Monday, 23 April 2012

Personal review of second year

When i first started this course i wanted to be a character artist, but the more this year has gone on the more I’ve loved doing environment work and i think i would enjoy that more as an artist. When i do character work i always get in to issues like rigging.  When it comes to my career i need to pick between what i liked to do or what i enjoy doing.  When it does to doing VD work i prefer drawing environment work than character work. I never thought when i came to this course that would happen. But i guess time changes people.  I came to this course wanting to become a character artist that was my main motive and what i wanted to get out of coming to uni. This course has carving me in to being in to environments even though i never took interest before i  enjoy it so much more now.

So what do i want to do after uni?
Well from this the group project has made me took a more bigger interest in to environments to i figure i’ll try to get job do environments for games or whatever comes to mine I’d love to do a big of freelance on the side as well if i could as i still want to keep my 2D going as well i don’t to just focus my career on 3d alone i’d like to have my 2D to back everything thing up.

What companies would i like to work for?
I’m on the fence for this i originally wanted to work for DICE but i don’t want to work in Sweden i’d really like to stay in the United Kingdom I wouldn’t mind working for Codemasters or blitz but, there is a part of me that would like to work in a less known company and not have the pressure of development some developers have.

What do i expect to get from university education?
From this course i expect to get the skills i need to get a job in the industry. I Hope to get the technical skills to get myself to an employable level but i also hope the teaching i get from Chris and Mike bring me to a good standard of creativity when it comes to my art and good artistic judgement. I know i won’t get this though if i don’t put the effort in.

Reflecting back on my work
Reflecting back on my work this year i think my process of working has sped up, and the faster i can work the more effective i’ll become in the industry at making assets on time and not falling behind.  At times this yeah i’d felt some laziness has came through though on being creative after the group project. I found i slowed down on my VD work and struggled to be more creative, this got me frustrated and put me off working to the standard i should be for a few week’s i spoke to chris about it and how to tackle it. I think now that i know the signs of getting like this i will know how to handle it more if that happens again.

Reflecting back on this year i think it’s been a good year i’ve feel i’ve learnt alot, more in this year than i did last year i feel alot more technically able and i think i’m starting to be more creative, but i have a long way to go to be employable and more creative but i think i’ll be ready by next year.

I’m going to make a website portfolio over the summer to help me on my way on getting in to the industry and also will take part in alot of forum events and try get my name out there over the internet. 

Life changing and career building

When it comes down to learning to being a game artist in education, trying to learn techniques for the future and being prepared for it is a pretty hard tasks the only way we can really be prepared for it is the know the specific technical skills that are required at the moment. Though there is two type of being trained ready for employment in the games industry, there is being highly skills and have a high technical understanding of the games and how to be a 3D/2D artist. Then there is also being creative and having good soft skills. Good soft skills are really something both type of people need.  In the future i think these two types of people merge together with the more experience you get.

What are soft skills?
“Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person's skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills relate to a person's ability to interact effectively with coworkers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace.” 
This being said i think its a very important part about getting a job as you have to be able to work in a group of co-workers and get on with them.  You could have amazing ‘Hard skills’ but it you come across as a total creep then the company is not going to hire you based upon that.  Same with being a slow worker depending on where you work a company would want to pump the game through development as fast as possible if your work is going to hold the company back then they may not want to hire you based upon that. Soft skills are also known for being people skills. 

How does being creative help you get a job compared to being highly skilled?
Like in the creative blog i wrote before, creativity is being able to create something new and different have the ability to be prepared to be wrong.  Being creative can appeal to companies as it can bring fresh new ideas to a company and games. Being able to take a risk isn’t something every company wants to do, as it may cost them money.

Why do different developers want to employ different kinds of people?
When it comes to hiring companies values come in to play i personally think on what the company believes in. Both can be right on what they chose to hire a person for.  If a company hires for being highly skilled i think that’s because they want you to be reliable and higher you for the skills you know right at the time and what you can offer to the company and help keep the development of games on track. When it comes to being creative i think a company hires for what you can bring to the company new fresh ideas the ability to be independent and create interesting concepts, ideas, work and challenge conventional ways of making games. I think that companies choose to hire for this for the career you can give have in the future and what you might do for the company for then.

