Thursday, 20 January 2011

Steam Engine

Textured steam engine, managed to keep it under the 9000 tri budget

Friday, 30 April 2010

Group Project Blog

Group Project Blog
The group projects are over now. It is a relief although I did enjoy the experience of working with different people. It gave me an insight into the world of work and what the industry is like.

The journey with the group has taught me how to communicate well as we used the blog, forum and texting as sources of communication so we updated each other with our progress. At the beginning, we discussed as a group which part of the queens building we should build and came to an overall decision of building three floors starting from the very top. We attended regular group meetings to ensure we were all on the same boat with concept ideas and the overall look of the layer. Aby and I were the art directors and we kept close contact with the colour scheme of the level. We created various colour palettes and concept ideas that the whole group could vote on the best colour set, we then provided a colour palette for the amount of grime to be used to keep the consistent flow of grime. We wanted to go for an overall claustrophobic and dark grimy feel to the level, hence the lack of lack, therefore the player is more likely to explore around the level and come across the details such as writing on the walls we included.

It was a challenging effort for the group as we chose to build such a large level but we were happy with the final outcome in the end. From the first reviews we were told to include more assets as the level looked empty due to the size, therefore our group attended a meeting and discussed assets we could include to make the level look busier, enough for the player to feel that an event has occurred. I’ve felt I have definitely improved in 3D max as I am now building assets much faster than before and texturing them just as quick. As for the Unreal engine, Mark made sure the assets imported correctly and worked with the effects we had. I had a hard time using Unreal to begin with but got used to it after working at it in 2 days and now I enjoy using Unreal and feel I know enough to start using it in the third year (hopefully I’ll make it to the third year.)

Overall, I enjoyed the group work and would definitely consider working as a group again, especially with the ‘Spaazm’ members I was with. We all got along well and avoided any friction by communicating well and solving any issues as a group.

Future goals
Where do I see myself in the future? To be honest, I don’t quite know yet. Since the group projects, I’ve learnt how to use Unreal engine and add effects to improve my work. As for 3D max, I enjoy and use it very well but I’ve still got a lot to learn in Unreal engine and bonus skills in 3D max. I may end up in the gaming industry, but I need to work very hard to get there, which means avoiding unnecessary distractions. This isn’t easy, but with improving in time management, I shall hopefully get there. After coming this far and completing the first and second year, I really want to complete this degree and move on in my life to use my skills in the world of work.

Monday, 19 April 2010

They don't make them like they used to...

I was reminiscing over cartoons I used to watch as a child and grew up with (still do watch them when I get a chance) and I don’t know what’s happened to the industry but they definitely don’t make cartoons like they used to in the 90’s. The 90’s was a fantastic decade of childhood shows. Two that really stand out for me is “Cow and Chicken,” a surreal cartoon about odd siblings and “Ren and Stimpy,” another surreal and slightly twisted cartoon about a cat and dog.

What I loved about “Cow and Chicken” is the pure humour that came with it. I mean the siblings that are farm animals had human parents that only had legs. Plus they had a boneless chicken cousin and an uncle who was a slug married to a human with a child together! And who could forget the red devil guy that had an exposed rear-end for everyone to see. Now that would confuse any small child, but my curiosity towards the cartoon is what made it hilariously addictive. This cartoon was mad and quirky, the way David Feiss (creator) came up with ideas was amusing such as naming Cow’s cuddly toys ‘Crabs’ the warthog dog and ‘Manure’ the bear. Even adults could get into the cartoon as there were many adult jokes. Even as a young adult now, I still enjoy watching “Cow and Chicken” and understand the subliminal adult jokes I wouldn’t have understood as a child. This cartoon will never get old!

I remember John Kricfalusi’s (creator) use of sarcasm and animation with too much detail of expressive emotional features and disgusting close ups in “Ren and Stimpy”. This cartoon was insane and sinister with the dialogue, music and animation combined, it was powerful. In the episode “Space Madness” the way Kricfalusi portrays Ren’s progressing insanity was an eye-opener with Ren eating a bar of soap and referring to it as an ‘ice-cream bar.’ This was comical as well as bizarre which was the style the cartoon was well acknowledged for.

I guess the industry has stopped making cartoons like these because they are afraid of complaints due to the content. There’s the whole issue of nitpickers protesting the suitability of cartoons for children etc therefore cartoons nowadays are lacking that comical value with crap happy storylines that are ineffective.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

My intellect may be confused, but emotions will never lie

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog; I needed to get my thoughts down and a slight emotional rant before I forget. This time, I’ve felt an improvement in some time management as the group projects are motivating me to do the work without distractions, although there still are a few distractions that linger. I love my group, we all get on well together and co-operate with each other. If there are conflicting interests, we all work together to come to a final solution that everyone is happy with. No problems there.

