Sunday, 24 January 2010

These engines got no pistons

The game engine is practically is like the brain of the game, it manages all the factors that allow the game to work such as the rendering engine (allow the graphics, models and textures to load), sound, scripting, animation, ai and physics engine. Without the game engine none of the game would be able to load and be playable, like a gun with no bullets.
The top tech engines at the moment seem to be the RAGE Engine, Unreal Engine 3, Gamebryo Lightspeed, CryENGINE, the naughty dog engine, Dead engine and Infinity Wards own engine. Some of these are used across platforms and across companies but Infinity Ward seem to only use their engine for the call of duty and modern warfare games.
The advantages of buying into some kind of engine tech would be that so many games use the same engine your most defiantly to make your profit back quickly, the disadvantage would be that as games and consoles develop so do the engines so an engine you invest in could live for 4 years or 4 months I guess it all depends on the life expectancy of the engine.
Subtractive and additive seem to be the effects of lights inside games that are controlled by the engine. Additive is made up of the colours red, green and blue (RGB) and they cause lighting to be more white than black, more based on outside lighting as more colour is added, the result is lighter and turns to white. Subtractive is made up of colours magenta, cyan and yellow and these cause lighting to become darker in areas so the more colour that is added the darker the light force becomes, eventually turning to black.
The main issue concerning the compatibility with next gen consoles and engines is that games designers will want to push things more and more and the engines will have to keep up with this, more time and money will need to be spent to keep these two alliances intact. The fact that we can do so much already is amazing, the human being has developed so quickly because we want more and more that it affects everything, even computer games.

Digitally Cultured

It’s odd but true, the gaming culture has more of a social enjoyment than normal cultures. People would rather go online and play a game with people they really do not know and will never meet than meet up in the “real world” and socialise. Why has this happened? The fact that “real life” has so many issues that the culture that is attached to gaming is a form of escaping reality but still being a part of it by socialising with other human beings. The most commonly known game cultures seem to be the MLG, Steam, World of Warcraft and Xbox live, they all consist of online communities that all link together, clans, social teams, parties etc. I am part of the steam and Xbox live communities, steam ruled my life for a good 4 years, once work was done and I wasn’t out I was on steam playing half-life, Counter-strike, left 4 dead, team fortress, the specialist and some I don’t even remember that well. I must have a list of friends on my steam account that I never have met and will never talk to in normal situations yet as soon as they are on steam I’m talking till dusk. I recently purchased an xbox360 against my will to buy a ps3 and now am on live, I’ve noticed with live that I rarely add people I don’t know, it seems that console users are more particular on who they allow to play games with, even I have adapted to this. It’s no different from knowing randoms on pc game communities but it’s a kind of transfer to know only friends or friends of friends on the live community. Before uni a lot of my time did consist online gaming, it also becomes a small addiction I always used to think “I’ll play for half an hour” yet 3 hours later I’m still there. It seems more enjoyable to be getting those kills against controlled enemies rather than an AI or NPC enemy.

This is the industry 2010

The game industry has a had quite a good last quarter with the releases of modern warfare, uncharted 2, dragon age origins, assassins creed 2, left 4 dead 2, the saboteur and a lot more to come in the first quarter of 2010. From the amount of games being produced at the moment the industry seems to be doing fairly well.
I say this and then you look at comments by EA and blizzard;
EA’s European publishing boss, Jens Uwe Intat
“As the evidence continues to roll out on the extent of the challenge that 2009 faced the games industry, that the evidence clearly points to the wider economic situation finally hitting the industry - as opposed to the industry not living up to the increasingly higher expectations of gamers. If you look at the financial results of the specialist retailers, they're actually showing a decline on frontline goods, but increases on second hand goods, which I think actually proves the point that people are trying to be particularly cautious with how they spend their money. That's hitting us an in industry twice - because it means that people wait longer before buying the next-gen consoles, but also that they buy fewer new games per console.”
Blizzard had issues with sending games out before they were finished meaning that they lost money over the rush of sending out to sell. Things like this seem to set the industry back quite a bit.
There have also been some good issues with the industry in the last year such as new studios like sledgehammer and AGO being set up and Australia having a total revenue in game sales of 2.05 billion AUD that’s £1.14 billion, so it can’t be all that bad.
The major issues facing the industry at the moment are sales based on the number of games being released. People are waiting longer to buy consoles and waiting to see what other games come out due to the credit crunch/recession we are in. In turn this means companies are having to budget on some projects leaving them behind in the dirt.
These issues can have a major impact on its future, without sales hitting the heights they wish them to fewer games are being made. If this continues eventually companies will be releasing 2-5 games a year and having to cut away at the talent and even the studios that have done well so far. Not only does this affect the companies and its employees, it also affects us, the consumer. Without top notch games being released we will end up losing the interest in wanting games and leave us with the void of boredom and in time ignoring games.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Creativity eh?

