Saturday, 18 December 2010

A game to watch out for (especially us game artists)

I've mentioned this game a few times now. But in the past few weeks I've seen this game become a playable beta. So I've decided to write about it as I feel its at a stage were other people can appreciate it. Its not a review and I'm not going to talk much about the game itself. This is about how the team got to were they are today and how you can follow the teams development as the game is slowly pieced together. Ill include a video at the end that just got release showing game play. So if your interested go and buy it and get access to the beta.

The team (Unknown Worlds) originally made Natural Selection 1 as a mod for Half-Life. It was a massive success and unlike most other mod teams, that made there sequels on the source engine after Hal-Life 2 was released, they decide to go ahead and make there game from scratch, on there own engine! A feat in itself, but with only four developers this project felt like it could have a film written about it.

There attitude towards there community had always been open. These guys relay appreciate all the support the players have given them over the years. They also realised that it was a wealth of criticism and feedback that they could tap into if the players had a hold of there game. As the team was short on money, they couldn't afford to employ testers and Q/A groups. So instead they started taking pre-orders with the promise of early alpha assess to special edition owners. They also get exclusive in-game black armour, ohhhhhhh...

After the alpha was finally release after many of updates on there website showing off lots of models and concepts and map ideas. With video reveals of some of the alien classes, public testing could start. This was important as the engine was new and had never been tested before with clients joining from all over the world. As you may of guessed it dint work to well. But astonishingly UW had been able to release updates weekly over steam. Sometimes even more than one a week! Just recently they dropped the bomb that they were moving to beta stage. This would give all the people that pre-ordered the standard edition access to the game and closed beta access would be given to the next 10.,000 pre-orders. Obviously they were running out of money again. Plus the alpha was in no state to be handed out to even more player. Especially those that may not appreciate if being in such a raw state. But miraculously when the patch came out it had addressed so many of the bugs that was creating severe lag on servers and low fps on people PCs it actually became playable.

At the time of writing, the game is getting there. There still releasing updates to address problems, so allot of the features are still to be implemented. But even at this early stage its still a crap load of fun. this is the community site that has a real time progress page along side the news page. Is shows all the features and bug fixes there adding into the next patch. As-well as a forum and twitter updates etc. Have a dig around and figure out what this game is all about.

This is the official Beta game-play video. So check it out. Click the video to go to the official youtube channel were theirs more videos.

THIS link goes to a fan made channel, and has lots of videos explaining how to play the game as well as lots of game-play on both the alien and marine sides.

For me even though this game is really good, that's not the reason I love it so much. The fact that you can follow along with the devs makes it all the more interesting.I cant wait till its finished!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

On Live Stream games and play instantly 2nd december

On live have announced that they are to release there game system on the 2nd of December (my birthday :D) on there site only for 99$. The release tittle include Batman Arkham Asylum, Dirt 2, Avp, Assassins Creed 2, among many others. Its just a shame I've played or owned most of them already. I expect there to be more added if its a big success. For those who haven't heard about it after it was shown at E3, you can instantly play game over a broadband connection via streaming. If you go to the website you can download a pc version for free and play all the games on trial for 30 mins. we have a 20Mb connection at our house and after trying some games I get lots of connection errors and there is about a 1 second lag between controller movement and on-screen movement.

If you want to play on your TV you will need to buy the little black box The whole thing is just a small box with a connection to a TV via HDMI. It also has a micro usb for power and the Ethernet port for connecting to your broadband line. You also get a controller that looks allot like the 360's. Its wireless and had the added ability of having dedicated media keys for music and video.

The applications for this are amazing. As its streamed the technology only requires the ability to stream the games not render them. That's done by other machines. This means that we could see the service pop up on the like of iphone, ipad, even smartphones. Just imagine playing Boarderlands on your phone just as if you were playing it on your xbox 360!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The importance of planning

Everything in life needs planning. Days out, even trips to the supermarket. So it's only natural to asume that the most important thing that would need planning is work at your job. Let's not talk in the context of game for a minute. Lets thing about a builder who has a client that are a couple who own a piece of land that they want to build a house on. Imagine if that builder just got his diggers in and started digging foundations without thinking it through before starting any work. Having a blueprint of the house not only lets the builders know how the house will look, but also the clients, so they can decide if it's what they want.

