Tuesday, 22 February 2011

FMP brief status report...

Right so after much negotiation of time, the final date for my visit to good Ole Landon is tomorrow and i anticipate quite a rush in the completion of assets shortly after seeing as i have quite a lot of models that require the photo textures i will acquire. I also need to refine some details that i missed first time around when i wasn't entirely sure what i was doing. Well this blogs going to be fairly short it seems as their isn't really much more to say at the moment besides progress is at least reasonably steady.. Any who back to trawling through the list which looks like this at the moment.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Final Major Pain in the.....

I never expected the final major to be an easy project it would have be silly of me to make such presumptions i do feel though maybe i underestimated the scale of job i have given myself. The more and more i look at the photos i have gathered, the more assets i find and id love to do them all but sadly this seems less and less likely. The reason is mostly due to my own personal time constrictions, i believe if i wasn't working then i would have been much further ahead by now in this project as in principle this should be a breeze.. Anyone who ever thinks lecturers in colleges or universities sit on their asses all day telling students what to do is sadly mistake after the month I've had believe me when i say its seriously bloody difficult..

So what have i done so far? well I've been mostly working on big assets and trying to pad the level out but i have made probably 20% of the small assets as well. Many require textures but the ones that are untextured are left that way because i am waiting to take photos of the originals in the war museum to use for textures. Much like the rooftop project i am again adopting the attitude of only using effects where neccessary to bring the level to life, in contrast to others who use them merely to cover up poor work.At first i was really looking forward to this project but i feel now the excitement is slowly dindling away as pressure is put on, naturally this is a tough titties scenario as that is how the real world works. I am hoping that the flame is reignited next week when i visit and i actually get behind the glass screen to get up close the historical pieces in fact i am getting pretty excited thinking about it so im sure that will work.

Im not going to go on to much more about my FMP for now as i dont want to share my ideas with others but hopefully if all goes to plan ill have a nice piece to add to my portfolio by the end of it ^_^.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Sony NGP... Two words Words! Splat Pants

I never thought any time in the near future I'd see console graphics hit the handheld market, at least i never expected it to be on the scale that Sony have managed! It has been some time since i have been genuinely excited about a handheld, in fact i cant remember the last time but this console has all the bells and whistles making it far superior to anything on the market or that is going to be on the market for the next year.

Here's the specs if you haven't seen them already.
Sony NGP Specs

After watching the tech demo conference where they featured the NGP running uncharted at an incredibly smooth frame rate it has not started making me ponder, I have always thought of the gaming world in the same terms as the evolution of the television and when relating it to that until now i have always thought of games being in the black and white era but i believe now since handhelds have caught up this must mean because of our human nature to always strife for progression i predict home consoles in the next few year are going to make a leap beyond what any of us can perceive as they make the leap from the black and white period to what i guess is hypothetically the colour era.

Now back to the Sony NGP, of course Nintendo has ruled the market for handhelds for 2 decades now and I'm fairly sure they fancied a 3rd. Unfortunately for Nintendo i think they are about to take a dive in profits! I cannot personally see people going for the 3DS, my reasons for this are simple really. Nintendos main market is the casual market and most people i know own a DS, even my mum! However i cannot see people like my mum going for the hype of the 3DS over the cheaper standard version. Nintendo have always been about innovation and gimicness and i admire that and for the most part this has provided them with much success but i fear now this is no longer enough for the Serious gaming market and perhaps to much for the casual gaming market this is where Sonys window of opportunity opens up!

In classic Sony fashion they have analysed their competitors, stole the technology only then to vamp it up to being 10 times better and cramming it into a object that is no bigger than its predecessor. Thought the complexity of this machine may still not appeal to the casual market it will definitely be in the Christmas stockings of every Girl, Boy, Man and Woman who has a serious passion for games.

Now what begs the question is what happens next for Nintendo? when they fell in this situation after the fail of the gamecube they cam up with Wii and revolutionised gaming which makes me extremely anxious to see how they react to the NGP. Maybe Nintendo will play the cheap and cheerful card? That's the only way i can see the 3DS being a success who knows either way all i know is that this year is going to be a very interesting year for the video games industry.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Is new MotionScan technology the beginning of the end for Animators and character artists alike?

Now obviously if you haven't seen the MotionScan technology here is a link for it and i recommend watching it because its quite an interesting watch.

It is fair to say that with this its not just about character animators its also about character modellers, this new bit of technology is fantastic and no animator could ever match the level of realism it produces and the same applys for modellers, it has took games to a proper cinematic level. It is no longer the case that the actors hired are just voice actors to sort of recognisable 3D sprites, now the actor has to do the same job that they do in TV programmes and movies by actually doing a full performance.

