Sunday, 15 March 2009

It's the end of the first year... already???

I can’t believe how quickly the first year has gone. I’ve learnt so much and I’m looking forward to challenging myself further.

What I probably found most challenging was using 3Ds Max Studio although now I think I’m beginning to understand it a lot better now, especially over the last few weeks. Reading that we are hopefully going to have more non-computer work next year is a relief.

Drawing classes were the most enjoyable for me. I used many techniques that I had never used before. I did enjoy life drawing although I would have liked to have drawn more than one life model. Other than that, I feel much more confident about my drawing skills.

I think it would be really good if we discussed the films we watched more. It would be beneficial to us to study and understand many different brands of media.

Looking at more digital and traditional art sounds like good idea so we can develop our perception of past and future arts.

I’m excited about starting the second year and I hope that these changes will be made in one form or another to offer us a broader reflection of learning.

Friday, 13 March 2009


It took me a while to find a topic that I found appealing on the GDC link but then I came across the “Serious Games Summit”. This essentially led me to “Designing the First Social Reality Game to Motivate Change” which is a talk on the development of a game called Akoha.

It is basically an online game that allows you to participate in real-life missions. These missions can vary wildly from “Invite a friend for coffee” to “Give someone a book”. However, you need the appropriate cards for the mission. You receive some of these cards when you sign up. You then play the card forward onto the next person and then they play-it-forward to one of their friends who will then possibly join in. It just keeps going like that. Simple.

The purpose of this is to allow people to be part of an online community and still get out there and make new friends. In this respect I think it’s a very good idea and could be quite effective but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that at first I thought it was a little bit odd.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Creativity... revisited!

I have yet again researched the definition of creativity and I have found that it means something different to each individual. Well actually, I knew this anyway but now I have a more versatile concept of creativity.

One of the articles I read said that half of creativity is thinking and the other half is producing or well... creating! Something else I read said that if you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative, not creative. I do agree with this and I said in my previous post about creativity that part of the meaning is the execution of an idea. Another thing I read is that creativity is original, not predictable. I’m not sure how much I agree with this. I think it depends on the person in question.

Some people believe that you can only be creative if you’re artistic. This is far from the truth. Creativity is part of everything. Sports, cuisine, science, everything.

It is said that we are naturally creative and as we grow up, we learn to be uncreative. That is why children are probably the most creative people on the planet. When a child is being creative, I think that their process of creativity is more important than the final product because it allows them to use their minds in a mature way. This could essentially help to prepare them for the world they live in and characterize the people they grow up to be.

All of these views are very different but in my opinion, in some form, they all define creativity. There is no right or wrong answer. Creativity is whatever it means to you.

Friday, 6 March 2009

My Inspiration

For the post I have chosen to discuss my new found curiosity in digital painting and which digital artists inspire me.

I’ve only been using Photoshop for a couple of months but I seem to be getting used to it quite rapidly. My techniques still need some work and I have to learn to blend my tones and colours but so far so good. I should probably take some time to explore it a bit and see what everything does and also to learn more about how I can use layers because so far I’m pretty clueless.

I’ve got into the habit of buying the monthly, “Imagine FX” magazine. This is where I have discovered some of my favourite digital artists. The first of my top muses is Marta Dahlig and the painting that made me a fan is “Umbrella Sky”.

I love this piece. In her work she uses a brilliant quality of realism that is both powerful and beautiful. In “Umbrella Sky” the background is amazing and the colours are phenomenal. Even though she isn’t my favourite artist, I’m still a great fan and I hope she produces some more pieces soon.

The next of my muses is Jason Chan. He opts for a more cartoon like approach with fresh concepts on characters. I’m currently looking through his work as I write this and his work is really cool. I like all of them but the one that stood out to me the most was “Zombie Playground”.

I think this is a brilliant concept and I love the techniques he’s used. I remember playing games like this with my friends when I was a kid although I’m not sure if the painting is conveying a child’s game where you can see the projections of their imaginations or an actual scene where they are fighting for their lives. This is still quite a humorous image either way. What is also appealing is the use of bright colours. Typical zombie films usually use dark colours to set an atmosphere of hopelessness but “Zombie Playground” works in an opposite way. This makes it unique.

Marc Brunet is my next source of inspiration and the painting that added him to my collection is “The Shipwreck”.

He likes to use warm colours in his work and this is a prime example of this feature. The application of light is stunning and I really like the soft textures in the background and the water. Her laid-back pose and the way she gazes into the distance, despite the fact that she’s crashed her ship, really allows you to see the kind of character she is.

Now comes Kekai Kotaki. He uses a much sharper, edgy kind of style in his paintings and unlike Marc Brunet, he uses colder colours. Another thing is how most of his work portrays dark, mysterious figures coated in armour. I looked at his website and the painting that attracted my eye was “Lady in White”.