Now let's look at the same example in the game industry. It would be the same for the lead artist to have a similar role as our couple in our last example. He would oversee the concept or environment artists to make sure the asset ( let's say it's a building that's going into a city environment) is going to fit not only in size but also in style. That the complexity of features such as windows and doors aren't to complex as this would result in the game running at low frames per second or worse it would crash all together.
So with this in mind what can I do to make the process of planning easier for me and the person reading it. In my opinion the most important aspect would be simplicity. I don't see the point of having pages and pages of text. Sometimes a quick sketch that's been annotated can be more than enough to get the point across, rather than paragraph after paragraph of text. Also understanding limitation and restrictions. Or even the role of the "asset". For example, if it was a enemy character for a first person shooter, he may not need to be rigged for talking in cut scenes unlike the main characters. This may mean that his mouth could be model without the need for it to be opened, thus saving valuable time that may have been wasted if this area was overlooked and not first discussed or not made clear during the planning stage.
An example of restriction would be that a model needs to be under a curtain amount of triangles. So planning a budget amount over the entire model would avoid having all the triangle used up on the first part they you modelled, only to realise as you got closer to the end you have to make it less detailed as you would have like, due to the fact you would run over budget. Equal distribution of details is important to balance the overall density of a model. This would very difficult if it was not considered during the planning stage.
It's important to get into the habit of thinking about the projects were set as a whole rather than just jumping into max and start modelling something why were are studying at university, as this will become second nature to us when we end up working in the industry.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Game City 2010

I know it was a few weeks ago now, but I wanted to wait for the release of kinect, get kinect sports and talk about them both as Tom and I were able to get into a key note speech with Rare about said game and gadget. My plan was to buy it, play it, talk about it. But after looking at my account balance I'm going have to wait till Christmas! What I can talk about is the speech.
Rare Studio’s Executive Producer of Technology and Communications, Nick Burton, was the guy to give the speech. The thing I found most exiting, is how they play tested. The original office was to small for all the movements,. They found themselves moving backwards into the hallway for extra space, so in the end they just got rid of the cubical office spaces and opened the whole room into one massive kinect playground. Nick let us in on some secrets as we watched volunteers from the audience play testing. They wasn't putting enough effort into running. but the devise is able to pick up large, more eccentric movements and reward players with speed. This the resulted in the two gunny pigs delivering a very entertaining and hilarious display of Benny hill style running.

After the talk Tom and I had a ten minute team death match round of crysis 2. This was very enjoyable and after looking at all the E3 videos this game is looking very exciting. I've only just managed to play the first encounter on the PC after building my new computer (I can now play on full specs!) which is amazing title and it hard to believe its now almost 4 years old as it still stand tall among most of today's games. I was able to bag myself a "I love NY" t-shirt for being the highest scorer, which was a bonus. But as the day came to a close and it being the last day of the festival, I think they had allot of t-shirts left so everyone was getting one. As we discovered after a second go of the demo. So I didn't feel so special, but all least we had a spare to give our room mate when we got back. Should have put it on Ebay!
I could go on but I'm trying to keep this short and sweet. All in all it was a great day and I will be attending again next year as it only a short train ride away and I encourage everyone else to do the same.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Jolyon Webb and Aaron Allport from Blitz Games.

Just like our first year we started the year with a talk from Jolyon Webb and Aaron Allport from Blitz Games, and just like last year it was very informative. It's always a good opportunity for us to get real advice from real industry professionals.

I've taken all of their points into consideration, and they made me feel a bit more straight headed about were my head should be at, and how I should go about finding a job when I leave. My big fear is not knowing what area of expertise I want to go into when job hunting. I'm hoping ill just fall into it after I try more things over the next two years of my course. Hopefully I'll be able to understand what I enjoy the most by then, as I like every aspect of the industry at the moment. It's a very hard decision that will affect my whole career. For now I'm just going to make sure my technical ability and keen eye keeps my work to a high standard.