This one is quite a throw in the dark, asking us to see what we think is a creative purpose? Or how it actually can be creativity? Hmm good one.
Everyone sees creativity as their own personal achievement and also so many people have different ideas of what is actually creative, I don’t see the halo franchise as creative but I guarantee thousands do. The other thing to take into account is that everything within a system has a form of being creative, within a game all the areas will have to have some creative natures to work, the story, the style, the modelling, the environments it’s more about the parts than the actual entity.
To try and class creativity is a very hard thing, even to try and see where a border lies between creativity and generic crap is a difficult thing, like the point I raised before it’s all a point of view and personal choices. Obviously when looking to create something that is intended for an audience it’s not a personal choice but a choice made by people you will never meet or talk to.
Can you even call something creative in a world where things are truly and mainly adapted rather than formed? Like most things it’s a 50/50 question and most likely will always be one.
I see creativity as something that is visually pleasing and above all the rest, something that stands out and can be seen as near perfection, simple enough no? If people were to look up “creativity” as simple things, would creativity become non-existent? As they would not be anything special it would be along the lines of quantity over quality and this is wrong! The whole point is that we need this to be a special thing to make us go “wow.....I love it“ it allows us to want more and to push ourselves further!
As an artist I see creativity as trying to reach something I haven’t done before, making things better by viewing others work and seeing how it compares. Seeing that my work is doing something rather than being scraps, I don’t think i see much of my work as creative as i’m still trying to gain more experience and learn as much as i can to better my skills and views of work. My view on how my work can be seen as creative would be from comments off people like Mike, Heather, Chris and Jack and even peers or people who do similar work. I’ve never really seen my work as something great but that’s most likely from the fact i look at the negative views before i look at things positively. This sort of thing would obviously affect what i view as creative and is something i hope to work on, in a nutshell i think creativity is something that you enjoy or get excited about, it makes you think more into it and not to see it as another generic film, painting, book or game.

Thats how you play

What is gameplay? From the reading it becomes, all the players’ experiences during the interaction with games and this is probably the simplest way to put it. Gameplay is a very important factor for games essentially for the players rather than the designers, initially it needs to play well for the customers to enjoy it but this also effects the companies as they need to make money.
With out this interaction within games, they become too linear and familiar which kills off surprises that you didn’t expect off the game and the enjoyment you receive from interacting with the environments on another level. Gameplay itself is important because it affects the story and characters within the game, movements, actions and reactions off the environment and AI. The levels of want and enjoyment would drop a hell of a lot if it was removed because it would affect all of this. Peter Molyneux said, “Players should be able to directly affect the games world, immediately and specifically, as well as indirectly over time.” This is a very good quote concerning games like fallout and fable, choices within gameplay allow you to change the entire direction of a game. These two are great examples as they both come with the karma choice factor, to be good or to be evil will in turn allow you to do certain missions or quest while others cannot be done. While interaction is constant in games these areas allow you to become more connected with your characters and worlds! People do throw the world gameplay around as how the missions or levels in a game work, but i think they really talk about the story itself, as in not what you make happen but what’s going to happen anyway. I think I’m right anyway, maybe it’s all one thing and we are cutting it down into smaller chunks to be more anal with it.

Build me a character!

I don’t think I’ve read a book in about 6 years well not properly anyways, but I can understand the connection with characters from films and games. Without characters a story is nothing, without good characters a story is only as good as its scenery. Film makers create characters that the viewer can either respond to or despise its human nature to want something that is unattainable. In a sense we transcend into the film connecting to the whole environment, it’s the same with games, we interact with it so much we become connected to it. As I said previously I was really annoyed when the character ghost died in modern warfare 2, the strange thing is that once you think about it you realise you didn’t play as that character so it wasn’t like something you were constantly using was gone he was just always in the missions as you went through the game. I believe they set certain characters up that seem invincible and then at the last second take them away, to make you more on edge and fuel more emotion towards the remaining characters and issues. It still amazes me that afterwards you contemplate these issues yet never overcome them, there will be other film, game and characters in books that we will attach ourselves too and draw the same conclusions. Growing and death seem to be the two major connectors, you watch a character grow and blend more and more into the environments creating that attachment then its broken by the death or betrayal of that character. I don’t really know what kind of stories im most attached to its a strange question, so many genres and plots intertwine its uncanny. Nearest i can think would be fantasy, an escape route from reality you can place yourself somewhere in which none of your troubles or thoughts can clash because they don’t exist here.

