About Me

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Leicester, United Kingdom
Studying BA (Hons) Game Art Design at De Montfort University. It continues to be challenging as much as rewarding. Primary outcomes include 2D and 3D projects and 2am coffees.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Reviewing the games

When it comes to analysing new releases, there are many important aspects to cover, the actual game play, the storyline, characters, environments and so on. An additional factor I consider when I'm browsing for a new game - is it going to be one game I will want to play again and again once completed, or is it just going to go back on the shelf and collect dust?

However, given the amount of time it takes to create a video game, as stated in the brief, there is a lot to cover in a review, so this shouldn't be much of a surprise. All of this information within a game affects one of the issues that reviewers have to deal with frequently. Given the time period to complete a magazine, some reviewers may be tempted to make little shortcuts to some areas to save time and effort, to make space for other topics where they can’t afford to be sneaky.

Given their position in their industry, working for major websites or magazines can be very demanding and the amount they can be asked to produce can be very taxing. I mean think about it- Having to assess X number of games whilst write Y words about each one within Z weeks, the temptation to cut corners and fast forward would be alarmingly high. I couldn't imagine being in that position. However, it isn’t necessarily the fault of journalists; their material can’t afford to be perfect, simply because they don’t have the time to do so. In addition it’s difficult to establish sometimes just how much the reviewer has played the game or understands all its aspects.

Reviewers who work for magazines and/or websites are paid for by advertisements, subscriptions etc. I think that the source of their wages is not really important so long as they remain objective and impartial in their reviews and not swayed by either software or hardware vendors, who are paying for ads on websites and magazines. This makes impartiality an issue sometimes in my opinion.

Whilst I like to do discuss my own views on the latest releases with my mates, I highly doubt I could make a living typing consistently trying to make a balanced report.

One of my own critical points is character development. Yeah I’m one of those gamers who’s totally into the back story or the progression of the characters through the course of the game. There are elements that everyone can agree on. Characters appearance and the plot, things like that. But everyone is different, so naturally everyone will have different preferences and as such it may be common to see certain parts of the game to be ignored, minimized or left out of the review completely. This is why an objectively written review is difficult. The reviewer’s beliefs on what is more important may differ from that of the prospective buyer and what one person values, another may not. For this reason, a ranking system would be likely to cause debate more than anything else – I’d rather have personal opinion.

New Game Journalism (NGJ) was introduced as a topic 8 years ago, this unique form of review draws away from the video game itself and focuses more on the player. Writers of this type of journalism or contributing game players will focus more on their own experiences they receive whilst playing the games, as well as referencing other material and discussing their hobbies with other likeminded people. It doesn't have to stop there either. It can also lead to interactions with other people online and any plots in game that can be related to what is currently happening in real life. In a nutshell this form of journalism is a subjective one and revolves around 'me' and not 'it'.

In my own case, I’m not going to shy away from the fact that writing hasn’t always been a strong point for me. However, if the matter at hand is something that I’m very familiar with or interested in, I find I can generally expand the topic based on my own experience and thoughts. I’m definitely in favour of the subjective approach to writing and enjoy the NGJ style as the experience comes through in the review.

This may not be the best example of real life plots and NGJ, but, after finishing the first two Assassins Creed games, I grew curious about the 2012 'end of the world' theory. And so I got into reading about the Mayan Calendar and scientific theories behind such events. Whilst most people believe it to be bullshit, so far, I'm inclined to go along with it for the moment. But hey, it's just less than a year to go.....we'll soon see.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Third Year wisdom and guidence...

Considering our courses current third years never had gurus when they were in our shoes, it makes me really appreciate the help given. Also it makes you wonder how they have managed to fit tutoring us noobs into their busy schedule. Having seen what their projects are like and knowing they are preparing for their Final Major Projects: they must be uber efficient about tme management!

For our Project we have been given a pretty neat theme: Medieval Weapons. What started out as silhouettes of potential designs has progressed to a 3DS Max model waiting to be textured.

This ws the first time I was introduced to graphics tablets so as I expected it took a while for me to get the hang of using the pen. I chose axes as my weapon of choice since they can have more complex and elaborate designs to them as opposed to swords or maces. Whilst I had several ideas already, I gained some influence and referance from weapons used in World Of Warcraft since they is a wide range of weapons in the in game arsenal. It was only the shape of the blade I needed influence for, I had plans for what to put on it later on.

After recieving feedback on which designs were most favoured, I began using various surface texture referances to fill in the blank axe. Design No.2 was recieved the most praise, and after some consideration it went from a 2H axe to a polearm. The design reminded me of the sort of weapon an elite uard of sorts would wield. Though I did not use it as referance, it reminded my of the angels from Darksiders......

When it came to modeling I was already familiar with the majority of 3DS Max so modeling proved no major issue ( the opposite of my first leeson!). Though I stilll have some tris to spare, I don't want to make it too complex. So far I'm happy to go ahead and texture it into the future.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My responce to the feedback

In light of the review last week and the 'wake up call' we had this morning, I think it's fair to say that I'm not putting in enough hours to my Self Directed Study, and that we are all thinking''oh shit''.