As I look more into studios and job I'm finding that there is actually allot more studios in this country than I first thought. Let's hope that this means there will be plenty of jobs to choose from when I finish.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Reflection on year one, and ambition for year two

So here we are back after summer and I have to say that it has flew by. Good to be back though. I'm exited to get my teeth stuck into this year. The first year, for me was very enjoyable, keeping on top of work was a little tricky (mainly forgetting to post on my blog). That said after all the tears and frustrations I'm actually proud of all my work. Threes definitely room for improvements. But I feel I have the ability to recognise my mistakes and I will be able to avoid them this year. My biggest weakness are my drawing skills which I hope to improve upon in my second year, but 3D is where my heart is. I love it and I can't get enough of it. I feel my ability with 3D grew a lot last year. I learnt a lot of things very quickly that I may have not found so easy to understand withought Heathers advise. This has not only improved my strengths and identify my weaknesses, but it has helped improve my confidence. The upmost biggest fear for me was knowing that I have low confidence and that stops me from wanting to do work out of pure fear of failing miserably. But as I do more and more work, I more increasingly get things working for me, I see myself improving more and more.
So how can I improve on this in year 2? I just need to keep focus! The odd time I've (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) sat around thinking I'm never going to make it to the end with a skill set that developers will consider to be worthy of employment. I think I need one of them posters with the cat hanging from the tree. maybe I'm being hard on myself, but I am scared about facing this "lull" I've heard Mike talk about. I think it will hit me if not all of us at some point. And ever the optimist, I hope it will make me into a better person.
A big thing playing on my mind is what path in the industry to follow. I like both Character and Environment design. But recently and over the summer I saw pattern with the work I set myself and the tutorials I was searching for. They were all to do with characters. I've been playing around with Zbrush and I like to think I'm getting better each time I use it. I've been looking into a lot of anatomy for characters so I hope any I make this year will be heading in the right direction. I know we have got a group project coming up and although I've played with the UDK before I'm going to wait till then and focus on more character work. Then after that I will have a better idea of what path I may consider following in my final year.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Not to be lazy with this post but there's only relay a couple of points I feel I can make as to enhance the course. First of all I think this would not only benefit the students, but also Heather. When she gives us tutorials and demonstrations it, it should be real easy to record the session with screen capture (I know a realy cool FREE one to use) software, and record your voice with a mic that way we can easterly go back and watch it again at our convenience. This would also save Heather the job of having to create a PDF to upload to the god awful blackboard.

My other point is, us students love to help each other and share tips and tricks, but there should be a place for students to share there findings as face book dose not facilitate this. Although face book does it's job showcasing work, I thought we should set up a wiki for the course posting links to artists and tutorial etc.

Anyway that's my two sense. That aside I've really enjoyed my first year and cant wait so start back in September.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

GDC 2010

With so many things to read on the GDC site, its hard to pick just one to talk about. The one thing I found that interested me the most however, was a talk about EA's success with Battlefield 1943. Using only 15 of the original developer of the franchise they were given the task to develop a game that was low cost and easy to develop. A game to fill the gap between the downtime of other titles from the developers.

The key top the game success was it simplicity. It was diluted that much that only the best things about the franchise were left. Mainly, the game play! Developers had key elements that they wanted to achieve for the game such as "make the game as long as resources last" and “simply revisit wake island” are just some examples. Perhaps the best outcome of the game, and one that perhaps benefited from its downloadable nature on consoles, was the fact that it was so easy to just pick up and play. There was no learning curve but it was difficult to master. There was no need for medics as health replenished over time and no need for ammo runs back to base and ammo replenished too. Vehicles were simplified to either be fast for transport of slow for seizing areas and defending. You were able to take the the sky's to give cover to your team-mates,but run the risk of being shot down by enemy flak cannons that were scattered around capture points. Everything made sense and was easy to understand, making it easy to concentrate on what really mattered... playing the game! Its a shame it never saw a release on the PC but it would have taken a hell of a lot more testing and developing to run on varied machines. I don't hate DICE for this as they created such a perfect piece to the battlefield puzzle, its a nice game to play now and again without having to take it to seriously. There's a valuable lesson to be learned from this, it just goes to show that there is always room for improvement and DICE have made a perfect example.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Where do you want to go, and how do you get there?

