Friday, 17 December 2010

It gets better... right?

I don't like 3D. Not a good start for someone on this course and it's making me a little nervous. I SHOULD be throwing myself into it and yet I just aren't. I hate it, it's so monotonous.
Extrude, click, extrude, click, bevel, click, target weld, target weld, target weld, cut, cut, cut, cut... strangely the unwrapping part is somewhat therapeutic and I can get through it rather solemnly.

In the spirit of being honest and blunt: I took 3D because I had to. Due to the odds of me getting a job as a 2D artist are slim to none, even with the addition of 3D are they still slight. Still, it's something.
I so badly want to be a character artist, a vehicle artist – shit even a landscape artist would make me happy. I want to draw, I want to learn how to use watercolours properly and I want to understand Photoshop and get used to drawing with a tablet. I want that dual-monitor setup that so many artists have, I want a room filled with books containing all manner of references. I want to look at a game and say:
'See that? I designed that.' Yet now I'm looking at it and just seems to be: 'See that? I designed that... and spent a few days of my life getting fucking frustrated with it trying to model it into 3D. Why can't someone else get paid for this shit? I'm the imagination, they can do the boring part.'

I do 2D because I love it. I do 3D out of necessity. Maybe it's too early for me to be hating this as it's probably just the initial frustration of learning something from scratch – god I hope so. I refuse to fail this course, fucking out right. It's a matter of self-respect that I finish this course.

This is a complete whine post and I just need to get it out there. With any luck, I'll look back next year and see this as a nothing more than temporary bout of fuck-wittery.

I trust my honesty in posting this doesn't affect my presence here; just something I wanted to get off my chest.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

So you want to draw, eh? I can tell you about drawing...

So after a few of these guest lectures we've been havin' and some words from the 2D lecturers themselves; I've come to some level of understanding about both drawing and me as an artist.

It never really sank in before, about being confident with lines and strokes, no matter how many times it was said. I've always been quite stubborn when it came to drawing and where I wanted it to go. When my tutor at college told me that copying other artists ideas wasn't going to get me anywhere I waved him aside in contempt and carried on; but he didn't stop telling me and finally after months of droning on it, subsequently it sank in.

Now, upon reflection I cannot believe how much of an idiot I was. Copying other artists work? To think that was only a year and a half ago.
Since then I've started to listen more to tutors and any criticism albeit with a pinch of salt. I can still be quite stubborn however due to past iterations I have to remind myself they know exactly what they're talking about. The tutors anyway.

So the sudden epiphany I've had is this: Fuck it.
If my drawings suck; so what? I'm a first year student. If I was drawing flawlessly then why would I be here? All I need to do is simply remind myself that somewhere in the future I WILL be a good artist. Simple.
It's surprisingly freeing to not give a shit about the state of your current drawings; it allows you to focus on simply drawing more and seeing the flaws as more of a learning curve than a hindrance. So many get demotivated by poor drawings, I myself was guilty of this however it just goes to what Warner Brothers animator Phil Dimitriadis said:

You have to get the bad drawings out before you can get the good ones in.'

Also a quote from Del Walker was helpful for focus:

'Think of someone who does loads of bad drawings; then think of when they starts doing good drawings.'

From this I've come to understand that I should focus more on speed than polishing a piece off. Someone can take eighteen hours to complete an amazing piece of art showing exceptional skill in all aspects of art however they're not going to get employed. They can't use someone who takes that long to do one piece. Alternatively, someone who takes one hour doing speed paints showing an adequate enough level of skill to communicate the idea would be a more lucrative asset to the company. Eighteen ideas against one. Though the other guy isn't nearly as good, they offer more to the company in terms of production.

All of this can be summed up somewhat by what Chris Wright said in an enlightening gab to his cohort about him having to break our minds, then rebuild them. We've grown up in a schooling system that teaches us to deal with things logically and simply. What colour is the sky? Blue. What colour is the grass? Green. We draw things with a big black line around it despite there not being one there.
This is all one big learning experience for me. As a stubborn ass of a student I'm can feel my mind being altered already. I already KNEW to see things in shapes, but I didn't really bother. I already KNEW that there wasn't a black line around anything, but I didn't change that. Only now have I started employing circles to draw things, even if they're square; Why not? Shapes within shapes.
Let's not even get started on how everything can be constructed with reference points: Complete mind fuck.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

What a long, strange trip it's been.

