing in 3D, eg drawing the arch and then 3D modelling the arch but I realise that in the 2nd year this would apply more as we would be doing more involved things.
The only thing that I could say or suggest that during the reviews that we have (although I realised that there were many of us particularly in the first year) perhaps there could be a system where people can allot times to come and see the tutors, each person has their own time that they could either book or be assigned. There has been a day during my last first year where I was having to wait for quite a few hours when I really wanted to continue on my visual design projects (since my 3d work was up to date) but couldn’t with the fear of my name being called out, me not being there and missing a chance to get feedback. I realise that it’s good for each person to come in and wait so work is able to be done and to know where the class is meant to be held but at times it can be wasting hours where I could have been working on my Visual design projects.
Other than that Im happy with how things are going and have found these essays interesting to dive into my thoughts and then record them.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Snakes... ON A PLANE

On tv there was this film on which I heard about but didnt actually see. It was.... bit silly in my oppinion (and the majority of people who seen it) Again it was a film that was done very well in terms of special effects and the animated snakes worked very well but it lacked story and logic. I dont see why snakes would randomly attack like that, bearing in mind that it was set on a plane with all the ratteling and height for an animal I think it would be quite traumatic. I would think that the snakes would attempt to stay in 1 place being in this environment and maybe cluster together until it was over. Granted reptiles would act differently to mammals in these situations but I would think that its an actual animal instinct, yes some snakes might attack on the off case but to go on a murderous onslaught seems a bit illogical to me. Anyway it did manage to suggest to you about what could happen in these circumstances and its something you would be wary of, you know the dangers and it made you "Cringe" in certain situations. Although the people were quite stupid, doing stupid things. For example throwing a snake into a microwave then swearing at it and laughing at it, just awfull. Of course Samuel finally looses it and does his signature curses towards the climax. Well yeah the majority of it was bad and didnt make sence as I understand in that situation a snake would probably hold its ground and when approached by a human or something THEN attack. Not attack randomly on a rampage tearing through the plane. Anyway the effects were good, the story was not. Thats it really.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Open Blog GDC

Looking briefly at sections in the GDC the "AI Summit" looks interesting, not that I’m that interested in programming but more dealing with robotics and its possible future. Yeah in games AI is quite important really particularly in the single player experiences, it’s hard to talk about but I have played some games where the AI is terrible, characters walking into walls, running into an enemy territory and dying stupidly. It’s important for the game experience and can quite seriously grade the game. Its an interesting technology I think and its already getting quite advanced, it would be interesting in what happens next. Even though this is made specifically for games it will also probably be made into reality with robotics as well as other things, it’s interesting to see what could happen.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Deathwatch

An interesting film but wasn’t as scary as I thought it would have been, the DVD menu in particular with its gruesome colour schemes really made it look like something other than the end result. It proves that in graphic design they can make 1 thing look really good where in fact the product isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, either way on with the film.
It was fairly well done and it quite well suggested horrors of war again but this time focusing more on the rotting corpse aspect which has horrors in itself, a fairly tense story with parts that have suspense but It was actually a bit disappointing in terms of horror that you usually see in films.
The effects were done quite well with the wires and things, gave the film an edge with these small, thin and pointy pieces of metal. Its hard to describe really just that it makes it seem quite squeamish in a way. The film also shows the hopelessness of being in a command, the Captain seemingly losing his mind yet the drones still have to follow, this aspect was shown pretty well. The film made you want the characters to get out of that situation, claustrophobic; stressful particularly at night but again the hopelessness with if anyone tried to escape they would be killed.
So it was entertaining to say the least but I expected something more, the last frame also seemed a little bit clich├ęd but other than that It was an alright movie.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Where do you want to go, and how do you get there?