This is the million dollar question for me and one I've been asking myself constantly since before I started the course. For me it didn't make sense trying to learn this stuff by myself. It was impossible to have work alongside this. If I didn't dedicate my time to this it I would lose interest and treat it no more than a hobby. Being here at uni and living it makes me want to do it more and more. I've learnt so much in the this first year than I never would have been able to do at home. Some questions just cant be answered online. I know I have the skills to be a good 3d artist I just need to hone them and going to uni gives me that chance. Plus it nice to finally talk to people that share an interest in this as non of the people back home have any clue what I am talking about. By the end of the course I should have enhanced my abilities as a game designer, hopefully to a standard that the games industry will recognise and be willing to give me a chance to show them how good and how dedicated I am. I hope to speak to more people within the industry before the end of the course as this will help not only understand the industry better, but hopefully open new doors and opportunities when finding my dream job. Its scary hearing how hard the industry can be but I hope in the next couple of years our efforts and talents will be sort after more.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Creativity revisited

With the course now allowing us to show of our creative abilities more than when we started the course through our most recent projects. I'm hoping that I can find more to say about how my creativity is developing and what influences I've had since the start of this course. As the year is coming to an end I find myself wanting to explore more and more techniques and try more advance projects especially in 3d. I love 3d more than anything else and quite happily spend hours trawling the internet for new tutorials and techniques to try out. Its really satisfying to find so many great resources on the web to help fuel my creativity.

One thing that I think I have made more of an improvement on, is my confidence. In turn I believe this is the key to unlocking your creative mind. Believing that what you have created may not satisfy everyone's tastes but knowing in yourself that its the right path to take. It takes a lot of confidence to convince yourself that your making the right decision.. If we create something that's not quite what we had in our heads and have the creative mind to confidently see the problem areas as to why its wrong, only then can we rectify the mistakes and learn from them.

On the other hand imagineering is something (that like most other students) I seem to be having trouble with. The hardest part is to follow a theme but avoid obvious clenches at the same time. Striving to be original is maybe one of the most important things an artist creative side can be. I hate seeing people especially in advertising, ripping off other people ideas that they may have seen in movies or videos etc. By all means use it as a base to kick-start your own creativity but don't steal the idea outright, were is the fun in that?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Life Changing or Career Building?

With the game industry ever changing to keep up with the advances of technology, it's not surprising that it's hard to maintain a course structure that can keep up to date with the industry. The core skills are what's important to learn and that goes for any artist in any industry. Learning skills that can be carried and worked into different carers is the best way for people without work experience. My biggest fear is why would anyone employ someone fresh out of university when there likely to have interviewed people who already have lots of experience working in the industry. The only thing I can say to that is I just hope developers appreciate young talent and fresh thinking and creativity that maybe older generations don't see or haven't come into contact with. The ability to be original had a lot to do with things that we come into contact with and the way we see the world through our own eyes. That's why I feel that courses like these are important for the industry because it so hard to find people that share a common interest. Not just in playing games, but also really appreciating how there made.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Sound in Games

Sound play's a vital role in games these days, and is created by some of the best composer's in the world. Recently for example the blockbuster best selling game to date, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 had only bloody Oscar winning composer Hans Zimmer! Who's worked for big name film titles like The Dark Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean. Every aspect of a game these days is pushed to it's best ability to achieve the maximum entertainment experience possible. As budding game developers' were aware of the processes involved in creating concepts to achieve the look and style of a games appearance, from characters and vehicles, to environments and mood. But what about sound. That's why I was pleased to find out that the industry seems to be broadening its concepting ethics into pitching game ideas not only using visual, but also musical forms. So basically it can range from small sound to scores to find an overall sonic to a game, that fits with its style. The pieces never have to be finished because there just concepts but generally they go on to become final works that will be incorporated into the game. I'm a fan of an upcoming game that was originally a mod for half life 1. They release news weekly every Friday showing there progress in a very “back stage” kind of way, and in a recent post they showcased a mixture of sounds re-enforcing this very topic. It would be best to have a look for yourself so here's the link I think this is a very good way to show the direction the sound is going, and I believe its just as important as any other part of the game.