     Asking an avid gamer 'what's your history of games?' is like explaining why England will never win the Eurovision Song Contest; it's going to take all day. So instead of bombarding you with a list the size of Bono's head, I'll briskly go through what consoles I played followed up with a list of my favourite games.

In order:
Sega Mega-Drive
Gameboy Colour

     Now that's out of the way, let's get onto the games, or lack of. Having been playing games for a very long time I was actually pretty shocked to see how short my list of favourites was. Does that show something about the industry? Or just me being a picky bugger? Probably a little of both, really.

     So let's begin with the Mega-Drive:
Streets Of Rage 2: The first console game I remember playing. The basic rundown of the game is you play as one of four characters: Axel, Blaze, Max or Skate. You then use said character to whack, smash and quite possibly, stab your way through ten levels of endless grunts, peons and peasants until you finally come to the end of the level and go toe-to-toe with Mr X's finest. (Mr X being the bad guy. Go figure.)
However that wasn't what was fun about the game. The fun part was joining up with your friends, family or even panderers in co-op mode to churn out some indiscriminate justice on the faces of your foes as a team. Yeah, go team!

Golden Axe: I loved this game, completed it like once, but still love it! Just hearing the theme music today brings memories flooding back of flying headbutts, pommel stabs and the craziest death sound effects ever. Just like the aforementioned Streets Of Rage 2, this games was also co-op.

That about wraps up my favourites from the Mega-Drive days. I chose to miss out Mickey Mouse: Castle Of Illusions to save myself the embarrassme-- wait. Unread that, please.

Moving along swiftly. The Playstation:
Metal Gear Solid: Feel I should put this one first on the basis that it was, in my opinion, the greatest Playstation game out there. Back then the level of detail was considered exceptional. Ok, so you could count the pixels from ten feet away but for back then it was damn good. The thing that interested me most about this game and got me to play it was hearing my friends talk about the different bosses: Sniper Wolf, Vulcan Raven, Psycho Mantis. The names alone made me giddy!
I was only twelve, get lost.
Then to play this game with such a deep story line, grand sense of narrative and the most intriguing characters when all I was used to was laughing at people on GTA 2 as I set them on fire.
Having not played it in years I'm relying on my memories of it – however I was twelve so a 'grand sense of narrative' could have been anyone going emo. Which is kind of what Snake did... and Meryl... and Grayfox... and Naomi... and Liquid.. oh man, that game was made of pussies. At any rate, I really enjoyed that game however I cannot say the same for any of the sequels. All I'll say for them is that Kojima is in dire need of an Editor.

Duke Nukem: Time To Kill: The phrase: 'They don't make games like they used to.' Has been tossed around quite freely these passed few years. However I hold that statement to this game. It didn't care what people thought, it didn't care if it was insulting people. All it was, was Duke Nukem, being a pig-slaying, gun-toting, buzzcut wearing sexist motherf**ker. But man, was he badass. That about sums up the game. The theme music was equally as epic.

Final Fantasy 7: Oh yes, you were waiting for this one to rear it's ugly head. I'd like to start off by saying: Yes, the story was emo, I didn't really care for it. In fact, I didn't even pay attention; having mashed the 'O' button into the controller every time that 'life-story' music started playing.
So 'Why then?' you might be asking yourself 'Is this one of your favourite games?' Well, I can tell you that even for a guy that appreciates narrative over game play. I actually didn't really care about this tear-filled pussy-fest of a story line and opted more for the jrpg style of play instead.
Just to show how much I didn't care: I was happy when Aerith died. Don't understand as to why we didn't just pheonix down her though... guess Cloud didn't love her after all.
The music was also unforgettable.

That's it for Playstation. Almost can't believe it given how many games I played.

Playstation 2:

Dynasty Warriors 3: Oh man, this one brings back good memories! Was my first PS2 game and man was I pumped to play this. Me and my brother would play this all the time, getting every character their best weapon and to full stats. We spent all summer one year doing that. Some may say that was wasted time, but I say time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted time. Loved that game. Pity the sequels paled in comparison to this. Wish Koei would get off their arses! They have no idea what such a grand idea they're onto.

