Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Thank You Lee Piper

As always I was very exited to attend the talk today that we have from people in the industry. Today was Lee Piper who currently works for Codemasters and was part of the team who worked on the just realised Dirt 2 racing game. Its a real golden opportunity to see into the lives of professional game developers, and to see how they got were they are today. It was nice to see what influences he had when he was a kid especialy the cartoons he showed us as they were my favourites too.. I was very interested in the free lance non game related 3D work he showed us. I can only hope these opportunities become available to me if it proves difficult to get a steady job within a development company. I could also relate to Lee when he said he prefers realism over science fiction. I was even more relieved to hear that the industry prefers artist who show a strong ability to produce realistic looking artwork. I would love to work on a racing game or even a game like Codemasters realistic war sim Operation Flash Point as I love to see how well realism can be produced in a game, and as the technology become better and better, games look more and more real each time. I've been very interested in dirt 2 lately as its one of the first released games to take advantage of direst x11. DX11 was released on window 7 and is now available on vista through an update. ATI only just released DX11 GPU's in October so its a surprise to see it so soon in a game. So well done Codemasters for taking advantage of cutting edge technology and lets hope to see more beautiful looking games just as good as this from you in the future.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Game Technology

There's nothing better than how well your favourite game plays, than seeing how good it looks to be played. As games are released they get ever more realistic to look at and new innovations and creativity in game play keep them fresh and interesting. But what about the thing we take most for granted? The hardware itself.
Since the early days of consoles we have seen controllers evolve and become more comfy to hold and allow games to be controlled with pin point accuracy among all game genres. Is it safe to say the controller has evolved to it full potential. Look at the Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers for example. The shape may be different but the layout is the same. Its only the wii as per usual to try end revolutionise, and evolve how games are played not only by the games themselves but by the way in witch we play them. Making the player use there whole body instead of there fingers stops us all becoming unfit. As ever with anything you can buy these days style and aesthetics are important, but in my opinion non more so than the interaction between the player and the game itself. New technologies now make it possible to control things with brain waves and I see this as the future for the way we play our games. I also believe one day virtual reality will in fact become a reality and these innovations will make the need to use and device to control the game redundant.
I personally prefer to play games on my PC. My favourite style of games are first person. For a pc gamer these aren't played with controllers, there controlled with the keyboard and mouse. This allows for better control and accuracy that can be achieved with the control sticks found on a controller. For your more hardcore gamer. Style and aesthetics take a back seat as getting the edge over your opponent with faster responses and better accuracy is the most important thing. So were do I see the future for PC gaming? To be honest I a m happy playing with what I have got.

Art directors

The horror stories you hear about Art directors usually entail very early mornings and very long nights or even staying over at work. Requiring vast amounts of commitment and tight deadlines to get games on the shelves. Sadly it seems this is the case, but that's what it takes when you consider the amount of work needed to complete a project. It must take a lot of talent to be able to keep a clear head and overview of what the finished game will turn out like and be able to direct every department and direction the game goes in. Its not hard to see why games end up being delayed. Especially with how gigantic the process is. There's departments for Coding, sound fx, music, game assets, art direction and style, concepts art and animation. All overseen by one job title. Its no wonder that the large list of requirements I have seen for jobs applications are so huge. Not just in the game industry but some are expected to have experience in TV and film.
I would also think they would need to have a very strong, traditional art background. As they would need to have a keen eye for lighting, colour, perspective, scale, and composition to allow precise judgement over all the work produced by the team. Its not hard to see why its important as these skills apply to all art styles produced for games.

The importance of game play

Game Documents are said to be in most cases very poorly written documents. Filled with ramblings about back stories, describing only som,e not all of the games elements and being “to thin and ellipsis!” or being to informative and descriptive that they insult the intelligence of the game artists. Its hard to imagine that a games entirety can be implemented into a single document, especially as a game can change dramatically over the course of its development. If this is the case then who is responsible for its content. I believe game play should be documented in a way that it should inform the very basis and core elements of the idea of the game, but be vague enough to imply changes and improvements to be made. For example, describe the characters feel and moods. There behaviours and character. Not give them names and history.
I don't think the story is the most important aspect of game play. For me the importance of game play is its ability to entertain, by being illusive and rewarding. That's why there's been a sudden trend to add achievements to games. Its hard to find a game on any platform these days that doesn't include them. It gives the player a reason to come back and play the game again even if they complete the single player story. Its even more rewarding when there included in multilayer as this entitles you to bragging writes among your friends. Better still some games (team fortress 2) allow items and weapons to be unlocked as you accomplish more achievements. Not many games offer this yet but I see it as being more popular with upcoming titles. Ubisoft now have Uplay. This allows you to collect units across Ubisoft games and use them to unlock additional content. Assassins creed 2 allows the player to obtain Altair's outfit from the first game as one example.
With internet connection now being a lot faster for most homes this also enables developers to add downloadable content or explanations for games. Allowing ideas and elements of the game the developers wished to have included, but didn't have enough time or resources to implement before the games deadline. These thing in my opinion are how the future for game development is evolving and opens new doors for game play and even more importantly, better value for money!

Game reviews and there influence

As I said in my game history I owned a N64, this was before many people had the internet so it was hard to hear about games and new releases without buying any magazines. My influence on games I would buy definitely had a big affect on reviews and headlines that I would read in a magazines. When I had my Megadrive I didn't know one game from another so I would buy it because of how cool the pictures looked. As I bought more and more magazines, my knowledge of the titles would get better and ones that would be talked about most would have more appeal to me, especially if they hadn't even been released yet. The main thing that would sway me to buy a game (especially in the N64 magazine) was the list of every game released would have a small list of bad and good points in bullet form and be given a grade out of a 100%. I remember buying Zelda because I think it was given about 98% and I didn't even know much about the game. By no means is this a bad thing in my opinion. Zelda is arguably the best title on the N64, and rightly so. But I may have never played it had it not been for reviews in magazines. I can't agree there right all the time though. I take reviews as only a guideline. With the internet so popular these day threes a lot of biassed opinions on not only games but also the film and music industries. Recently I saw IGN post there top 25 games and mass effect came in at no1. I would put money on almost every person I know tell me any other game as there most favourite. You could argue there being other reasons for the choices in the list, but who am I to point the finger.