Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Reflection on year 2 /start of year 3

Ok so once again its the night before I start back at Uni, had time of for summer but unlike last summer I continued to do some work to improve my skills. I mainly focused on my visual design doing a few portraits of different cultures and genders as well as a few landscapes.

The 2nd year was the toughest that I had so far but I also think its the year that I matured the most in my practices. I actually only started doing digital painting properly this year, which at the start was a bit ropey, I had had ever only done 1 digi-painting before which was in the first year. And before then I only worked with traditional media. Looking back on my first digipaint, it seems a bit feeble in comparison to what I could do now. (as the reaction of looking at any of my old works)

I continued to practice digi-painting as it was something I wanted to get more into, weeks and project passed and there was slight improvement with every final piece produced. At times I thought I could have produced better but that is how it is with everything produced by artists. Considering the time frame which we had I tried my hardest with what was alloted and I thought I did fairly well, even with the slump.

My 3d was reasonable from my past experiences but that also improved last year. Where the first 2 projects were a little ropey to say the least, I feel that In the third project being the Mortal engines self portrait I started to step up the game. It was a really hard project and I ended up restarting a few times but the result was quite good in my opinion - the rigging was a little awkward and the low poly, my character seemed to morph into a different race. The group project was good also working in a team for the first time which I put a lot of effort into and we achieved something great.

I continued to work with my critical studies but with both these larger demanding subjects I didn't seem to have the time I managed to give in the first year.

With everything going on, unfortunately I did get the dreaded 2nd year slump where I was getting a bit depressed with the work which I was doing - I also had motivational issues which were difficult to shift. Regrettably towards the end of the year there was a large pile of work I had to go through which meant rushing a little more to get things done for the final hand-in. I regret that happened but if I'm honest I was able to move between projects quite quickly and produce work faster than I ever had before.

To reiterate, even though I had problems with motivation and all It was quite a successful year. I also grown more of a person socially and left my incredibly shy persona behind, still needing to be worked on but these things come with time and practice, Same with Art, same with everything!


So that was the 2nd year, now that im entering the 3rd year truthfully I am very anxious about the transition. I cant really comment on if this is how I envisioned myself after these years, I feel like I was a different person back when I started making game modifications and general work arounds with the Quake3 engine. Although what I made in that time I was happy with and enjoyed doing it was considered quite old tech compared to whats available now. This course was like a complete step up from all of that primarily focusing on the artistic qualities than the technical.
Ill be seeing less and less of the tutors leaving it more up to me to produce work which I need to do rather than being spoon fed.
"Run boy! you are free!" is the general feeling for this year but as anything, starting again its a bit frightening. Its also going to be difficult to get back into the mode of working, even though I did a few bits over the summer its still not really the same, but again with time Im sure it'll click once again.
I intend to make a real effort this year ,not saying I didn't make an effort in previous years, but its time to up the game and get this year completed to the best of my ability.

Bring it on 3rd year!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Task 24: Personal review of the second year: Where do you want to go, and how do you get there?

Well this year has been very tough, especially the 2nd semester. I kind of expected it once the year begun with stories I heard but it was different sitting through it.

The first semester played out quite similar to the end of the first year as we have visual design and games production running side by side. At the start of the year I made a propostion to myself to become better at my artwork on the course. The first year was alright but I like to think that iv improoved signicantly since then.
This year I focused more on digital art styles rather than traditional as I didnt have much of a chance to work with it last year, I was a bit fearfull of it also. Im still not 100% clear about digital painting but I was able to learn new techniques and ways about doing it. The painting has gone fairly well but so has my 3d, was concerned about my self portrait project but it actually went very well! Was my second attempt at modelling a humanoid and was surprised at the likeness I managed to achieve.
I spent quite a lot of time looking on face topology to make sure it was just right and if im honest I think it was one of the better 3d models Iv made. (Also enjoyed reading mortal engines as I hadnt done any reading for years!)

Once the 2nd semester started things started getting a little trickier, I was also mainly concerned with this group project.
The group which I wound up with was actually quite stressfull towards the start as they were people who I didnt really speak to. As the weeks went on and we worked more and more together we started to get settled with each other and our individual abilities.
During the course of the group project I struggled quite a lot with the visual design projects, a lot of them pushed towards the weekend with the weekdays full of group project. I managed to keep up with the work load for a couple of weeks but then fell ill and lost a day of working which messed up quite a lot of the other time.
I also struggled with motivational issues, had to really push myself to getting the work done. I did but it was quite a painful process getting stressed about doing my work, with the group project I was quite happy working on it but with the visual design side It was a challenge.
Eventually I managed to get things sorted out and the group project which I had previously feared actually went very well and I made friends with the people in my group.

In a nutshell thats what happened project wise throughout the year.

