Monday, 4 February 2013

Task 25. Career Planning

Just before I begin discussion on my career planning, it looks like I forgot to do task 24, which is a review of the second year. Ill sum it up quickly.
Still loved the life drawing sessions, got through plenty of sketchbooks, group project was a fun success.

I also went off to work for Ubisoft in Pune India for six months. Which is why I have disapeared off the face of the earth. The experiance was an interesting one, one where I got to work on all disciplines of the art side, not much on the engine though. I worked on concepts, to 3D ingame characters, backgorund paintings, props, story boards and cinematics. Which is alot of stuff for six months, but it was a very eventful time. This was my first job, just like everyones first job at times it great and other times a bit stressfull,  but its all things to grow from, I also have some good pub storys now.I learned the importance of working in a live team, I already had a good sence of this from the group project, its realy important to use the strengths of each member of your team when a crunch comes along, which they do often. The golden grain of knowledge I learned was: PLAN!

(Planning is greatly important, you need to plan everything really, its an easy thing to forget and ignore; but later on youll try to change one thing that will force everything else to need changes. Such as finishing a character, than having to add new geometry, so youll have to re-unwrap and rescale your UV sheet, re-bake your stuff and so on. Also it just makes me want to concept everything from the face of a character to the type of shoelace theyre waring, damn. )

But working for Ubisoft Pune made me realise that when working in a games studio, I would have to work bits and parts of everything. If youre a character artist, you'll finish your characters, but after all the characters, props and swords, skinning and so on is done, expect to work on some walls and gates. Youll work where more man hours are needed in most cases. Which is ideal for finding out new stuff.

Nothing was quite as cool as being asked to make something out of your comfort zone, even if youre bad at it youll get lots of crit untill its good, its a building process.

But all that made me think. What about my career, have I started it? Now that Im not in a studio, is it still my career.
Well yes, because there isnt another job I can do with as much zeal. So what exsactly is it I want to do? I love conception and I'd do that every day untill my finers are bone, but obviously theres a flood of great concept artists out there, I also really enjoy modeling characters. Fantasy is my game really, but not too magic and fairy dust. I plan to make a portfolio of wide ranging conceptual art and 3d character models.

Also I remember at one point saying I'd like to become an art lead one day, I learned that the higher the position the less hard work gets done and the pay rises. So I dont really want to do that any more, putting it frankly, I like making things not so much managing people. So I wont mind being a good old poly pusher for a hopefully long career.

I remember the first job I applied for. I was 18.

I went down to the local football stadium in an attempt to get a job as a porter, more of a dishwasher really a temp position and it was paied okay for cleaning. I come on down with a shirt and tie, I thought I looked kind of casual smart I guess.
I show up and every other applicant is in his 30s to 40s in a suit with a briefcase, looked more like I was applying for a bank position. In fact I thought I was in the wrong room.
And alass the interview came, we read through my documents and the guy looked at me and said " It just looks like you came in here looking for a job. " and that confused me as that was exactly why I applied, as did every one else. What other reason, to forward a career in washing tomato sauce off of plates?  And I walked out of there, knowing I didnt get the job, but that was okay, because I didnt want it like those business men porters whos career is pouring that last bit of someones second pint down the drain. And thats how I found out any other job just isnt for me, I learned that before even starting the course. Not to mention that the idea of having to pretend that scares me to do work.

So.. what was this post about? Career planning?!
Uh. I plan to make a book of about 50 page concept art peices, a good couple models.
Stick those puppies together and apply to just about every studio untill I find one with good people and some damned good projects who will let me play with them.
Thats my plan! 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Task 23, Games Education

Teaching specific skills technical skills or developing learning attributes and 'soft skills'?

What do I think? I dont even know what Developing learning attributes and soft skills are. Maybe its free to my own interpretation, in that case, lets say developing learning attributes is motivational self teaching. As that's what we receive. However I wont go into babble. I can only describe the thoughts and opinions I have gained through learning on this course so far coming to the end of my second year.

