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.

Sunday, 10 March 2013


''Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems.''
Human Motivation by Robert E. Franken

Creativity. something that has always plagued me in a way, especially when it comes to characters or Imagineering, and my previous projects show for this in my opinion. As mentioned before, my constant worry is that my final piece ends up resembling too much like the reference. 

However there is no way of accurately defining it, since it has always been a subject of debate, whether its from a historical point of view to a physiological one. I mean historically in the past there was a lot about the earth and life in general that was unknown, the migration of continents, evolution that sort of thing, so creativity back then was used to create theories to provide potential answers and inspire people.

Although the physiological view is perhaps the closest I can get to explaining it. Everyone is different therefore each persons creativity will show in different ways, and not just from the subject of art. Creativity is something you can do and well as something you can have. We can all perform the same everyday functions and yet there are those who excel in these areas, such as athletes or public speakers...

Pearls of wisdom from BoJo
To measure or compare creativity between others, factors that can affect or measure this can range from influences and upbringing. Parental Influence is perhaps the first one that can have an effect. Now clearly parenting varies from child to child, yet those who are brought up with parents who push their kids forward and encourage them have higher chances of having that spark of creativity ignited earlier than those who've upbringing is laid back and casual.

Education is one of the big factors of course, and also the course and subject path you go down, and also how long you choose to stay in it as well. ''The more you know the further you go'' No idea where that originates from.... Our education allows us to perceive our own views of the world and intertwine them into our work. For example at the galleries at the end of Art Foundation it was clear to me that everything was unique and different. Aside from any particular theme they had chosen, it was evident that people from different departments had different views.

Life experience. Can't emphasise this more than anything else really. The more you get out there and see and get involved with the more that can aid you later in life when creativity is required. For example I am a huge fan of comedy, I have panel show marathons while I'm working and I enjoy stand up. Many comedians are on average middle aged or at best in their late 20's, therefore they have 'been around more' so they can use their experiences in their acts and material. Either that or they have a recurring tendency to be in the right place at the right time!
For me I have seen my fair share of the world (in short 11 countries) a foctor which has been a great boon in my life and helped me in previous art projects. In particular narrative forms.
Red: Visited Blue: Lived

When I compose my moodboards for environments I confidently feel that I won't take my reference too far, yet that is always my worry with vehicles and characters. I mean here is my vehicle project from a few months ago.
The AT-RT from the Clone Wars in Star Wars, my primary reference.

I think it was to pot when I wanted it to be ''a one man vehicle for extreme terrains''


Areas of the industry are being ever more divided into smaller factions, this is partially down to the increase of new technology, therefore more unique fields need to rise. I found this list off Skillset for our line of work, I mean just look how far the tree branches spread!

This course itself covers many areas of work and already we want to have a vague idea as to which area we want to specialise in, having been asked this question last year. Whilst back then I wanted to try and be an 'everyman', being reasonable skilled in the major areas of work; however I've quickly understood my ''strengths'' and weaknesses, the latter being definatly aimed at characters, and considering this semester has consisted mostly around characters I feel that it's a miracle I managed to get through it.

Being a Jack of all trades and being a specialist in one single area. These two polar opposites produce quite a debate, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. I mean if an industry was full of everymen, then with their average level skill in everyhting then nothing in particular would stand out in the final product.

On the other hand, whilst having an in depth knowledge of a unique area of work, the danger of putting all you bets on one table is that there is a chance that the jobs that focus on that line of work is that it may become obsolete with the evolution of technology. Furthermore smaller industries who have stricter budgets and more limitations would rather have a team of people who were knowledgeable in more than one field, enlisting specialists is a luxury they may not be able to afford. Despite this though, being a specialist makes you unique, makes your CV stadn out from other applicants, its  agood tactic to sell yourself to the employer.

In a way this reminds me of the class specialisation in MMOs almost every class has various specs and it's there choice how they specialise, they can devote all they're knowledge and time into one spec, or be a hybrid and be able to change for the sake of the team etc.

The general 'solution' to this is to aim to be a T shaped person. It is these types of people that industry wish to employ. The concept of this is sorta literal:

Or see it as a tree; at your core you have an area or expetise, a area of game production in which you know inside out, and then you have branches which represent other skills which you're adaquite in.

In general I would like to be a concept artist, yes I know that title can be perceived as covering numerous areas. Ideally I want to work on environments and perhaps vehicles, however the majority of the time you find yourself working on stuff you're not entirely happy with, jobs like this in the industry usually have colleagues frequently working outside of their comfort zone for the good of the project.
Although to be honest I still feel torn between 3D and 2D, as I still enjoy both equally....until the point where it just doesn't work out that is. I guess my favourite part of the 3D aspect is the modelling, I expect it's because at that stage I have a firm knowledge of what I'm doing or because I'm supplied with the reference.

I really want to aspite to be a T person, and I know that at this stage in the degree we should have a sense of direction, yet part of me is still hesitant to officially put all my eggs in one basket so to speak, it could turn out to be a bad move in my chosen area, who knows?

So to give a reasonable answer to this: 3D modeller > Environment artist > Level artist

Thursday, 7 March 2013


Interaction with gaming is a manner in which we want to get away from real life for a while, yet the evolving industry is producing more games which are the definition of realistic, irony much? Pretty soon the fantasy world of video games will be no different from reality, the gap between the two is gradually getting smaller...

When the Wii was first introduced I thought the idea of it was pretty decent, a step up from the Eye Toy and dance mats that came with the PS2 and other related motion capture accessories. However I never got into it completely, with the genre of game that I play, it kinda felt like too much hassle getting into position (literally) to peform gameplay actions, and after seeing examples of this in adverts I though nah, no point in getting into another console when I'm already alternating between the two I already have.

