Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Oooo scary…in both senses?

Starting off on our group projects this week, so far it’s been alright and a good mix of interested people and interesting ideas. I’m hoping to shall we say flourish through this task as ideally I’d like to become an environment artist and this should be my “bread and butter” and also because I varyingly failed my last project of self portrait 3d modelling. I wish in one sense I was a lot better and more interested in character modelling but I’m more interested in the idea rather than the actual creation, plus I always feel like an environment is a nicer comfort zone.

The difficult task that stands before me (and us as a group) is the element of “what is this masterpiece going to look like?” The genre, plot and setting is our first hurdle to attack, with the ideas of several people beginning to come through it faces you with the challenge of possible undertaking an idea you’re not really into or even comfortable with but that’s life and we need to swiftly get over ourselves and make a great game environment. The genre setting, which is a horror/thriller style itself isn’t the problem, it’s more along the lines of area of choice within the queens building and how you can apply a well thought-out plan to it as well as know where your artistic licensing needs to stop.
Still, full steam ahead into it and luckily it’s a democracy not a dictatorship.

I’m going to be using the HavocOnToast blog as a release onto this project rather than use our group based one mainly because this is more of a personal task area.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Year 2.1 down, onto 2.2

And back we goo.
Well one term down and the Christmas break is about to finish *sniffles*
In once sense it’s good because I have been lazy, no
t so much over the holidays but a little bit towards the end of our last term I did straggle off. I had a few issues but at the end of the day, no one is going to care. I wanted to write this to look back and just put my thoughts on “paper”.
Coming back to uni after the summer was amazing, I felt that I needed to have some kind of guidance after the attempts at working at certain things over the summer, I came back to literally…the first year again. It seemed to be the same stuff as we did when we first arrived here, is this just me thinking that? It’s easy enough to say, “Well practice makes perfect” but surely we should be developing our skill within the course rather than just droning on? I had this conversation with a mate and was
told that I should just do it in my spare time and not to moan, this is valid as hell. I should be pushing more and more this year, but with all the pieces we get from uni and trying to sort out living it becomes a thing sent to the back of your mind. The main annoyance is that when you think about work and projects there is always a two sided argument with yourself that has no valid answer.
Why aren’t we learning more relevant things to do with getti
ng today’s skill and knowledge rather than clearly...past lessons. Surely with that amount of mesh sculpting (zbrushing) in industry today we should have been taught this as a skill? Shouldn’t our “projects” cover more relevant lessons so that we are able to adapt and learn these for industry rather than trying to do the same old stuff and then with any other time (minimal) learn what is TRULY needed?

then comes the counter blow

why aren’t u learning today’s relevant skills in your own time and getting your work done when u need to? Surely you can do your work to get those grades and pass and learn mesh sculpting on the side? Your projects are simply tick box items that you do need to get that degree so it wasn’t a waste. Learning the same bits over n over again is how you improve.

They both are right and wrong…but only in certain people’s eyes. It sends me into a mental spiral when trying to comprehend why we aren’t learning more applicable things in university lectures? It may not seem like it but I do know that uni is meant to leave you to learn things on your own and not be mummy-cuddled, but...if this is correct what’s the point in lectures? Or even the lecturers (sorry lol). If we are simply meant to hand things in and learn on our own…why is attendance important?
To keep an eye on what we are doing, so we aren’t just fucking about and not doing work?
Again it’s a point A point B argument.
I think it makes it a lot worse when you sit in a room with about 6 people who feel EXACTLY the same and are in the same boat.

Is this really work?

I’ve also been feeling lately that the whole “12 minimum” drawings each week for Chris in our visual design section is becoming a rather invalid process, I find myself going out and drawing to use them as reference materials but the fact is…most of the time they’re not used. You can see when people just do em in 5 minutes, don’t actually put the reference in it yet come out with a g
reat piece…this isn’t a skill..It’s just being done for the sake of sakes. We need to do 12 so we do 12, not because it helps. I would rather do 6 half n hour drawings so I improve my skill and take away what I need that do 12 small drawings that I am not proud of. I’ve thrown myself all over the place this term trying to adapt to a more positive learning but with little effect, I only realised about 4 days ago that I haven’t actually posted the last 3 of my blogs….WHY! I was so positive I had done, but when a mate emailed me asking had I stopped doing it? I had a look and realised….what’s wrong with me.

I really do need to get my head back into the game and sort myself out and with presentations coming up I am not a happy puppy.