I do think 'LA Noire' will become a bench mark for future games as it looks incredibly impressive, i do however think the technology needs some work but not so much the MotionScan tech but more the old tat Motion Capture tech. My reasons for saying this are the heads look so good that its actually making the old fashioned motion capture that is used on the body look really dated and its devaluing it, for example, 2.44 on the clip the detective pulls out a gun but it looks incredibly dodgy and jittery in comparison to the smooth movement of the head.

Now do i honestly think that this is the beginning of the end for character artists and animators? Well no not really at least not fully, sure with the technology there to create such incredible likeness's of the head its only a matter of time before this is combined fully with motion capture and extends to the rest of the body, but there will always be a need for character artists as not all characters are human or based on realism and of course these will need to be animating. Further more this could be a blessing in disguise after all animators can put their focus on making the other aspects of the game seem more real such as environment animation or animal animation.

Overall I'm just glad to see the industry is still striving in the pursuit for ever more realism and from a gamers standpoint this is awesome but from a game artists point of view i imagine this is a scary prospect after all as the limitation get lower and lower, the level of expectation goes the other way but i suppose like myself this also seems exciting as what would be the point in being an artist if you didn't want to strife for realism.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Fingers crossed.... time to jump the nest

Just applied for the Blitz open day though Ive worked in the industry i only worked for a small company with 12 to a team i would love to see blitz's operation with far bigger teams at work. I opted to send my Wallace and Gromit vehicle to them in the end, after the response i got from Heather id have been daft not to.

So apart from seeing Blitz's teams in action what are my other reasons for wanting to go? Well i guess the main reason everyone else is trying too, to get some outside of uni professional criticism from a company that is well established. The fact it is only 10 minutes down the road has nothing to do with it at all lol! If i get in id be pretty chuffed at just making it that far it would at least tell me that they think i have the potential to make it into a company of that stature not that im knocking Supersonic Software! I loved my time there and they have been around as long as Blitz but havent had the same fortune expansion wise.

I haven't really discussed my ambitions really but i think now seems appropriate. My really urge is to teach, Ive wanted to do this since back in college and everything i did till the point i got here at uni was to push towards that and I'm happy to announce that i got a job last month starting tomorrow as a sessional lecturer for a few days a week still giving me plenty of time to do my FMP ( mostly due to the fact i don't really sleep more than 2 hours a night!).

In my new responsibilities as a sessional lecturer i will be covering 7 units overall broke down into 4 sections 3D environments, Computer Game Engines, Production Management and Working to a brief all of this of course i have done and by now there is no excuse if it is under par.

Accidentally the Guru scheme has given me quite a good start towards building my confidence to do this as i stated before in a previous blog, i really did enjoy doing it and its only because of this job that i wont be doing it if it continues this term as well. Between this and the Group project last year Ive realised i have developed new characteristics taking on responsibilities and always trying to be at the helm where organisation is concerned. These have moved me away from the immature prat i was in first year towards something which i hope is far more professional.

Beyond this though i do have a further ambition and that is to work for my dream company, Rare. This desire has manifested from being a big fan of their games and stylisation. So this is my next goal after 5 years of teaching i hope to look to returning to the industry in the meantime while teaching naturally i will improve my skills taking freelance work on the side to keep my foot in the door.

I think this is a realistic goal for sure, but i have unrealistic ambitions too im one of these types of people who if i was a bird the moment i was born id have gone right todays the day by the end of the day im flying out of here...An example of one of my unlikely ambitions is one that i am planning on giving a go straight after university. It is to create a RTS based game in Unreal using Unreal script to write the framework there are already open source ones in progress and i hope to contribute to this in the near future. Of course i could never manage this alone within a feasible time at least and that's where the plan falls short at the moment with only a few people interested but it wont stop me giving it a shot.

I recently met my old school form tutor funny enough and he labeled me as a grafter i never really thought of my self as this and I'm still not sure if that's really true i don't remember ever working particular hard in school haha but i suppose it was a nice compliment none the less and if it is true i hope it still stands.

The FMP! I am extremely looking forward to this as i dig the world war era not because it had guns and fighting but for the more subtle things in the environments. Manufacturing in the era was beautiful everything had a touch of quality to it that you don't get today. For example the brass toggle light switches! none of that cheap plastic tat you get today imported from china this is to most people just a device that performs two functions, off and on... But to me this is brilliant to look at and in the area i chose rather ingeniously someone tweaked one to act as a cigarette lighter. Yes i am that easily pleased!

Well i think i have babled on a bit to much in this blog but hope everyone had a happy christmas and a great new year. now in the words of JG Holland "God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest." spot on there Mr Holland.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Back to the 3DTV's : the final opinion

I can now properly pass judgement on 3D televisions, because i purchased one just before Christmas ha ha!