Having said all that I don't mind going on Wii Sports now and then, It does feel good to have other parts of my body other than my fingers moving! It's also fun on Mario Kart simply because- it's Mario, you can't go wrong with the classics, I can proudly proclaim that I am ace on the DS having mastering drifting and power boosts, so I feels great to try it out in an alternative form. Although at the end of the day, we'd all just prefer to be able to play with just be slouched in a chair tapping buttons really.

Finally behind the wheel, yes I have put off learning to drive so far
Interactive gameplay come be perceived as having is ups and downs, although in certain circumstances it proven to be a helpful asset, even for use in hospitals. You read those headlines which small studies show how video gameplay proves beneficial regardless the age group. But even of the youngest of this current generation are being subjected to game interaction as a form of education. I remember the last time I went into Toys R Us, which was some years ago, honest! I saw those childrens version of laptops and educational cartridges.
My little brother is special needs and one of the conditions caused by his Syndrome is learning difficulties, although in many aspects of everyday life he is a fast learner. Since I'm a gamer and he takes great interest in watching me play, no matter what it is. As such my mum has on occasion tried to get him involved, as he likes pressing buttons a lot, which is cool anywhere except a lift where he sets alarms off from pressing THAT button. We have played on the Wii together and although he isn't directly in control, he sometimes gets a kick from holding the handset or steering wheel. Also I have a feeling that teacher and suppor workers utilise video game interaction as part of their learning curriculum, however I could be wrong, I'll enquire when I'm back for the holidays.
I suppose merging games with interaction is a good call, it certain can as the old saying goes ''make learning fun''. Proving there's more the gaming than blowing up stuff and shooting aliens.
I've never been one for virtual second lives (yes the irony that WoW nearly falls under that catergory) it seems to be an intriuging move in America http://www.sci-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=01200192F62O&full_skip=1

An interesting read: http://www.gamestudies.org/0301/manninen/

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Soundtracks are Super

Video games as we know it would not have impact and effect on us if there was no audio. When you're locked in combat with a boss you want powerful moving music to build the tense atmosphere. I mean duelling the Sith in Star Wars would be hollow and empty without having the majesty that is the Duel of Fates playing in the background!

Music has numerous purposes in games, it's not always there to help 'set the scene', which alone can still prove effective. Music serves as a warning almost, an indicator as to when something significant is about to occur, it can be sudden or the pace will gradually change up until the point where you're looking at it. One example in my experience is gameplay during levels in Dishonored, whilst stealthing there is barely any music to be heard, however when you break this or are caught, then there is a sudden sharp tone to indicate you've been spotted. This is also used in a level of 007 Nightfire on PS2. During a mission where you must infiltrate a skyscraper in the night, if a guard catches you the Bond theme song is played sped up to indicate to you 'Hurry! they're going to raise the alarm!'' as soon as you subdue to guard the music fades away etc. 

Jeremy Soule is the composer of Skyrim, up until a few months after tis release I had assumed that was his big break or the his most iconic work, but boy was I wrong. After hearing some of the tracks from the Elder Scrolls I could imagine what his other discotography sounded like. He had composed the previous two games in the series as well as other known titles including Guild Wars, Metal Gear Solid and Harry Potter.

Another renowned composer is Jesper Kyd, whom I'd known from the Assassin's Creed series; as such he has also worked on other titles which have appealed to me, most notably being Borderlands 2 and Darksiders II. While these examples all fall under different catergories they all equipt the same orchestral music which I have felt portrays the atmosphere of the environments.

Both of these composers have produced such mind blowing audio that they have both been nominted and won numerous awards, including BAFTAs for Original Score.

Throughout my gaming career there have been iconic memories during gameplay where I have mentally applauded the soundtrack. One of the most recent was engaging dragons in Skyrim. When you approach a dragons area or they appear out of the blue, and then
that music begins, Jeremy Soule's Dragonborn fits the bill beautifully, especially at 0:35 and 2:09 where it builds to the crescendo....

Another prominent moment was during Red Dead Redemption, the music as a whole beautifully captures the serenity and mostly casual atmosphere of the Wild West, part of me is happy there wasn't any fast pace banjo music included as that would just ruin it and be borderline stereotypical. The passive acoustic guitar and harmonica is enough to set the tone of that time. But to the point, about half way through the campaign when you arrive on the shores of Mexico and mount your horse, José González's Far Away slowly introduces itself. The tranquil guitar intro combined with the setting sun as you gallop across the plains..... it truly is a memorable scene of this superb game.

Amongst the many awards this game won at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, one of them was Best Song in a Game, a title it too well deserves, Critic Jon Radoff was one of the several reviewers to dub it part of the most influential in the history of video games.

The tragedy of this entering combat or dying will cause it to fade; It truely is a once in a lifetime moment to experience. Anyone who would consider disrupting this iconic moment deseves to be shot!

And to keep it short and stop myself from going on, I think I'll keep at top 3. Whilst not used in actual gameplay like the rest of the soundtrack, the song Xaxas from World of Warcraft Cataclysm was the featured track in the cinematic trailer. IT.WAS.EPIC. Many people were like ''meh'', but those were the veteran players from vanilla. From my perspective it captures the essence of the expansion. As the name may suggest, the Catalcysm was a global natural disaster created by the Primary Antagonist Deathwing who has power over the very earth itself, earthquakes, eruptions and tsumani's galore! So the song itself it aptly violent and loud, it gives a sense of a rising evil and danger. The grind of sundered and shattered stone, the shaking of the ground, the smash of the hammer against metal and the dragons roar. Pretty much sums it up.