I found this image on Kotaki’s blog which I have now become a follower of. The top image is the original version and the lower two are altered versions. I probably prefer the original but I think the red splattered on the lower one makes it incredibly powerful.

Finally is Raymond Swanland and the painting that made me a fan of his is a piece that he developed for an issue of the Imagine FX magazine. I don’t know what its name is but I think it could possibly be my favourite of my chosen five.

Here is a scan of the issue cover which it made its first appearance. It looks like some kind of dragon but whatever it is, it’s dominating, almost god-like manifestation aside, it has a peaceful feel about it. It has a warm glow which makes it appear luminous. Raymond Swanland assures his dragon is the centre of attention with neutral colours in the background. What makes it what it is for me is the strange ring surrounding its head. Hopefully you can see why I have chosen this to be my favourite.

Friday, 27 February 2009

My future...

What do I want from University?
Like pretty much all students, I want a career in the profession I’m studying. I guess to get a job in gaming would be a dream come true. I would love to be a concept artist. I don’t really mind yet what company I would do that job for but in the future I’ll have a better idea about what specifics I would search for in a career. The idea of me doing what I love to do for a living is so exciting but just because I love it, it doesn’t mean I’ll expect it to be easy. In fact, I hope it is sometimes quite challenging where I have to push myself to the limit to draw out the best of my abilities. I’ll do whatever it takes to become the artist I aim to become.

I, like all the first years so far, have a long way to go until we are ready to play a role in the industry. My skills are slowly improving and I’m beginning to discover and understand things I never thought I could. I’ve learnt to value art in all its forms and what qualities you observe in order to develop a mature and professional opinion. My drawing has vastly improved and I’ve learnt a wide variety of techniques that I employ to make my artwork more authentic. The 3D work has definitely been the most arduous, especially the computer work, but like I hoped the knowledge is starting to sink in.

These are just a few of the many things I have learnt and I state them because in order to pursue my dream career, I’ll need to hone all of my capabilities. This is what my future counts on.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Specialized education Vs. Liberal arts

Before I did a bit of research for this week’s task, I didn’t actually have any idea at all what a liberal arts education consisted of but now having a good idea, the thought really does appeal. It definitely sounds like an improvement from a regular education, especially from my personal experiences. But of course, it does have some disadvantages. I would say the main drawback is that it’s much more expensive than your usual education.

I think another problem this day in age is that a lot of career paths would consider a traditional, liberal arts education a little dated and opt for a more modern one when thinking of employment. I believe that the game industry for instance would choose to employ a university graduate specifically trained to do that job.

My actual question for this entry is how can education convene these differing outlooks and make learning a wholesome experience for the students? A particular issue that I and most others had through school was that a much greater student-to-teacher ratio. In a liberal arts college they put fewer students in one class to allow a more personal learning system between the teacher and the student. I think this is definitely a more beneficial way of learning and if you are struggling with your studies, the teachers are more likely to notice. These are some ideas that I would have preferred to have witnessed back when I was at school.

I don’t know if this could be applied in some way to regular schools or colleges but if it was, it would make learning a more calming concept for kids these days.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Sound of Gaming

In games, sound is utilized to form an atmosphere. For instance, in a survival horror such as Resident Evil, audio is used to create moments of tension. Sometimes they use it to trick you. The dramatic music begins and you wonder what could be lurking behind the corner only it turns out that you’re in a zombie-free zone.

Now, I don’t completely know who the key composer’s are today but I can say whose work I appreciate the most. Firstly, Nobuo Uematsu composed music in the Final Fantasy series which is one of my favourite series. Another composer I have a high regard for is Troels Brun Folmann who composed the music for the three most recent additions of the Tomb Raider collection.

Key sonic moments in my gaming history include the big battle against Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII. The song for this encounter is called “One Winged Angel” and it’s a truly awesome piece of music and probably one of the most popular of the Final Fantasy series. I also really like how in Tomb Raider when you enter a new chamber, dramatic orchestral music kicks-in, creating an impression of epic discovery.

For my final question, I don’t know if “Good Times” was one of the most influential recordings in the 20th century. But I do know that its creators, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards are two of the most influential names in contemporary music. I also know that “Good Times” was the birth of modern hip-hop.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Game Engine Technology

A game engine is a software system intended for the design of computer games. The centre function of a game engine consists of a rendering and physics engine, animation, AI, sound, scripting and networking on top of other minor purposes.

Additive and subtractive are terms used to depict the method in which a level is made within the game engine. Some engines use the subtractive creation where you begin with solid masses and use brushes to shape them. But this can cause some complications such as crashing. The additive creation works in the opposite way where you begin with a bare space and build up from there.

Some developers buy into proprietary game engines. This can have its advantages and disadvantages. If they produced their own game engine, they could be praised for building the technology that makes their games original. Also, other developers may want to invest in the engines they make, giving them a hefty profit. The downside could be that it takes a lot of time and money to generate.