I'm trying to think of past game experiences that have evoked emotion from the sound and one springs to mind that I feel deserves a mention. As I've mentioned before I played Medal of Honor Allied Assault. Its was one of the first franchises to start of the whole first person period, WW2 series of gaming and they did a remarkable job. They paid a lot of attention to detail to make you feel apart of world war. Might be best known for it Normandy Omaha beach landing that's seen also in the film Saving Private Ryan. The sound effect were top notch but it was the score that did it for me. As I have great respect for the soldiers who fought in world war 2 and have a very big interest in it, this soundtrack I felt captured a good emotion for the war and to be honest it made me want to cry. I even copied it to CD to listen to it. Composed by Michael Giacchino who has done work movies, television series. His most notable works include the scores to television series such as Lost, and Alias and films such as Mission: Impossible III, The Incredibles, Star Trek and Up, for which he won an Academy Award. In my opinion this is the best score in any game ever made and I never tire of listening to it.

Game Engines

I've been a very keen gamer over the years and when I say that I don't mean just playing games. Its the way there made and how the industry has evolved over the years. Its about what the future holds and what technology will become available. How does this apply to game engines though? Well game developers want the best from there engine as it will ultimately determine is there game will any good or not. With the rate of witch games evolve these days its hard to stay ahead of the game ( no pun intended). For me there are two game engines that have most influenced my gaming. This is mainly down to there support for the modding community. I'm a big Valve fan boy and ill happily admit that. I've got a lot of respect for them and I've been a fan since the first Half Life game. It was many, many years after they finally released Half Life 2. The reason being that they decided to create an engine like non other that had been seen before. It made use of lighting, physics, particle effects and model animation in unprecedented and revolutionary new ways that these days has become a standard within new titles. But I feel a better engine became available. Epic games, the creators of unreal tournament develop the unreal engine and its still used by many top titles today. Including army of two, bioshock, gears of war, mass effect, boarderlands and many more. Main features of this engine include the same of the source engine by valve but add more in terms of larger scale maps and open environments, better use of vehicles and the tools make building games far more user friendly. Epics dedication to there engine surpasses anyone's expectations and appeals to all game developers needs no matter what game you may want to create.

This brings me to the point of creating your own engine. To tailor it to your own needs is the obvious reason to do so, but the time and effort needed may require to much time and money for most developers. Epic sold licence to use there engine commercially for around $1.000.000, not sure if it is that price now. Its a lot of money but given the long-term benefits I can see that It could reduce cost and time to deliver a finished game to shop shelf's by quite some time. Plus epic have always been at the forefront of technology working very closely with top gpu manufactures nvidia and ati to ensure maximum performance and reliability. Hence the reason why so many developer have bought the rights to the engine. Just recently they released the tools and engine to be used free of charge in the form of the UDK (unreal development kit) this allows developers to crate a game for free during development and only if they make a certain amount of money after realise per year they then pay royalties to epic games. Now is that a sweet deal or what. Some of you may be thinking this move is just to get the last scraps of cash from and old engine but there are many games still being released, even today on this engine and im sure epic will be maing sure thats the case for any years to come.

Game Culture

If you were to look at my msn friends list and ask me who most of them were I wouldn't be able to tell you. Over the years I have added people that I have been talking to whilst playing computer games online. I never use it to talk to people I actually know. To be honest I never use it these days. Probably because there are better methods of communication. I have a large friend list on steam and xbox live. A lot of these are people I've known for years. Its never really been something I've consid
If you were to look at my msn friends list and ask me who most of them were I wouldn't be able to tell you. Over the years I have added people that I have been talking to whilst playing computer games online. I never use it to talk to people I actually know. To be honest I never use it these days. Probably because there are better methods of communication. I have a large friend list on steam and xbox live. A lot of these are people I've known for years. Its never really been something I've consid
ered any different to making friends in real life. I've never had trouble making friends. I have no trouble talking to anyone but its so easy during a game. One of the major advantages of socialiered any different to making friends in real life. I've never had trouble making friends. I have no trouble talking to anyone but its so easy during a game. One of the major advantages of socialising this way is you know you have something in common straight away because your interested in the same game or even many games. The only major difference is never knowing what they look like, and in some cases not even hearing there voice.

So what does this say about my personality. I consider myself to be a friendly guy and ive got time for anyone. The thing that I like best about people online is there just people! The stereotype is socially retarded teens who have trouble integrating with society, but in my experience the majority of people have more in common with me than I would have ever expected.