GTA: Vice City: Tommy Vercetti, a generic gangster goes on a drugs trade only to be ambushed mid-mingling by some rather questionable fellows. Barely escaping with his greased back hairstyle and losing the money, and the drugs, in the process. Big Boss isn't best pleased by this disturbing turn of events and has Tommy go about finding the money. Mr Vercetti feels the best way to do this is to monopolise the entire city, gain huge infamy amongst the populace and live in the biggest house. I don't understand how 'Get my money.' translates to 'Kill everyone of importance and buyout the place.'
Whatever, it's a GTA game. The only thing that matters is you, your ride and your hoes. In that order.
As to why it is here, on my list: The game was generally just so fun, so few parts of the game were frustrating and it was the epitome of entertainment for a young lad like myself. Even when I completed the story I still played it loads, just to mess about with the police or to see how far I can get before my car blows up, or how far I can get before my car blows up IN MID AIR! Was so much fun! GTA 3 wasn't, because it was frustrating at times, the cars were generally lousy and there were no helicopters to get around. Ok, so Tommy couldn't swim – but that just made playing as a pirate even more fun! Hijacking peoples boats trying not to fall in the water. Arr, a fine game it be indeed.

God Of War: When I first played the demo for this game, my brain was struggling to cope with the sheer amount of bad-assery this game metes out!The first thing I killed, I didn't just slice it with my swords – no; I grabbed it and RIPPED IT IN HALF! This was just the right game for me. Gorey, but fictional. Unlike the game Manhunt which seemed a bit too close to reality to fully enjoy.
For a game that focuses around some of the most violent deaths you'll ever see – it still managed to pull off a damn good story, with a fucking brilliant twist at the end. So it might not have been a twist to anyone else, and that I should have gathered by the title 'God Of War' as to what might have happened but there are few games that end so well. Few films too. So when you see one it just has to go on your list. Even though I enjoyed the sequels, I believe that they should have stopped after the first one to preserve that. As with the second and third instalments the motif went from 'grizzled warrior gains retribution' to 'LETS SEE WHAT PART OF GREEK MYTHOLOGY WE CAN KILL NEXT! HERP!'
As I said, I enjoyed them. Just... killing a titan. Really? Oh sorry, two titans! Silly me!

Resident Evil 4: Having never completed a Resident Evil game before, depsite countless attempts. I was so damn proud of myself for completing this one. Likely due to the easy to use over-the-shoulder aiming that the employed for their series here on in, instead of the infamous camera angles.

The story goes: Leon Kennedy, a veteran of the zombie outbreak in Raccoon city (as played in Resident Evil 2) now working for the president has been sent to some far off region in Europe to retrieve any inteligence on the whereabouts of the presidents daughter. Having been in this village for no more than five minutes, he gets flailed at by some rabid peasant and his taxi-service dies in a fire. Good start, I'm sure you'll agree. Though I think it was a bit much killing the first guy you see because he attacks you, in his OWN HOUSE, which you are TRESPASSING IN...
So anyway, to cut a long story short **SPOILERS** Leon finds the girl, destroys an ancient cult and has biscuits... one of those might be a lie.

Hard to say what drew me to this game. It was the new Resident Evil, it had a new, innovative look and much hype behind it. As to what kept me playing: probably the will to complete a Resident Evil game. Glad I did, the boss fights were all interesting although the game got a little weird when the cult became more prominent. Like that midgit in the crazy getup.

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance: The town of Baldur's Gate has fallen victim to strange happenings of late, you the prospective hero can play as either the Dwarf Warrior, the Dwarf Warrior or the mighty Dwarf Warrior. 'Cus there aren't two other classes as the only one that matters is the Dwarf. The Dwarf is all that matters. Kromlech's his name, kicking ass is his game.
Alright, there might have been two other squires there to choose from, heaven forbid why. Ok, they were the Arcane Archer (ooh, pretty sparkly arrows) and the Elven Sorceress (this game was made by Midway so guess why people chose her).
The story is that the, as said before, the town is in a spot of bother and you offer to give a hand. Naturally you start off by killing rats and then move onto more bigger fair; such as globs of slime, skeleton archers and who can forget spiders!
This game would have been pretty dull however the fact that it had co-op made this one of the greatest games I had ever played. Me and my friend were actually SAD to complete this game, we wanted more, damn it! I was the devastating Dwarf Warrior, charging in and stealing all the loot while he was my faithful servant, the Aching Archer- or something- who cares?! 'Cus I was the Dwarf Warrior!

