Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Blog!

Hello everyone, I have set up a new blog to chronic my games design, games journalism and my general video-game lifestyle! It is meant to be a larger hub of information than the current blog which should mean more posts on my ideas, work as well as other articles that I have found useful and interesting.

So head on over too No Rules Here to see what direction I am heading in and why you may want to follow and subscribe to a feed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Super quick catch up!!!!!

Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted on here (yet again!!) and I have a whole load of work done for my two projects that is awesome-o! Firstly since my last post I re-made my character Sam and re-textured him up. The reason for this was some pretty hasty and messy modelling back when I was first learning Maya which needed to die! So I went back and made him a little less dirty and a lot cleaner cut. Now with a new model came a new UV texture map so for my own sake I made the texture map again and eradicated some of the errors I made first time round with that as well! Yay for erasing bad stuff!
So with the project idea being to re-create my illustrations in a 3D space my main problem so far was getting him to look lovely and toony. This so far in modelling is my greatest achievement and was a complete accident. With this knowledge I will show you how I did it.

Firstly I had to create a new Lambert surface.

I then instead of applying the texture to the colour bar applied the texture to the incandescence layer instead.

I then turned the colour of the Lambert surface to black.

Now although the texture won’t show up on the modelling screen when we render Sam he will look like a cartoon as there is no lighting applied to the texture. Bam!

So yeah you guys may already know how to do that but I feel pretty proud that I managed to find it out on my own which in turn has made me feel a lot more confident with Maya.

On top of managing to achieve my goal with creating my character I also have managed to create my level in Maya with textures and lighting. When I first created the level again I made a terrible mess of the model and although I got it looking all right it was far from it. So I went back and remade the level yet again and the texture to make it look a lot better.

So the level is now solid and lovely looking. After I managed to do this I started pondering about how I would go about recreating the glowing platforms in which Sam can only see once they have been photographed by his camera. So I figured I would do it like this.

First I created an anisotropic material and added a ramp texture to it. I then changed the colour balance to white and blue to give it a surreal glassy feel. Now to give it a really glowing feel I added two blue point lights into the object so it would look half visible and slightly ghostly! With this complete my level started to really look a lot better.

I’ve also been working on my other project and have managed to actually get some game play working. Using a friend’s engine I have managed to, with a little help from my housemate, add programming to certain objects so I can move them with the mouse as well as tell them to affect the character in different ways. For example one object will tell the character to jump whilst another may tell him to run left when he is running right. This has allowed me to make two workable levels and two tester levels that is great as I have managed to achieve my initial goal for this project.

Well that’s a quick wrap up of the solid work that I have done for each project over the last month. I also have some more awesome news for a project that I am going to be working on over the summer. Me and a few fellow designers have come together to form a collective and design and create an episodic game that is a wee love letter the gaming days of past. That’s all I can really say for now but keep your eyes peeled as a new blog will be up and running once the game is in production.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Work, work, work, work and Heavy Rain

Wow it’s been a while since I have written on here and I was doing so well at the beginning of the Semester! Well never mind because I have been really busy doing work on both my projects over the last couple of months and am going to recap on what I have been up too as well as talk about some influential things that I have played and seen recently.

So I’ve been working on both my projects pretty heavily and for the first project I have been making steady progress that is great. I’ve managed to build my character Sam in Maya and apply a UV to him which makes him look like a two dimensional illustration in a three dimensional space which looks really cool. It took me a little while to adapt my illustrative style into 3D but I do feel that the character now has the same feel as my drawings. I have also rigged my character so he can now be animated which after being shown how to do it I found remarkably simple to do apart from sorting out a few snagged vertices. I’ve also managed to finish a level design document for this project and have currently finished sketching up all my objects that are to be in the level. I am aiming to have the level and objects built by the end of the month which leaves me a while to animate and smarten up the final work for the project and compile all of my support work (which is going to consist of a game proposal document, a level document, scenery designs and character design sheets).

My second project hasn’t been going so smoothly unfortunately and I have come up against various problems with the programming for the engine on a fairly regular basis. My colleague who is helping me do the programming has had problems with the engine parts that control the character on screen and although the general logistics work there is one tiny annoying problem that we are struggling to iron out. The good news though is that I have managed to finish my games design document and my level design document for this project which pretty much means as supporting documents go all I need to include is a scenery design document and I’m done. For the final piece of work I am aiming to have at least 5 working levels for the game that are completed in their entirety including all relevant art and animation. This part shouldn’t take so long as soon as the engine is workable for these levels at least.

So all in all a fair amount of work has been done recently and work in general is going quite smoothly. Yet there still is a lot of work to be done if I want to hit my targets and get those top marks.

On top of all the work I have had a bit of time to play through Heavy Rain and I must say that in a past blog I have questioned David Cages ideas on the advancement of gaming and although I do stand by some of my points (mainly to do with whether to class it as a game or not) I must say I found the game to be an outstanding piece of work. There are flaws in it of course yet the parts which struck me the most were those that really made me question the situation posed in front of me as well as making me feel an awful lot of emotion towards those questions and often their answers. The characters were on the most part believable (especially Norman the FBI agent) and weren’t boring as the story uncovered. There were a few storyline points that are questionable in reason like the killers motives and reasons yet all in all the way the story unfolds (in my play through) was emotionally engaging and thoughtful and the control system although in theory may sound like a glorified God of War QTE sequence manages to handle the scenarios well, often making you feel you are in control of the characters actions. As a final statement to the game I would say it has been a while since I have played something this different.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

FInished Robot

Just a few screen shots of my tin robot with a finished UV mapped onto him finally.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Level Design and Narrative Design progression

What a busy week it’s been! Lots and lots of work have been done and I’ve nearly finished my game proposal documents for my two main projects which is great. I’ve also been experimenting with Google sketch-up for level designs and it’s turned out pretty well so far. On top of that I’ve been playing around with UV texture mapping on Maya and have nearly finished the work for my little robot.

