Sunday, 27 March 2011

Character design

What makes a character good to me is that it grips my attention from the start, mainly it to do with looks and if the character looks cool or something about the character that shows a meaning to them.  For me a lot of the time a character gets my interest from his clothes and his hair. The face never really grabs my attention much. I think this is mainly because when you’re playing a game you’re hardly ever looking at the persons face. Nearly all games you play a character and see from behind so when to me it makes sense for a character to grip your attention from behind and then be able to turn a character around to see they’re front.

 Don’t get me wrong faces are very important for cut scenes when you’re in a game you can get very bored if your character isn’t very interesting to look at. I think it helps that in some games like RPG’s you get unlocks for clothes/armour and to me that’s develops a character for me I love being able to see my character develop.

I think one of my favourite characters of all from the films and the games is Batman. We all know the story about batman so I won’t jump in to why that interests me but it’s his suit. The way his mouth is left open and the rest of his head is covered up. It kind of reminds me of like the helmet in gladiator that Russell Crowe wears. ( just a little bit though) but from whatever angle you look at batman you can tell its him he stands out so well and to me it looks freaking cool. His cape is another thing that makes his character interesting for me. The way it spreads out like batwings is a really cool concept. It’s like those millions of concepts of people with angel wings but it’s nothing like that they aren’t real it’s just a cape which I like.

I think quite a bit of what makes a character interesting is based on the script like Zack out of final fantasy 7 he basically teachers cloud in the original game how to be a solider before he dies but in the PSP game you play the story of who he was and how he became a soldier and how he taught cloud and also how he died. I think the script to this character was amazing. When I actually finish the game i felt really sad because I felt like I’d come all this way and I die and that’s it. Which is sad you grow this bond with this character only for him to die? I think that’s what makes his so interesting. It’s only his hair and sword that makes the character interesting looks wise but everything else is down to the script for this certain character.

Mainly I think it’s got to have an even balance of both the script and the looks of the character to make a game character interesting so it sells. If a character looks cool but doesn’t have a good script to them then it’s probably going to suck Mind Jack being a good example of this.

Art direction

Art directors are pretty much one of the most important jobs for games they are responsible for setting the visual tone, quality and style of the game They are not responsible for making anything but they have a indirect responsibility for every object, texture, level, character and effect in games which is a pretty big deal they have to be involved in nearly everything in a game which is a huge responsibility. They have to decide how everything looks in the game in which to make it suit the scene better. This is important as you would want the wrong props in the wrong level and this is because the art director has to make sure everything looks right. You would want like a dust bin in the middle of a ruined building? Or a toilet in a kitchen of a house (though that maybe a good idea for lazy people)

 I would say an Art director’s role is very creative in the sense that he has to decide if everything looks good and how it should be if it’s not. If a character doesn’t look right to the art director he has to be creative and decide what would make him look better even if it’s a quick drawing or notes next to the character on what he thinks the character designer should do to make this character look more  interesting. A art director would also have to go over and be creative about all the props in a game like where tree’s go where a crack on a wall would be places and even the objects that a near a character like a NCP. To make the NCP more believable the art direct would have to decide what would be suitable for the NCP like if it was an Alchemist in a RPG the NCP would have scrolls and books around him to suggest he’s been studying them.

To me the difference between An art director in a film compared to a game  is that in a game the art director must consider props and views from every angle where as a film is only base on one camera angle that is in a controlled environment. Where in a game the camera angle is left mostly to the player so everything has to look good from whatever angle the player decides to look at stuff.

If I was looking to be an art director in the future I think you need the following qualities:

Good judgement from real life scenarios

A good Understanding of Physics 

A good knowledge of 3D programs and how to model and how to create good textures

A good understanding of market trends and styles

There is a lot more I could add to this but for now I think these are quiet important as to make a game believable it has to seem like real life in most cases.

A good understanding of Physics on how effects will look in games like if something explodes then gravity will have an effect on the explosive and cause rubble to fall to the ground. Along with wind and lighting.