The PS2 had so many games however not many left their mark on me, sadly. I'm a massachist like that.


Fable: Halo was great, Halo 2 was great. Not good enough to get on this list however despite enjoying them. Especially the co-op.
The only Xbox game to make it on here will be Fable. As in the first one. Not the poor excuse for a sequel.
Synopsis: The Hero's family was murdered and village burnt to the ground by bandits when he was young. The boy was saved by a mysterious wizard who then took him to 'the Guild Of Heroes.' A training academy for would be do-gooders. The boy trains there until he becomes of age and flies the nest, ready to begin his life of killing bandits, rescuing damsels in distress and generally looking like a smug bastard. The story unfolds at a digestible rate, bringing in a few twists here and there as regard to his family as well as a mad man with a penchant burning things. Namely the world.
I can't think of anything I disliked about this game. I liked it all: from the complete RPG feel of buying, selling, upgrading, property development, marriage, books etc to the all-to familiar Midlands accents of the populace.
Then there was probably the most beautiful part of the game: The vibrant colour palette, the exaggerated playful look of the people/player as well as the fairytale score by Danny Elfman juxtaposed against the sad tale of the heroes life and the hardships he must endure.
I got through all of that without even mentioning the alignment system. This was no one-trick pony of a game and out of all the games you'll see on here, Fable is probably my most favourite I would describe simply as a game with a lot of heart, as hammy as that sounds; it's as dear to me as Linken Park is to teenaged boys.


You hear a church bell ring in the distance, as it echoes across the hills the wind wisps passed you bouncing a tumble weed across your path.


I suppose it is unfair to say the PC has harboured the majority of my favourite games as it does not succumb to will of generations as Xbox and Playstation do and as such, I should count Sony and Microsoft as a whole when compared against it.
So with that said, lets finish this.

Age Of Empires II: Hours. Wasted. I would always play as the Japanese just so I could get out their Samurai. Whoa, yeah! Not really much to say about the game. I mean it was pretty dire for an RTS however there weren't many others out there other than Starcraft, Warcraft and Command & Conquer of which I had never played nor really heard of; with the exception of C&C.

Theif 2: The Metal Age: You play as Garrett, an experienced thief who had previously (Theif: The Dark Project) gotten in with the wrong people ultimately costing him his eye and a good part of his patience. Now, he hopes to get back to the simple stuff: Casing joints and taking it easy. However he soon finds himself knee-deep in pigshit as the Sheriff wants Garret, in particular, dead. Upon pursuing the answers to this sudden vendetta against him he unravels a nefarious plot that threatens the entire city.

One of the first PC games I ever played. Looking back now I cannot believe this game wasn't more popular, I mean it just broke the norm like a bunny boiler breaks relationships; it was so good!
First of all, I don't think there were any other stealth games, secondly it didn't just bring in the stealth idea but absolutely excelled in it. The play style of Splinter Cell, a successful series, is pretty much based on the that of Thief’s.
It wasn't just the brightness/darkness in the game, but the innovative new ideas. Water arrows to shoot out torches. Fire Arrows that acted like missiles, gas arrows, moss arrows for quietening your footsteps, noise-maker arrows for distracting guards. You also had a blackjack to knock out guards or a sword to kill them. As I say, for a game back then this was pretty fucking exceptional looking back at it. I mean Looking Glass Studios really pulled it off here. I'm genuinely amazed it wasn't a best seller. Sad too, that this was Looking Glass Studios final game, as it only appealed to cults and hence they went under.
Spose I should mention Deadly Shadows, however I only played a bit of it. It seems they were competing with Splinter Cell and that their best idea to get around it was to copy what they've done. 3rd person stealth sucks. Didn't like it though I feel I should give it another go for the sake of the Metal Age. Oh, sounds like a musical revolution. DOWN WITH BEIBER!