Well I joined this course as I was thinking more about going into the games industry as in my own time I found myself actually making things for existing games and I wanted to take this further. Though there are many elements to games design, I was actually doing quite a lot of the things for the games and I didn’t really know which section I enjoyed the most, I still am not quite sure at the moment but I seem to be enjoying more of the 3d modelling side. Outside of University I still am constantly making new things for the game that I have worked on, particularly game levels and environments. With 3d modelling in 3dsmax I didn’t actually have that much experience in it, in particular with modelling a human (which I have been doing recently) and have enjoyed it although I still feel like I’m not entirely sure with what I’m doing and how to do it in that area. As a decision about what I will do in the way of work I can’t actually say right now, obviously I should begin thinking about it but I have a feeling that I will only know when all my skills in general have been enhanced. I do really want to improve my 3d modelling skills however but my 2d art skills still and will be continued which as Iv heard and seen from guest lecturers that have came in, usually to get into modelling you need to be good at everything else also!

I hope to continue my studies which will help me to get a better idea for what I want to do in the future.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

'Why spend three years teaching folk what we already know?'

Its a tough question to answer really, Obviously the different pathways make it interesting to look at in terms of education. I guess logically you would need a course that has a bit of both Programming and art and to specialise afterwards in a specific field. I guess its a matter of the sort of games company it is and the spaces availiable, not everyone can be an artist/programmer or even work in both that I know of. Its difficult to find information to look at on this, It depends on the course, Game Art for example is purley based on the creative and artistic side but not only 1 aspect but looking at a range of older techniques of masters. Im not sure about this really, I cant seem to find information supporting or opposing it. Its particular in courses, im not aware of others that involve both these skills. I would say that the best way is to give students the whole picture on a basic level and then to specify in 1 area in learning more advanced.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Sound In Games

Well yes, sound is a big element in games. It helps create environments in a virtual area and without it it would be less entertaining and unrealistic. Like watching a silent movie without the person playing a piano piece - its quite pointless to say the least. Used for interfaces, weapons, sounds of footsteps and things, action cues for the general sounds and also music. There are many composers and its hard to say what the key composers are, I know a few since this is the genre of music which I like and listen to quite often. Quite a large amount are Japanese especially with the NES systems but there are others from different countries that have worked with it but mainly the ones that are more modern are where these other people specialize.
I cant really say what my key moments of sound/music in games are, iv mainly been interested in Star Wars games but they take music pretty much from the originals that John Williams have originally created but in the Knights of the old republic (particularly 2) i liked the soundtrack used and it was more original in comparison to others. The Halo soundtrack also was another impact on me again with its theme and its use of sound. And also Call Of Duty had a really good use of sound for the effects as well as the gunshots, and developments in soundtrack.
At first I didn't know what the *good times* song was until i seen it on youtube where I recognized it instantly. Compared to other performances this one seems to have more people involved in it. 3 Main people on front backed up with quite a lot of other people and backing singers. Combines traditional rock band sections with some Jazz instruments. Makes it quite successful just initially looking at it. In terms of influence im not sure because it just seems to be another song created. Looking into it I didn't actually realize that Nile Rodgers worked with the soundtrack for Halo 2 and 3. "Sumthing currently focuses on distributing a fast-growing new genre: video game soundtracks. Soundtrack titles include Halo, Halo 2 and Halo 3."
Since this person worked on this video game soundtracks genre its quite influential since its one of my favorite genres.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Game Technology - Game Engines

I have already used a game engine before and still continue to for my own projects with a game, basically its a general program for a game that gives you a set of boundaries and rules for that game and how is made. Texture budget, maximum amounts of models and triangles in an area, basically it gives a game something to take part in. Is rules that things can apply to (hard to say exactly). The engines come with their own programs, level designing on (exporting into appropoate files) A plugin to go with a 3d modelling program such as 3DSMAX and other things that are approapiate. Its programs working together to allow a game to be made, designed for game development.

The engines that I have heard of are,
Quake 1,2,3 (which use quite often for Jedi Academy)
Havok
Unreal
Age of empires
INSANE
Jedi
Sith.

One of the most well known engine i think is the Unreal one made famous by Unreal tornament. Other engines are not typically named after some games not making them we as well known. The CryEngine is also vaguly known with the game Crysis as well as "Far Cry" games which I havent played.