 Also from this and also looking at other peoples work on facebook, I can see my major flaw: I'm spending too much time on my thumbnails. Looking back to the canal session, I was spending about 20 minutes per thumbnail, they looked like miniature finals. Furthermore I didn't fully grasp perspective on several occassions so ideally I should just foucs on getting the composition correct before I start adding extra detail, regardless of how long it takes. However I feel that I still have a few areas Game Production to fully understand, such as maps and alpha channels. Thankfully my guru's have been helping me along the way, and I try not to bombard them with petty questions, since most of the time I have thankfully managed to figure it outmyself.

Overall we have been told 28 hours a week of SDS is expected. I can honestly say that for Game Production I feel that I have exceeded the expected 10 hours as I spend most of my spare hours of weekdays in the labs; I wish to make use of the facilities as much as possible during the week while there is help availible.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Return to Bradgate

Last week our day out at Bradgate Park was depressing...from a weather perspective. The constant drizzle has effectivly gently creased my sketchbook. Having said that there was a variety of foliage on site whcih provided me with a handfulof thumbnails, and I was even lucky to get close to the odd deer and quickly sketch it before it spotted me.

Wanting to get more out of the session, a handful of us organised our own return outing and went back to the park on Tuesday. It was a major improvement as it was a sunny cloudless day and we made our way to sites I hadn't been to last week. However the bitter cold was still present and rendered my finger-less gloves redundant....

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Me+Video Games= Happy Fun Times

Xmas 1998.
I tear off the wrapping paper to reveal my first video game console bundle: a Game Boy Color and Pokemon Blue Version!  I couldn't have asked for a better combo. Until the later versions came out, it was the only game I had, so I was always playing it.

I take a certain approach to games. I feel that I cannot advance to the next level/stage until I find all of the collectables, I hate leaving an area unfinished. So, for example, in Assassins Creed I will not leave a District until I have done all of the side missions, found all the treasure chests and collected all the eagle feathers etc. Normally I'm not usually that bothered with obtaining the PS3 trophies, but if I find they unlock further material later in game, I will track them and re-try fights until I get them. But that’s just me!

Games on my shelf include Dante's Inferno, Darksiders, Red Dead Redemption, Motorstorm and the God of War, Resistance and the Assassins Creed series. I'm all for First Person Shooters, but I prefer adventure genres more, where interaction slightly over-rides shooting. I also enjoy hack and slash games, where your character carries out insane bloody weapon combos that send your enemies flying.

I have also kept up with the evolution of Nintendo's handheld consoles. As each new one came out, I went into GAME and exchanged the previous model to get money off. However, with more awesome eagerly anticipated games coming out on PC and PS3, I have rarely taken time to play on my Nintendo DSi, mainly because I haven’t bought a new game for it in a while. The only games I have for it anyway are Pokemon Versions and a variety of Mario ones. Hey, growing older is inevitable, growing UP however is completely optional.

I think Pokemon seems to be the most memorable game I can think of and I’m sure others will agree. It’s just something you find unable to get away from. You feel compelled to experiment with other Pokemon you haven’t caught yet and I doubt whether any player has gone through the whole game and not changed their team along the way - it’s just impossible to resist making changes. It’s that memorable to me I can recall almost any Generation 1 Pokemon cry.

Currently, I have completed all my PS3 games and am awaiting Assassins Creed Revelations and The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim and when I finally get off my arse, I will go and get Arkham City as all of the critical acclaim and positive reviews it has received make it hard to turn away from it.

However, my greatest favourite of gaming is and for some time now has been World of Warcraft. Thanks to South Park I was introduced to this MMORPG and after experiencing the Trial Account, I found that the game was totally worth the monthly subscription. I began in October 2008 and like many new players, I didn't know my class and played like a complete ‘noob’ until I studied the game inside out, from every source that I could find. Out of personal choice I am not on a role playing server, I don't love the game THAT much. My current guild is a social raiding one, everyone is eager to raid so I participate in most events. As awesome as they are, after knowing them for three years now, I am the only one who seems bothered to learn the boss tactics, so they all rely on me to share the knowledge! I feel a sense of pride when leading this coordination effort and also how my tips and commands result in triumph for the team.


To date, I have four characters:
             a Restoration Shaman http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/character/nagrand/Makurai/simple
             an Arms Warrior http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/character/nagrand/Konahrik/simple

Over time I have gotten used to the four roles of combat and I intend to maintain them for as long as possible.

From my point of view I enjoy games with a solid plot that’s easy to follow, with the odd twist thrown in, awesome environments/graphics, and if swords are involved, then some kick ass combinations. Given what I have found out about current issues and strategies in the gaming industry, it sounds like many future games will become parts of series and thereby extend existing games. As long as it involves finishing off enemies in a visually awesome state, then I'll gladly take interest.

So, to date, I’ve dabbled with all three gaming platforms: handheld, console and PC while I currently have a preference for the PC based WoW. As far as the future is concerned, I have found myself particularly drawn to games that involve the player making choices. My first experience of this was when I tried out Fable and discovered the character definition from choices made in game. I believe that whatever the future holds for the video game industry, I would personally be pleased to see this role playing genre expand. I understand that certain games have set characters that have a place in their own fictional world, but having the ability to create your own modified character/avatar is a vital role in an RPG, allowing you to create a playable character in your own image if you wished. I know that just by having the controller in your hand you feel that you are in the video game environment, but this sense of location can be taken a step further by having your character resemble you.