Saturday, 30 April 2011


Creativity is a funny subject to write about. It's really hard to put it down in words. I sit around thinking about how I'm being creative but trying to explain it is really hard.
I'll start off with my thoughts on creativity. Since the start of the course I've been trying to understand how I feel about creativity. I didn't really know so I looked at my pears and see if I could see how they approached being creative. What I found was there was allot of people Imagineering. This stood out to me as showing a very strong creative side to people. But knowing it was a weak point in my own abilities I felt behind creatively. As I got further into the course, I still struggled to imaginer but one thing I started to learn was that my talent was to create art that was taken from life. It's what I'm most interested in and thus I react better creatively to work produced like this. Creatively I like to spend my time looking at what make a specific object what it is. I believe this to be the most important part of being creative. Finding what pushes your buttons. I was very creative as I child and when I think back to those days I realise that I was creative as long as it what I was creating was something that made me happy. Or I felt was worthy of my time so at the end I had something I could be proud of.
To better understand creativity I started to do some research into it and see other views from different people. Generally there are 2 parts to being creative. thinking then producing. Creativity requires passion and commitment.
"Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being...creativity requires passion and commitment. Out of the creative act is born symbols and myths. It brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life. The experience is one of heightened consciousness-ecstasy."
- Rollo May, The Courage to Create
Does creativity require originality? If you take passion and commitment out of the equation then is anything created not worthy of creation and thus not creative. Does a song writer ever get board of writing songs? At the end of the day it still put food on the table. Could you tell if a writer felt this way in his work? I creativity does require passion and commitment then it should be easy to spot anything that has neither of those put into it.
My strongest work had all the passion and commitment I can give into anything I can produce. I hope after I finish next year I have something to be proud of as I intend to be as "creative" as possible.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

From genralist to specialist

We are in an economy at the moment where people cannot afford to buy luxury items. The gaming industry was obvious to take a hit through the recession as this is not a necessity that you need within a househould (along with the fact that a lot of unemployment forces people to keep their spenditure to a minimum.) Obviously through the recession this meant that gaming companies needed to make cut backs in employment due to the less money they were taking in. The lack of being able to hold employees full time means that the employees that are there need to be specialist in all areas of game design. A lot of things can be outsourced from freelance game designers which is going to I believe be the main way a game designer will be working in the future. This is the same as a graphic designer or an illustrator. Being freelance means also that you can work for several game companies at a time so it is not a total loss on the now unemployed designer. When the market starts to eventually pick up I hope that more employment opportunities will be available (especially the time that I leave university). Even though rates of pay are cheaper for employees outside of the EU or US countries. I still think that a lot of work produced will have to be evaluated and finilised to meet the standards of a company. So where some jobs may lessen there will still be a need for talented fresh thinking. A lot of jobs can't be outsourced such as the environmental artist or the artistic director. I can imagine that most outsourced work is assets and objects that would be in the game. This could affect junior artists as I can imagine that is the sort of thing that you'd be given when you were first set on into a company. This is one of the main reasons I think that there will always be jobs in the future. To fully create an asset that you know will definitely fit into the game it is best to have all the senior staff e.g. producers / directors around you so you can make sure their vision is the same one that you are creating - in the long run saving time instead of having to change the way it looks.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Interation design

My o my how hardware has progressed over such a short period of time. Game controllers seem to be at a point now where they have been fine tuned. There seems to be a standard trend with layout. Its only really subtle changes to design that makes them distinguishable between consoles. But what seems to be the trend at the moment is everything seems to be getting smaller. To be fair Nintendo have been doing it for years with the game boy and consoles. Then we saw Sony doing "slim" versions of the play station. Just recently Microsoft seem to have jumped on the band wagon with the Xbox 360. The lifetime of consoles seems to have lasted longer since the Xbox 360 and the playstaiton 3. It seems that the whole industry is geared towards producing high end graphic devices for the handheld market. Graphics in games have come a long way in such a short amount of time but there seems to be a slow down just recently. Direct 11 didn't seem to show vast improvements. Well not yet anyway. But the likes of nvidia have been hard at work making high performance chips for devices such as tablets and Smartphone's. Game developers seem to be taking advantage of this opportunity. Recent update to the UDK enables developers to create game for the iphone with very little visual reduction in quality and you would expect to see on a pc or console. I expect this part of the market to boon within the next couple of years. And we may see consoles being replaced by portable all in one devices That can be hooked up to a TV. I pad to already had a very nice looking racing game that enables you to use the accelerometer in the device turning the ipad into a controller while it is hooked up to your TV and then displays information on the ipads screen such as the track position and current lap whilst the game itself is displayed on the TV. Sony Ericsson have just release the xsperia play. The first ever playstaiton certified android device. just like phones we have seen that have flip out keyboards. This device had a slide out controller and shoulder buttons. Let's hope people will have a large interest in having small devices as an all in one solution to technology. I for one would love to be able to play all my games on the so without having the need for a separate device for home and one for when I'm out o the house. I'm not exactly I big mobile gamer. I don't think my psp ever left the house but given the chance to have a dedicated gaming decide built into my phone would be very appealing to me and I assume it would to others. Provided there are enough decent games to play that is.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Sound in Games

So I've been trying my hardest to think of good points to bring up about my views on sound in games and as usual I was trying to think outside the box and try to be a bit original as we covered this in year one. Don't know if I have been successful but I want to talk about voice acting. Voices are still sounds and that what I'm sticking to, it's my blog!

