Thursday, 19 February 2009

Game Engines

Hmmm where to start with this one... Truthfully I don't know a lot about game engines so I will try and write down what I have learnt about them. It is more economically viable to reuse a game engine to create a different game. 

As I recall, Zelda Link's Awakening used the game engine for 'Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru' (or in English- 'For the Frog the Bell Tolls'), which is apparently shares mutual game design elements, and there are also references in the Zelda game - Richard, one of the characters from the previous game makes an appearance, and is surrounded by frogs which I guess makes sense seeing as they were quite a major role in the game. Another indication of the game is that the music played in Richard's Villa is a remixed version of the Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru overworld theme.

Moving on from Zelda ramblings, for sequels at-least reusing a game engine is a valuable resource for producing it quickly and easily.

According to wikipedia : 

'Modern game engines are some of the most complex applications written, frequently featuring dozens of finely tuned systems interacting to ensure a finely controlled user experience. The continued refinement of game engines has created a strong separation between rendering, scripting, artwork, and level design. It is now common (as of 2003), for example, for a typical game development team to have several times as many artists as actual programmers.'

Which is good news for me as an aspiring game artist, the more jobs that are available the better ;)

Proprietary technology - ' Companies that are able to develop useful proprietary technologies in-house are rewarded with a valuable asset: they can either use it exclusively or profit from the sale of licensing of their technology to other parties.' I think industry standards won that debate, as there is less of a risk factor.

Additive and subtractive environments refer to the way in which the 3d world is created. In additive, there is a void that must be filled in order to produce a landscape for the world. The problem with this is it is prone to ‘leaks’, which is basically a hole in the game. The opposite of this is the subtractive method, where the designer takes an infinite solid and picks away at it until there is a space for your character to exist in. 

On a separate note, I remember when I was in Japan and was on the coach on the way to the hotel and got really excited when I saw the Capcom factory just because I recognised from one of my games how cool am I... haha XD

See ya ~Emi ^o^

Gaming Cultures

<== Kinda looks like something out of space invaders... saw this whilst on holiday in Vienna and being a geek decided to take a picture of it haha

Gaming really is becoming more and more integrated into everyday culture, thanks to the growing popularity of 'family consoles' such as the Wii, just about every household now has a gaming console.

Tamagotchis were all the rage back in the 90s, and were something of a phenomenon as all little kids became obsessed with the cute little pixels. It was easy to see why, it was like having a mini pet that you could look after and was dead cheap to get ahold of. Unfortunately I think it got to a point where they were banned from schools as they were distracting us too much from our schoolwork ^^'

There is an internet slang that has arisen through games, such as 'noob' or 'pwd' which is interesting to see how it developed. Another way of determining the popularity of games: "as i recently discovered, there is a simple way of locating this percentage of the population - whistle the zelda theme tune in a public place".  

I did used to go on a site called Gametalk back when I was 12/13 years old, it was nice to discuss the games you were passionate about and to get help when you were stuck on a game - it provided a sense of community. Around the same time I did go on MSN a lot more and did have people that I would talk to on there that I would necessarily know in real life, however I'm not as naive as I used to be and don't add people on facebook etc. that I don't know/recognise :/

This made me laugh...
Yes... Pokemon flavoured icecream :) I wonder what it tasted like? I was going to get it but I really fancied a chocolate icecream so I decided to be boring and stick with the safe option :P

See ya ~Emi ^o^

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Games Industry

Oh god where do I start with this one? Every wednesday we get a lecture on how there are fewer jobs becoming available due to the credit crunch etc. which actually does scare me to death :S but there's still time for things to improve...

There are several different careers within the game industry, Game programmer, Game designer, Level designer, Game producer, Game artist, Game tester... It just shows how diverse the variety of roles there are available, so people can have many different backgrounds and still apply to work in the games industry if they choose, which also shows the intense competition that us students alone face when we head into the world of work. 

Recently games companies are reaching financial strains which is forcing many of the smaller ones to either join the larger companies or risk dying out. This results in a loss of jobs which makes it even harder for us to apply for jobs in the industry... Who knows what the future holds though, maybe in a couple of years when the economy gets better smaller companies will be the ones moving the innovation forward by thinking differently.