The key issues for “next-gen” game engines are that because games are becoming more complex and require every little detail to be perfect to make it work. So it’s pretty clear that there is a lot of demand for new technology that is both effective and reliable to use.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Gaming Culture

When it comes to gaming, I’m more of a casual gamer. I’m not really part of any culture. I’ve never attended a launch party, a LAN party or a gaming conference. Neither have I ever played online. I have to be honest, I don’t play on games all that often but I do enjoy a quick round once in a while. Although there are some games that can keep me glued for hours.

How much of my life does it occupy? Recently with all the work and the projects we’ve been assigned, not a lot, but I try and find some time. Gaming definitely isn’t the biggest part of my life. I think it once was when I was in school. Now however, I’ve found interest in many different things and computer games are just a part of who I am.

Now I’ve been asked if I have friends who I only know through MSN. I’m not sure how this is relevant to game culture. Maybe I’m just being stupid but it wouldn’t be the first time. But the answer to the question is, yes I do. Some random people, from all over the world have friend requested me on Facebook purely because I have the same surname.

This has trailed off a little from game cultures but I have hardly any experience in this topic. I apologize for being a bit useless. Hopefully I’ll have a lot more to say in future posts.

The Industry

Currently the industry, like everything else, has fallen victim to the credit-crunch and where this will leave some casualties, there will be some smart minded individuals will be there to turn this around and create some brilliant games. It’s surprising how well some people can work having been put under some pressure.

Employees in the industry know the level of commitment you need to make it in the world of gaming which is why it is unfortunate that there will be so many layoffs from multiple of the big companies. Where this is a shame, it makes space for some fresh minds with fresh ideas.

It must always be a challenge to constantly be in demand to make new games but with the current situation in the economy and all the job cuts, it is probably the hardest thing some of the employee’s have had to deal with.

I think that the challenges at the moment, with all the layoffs, are to be able to release the games by their designated release date. I think the industry itself will make it through the storm nearly completely unscathed and when it is over the industry will be screaming for new talent and so the hunt for exceptional artists, programmers and so on, will begin once again.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Creativity Defined

What is creativity? Creativity is the ability to formulate new and original ideas. It is applied in nearly everything we do and it is represented not by itself but by the people who utilize it. Nor is it a skill. The real skill is how you convey your creativity.

Is creativity hindered or enhanced by technical constraints? Some may believe that technology can only hinder creativity but in some respects I think it’s a good thing. It gives you the chance to create something with a barrier, making the most of what you have to use. In cases like this it is a serious enhancement.

Who uses creativity in the game development industry? The truth is everyone. The whole team uses creativity. That is the basis of making a computer game. Using innovative ideas to produce a new gaming experience. If it weren’t for the creative minds of these individuals, would gaming even exist today?

What does creativity look like? You can easily look at something and call it original but then creativity’s face comes in infinite forms, so the answer to this question is, it is whatever you imagine it to be or whatever inspires you the most. In games, creativity is pretty much the whole experience of play.

How do games manifest creativity? Every game is different in one way or another and its creativity is what shows this. There are current games like Mirrors Edge, which have taken on a completely new level of creativity in style and concept. It is a first person perspective game but unlike a lot of games with the same quality you can see the arms and legs when as you make death defying leaps from one skyscraper to another. It uses realism to make the player feel more involved. This gives gaming an entirely new idea of creativity.

The graphics in games pretty much manifest themselves. You can see for yourself if the graphics of a game are good or not. Some games rely on graphics to make a new creative venture where other games depend on other things like storyline etc.

The AI of a game is manifested through the capabilities of the role you play as a gamer. An intelligent game would allow you to make many interactions. Let’s go back to Mirrors Edge. You are capable of walking, running, jumping, sliding, wall-running, and shimmying and these are only the basics. A game like Mirrors Edge which presents you with freedom in movement is one I would consider to be intelligent.

Gameplay is manifested by all of the qualities a game boasts. I have discussed gameplay frequently in my blog and like some of my previous posts suggest, gameplay is the overall experience of a game you play. I suppose the creativity of gameplay is the originality of the game, or maybe that is just my opinion.

If I had to choose anyone, in terms of individual or company, who I think are particularly creative, I would definitely say that Square Enix is one of my favourite for designing games that are unique and imaginative. With games like Final Fantasy under their belts, they are easily one of the most well known game companies in the world and that all comes down to their innovative ideas.

As an artist I like to show my creativity by fabricating distinctive concepts but I take inspiration from traditional ideas too. I don’t know how I would expect to be seen but that is the kind of artist I would like to be seen as.

I would like to end this entry by wishing everyone a Happy New Year. It’s a little bit I’ve been deprived of internet access over the Christmas break. Thank you for reading.