There was a moment of interest when in visual design we were given a project based on random words, make a story from the nonsense. Asked to make some storyboards and then develop characters from them. I have always been concerned with character design even from GCSE years, I didnt really see myself as doing it as a career as the quality of my desining always seemed very "immature" as though I wasnt sure what I was doing. Im still facing that now but to be honest I really enjoyed concepting the character for that project and produced quite a good portrait. I think since the course did quite a lot of environmental works rather than character Iv started to get a little sick of it and struggle to get interested in it as I used to.
Did a bit more character work on the 2nd semester and I quite enjoyed both of them we tried (The vehicle didnt go as bad either) Although I was struggeling with motivation I really got into these designing projects and enjoyed doing them.
The only thing I think ill have to tackle is that as iv mentioned, the designing and sketching of these characters seems very child like. This is something ill work on over the summer.
Also with the group project I quite enjoyed doing the asset creation, actually did 10 more than I was assigned as I got into it. Although I wasnt entirely comfortable with the texturing side of thigns I think I managed quite a good job. The group project was good since it was like a taster of a game development team, previously in the course we didnt do anything together as a group and we were all pretty independant but this just wouldnt happen in the industry.
I think my interest seems to be in character and asset creation, though I would like to keep my options fairly open I think this is perhaps the direction I would like to take.

Task 23: Life Changing or Career Building?

This is a tough subject to talk about.

Courses centered around the games industry are a bit hit and miss, its quite a strange turn from the more "Acedemic" courses where things are centered around memorising dates and figures. Essentially they are creative based courses be it arts or in the programming side of things. Doing things for a reason - a finished game or level. Sure the acedemic courses make students learn figures and dates for a reason but its not quite the same sort of thing.

In comparison to these courses in question I think I prefer the way the art based courses go about, basically as Iv learned in my foundation art course prior you drive down your own path. If you need help or assistance ask, its about being mature and finding out things on your own rather than being rammed facts down your throat. I can understand some courses need that but for this subject (and me as a person) I prefer how this course unfolds.
During secondary school you were so used to be telling exactly what to do that students going into this faculty arnt used to the freedom found in later stages of education.
Game Art as a course is not the same as foundation art, its a little more centered around games, not only drawn artwork but also in 3d packages. Franckly I prefer art which has a purpose rather than the rubbish you usually get with modern art. I have heard from many people that getting a job in fineart is so difficult as it doesnt really have much of a direction. Though I respect art sometimes things get so farfetched that it becomes useless and uncreative.

Obviously for us it does require some technical learning with the computer programs we use but it still retains this art style course, you cannot tell everyone everything that the program in question can do. Its basically about understanding what you want to acomplish then findout and do it rather than being spoonfed. Some may argue that this may waste time but sometimes the things you work with surprise you which is better than knowing everything at once. It retains the creativity to not realise how much a program can do, it somehow forces you to challenge your preconceptions.

Education in this field is a trickey thing, it would be great if you could remember everything about art and creativity from revising a text book but its simply not the case. Im unsure how else you could study for art. Afterall art is a lot about expression and feeling, not something you program into yourself. To make these courses count students have to learn to be quite independant in their thoughts. Some are not used to this concept comming straight from school or college and so can be a challenge (I sure wasnt!).

You build you own fort which is what these courses are all about, I really dont think you can control the experience as lectures. At the end of the day its about the students utilising other peoples brains when needed.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Task 22: Creativity, the talent myth and craft

From last years creativity task, I spoken about it being more steered towards Art and Design but even in other "unlikely" areas such as programming. People seem to see pretty pictures being more creative than lines of coded text but really its a frame of mind, perhaps the "pwetty" pictures are easier to recognise. I seen it as creating new ideas to solve problems, so in fact this term can go towards a number of things.

Asking people around, the trend of thought is that they believe
that children are born with this creativity and this drains as we get older, particulary when entering the education system.
From an early age we were forced to become more serious in our studies, less time to play around (at least not which doesnt requite an essay/report at the end of it). There seems to be a certain frame of mind of a "good" student which are drilled into everyone of us. With some it works but with the majority they simply cannot stand or handle it, fidgiting in a classroom would be classed as bad behaviour but it could simply be that the child isnt suited for the specific subject.

Being In school I didnt really have an interest in a lot of what was being taught, just kept at it knowing that would get qualifications from it to do what I really wanted. I managed to get quite good GCSE's and Primary school grades which got me into college but right now I couldnt really care less about the subjects which I did during that time, It was a struggle but eventually I got through it.
Looking back this perhaps wasnt the best way to go about it but you cant force someone to be interested in a certain area, all the acedemic subjects I can understand everyone doing them to see what future they bring but this carries on for at least 7 years before the kids really have a choice in what they want to do(but sometimes due to lack of knowing anything else they wind up doing thigns they didnt really want to do anyway). Its quite a shame but its how its been and im sure its the same even now.