People form long term relationships online. In my early gaming days I was in a clan for the first medal of honor game on for PC. Although some games were competitive with other clans, it was more about having a chat whilst playing a game together. There girlfriends and wives would take over sometimes and just chat with each other. I never got to meet any of them in person even when the clan would all meet from time to time but I still felt I knew them all very well.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Game Industry

Today's gaming industry is as big as its ever been, and it getting bigger and bigger year by year. Its not that long ago (when I was just a boy) that the gaming industry seemed in its infancy, and I suppose we could argue that it still is. Its only just recently that the games industry has received the same accreditation as the film industry. The the release of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 had its very own red carpet premier in London's West End. The first ever to happen. Sales for the game were expected to surpass the current leader GTA 4 as Amazon said they had 50% more pre-order sales and the game ended up selling 6.3 million worldwide in just 24 hours.

So with all this extra cash what are game developers doing with it. Well i've got to admire Epic games as they run an annual “make something unreal” contest, were through the stages, different “mod” teams earn big money, cash prizes with the grand prize being a 1 million dollar commercial licence for the “epic” unreal engine. For those of you who know what i'm talking about, you may remember a few years back when red orchestra won. They started as a mod and as a result of the competition they were able to realise the game, and it became very successful. This is what I admire about the game industry. Other companies like valve also see the importance of finding new talent and who alongside developing games, want to help those who wish to become game developers realise there dreams. Its not uncommon for those people in mod teams to have a close relationship with developers of said companies in the industry.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


What is creativity, well for the clue is in the name. Its to create. But what? Well anything relay, if your doing something and its enhancing your ability then it creative. To become good a something takes dedication but above al it take understanding. A person must understand what it is he is attempting to do, be it a painting a piece of music or even plans for construction of a building. To think of the kind of people who are creative many would say artist's. But it falls to many professions even sports men and women. A tennis player for example must be creative to be able to manipulate the ball across the court as to make it hard for his opponent to hit it back. I would imagine it would take a lot of repetitive ball hitting to tune your senses to being able to accurately hit and object to the spot you desire. Having an idea is just the beginning, if its not created, its not creative. The skill is learning the outlet of your thoughts and ideas that way your creativity can shine through.

Applying these skill in our line of work rely lends itself to our creativeness as the medium we use allows the feel and life of our ideas to shine through. Does an idea that's created in different mediums have the same creative thinking. I would say yes because its the idea that that's the main part of what your showing, as long as the finished piece of work represents what your original thought and idea was the n the creative process have been successful. Be it a painting or a 3d model the idea and creative thinking behind it is the main point. As long as it executed well.

What motivates us most to be creative. I think a lot of it is pure devotion and love to that interest. In my case its games but also the medium in witch I use makes me want to do more. Creating something in 3d or painting it the process itself entertains and interests me. Other gain that focus someone to be creative would be financial gain. Money is an important commodity to everyone and talent is a rare thing to be talented requires creativity not purely to be original but to have good strong ideas and opinions. If the creative outcome is something that most would find something they wouldn't dream of doing then people will pay well for your talents.

Its hard to imagine our world without creativity, nothing would have ever been invented or envisioned. Everything that we see around us had to be imagined and then created. The creativity of the idea in my mind, is the hardest to overcome, but the drive and passion make the long road ahead worth it.


Gameplay for me is the soul of a game. Also the term “game mechanics” is used to describe how the games core play style works. A game can have a verity of ways to be played. For example not all war games include drivable vehicles, as curtain game mechanics would disrupt the style and pace of how the game mode was intended to be played. For example some of the levels in Halo have only some or non of the vehicles that others have. This is not because the developers were to lazy to take the time to add them but to add gameplay elements and ensure game balance. The term game type is used to determine how a game is played i.e. the objective to win the game. An example would be a CTF (capture the flag) game were two teams had there own flag and each team would have to steal the other teams flag to win the game. Variations i've seen to this would replace the flag with a bomb and instead of bring something from them to you , you would take the bomb to them to win. By making these changes the gameplay or game mechanic is changed. Over time game developers have experimented with game types but there seems to be some standard types that can be seen in most online games these days.