First of i want to write my own opinion on talent and skill as i feel if i research it it will cloud my judgement of my own opinion.

When i was at school my PE teacher use to teach me that talent doesn’t not exist and its skill that makes a person good at something. In a way i kind of think that’s true but in other i don’t i think you can be skilled at something and not be talented at it. I think talent comes in a form of passion and enjoyment you can be and amazing banker and i think that takes skill but it doesn’t mean you’re talented or enjoy it.

The is a film i watch awhile ago on bbc iplayer on street dancing and basically they this girl needed a place for hew crew to dance and she went to a ballet school and the teacher was having problems because they trained their students so hardly they lost their passion there enjoy me for it. And these street dancers had alot of passion and creativeness and i think to me that’s what talent is.

Also when it comes to being creative i think that’s more about talent than skill. You could be amazing at drawing a picture from the photo and make it life like, which takes skill. But no creativeness is used in it as your just copying a photo.  Creating something from your head is creative though as you using ideas in your head and reference to come up with a final outcome.

To me when it comes to games i think creativeness comes down to idea and concept and style. If they game is fresh like little big planet was at the time it came out it was new it was a game that game the users the tools to be creative with the game and make what they saw fit. I think creative looks like what you imagine.

Now that i have done some research mainly watching Sir Ken Robinson. He defined Creativity the ability to take risks and not be afraid to sometimes be wrong. And i think is inspiring and sums up good games and how they are creative. And what defines them as being creative.  Not many game company’s take risks any more as they are afraid to be wrong and not sell,  Whereas games there are prepared to take risks and do something unique is often more creative and successful.  The game kumo lumo is a good example of this. They took 8 weeks to create a new interesting ios game that different from other games. It was a small risk as it wasn’t a big development time and they was prepare to fact it might not sell. I think that is what creativity looks like in games.

I’m starting to think that's where games are going wrong lately games lately are alot alike in consoles companies are not taking as many risks as games take longer to make games so they don’t want to lose money. Games are starting to get boring as they are starting to be more alike. Like God of War, Darksiders and Devil May Cry. They are all so much alike in Gameplay wise its only visually they are different. (On the right, from the top, God of War, Darksiders, Devil May Cry.)

My tutor in foundation call Russell said to me when i told him i wanted to be a game artist he said games are all the same lately there not creative and not unique any more.  He told me to look at things in other ways that what you use them for. And i think he was right.  At the time of doing this he gave me a project to do with making art out of drawings and what they are using for.  Since telling me that, i stopped making crap work with them and used them in different ways like making a straw a paint brush, Or making it in to a sculpture tool.  I kinda think maybe i should look at games this way gameplay wise and art wise. 

Generalist to specialist

In this day and age console games take a lot longer to make than they use too. Most games take from 1 to 2 years to make in development. Some take a hell of a lot longer depending on the size of the team working on the game is. Being a generalist can often be cheaper as it means less staff working on a game but can take longer. Specialist can work on a specific area of a game like cut scenes and produce bigger more detailed tri counts  and texture size.

Assassin’s Creed did this for their cut scenes. They produce a game every year which is really short they don’t really have time to produce trailers so they outsourced to get the trailers done at a high quality.  This would normally take a really long time that the to make such a high detailed trailer  to promote the game and would cost more to do in the company so outsourcing would save alot of money as it is in country that are not the US or UK as it would have lower costs.

I think this will be the future for gaming as it would mean alot more games would come out each year meaning more sales and more money from costumers as developing a game is business and they are design to make money. This could also be a disadvantage aswell as it could leave to games being rushed and not be good enough quality and bankrupt the company. 

