Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Game design starts in the head

Firstly I would like to comment that as an ex interactive media student I have spent the last 2 years of my life writing extensive 70 page essays about how things are “interactive”.

And quite frankly I'm tired of it......... but I saw a man in the gutter the other day that was wearing a long blue monks outfit he was asking for spare change.
It may seem a little off topic but it is to the point I swear. I thought he doesn't play games. It made me wonder exactly what it would be like if we didn't have the things we take for granted and if we had never seen a video game before or known of there existence. It would be so much easier to write this blog entry from the mind of someone who was completely new to all this. It would be so simple if it was fresh in my head....

I have never designed a game before..... hey I know I shall invent a new genre of game and record the process, that way I can answer the questions without going on wikipedia and being bored to death.... and it will amuse me too .

I need an Idea, that is the start of any process, a concept and I can develop it from there.

A video game for dogs? no..... YES... a game whose target audience is dogs and there owners. I'm not talking nintendogs here, I'm talking a game that's for pets and there owners.
That could be fun. Think of the market for this.... The first non- person first person shooter? 
who doesn't own a pet? Poor Fido has been neglected since little Timmy got that x box. Now its time to let Fido play Timmy's x box with him.

The rules.... how could we  make this work. Usually diferent elements of game design would be the responsibilty of teams or individuals but for now “the design team” consists of me myself and I.
I need to find a way that Fido can interact with the game alongside Timmy, that Timmy will find fun and that wont be classed as animal cruelty........ There are always constraints.

A movement sensitive dog collar? Timmy would have to get Fido to look at the screen in some way, and the collar would pick up on that. how fun would that be. I can hear the laughter. It would have to be an online game so you could compete against friends and there dogs to decide who ruled supreme.

As a player of games the most important thing for me is fun rating (something I can only describe as the “christmas day feeling” ) and replay value, I have to experience that “feeling” over and over.
From what ive read the leading games developers experiment with new genres while devloping existing genre, multiplayer games are popular and are becoming even more so these days and have lots of replay value.

This new genre would need different design principles than any other because it is aimed at a different target audience. I would need to consider the needs of this audience. I would need to think about what Fido likes. Chasing cats, bones, sniffing butts. Barking loudly. Also what Timmy liked to do with Fido before he neglected him for his x box.

Barking could fire bullets that shot cats.... 

I can envision it now....

I believe we are at the stage where we are getting ideas down visually. part of the process, I can imagine that timmy would connect with the game and become more emmersed as fido wagged his tail with delight.

Seriously though, I looked back at the question what is gameplay? and I have just discussed it, use of interactivity, rules, plot, emmersion of player. I guess simplifying things works.........

What is in store for Timmy and Fido find out in the next installment of "elements of game design"...........

Did you know that....

It is the left side of the brain that is responsible for liking dogs!

Cats are good for your health, stroking them lowers blood pressure. Zombie cats..... not so much.

Actions that are triggered by noise in games is not a new  idea. The first zelda game for the DS had you making a loud noise to scare a particular baddy. That created some  awkward moments when playing  in a public place. This could be avoided (sort of) by coughing loudly directly into your DS Mic.

Monday, 30 January 2012

What the catterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls the butterfly

Im going to be critical now and a little harsh on myself. I have been reflecting on some of my work That I have done over the last month and have realised that it sucked. I am refering to my imagineering project.
I had a really crazy idea for the vehicle for something that could transport whole armies of soldiers across the planet and still be agile enough to move between the buildings in cities, it would also act as a weapon of destruction, I had the storyboards in my head.... and what did I do.. a solar car... how original.

I looked on facebook and saw this idea was too different so I didnt do it.... and I regret it. I failed myself in a way, why wouldnt an artist want to not do something different and crazy.

The real test will be picking myself up from this and changing so that this never happens again. It dosent matter I made a mistake I always make mistakes. Made of flesh and blood and all that.

I have however  really been putting the work in  this semester. I have been doing more than the recomended hours being more practical in my use of time and my enjoyment has increased.
I am making so many mistakes and producing so much, my visual design folder for this semester has nearly 200 pics in it I am being productive. I like this 100 percent more than before. I got a compliment about my van from teach today and it made my day.