Story and Character

When I think of a game character one always springs to mind and he recently won gamspots greatest hero contest. If you haven’t already guessed, its Gordon Freeman. I must confess, I’m a valve fan boy. I have played Half Life from when it was realised and followed it ever since. But what make him a good hero? I can’t for the life of me think what can make him so popular yet he’s the one that come to mind. One theory I have is that he has no voice. This way you feel like you are Gordon freeman, and that the characters are actually talking to you Instead of the actual character. Couple this with an immersive world that is the central hub of the game half life and you get remember able experience. So without the game and its story the characters are just other guys just like me and you. There isn’t much in the line of a back story in the first game all you know about Gordon is he’s a scientist here to do an experiment that goes wrong . Then a load of aliens turn up and you got to get the hell out of there.
Gordon gets a suit, this makes him ideal for the experiments but I don’t think it key to his success. Although a characters appearance is important, with Gordon it was more about the less you see the more you get in a strange sort of way. With the second game it almost felt that Alex was the main role as there were many interactions with her and you for a relation with her as her personality is so convincing. It really helps create a whole world around the central characters. Without them the game could never have the same impact or success.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Game Technology

How important is the way we interact with game technology when it comes to playing games? Consoles over the years have always released peripherals to enhance the realism of how we play games. I remember Sega Bass Fishing for the dreamcast. A friend of mine had if and had the fishing rod to play it with. It had a motion sensor in it and it would recognise the motion of casting a line and cast the line in the game. It was a novel idea but the fun factor soon wore off, especially as the game isn’t that good. This brings me to my next point. A lot of peripherals get released with games, but if the games aren’t any good or in most cases there just aren’t that many games that support that particular devise you can’t help but feel you have wasted your money. For me it was the lighgun for my dreamcast, I had House of the dead for it. Now don’t get me wrong it’s a good game and you can still find it in arcades and bowling alleys today but it was the only game you could use the gun with. A more universal option for me would be to get a steering wheel as there are lots of racing games available on all the consoles on the market at the moment. Racing games aren’t really my scene but the odd one really makes it worth buying. I’m playing Dirt 2 at the moment and it beautiful game to look at and look’s very realistic, but do I feel the need to go out and buy a wheel to amerce myself and add to the realism. In my opinion no! But that’s just me; I know that there are people out there that take racing simulation very serious. I had a look at wheels if I’m honest and the thing that really puts me off is the price, there not cheap. Some go as high as £200 but include real leather wheels ,medal pedals and flappy paddle gear changers. Some even have 6 speed gear knobs and a clutch pedal. So what does the future hold for there add-on elements of interactivity? Well I think that Nintendo Wii have done a good job as the wiimote can be most things you would need it to be. A golf club, tennis racket even a gun! I would bet money that future game consoles adopt the same style and we see this sort of technology become the standard just as Nintendo did in the past with other game controllers.

Games and there stories

Games stories and plot lines for me are not so different from a plot in a film, especially in action game or thrillers. It’s possible to get that same cinematic feel through a game; the added bonus I feel is that you get more interactivity. I’ll use the recently released game Call of Duty Modern warfare 2. The single player really feels like you’re in a blockbuster action war film and that’s exactly the feel I expect the game developer were intending. Ok so The story is still set and you still have to walk through the same door to activate the same cut scene to see the same scripted sequence but the fact your there playing alongside the characters in the story is what makes for me, single player stories so exiting. I love films just as much as the next guy and I get sucked into the story and feel real emotions for the characters but playing through the story as one of the characters is really rewarding. It amerces you more. Another example I can think of was when I was a little bit younger I remember watching 007 Goldeneye. I loved the film and at that age it had everything I could have wanted in an action film. Big explosions, car chases, good guys and bad guys all the ingredients for a good film. Then I got my hands on the game for the N64. As you may know it’s a legendary among N64 lovers and it was a revolutionary title. But the story played a big part in it success. Being able to play as James Bond and complete the missions from the film and interact with the same characters was just amazing. I’ll admit that not all games need story lines in order to get good but it helps. Even driving games can have story line elements in them. If I remember correctly, Need for Speed Most Wanted had your character go after a guy that won your car in a race of you and you had to win it back. To do so you needed to go through an array of other characters to build up to the main guy. It screams cliché but if felt winning the cars in the game instead of earning money to buy them like in most games was a nice change from the norm.