Being a generalist can a good thing though it means you can do be more versatile and be able to work on a range of things. This can make you more employable but then again there is alot more competition. Where has being a specialist can mean your alot more skilled and can produce better work but there is alot of people in china that are just as skilled as you can be and work for less. This is where most outsourced staff are from.
Companys like Virtous alot of their staff from china:
“Virtuos’ software engineering team includes more than 100 developers with a broad spectrum of skillsets. China provides a vast talent pool from which to select the most skilled, passionate, and creative engineers.”

This can mean for game artists like me its going to become alot harder for me to get a job as a specialist for living in the UK what it costs more to employ people.

For me i think i’d rather be a generalist to start out as i think there is more of a chance of me getting a job and it would help me get more experience for my career. Of course i’d love to focus on the subjects i love to do but then again do i know exactly what i want to specialise in? And that i don’t know yet i’m really earlier to my career  i don’t know how i’d want to spend the rest of it.  At the moment i’d rather have a wide range of experiences as i think it would make me more employable.

Interactive Design

With the new generation of consoles motion gaming and really changed the way game design works with the wii using a motion control system now you would can play games like Zelda in new interesting ways. The advantages of this are that less buttons are needed and focuses more around movement than pressing a button making the game more interactive.  This has been around for awhile though like arcade games use guns to point at shoot at a screen than just pressing a button or moving a mouse.

With the Wii, game design has changed alot more this generation; with keep fit games and how you play other games like sports games. Normally tennis is played the same way pong is played apart from adding more buttons to hit the ball with, now with the Wii, buttons are hardly ever needed as you interact with the game by swinging the controller.  Sports games have really grown from this generation and created a more of a family gaming section in the industry, with games like tennis, bowling, and golf.

Its not just sports games that have changed though. Zelda as i mentioned earlier has grown in to this new style of playing. Instead of just running about using a normal controlled, motion controls have added more of self effort to push you in to the game more by making you the character itself Zelda does this well as you have to swing your controller in fights to use your sword, and use your controller as a bow and arrow. In away i think this can clear up the interface as it puts you in the action leaving for less information to be putt on screen.
The playstation move is another version of the wii remote but it uses its controls to make games like heavy rain really stand out. Heavy rain has an interface of when a company is put up on screen to press the button or move the analog stick.  With the move this creates a interesting experience to the game as when character was about to get hit   the interface of the game told me to move my controlled down to dodge the attack moving the controller down made me feel like i was in the game telling the character to duck and itself made you feel like you was in the fight.

There are other games that get interface as the main gameplay like guitar hero. By using this wireless guitar to play tunes by matching the colours buttons to the colours on the screen. Then strumming the guitar when colour matches the colour at the bottom. I find this is a very unique way to play a game. The interface gives feedback on how we your doing sometimes this can get a little crowded but it works.

3D gaming is starting to get big too i think with more development 3D could take over gaming as playing batman in 3d works to extent it blurs the back ground a big but really makes fighting stand out.  The disadvantages of this though is that you have to wear glasses and  this can make your eyes ache after awhile so shorter games may benefit this more.

In my personal opinion i don’t 3D gaming at the moment from what i’ve played on ps3 i haven’t tried on PC, but on ps3 i found the frame rate to drop more and leaving things feeling blurry and not sharp and crisp. This generation is alot about high definition and having crisp clear images while using 3D glasses i feel this steps back abit, but the technology is coming out to bring 3D gaming to being sharp and crisp like 3D pc gaming is but at a cost.

Sounds in games have always been something i’ve over looked and not really paid attention til only lately in this generation of consoles. The first time i realised that the sound of a game was just as important to make a game be amazing as well as visuals and animation, was when playing Battlefield 3. The sound of tank driving past you, the cracking noise of objects as a sniper fires at you, the ringing noise you get as a explosion goes off near you. I always knew it was there but not the importance of it.  Playing battlefield 3 really let me realise how import sounds are and how they can improve gameplay immerse you in to the game.