More and more games these days are getting "celebrities " if they can be called that, to do voice acting for character roles. As a lot of things go with the games industry this is probably best known in the film industry with animated films. Disney being the main trend setter with the likes of Robin Williams in Aladdin, Tom Hanks in Toy Story and from other studios most recently films like Rio with Jesse Eisenberg (the guy from The Social Network and Adverntureland) and Rango Voiced by Johnny Depp.

So why do films studios want to get A list celebrities to voice their characters. Well the obvious thing is Publicity. Back in the day when Disney were re-launching there feature animation division, they quickly realised they couldn't send their animated characters to appear on TV to plug the films. But now with its popularity and people basing film quality with how big a star you have playing your character roles. The creators of these films are using their celeb status to get people to watch the film. Look at Rango the posters for it have "Johnny Depp is RANGO" on them.

So how does this relate to games I hear you say. Well I feel the idea is still in its infancy when it come to games. Maybe it's because allot of A list stars just aren't into playing games and don't have any interest in voicing for any. Or it's because the film industry can offer more money. If that is the case then I would explain the reason why celebrities we have seen voicing for games character so far wouldn't exactly fit into the "A list" category. Fits more into celebrities desperately looking for work or the film industry won't have me but the game industry will category.

Let me give you some examples. I like to think I'm pretty good at spotting these in games and films. It's a good little game. God I'm such a geek! Anyway most recent one and probably the one that got me thinking about this is Portal 2.

Wheatley the little round robot eye that help you at the start is voiced by Stephen Merchant.

Sam fisher, Splinter Cell is none other than Michael Ironside.

Liam Neeson in fallout 3.

Samuel L. Jackson Officer Tenpenny, GTA SA.

What about Sam Worthington, Avatar, Terminator Salvation, Clash of the titans. He's a pretty big star. Especially after his role in Avatar. So it's good to see him in the best selling game of all time (not necessarily the BEST game of all time!) Call of Duty Black ops. If you haven't guessed it yet he is Alex Mason.

Ok so I admit some of these are pretty big stars. But you got to ask yourself at what point in their career did they need or maybe want to do voice acting for games. I'm just going to keep telling myself it's because they all love playing games.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Game Engines

Game engine have come along way over the past few years. I've felt that the likes of cry engine was a bit before its time as not many people had the hardware to run the game at full throttle. Its only just recently, now that I have my new computer that I can appreciate the beauty of the environments the game had to offer. It seems to me that as the Unreal engine has been releasing its monthly updated. Visually its has caught up with it ability for vast open areas, god rays, level streaming etc. This made me evaluate both companies strategies when developing their engines. it felt like Cytec decided to go full steam ahead and blow people's minds with visual beauty, whether or not the consumer were ready for it or not. Epic games decided to keep their eye on the current power of current consumer hardware and make sure that they had as many consumer able to buy their games and be able to play without having to spend loads of money on a faster computer. I recently read an article on a website highlighting there new direction with their new portable version of the UDK for I phone as they don't yet intend to release a version for android phones because of how different the range of power all the different android phones have to offer. They want to make sure that all phones would be able to handle the ability to play game created by their engine. This reinforces my previous point, which is a good thing in a way. Some would argue that they should release it on just the more powerful android handsets.
This brings me nicely onto my next point on the current direction game engines seem to be heading. if feels like instead of making visuals more realistic as we have seen in the past few years more and more developers a trying to make the current standard of visuals able to be played on handheld devices. plus its even easier for Indi developers to take advantage of creating games. Unity engine started out as a web based engine that was able to play without the need to install and now its shifted to iphone android Xbox 360and playstation 3.
With Nintendo releasing their 3d portable devise it didn't feel like it would take long before Sony would be announcing there second PSP device. The cool thing about this is that they claimed that its able to render games at the same visual performance as you would expect to see on the playstation 3. Now that's quite an sensational claim but what I've seen so far is all the shaders and rendering capabilities are the same. But the texture size and mesh density are allot smaller in comparison. With this being rendered on such a small screen it's hard to spot any differences. With that said it still very impressive how good the graphics look and I can't wait to see more of this as it get closer to release for xmas at the end of this year.