Sunday, 14 December 2008


When I look at why i haven't written my blogs, i can never come up with an answer apart from i cant be bothered at the moment, i know this sounds really harsh and Mich i know you will really hate this fact but, when i start writing my blogs I get so into it, its unreal Ive already written several tonight i don't mind writing some more, i think being as each one is a different topic it seems to keep my attention. I'm also quite surprised at the things that we never really look into as gamers, but i think its amazing how games are broken down into so many different sections, that create it as a whole but thats a topic for another time.

Game Technology - User Interface

The way that games have developed is astonishing but I’ve never really looked at how the User Interface has changed so this is actually quite interesting to me.

Starting from the beginning, ‘Brown Box’ this is the same console that was designed by Ralph Baer, the controller for this was just simply a couple of knobs, that control the form/character you play as. The Odyssey followed a very similar principle in User Interface. Pong on Tele-Games has got to be the simplest design that I even seen. In 1985 the NES moved away from the traditional controller format, and went for a D-pad format allowing the player more control of the in game interface and character, also they added 2 extra function buttons (the famous A,B). The Nintendo Gameboy also followed this format very closely.

Since the release of the NES all controlled have followed these basic principles, but adding more functions to the controller. Strangely enough Nintendo were the first to move away from original D-pad design with the N64 controller, adding an analogue stick and a third handle, personally I didn’t like the idea of the third hand on the controller because is move to far away from how natural the previous design worked.

Sony later improved on Nintendo’s design with the Dual Shock controller, adding a second analogue stick and positioning them so they were more comfortable to hold.
Sega came back on the scene with the Dreamcast, and personally I think they took a step backwards with the design of the controller, making it surprisingly large in comparison to their competitors designs, it was also quite uncomfortable to hold.

Sony brought out there Dual Shock 2 controller and the only thing I can say is all I they did is change the colour.

Microsoft not long later release the Xbox, there controller design still followed the basic principles of its competitors but they focused the shape of the controller around comfort for the player.

The only real changes since then have been the Revolution Controller, this is extremely closely related to the original NES controller, but this is because of the way the controller is designed to be used, instead of just sitting holding the controller they are designed to get the player to interact more with the gameplay.

Storytelling in Games

Straight away I have to say that the story behind as game really makes the game better for me. If I can get into the storyline of a game I can appreciate it a lot better, I think that’s the reason to why I’m so addicted to RPGs.

Do all games have a story? I think that a majority of games do have a story behind them, whether it be that you play a new recruit during WW2 trying to help save your country and get back home alive, a Nascar racer trying to win the Season, or maybe a lonesome peasant caught up in a greater picture. The question about storytelling is not if a game has a story, but about how the creators of the game develop that story toward you as a player, and as the character. For me as a gamer I prefer to live as the character when playing a game, sounds crazy but its true I like to submerge myself into a game.

I personally don’t know the story line behind second life, so I'm not going to try and go into that.
World of Warcraft, does it have a storyline? Hell yeh, it has got the have the best back-story I have ever known, I’ve have been a Warcraft fan for several years know, and that is mainly because I was grasped by the storyline of it. World of Warcraft is currently continuing the storyline of ‘Warcraft 3’ ‘Reign of Chaos’ and ‘The Frozen Throne’, with the previous two expansion packs, I could sit here and fill pages and pages going on about the storyline of Warcraft but I'm not going to, (insert sigh of relief from reader here) but I am going to give you this link just encase your interested. But the way the storyline within WOW has works is that you will follow, hundreds, yes hundreds of small storyline based on your character, these include race, faction, level, and location within the world, the higher level you get the more you are able to discover about the main storylines that Warcraft is based around.

The Art Director

Ok I’m going to get straight to the point in this entry, starting with “What does an Art Director do?”

An Art Director is seen as the leader, and somewhat Wiseman in the overall vision of the game, but its stretches a lot further than people would think; they work closely with the Creative Director to define the artistic styles for the game; the Art Director also work closely with the project art manager to help, manage the artistic goals within the set budget and schedule. The recruitment of art teams, along with the recruitment department, also falls to him/her. They oversee all of the art teams’ results and giving feedback to work in progress; solves problems effectively related to the artistic creation of the game. The list is pretty much endless and to be honest sounds like the artistic part of them will be sucked right out of their souls if they’re not careful. I personally don’t think it is a creative roll, personally I think it is more about management than art, but without an Art Director not just the art department but the entire company would fall apart. Kind of like a house of cards, you take one card out the whole thing falls down.