The previous work I did in the sds time is laughable ... I mean I cant believe I only got through 1 sketchbook in the first 6 weeks? my ideas are flowing now and I record them all. I am not stressing so my creative juices are free to flow.

Changing is hard as it is the end of who you were before, small changes can alter you dramatically.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls the butterfly,  small changes can make you something better.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Vanilla latte and growing another head

Wednesday is the day I reflect on the past week and think about what it is I am doing. I have been inspired to take this a little further and write it down. I feel I may be onto something I've been skirting around this for ages without really letting it sink in. A few random events this week have given me a revelation... in all its weirdness here it is.

Vanilla latte and growing another head
A revelation in words

I have an addiction to caffeine, I cannot get through the day without it, drinking it gives me a buzz. In my eyes its no different to being an alcoholic or a heroine addict except its normal, acceptable, inexpensive and will not leave you desperate, skint and looking like a vagrant.

Regardless, I go to the coffee machine with its fancy touch screen everyday and press the “cappuccino” button every single day. Anywhere I go to drink coffee, you can be sure its cappuccino.

But today at my visit to the coffee machine I questioned my decision. I do not know why or how I came to do this but for once I considered the other options.
This time I had a Vanilla latte. I have never ever tried this but I thought what the heck and went for it. I was a little dubious about what the vanilla latte would taste like. What if I didn't like it?

The point is I tried to think about why I didn't look at the other options and the only reason I have come to discover is “fear”.

There has always been more on offer than cappuccino. The truth is I didn't know what a vanilla latte or a mocha or any of the other options was like. I knew I liked Cappuccino there fore there was no chance I would make a wrong decision. Cappuccino was SAFE.

But safe is dull.

It turned out that Vanilla latte tasted better than the Cappuccino.

Sometimes its really easy to just stick with what you think is the safest option.

On reflection the whole coffee incident was very much linked to a conversation I had with an old school friend about a cyst that was “growing” on her mothers neck. She revealed that her mother had the cyst removed because the doctor said that if left it could grow hair and teeth.
I was interested but did not quite believe this so I researched it further and it was true.

The bizarre thought crossed my mind that this would almost be like growing a second head. I'm not saying the cyst would grow a brain but what if it did?

I can guarantee that if you had “that” growing from your neck you would go straight to the doctors and have the damn thing removed.
The point is that no-one in there right mind would willingly allow that mutation to happen in full because of a fear of being different.

Imagine the benefits if you grew another head. Another brain, another set of eyes, two more ears.
Yes you would look like a freak of nature. Imagine the benefits if you let yourself evolve?

The fact is that if you take risks and chances and do something different it is highly possible that it may pay off.

Choosing the Vanilla latte paid off.

Its not about coffee or growing another head.

The whole point to this is courage. Be brave and have the bottle to break free from the prison that is normality.
Yes people may think your a bit weird, getting revelations from drinking large amounts of coffee? You cant get more stranger than that!
So what!

I think I am one small step closer to a deeper understanding. I'm starting to truly realise where I was going wrong. It may not be about travelling a distance as such, travelling takes time and in time you grow as an individual based on the obstacles you overcome down the hypothetical road. Its not the distance you cover its what happens along the way. Maybe Ill walk down the road backwards or on my hands and try something different.

The Vanilla latte and growing another head has inspired me to do the things and develop the ideas that I really want, not the ideas I feel are safe. I do not know for sure if this will help me as I do not have all the answers but if I take the risk there is a possibility I will evolve as an artist.

Evolution is a slow process. There is no quick fix here. It will take time. Evolution to a wannabe game artist is about steadily getting better and steadily getting more interesting. Not what I can do now, but what I can become.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Lost in a sea of brilliance

My biggest fear was upon starting game art design was to become lost in a sea of brilliance. That fear dissapated as I felt I had it in me to progress. So why talk about this now months after? because I feel as if my best is not good enough. I feel I have been productive in game production and visual design this semester I have found I have completed work with ease and less stress. Due to scheduling my time and work I found it has helped no end. Is it good enough though.

I look and see a great difference between what I do and what others do, and that makes me question if what I am doing is right or good enough. I was told to be myself at uni, and i feel able to do that for the first time in my life.

I am different. I have a different life, therefore my views are different and the way I see the world is different I see the world from a different perspective based on my own life experiences.