The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind/Oblivion
Hours were wasted on both of these games, the sheer open-world expanse of the was such an incredible notion that I needed to change my pants. Twice! Starting out with a mere mortal shell, nothing within it, just a dumb look on the face to then customizing it just to your play style. Well, that innovation was really wasted on me I generally pick up the biggest weapon I can find and swing it until something happens.
The games weren't altogether that incredible in terms of story, as there was so many different quests that sticking with the main story was about as likely as Britain having talent. So you got somewhat lost in what was going on. Here you were helping an Orc find a book, there you were helping a Nord find his pants and over yonder you were killing the Orc and the Nord because someone wanted them dead. Sorry, someone was PAYING. RPG's, got to love the soulless creature that is the hero.
'Kill them.'
'I'll pay you.'
Caaan do!

Arx Fatalis: This was another game I simply cannot believe wasn't more popular. With an original casting system via the use of drawing runes with your cursor allowed for an immersive mage feel to the game that no other has come close to touching. On top of that the melee combat mixed in with this rune-style casting made for quite an interesting play style. I'm sure the runes would have discouraged lesser skilled players as we've all been guilty of fucking up while under the pressure of a cave trolls behemoth arse.
On top of that the narrative was, although not altogether original, it wasn't too riddled with cliché, albeit you are the chosen one who uses a plot device to bring down an evil lord bent on your demise. Nope, not at all clichéd!
A worthy side note to this game would also be the cooking system they had. Instead of going into your inventory and clicking 'cook' or whatever the game developers make you do these days. You had to physically drag the item from your inventory onto a fire. This could then be used for other avenues. For example:

Confectionery affection
Hello, and welcome to Confectionery affection with me, Scott Bennett.
Today, we will be baking a red wine apple pie! Oh, naughty!
What you will need:
1 bag slot of flour
1 vial of water
1 apple
1 vial of red wine
Rolling pin and an open fire.

First, add the water to the flour to make the dough.
Then, flatten the bugger with your rolling pin. Show it how you deal with goblins, tenderize the sucker.
You should now have a lovingly crafted pie casing, so why don't you go ahead and pop that apple in. Don't worry about slicing it, this is just a game.
You're almost ready to get cooking, however you first need to add that little treat; the red wine. So go on and do that before I lose my patience.
Whack it on the open fire for about 5 seconds


I guess you can tell I'm tired.

One final note. I think this was the only game where you could kill absolutely everyone, just for fun.
...and fun it was. Quicksave is the damnedest, isn't it?

I feel I should add Diablo II, Warcraft III and World Of Warcraft as I spent a very long time playing all three. However they were just addictive and in itself, not exceptional games. Maybe Diablo II.

Oh well, there you have it. My personal gaming history in terms of my favourites. I'm sure there were some I missed out however I'm rather content to lay these down on my blog as favourites for they really were the greatest games I've ever played and hold them in high regard. Which is why Lionhead have really dissapointed me with Fable 2. It's a pity I have no current generation favourites as the graphics on these games is truly remarkable, like Uncharted 2 for example. However I will never forsake narrative and a good story just because oo0o0o0o it pretteh! Which is pretty much Uncharted 2 in a nut shell for me. Now I know games are fiction but if a game is based in the real world it needs to have a very solid clutch on reality. Climbing out of a train in a below 0 degree climate that is hanging off the edge of a mountain after just being derailed rather violently with a hole in your side created by a Desert Eagle then only to fight against elite soldiers with said bullet wound and said freezing cold in nothing but your jeans and jumper is NOT realistic... look, fan boys, I know he's Nathan Drake and all, I think that's great, I really do... but it's just not cricket. The very fact he survived the train crash in the first place was miraculous. Oh, be he had a seat belt on, uh hur!
There is plenty wrong with that game. Visually stunning, a marvel of game design in terms of that. Just the whole Hollywood feel to it... I find that discouraging.

I get the inkling that developers have put story on the back seat and put priority on what the game looks like. Coming from a prospective game artist this must sound pretty ridiculous, however it's not just the visual side I'm interested in. It's not a good feeling to know that the pixel parade are winning over good, solid story-telling and I would dearly like to see an improvement on this in future games.

Well, I guess there's always novels...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

History Of Games - 2000

      The 6th generation of gaming was a happy and a sad time for consoles. It introduced the first console from Microsoft, the Xbox; as well as a mighty second instalment from Sony, the PS2; and not forgeting Nintendo's effort, the GameCube. However, it was also the time where the once great Sega threw in the towel as their last ditch effort to reclaim the throne from Sony, the Dreamcast, crashed and burned. Due to the curiosity and suspense behind the PS2, Sega stood no chance of gaining back ground which was lost after their stint with the Saturn. Despite having a decent console that included a modem allowing for online play, Dreamcast just didn't have the 3rd party back-up that Sony did and as such, withered away.