What would one imagine from games education? Well, thats what one would consider the same as waht you would exspect from higher education. What I was hoping was from turning from a mediocre artist to a professional. The thought in mind that I would not only learn from industry professionals who would pass down their skills in an easy to understand mannor, and give you those £9000 (or however much money I am now in debt to student finance) secretes that only the highest order of elite artists knew. Wishful thinking.
Obviously its not like that at all. Infact, you learn the basics, and that thousand pound  secrete is that you need to draw caws in able to be able to draw cars. The more cars you draw, the better the cars will look in the end. The learning stops shortly after, about the middle of 1st year, when youve learnt your first 3D program and perspective. The rest is hinted at through outdated tutorials or by asking others how you do X-Y-Z.

What does that bullshit have to do with anything you ask? Developing learning attributes. The tutors will ofcourse no longer say " To be able to do X you must do Y like so. ", and thus you, the student must venture of to figure out how to do X, along with Z and the rest of the alphabet. How do I do this? You figure it out. This may be a horrible and rotten way of developing someone to self teach, but only those that want to learn, will venture of and find their own education. Those that do, will more than likely succeed or at least improve. While growing ever spiteful knowing that what they learnt on their own, could easily be told in a 5 minute video, or 2-3 pages of text.
They will remember that tutorial, not just beacuse it accomplished the task at hand, but because they found it on their own, after spending time and resources to find what they need.
So in a sence, what sound and looks like bad teaching, is good, as it forces the student and only the determined students, to succeed.
The less determined, lazy students, will be stuck learning outdated techniques, basic skills, be generalised, get many things wrong , making them a week student. But they will still pass, as they did the things they thought they should do as layed out in the out dated guide books, following outdated advice from last generations tech. They will fall out of the pipeline of university thinking they deserve a job, when they wont have the portfolio for it, or the skills.

What about that Teaching specific technical skills?! Well, those skills get updated all the time. What we get taught is the basic, which is good. But no more advanced skills are taught. And just like the week student, if you taught every student the same thing, they would all produce the same shit.
Which will create a large pool of unemployable clones, with similar portfolios, maybe one or two differences in texturing or something. (Unless your tutors are all star professionals, there are some marvellous teachers out there who still work along side teaching. Somehow.)

So this whole teaching business. How it worked for me? Get taught the basics for a month or two, than run off and do your own thing.
From what I've done and what I've been told is the only way to get anywhere is to want to go somewhere.

Education is just another business, laughing away as you give them your cash for 3 years of "do whatever man I dont care."
"Than we said; £15 per guest, £40 rental on a graduation gown and a £125 photo frame! " - DeMontfort University.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Task 22, Crativity and Garbage

The length of this task will be more about my own thoughts upon Creativity, skill and all that other toss were cramed into beliving exsists. Does it? If it does, how do you get it? Were you born with it?

Well the other day I was watching a tutorial lesson by a conceptual artist and teacher, in their presentations he mentioned how two kids learned. Basicaly two kids were both taught perspecitve and everything, all the worldly basics in order to understand drawing, art and the use of their learned skills.
Now Kid A had been one of those kids who read lots of books, went to measusems, looked at alot of cool shit, traveled a bit, althoughout his lifem he experianced alot of visual stimulai.
And Kids B he did everything kid A did, but for less time, so he spent maybe age 11 to 19, playing games, maybe went on to try to become a football player or something.
So these two kids are told to draw a castle, they both know how, perspective and all that shit.
Kid A draws this crazy castle with a mound and all this stuff looks cool, where as kid B draws this sort storybook castle.
Whats the difference? Kid B only knows the kind of castle he was told about from before he was 10, so he doesnt know what other castles look like and cant be more creative beyond that point.
Kid A, has clearly gone and seen a few, researched a bit and knows his stuff.

So when it comes to creativity, is someone born with it? No. Its basic knowledge, creativity is knowledge. Do you know what a pig looks like, ofcourse, but youll find all sorts of pigs out there, with different skin colours, sizes, tusks, hair or lack there of. If you only know of a Pink pig from the picture book when you was 6, youll always draw a pink pig. If you know that they're related to boars and they can be tiny and grow to be the size of a miniature horse, youre going to get cooler designs.

