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:

Friday, 4 November 2011

Referance Database

I remember back to last year when I was told to make a " Cool shit " folder. And no one could manage to keep those two words together. I think I called mine the " crap " folder. And thats cool, because some of it was shit.
But than I realised all reference is good reference, after that, I started to collect cool and interesting photos from around the internet, and just in general as I go. Along with textures and whatever else.
There are folders within folders within folders.
And since than I've gathered 7GB worth of cool stuff. And I have found myself using them quite often.
Sometimes I'll save an image just so I can do a photostudy of it at a later date. (More than often)
Other times I will use multiple images to make a new image. Or just the silhouette of a woman's shape, hair or face, to make my own image out of it.

Sometimes I just like to save cool motorbikes and stuff.

There are better high quality photos in my database, however, these ones are just funner. I think Ill be collecting these thigns for a long time now. Also there is no Cat folder. As I can just search for anything on the internet to find those.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Task 16 Level Design

Level design and composition are two related subjects, they tie in just like the rest of the game does when you create a level. But composition is a child to the parent of Level design. Lets consider something like the human body. One could call the bones the level design, and the veins the tightening of that design and composition of the level. Without the bone structure in place, the muscles and veins have no where to wrap themselves around and the human form would be a puddle of goop. Quite like a Bad level design.

There are many ways some get around their ideas of level design.
Lets say the Copy Paste Method, which is probably what its actually called, where the level designer desides to literaly, copy one map and paste it in a nother location, or on the next floor of the same location.
Now this isnt a bad thing, there's a little thing called consistency, I mean, every room is usualy different, but in a game no ones going to care too much about two broom cupboards looking the same. Lets have a look at Persona 3!
10 to 25 floors that look exactly the same?! Than just change the textures!!! .
Now dont get me wrong, I love Persona 3, and Persona 4 too as it was also quite pretty. My problem with this game was its computer generated levels. Which to be honest, is cool! Basicaly, one floor is a randomly computer generated map, spliced together from room segments, so you can go back to the same floor you were just on, but it will never be the same map. Now thats a good design when it comes to repeating levels. Its copy paste, but never completely the same. One map is one floor, and you have to go through like 150 or so floors, which is like a billion repeated maps. But every 25 or so floors theres a cool boss, which prevents you from running up further, and you can unlock that level in the elevator. Who designs an elevator where you have to walk to that level first before you can use the elevator to get there? But in terms of a game level, its a pretty cool idea, I liked it, it was like an achievement and made me forget about the endless repetition. And after every boss the level's textures change! So its not a complete bore.
Its a corridor, but its different from the last one.
So when it comes to Persona, I like to consider that they have goods and bads. Yeah, they designed their dungeon to have computer generated maps which could be considered a bit lazy, but they managed to keep it interesting by jazzing things up a bit here and there. So its a mixed bag. You never realy feel lost in this game, but you have to find the stairs in a randomly generated room, which can be forever apart, or right in front of you, which at times makes the game feel easy, or makes the stairs being so close a god send.

Now lets look at a game that will forever be butchered and dragged trough the mud as  the disappointing series, that once was Sega's Mario to Nintendo. Sonic the Hedgehog. Now, back in the days when Sonic was on the Sega genisis, the levels were amazing, a cool fast paced plat former. It was fun, reminded me of setting up marball tracks as a kid, but a bit cooler. Each zone (or map,level) had a good 3-5 unique objects, like springs, loops, or fans, water and all other bits and bobs to keep one from remembering its going from left to right.
It was simple, you run to the right, but go back and forth, avoiding bits and bobs. Their level design was really good for the side scrolling age. Fun stuff, at no point did the game feel, blocky, it was loose. But side scrollers arn't what cause Sega's star child to look like he does. Its their choice to make every sonic game full 3d. The worst to blame is sonic heroes!

What the fuck is going on here? Can I call that a vista?
Sonic Heroes on the other hand decided to just use springs and rails everywhere! And not to mention, you've always going to fall into some stupid bottomless bit. Did you ever fall into a pit in the sega genisis versions, RARELY. This is also down to the bad controls, or lack there of. Often enough It felt like you were being thrown around the level, and you didnt really have to do anything. Its like the deisnger though " More long ass jumps here, lets put 2-no 3 loops here and than put another long jump at the end of all those loops ". This would be cool for a side scrolling game, but when it comes to 3D, is more like this : " What the fuck am I doing, oh god whats going on, I dont know what Im doing, what the fuck how did I die? ". It was all stupidly complicated for no reason at all. One of the many reasons I have never completed that game and never will.

Well, I may have to continue this at a later date. To sum it up:
A well deisgned level can immerse the player into the world. A bad level can take you out of that world, than make you turn off the computer and get on with your life.
The Only way I will play Sonic Heroes again.
Reading List:
Crimes agains level design

Review of sonic, which I dont completely agree with.

" Does anyone care about game designers" - Forum post