Still feels pointless…
With a new term comes new ways to feel like “WHY GOD WHY!” Every term we come back ready to hand in work and get into the new grindstone handed to us. Yet bef
ore any of that we have the lovely joy of presentations. All throughout education the powers that be made you present things in a stupid ethic that “you’ll need it in the future” no I won’t.
School, present your piece of work to the class…cos it’s important. No it is not because I am never going to present an essay or a fucking math theory to anyone.
College, present a piece of work on culture...its important. No for the exact same reasons as before.
Now with uni…they say in industry you’ll have to present things, from the looks of things it’s rare that someone like me would. I hate attention especially social attention, makes me sick inside yet because the education authority deem it so, I must. This is basically rambling now but I feel I need to.

Now for something…completely different.
WORK THUS FAR!! So first term I was able to produce some half decent stuff and actually looking back on my first year wow…I am happy. My general work has improved not heavily but in a good chunk, I have more understanding of 3d modelling from just churning through things, a better understanding for digital painting and concentrating on detail through drawing from churning through bits and bobs and well…my writing and grammar still sucks, but it always has. I think last year I had very littl
e joy for my final outcomes but this year I look at them and feel pretty good with myself, not just a randomised image or asset. It has some planning behind it and some actual joy in doing it. Maybe that’s what I need, just to be careful with what I create (within obvious freedom) and enjoy what I go with.

My little fantasy chest where I only have one true complaint…the damn lid texture just wasn’t playing ball.

Wonderfully rubbish…in a good way. This was fun and got done pretty quick considering I didn’t have a clue how to do AO mapping.

And I won’t start throwing up a load of painting work cos it’ll be mind numbing for us heres a little link for ya if you do wish to see the bits.

Comments welcome lol

Heres a game idea NOW MAKE IT

Creating a game needs detailing…the who’s who of the game and the what’s what of a game. Finding information to accurately create such a document has been the least to say...difficult. General detailing on AI information (modelling counts, texture sized etc) main characters and vehicles has been my best bet of getting the bit of info to help me.

So here it goes.

I've made it a PDF to make it easier on the blog and for reading.
Well I hope this makes sense, I believe it does. This has mainly been made from small dribs and drabs that I have been able to research and from things I just think should be in there.

Design a level?

Well looks like I pretty much said most of what I would need to say in the last blog about this subject, badtimes. THUS I must research more into the objective of level creation!

First things first, the process from most peoples points of view would be that games are simply slapped together, a level is made and extra pieces are added as it goes along. In a sense this I right but there’s so much more to it. Gamers are starting to see more about how 3d assets and imagery become actual games thanks to Xbox live shows and companies making diaries for the fans. The best one I’ve seen would be splash damage’s upcoming Brink, they instead of just showing small clips and teasers have shown more and more of what it actually takes to put this game together, they’re still quite “entertainment valued” more than a documentation but it still comes across with some good info on what’s happening to make this game become great. Fancy a peak?

Take a skim through most of them, they are interesting. But the ones that would apply mainly to what I am talking about are the dawn of S.M.A.R.T and Minds on the brink.

Brink itself is a stylised game, the characters anatomy is correct to real life in anatomy but its form has been warped, in a good way. It’s the same with its environment creation, they’ve taken a setting that is sorta box standard and manipulated it into a habitable area. The slums are originally a cargo shipping depot, but from the storylines effects the entire place has become run down and turned into a living area, staircases leading from one cargo crate to another like normal buildings going from one floor to the next. This clearly wasn’t a simple idea, the concept had to start at a point of saying “where can we go from non-liveable or unconventional living areas into an area that is now over populated” simply to stay within the story’s background. This is true concept and planning, building an idea around an image, building upon it and then creating the dreamy final outcomes for us all to enjoy. One thing I did like seeing in the “dawn of smart” video was them showing how terrain designs affect movement and layouts, this at least at a minimum shows us that there are steps that must be taken. This process is to see that a layout will work and that it looks good in its “composition” and that it didn’t go wrong in the first 10 minutes and your left with something that looks ok but works like a horse on ice, not very well.
Thinking about the way the actual interactive environments work, it’s probably looking at what is necessary and what could be really be left in the bin, obviously games developers have to work within the limits how much they can do with memory, but same rule would apply if you really thought “that rock mound doesn’t have to be there we need to put this shielded area in” you’d simply remove it from the area. Looking at what companies like splash damage and bungie seem to produce, there aren’t really many areas you see that are invalid to the game-playing experience and as designers/artists looking to work in these areas and also as a consumer this is clearly something we want to see. What’s the point of having a well detailed area within an environment that you will never interact with or even walk to, there are toooooo many games that have mass amounts of space that look heavily 3d modelled and detailed which consist of no game play interaction….WHATS THE POINT?