What have I learned? You can learn all the technical ability in the world! You can render youre shit to the point where it looks like a photo! But it doesnt matter one ounce if it just looks like everything else youve ever seen.
To create interesting ideas, you have to know more. There is no such thing as creativity. Its simply splicing your ideas together.

I was always into drawing. Howver I didnt read many books, watch many movies, in fact I didnt do much of anything. I was quite the recluse. Which makes me like Kid B. But it'd sit and imagine alot, no anything in particular, i'd go on mental rages thing about elongating limbs and objects, just playing around with things in my head. But of recent I know how importand studying other things is. How can I know something if its not in my mental library.
To awnser the questions of the blog task, as is routine.
I show people my creativity by drawing or saying it, i expect them to see it or hear it and imagine it in their heads as I imagined it.
Im neither skilful or talented, as its down to knowledge of subject of which I will never know enough.
What skills do I need to develop? The skill to persuade others that I have the ideas and i guess being able to render a turd helps.
I end with an egg.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Task 21 Specialise

Once upon a time, about 20 years ago, games would be made by roughly 4-6 people. They were in charge of the whole operation, from illustrations to sound and effects.
This however is something of the past as games have become multi-million dollar investments, who would have foreseen such an event?
With big budgets, one can get someone to work on one individual piece of the puzzle which is game construction. So this is how a company grows, larger budget, more contributors, more specialisation.

Its easy to look at myself when I think of specialisation. I came onto the course thinking I will become a digital illustrator, 2D artist and home my skills. This is still my motivation and driving force, despite constant weight.
However of course erasing my ignorance of the rest of the development process; I have been constantly swayed towards the 3D side of things.
If one focuses primarily on one subject, they are bound to become good at it, say if I studied like I used to, free from distraction I could draw all day every day of the week, and improve leaps. Which I would like. However If one trys to become a jackel of all trades, they will never meet the specialist. Having more arrows may be a good thing, but doesnt matter much if you cant hit the bullseye, if you follow me? There are always the temptations to distract you from your goal.

Now lets see what would happen if I went full out 2D artist.
If I became a illustrator, my job would be closer to the end of the project, in fact I wouldnt have much control over subject, I'd create the promotional work for the game, be it cover, poster, or other illustrated bits.
A conceptual artist would be needed primarily a the beginning of the project (at the creation phase), and through out the rest of the project. The primary goal to visualise the world, assets, style and any visual element of the game.

A 3D artist has alot more specialist areas. Not to say there aren't alot of areas in the 2D field, when it comes to ISO games, they have all the rolls of the 3d artist, when creating a full 2d game, as many ISO and hand-held games are.
From what I've come to learn is that there are many rolls for the 3D artist.
Enviroment artist, Character modeling, Prop artist, Weapon artist Special Effects and so on. All have different jobs, yet have the possibility to work on each other feild.
A enviroment artist could easily create the assets a Prop artist could make. Same for a character artist being able to create weapons, props or creatures.
As Ive learned from talking to character artists is they will often be used for other things after they have completed all the character art needed for the game. Like, after they have finished their characters, they were set a task to create animals. Makes sence in an employment state of mind, why hire a new person when you have a fully functional artist at your disposal? Artists are usual on contract for a set period of time, and having them do nothing after their job is done is a waste of money on their part.
So for the chracter artist, their job wouldnt end at charcter art, as chracters fill maybe 10% of the game if im being generous. If they were not given other tasks, they would be wasting time and money, only needed for the smallest amount of time in a company.
Unlike a enviroment artist, who would be needed for far longer, as they are needed to create the whole playable world, assets and whatever else needed in game.

When it comes to specialising, I have no idea anymore. Maybe I am a generalist at the moment, im stronger in the 2D department thats for sure. Its hard to say.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Task 20

In short this task should be based more around use of physical interaction with the non-physical game. With games now choosing to use less of a control pad or in some cases no control pad at all, its hard to see where the future of games are going to.
But I will also talk about user interfaces here and there along the way, keep your panties on.