I think the 3D program explains its self as you can’t be a good director unless you know how someone make the object you see.

A good understanding of market trends and styles as overall the game has to sell and if the game isn’t what the market is asking for then it most like won’t sell.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Game design

Gameplay is one of the core elements of a game if you don’t have gameplay then you don’t really have a game. Gameplay is every experience you have while playing a game. From navigating the menus to playing and watching every cut scene.

Game design is nearly always started off as an idea for a game it takes few people to get the game rolling these are designers.  Like lead designer, level designer, a writer and a game mechanic designer.  These basically come up with the overall point of the game like

  • What the games about
  • What genre the games going to be
  • Art Direction

The leader design will come up with a design brief after they have worked out the bases and this brief will contain the small concepts of the game, the basic story features in the game, the setting.

The game design process is happening nearly all the time throughout the making of the game even when testing games the design of certain things can be changed. Socom 4 is a good explain of this during its private testing they found that the grenade arc for throwing grenades was too time consuming and it has been a problem all through the series. The design of the grenade arc was that your soldier would hold the grenade and arm and a yellow/white arc that would indicate where your grenade would land so you could easily aim in to windows and on top of buildings. So during testing it was taking too long to do, so they changed the design to it by making it that when you point your cross hair that’s where your grenade is roughly going to go. Of course this changed with distance but generally it worked well and quicken up game play.

Depending on the type of genre of the game i do think the design principles change, comparing a game like final fantasy against guitar hero. For example you wouldn’t really need a level designer as such for guitar hero as much as you would for final fantasy as one of the core elements of final fantasy is the game play of the levels. Where as in guitar hero they are more set scenes as you don’t have any role in using the level to do anything but stand and play your guitar in.

For me when I play a game it mostly depends on if I’m having fun which would mainly be due to game play. Graphics can have a role in what I like when playing games but it’s not exactly needed. Crysis 2 is a example of that for me the graphics are amazing but when I’m playing the game i don’t find it that fun for me. I find it mirrors ideas from Call of Duty and when I play online it’s the game play of others really that ruin my game play as I find a lot of times you run round a corner to fine a person camping invisible there waiting for you. And that ruins the fun for me.

I know I keep bringing up battlefield bad company 2 but that game to me has nearly perfect game design for me at the moment and I love the fun I have on it. The graphic of the building being blown apart just amaze me every time. There is nothing more satisfying to me at the moment of blowing the hell out of a building with a enemy in, maybe it’s my guilty pleasure I don’t know.

An idea for the cool shit folder

I had this idea after a lesson with Mike when he told us to create a cool shit folder. I just find it cool that every person has an object or something that means most to them so I asked a few people what theirs are and these are some of the responses:
·         “My first pair of ballet shoes that I got when I was like 3”
·         “The locket my boyfriend bought me”
·         “A bunny teddy that my dad won me at Alton towers”
·         “I always wear a silver necklace with 1 chucky heart and 2 flat ones that my boyfriend gave me for my birthday the first year we was together”
·         “I have a little white bear hold a pink flower on a keychain that my Nan gave me before she died.”
·         “The harmonicas my granddad gave me”
·         “My bass guitar / vinyl’s and travelling”
·         “My iphone”

When I read these I really found them quiet inspiring and cool. Like each one gives a sense of a story behind that and I find that quiet interesting. I kind of think now that if a game character had something like this it would bring them more to life because nearly all game characters have a sudden beginning about them and not anything that develops their past as such.

Battlefield bad company has a kind of a good example of a good back story to a character in a more quirky way. During the upcoming weeks to release DICE made small interviews with each of the 4 characters that are in the campaign. The main character Preston Marlowe got put in to the bad company after he took a helicopter for a joyride.

I personally think more games should have stuff like this it makes them more interesting. Even though I do think they could have developed the characters a bit more on background but, none the less though the 4 characters in that game work amazing like well together. I think this video shows what I mean.