Saturday, 12 December 2009

Working patterns - how do you really spend you time?

Many people have different ways of working, but it is not just about how you work it also about how you organise your time. How can a person adjust there working pattern, to get the most out of the time they have to work on something?

Two weeks back I was set a task to help solve these questions, this involved making a note of the time I spent doing things for an entire week. From there I would review this and come up with a better working pattern.

Here is a quick overview of how my time was spent for a week:

15 Hours a Week –Lectures

23 Hours a week – Self Directed Study

39 Hours a week – Playing games

16 Hours a week – Other (e.g. Eating, Reading, Watching TV)

56 Hours a week – Sleeping

19 Hours a week – Unaccounted for

After looking at this I found out that I am actually only doing between 2 and 4 hours of work a day, which came as a bit of a shock because I really felt like I was doing a lot more work. I also I found that the time I spent playing games was as you can see was a little too much, every now and then I would stop working to play a game for half an hour but that never really happened, half an hour turned into an hour and so on an so forth.

I reviewed the time spent and re-planned how I should use it, and this is what I came up with

15 Hours a Week –Lectures

50 Hours a week – Self Directed Study

45 Hours a week – Game play & Other (e.g. Eating, Reading, Watching TV)

40 Hours a week – Sleeping

18 Hours a week – Unaccounted for.

Based on this I am over doubling the amount of time spent doing work, and less time is spent doing less productive things such as playing a whole 39 hours of games.

But here is a question a put to you. No matter how much to plan your time, what do you do when you are just incapable of concentrating on your work? With the reviews coming up shortly, the stress of making sure I have everything ready for it is getting to me. I feel like I have so much that I need to do, and yet I am unable to concentrate on almost anything. I think all I can say at the moment is I am looking forward to the Christmas break, I think I need it

Self Portrait - Captian of the Airhaven defences

More information to be coming soon.

Command Ship - defender of Airhaven

More Information will be coming soon

Airahven - City in the sky

For my first semester I have a three part project, to create an Environment, Vehicle, and Self portrait based on the book Mortal engines. All assets will be staged together to create an aesthetically accomplished piece.

For those of you how don’t know what Airhaven is, let me give you a brief over view. Airhaven is known as the city in the sky, and is a creation of Philip Reaves, author of Mortal Engines. In a world where resources are scarce, and cities move, you have to keep on the move to avoid being “Eaten”. To avoid the chaos of the world, the city of Airhaven decided to take to the sky, using a large number of gas balloons.

A single tier city, that floats above the world seems like an interesting starting point but the descriptions in the book are quite bland, so I don’t have much more to work with, except that it is made from a lightweight alloy metal. Initial thoughts were the street the gasbag and gondola is on. (A pub that plays a part in the story) The Landing Bay. The Dockhands Office (designed to make sure people aren’t going to create sparks or such things.)

Maximum Tri count – 20,000
Maximum Texture Size – 1024x1024
Total texture Budget – 12Mb

Programs used
3DS Max
Crazy bump

After some initial concepts decided to work on the landing bay. My ideas were for there to be several different docking spaces on the outer ring of the platform, with fuelling pipes. A radio tower and a stall to sell Airship parts, e.g. Engines, tools, etc.

Fuelling Station

Stall, Props and light

Completed Scene (no Textures)

Completed Scene (textured)

Diffuse and Normal Maps With Wireframe

As you can tell this scene isn't finish I need as edit some of the geometry to avoid getting some of the shadows, add the Sky dome Texture, Specular Maps, and get the Lighting to work

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The world, through the eyes of Turner

One of my first projects this year is to recreate a piece of work by the ‘old masters’. For mine I decided to look at the work of Turner. Before I go on about my version of his work, I am going to take a minute to talk about his life and his work.

Let’s start from the top shall we. Turner was born in the year 1775, into an English family from London, he entered the Royal Academy of Art when hewas just fourteen, and was accepted into the academy just one year later. Turners original interests where in architecture, but he was advised to continue painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick. After only one year of study, a watercolour by turner was accepted into the Summer Exhibition of 1790, and his first oil painting known as ‘Fishermen at Sea’ was exhibited in 1796. He then exhibited at the academy for nearly every year for the rest of this life.

Turner’s style of painting is very unique, in a lot of his works he uses the oil paints almost like watercolours, this helps him to create a visually amazing pieces. John Ruskin (English Art Critic) describes Turner as the artist who could most ‘Stirringly and truthfully measures the moods of nature’.

The things that captured turners interests the most were things such as shipwrecks, fires, natural disasters, and natural phenomena,like sunlight, storms and fog. The significance of light was to turner, the emanation of gods’ spirit, this is why in his later paintings he refined the subject matter of his paintings by leaving out solid objects and detail, and concentrating on the play of light on water, and the radiance of fire and the sky.

Turner’s earlier works were true to the style of English Landscape paintings such as Tintern Abby 1795 (top). However in Hannibal Crossing the Alps 1812 (bottom), his emphasis on the destructive power of nature was starting to come through.

In his later years Turner used oil paints more transparently, and focused almost all his work on the power of nature and Light. A rumour says that he had himself tied to the mast of a ship to experience the power of nature during a storm at sea. How much truth there is behind this, I have no idea, but if it is true then, I take it that’s one way to get the feel of nature.

I have taken a real liking to the style of Turners’ work, the looseness of it, and the way he shows both spectacular lighting, and the powerful force of nature. So for my piece of work I decided to do ‘Burning of Parliament’ which shows both of these aspects.

Burning of Parliament by J.M.W. Turner (1834)

Reproduction of ‘Burning of Parliament’ by S.B. Gwilliams (2009)

I could of sworn my looked better that that, yet again that's what you get for putting it right next to masters work for all to see.

Friday, 3 April 2009

This is the end! For now

That's it what can I say, the first year as a game design student has come to an end, and boy what a roller-coaster of a year it has been.

Where do i begin. Walking through the door into the labs and finding and unoccupied seat at the back of the room, awaiting the introductory lesson to begin; that was a nervous day from start to finish.

The first thing and probably the only thing that annoyed me a lot (emphasis on the word lot) was the labs were being moved and they weren't done on time, and it would be several weeks before we would have a lab. What I have got to say though is that the tutors improvised extremely well, giving us projects to test our creative skill and get a feel for what we are like.

Moving away from that, the year as a whole has been excellent, I have learnt some many techniques is art that I didn't realise, and just took them for granted, id say I have learnt a lot more in this year than in the last 3/4 years. One thing I wound really like to look at more is colour theory, and the effects of light on different surfaces and textures, to achieve maximum quality of work.

3D modelling, now that was tough, I just couldn't get to grips with it at first, if only my own 3D modelling program worked, still access to the labs till 9 at night came in very handy, the only thing i would like is to look into things with more detail, unfortunately I know that there is not enough time in the lectures to do that.

OK next, Critical Studies. Even though the classes were really quite most of the time, just listening to some of the things mike had to say were fascinating, and always gave you something new to think about, to be honest I think I blame him for the headaches I get, to much going on in there for me to be able to handle.

Overall I have gotta say that this has been one of the best years of my life, of course its had its down sides, but hay I'm still hear, and I intend to be hear next year.

For now Farewell

GDC 2009

Ok then the GDC is just around the corner, and I'm sitting here wishing I could go. Any way on to the point of this entry, I am going to have a look at one of the talks that are going on in this years conference, which I would really like to attend. This is: (as listed on the website

Art Directing Horror and Immersion in DEAD SPACE

First of all horror games in general all follow the same principle, blood ridden walls , flesh twister monsters, you know what I'm one about. Anyway even though we see the same thing over and over again, it still seems to get reactions, but what I want to know is what this company did to invoke the emotions of the players through the visual quality,

Surely you would think that they took a similar approach that Doom 3 had, yet again is that such a bad thing, it was a huge hit, one the scariest games I have played to date, call me what you want but its true, unfortunately the film was no where near as good. Back to the point, Dead Space might just be a copy of Doom 3 if they go for the same visuals, but it will get the reactions that they will want from the players.