If I wanted to ever become an art director firstly I think more than anything you need good leadership skills, tied with vast knowledge and experience in the Industry, not only being good at your chosen area but also in other areas very closely link e.g. 3D modelling.
Personally based on what I’ve found out about being an Art Director I would rather stay as an Artist/3D modeller, why? I prefer to be creative than managerial, hence the reason I’m studying a Creative course, and not a business based one.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Donnie Darko

When i got back from watching the film, i was blown away storyline, certain things mades scence, but the more i try to get my read found it, the more messed up my mind gets. Anyway i wemt looked for info and heres a little something i found. its the link to the film website, its crazy. There are three 'levels' open to you but you need a password to access levels two and three. Go into level one and try to figure out what the password is, ive been at it for about an hour and a half straight. I does explain some of the theory behind the film aswell.

Have a go it will get you brains working overtime.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Writing about Games - Cont.

Welcome back. This week’s edition; Writing about games (continued).

So I left of last time with my opinion on those NGJ articles. Well I’ve been looking at some more of them and damn there good. Personally I really like subjectivity, within games journalism; it really grabs my attention more, to know other players experiences, and I think it helps to really sell the game.

How do I feel about my own writing, well I don’t really know, I’d say there’s a hell of a lot of room for improvement, one of the main things would probably be my vocabulary, as well as my last of knowledge, when it comes to describing something, I’ve always struggled with this, not severely but it can really put a stopper on things when trying to pitch an idea, or explain something, worst of all myself, cannot for the life of me explain myself, honestly the trouble I had writing my personal statement. Anyway stop ranting Simon you’ll do yourself an injury.

Moving on swiftly...Other forms of Game Journalism, well I’m going to be honest with you, I haven’t done much research into it at the moment, but I will do so over the next week. So watch this space.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Writing About Games

Ok, I have my notes and Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream at the ready; let’s have a look shall we.

The main issues facing games journalism is probably online publishing, even though it isn’t that good, a lot of people will look up information about new games and review on the internet and in review forums. Therefore this is jeopardising professional games journalism.
Damn don’t you just hate it when I see something that u later rely on, forget to note it then u just can’t find it again, people usually think your making it up, but I tell I read that somewhere, and if I’m right it’s in the Kieron Gillian article

Personally I really liked that article, but still back to the matter at hand.

After read several NGJ articles, I have really been taken away by them, the way that they don’t just talk about the game, but how they talk about their experiences, whilst playing the game, for example, the article ‘Bow Nigger’ talks about ‘Jedi Knight II, Jedi Outcast’, and his experience of how a certain battle no long felt like a game, but I good old fashion fight between good and evil. Ok Ok I know this might sound crazy, and people will think, that guy plays games to much, but just read the article, and you’ll see why. Here’s the link

Another article that really grabbed by attention was, ‘ZangbandTK – Confessions of a Dungeon Hack’ by Kieran Gillen. In this article he talks about his experience playing ‘ZangbandTK’. Not only about how the game works, and its history, but his experience playing the game, along with a short description of his characters (in some cases rather short) lives.

Ok I just want to know what the heck Sony were thinking when they released ‘Rez’ with a “Trance” Vibrator.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Im Back!!!

Sorry I've been away for a while but my comp was broken, finally got it fixed though.
I know they say that the library is there so that we don't miss out on any work but I just couldn't concentrate on writing the blogs,
Damn I have a lot of catching up to do better get started.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The 21st Century, Next-Gen Gaming and Beyond

Next- Gen Gaming. Let’s have a look at the major issues facing the games industry.

The first issue I’m going to have a look at is the publishing of new games. Sequels to big selling games, or licensed movie game are guaranteed to sell, whereas new games most of the time don’t even get off the drawing board, this is because of the way that publishing works, if I’m correct the publishers invest the money into the project for funding, and I’m not just talking a couple of hundreds, therefore they need to be sure that they are making a good investment and that there not going to lose out on money, plus they will make a nice little profit.

The next issue that I’m going to look at is, cross platform gaming. Originally the game company would make their game for a specific console. The publisher of the game would later higher a programmer, to enable the release of the game on other consoles. Now cross platform gaming is almost an essential part of games design, this is because is targets as wider audience, and it also helps to intrigue publishers.

Well I could go on talking about the way that the new consoles are but of course you’ll be sick of reading about another person rabbit on about how they think the Xbox 360 is better than the PS3, or how the Nintendo Wii is their favourite. Personally I can’t really say that I have a favourite

Well there we go I think that’s about most things, but wow its finally within the 300 word limit, but i cant help feel I’ve got a lot to add, but I’ll come back to it soon.

Monday, 17 November 2008

First ever Digital Painting

Like the title suggests this is a look at my first ever digital painting (even though Ive had a graphics tablet since September). This is also one of my pieces for my Organic Character Project. For this project i decided to use minerals as my organic substance. Not the best choice but i wanted to try and choose something different, try to think of something other than plant life was tricky. This Guy though, is supposed to be some kinda powerful being that is encased in a gigantic Mineral/Crystal. I'm definitely going to have to practice more.

Oh, and by the way the colours seem to have got messed up in this image ill try to sort it out shortly. (when i can figure out how)

Friday, 14 November 2008

I didn't mean to, it was an accident

Ok well i just wanna say sorry about the lenght of the last 2 entries i kinda seemed to waffle on a little long than expected.I should probably be banned from writing on these things but still, ill find a way to let you know if i do ;)

I know the aim it is to make it feel like less like writing a essay but i get so caught up in it I forget myself, and then when I try to condense it down to a reasonable amount it just doesn't seem to work out, so I end up posting the whole thing anyway. The worst part is all this work so far covers two tasks, each split into two sections.

My Personal History of Gaming

Where to start, I think the beginning is usually the best bet. Believe it or not the first game I can remember playing was ‘Pong’, can’t really remember that much because it was a few years ago.

It really all kicked off for me with ‘Sonic Adventure 2’, for the Sega Mega Drive. My parents wouldn’t let me have it set up all the time though when I was younger, so I was limited to how much I played. God knows how I coped if I go more that 3 days max without playing a game I think I’ll go crazy. Several other games for the Sega mega drive really sparked my interest, including ‘The Lion King’ and some form of space game, can’t remember the name of it for the life of me.

2 years after the Playstation 1 was released, my parents went out and invested in one, and what an investment it was. I really got into gaming around that time, watching my dad play ‘Tomb Raider 2’. At the time to decided to stick to ‘Crash Bandicoot’. After a while I moved to the harder games, this included ‘Metal Gear Solid’, I got so addicted to this game I’m sure my parents started to worry about me. I didn’t stop playing it until I completed it about 4 times, damn I could probably go back and do it again now, that game just doesn’t grow old.

The Gamecube was the next investment made, after playing ‘The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time’ briefly and being blown away by it, I was overjoyed when I found out I had my own version, along with ‘LOZ Windwaker’. I grew fond of RPGs very quickly, there was always something new around every corner, keeping me glue on the edge if my seat.

The Xbox was next on our list shortly after the death of the gamecube, which has only recently been replaced *wipes eyes*. If I remember correctly the first game that came with that was ‘Arctic Racer’ or something to that effect. During school i was always hearing people going on about a game called ‘The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind’. After constant enquires and nagging I found out it was an RPG, where you had almost total control of what u did as a character. The Moto for this game was, ‘To live another life in another world’ and damn it was right. I fell in love with this game in the first instant; I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer size of the game, along with the total free control.

Playstation 2 was very late in arriving into my gaming experience, but that was soon made up for with the addition of ‘Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty’. Just like its predecessor I just couldn’t get enough of it, completing it with a very short space of time. The Prince of Persia series was also very griping. I have developed a taste for RGGs over the years and are to this day a personal favourite. This might sound like a crime to lot of people but i have only recently got into Final Fantasy, a woah what a collection.

About 3 or so years ago my best mate introduced me to my now personal favourite game to this game ‘World of Warcraft’ also known as ‘World of Warcrack’ because it is so addictive. ‘WOW’ is the world largest MMORPG, with around 10 million player, and just released its second major expansion. I pretty much owe where I today to that game, I became inspired by blizzards Warcraft series as a whole. I have been studying blizzard for a while now and I would actually like to work for them as an artist, of course I feel like a have a long way to go before then though.

I feel like I’ve missed quite a lot out but there you go that is a brief overview of my gaming history.


Please can someone tell me why!
I'm sure this is a curse.
Every time i try to concentrate on my work there is something that distracts me, and this time it was a damn fire alarm (it is 2:21 in the morning as well, although it isn't the best time of day to be working).
I've been trying to come up with ideas for my Organic Character. almost ready to start on my final piece, i have high hopes for this one, ready got stuck into it.
And now I've lost my rhythm. Damn it!!!
If anyone has any pointers to help get back into the rhythm of work please by all means let me know.
I feel slightly better already, I've definitely got use my blog for a good rant more often.

1990’s – The Maturing of the Games Industry

Once again I just cannot seem to fit in all the information within a 300 word limit so I’m writing a separate entry for the 90s.

As the title of this blog suggests, the 1990s were about the maturing of the gaming industry into a mainstream form of entertainment. Because of the success of the gaming industry within the last several years, more publishers took an interest; therefore there were increases in the budgets. There were larger production teams, and a connection with the music and film industries were formed.

The 1990s saw the rise of the 3D graphics, first starting off with flat shaded graphics, and moving on to simple texture mapping, a good example of this would be ‘Wolfenstein 3D’.

Shareware distribution gave the consumers the chance to try a small portion of the game before they invested in buying the full game. The main format for these was floppy disks. At the increasing size of games in the mid 90s publishers and developers began to mimic the shareware games and replace them with short demos on free CDs with gaming magazines and over the internet.

1992 saw the release of ‘Dune II’ this was not the first game in the RTS genre but it set the standard game mechanics for future releases such as ‘Command and Conquer’ and Blizzards ‘Warcraft : Orcs and Humans’ and ‘Starcraft’ and still very popular series of games to this day.

‘Alone in the Dark’, like ‘Dune II’ was not the first in the first game in its genre, but it set the stage for the survival horror genre. With games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill the main blockbusters of today.

Adventure games continued to develop with ‘King Quest’, ‘Monkey Island’. The creation of ‘Myst’ developed a new style of puzzle-based adventure games and was the first to take full advantage of CD-ROMs.

Maxis began to publish the successful ‘Sim’ games starting with ‘Sim City’ and continuing with ‘Sim Earth’, ‘Sim Ant’ and ‘Sim Tower.’

The 90s also saw the start of Internet gaming, with MUDs (multi-User dungeons). Quake was created with this in mind, and has now caused most FPS to have a main requirement of Inline play. But other games also started to offer this feature, such as RTS games, ‘Age of Empires’, the ‘Warcraft’ and ‘Starcraft’ series. MMORPGs such as Ultima Online and EverQuest became very popular, removing the play from solitude when playing games, and opening a whole new aspect of gaming.

Damn this has turning into quite a list of games and I’m already nearly 150 over the limit so ill make this quick.

Because of the popularity of home video games, arcade games quickly became “old Fashioned”

These were replaced by gaming systems that were not available for home use such as Sport games like skiing or cycling, rhythm games such as “Dance Dance Revolution”. Of course even these game style games are now being released for home use with the release of ‘Nintendo Wii’ and ‘Wii Fit’

The 1990s saw both the Fourth and Fifth Generation of Games Consoles.

The main consoles of the fourth generations (1989 – 1996) were the Saga Mega Drive and the Super NES (also known as ‘SNES’)

In the Fifth generation (1994- 1999), Sega released the Saga Saturn and Sony came on the scene with the Play station, both using 32-bit technology. After numerous delays Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 (as u can guess from the name it was a 64-bit console). ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’ was the 3D debut for the Legend of Zelda Series. Nintendo's choice to use cartridges instead of CD-ROMs for the Nintendo 64, unique among the consoles of this period, proved to have negative consequences. In particular, SquareSoft, which had released all previous games in its Final Fantasy series for Nintendo consoles, now turned to the PlayStation; Final Fantasy was a huge success, establishing the popularity of role-playing games and making the PlayStation the primary console for the genre.

Well now I think it’s time for me to apologise to you all. This went on a little longer than I expected.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

A history of Computer games 1980 – 1990.

Within those ten years the computer games industry was like one hell of a rollercoaster ride.
At the beginning of the 1980s a lot of computer games were just clones of previous ones, but the low publishing costs aloud for the creation of many bold and unique games.

The ‘Golden Age’ of computer games reached full steam in the early 80s, with many genre defining games. ‘Defender’ was the first scrolling shooter, and it also was the first to have aspects of the game outside to players view such a radar view. ‘Battlezone was the first to use wire vector graphics to create the first 3D game world. It wasn’t the best but it was a start.

In 1983 there was ‘The Crash’ of the computer games industry and this brought an end to second gen gaming. It is said that the crash was caused by poorly designed games such as E.T. which is perfectly understandable because what a pile or rubbish it was. Other games such as Pac-Man were also partly to blame, excuse me but Pac-Man, how on this planet can u blame Pac-Man, it is a legend. But anyway everything got up and running again in 1984.

Then in 1985 it happened, like the big bang of the gaming industry. The NES was invented with Super Mario Bros, instantly becoming a god amongst the gaming world. They were followed closely by the Sega Master System, along with the gamepad, finally. This is where it really kick off, the major release of the time were: (1986) Dragon Quest, (1987) Legend of Zelda , Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Series (oh my god what creations, they all go down in book of gamin legends), (1989) Sweet home (this was the start of the survival Horror genre)

These were significant changes from what the industry had been only 6 years before, but there was still more to come in the 90s.

A little Bit I Missed Out

The Arcade era

Ok then, the first arcade game known as 'Computer Space' was made in 1971 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. (Based on Steve Russell’s earlier game Spacewar)
A year later Nolan Bushnell along with the help of Al Alcorn decided to create an arcade version of ‘Pong’. In that same year Nolan and Ted started Atari Computers.

In 1972 Ralph Baer designed ‘The Odyssey’ and was released by Magnavox. This was the very first commercial video game console that was designed for the home. It also came programmed with 12 games.

Four years on and Fairchild released the first programmable home video console, the called it (wait for it..........)
Fair Child Video Entertainment System (what the hell were they thinking) luckily they changed the name to Channel 7 (still who the hell would call a computer console Channel 7). This was the first computer games console to use the microchip.

In June 1980 Atari’s ‘Asteroids’ and ‘Lunar Lander’ were the first two games to ever be registered in the copyright office.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

A History of Computer Games 1950s - 1970s

Ok let’s see then, there are several people who would say that they created the first computer game, but in fact they only created a specific type of computer game.

The original concept for a computer game however was developed by a man named A.S Douglas who was a student at Cambridge University in 1952. For this PhD dissertation, he looked at ‘Human Computer Interaction’ and as a result he created the first graphical computer game, a version of tic-tac-toe (also called OXO). This was designed for an EDSAC vacuum tube computer using a cathode ray tube display. The player actually played against the computer incorporating basic Artificial Intelligence (AI), using a rotary dial

The first ever video game was ‘Tennis For Two’ created by American Physicist William Higinbotham who was also the head of the ‘Instrumentation Division’ at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1958, and was played on Brookhaven National Laboratory oscilloscope.

Steve Russell who is a computers scientist, created Spacewars in 1962, and was the first game intended for computer use. He used a MTI PDP-1 mainframe computer to design his game.

Ralph Baer wrote ‘Chase’ the first game to be played on a television in 1967, and surprisingly enough he got he idea whilst working for ‘Loral’ which now the world leading Space and Communication Company.

As for the Question ‘who decided to use computers to have fun?’ all I can really say is “All of the above”. These people all came from different backgrounds, from a student to a member of ‘Loral’, and all seemed to have a passion for using technology for entertainment purposes.

Oh by the way I have left the 70s for next weeks entry for the basic reason that the arcade games are the main topic and they came out around that time.