But lately, my problem is that I let stupid things distract me from concentration, which is when I drift off into my own world again. I recently found out something that had changed the way I felt, but it was probably for the better since I’m now trying to focus with moving on and getting on with life which is actually harder than I thought. Talking to a few people (even if it did take some alcohol for me to open up) helped a lot and I got a lot of advice I’m grateful for. I’ve always been solo when it came to problems which probably isn’t a good idea as I keep things bottled up, hence even my closest friends don’t know some things about me.

There are things I easily get confused about and think about for long amounts of time like “Where do I stand? What the hells my purpose? Why are we here anyway?” I know I’m probably thinking too deep into something small but I can’t help but observe excessively think about certain things in life. Guess no human being knows the meaning of life, but we just have to live it and find ourselves. I really don’t think I’ve fully found myself just yet; I have much exploration to do and I don’t think I did any favours by staying in Leicester for university since I’ve been here all my life, I should’ve expanded my horizons. The only reason I did stay was for the course.

Its hard not to let certain aspects in life interfere with what’s really important, but moving on is the best thing to do now so I can go forward and make the best things in life priority rather than putting efforts into something or someone and not getting anywhere.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Motivation and Time Management

“The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.” Arthur C. Clarke.

Some inspirational and powerful words there. Made me think actually, how we can push ourselves to test our limits, bit like being a thrill seeker. So why do we need motivation? We work towards a desired goal/s for achievements.

From studies involving over 6000 people, Professor Steven Reiss proposed a theory that there are 16 basic desires that guide almost all human behaviour thus being motivated. The desires are:
• Acceptance, the need for approval
• Curiosity, the need to think
• Eating, the need for food, survival
• Independence, the need for individuality
• Order, the need for organised, stable, predictable environments
• Physical Activity, the need for exercise
• Power, the need for influence of will
• Romance, the need for sex
• Saving, the need to collect
• Social contact, the need for friends (peer relationships)
• Status, the need for social standing/importance
• Tranquility, the need to be safe
• Vengeance, the need to strike back
• Family, the need to raise children
• Honor, the need to be loyal to the traditional values of one's clan/ethnic group
• Idealism, the need for social justice

I’m sure we can all relate to most of the points there. All these aspects are part of happiness, self-satisfaction and survival for humans. Without them, we would be ‘cabbaged.’ It’s what makes the human mind interesting with the way we think.

Another useful quote for motivation is by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Self –trust is the first secret of success.”

Guess you need something to look forward to in order to get the ultimate motivation and ask yourself why you’re doing what you are.

And if we learn how to trust ourselves first, we become more motivated, as the success leads to achievements thus making ourselves feel happy. Just like console games, why are so many people motivated to constantly play them or chose this activity rather than coursework? Examples I can relate to are the game “Left for Dead” and “Grand Theft Auto” which have achievement and trophy systems as do other games. As soon as you complete a task or earn something, you gain a reward of an achievement or trophy and get a higher rank above other people, which becomes the reason why I’m motivated to carry on playing. This relates to the “status, need for social importance” desire. Also, playing “Left 4 Dead” gives me adrenalin rushes with the zombie hordes and unpredictable nature of the game.

Furthermore, if something is of great importance or interest for someone, we automatically use it as a motivational tool, no mater what it is. For example, it could be a person that drives you to achieve what you want and pleasing them.

Music is also a key tool that motivates me. I need it as it focuses my mind to the work. The rhythm of the music is everything. The best type of music I work to is drum and base/electronic such as Pendulum because I will work faster due to the rapid pace of the music.

Another motivator is having something to look forward to. For example, I made a promise to myself that I won’t buy the Xbox until sufficient work is done, however during this time, other aspects distract me anyway and it’s almost unavoidable.

Evil aspects that distract me the most are Facebook (what a killer of time, but horribly addictive!), PS3, going out, television and depressing experiences.

The one I’m most disappointed in myself for is watching television. In reality, all we’re doing is staring at a box with a light in it wasting away time. In the time I spend watching TV with pointless shows, I could be drawing, reading, sculpting and generally doing anything productive. I hope to learn from this so from now on so I limit myself to the occasional movie, as I find many very inspirational. For example, I watched “Avatar” in the cinemas the other week and found the general concept amazing. The movie really does send a message to the viewer about what we’re doing to this planet with technology and selfish desires. The movie cleverly draws in a wide target audience to create awareness. I also found the use of bright, saturated colours inspirational and how they we’re combined and used. This will definitely reflect on the aesthetic aspect of the work I produce.