See ya ~Emi ^o^

Thinking outside the box...

What is creativity exactly? It's kind of a hard concept to describe as there are so many different ways to interpret it. I'd say that creativity is the process of generating ideas and following them through to produce a successful outcome... although that sounds almost mathematical? Creativity to me has always been about artistic expression. I find creativity to be very much to do with the arts and the visual representation of things. It's also related to thought processes- When I visited the Tate Modern a couple of years ago I saw the 'Lobster Phone' by Salvador Dali, where he took two ordinary forms and turned it into something that was intriguing because you just wouldn't normally see a lobster and a phone juxtaposed together.

When I was younger I used to love doing craft activities, I would make my own birthday cards, jewellery... would you say that it was creative because I chose to make it myself rather than buy them?

Okay, so from researching creativity I have found that I'm kinda getting mixed up with creativity and innovation, so what is the difference between the two? I mean creativity is about the ideas but I suppose it's more of a mental process... Innovation is taking those ideas further and converting them into original yet useful concepts and applying them in a commercial aspect.

<= In Japan the way the food is presented is highly important, even more so than in European cuisine. The Japanese chefs will go to great lengths to think of creative ways to display the food so that it is visually appealing. I remember when I hosted Erisa, my partner in the Japanese exchange I participated in way back in 2005, she would photograph the meals we made for her which I guess was really sweet because she must have thought they looked pretty good!

As for who actually 'does' creativity in games, I'd say most of the positions definitely involve creativity one way or another. The artists are creative in the most obvious way, with concept art being a development of the ideas they produce. The art director has to manage the artists and have a creative overview of what the game will eventually look like. It is a skill to be able to influence peoples imagination with writing so to make the story line believable and realistic it requires creative output on the writers behalf. I believe creativity is enhanced by technical constraints, as it pushes the programmers to think differently in order to come up with a solution to the problems they face.

I discovered some of Henry Moore's work when researching for one of my A-level projects. His sculptures to me are creative because of the way he deconstructs the shapes of an object into simple forms which make them appear almost abstract yet still able to be recognised as a whole. I also like the fluid curves of the sculptures and think it compliments the environments he places them in.

See ya ~Emi ^o^

Game Design: Gameplay

Gameplay is what you make of it, it is not only the interaction with the console but the fact that you can control the fate of your character. Some would say that gameplay is the core characteristics of a game and would involve tutorials, high scores, saving progress etc. However it is not necessary to follow by these 'rules', in Electroplankton the staple elements of the videogame landscape are eliminated to let the player explore new means of gameplay. 

Is gameplay important? I think of gameplay as the means of how you progress through a game, what challenges or activities you participate in to get that to that higher score or next level. Even if there isn't a point scheme as such, what is it that drives you to maintain an interest in the game and find it fun?

The Nintendo DS brought a new form of gameplay to the scene with the touch screen capabilities, which allowed the development of new genres of games. Nintendogs for example wouldn't have been as effective in convincing us that it the most realistic of virtual pets, with the ability to stroke it, bath it etc. in a way that feels like it is more than just a game.

See ya ~Emi ^o^

Game Design: Story and character

In 24 your perception of who appears to be on the good or bad side basically gets completely turned around. Not wanting to spoil the series if some of you haven't watched it, I will just say that not everyone is who you think they are and it's the characters that you aren't watching that suddenly find themselves at the centre of the story. It does create unusual twists in the plot line which in itself makes the viewer immerse themselves with the depths of the story. Another interesting concept they added to it was that each episode was in real time. The reason I discovered this series actually is through playing the video game, which links the 2nd and 3rd series of the program.

It is important to relate with the characters in a plot in order to feel connected yourself. In the Twilight series and His Dark Materials I felt I could share the protagonists concerns, especially since they are both teenage girls and so was a similar age to me when I was reading the books. I like the way the stories start out innocent and unsuspecting then you discover how some of the characters have a dark side and you feel empathy for the main character as you feel they have also broken your trust. 

In Alice in Wonderland the characters are colourful and vivid but seem strange when placed in moody background.

The way the characters react to each other is also important, which is where secondary characters (bit parts) come into the equation. Much thought has to go into the design of these characters as they surround your player and interact with them.

See ya ~Emi ^o^