      Aww, diddems. I never owned a Dreamcast, and rightly so – the PS2 simply had better games. No contest. Although I did own a Mega Drive back in the day so I feel a little sad for Sega... not for Sonic though – he can burn. Although he managed to survive the fiery wrath of failure to rise up through the ashes of shame only to be brought back onto other consoles. Oh yes, just because Sega stopped making consoles doesn't mean they're out of the gaming industry.
Happy. Days.

     So anyway, onto success stories. Sony was clearly dominating the market as yet again, Nintendo were albeit crushed by them due to the lack of Nintendo sales in Japan. Their only hope was the sales in North America! Which they were doing really well in! YAY!! HAPPY!
Then Microsoft make the Xbox, chins Nintendo and takes North America. Ouch.
It's not all doom and gloom however as Nintendo, despite lacking where it mattered, pulled through with their handheld console: the Gameboy Advance – ultimately dominating the handheld market. Although their only competition was the Nokia N-Gage which was about as big a threat to Nintendo as eating a bag of chips is on the sea-side. Seagulls are annoying, not deadly.

     However, Microsoft was reportedly at a significant loss after releasing the Xbox, focusing on making gains through game development and publishing. Although things started looking a lot better for Micrsoft when Halo: Combat Evolved was released shortly after by Bungie Studios which instantly became the Xbox's driving point of success.

     On a side note, the general gamer base (of which playstation led) had seemingly established a hunger for more complex, sophisticated and adult-oriented games. This also drove a nail into the coffin of Nintendo as they were seen largely as a 'kiddie's console.'

     Furthermore, alternate controllers make a comeback with the likes of the guitar-shaped controller for Guitar Hero and the dance mat for Dance Dance Revolution.

     Computers also stepped back into the limelight when boadband became affordable and as such developers went all innovative and started making online games including mmorpg's such as EverQuest, Ultima and the massive success that is World Of Warcraft. Consoles also dabbled in this though they were largely unpopular apart from Microsoft's Xbox Live which became it's driving force due to games like Halo 2 which was 'overwhelmingly popular.' 

     Furthermore there was a rise in casual games on the PC such as Popcap's Bejewled; Maxis' Sims, which became the best selling PC game of all time and Zynga's Mafia Wars and Farmville which are based on social networking sites like Facebook.
It's worth noting that games like Mafia Wars and Farmville are raking in massive profits for the developers due to cunning marketing techniques that the rest of the gaming industry seemed to overlook.

7th Generation
      Sony and Nintendo release new handhelds: PSP and the DS, respectivley. However Nintendo shows that this is their kung-fu by winning this two horse race. This was due to the DS's interactive, dual-screen interfaces appeal to children and the middle aged with such games as the Brain Age series by Dr Kawashima. Among others.
The PSP didn't flop by any means, it was merely embraced by the more 'hardcore' side of the gaming society.

      Come 2005, Microsoft try to get in an early start with their 360 console when Sony release their PS3 in 2006 and then Nintendo later brings out the Wii. Which, for all intensive purposes seemed like it wasn't going to do well and yet it did away with all the nay-saying and sold out for the first 18 months becoming the fastest selling console in most of the world's gaming markets.
In addition to the 360's and PS3's computer-competing power, they also boasted respective online support through the Playstation Network (PSN) and a refurbished Xbox Live. The only thing giving Xbox an advantage was the price, as it had to compete with the Blu-ray and WiFi supporting PS3.

      Lastly, there appears to be a five year development time between generations however there appears to be a delay with the 8th generation. The reason for this being is that the technological and financial requirement to create consoles far improved from our current ones (like the PS to PS2) is too high. Moore's Law dictates that computing technology doubles every two years and yet that is apparently too slow as we would need to wait till 2020 for our next consoles, if they're to have the improvement on the scale of their predecessors.

      Microsoft and Sony have seemingly combated this 'setback' by creating their own motion-sensitive toys; The Kinect for Xbox and the Move for PS3. Nintendo are otherwise bringing out a new DS that supports 3D gaming without the need for 3D glasses in March of 2010.
I have no doubt that the next piece of hardware Sony and Microsoft develop will be 3D based. In spite of all this I see that the gaming industry faces a hard time creating something new for us, lest we be stuck with the same graphics level for several years.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Let's just get this over with.

The 80's was really the big break for games as companies like Apple and Microsoft began their development of superior computers allowing for more intricate games to be developed like Wasteland, a game produced by Interplay Productions and published by EA Games in 1988 (then known as Electronic Arts).

Due to the high demand for home computers in the mid 70's, seeing one in a house was common come the 80's and so more and more games were created to facilitate this new hunger for entertainment in the household. Capital idea!

The Commodore 64 (1982) was one of the first, giving access to hundreds of games at an affordable price. A year later the very first Apple Mac was released which, unlike Apple's other products at the time, was less expensive.

The reason the 80's was the big break for games wasn't just because of the progress computers had made since the 70's, no, for it was then that all the genres of today’s games spawned; RPGs, sims, racing, war and adventure (labelled then as 'interactive fiction'). However it was only at the end of the decade that the text based play-style was dropped and replaced by the recently refined mouse, allowing for the use of graphical interfaces (GUI).

Therefore it is this I see as one of the most prominent developments throughout this decade, to go from typing in commands to merely clicking. As games were becoming more detailed and intricate, so to were the microchips behind it all, naturally. As such, the development of the microchip from the 70's throughout the 80's was significant in the progress of games as this not allowed for more powerful machines, but smaller ones as well.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Memento – The melancholy tale of Lenny the goldfish.

Protagonist's wife was raped and murdered giving him a sweet-tooth for retribution. However he took a bit of a tumble and is now incapable of creating new memories. A typical revenge plot, but with a twist!

     It's like a normal boring film, except the protagonist is a little slow. Think Bruce Willis' character from Sin City; just with alzheimers. To be fair it was highly original, well-executed with a non-linear progression to break it up and then bring it together at the end with a few unexpected twists to leave you satisfied.

     Personally, it wasn't one of those 'Ohhhhhhh, you cheeky bugger!' kind-of-twists that leave you smiling on the inside for days after watching, like Usual Suspects or Sixth Sense. Though this was likely due to the running time compared with my preference toward the amount of cramp my legs can take before I stop giving a shit. Consequently the Care-o-meter was dwindling. However I did manage to concentrate long enough to appreciate the ending despite being somewhat perplexed in what my feelings toward the protagonist should now be, given his sudden role change.

All in all, it's worth a watch. Nothing terribly exciting though.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A tale of boredom, and how one man tried to kill it. - History of Games, 1950-1970

     The title is somewhat misleading as this is not much of a tale on how we, as humans tried to kill boredom - no, more so a boring story on the history of computer games and trust me, it's a corker! So with the godfathers of modern entertainment shamelessly slandered, let's get started.
     In 1952 a British computer science professor by the name of Alexander S. Douglas created the first form of electronic entertainment, or 'graphical computer game' (because apparently calling it a 'video game' is heresy) which was called Tic-Tac-Toe. It was designed and created on this bad boy. 

     Interesting to note, that the systems all early computer games created in the 50's were developed on equipment originally designed for military use. Specifically missile trajectories. This included the first VIDEO GAME created by a man called William Higinbotham called 'Tennis For Two' which was created and played on an oscilloscope. 

     At the turn of the decade, in 1962, a young man from MIT who went by the name of Steve Russell created the first game intended for computer use called Spacewar! The game was rather simple: Two men enter, one leaves... or more or less. The set-up was two spaceships circle a planet with the intention of shooting down your opponent before you ran out of fuel.

     In conclusion to all that, the first computer game was created by A.S. Dougl-- wait a minute! It wasn't because someone else thought of the idea first, and then several years later patented it therefore legally making him the creator and pioneer of the concept. This man was Ralph Baer, a Television Engineer. He created the first game to be played on a television set called Chase in 1967, fifteen years after Douglas created his game. There is some controversy about who was the real pioneer behind video games because of this. Baer held the patent because the ones before him didn't bother, seeing as the equipment needed to play their games cost over $100,000 voiding the point of a patent as none could afford it. To add further argument to this, Baer first conceived of the concept back in 1951 (a year before Douglas created Tic-Tac-Toe) when his boss asked him to make the 'best television set in the world', apparently an 'easy task' for Baer, he wanted to make a TV that could play computer games however his boss, being a dozy plonker, refused the idea.