“You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” Charles Bruxton.

How true this quote is. Achieving the amount of work you want is about finding the time to do it which means avoiding distractions. Time itself doesn’t really exist, it’s just something us humans created to form organisation, routine and order in this world. We as humans are animals that instinctively want to live how we want, when we want, but with time, we are in a set routine. Think about it, animals don’t go looking at the clock to check the time, unless it’s the ‘White Rabbit.’ If I could, I would live life as if there was no time to live around.

I admit, time management isn’t one of my strengths. I really suck at it! I’ve tried to make a timetable to organise my time, before but I can never keep it up. Something will interfere. I’ll end up doing something else last minute such as go out or play the PS3 when I shouldn’t be. And what really discourages me is the set amount of time we should be putting into our work because I know I’m not doing as much as I should be, therefore this ends up demotivating and slowing down the production of work.

I know we should be working hours like a full time job, but we’re only human (no, I’m not using it as an excuse) and depending on different people, we are guaranteed to have depressing and unproductive days and we all work at different paces. We’re not machines that have no emotion or feelings. Obstacles in life are always going to be there to demotivate the mind to think “what’s the point?”

My problem is I keep telling myself that I have plenty of time to do the work, there’s always tomorrow right? WRONG. This continuous cycle leads me to do the work last minute and panic. But the weird thing is, this “panic” turns into an adrenalin rush and I all of a sudden start working twice as fast, but not rush the work and end up with some good final outcomes of work but of course I don’t produce sufficient amount of work.

I noticed that from the diary of what we did for a week, I found the typical distractions on there were the PS3, facebook, going out drinking and DVDs. But the blank hours where I did absolutely nothing was me spending the time literally sitting there collecting my thoughts and thinking about life. As my friends know I tend to drift off into my own world and I know it is not practical, but I can’t avoid it, I just do it. I suppose I need something to fill that void that makes me wonder off?

Next term I really need to get my act together and buckle down with the work as soon as it is set. I need to avoid these silly distractions, focus on what motivates me, filter out what demotivates and just get on with the work. The thought of failing continuously worries me.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: 'No Russian'

CoD 'No Russian' Mission

Following on from the talk we had with Chris today, the clip of the ‘No Russian’ mission from ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’ where an undercover detective, pretending to be a terrorist in Moscow airport really stood out. The detective must work with real terrorists and shoot innocent civilians in an attack or blow his cover and be shot himself. This controversial mission has been banned from various countries from its immoral and shocking content.

Before the mission starts, a “Disturbing Content Notice” is displayed warning players that they may find the mission offensive, therefore they have the option to skip the mission at any time.

The mission is there because Activision chose a brave step to publish this and went out of the boundaries that other games have stayed within. The mission is described as ‘sickening and disturbing,’ but isn’t that the whole point? The gamer is supposed to be hesitant when pulling the trigger to understand the character’s situation and understand what they are feeling.

I don’t understand what the big deal is about when other games such as Grand Theft Auto contain unethical content as innocent civilians also die due to your actions in some missions such as the bank robbery. After all, there’s also an endless list of movies that we see unethical behaviour in.

It depends on the individual player’s moral beliefs and mentality to come to the conclusion of whether this is wrong in a game or not. The game is meant for mature adults and at the end of the day, playing the game, causes no harm to anyone physically; it’s just informing us of what’s happening in this world.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

This is just the beginning...

It’s incredible how fast this year has gone by, maybe because it isn’t a “full” year but overall I have enjoyed the first year with the course, the people I have met and learning new skills. My confidence has increased a lot in this year compared to my college days. I guess university changes part of who you are and provides experience to find yourself.

I particularly enjoyed the experiences I have encountered. I now know you have to go out there in the world and find what influences you to be creative. Books and pictures are not as useful as experiencing places first hand. Stepping out of the university boundaries would allow us to expand our horizons and drive our innovative ideas and in the next two years, hard work, passion and determination will be the key to success.

I don’t think we did enough traditional art in the first year of this course as technology has once again taken over. So introducing more traditional art in the second year would be a useful idea as there is a key trend of traditional art skills required in the gaming industry. This practice will have a domino effect with the rest of the work. If the skills in traditional art are improved, then the 3D work and digital paint will flourish.