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.

In 3 Years Time?

By the end of this course, I really hope to get a job in either games or the film industry (preferably games) and I will do whatever it takes to get there. One thing I hate is giving up and I won’t be doing that any time soon.

I deliberate what I’ve been taught and apply it to my own learning processes. When I first started using 3D Max at the beginning of the year, like many others, I hadn’t a clue what to do but then I used what I had been taught to explore the program and now I know how to use the program effectively straight from trial and error and I hope to do this with all my work in the next 2 years.

In order to get where you want to be, you have to adapt to the needs of the industry by following the key qualifications and requirements from an early stage of learning.

I am a keen person with problem solving. If a problem occurs, I think about a solution to solve it rather than leave the problem to inflate, which I do when critiquing others and my own work.

Life Changing or Career Building?

Liberal arts colleges mould students to relate to general knowledge and develop the student’s rational thought and intellectual capabilities. To be honest, I think liberal arts colleges are there to give students common sense and logic. A degree is almost like a guide into the gaming industry, a rather useful one but you don’t necessarily need a one to obtain the qualities needed for the gaming industry. Both do provide a valid and fulfilling experience to students in their own way but I have only gained experienced from learning through a degree since I haven’t attended any liberal arts colleges.

Looking at job vacancies for game companies, in order to get the job, I discovered a key trend in the requirements. The applicant must have experience and logic. The words: ‘passion, enthusiasm, problem solving, team working and work within deadlines’ appeared in almost every job requirements.

Evan Hirsch, head of Acme Animotion Group (Hoboken, NJ), a firm specializing in providing 3D design and support for industrial design and animations states: "I want to see the basics: sketching, portfolio examples that show me how the student thinks and understands light, form, and function. I don't want to see a lot of slick computer graphics that don't show me anything; I'm after good fundamental skills."

There is no right answer for this one; in the end, it all depends on the individual applying for the job. It is down to their passionate work, motivation and drive that determine whether they qualify for the industry.

Sound for Games

Nowadays, without sound, there would be no game. Well, there would, but it would be a somewhat crap game. I know there are games that are still epic when played without sound like ‘Tetris,’ but with high consumer expectations and progression of technology, sound is a very important aspect to games that determine their overall experience.

Sound used in ‘Tekken’ makes each character unique to give them personality and background. In ‘Tekken Tag,’ the character named ‘Unknown’ has a stage soundtrack that suits her well. This character is under the control of an evil spirit in the form of a wolf and the composed music fits perfectly.

‘Unknown’ stage soundtrack:

An example of a game where the sound effects and music have a lasting effect on the player is in ‘Left 4 Dead.’ As you shoot the infected in this first hand player game, you may encounter a witch and the game warns you when you are approaching her with creepy music that becomes louder as you get closer. And what really created the eerie atmosphere is the disturbing witch’s crying sound effect with the backing music. Sound is a warning of on-coming danger in this game and creates tension. If the game is played on mute your character is as good as dead.

Left 4 Dead Witch:

Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards composition 'Good Times' signalled the start of the take-off of hip hop music, and the song contributed to the success of the Sugarhill Gang's 'Rapper's Delight,’ the first-ever hip hop record. It was this same song, with Edwards’ catchy bassline that influenced Queen's John Deacon to write the hit, ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ in 1980. ‘Good Times’ is a prominent recording but I can’t say if it was the most influential recording of the 20th Century since I haven’t heard enough ‘influential’ music in that time to judge.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Game Engines

Ok this is a rather tedious blog and I have no idea how to make it interesting but here it is...

A game engine is the software intended to create and develop video games. With game engines, functions such as rendering for 2D or 3D graphics and collision detection are used.
Furthermore, game engines also provide the use of: animation, sound, networking scripting, artificial intelligence and memory management all of which are needed to make the game as realistic as possible.

Additive and subtractive environments relates to the way which the 3D world in games are created. Where the player can interact with the surroundings in a game, the ‘world’ is everything which the player can see and the type of environment determines what is outside of the world.

Additive environments consist of a void, empty area. When an element is created such as a room, a space within the void is sealed off to create the area for the room. This may be a hollow cube shape. In order to create landscape with the sky, the terrain, buildings and trees are designed first then the scene is surrounded by a ‘skybox’ which is a large hollow box with the inside showing the sky. The hollow shapes must keep the void out as the world and void must be separated. A hole in the world is a “leak.”

The 3D engine ‘LithTech’ used additive environments to create ‘Alien vs. Predator.’

In a subtractive environment, there is no void. Instead, before a world is created, there is only an infinite solid. The world is created by subtracting sections from the infinite solid, thus creating hollow spaces for the player to exist in. There are less likely to be leaks in the world this way.

The additive environment is easier to manipulate so some designers may work their way around the subtractive style of editing by subtracting a large cube, for example, then creating a void in the middle of the large cube (infinite solid) then working in the middle of the (fake) void.

The 3D engine ‘The Unreal Engine’ uses subtractive environment which created ‘Unreal Tournament and Deus Ex.’

An advantage into buying proprietary technology is that it is a way of gaining more income. For example, Unreal Engine 3 has given a licensing agreement to EA games. However, the disadvantage to this is that EA plans to modify the engine and if the turnout of their games are not successful, Unreal Engine 3 may lose reputation, therefore losing the chance to licence to other gaming companies.

Next generation games now have the challenge of successfully meeting consumer demand and expectations. There has been a vast improvement in games with graphics and gameplay being very realistic, but how far can consumer anticipations go?