Lets start at the beginning. The joystick allowed 8 drirections of movment, with 1 to 3 comand buttons, the simple logic of this was often explained on the conroler and had a direct and rather obvious reaction in the game. A similar trend continued through out the 80s and early 90. This was until the analog joystick appeared on the nintendo’s N64. This appeared due to the use of 3d technology in games, now with consoles becoming more powerful it enabled the controller to move through 3 dimentional space, instead of the predeceasing 2D space. However this was more obviouse with the Sony PlayStation analog controller , the Sony playstation took full advantage of its analog controller, as you could use the left analog to move that character, and the right to rotate the camera. This has been a primary function of modern controlers. The 2d style of controlers effected the user interface of games
Yeah thats about all the user interface you needed in the 80s-90s, Lives, Score, Time. And thats it, oh the occasional start screen will help aswell.

Baldaurs gate had quite an advanced user interface, something that reminds me much more of a MMORPG, something which I loved like crack as a child, and hell still do, hooked for life on that stuff. But it had everything you needed with symbols that fitted the theme, sometimes they will change a bit and youll have to do some investigation into what soething is, but eventualy this sort of set up becomes almost easy to navigate. Always knowing where the map, equiptment and whatever else you need is, just nicely tucked away. Some would say its quite messy, but thats just our modern, everything must have one button because were too stupid to understand more than one god damned button, thanks apple, you cock.

However in the past 5 or so years, time has a way of slipping by un-notice, motion sensors has became the fad amongst game developers. Nintendo and Sony use similar motion capture technology, not to mention dule-stick like controlers, which bare close resemblance to each other. The xbox connect had decided to go one step further and remove the controller all together, and instead using the motion capture to almost have the player in the game, being more physical. And motion capture and user interfaces will probably bring us closer to that, matrix style computers, moving each window out of the way with your hands, crazy to think about, but if there is the will, there is the way.
Well a cool matrix style interface is what they want, but what they will get is something more like this photo, just a lazy woman flailing her arm tryingto change from screen to screen likea moron.
And if you notice, this new age of 3d and glimmer glammer has risen to new crazy, sleek user interfaces?
Oh why arn't you posh skyrim. They've pretty mich simplified it down as far as it could go, they didnt even bother with any fitting decorations. Its like getting into a horse and cart, with air conditioning and a tv/radio and sat-nav. Crazy, no?

Remember Nintendo’s Virtual boy? The first real taste of 3D, even thought it was terrible and failed as a product. A decade later, Nintendo has came back into 3d with the Nintendo 3DS, a hand held 3D console that requires no additional equipment, only a slider is needed to cause the 3D effect. Its pretty interesting to think about, the change between the 2d into the relms of 3D. Yeah, Im dont know anymore. -The history of controllers - Flight simulators from early to nw

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Task 19 Sounds in games

After having a little tinker in UDK, adding sounds to the groups level a few things appeared to me that as a gamer I had often over looked, just a tad. Games are not just a visual experience but also reach out for the other senses also, which studios have been trying to enhance ever more for a good while now, but sound is one that can add just about any mood they are after.

For example, in Team Tambra's group project, I added a sharp piano key at the time an eyeball fell from the ceiling. Ofcourse, eyes dont make piano noises when falling, but the jolt of sound, combined with the visual experiance, and build up from the rest of the level, really adds to the mood we were trying to convey. Not to mention I was trying to work towards a Resident Evil theme, which the use of piano is used through out their games.

When the budget is right, game studios can really go the mile when it comes to sound. Such as the Biowear's Jade Empire, who had a audio team of 6 workers, who recorded traditional chinese instruments to get a ancient chinese feel to their game. When you think about it, going that extra mile works wonders when it comes to game play. If you're playing a ancient chinese game, which has dominant western music, it wont fit the area youre trying to promote.
You could say, what about Omega Force's Dynasty Warriors?

