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.