Visual Composition

As I said in my last blog, composition is a thing I never engaged in my work, throughout my art education there was never a real involvement of it, no actual referencing to “make sure the composition is right.” University was the first time I was told to truly look at comp and apply it effectively to my work, or rather got a jist of it. Looking at composition and how if effects work has really opened me up to how important it can be. For a quick example, recently I had done a painting of Bradgate Park for a visual design project. The reference materials i had gathered led me to create something that looked a bit off, the image was meant to look hilly in a distance view but the piece looked more like a more direct uphill image. Applying the thought of “the right composition” I was able to correct this, fantastic.
Aside from thinking about it on a personal level, most types of “art” need some kind of composition, exclude fine art from this because some people can go mad with something and get it called art. In the idea of level design within games, composition can effectively make a piece of crap and pretty sweet environment. But wouldn’t designers go through the process with composition first? Possibly, sometimes the idea of a level is taken from plot based reasons i.e. cover, well placed machine guns, spawn points etc. In my head I just have a feeling they go “yeh we’ll let em spawn here cause there’s that rock they can hide behind” sounds stupid but some of the interviews I’ve seen games designers have said things like this. Luckily though there are those few who think…

The composition could have a large effect on how a game plays out, think about a level in any game, it doesn’t go from point a to b in a straight line even with obstacles in your way the re-occurrence of this would just be redundant causing companies to fail.
The way it works is that you are able to drop down to lower areas, go through different terrains so you don’t get bored with the same rocks over n over again. REACH is a prime example here; the game allows you in 1 level to go through multiple well designed and shiny areas, within one environment. It keeps you interested, that’s the MAIN point. You find new areas to hide so health re-builds and to reload; you battle across new terrains and find effect uses for it. Same with racing games, if the track was always the same what would be the point? Even saying different shaped tracks within the same setting would be crap.
Variety is the spice of life.

Blabbering concepts and tutorials…

Well looking over this article I thought it would be an enjoyable and useful read…clearly not. The concept planning was really inspiring towards how my process of work happens. I do tend to rush into something with little of a background idea or reference. I try to use any reference I have to create a piece of art but tend to drift away from it. Looking at the actual article I found myself dazing in and out of it, there was too much babbling and constant re-occurring information. It felt more like an ego boost than actual information.
This became an annoyance while trying to take in useful information, I wanted to really take it all in and use it but afterwards I felt like I hadn’t seen anything. The work of composition and layouts was one thing I mainly wanted, and the idea that “If it doesn't work at the size of a postage stamp, it won't work at any size.” made sense, we work from small thumbnails to then create a larger more detailed piece of art. My process with these thumbnails is to find shape and form that is aesthetically pleasing so I am able to expand on it, only problem is that I don’t really take the composition into consideration, I just look n draw something I like. She also talks about white being “crack” I can completely understand this because it’s the colour that just draws you in, even if I stand alone BOLD red/blue/orange is there with a bit of pure white, you still become a sucker for it. Now last but not least is the symmetrical issue’s, not having a main focus point bang smack in the middle with this type of art? YES THANK GOD, I find that people when making something throw their idea in the middle of the page and then think “I’ll just fill in the blank space now.” It’s tiresome, sometimes its needed i.e. a character portfolio/portrait, useful to see detailing and let the character stand out cause that’s what you NEED people to be attracted to (at least there are somethings I can take away with me). It also surprised me that that painting took 35 hours, there is a lot of detail within the main subject (lady) but the majority of it seems like it was done with custom styled brushes and photoshop magic. Even saying the lady and two trees up front took 10-15 hours, that still means 20 hours have gone into the background and midground, then again I could be very wrong. The process obviously started with a nude model painting, with shapes created for the trees, on top of these details were added and built upon. Right thinking about it I am wrong, with the amount of detailing that was in the simple nude painting I can understand where those hours went. The work itself was really nice, the mood and story does shine through this art and obviously the theory that this woman has shown works effectively enough for her. Just wish there was more on the “how to” and “hopefully this will help” reading there for me.