It seems that this creativity is pushed aside from quite an early age but it still exists in us, knowing and understanding more can surley help. People, particulary parents, when they see a child do a drawing they immediatly look at it as being creative but usually they do this for fun rather than for a reason. Yes at that age they are carefree but lack some understandings of the environment, how could they?
I wouldnt say that Knowledge learnt in school hinders that but the way in which it is taught does.

Thats generally how I see creativity now, as being a way of solving problems - doing things for a reason.
In terms of games design this creativity is very restricted to the technology used, 3dsmax cannot do absolutly everything but often we see what It can do and work to its limitations. The games engines particulary, an artist could go to a programmer and pitch an innotive idea but wont be possible because of what the programs can do.

People believe that some children are born with talent and the only reason they are skilled in an are is because of genetics, while this can be true in some cases if people have the drive to do something even without genetic techno-babble they will develop themselves.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Task 21: An introduction to the Game Industry

Well not only with Games design but in many companies such as clothing a lot of things are often outsourced for cheaper labour costs, people just don't want to spend the money.

Just typing from what iv seen from the industry so far I would list the specialisms as; Concept Artist, 3d Character Modeller, 3d Environment Modeller, Sound Designer, Programmer, Texture Artist, Graphic Designer, UI work, Level Designer, Scripting and animation.
Just for now these are the areas im aware of.
Looking on this website what iv listed is pretty much what is listed with Skill set with the exception of Storyboarding which would make sense. Particularly with games with cinematics or scripted animation events.
The management of the project and of course the testing of the damn thing! All quite important things with quite specialised people working on them.

Even though im in the 2nd year im still quite unsure about what I would like to specialise, however its good to get a big picture of what's going on in the industry. I have had some form of experience in quite a few of these areas but being on this course I think I am more interested in the creation of the characters/environments.
These seem to be the 2 major things im interested in pursuing, for the moment Im driven more towards characters and asset creation, I seem to have gone off environments quite a lot. The problem is many people go for these roles above the rest and the competition is fierce. My skills at the moment in Character design are quite lacking, im not terribly happy with the way I go about designing them.

But yes there are other areas in game development to consider and if there is no success in the character/environment creation there may be other areas I could consider.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Task 20: Elements of game technology, part three: interaction design

Well yes, these days there is a lot more interactivity with games compared to other years. Since Iv been in Uni it started as the Wii being the King Of This Hill with the use of people physically moving around to scroll through windows and menus not to mention the game play but quite recently Xbox and PS3 Have Released Kinect and the Playstation Move.

I am yet to try these out but from videos and Tv grabs they are pretty sophisticated, more impressed by the Kinect tracking body movement as the psmove is pretty standard in comparison. The old question of when Virtual Reality will be developed is becoming sooner and sooner, maybe not in the recent coming year but certainly within the next 10 years. The gamepads as iv mentioned are becomming more slender (Even now Im using a keyboard with a curved design to prevent hand strain) basically following the forms of the body. Although it may sound sci-fi soon there may even be an entity that adapts to the curvature and shape of the person wielding it.

Not only to mention gaming input devices the actual games have become ever interactive allowing more things to be done but with the lack of buttons/input directions its starting to reach its limit. Things such as press A to open cage, to Pressing a combination in Call Of Duty for arming a bomb. Quite standard in these present games but in comparison to Super Mario on the snes its come a long way. It greatly depends on the type of game.

Obviously with the introduction to these interactive features in controlling, Game Design will change opening doors to new ideas and ways of player controllability.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Task 19: Elements of Game Technology, part two: Sound for Games

Well I know how important sound is in games, and its also an area which many people in colleges and things don't really go for. I remember my old sound design teacher at college saying that there are not too many people doing it these days and its quite in demand. I have done sound design before (and maybe for the group project also if possible)and understand the importance of it in games. It must be done precisely to fit the visual atmosphere, its basically like adding a whole other layer to game development. Games design in essence focuses on your senses obviously sight and sound are the majors, the other senses are used less frequently in games although you could argue that the vibration feature on some game pads could be classed as touch.

Some of my favourite pieces of music come from games and in modern games they are done so well, it is past the days of old generic computer based music. Many games have become very cinematic also and as the years have gone by the quality and funding for sound and music has gone up. Large orchestras are commonly used these days.
To specify the key sonic moments in my gaming history its kind of hard to say, as iv said some music from games are part of my playlists.

Iv played many Star Wars games which use the original soundtracks from the film which are used quite often but this doesn't really count. From the first game I bought and played (Crash Bandicoot) had some great songs for its genre, quite iconic pieces. Yeah to be honest most of the games iv played iv liked the music to.

AH yes, Good Times Nile Rogers. Remember from last year.
Well its not a bad song, I remember it going towards the Halo Themes and so quite influential. Liked the songs from the Halo Series, interesting in the 3rd with remixes of the first 2 games which I really liked to be honest.