Subtractive and Addictive are terms which I havent actually seen but by links it seems to be a way a game level is created,
Addictive is what the Quake engine uses (which I use) and involves making shapes in a void of space.
Subtractive is what Unreal uses where to make objects you - things away from it. To me I think Addictive is preferable as it seems that things are easier to manipulate although from experience of using them its easy to make errors by "leaks" in the void. Subtractive apparently eliminates that error which In a way is good but im not so sure about the idea of subtracting things from other things.

Obvious disadvantages for propriatary technology is that its only limited to the company that has made it where for some companies it may be preferable for them to make their own engines to make their games work as they want to rather than to someone elses rules and regulations.

The next generation game consoles obviously want to be able to support more and more things, specificially models and sound effects. On the Quake engine that I have used I have wanted to create big war-like levels and things but because of the age of the engine its limited to only 1 specific thing so its impossible for a big action based level as it risks to have really bad FPS. Games are getting more intense and more detailed so its important for them as companies to get much better need to be able to do many more things.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Gaming Cultures

Well as a matter of fact I have created my own culture (Clan) on Star Wars Jedi Academy and I have members who have joined and who we play together. We base it on learning to become a Jedi being one of the fictional cultures in the Star Wars world, I maintain this clan by playing online and have made my own ranks and everything. Iv been making modifications also so that me and my clan can do more exciting things that we can do together. It occupies pretty much most of my spare time and I enjoy it as its not only about playing a game, but its interacting with people who live great distances away.

The members range across Europe and we all have similar interests and still maintain this internet friendship by speaking inside the actual game as well as outside on instant messaging services. (I have flown out and met a few of the members properly and due to the distance we continue to play and get together via the internet)
Its not taken too seriously but things such as playing times and a minimum number of times weekly are enforced but in a more relaxed environment. I think of it as a virtual world which we can spend virtual time together.

It doesn't go to anything where its very political and having very heated arguments against certain people, its a friendly environment and I know of others that can be the contrary.

12 monkeys

Again this film was A strange psycological thriller/time traveling/hostage situation.
It was a little bit confusing towards the start of the film and i had a sense of "annoyance" with all these strange going on's and the thought of no one and nothing listening to me(main character)
and again in the asyllum with all these mentally ill patients, especially the character placed by brad pitt with the very quick speech which in essance didnt make a lot of sence after all.
With the situation of time travel and mental institutions you could clearly identify the "pointlessness" of convincing people in that area what actually is the truth. It was done well in that
respect but in the end the story seemed to go to the conclusion that time travel at times can be pointless causing paradoxes even with the best of intentions. At the start of the film I sort of had
that idea in my mind already so it wasnt particulary a shocking twist, the last scene i was wondering what the actual point of it was, if its about the idea of paradox's then I honestly dont think
that I needed to be explained about it. It wasnt the best film iv seen, was entertaining to an extent but wasnt something i could truley get into.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Games Industry

In recent years (within the last 15 years) the Games Design industry has blossomed, making multiple companies through-out the world with thousands of people working on.
It has become much more serious than the very beginnings of video games and is now a multi-million pound business, as anything these days its very competitive and its growing constantly.
At guest lectures iv seen during this course are people who haven't actually gone into games design specifically but have came from other subjects. Its a busy area to go into and there is quite a lot of demand for people but also a lot of people going into it as well.
Looking at how many games come out monthly proves how hard it must be, and then sequels come out. It still has this “young” energy full of fire and action making this area of work one of the most intense,again its competition based and there is more of a need to produce work faster and more efficiently. I dont believe that this industry will end any time soon, it wont get smaller but I believe it will get even bigger than it actually is. It will get tougher and the demand for this work is just getting very large and its getting a bit uncontrollable also. The realism is the mode for gaming at the moment, skills in art traditional as well as 3d computer modelling and its next “step” is uncertain, it will probably continue for a while.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Creativity

Initially if I was asked my definition of creativity I would look more towards the area of Art and Design and is about producing original and new ideas to a problem, this way it can branch out more towards any things. How creativity comes about is uncertain, I believe that everyone is born with this trait but its often dependent on education and life. I recently did a BBC online test for the brain and had 1 question regarding if your left or right side of the brain was dominant, you hold your hands out and cross your thumbs over. The thumb from the hand that is on top of the other is said to be the most dominant side. You have "Creative" which is the left side of the brain and then "systematic" which is on the right, this makes things seem a bit strange arguing about if everyone is born with it or not.

