Monday, 23 March 2009

The yearly reflection and feedback...

Well the end of the uni year is upon us and its now at least for me that the work begins in what i feel was a rather slacking year for me and all i can do is apologize for that. Year 2 will be the start or the real course and i will be ready for it.

In this blog i realise i am suppose to say about any enhancements and such and happily i will. The one i have been thinking for a while now is wednesdays with Mike. They are good and the speeches and talks are great but what i find is the talks in the morning really motivate me to work but then i watch the film in the afternoon and depending on the type of film all of that driver gets truly zaped out of me. I know im not the only one who feels like this because ive discussed it with a few other students and its why at times unless its a film ive been really wanting to see i have missed the film in the afternoon purposely to continue working. I realise the importance of the films so i normally either borrow them off a friend or rent them out for the night and this system works for me quite well.

So the thougght is switching them around but i can see how this would also be a bad idea and to make it work it would need a little more thinking.

I cant complain about mondays as the layout is fine and everything seems to work the only thing i would say is that the tutorials are done before most people start the work but then again everyone develops their own way of doing things and the new method can be tried on the next model.

ahh visual design its no secret that this isnt my favourite subject lol but its a necessity and once again it seems to work the only annoying thing is that people have switched groups unbalancing the numbers but thats the students faults not the tutors but definatly need to find a way to keep that balance.

Right sorry ajavascript:void(0)bout the ranting but its little thoughts some of which are obvious and some which are not so obvious. To the learning stuff well i think what was writen in the blog brief was a good structure for next year and really until its in action i cant really comment on them but to get another artist in like ben mathis again would be ace and more sculpting is a great idea as it is certainly helping me with form and is definaly rubbing off on to my 3d skills. Not to mention its jst nice to see a 2d sketch come to like in real life 3d form.

Well i know i havent been much help but i tried and thats all that matters, later people..

The scale of this industry...

To continue from the poor title above, the scale of this industry or branch of media as some would put it is getting increasingly bigger. This is displayed in many ways but i have just been made aware of one way which shows not only how much it has expanded but also the seriousness of it all as a business in modern society.

The GDC is basically what i am refering to. It stands for Game Developers Conference and spans all the career roots and what exactly is happening within them. Any people who go along to this go to either see the latest developements in there fields or to see the latest development in the industry in general giving game companys a chance to flex their muscles and display new engines or technologys they may be developing.

Ive watched a videos off the net now and have seen some of the impressive techs that have been developed for realtime heres one to do with lighting that really impressed me as i consider lighting one of the fundimental aspects of a games realism.

Concluding this im really looking forward to seeing what companys have conjured up, personally im hoping for a new point and click technology to add a boom in that area *sigh* i can hope.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

life changing or career building???

This is by far the easiest blog to write as i knew before i started the course as to what i stood to gain from it.. For everyone this may be similer or completely different but we all have one common reason for being at uni and that is to pursue a career in computer games.

For me i knew in college that i wanted to be a modeller, and ive gotten pretty good at it and at texturing and rigging as well as animation. But i lack in the drawing area for similar reasons as was mentioned in one of mikes talks about the educational system taking the creativity out of us well sadly as far as drawing was concerned i was one of them and even more sadly it caused me to lose interest in it full stop.

I have already gained from uni in a sense that i am now doing drawing and although im not great im improving all the time and thats one of the things i hope to achieve in the 3 years. I know i wont be picasso but it helps me with my abbition to be a modeller as it gives me a firm understanding of form, in other words if i can draw it and understand the form then i can definatly model it in a 3d package. Of course this also helps my texturing ability as well.

In all every aspect of the course is helping me to improve and move forward to my goal and hopefully by the end of the 3rd year i will be exactly where i want to be.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Games in education dont mock it plumbers, it does exist!!

This is a fairly new concept in education and yes is mocked by most educators who mindlessly do not understand the aspects of game development.
The problem video game educators have is firstly its a forever changing industry and therefore the education and expectations are always changing because of this it makes it a very dynamic subject to teach.

The dilema is mostly down to two different qualitys that companys go for.. One of the qualitys is that companys want highly trained staff and this applys for both artists and programmers alike. However there are other companies that would prefer more creative employees with more tradition skills along the lines of fine art oppposed to studying specifically for games. This obviously posers a issue for game educators as they have to have a fine balance in teaching between the two.

The real question is which one is right and which is wrong, well neither of them are wrong as both contain valuable assets that companys crave so a mix of both is the perfect solution tho obviously this means that companys only looking for one quality may choose to employ someone who has just studyied one of them that they favour instead of a potential employee who has studied both.

When put like that it just shows how hard it must be for a course leader to decide the direction of the course and what to teach and what not to teach.