Mmmm technology

If ergonomic design was such a major issue wouldn’t it have been adjusted before we had that atrocious dreamcast controller? That thing was a monstrosity.
Consoles and controllers will always be developed and the attempts to make them better may work, but at this point in time I don’t think we have a major issue with them. The Xbox has obviously adjusted there controllers to a more comfortable hold but the original ones weren’t bad, playstation seem to understand that there isn’t a need to change as for 3 generations of console, no one’s complained. Wii on the other hand have kinda gone mad, the wiimote it evil, looking at the sensor on the screen I feel like I’m having a stroke.
People may think its ergonomics making consoles look different but it isn’t, the reason things look like this is because they appeal to our want of nice shiny possessions. Be honest and think if the xbox360 or ps3 looked like a retarded potato, would you still want it? OF COURSE NOT why would someone want to own that! For example, the Xbox looked like it had come from a construction site but it worked so why change it? Because people did not like how it looked, everyone would constantly moan about it, not the power of it or the games but its look.
The nicest easiest console I owned? Well nicest looking with interface and all would have to be the ps3 I loves it, but the easiest to use? I don’t understand how a console becomes hard to use? I think the only irritating things now with consoles are all the extra add ons, twitter? Sky? WHY! It seems that companies are trying to integrate consoles with pc, it’s not like people still sit in the dark with candles and if they do I doubt they own a console of any kind! Nether the less I think easiest console to use that I owned would be the sega master system, clunk game in, turn on. SIMPLES!!!!!
The joystick is not dead! I highly doubt it will! We have two joysticks now! The joystick is the best thing to happen concerning games; it helps with movement and control, more so than a d-pad the d-pad is more linear where as the joystick or rather thumbstick if we want to get p.c about it, is free and crazy. Technology will always grow and try to improve itself, it may not seem like it but it will constantly try to outdo its predecessors.

Tell me a story

As with most things in life, games need a story as without them they are nothing. This in itself is a contradiction concerning games, although most of the games released have stories upon which we play through to get to the end objectives many of them do not. Beat em ups are probably the best example here; thousands of games within this genre have been released and sold thousands of copies. The special thing that allows them to be what they are without a story is most likely that they really do not need one, it’s simply two characters fighting each other until one surpasses the other. No story is needed for this sort of game because it would be pointless.
Some fighting games to add storylines to give characters and game play a bit more depth but it is nothing compared to games like, metal gear solid, call of duty or half-life. Tekken and Fight Night add a little bit of story into the fighting to make the playtime longer, you become attached to certain fighters and play with them more often.
You can argue this with most games though, board games for example have a small storyline which we don’t really pick up on, monopoly’s story is to simply work your way around an area collecting money and property to defeat others, where games such as connect 4 don’t. Connect 4 coins together and you win over and over and over again.
I believe that the story factor for games is very very important, just like the story factor is in films. If we were to look at games like modern warfare and remove the storyline, the game would not get as much attention as it does, you get drawn into a fantasy world and its people. You become a part of the story itself! It allows you to feel more about what you are doing, with modern warfare I was pissed off when ghost died towards the end, why? It’s not like there was much left to do or that I used that character and he had a better game play, yet my emotions were still attached.
Id be surprised to find a game in our 21st century that doesn’t have a story intertwined, it may be a very small, unseen amount but it will be lingering in there somewhere.

Be my artistic director

An art director is the person who leads the visual designers of games to create what is needed for final production. It seems that before you can even think of becoming an art director u need as a bare minimum of 5 years work within the artist side of the gaming industry or some other kind of art job that includes technical arts. Their job is to lead the visual design team, evaluate the process thus far and talk about what needs improving, changing or if they need to change the direction completely, they also need to work along the guidelines of what the audience needs to see and then apply what is visually appealing. Comparing this type of work to the work of a cinematic art director i don’t think there is much difference, they both need to plan and create work that is visually pleasing to a certain type of audience. Most of the initial planning done on both sides would lead along the same process, looking for the most amazing outcome for that certain scene, level or character.
Seeing as it takes time and mainly experience to become an art director I’m guessing a lot of work and perspective would have to change. As your now not only contributing but leading a team that are creating something you partially control you need to be able to understand it’s not what you want and so they must make it! It’s actually you leading them to create an amazing piece that will sell and keep people interested, your evaluation of work would need to be decided not by your own personal choice but by what is good for the product and the company you work for as they get you your cheddar.

Design me a game!!

Like everything else games need order and structures to turn them into a worthwhile product. Without a design it becomes nothing, the process is simple enough. You first need to look into what genre of game you are trying to create, once you have this as a base you start to build the actual foundations of a game. These include platform, the target audience, time scales and the budgets; if you were to look past these they would come to bite you in the ass later on.
The reason I guess these elements are so important early on in the design process is so that you know what you are planning to finish with, if you tried to randomly create something taking things into account as they appear within the project your final product would be messy and most likely a piece of crap.
The design of the game takes everything into account, as well as the basic things it looks at art style, audio content, control, storyline, game mechanics, programming, selling the game and more. It all needs to be seen as a plan of attack before anything is even attempted, something’s would obviously not affect the games programmers, artists and creators but as a product they would.
The process and how it happens is all concurred within a design team, it’s not the sort of thing one person could do. It’d take more than one person’s ideals and image to create something that is entertaining and yet fitting to an audience, what one person believes to be true glory could be seen as another’s damnation. I don’t believe it takes a certain type of person to create a game in a genre it takes a team to determine what’s good and what’s not good for the game and the audience, although you could argue that some are more suited to control a specific genre than others, I guess it all depends on what people are capable of. Personally I have no single preferences it’s more of a collective, I find it irritating to find games with fantastic storylines yet not a good enough game play to sit there and enjoy it, and vice versa. I need a game that I can lose myself in; entertainment can only take you so far to happiness.