In terms of games/film design creativity is hindered by constraints on technology, I can remember when I was making game levels/models for a game where I had the idea to do something but didn't have the skills, the game/program/computer didn't have the strength to accomplish this. This can also apply for those who deal in other areas, painting with constraints on the type of paper, the pencils/paints.
It is entirely dependent on technology and only when things advance and upgrade then the new ideas can be done, however this isn't to say that there is only 1 set way to do things, the new ideas may still be accomplished using older/modern equipment.

Initially I said that I would class creativity with the art and designers but now that I think about it even game programmers/scientists do require this creativity even in a systematic point of view. To solve problems, to understand them sometimes the initial "Law" of a problem isn't the right one to follow, other secondary equations can often benefit others. Programmers are often regarded as those who just do what they are told to do, in computers for example 1 person may ask a programmer to do something that was thought of rather than the programmer thinking about it them-self. I cant really say as I don’t know much about the lives of programmers but I think that this "creativity" maybe isn't only for the artists among us but can span out to other areas where this trait is thought to be in the most unlikely areas.

For me I would say that "creativity" is mainly seen in drawings, images, music, although one of the arguments I have about music particularly is that people can hear someone playing music that someone else has written and say that that’s "creative" where its basically copying what someone else has done. As a musician myself on the piano I constantly argue if what im actually doing is creative or something else entirely. Its a hard thing to specify this word, in games it can be so many things, many things which players dont think/care about. Graphics are obviously important, so is AI, Sound use, Interface.... in actual fact I believe that everything in a game is creative although to most people they can easily ignore it and just get excited about shooting the next persons head in game.

Creativity I would say is about creating something out of nothing, making a 3d model in 3dsmax/ a blank canvas is a good way to look at it. A Blank sheet or void is basically nothing but it’s a space where things can be created.

How I would show my creativity I can’t say, usually im blind to what I do if it’s creative or not though I often question if what im actually doing is copying or actually producing myself. Drawing so far that is in our course is about going to places and copying it, translating it onto a page, 3d modeling so far is getting an object copying it and translating it into a virtual space.
I argue with myself if I am actually creative or not although I don’t think I am a person who can say "I can do this and that" to be honest im not sure about what I can or cant do, perhaps there is no such thing as “cant” and its just an illusion.

I find that showing my work in a fairly well presented way to other people can assist me into thinking if what im doing is creative particularly to those who aren’t in the "creative" business but then again maybe that’s an illusion also for a non creative person to see a piece of work and say that it is creative.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The elements of Game Design - Gameplay

It’s hard to specify exactly what Gameplay is but it’s an element that is the most important in my opinion. The other elements are about Graphics, sounds but Gameplay is mainly how it all works together and it involves pre-dominantly the controls for the actual games, how the players interact with it. Its important because, well a good example that I can think of if you go to a foreign country in a certain car; the experience is changed by what car the people are actually in, an internal environment with external features if you will.
If seated in an old battered car with awful seating in Venice for example compared to a more open and comfortable vehicle the "value" is affected by the actual conditions. Basically for me like from this example the conditions that an area is seen in effects the actual area.
For a gaming example you could have a really intense environment with beautiful 3D models/sounds but it could be entirely destroyed by how the player operates in this environment.
Also the Heads Up display (or lack of it) graphical elements of the game can come into terms of game play as well.

Call of Duty for example, its a big success in many factors, 3d models sound etc but the big part of it is how "real" it feels; Looking down a gun cross-hair blurs the image slightly, when shot you have the intense red screen of blood, controls are in comfortable positions for moving the characters around. Gameplay is defiantly a design element to a game, if it was ignored then its just foolish in my opinion. It is an element to me that can enhance the game of make it worse, game play comes first to me and the other elements second.