Yes it was rather and impulse buy but one that i don't actually regret surprisingly. In a previous blog entry "To 3D or not 3D that is the question" i did slate 3DTVs a bit and yes some of the points i made still stand but i can clarify all those points now.

The first is are 3DTV's as pointless as i first made out, well in fact no... I admit i made a bit of a misjudgement about them but granted it wasnt until i took a chance on buying one that i realised this. You get a far better experience on a 3DTV than you do in a standard cinema. Places like Showcase and the Odeon branches whip out substandard 3D movies ( of which i am talking about those that are not designed to be in 3D) and it generates a negative reception towards films and the 3D technology. It wasn't till i visited the IMAX cinema to watch Toy Story 3 that i realised the potential for 3D in media and especially in the field of video games.

Yes it has a long way to go but the picture quality on the TV's is fantastic and the added feature of being able to turn 2D into 3D is far more effective than that used in normal cinemas which just confirms that to them its all about the dough and not the customers (no surprises there no doubt).

In my last blog i had a crack at the glasses and in part that still stands but to clear up a few things they are not as bad as first perceived. In comparison to normal cinema ones they are quite comfortable, so much so i spent 5 hours and had no troubles what so ever. This doesn't obviously apply to everyone some people do get discomfort around the ears, eye strain and dizziness it depends on the person but that's just hard luck.

The glasses do fit comfortably over normal glasses quite snugly to my surprise but i stick by what i said that the sooner 3D glasses are gone the better mostly due to the expense of them at £59.99 a pop for a non rechargeable pair. Companies are working on 3DTV minus the glasses and in fact have some in production but they are to small in size to take off commercially over here in the UK or in the US.

The final issue they seem to have sussed with 3D telly's is how they are made everything dark before, they have fixed this by attaching light sensors that adjust the glasses tint to the conditions of the room. Sometimes this works great other times its a bit dodgy due to light from the screen, but either way its on the right track.

One major plus i have for 3D is as mentioned before with video games. I was playing COD earlier and couldn't get over how much depth it gave the game it was fantastic and can only get better so there is lots of room for improvement.

So overall it now seems more promising than it previously did...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The First Semester - Brief project reflection

Well end of the first semester and what better time to reflect on the 2 projects we were assigned than now.

The first project being the rooftop, my initial reaction to the brief was quite shocked. 20,000 triangles was a tight budget so realistically i should have gone for a format that was better suited to such a low amount like Wii or psp but nooo i thought 'ah what the hell make it Xbox 360 it will be a nice challenge'... I can tell you know that it really really was.

The first obstacle i hit was the piping as i knew this would take up allot of valuable triangles, so i addressed it by using a Lego style system and creating higher poly ends for the pipes to give the impression that the rest of them were allot rounder than they are. Even with this the sheer amount of piping on the rooftop was to much so i did have to make alterations from the reference just so it would make some sense.

I had other issues and had to try my best to get
the assets the lowest i could and bake the detail on. One of the biggest problems i had was the dam water pumps which you can see in the the picture the left. Other than this everything else was relatively straight forward, sure it all needed to be monitored but for the most part it was a breeze.

This still isn't 100% finished as i need to add some polishing touches such as fixing seams and adding some decals which i have factored into my texture budget but its almost there

The second project was a choice between doing either a sculpt or a vehicle of your choice. Id already been playing around with Zbrush previously and had made a sculpt of Winston Churchill's head so i was more or less fed up of that sort so i chose to make a vehicle. But that wasn't the only reason! I also knew that it was pretty much to me like kryptonite was to superman! I hated modelling cars and planes it just really was my thing so i thought what better way to improve than by taking a gamble on my grades.

If i struggled id have got a bad grade in what is a very important year, this pushed me to better myself in this area and to succeed i needed to make something that i knew i would enjoy making and at first i chose the Honda Civic because its my favourite car and overall its a bit weird, that was until i seen what Amy was doing and from the moment i seen the Wallace and Gromit bike i thought wow what an awesome idea so with her permission i stole the idea but instead made their car.

Amy had a fantastic book which was really a joke book as it was the Haynes manual for Wallace's inventions but it had everything in it that i needed. The budget was 9000 which i actually thought was bang on to create something really nice yet sensible and enough that i could actually try and do the car justice.

So the car is more or less finished just a few polishing bits, the destroyed one is still in the shop having work done but its not far off i guess here's a screenshot of it in unreal. I plan on putting the hierarchy in it over the next week or so so it will be drivable in time for hand in :-).

All i can say is i have thoroughly enjoyed this project and it picked me up from a bout of depression due to the rooftop ha, so all good. The final count for this was 8999 tris so i used almost every triangle to get the best shape i could.