 Since playing Battlefield i’ve started to really notice how sounds are used lately. Another game i got off steam lately for my dad was Oddworld Abes oddysee. It was a very odd PS1 game but it made me realise how even then sounded was used in different ways, playing off you could hear rumbling of machines to let to know that you’re in this factory.  The aim of the game was to escape and save your fellow works as many as possible.  Doing so would mean Abe would have do like this chant thing where he’d say “yoeyo”  which would open up portals that was made out of playing bats/birds  but you always knew when there was one around as you would hear flapping wings.  Also the sound of the enemies would let you know what was around like the machine legs of enemies the barking of dogs.  Alot of feedback is giving off by sound too, like unlocking a door would result in noise like a ding, if there was a ledge you could climb down you’d hear the cracking of little bits of rubble bouncing off the floor.  Also you got feedback from the texture of the ground you was on like the sound of metal or the sound of dirt against Abes feet.  I always took these things for granted but if you play a game with no sound you realise how much less you’re drawing in to the game. Also you always a sound track to set the theme of the level you was on or if there was an intense moment to give an rise of excitement.
Sounds Abe would make to communicate

One of my favourite composers for games would have to be Mikael Karlsson be wrote the score for battlefield games 
This is from the first battlefield bad company game i use to play battlefield 2 on a pc a few years before this game came out but when i got it loved the sound of the theme it captured the sound of what bf2 did for me the score you heard of every loading screen, but in a new fresh way.
This is another one by him that is in one of the loading screen of the multiplayer to bad company 2.

Just the the way he uses the orchestra gets you really pumped up for playing the war games that are to come from these scores.  
Another Composer i’ve not really heard of his name before but i’ve heard scores in a lot of games like Assassins Creed, Hitman and Darksiders 2 is Jesper Kyd
From the whole assassins creed series i think this is the score that sticks with me the most. I used to have this playing alot before i came to this course. I got the soundtrack for Assassin’s Creed 2 along with the figurine of ezio that i used for refence for the paper summer project. But since then this score has really summed up to assassins creed experience for me.

Game engines

There are a few types of game engines that can have some advantages and disadvantages: like creating your own again using middleware and engines like udk and cry that designed for multipurpose use.

Creating your own engine for a game can be alot less expensive than if you were the buy a licence for one where you might have more tool than your game may actually need. The advantages about making your own engine is that you can create the tool to exactly what you need and what you actually need for the game required. The disadvantages to this is that it take a lot more time before the game can go in to full production.

Middleware engines are useful as they are a combination of different engine parts like havok and bink to to create the engine custom to what you need for a game this can help cut development time from making your own engine but cost a bit more for liensicing the products alot of games uni this like Skyrim and  assassins creed the both have their own engines called creation (skyrim) and  avril (assassins creed)  Avril is used by Ubisoft in other games like prince of Persia but the the game is similar its uses Autodesk’s HumanIK middleware software to match in the hands and feet animations in to the climbing slots on the buildings in the game. This is custom to assassins creed as a game like Skyrim wouldn’t need this and would be pointless to have in the engine if it isn’t being used. But it saves development time for Assassins Creed. Skyrim on the other hand is different as it needs more physics for things like arrows, and more behaviour in the people around the open world like there is alot more behaviour to what the people are doing around you in the world where assassins creed just mainly has people working around aimlessly. So for this Skyrim uses Havoks behaviour, animation and physics middleware to add to their engine to make this happen. This saves them alot of code and makes developing the game alot faster to make but costs alot but on the plus for this Skyrim is a big title and has the money to do this same with assassin’s creed.

There is also engines likes UDK and CRY engine that are really user friend and involved hardly any coding at all to make them but the cost of licensing them costs alot more Cry engine alone costs $1.2million to license

That’s a hell of a lot especially for small developers to pay but the engine does a a lot and can be used for any sort of game also making development so much quicker but as a price. Personally to me i can see why most companies chose to use this over middleware but udk is the same most high end games use udk for developer like aa titles like batman and gear of war.