Being as art is my main focus in game design I would like to know exactly what it is that they think, is best to get the reactions out of the players, and how they go about producing this work.

Where am i going?

To be honest when I decided that I wanted to be a games designer, there was only one company that I wanted to work for, and that was Blizzard Entertainment, yes yes I know I'm going on about Blizzard again, but its true, they were my inspiration to become a games designer
Studying the work of the blizzard artists was inspirational to the point that I started to take art seriously.

After Starting this course and seeing the quality of the work required, I began to question whether or not I am cut out for this, especially when we started the 3D modelling work, I thought I would never get my head round it.

Anyway enough ranting back to the point, when I begin this course I wanted to be a concept artist for Blizzard Entertainment, but now I am unsure of exactly what branch I want to go into, don't get me wrong I still want to be a games designer I just don't know where about in the industry I want to go, what I do know is that I have gotta pull my finger out and get to work.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Creativty, its still there, I Think

Ok so you may have read my previous blog about creativity, well now that several months have passed and its time to have another look.

To be honest creatvity hasnt changed much over the last 3 months, but what has changed is my views on creativity, after watching speach by a fellow called Ken Robinson, it makes you begin to wonder about how creativity is brought out within a person. Ken Robinson said that everybody is born with creativity, just think about some of the things you used to do as a child, the drawings, the imagination of games made up when with friends, or was that just me? Anyway in Ken Robertsons speach he said that the one major factor that supresses this creativity, is education, the format of the educational system makes you look at many things that are important to know, such as Literacy and Numeracy. But almost all the other subjects that you study will have such small focus on creativity, you are told, read this write that and answer these questions over and over again, where is there time in all of that for creativity? The answer is there isnt. The education system doesnt consider creativity when writing the curriculum.

Creativity is shown in many different ways, such a dance and drama, its not just art. People who are good at these things dont have to chance to express them and see where they could go with it, the reason for this is that education works on a ‘Right/Wrong’ system, its either right or wrong, but with creative subjects you can mark it on a right/wrong basis because every person will interperet things differently, that includes how the sudent will look at something compaired to the tutor, of course the education authority will try and look at it that way, for ease.

This wll put students in a mind set of if its not exactly what i am showed then it is wrong. Question to you see something wrong with that? They cant express themselves creatively for fear of getting the work wrong.

So to some it up, creativity is always there but through education it get supressed, sometimes to a state of complete absence.

Warning: Authorized Personnel Only

It a question that faces you from the moment you realise what it is you want to do in life, or even as soon as you realsie you need to get a job, How do we get into industry?

Well here is the problem put bluntly, a lot of employers want artists with good skills, a liberal background shall we say, people who will know the skills they need for industry life. Now on the other end of the scale there are employers who look for people who have the exprience of workin in the industry, people how will know what there doing and will be more useful to them. This is the more common case. So how do we get into the industry when employers want experienced artists.

The only place we can turn to is the education system, already couped up in study, you know that if you turn back your chances of gettin into the industry are slim to none, but getting the education to change its ways is almost as hard a task. But what is it we need to change so that it makes us more employable?

Not only in gradute courses but college and even final years of schooling, would be to create a more industral feel to the stucture of the work set, working from live breifs, constant connections with industry, review of your work by members of the industry, this is just the start, but trying to get experience of actually working in industry is another matter, job placements at industrys are hard to come across, and with so many people trying to get into them you have to be at the top of your game, of corse this can act as a catalist and encourage you to work better, and other time is can be depressing, making you think “what is the point?”

I think all that we can do as students, is make sure that we are at the top of our game, so that when the chance to get into industry arrives, you can grasp it with both hands.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Gaming Cultures; are they really all that bad

Online cultures are ever growing with internet access becoming easier and cheaper to acquire, more people are becoming members of online cultures, from chat-rooms, Facebook, Myspace, and online games. I myself am a member of Steam, a program that allows you to have I.M. conversations with people from all over the world; it also has its own store and member profile pages.

I am also a subscriber to ‘World of Warcraft’, which is not just an MMORPG (massive multiplayer online Role Playing Game), but it is also its own gaming society, cities full of people buying and selling with other players, it even has an auction house for people to sell rage items for extortionate prices, well in certain situations anyway. I am a Member of guild known as ‘The Shadow Vanguard’ with currently around 250 members from all over Europe. There are many, in fact most of the people I know on ‘WoW’, I only know as a virtual character, and have never met in real life, yet we become good friends. I think being a part of these gaming cultures takes up a majority of my spare time.

Game cultures are often criticised because of the lack of social interaction, yeah you might get square eyes from sitting in front of the computer, but you are given the ability to interact with people from all over the world, discuss many different topics, not just games. You can also gain a lot of knowledge from this, for example a friend of mine, has been learning Dutch from someone that he has met via these gaming cultures.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Music, how much does it influence our gameplay?

Music plays a very important role within games, and that is basically to create atmosphere, just think about it, whenever you play games such as survival horrors, the one thing that creates the most tension, when you walk though the dining room door is the music, it help to create that sense of fear, it help you to believe that you are there walking through that door way, not knowing what it is that awaits you. Games that are very renown for this are Resident Evil, Silent Hill (a person favourite even though I was scared s**tless as kid.) But it’s not just the music it’s also the sound effects, the creaking of floor boards, the wind whistling thought the crack in the windows, these all add to the eeriness, and making you feel more a part of the game The themes from certain games (like films) becomes so well know that it becomes part of the identity of the game.

One remarkable men that I have found out about is ‘Chance Thomas’, he did the music for games such as King Kong, X-men, Lord of the Rings, Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire. Thomas was the first composer to score an amazing Oscar winning film and Registration more than 1 million downloads of his game music.

The amazing thing about his guy its it was by pure chance when he started a spark, in 1997, that by May 6th 1999, the game score would be allowed to compete for a Grammy from the 42nd Gammy Award Ceremony in 2000. Here is the link to the article that I read that contains this information.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Game Engines, The Backbone

Well as you can tell by the title, this week’s entry is about game engines. I personally have no knowledge about these, what so ever, therefore don’t expect anything amazing to follow.

A game engine is a software system designed for the creation and development of video games. The core fundamentality’s provided by a game engine usually include; a rendering engine for both 2D and 3D engines, and physics engine or collision detection (and collision response), sound, scripting, animation, artificial intelligence (A.I) and several others.

The process of games development is frequently economized by, in large part, reusing the same game engine to create different games.

Another thing I am going to look at in this entry is meant by subtractive and additive. Well within all things these have a very similar meaning.

Subtractive, as you all know for you basic maths skills, this meaning to take away, or remove certain elements. Within game engines, this means removes certain aspects of the whole thing to optimise performance.

Additive, once gain something you first start to understand from maths, the meaning is to add certain elements, most of the time to an existing element. Within game engines this could mean adding certain components to make the game engine perform the required actions, of improve overall performance.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Introduction to the Games Industry

Because the aim of this task is to write about the current state of the games Industry i have focused on what conserns be most, and that is the loss of jobs due to this global recession

In light of the current credit crisis, the games industry is doing exceptionally well, the industry is doing exceptionally well, the industry has continued to grow in leaps and bounds, and also hit a new sales record in 2008 with a raise in both video game hardware and software by 19% over 2007. Its fair to say though that it’s not as high as many had predicted.

A telling strain in any industry is the presence of major job cuts; the game industry is no exception. In late December Sony reported that it would be cutting more than 8000 jobs, and that they will be decreasing its investments into its electronic research by 30% by March 2010.

In October Electronic Arts (E.A.) announced that it will be cutting 6% of its work force. But after failing to meet sales and predicted targets for the year, they said they there will be deeper cuts and cancelation of several projects.

With these announcements many companies have been changing there tune about just how strong there games are.

Song Computer Entertainment Europe head David Reaves, told that the industry is not recession-proof, but is essentially doing well.

"It's a function of the economic situation that you are going to find people who are resilient, who do not play with their pricing, who are very efficient; the videogames industry is inherently very healthy."