      Therefore, it's hard to say who was the first man to create a video game. It depends on what your definition of a video game is I suppose. I for one am with A.S. Douglas, ok, so it couldn't be enjoyed by the family as you'd need a massive hole burnt in your pocket and a football field sized living room to play it in but it was still entertainment created and played on a computer. Pity about Baer's idea being refused, but we can't just let history be re-written out of sympathy.

      Something else worth noting is that computer games, at present, are often seen as brain-drains offering no benefit toward intellectual progression. Yet it was scientists and professors, all academics working with equipment meant for military use, that can be found at the source of it all.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

You talkin' to me?

My name is Scott Bennett; I’m twenty-one years young, born and raised on the verdant plains of Glou-cester-shyeeerrrrr (Gloucestershire) however I don’t have the fahhrrmerr ahhcent, regrettably mine is boring and ordinary. My father was a wolf and my mother was a beard. I have four brothers I’m aware of.
After many a pilgrimage I decided to setup shop in urban Leicester to settle down with my love, game art. A forbidden love: one which is frowned upon in many cultures. Bullshit aside, the reason I chose game art goes way back to when I was but a young lad of fifteen years; gazing upon a specific piece of art amidst the Warcraft 3 manual – I could not believe this kind of drawing was possible: the shading on the armour,  detail of the fur,  glean on the blade. Was all so inspiring, and at the same time, disheartening; to think I’d never be that good. At that point I knew that I wanted to be a game artist.
From that day forward I took up this mighty quest, to traverse peaks and seas, lands and skies so that one day, I would leave my mark on game... or at least that was the plan. I kind of screwed up a tad in the start by not taking Art for GCSE, instead going down the ICT which meant, consequently, that I couldn’t do Art for A-level BUT ask me to do a database or a spreadsheet and I’m your man! Oh yeah, handy stuff.
After wasting a couple years on academics I finally got into an art course at my local College.  Hated the two years I spent there but at least it got me into Uni. Waaaaay!
Now that I’m FINALLY on a course that suits me I can get started on really focusing my attention on what matters. Hoping to have improved vastly in the first year in regards to both 2D and 3D ultimately leading to a highly polished style at the end of the third year. Just got to get my workin’ boots on.
Well there’s my life story. I thought I’d miss out the part where I served in Normandy getting my arm blown off or the time I kicked a mountain in half – good times.
Other then that I enjoy walks down the beach, playing the spoons and clubbing... as in baby seals.

This is my dream, there are many like it but this one's mine

The idea of this post was to go searching about yonder tinternet for my 'dream job' typically, however, the internet security in the library must see Blizzard as a threat to the average students mind and as such, has locked it away in a vault somewhere disallowing my entry. Fiend! Same goes for Lionhead Studios, another company I’d love to work with.
Space Cowboys and Slavedriving aside my dream job would have to be working for Blizzard Entertainment as a Lead Art Director. Although that’s being about as ambitious as Alexander the Great. So for now my goal is somewhat watered down. ‘Somewhat’ being the operative word here as I’d still like to work for Blizzard, just as a 2D concept artist instead. However, having read up on this a couple years back, the odds of me getting a job would be slim, even slimmer would be my weeks spent working on a game.
Therefore I’m obligated to learn 3D as C++ could well give me an aneurysm. Though it’s not so straightforward as to just turn up with 2D and 3D knowledge; maybe for other companies, be that as it may, Blizzard require that you have at least TWO years industry experience. They’ve listed ‘knowledge of 3D’ as a ‘desirable’ skill. Now I disagree, I’d have to say that knowing 3D and 2D are ESSENTIAL. How else am I going to get a job, gunpoint? Additionally, software knowledge such as Photoshop, 3DS-Max, Z-brush, a keen understanding of human and animal anatomy would all be advantageous.
            Fundamentally, I just need to work incredibly hard not just to get into industry, but to be better than my competition – this is the hard part. Here’s hoping style wins over raw skill. Since looking at myself now I’m nowhere near what I need to be, at any rate, that’s why I’m here on this particular course. Bring it on.