On a personal level i think the fine balance between the two is the right direction it provides the essencial skills to a reasonably high level while also exploring the traditional aspects or art, but its no secret that in the industry experience is often favoured over fresh meat no matter how talented the person may be but everyone has to start somewhere hey?...

Sounds good to me... sound and video games...

Ahhh i still remember now the crappy mono tones that came from the tv as i turned on my amiga. How far games has come as an industry is evident in every aspect but with sounds its one of the few factors that is almost never recognised.

Its evolution from mono to multi channels was similar to that of the mobile phone howeever it all happened at a much more rapid rate. I remember Mario back on the snes, the sound was aweful with only 5 channels but then it was released on snes in stereo and that was basically like the leap from mono phones to poly phones except there was no hype as graphics always overshadow every other aspect. Further advancements have now brought it up to CD quality but it has taken many many years to reach that.

To the main point though, how is sound used in games?? Well sound is definatly one of the key elements for realism in video games. It gives the ambience and life feel perhaps in todays consoles it gives more of an essense of real life than graphics do. Sounds in games range from theme music to speech to background noises as the channels and quality increases the realism will only get sharper, deeper and more believable.

These days many composers dedicate themselfs strictly to games and i have met one of them in person at a show hosted every year called 'Video Games Live' which i much recommend as its a great show. The Composer that runs the show is Tommy Tallarico. Hes the most established composer in the world and has worked on hundreds of titles spanning around 18 years from prince of persia to lesser titles such as pacman world.

There is one sound from a video game that always comes into my mind as being literally music to my ears and that is the satisfying little tune played on the broken sword titles when you get the puzzle right ahh reminds me of many frustrating hours at the same time though.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Vroom Vroom Game Engines

Many gamers overlook this core factor of games development unless of course you have a keen interest in the programming of a game instead of the visual side. The game engine is just like a car engine, it brings all the components together to work as one but it also acts as the brain of the game. Its pre-coded with scenarios and as the player acts them out it takes the appropriate measures.

A game engine is made up of many key elements and i shell list the main ones and how the are used.

The first is the obvious and that is 'meshes'. Anyone who knows anything about game development knows what this is and if they don't they need to give up and start a career as a nun or priest or something. Meshes is the solid virtual mass made up of triangles (or poly's which is 2 triangles formed to make a quad) to create shapes of buildings,characters,objects etc.. Using another key element called scripting (possibly the biggest element) programmers can move or control other elements and its the scripting that makes the game work full stop.

The main big function of an engine that defines the realism of a game is the physics component. This controls basic physic simulation including collision detection, rigid body animations and vehicle physics but these features are always used in each engine and neither does each engine provide them.

Other Elements that are key in a game that a game engine gives are Texturing and Lighting. The texturing at least in my opinion is the most important factor in the whole engine as it gives realism to otherwise lifeless generic grey models. Of course though mesh is still required so they all need each other. the texturing in the engine connects with another element called Lighting which does what is says on the tin. Combined with normal and specular maps a game engine can give depth to models and textures using the lighting to create a fantastic illusion or 3d on a 2d surface.

Moving off key elements as there are many more but its one of those snore factors if talked about to much. Its methods of game creation that i didn't really want to have to talk about as it is quite confusing and although important is fairly uninteresting. I'm talking about subtractive and addictive in which this normally refers to environment creation.

Addictive involves the creation of a void in virtual space. Within this space game developers create what i guess is best described by saying imagine a plot of land in the middle of the country.. when builders come to build the house they wouldn't put the furniture in place first and then build around it, they would first build the house then fill it with objects. That's exactly what it is its the addition of a space in non space if that makes sense, i did say it was rather confusing.

Subtractive is merely the opposite, i will use the field as an example again. This time imagine theres a solid concrete block in the middle of the field well instead of adding objects to the scene you essentially carve away the block to create space in the mass.

When it comes to game engines theres always that difficult decision for companies of whether to create and in house engine or purchase licencing for an external one. Both have there benifits and depending on the engine some more than others... the advantages of buying a game engine is a company can get straight on with the games and not have to spend time fiddling about with troublesome game engines development. Another advantage is it will more than likely not only have what you need but also reasonbly bug free.

The disadvantages are firstly the obvious one... you have to pay for it, though granted to create a system it would probably cost more in man power but also the modding capabilitys are limited and customising to the needs of a forever changing industry may not be the case. There is the added perk though of creating an in house engine and that is the company not only can easily manipulate the software but they can licence it off to other companys.

The issues with next gen game engines are the same as the problems faced with the last gen engines and so on. More power, more efficency and better quality of game all of these factors depend entirely on how good the engine is and always will. Curse you cycles!!!