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.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Questions to answer...

Well it’s been quite a time since I have last posted on here and if I am honest I am quite disappointed in myself for this. Unfortunately I got swamped under with the ins and outs of work to be handed in at the end of the semester and the blog got shrouded in deadlines and prevailing commitments. But I am back now for second semester and as one of my new years resolutions I am going to be posting as often as other work permits me to.

So…. second semester. I just got back into the university today and as I’m awaiting feedback on my work from last semester I thought I would get back on with the blog and also ponder over what I want to be doing for my Advanced Practice 2 module as well as where I want to be post MA. These fall into several questions posed to me by my tutor which consist of:

o What do I want to do?
o What kind of activity post MA?
o What do I want in my folder?
o What aspects of games interest me?
o What opportunities for new research and development are there in these areas?
o What skills do I need to develop?

With the way that my mind and thinking works, before I can start exploring any design activities I need to address each of these question individually. Doing this will help me focus my design ideas as well as my design direction.

What do I want to do?

This question is perhaps the one that I fear the most. It sounds so definite and final like as if once you choose you can never, ever choose anything ever again. That’s preposterous of course but still it is an epic question to answer as well as justifying the answer you have given. But lets start on a more basic note rather than deciding what exact job I want to do forever by looking at two sub questions.

What kind of activity post MA? - This is an easier one to answer. I think.

After I finish my MA I want to go into the industry. I preferably would like to get into a decent junior design job working with narrative ideas and game mechanics yet the realistic side of me just aims to get a job within the design sector of the industry whether that be a games tester or something where I am completely out of my depth. At this moment in time I don’t want to continue with the academic research of games, but it is something I may come back to once I feel I have established myself into the industry ladder with my feet firmly on its rungs.

What do you want in your folder? – This one is talking about a portfolio!

Portfolios are like a window into your thinking mind. The portal in which prospective employers can view how you think as well as what you are capable of producing and where you need to improve. If I am going to be focusing my work on the thinking side of the fence I will want to have work in my folder that shows interviewers how I think, how I develop my ideas and how I come up with design solutions for videogames. I will need design work that focuses on game mechanics, level designs and narrative designs. I will need to demonstrate that I am capable of producing this design work in a finished state through constructed and playable examples. These will highlight my creativeness as well as the ability to focus ideas into a finished and solid form. If I am to work with narrative design a few contextualised character designs may help give a greater impact of level and mechanic design as well. All in all I need to present enigmatic ideas that push traditional conventions as well as tightly knit ideas that appeal to a more professional and commercial world both being supported by strong modelling skills.

These questions have helped me form more opinions about my own skills and what I need to achieve throughout my MA. I want to focus on game mechanics, level design and narrative design pulling them all together into a coherent piece of work that can show the skills that I have and are eager to build upon.
I want to design the mechanics behind the games and give reason to those mechanics through tight narrative, mechanic and level design.

What aspects of games interest me?

Understanding what fascinates me in games can be quite difficult. Yet I know through talking about what I want in my portfolio and what I want to do post MA that the mechanics that give games substance and narrative that gives players reason are what I am truly interested in, and most of all I am interested into how these two aspects of games can meld together to create deep and engaging experiences for players.

What opportunities for new research and development are there in these areas?

There are constant opportunities for expansion with game mechanics, as new ideas for games need to be sought after to bring new and engaging experiences for players in the world. Narrative design is also an area that is continuously being debated with in games design and without a set amount of rules for it like in literature or films the possibilities for research and development are huge. Bringing them all together with level design is also an area that new research and new ideas can be formulated helping develop the ideas.

What skills do I need to develop?

This section is the most important as it will allow me to understand the areas of my own skills that I need it to develop and focus on. The first skill I desperately need to develop is that of modelling and adding texture to those models. I also need to develop my game mechanic designs by thinking about how the game mechanic will develop with difficulty through the game as well as how game mechanics work. Level design structure will need to be developed in design so I can integrate game mechanics into it seamlessly as well as my narrative skills so I can come up with engaging ideas to integrate the three area skills together.

Well there we go, lots and lots of talk about skills and area to improve as well as what I want to aim towards with my semester 2 and my advanced practice module. For once I feel focused on my work and I know what I want to do and what to aim towards and above all I am excited to get on with it and to come up with new ideas that are both experimental and professional.