A game set in ancient china, during times of war, surely this game should have a dominantly chinese sound track. Which, it doesnt, that time period didnt have electric guitars, unless im mistaken. So why does it work with this game? Well, there is still a chinese feel, with the occasional chinese instrument spliced in here and there, but the main thing to note the genre of game. Dynasty Warriors is a action beat em' up, which is relitivly fast pased and semi-real time stratagy. Traditional chinese music isnt as up tempo as western music, that upbeat tempo really helps the game move along, appear fast and like a battle is around the courner, if it was traditional chinese, the game would appear alot slower. Dynasty Warriors has a certain theme, now in its 7th series, its had a rock/chinese theme running throughout every one of their games, if the game were to change its sound track now, it wouldnt fit within the feel of the game.

I probably wouldnt enjoy Time Splitters 2's Anaconda, if it were not for its music.
In fact, I'd pay to listen to it.
Which brings me onto my next subject of game sound tracks. The quality of music in games has soared to the point where company's can literally sell their music alone. Now the average fan can enjoy their games, when theyre not even playing, which builds stronger relationships with the game. So not only can a company make dollar from the game they produce, they can also make extra pennies from the sound tracks they create, which ofcourse are cheeper to produce on mass scale.
Just taking a look at Square Einx's sale records, its obvious their fan base is pretty damned loyal. Their music is very iconic of their games, so its obvious why sales are high. Large fan base, iconic music, theres not much else to it.

Sound in games are not only good for the ambiance, genere, immersion and gameplay of a game, but also for the companys wallet.

Medal of Honour audio team
Lord of the rings audio

Interview with Yoko Shimomura
Square Einx's album sale figures

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Task 18, Searchers start your engines!

Whats a game engine? Lets cut the technical jargon and go straight to " Its the empty world containing the information to fill that world. " Or this his how it feels when you open up a Softwear development kit (SDK), something like Unreal or the Elder Scrolls construction set.
Either way, the engine controls all sorts of sweet bits to put into your world. It controls everything from frame rate (to an extent) to particular systems. The game engine once started out as a simple couple lines of code, back in the golden day of pacman and asteroids, it was all that was needed. However games have evolved since than and with every engine, comes a more complex and elaborate code to run it. Many modern engines include 3D real time rendering as is expected with 3D being the front runner for games in this area. The game engine is the program that witll sort all your meshes, lighting, redering, and whatever else will effect the game so the game can be created around it.

I could continue, however Ill explain my own take on the game engine.

The Elder Scrolls construction set was my very first engine I came into contact with Back in 2004, when I got my first copy of The Elder Scrolls, Morrowind (2002), by Bethesda. Now, I was only 13 at the time and had no idea what the hell was going on, but I was heavily interested, the idea of being able to edit the game. However lack of 3d knowledge and softwere knowledge was too much for me, I would always try to work it out, but with no luck.
As a kid I wish I could have done something like that!
However last chrismas I tried using The Elder Scrolls Oblivion construction set and found out it needed 3DsMax 8 models to run, which was a pain.

My second engine which I had come to learn of was the Unity engine.
The unity engine was somethign we were goign to use in the Game art / Game programming. We were going to make a game for this big gaming compition where we would earn some nice money if we had achualy went through with the idea. But thats another story.
The Unity engine was a flash engine capable of web browser based games (something I thought was amazing) and mobile gaming, including playstation 3. Its definatly something to check out, its capable of breakable objects, full 3D rendering, ambient lighting and distance fade. The lot. A very powerful piece of kit.
A little video there showing some capabilities. Whats cool is that it isnt nintendo 3Ds Graphics, more going towards PSP and PS2. But suports normal bump mapping and various other maps.

Unreal engine, or UDK (Unreal Development kit) is one of the most widley used game engines out there. Its free and constantly updated. ( A bit too much for my liking, its not backward compatable after all)
Considering its for three generations under its belt, It would be a good engine.

I want to come back to this post after the queens project, simply because, I dont feel I fully understand UDK and the engine. After I gain a better understanding of the game engine, from practical use I will be able to write my thoughts upon it. Untill than its just regurgitated mess from others accounts.

Unity Engine :
CryEngine 3 :
Whats a game engine? :
Top 10 game engines of our time:
Elements of a game Engine: