Saturday, 31 December 2011

There are always enough hours in the day

Christmas been and gone, I cant wait for uni to start up again so I can get back into the flow of things.
I do like having fun, I like games and art so my work is what I call fun, I enjoy it.
I can manage  my time so much better now, that there are always enough hours in the day to do it.
Ive spent my time off practicing to paint with oils, doing lots of drawing making a bit of 3d sculpture and playing some games as I was told.

Ive decided that im going to put extra hours into all of my subjects this year and im hoping that those extra hours will be evident in my final peices. They will, what am I saying I know this strategy works by now.
12 hours is not enough, not for the practice i need to get in. Like I said I have the time. Ive made the time, at a price.
There are only so many times you can ignore the door before people stop knocking and so many times you can ignore the phone before it stops ringing, but im paying for this course. Whats 3 years of my life? nothing.

I'm married to "game art" now, and Im going to be faithful. I dont see it as a seperate part of my life its part of my life as a whole. Im gonna spend more time in the labs to do the work im so passionate about. Im going to move nearer so I can be there more. make a few sacrifices for my future.

Im old enough and mature enough to do this and learn to do it well, and block out distractions or move away from them. I forget im 30 this year, sometimes being around alot of young people makes you forget.
Im not at school now, no more messing about, im putting my all into this now, I know where I want to be and how to get there.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

DAY 1 - Thumbnail challenge

9am: Today is the day, The day I realise that I may have bitten off more than I can chew.
Ive done the math, and worked out that in order to complete this challenge I have to work at the rate of 1 thumbnail every 5.71428571 seconds.

I will post the vid later on.....when I muster the bottle to do this...

Honestly, Im scared......

10 pm starting the task now.

Day 1 outcome:

I managed to do 21 and a half thumbs in 2 minutes......... extremley bad thumbs but thumbs all the same.

I never expected to do this.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The thumbnail challenge.... it begins

Right then. forget 22 drawings in 12 hours. I claim that I can do 15 thumbs in 3 minutes which isnt bad but.......
A certain someone can do 20 in 2 minutes..... 
Wouldnt it be fun to try and beat that record..... After all its only 2 minutes of my time..... and see if I can do 21
yes... 21 thumbs in 2 minutes......

and thats not all, I will try and accomplish this task in 7 days and if not I will eternaly bow down to that "certain someones" awesomeness and change my DMUGA facebook account name to Victoria "the snail" Cichocki dmuga, forever, and my profile picture to brian from the magic roundabout.

I will video my performances over the next 7 days, with a clock to show I have not cheated. I will post them on here.

The rules

Victoria must produce 21 thumbnails in 2 minutes or less.
She will  attempt the task once a day for 7 days.
She must complete this task by midnight on wednesday the 14th of December 2011.
If she fails she will be known as Victoria " the snail" Cichocki for ever.
Vic must post the videos on here blog for the world to see. her sucess or failure.


Im off to bed.... big day tommorow

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

back to square 1

Chris has now lifted the "ban" and given me permission to use digital and colour. I should be thankful.
The truth is im back to square one. Not only do I have to "just keep doing it" with pencil but I have to do the same now with colour and digital.
 I looked into colour theory today. practiced my hours drawing.did some digital painting, made loads of mistakes. achieved things aswell.

Its not as hard, getting better at pencil.... very slowly.....has made me learn things that will help me with the others.
Im not moaning, just getting my thoughts down and clearing my head. I will continue listening to him, it has paid off before, Im just looking forward to "getting there" and looking back at my struggles, and visual design  facebook album that has so many pics my computer crashes when it loads.

My hard work will be rewarding for me. Its a very lonely place to be at a desk everyday looking at the things you can do in 30 minutes.  Knowing its not good enough yet is frustrating, but knowing you will get better if you J.K.D.I is what keeps me going.

Im going to write down what I have achieved each week so I can look back over time. This will help me to realise what im doing is worthwhile.

What I have achieved this week

I can do 15 thumbnails in 3 minutes - SERIOUSLY- not masterpeices... but enough to help me progress.
I have improved in game production. im really happy about it.
I have learnt how to  unwrap splines off my own back.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Thankyou lecturers

 I said in my first blog post that i would give credit where neccesary.... well here goes....

Thanks to Mike for putting up with me spamming his email with links to my blog posts, and having an open mind to my alternate views on video game history, psychology and contradictions. Most importantly appreciating my efforts in getting as much graphite down on paper in 12 hrs.

Thanks to Heather for answering all of my bizzare questions such as "how do i make this look cool" and "why did you let me on this course", letting me on this course and also giving me the incentive to use my brain to figure things out on my own back in order to get better.

Thanks to Jack for putting up with me forcing him to critique every peice of work ive done and teaching me that eating ham sandwiches while sucking peppermints is not a good idea.

And thanks to Chris for constantly telling me that I will get there and respecting my efforts with "well dones" when they were needed the most, having the most legible writing of any lecturer ever and for being a ray of sunshine on an otherwise dismal day. 

thanks guys, I appreciate it,

I suppose the real "thanks" will be seeing my efforts pay off. keep watching.

Getting worse in order to get better

When I was at college I had an issue with perfection. I would constently spend hours and hours on one peice of work until it was perfect. It was very obsessive I admit. Im glad to say Im over that now.

When I started uni, I thought I couldnt do it that I wasnt good enough. After the first week I iknew I could do it if I put alot of effort into it.

Then it came down to getting faster, I knew in order to get faster my art was going to look worse before it got better. I wasnt going to produce a brilliant final peice in an hour.... at first.

It was a risk I was willing to take, I knew that I may have to produce some mediocre work at first, something I wouldnt have done in the past. The worst case scenario would be I would fail, that didnt happen thank goodness. I realised that I wasnt going to go into university and be the straight A student I was in college. If I was that good from the word go I wouldnt need to go to university would I ?

Im going to keep going, keep trying and keep perservering and get better. I find I am learning everyday here, not just about how to increase my skills or ability but important life lessons.

Like I said earlier I am no longer afraid to make mistakes or to show people my mistakes im only human after all. I will learn from the mistakes, I am learning from them, my hard work is paying off, I am getting through a sketch book a week now. practicing more and more.

Some of the things I have produced along my path to getting better are dire, but how would i have known if these things would work or not if i didnt try them out. The worse thing that can happen is people are laughing at me on there secret game art facebook group that they think I dont know about. I dont care.... Im here for myself not for anyone else.

Ill keep smiling, keep trying and I will get there because I am Victoria Cichocki.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Visual design and game production - bridging the gap

I started the new brief in game production on the day it was recieved. I thought I could get more done this way and have time to sort out any problems without that last minute panic when things go wrong.

The new project is to make 2 trees. I spent hours a few weeks ago studying trees and trying to draw them correctly as part of our bradgate park drawings. when I came to make the tree in 3ds max I found it was easier to do BECAUSE of the visual design work I did.

Then it all clicked, that is why we do visual design. It helps to bridge the gap between the two.
I guess that when people tell me that visual design isnt important because its game production that gets you the job its rubbish, because visual design helps me do game production better.

I know a tree may be simpler and quicker to make than a building, but if the results of my visual design work are not evident in the finished 3d model this time I will be shocked.

Even studying the bark and practicing rendering it in visual design will help me produce better textures in game production.

Knowing this it may be an idea to practice drawing objects before I model them.

I put more than 12 hours a week into game production because I have yet to master it. I am going to start putting more hours into visual design rather than just the reccommended time. I do my own practice work which I suppose counts towards "getting better" but I am going to put more hours into projects for projects because I dont feel like I am getting anywhere even with the large amount of work I have been starting to do.

As for game production this week has been a good week. I have gone home and taught myself things that will make my 3d work look cooler. I have been reading 3d art magazines and it is suprising the things you can pick up. I will apply them to future projects.

In critical studies this week I felt so behind the times because although I like games I wanted to concentrate on my education. I just felt like I didnt know what anyone was talking about. Even though i dont want to waste my time playing games when i want to learn how to make them I realised that playing some games may help me to make them.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Game environments that are not drab

After a discussing in the lecture about our most memorable games. It was brought forward that alot of video game environments can look drab.

Id like to showcase my personal favourite top 5 very different video game environments. I think that the environment sets the whole atmosphere for a game and that video game environments can make or break a game and because the centre of what makes a game great or good. I want to do this, make wicked environments for a living. They are my favourite element of video games.


 Massive environments to explore that seem to never end along with old Japanese style graphics for the environment made  Okami one of the best gaming experiences of my life, I loved the environment so much that I never used the short cuts in this game to travel across the vast world, I made the game drag so I could enjoy that "first time played" experience more, its the never the same the second time round, this is so huge though you are bound to miss stuff out, definitely worth a second play.

Viewtiful Joe

VIEWTIFUL JOE was a 2 and a half D game in the sense that it was appeared to be 2D but was 3D when you got to the end of the screen and turned around corners. The game looked gorgeous with old comic book style graphics, the environments just reminded me of my childhood 80s comics, one of the reasons why I  loved this game. Although Many say that it was Solid.

The legend of Zelda - the windwaker

You had to sail across a whole ocean in this game and visit over 50 different islands, the fact that you controlled the boat made exploring so cool. to think i hated this game because of the cel shaded graphics at first, but its in my top 10 games of all time now.

super Mario sunshine

This game was so bright and sunny that playing it made you feel like you are outside in the sunshine (or was it because I should have been out in the sunshine but I was Indoors playing video games). After getting so far in the game there is even an option to wear a pair of sunglasses or shades (in the game) to tone down the brightness.  

Silent Hill

THE WALLS! THEY ARE ALIVE! This game gruesomeness is horrifyingly awesome. Thats what makes it different, walls made of flesh may seem gross but they added to the sinister atmosphere of the game. They moved aswell. Id rather see that than boring brick walls.

These games are old I know, I just cant get the "this environment is awesome" feeling with games these days. maybe ive seen everything. 

I need to find exa\tly what it is i love about these games and apply it to my own work,  spark up that passion I had with games that i feel has been lost.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

a crumpled peice of paper

I had a really bad week last week, Im being made to feel insignificant and invisible and I feel like there is a 50ft wall standing between myself and my dreams. I didnt do anything to put that wall there and I think I know how to get around it, but it will be damn hard.

I feel like a crumpled peice of paper.
It can be straightened out again but it never quite looks the same.
The more it gets crumpled the harder it is to distinguish the new creases from the old.
The damage becomes unoticeable.
A peice of paper can only recieve so much damage before its torn.

I just need to become thicker and stronger so that it is impossible for anyone to leave these creases. I need to fold myself into a giant origami bird and fly over that wall.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

New Games Journalism objectivity VS subjectivity

Before I write my own video games review I thought id write about games writing so I could research the subject in more depth. This will in turn help me write a better review myself. It will cover the questions to consider from the critical studies handbook.

New games journalism or NGJ is  not just, this is your game, this is your character, this is what you do, which is typical of a standard objective video games review. It is a more creative analysis of games. NGJ uses games as a starting point into a more interesting subjects such as politics, ethical issues, the structure of elements in the game and references to other media. Its these issues that trigger the urge for the game to be written about.
After researching several examples of new games journalism, the articles I read where more concerned with the games impact and how it feels to play it the game. It is a deeper, personal more subjective way of writing about games and is a lot more interesting to read because of that.

For the record anything that angers/hurts/offends people is classed as interesting. What has society become? We have been reduced to savages that feed off the misery of others. This time we cant blame the media, if the consumer is lapping this up. This is the kind of topic that new games journalism may cover. Starting off talking about a game then lead the reader down a path to an article about racism and politics.

bjective ranking systems dont exist

I do not think that any ranking system of games are completley objective. They cant be, you cannot write an interesting games review based on fact and fact alone. To play a game enough to write about it you have to become "involved" or else how can you expect anyone reading it to be feel passionate about buying it. 
When Nintendo magazine first reviewed Capcoms game Okami it got excellent reviews, some even saying it was one of the best gaming experiences ever. The reviewer was clearly passionate or biased about the game in question. When has any journalist been famed for there honesty? Why should games journalists be viewed in any other light.

It sold poorly, I picked it up from the bargain bin in GAME. It was the best video game I have ever played in my life.

Can Professional games writers play enough of a game to really criticise it? In a subjective way. They could ,but most of them  probably dont. Professional games writers do this for a living, they dont have time to sit there playing games all day, when they have deadlines to meet.
They tend to play “just enough” of a game to write about it. To really understand a game you would have to play it through completley. Because of this It is my opinion that the content of video games reviews is half based on personal opinion and the other half widespread opinion, or public consensus which is often confused to mean the same thing as fact. It isnt.

Similarly if everyone on earth agreed that strawberries tasted nicer than raspberries (a scenario that can easily be obtained by killing everyone with a differing view) this would not become an objective matter, it is merely a subjective matter on which there is a consensus. “

If a lot of people think a games causes anti-social behaviour or encourages violence or racism or anything at all you can guarantee it will be seen as a fact. The fact is there will be an equal number of people who disagree.
In a world where poltical correctness has gone mad the 50 percent or more who disagree would not be able to voice there opinions.

An example of this is when the game resident evil 5 was written about as a starting point for an article about racism in video games. It was common consensus, not fact that the game was racist. The games content was seen as racist in the eyes of a large group of people. These personal opinions of others were widespread in the media, particularly on internet forums. I think a lot of the time its a case of “its interesting NOW so lets write about it".

The hyperthetical writings of Joe Journo

Games journalists, espeicially those who work for official games console magazines face issues directly linked with “who pays there wages. Which is why I would rather read and base a purchase on a objective games review than one based on the “apparent” personal opinions of *Joe Journo whom I have never met.
I use the word apparent because Joe Journo writes for Nintendo official magazine and he claims the new recycled super Mario bros is the best Mario he has ever played. 
The question is “who pays Joe Journos wages? Why, Joe Journos magazine recieves financial revenue from the games publishers, It is Joe Journos job therfore, to write biased reviews to help sell these games. It is worth considering when reading reviews that these journalists do this for a living and it may be there job to be biased .

A publication reviewing a game when it has received advertising revenue from the game's publishers or has been invited to lavish 'press day' parties is often held in suspicion. Reviews by 'official' console magazines such as Nintendo Power, Official playstation magazine or the official xbox magazine.all of which have direct financial ties to their respective platform holders, usually find themselves in similar positions.”

*Joe Journo is a hyperthetical games journalist,

When you read a review of a nintendo game from a nintendo magazine it makes you wonder how biased that review is espeicially considering the points above.

An example of when these biased reviews backfired was about 5 or 6 years ago the old nintendo magazine N.O.M ceased publication because the writers would not give third party games decent reviews.

"It seems to me that the staff at NOM (Nintendo Official Magazine) are more interested in showing their gratitude to game publishers for sending them free games rather than respecting the needs of their readers."

Having been a reader of this magazine Id say that there reviews were pretty accurate. Having bought the games they rated good. I have no way of knowing how bad the bad games where.

Personally I would look to games reviews in magazines before I parted with my hard earned cash. This is only because I have had good experience's with doing so in the past.
I do not however think that an objective ranking system is necessary for the games sales even if it did exist. Reading reviews of games in magazines in the past I remember instances where a game has had a 95 percent score and sold poorly.

Objectivity Vs subjectivity or balance?

My personal opinions I find are better than fact when writing. I find that there more interesting, to be objective would be to recycle the same old junk that everyone else has written about because facts are facts,
When writing about games myself, I find it is impossible to be either completely objective or subjective. A mixture of personal opinion backed up with facts is the best way to go. I feel that this is a better approach.
How many people write articles based on facts? There are only so many facts related to a subject. To rely on them completely to write an article would be the same as copying and pasting someone else's article, changing the ifs to buts and slapping your name on it. Which is one of the reasons I found video game history so tediously frustrating so I approached it from a different angle.

Writing from personal opinion and experience allow me to write from a new and more interesting perspective. If I can find facts to back my opinions up even better, in a lot of cases I cannot. I find opinions on similar subjects to the one I am writing about , opinions that agree and disagree with what I am saying, it gives my mind more fuel and more to write about.

What would an objective review look like?

I am going to attempt to write a sentence about the same game from an objective and subjective viewpoint
to see how they differ.

example of a sentence from an objective game's review....

Capcom's Okami lets you play as a wolf goddess. The player controls the Wii remote to draw objects that help you explore the vast environments.....

.and im bored of writing it already, I cant say it looks cool, I cant say its fun to play. 

I suppose the secret to writing a good objective review would be to find things about the game that are fact and use very careful or persuasive words that would portray the game in the best way possible and persuade people to consider buying it.

Reverting to my previous statement about mixing fact with personal opinion. I don't think its possible to write objectively about anything you are passionate about because emotion always comes into it and it then becomes very personal.

I could say Capcom's Okami has amazing looking Japanese style visuals, With innovative controls and huge environments that rival the legend of Zelda.

The words” it is amazing” is very subjective the words “huge environments” is a fact, the environments are huge.

Do we have balance? Is balance what people want to read? I would say it was more about the message the writer wanted to communicate to that audience.

Sources of information.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Proof that LAZY IS NOT ME!

A few issues were brought to light today, and the biggest question I had, which I did ask, the one I felt was the only thing holding me back was miraculously answered by sheer dumb luck.

Although I dont expect to be "spoon fed" I have yet to develop skills as a psychic.

I was advised to ask lots of questions.
The question was "if a model is finished , would it be practicle to make another" that may seem like a dumb question, but i thought if its important enough for me to ask then no, its not dumb.

I know it dosent take 4 weeks to make a single wheelie bin, it dosent take a genius to work that one out.
Like an idiot I didnt realease we had to put every attempt we did at making the models in the folder so the lecturer could see them. How would anyone know I was doing more work if I hadnt handed it in, answer they wouldnt. Its my fault, Ive only got myself to blame.

I had a really bad day this monday, but I feel so much better now. I always new there would be good and bad days, Its just handling them that I have to learn to do. I hate the thought that I may be seen as lazy when in fact I m the complete opposite. I just hope its not too late to redeem myself. That is my biggest worry.

I have included the several "attempts" wheelie bins I made, some of them are not finished, that is because i thought to myself. "I could do that in a much easier way" and have restarted.

I started this one, and realeised I was going about it in the wrong way,  so I made another and completed it.

I realeased after making the model above that I was wasting tris by doing the handles this way but the majority was right. also the handle at the back was too thin. I started to make another based on what I had learnt.


 I dint know at this point I could make the handles as seperate elements because they where joined on to the above, the mesh looked a right mess, and the lid was out of proportion I decided to start over for good practice.

This was my final, I felt I had correcetd all of the issues, I made the handles and hinges as seperate elements and I felt the lid looked better and more real.

So there. I do DO work. Ive done more to the current project, Ill just make sure I hand it ALL in  this time.

some early attempts at part of the building project.
I dont just do one and hand it in, that would be lazy. I start to make it, find better more practical ways of making it through my own mistakes, then I restart with that knowledge I have leaned from my mistakes.

From these Practice models as I call them, I was able to make a better model because of it.

Id stay and comment on these mistakes but ill leave that til after the deadline, I have game production to do....

Now I know the thing to do is prove you have grafted hard by producing several completed models, there is no excuse.
Knowing that  my bad monday shouldnt happen again.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Victorias Gaming history

My personal journey of video games, consoles and all things associated in my adult life.

This may seem odd for someone doing game art but I was 17 years old and had left home before I ever owned my own games console. The first console I ever purchased was with my own money I had earned from 1 full time and 2 part time jobs I was doing at the time. 

It was a Sega dreamcast The last of the sega consoles. I remember it had 3 games on launch day, one of which was sonic adventure.The first game I played on it was Sonic adventure. I remember finishing one of my jobs at 2am and rushing home to play a few hours of Sonic before I had to get up for work the next day. The last time I had played sonic it was on a friends Megadrive and It was so different now in 3D. That was where my love for video games blossomed into something for the first time.

The Dreamcast, I thought was a little ahead of its time with its online capabilities, perhaps thats were it faultered. The internet was not used in every home as it is now, and thats just 10 years ago.Its amazing how far tehnology has come along. I thought the graphics looked great compared to the playstation. I swapped it  for a game boy advance a year later.I regretted that.

I had a thing for Sonic the hedgehog. I found a game called sonic shuffle in a shop called another world in leicester ( I think its called forbidden planet now, they dont sell games anymore.)
I remember the shop assistant refused to let me pay 30 quid for this game because it was rubbish, he let me pay 9.99 for it. It was a bit like mario party which is essentialy a 3d board game. 10 years ago 30 pounds was a lot of money to pay for a video game, even when the console was at the end of its very short life the games where still expensive. When the dreamcast was 5 years old I saw it on the front cover of retro gamer, that goes to show how short-lived this console was.

I picked another dreamcast up from leicester market a few weeks ago for £25, I have not had the chance to play it yet. I read it still outsells the X box 360 in japan.

My switch to nintendo

With the dreamcast dead,  my thirst for games needed quenching fast. I saw a retro sonic the hedgehog game for the Nintendo gamecube in the now deceased woolworths. I bought the cube just to play that game. It came bundled with Super mario sunshine. The environments in this game were really bright which was a major factor in making this game a smashing feel-good gaming experience.

I started buying the old NOM (official nintendo magazine) I would buy games based on the reviews in the magazine, because the console was not that popular good games where easy to find, Its hard to explain but I find that when a console is really popular every games developer is jumping on the sucess wagon and its so hard to distinguish the good from the rubbish. This seems to be the case with the wii now as was the case with the PS2 was then. In fact I do not buy games on a whim any longer. With the gamecube you could buy a random game and get lucky, there was a high chance it would be enjoyable. I read reviews all the time now. If its not in the top 40 im not parting with my cash, unless young Tyler-scott persuades me otherwise.

I became a huge fan of nintendo and kept buying there home consoles and handheld consoles. My favourite nintendo franchise is Metroid. I made it a point to collect every metroid game for every nintendo system which I suceeded doing in the summer when I found Metroid II for the original Gameboy on leicester market.

Gaming became a way for me and my son to spend time together, we would find a good long game and spend weeks playing it together. They were good times. When he went to school, I realised that I had spent 5 of my life playing computer games. It was not time wasted because I feel I would not be where I am today without those years. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

What 12 hours of self directed study really looks like

OK.. so the challenge was to see how much self directed study I could get done in 12 hours, the recommended sds time. This time it was visual design that I challenged myself to do.

I have taken photographs to prove a point, The point is that I can try harder.
Scanning them in would take hours, hours that could be spent getting good at 3ds max.
(They will be scanned at somepoint apoligies for the mediocre quality)

There not the best drawings in the world, I was more focused on speed than anything else. Saying that the minute sketches I have done,  are no different from the stuff that took me 30 minutes, the 15 minute sketches are no different that the drawings that took me an hour previously.

I have left a few hours spare for a final peice,
So.........This is what 12 hours self directed study looks like.

*I have now scanned these pictures in. I couldnt sleep so I thought that rather thana just lie awake for hours I would take the time. Whats the point doing all this work if the end results are not evident?

Point proven.......

I have made loads of mistakes here, but I will learn from them. My work is far from perfect and I know that.
Someone once said to me YOU CRAWL, YOU WALK, YOU RUN, IN THAT ORDER.
He was absolutley correct.
Learning anything else is no different. You have to start with baby steps before you can run a marathon.

Facebook makes me depressed

I have come to the conclusion that I hate facebook, it is worthless to me. It has become a means of showing off how cool you are, and how many likes your art gets defines how great of an artist you are. 1 drawing that takes 10 hrs....I would expect it to be nothing less than amazing. A digital paintover, what the heck do you learn from that?  I used to do that, think that if it looks great your great, despite how long it took.

 I dont put every sketch I do on facebook.... for the reasons above.
 I dont do 3d like some people. Ive been directlt told that. I dont... but I will, mark my words, youve just given me a reason to prove you wrong.

This may sound harsh but If your spending every night out on the lash your not going to be up to doing work the next day, thats not my fault. I have spent 3 hrs going out since the start of this course that is all.

Now I have been told I need to get faster...... so I set myself a challenge how much visual design work I could do in 12 hrs, the recommended self directed study time.

This meant speed sketching, something I dont usually do.

The amazing thing is, the sketches that took me 5 minutes and the sketches that took me an hour look exactly the same. There is no difference apart from the fact looser pencil marks are evident.

I have reached hour ten in my challenge and have ran out of pages in my sketchbook and my B pencil is practically non existant. I am now drawing on any surface I can find, cartridge paper isnt ideal.... but im in the flow of things and i need to carry on.

So watch this space for the next post WHAT 12 HRS OF SDS REALLY LOOKS LIKE.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Film review – Below

The 2002 film “below” was directed by David Two-way and starred Bruce greenwood and Olivia Williams amongst many others.

The film is set inside the suffocating confinement of a world war II U.S submarine, the tiger shark. What makes this film so claustrophobic is that the sub is beneath the surface of the Atlantic ocean for the majority of the film. Everything that could possibly go wrong in that situation does.

The film is of mixed genre. It is a classic war film brought to the 21st century with a thrilling supernatural twist.

The story follows the goings on aboard the Tiger shark after the commanding officer receives orders to rescue a sunken hospital ship. Three survivors are picked up, amongst them a women. During the rescue the tiger shark is intercepted by an enemy warship and it is revealed that one of the survivors is a German prisoner of war. It is brought to light that the previous captain of the ship died tragically. From that point things start to go tragically wrong for everybody aboard the submarine. Crew members start to die off one by one and strange unexplainable things start to happen. As the story progresses more is revealed about the reasons behind the strange happenings aboard the submarine.

As with most submarine films the sense of claustrophobia is already present in the enclosed set. The events in films such as this tend to be pretty predictable. Clich├ęs such as the air running out and the sub being damaged and water flooding in were present. This particular film seemed more “enclosed” than your average submarine movie. In my opinion the cramped set was not the primary reason why the film was so claustrophobic. It was more than just being trapped inside a tin can so to speak. The fact that there were strange supernatural goings on that could not be escaped from added to the atmosphere.

There were events in the film that helped achieve this atmosphere. Scenes where characters were confined to certain rooms in an already confined space. In parts of the film the characters were blind. They could not see where the sub was going and there was even part of the film were characters had to swim in the dark to repair part of the submarine.
This combination of enclosed spaces ,blind darkness and superb audio effects set the atmosphere well such as the cries of whales from outside the ship. The frequent use of close-up viewpoints that were used also added to the sense of claustrophobia in the film. Other reviews of the film differ in opinion, for example

“The scenes are framed in nervous, headache-inducing close-ups”

The way in which aspects of world war II history were depicted in the film added to its realism. Costume design and character hairstyles were accurate fr the era. Perhaps more importantly, the social attitudes of the time were accurately portrayed by the actors.
An example of this is when the woman was brought aboard the ship it was seen as a “big deal”one of the characters went around the submarine telling all of his crew about it. He referred to her as a skirt and a bleeder, informal and offensive terms for women in the era. I think the terminology he used reflected the fact that he was probably a working class man. Other characters however, such as the commanding officer, had a different manner completely.
This was an accurate representation of the mix of social classes in the war because the veterans all came from different backgrounds.

They called it the 'greatest generation'. The motley collection of men from all branches of society - farm boys from Dubuque mingling in with street kids and petty criminals from the five boroughs - that brought liberty to a world on the brink of tyranny

Overall I would say that the ways in which the film was made to appear tight and enclosed may not necessarily have been appreciated by the audience perhaps it was a case of too much of a good thing. Between the middle and end of the film I thought the story dragged significantly and not much was happening, this however was compensated for by some excellent twists in the plot and a classic happy ending.

Monday, 14 November 2011

This is what I am made of

I had my review today, I think it went well, overall. I was told not to go out of the room and think im ok I wont do any better. In truth I have let myself down.

I will never ever think like that because as far as im concerned OK is not good enough and I a have not achieved my full potential so far. I can and I will do better in every way possible.

If I can do ok by not trying my hardest then imagine what I can do if i really put my mind to it.

Now is the time to think "Victoria, why are you doing this?"  I want to be a game artist, and I have been lucky enough to get a place here on this course, the best in england. Its about time I stopped settling for ok and really pushed myself to the limits of my ability, and if they are not good enough find ways increase my ability.

I never felt worthy to be confident until now, it is what I needed, to know that I have the potential to be good enough.

Now is the time to set myself a new goal and to have faith in that goals success. That goal is I WILL SUCEED. I will break down every barrier that stands in my way, I will beat down every doubt in my mind.
There will be ups and downs but I will take them on with fighting spirit. 

It is easy to write or say that im going to do this, the real proof will be in my actions.

Its time for me to show Mike, Chris and Heather what Victoria Cichocki is really made of.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Video games and the female psyche

I was reflecting on a previous post that I had written about video game history from a Woman's point of view and I realised that I had brought forward a few issues with the way the industry targets the female gamer.
When thinking about it in more detail I realised the problems I had written about where only the tip of the iceberg.

Out of interest I was browsing some online articles and I found an article of particular interest 

After reading it, it dawned on me. This is not a repeat of the "us girls don't want pink games" from the last post, or a "your so sexist towards us". Its more of a "it is so obvious what you've done wrong, it makes me laugh".
It inspired me so much that I simply had to write about it or I would burst.

The reason this article was so interesting is because it claimed that the industry had met the needs of the female market and it had facts and figures to back this up.

In this article I intend to address
  • why what they claim they have achieved is wrong
  • what they have really achieved
  • exactly where they are going wrong
  • why the video game industry find it so hard to make games that appeal to an exclusively female audience.
  • how they can do it
    The games industry has released games recently that they claim have reached the female market.
    They claim that certain dance games have increased the amount of females playing games, This is true, but they have not met this target market directly.

    Its not because all women like dancing, far from it. I asked myself “What do these games have in common” The simple answer is they are multi player games. The industry has succeeded in meeting the needs of families that women are part of, not women as individuals.
    By introducing these games that allow different family members to play together, compete and compare scores, they have merely sparked a females increased ability to bond or connect with others, and that is the psychology of a Woman's mind and also a scientific fact. They have also sparked the competition that is natural for any organisms living in the same environment.

    From my own experience as a mother, and from observing the women I know, I have seen it with my own eyes. I've done the family video game thing with my family, as have my sisters, female friends and even women I know who have never even touched a console previously have done it. I am talking about women who hate the thought of video games.

    This is not a bad thing. Knowing this, it may be easy to think “ the industry is on the right track, they are half way there” maybe... but ultimately that is WRONG. 

    There are several far greater reasons why the industrys attempts at targeting a female audience dont work, and I'm going to explain why.

    The Psychology behind it all

    A few years ago when constantly assessing my own thoughts and my frustrations with my own constant indecision on everything, I conducted some research into the psychology of the female mind, I only discovered what I already knew but was too much of a “girl” too admit too. 
    A Woman's brain is filled with contradictions on a day to day basis constantly assessing everything, all of the time. A typical male may say  "A women is never satisfied by anything," and he would be absolutely correct, we are not.
    That is how we are "wired". Maybe the diagram of a woman's brain below will be easier to comprehend.

    The point I am trying to make is that naturally we look for the bigger and better deal so nothing is good enough for long, and that counts for everything in our lives including video games. Think about the women you know.

    The biggest mistake of all

    Probably the worst mistake that the industry has made when assessing exactly what us women want when conducting research for games is to target us in groups, let me explain.
    To really know what women love you also have to be aware of a Woman's greatest fear. Because Women are naturally social animals as I have previously addressed, there greatest fear is social awkwardness, yes really. 
    The real issue is, is that no woman will admit that social awkwardness is there biggest fear, without feeling socially awkward. I think that's called a catch 22 situation. 
    When targeting women in groups of course there going to say what they think there companions will say so as not to feel awkward socially. This is based on there own pre conception of what they should want not what they really want, else all the market research would have worked.
    Blame the media, I certainly do. In reality the media that should be the biggest influence on what games women buy is also the biggest downfall. They cancel each other out.

    Do video game execs even do market research? If so, who are the ladies they are choosing for their research? Malibu Barbies?”

    Apart from the family and fitness games the most popular game amongst females is Farmville and that is a FACT. Guess what? its on a SOCIAL- NETWORKING SITE. In short if other women do it then so will I. It is the socially done thing. 
    It is also relevant to say that it is no coincidence that the popularity of social networking sites such as facebook coincides with the rise of casual games. 
    Below is a quote from a single female, but her thoughts are mirrored by many.
    Nancy Chu, a 26-year-old software engineer in Mountain View, Calif., doesn't consider herself a game player but likes "Guitar Hero" because of the game's social aspect.”

    There is an exception, Wii fit is probably the biggest “success story” and its sucess is down to all of the points I have made, be it social or psychological. Think about it, the media brainwash's us with ideas such as Women should want to keep trim and slim - hence the success of Wii fit. Wii fit worked so why hasnt the industry done it again? Its laughable because I dont think the industry is aware of exactly why it worked.

    In conclusion the answers are there right in front of the industry's eyes. They will never be able to create a game that directly appeals to all women. The best they can hope to do is con us into thinking that playing these games is the social norm. Tap into our natural programming. Only then will they capture that female market. 

    quick note 

    Without going to much off topic, this is not a new idea, it has been done in history, through the use of  propaganda. To convince women to work in the factorys. Its the same concept, they convince women its the social norm, so they did it, it works. This is no different from the way products are advertised today, in my opinion. Its effectiveley brainwashing in some sense .

    Victoria Cichocki 07/11/2011

    Sunday, 6 November 2011

    is there any improvment?

    I thought Id put some of my pencil work together in order to see if I have improved any in the last 5 weeks.
    The week I was set this work is not neccesarly the week it was completed.

    Week 1- 1 point perspective -The canal

    Week 2 - 1 point perspective - Archway

    Week 5 - dinosaur bones

    Should have been week 4 work - 2point - vehicle
     week 3 work - 2 point - building

    Saturday, 5 November 2011

    I can do this ..... so what now?

    I did not finish the digital 2 point perspective peice, well not properly anyway. I thought to myself I can paint photo real but I have achieved nothing. I thought what is the point of doing a digital paintover that looks like a photograph if the original photgraph is crap? there is no point, the image is too real and I dont like it.

    So now it comes back to my fear of failure, a fear of failing to produce a decent pencil drawing. It seems that the only way to get feedback on dmu facebook is to do a digital painting, no one seems to give a crap about traditional  media anymore, me I like getting my hands dirty, be it paint, charcoal or clay, i like the feeling my pencil makes as it marks across the paper, I like getting graphite stick on my hands and face. I can do digital, but its not the same.

    Here is the half finished digital peice, I got bored with it

    I decided to do a pencil drawing aswell, here it is below.

    Honestly I like the traditional media better.  I think there is more focus on the main area of the building and the way the empty space/clouds between the sky and the building seem to let the image breathe.

    I was told by one of the 3rd years that visual design dosent matter it is game production that is the most important, I was also told not to believe everything the 2nd and 3rd years say. Well visual design matters to me just as much as game production, I feel I am progressing well and I love every minute of both, it is quite something to take 3d and turn it into a 2d image, then back into 3d again. I do want to become a well rounded artist at the end of the day not just a digi freak. You can learn any peice of software, what it takes to use you own hands to create a peice of art without relying on any software is something else entirley.

    Sunday, 30 October 2011

    2 point perspective - in progress

    i chose this building for my 2 point persepective final because it seemed so simple to do.... just alot of rectangles of black and white... oh how wrong i was...

    It turned out what i thought was black and white on the building were in fact lots of tones of grey, no black or white... and the rectangles.. getting them right and in correct perspective... also a pain....

    If I want to really criticise my work.... Ill note that the perspective of the windows on theright is out, I am so glad i chose to do this digitally, it will be easier to rectify. Again the mistake i made was having THE VANISHING POINTS TOO CLOSE TOGETHER.

    WATCH THIS SPACE for the finished version, with the correct perspective. I  will kep the front as it is flat and was easy to do. The worst thing is is that the building is not as straight as it appears to be in real life.

    Making the building accurate and in perspective will be the real challenge, are there enough hours in the day?  me thinks not.

    Friday, 28 October 2011

    One step forward 5 steps back

    The problems that I have had with 3ds max over the last week have really set me back, and its entirley my own doing. I made a few mistakes due to my lack of understanding of the software that led to me loosing the work I had done without realising. Progressing onto the next task and realising I had to go back a step is really frustrating.

    Due to my inexperience with the software I thought that if you wanted to apply 3 uv maps to a model you had to create 3 uvmap modifiers.... I didnt realise however that when i saved all the unwrapping I had done was practically deleted. When  I tried to apply the sub obkect modifiers, thats when i knew something was wrong.

    I managed to unwrap EVERYTHING again in an hour or so and arrange it (using 1 uvmap modifier) on top of the textures I had made already and this saved hours, if only id have known... I could have saved a whole week of work.

    This was not the only problem I encountered during the creation of my wheelie bin, I did not uncheck the generate mapping co- ordinates box before moddelling, making unwrapping the first time a right pain. It was quicker for me just to start over and remodel the bin again. Im glad I re- modled my second bin was much better.

    I got there today, I succeeded through the tears and pulling out of hair, I was determined to get it right and I did.

    One good thing has come out of this liitle mishap and that is that I have 3 times more experience unwrapping than i would have if everything had gone right first time, I am also 3 times quicker at it now.

    I am confident that I could do the whole thing again in a day or less because of the problems I had. I am proud of my finished outcome, Im glad I looked around for an interesting bin texture and didnt just settle for any old grey boring bin.

    heres some pics... of the ordeal?

    The first wheelie bin. In an attempt to make the parts at the front with the handles real I used too many tri's and ended up skimping in the handle at the back. The bin lid in this example was not as realistic as it could have been, there were more levels than this on the real wheelie bin (about 4 or 5) there are only 3 here.
    Doing the bin again I took consideration into where the detail went and what was most important parts of the object, handles? wheels maybe... I did the wheels last so they were going to look like octagons with the last remaining tri's in the budget.

    On my second attempt  I had learnt that well mad quads were better than tri's and could be processed more easily by the graphics card.

     I forgot to hide  the uv template layer in photoshop beore I saved it as a targa file, the lines are still visible on this model. The texture had not been applied at this point using the sub object modifier just a standard diffuse map, the texture had not been blended together properly so I went back and altered these things, I had spent so much time on this that I didnt want to just settle for that.
    Another thing I found wrong with the above texture was that there were some highlights on the bin lid. I had tried my best to take pictures on a dull day to avoid this, but alas I am no photographer. I went back into photoshop again and adjusted the shadows/highlights and went over the very light parts with a small brush on a low opacity to rectify this.

    Improvments are visible in the picture above. It may appear that i have stretched or not properly alligned the photograph to the uv template because the number 12 is slightly to the left. This is not the case,  the number had been painted on the bin slightly to the left. Looking back I think that I should have tried to align this number so that it appeared level, as it appears to be a mistake on my part. The whees have not been rendered in this example.

    The above image is of the model as I was unwrapping, I am quite proud of the fact that I managed to make the squares even and not stretched even though I did have to do it again. Mistake learned from.

    So I have come to the end of my first project, and I even applied smoothing groups (something I didnt know how to do with the dalek, so I have improved and thats the main thing. I have learnt that getting stressed over things does not help, nor does crying or pulling your hair out. Perseverance is the key keep going and keep trying and keep getting better, faster and becoming more efficent with the software. You cant say fairer than that can you?