A selection of screenshots from my level design in google sketch-up

One aspect of my games design I have been working on heavily over the last two weeks is that of the game mechanics and with this I really feel like I have achieved something with both my main mechanics for each game being strong and sturdy. Getting this right has allowed me to focus on building the narrative for my first project around the game mechanic and with the second game expand on other mechanics that will enhance the overall game experience. Now that I am coming out of my game proposal documents I really need to focus on building a plan to build a demo for each game as well as work on level designs for each and really nip these ideas in the bud.

I’ve been continuously looking at inspiration around me for visuals, mechanics and narrative design and with a whole host of interesting games such as Heavy Rain coming out it will be interesting to see how their interpretation of narrative and games design pans out. With game play that almost seems to incorporate interactive cut-scenes will this be a step forward for games with narrative or be too close to film to separate the two different mediums?

Heavy Rain Cover

Heavy Rain Screenshot

Personally I see the art (and yes I did use the word art) of merging narratology and ludology to be something different to the cinematic offerings of film and can strive to give something more meaningful on an interactive basis. I do not think cut-scenes are particularly the way forward to blend these two areas together and see real-time scripted events similar to those of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves a more interesting way of bringing narrative together with the aspect of play.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Screenshot

David Cage
may not see Uncharted as the mature game he would want to make yet who can argue the fact that the scripted events helped add immersion to the game and if we open our minds who is to say the same ideas cannot be used in other genres as well.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Its Sunday night and although I am planning on chilling out very soon with some food and some x-files (yes I am a geek) I thought I would show you all what I’ve been up to today as well as some other general things to do with games this week. Well as promised to myself I’ve been keeping a tight schedule on my work and got some more practice with modeling on Maya today which has been really good fun. After I got my modeling skills up to date with a few simple objects I trucked on with Josh’s project by creating a little robot I like to call the happy bot. Things seem to be rolling along well with Maya so I’m pretty chuffed I’ve got a decent amount of work under my belt in the last 2 weeks although I need to learn how to UV texture map which hopefully will be done by the end of the week and I can get this robot looking ship shape.

Maybe it’s me punishing myself or just pushing myself but I have given myself a whole ton of work to do this term with my two projects and plan on getting 2 game proposal documents done for a week on Friday, and then get on with making them! Fun, fun and more fun!

Well that’s enough about me so lets talk about the game of the year selection this year briefly. So for 2009 we have the selection of Assassins Creed II, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Demon Souls, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Dragon Age: Origins. Now I only played through two of these choices and thoroughly enjoyed each one of them, Uncharted 2 was a fantastic rollercoaster ride of thrills and explosions whereas Batman was a tightly woven story with an exceptional fighting system. The rest of the bunch have all received expansive critical success especially the underdog Demon Souls which unfortunately hasn’t been released of in Europe yet so I haven’t had a chance to witness its absurd difficulty and challenges although I do intend to.

I am however quite interested to see what other people on the course perceive to be their Game of Year. Not out of the choice above but the game that has really stolen them this year, and if there hasn’t been one then why? I personally think that my game of the year is Uncharted 2 as it is the only videogame that prompted me to play through it continuously due to its engaging action sequences and tip top linear story telling. It will be interesting to hear yours if possible.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Playing with Maya and my projects.

Yesterday I made things in Maya for the first time ever, and although they were just a simple crate and a fairly average sky dome it was nice to get to grips with the basic controls as well as learn where some of the more frequently used buttons are. It is amazing how creating simple things can become frustrating when you can’t find the one tool you need even when you are working from a tutorial! Yet even through the moments where I jumped over a step and messed up I finally managed to get a 3D object made with a simple texture on, and if I’m honest with myself I feel fairly satisfied that I could actually do something on there. In the end the two crates I made had different texture, one being a science fiction crate in the style of “Deadspace” and the other a wooden crate. I’m going to continue working with tutorials off web CT in my own time and attend Bev’s tutorial on Monday afternoons to gain experience and improve my skills quickly.

I’ve also been thinking about the two projects that I want to do for my advanced practice 2 module and have decided on what direction I am going to be heading in. They are as follows:

Project One

This project will focus on creating a small 3-D gaming environment that uses narrative design to give the game mechanics reason and substance within the design of the levels created for them. The game mechanics will also need to demonstrate the ability to grow and be used in scenarios that get progressively more difficult. This will give the mechanics longevity and keep the players engaged in the gaming environment and narrative.

Project Two

This project will concentrate on the more commercial aspect of games design by creating a “bite-sized” game for either a portable gaming device that supports digital distribution or a game that is digital distributed through PC or Mac. This will have to be a small game that is designed for short periods of playtime and that is aimed at a specific audience. This project will directly relate to a commercial context with the game aiming to be professionally designed with the intended outcome of being independently distributed.

Hopefully I will get some feedback off my tutors on Thursday to gain a bit more incite into these project ideas so I can begin with my research. Lots of work to do yet again but to be perfectly honest I can’t wait to get my teeth into these projects. Just need to double check I’m heading into the right direction.