I have the stamina to keep my head above the water, being myself is all I have, and I plan to hang on to it.

all above is said with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye... as always :) ...... ;)

Beyond a thought or the progression of a single idea

I have written this gradually as the idea has progressed.....
I like to call the moment I had this week as T.B.M  or Total brain meltdown others may refer to such a feeling as creative or artists block. When you are presented with an idea or word to fuel a character concept, and all you can think about is a colour and taste where would you go from there.

I posted a photo/close up of the colour/taste in question that was orange juice and recieved a few puzzling questions from peers. Mostly it was why? why a pic of orange juice? I was a little reluctant to answer,

Reef - alcopops - orange -orange juice- taste

Apparently  "this is art" as a certain someone suggested, that of course depends on your own view of art and exactly what that is, opinions may differ so greatly that anything can be classed as art. To me this colour is the twinkle in the eye of the father of a better idea. What matters to me is where this idea will progress into.

citrus, fresh, orange, bright, yellow, sunset, paradise, carribean, carribean art. does such thing exist?

In the words of hermione granger "if in doubt go to the library".

The library.......I had to ask someone where the books were....how sad is that, after looking through rows and rows of books I realised I was on the wrong floor, I went upstairs and it looked like I was in the same room I was before. I swear I will not put up with people calling me miss chee -chokey for much longer.

I was looking to see if there where any books on carribean art, not sure if it existed. I found  a book on the shelf called "carribean art" which I was suprised by. I had a flick through, there were other books on similar types of art so I took them out too.

Now can you see why orange juice led me to this?  I found the masked figures particularly interesting so I researched aboriginal art and oceanic art, persian, easter island, totems, aztec....books and documentarys, amongst others things were starting to get interesting. So much inspiration...led to many a moodboard....here are just a few...

Then the quick thumbnail sketches.

I decided what I liked about these and sketched down some ideas, I liked hair, different lighting, masks that completley covered the face, unusual shape, length, expression.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Games review - hack to the future

Hack to the future

One of the beauty's of being a grown up, Is reliving moments from your childhood , especially when there's a present under the Christmas tree that looks and feels like a video game and it has your name on it. My son insists that I am “very naughty” but does not mind playing it with me after all.

I find myself in a knights school in what appears to be a studio Ghibli film, being taught how to lift pots up, I through them at the cook who insists I will be expelled if I carry on. I run up the stairs until my stamina gauge runs out this leaves me immobilised for a whole 7 seconds, “

“I can see this is going to cause problems later on Ty” I say

I can put up with a game that looks like a studio Ghibli film as long as it has all of the other qualities I see as good. Simple things like being able to run across an entire level without becoming exhausted.

“ he's been smoking since the last game in the series and that's why he's so unfit” laughs Tyler the developers probably have been too, but what I don't know because this game has been rushed and its obvious by its visuals.

“look at those muddy textures,” I say, I shake my head, never used to let that bother me...

The character starts to move forward without me doing anything, I take the nun-chuck out and put it back in again. Hindering game play.

“Uughhh, the stupid nun-chucks freezing time” Tyler says.

I run up a set of stairs, I get knackered ...again.....and am unable to move for 7 seconds leaving me vulnerable to enemy's .

He moans about how this character is too much like a real person to be cool.

“How real could games get mummy?

The curiosity is killing him, we discuss why the game sucks some more, Ty insists its a curse from Santa for opening my Christmas presents early.

 I joke that we should build a time machine and go into the future too see how real games could get, when it is ready I tell my now ten year old son that I will meet him in this exact spot in the year 2030 the year it is predicted that computers will be as superior as the human brain.

We have arranged for him to have the latest games console ready to show me when I arrive, He nearly wets himself with excitement and proceeds to give me his own ideas of the future such as jet packs, hover cars hovering wheelchairs, dogs that can walk through walls, freeze rays and automatic walking sticks,.... robot servants and all those future clich├ęs.

We drop the subject of time travelling for a while and continue to play Skyward sword. We are on an island in the sky I pick up an item we got earlier and went straight to the item screen again..... this stopped game play for 20 seconds, and happens every time we pick up an item.
The character starts to walk on its own because I held the analogue stick during this.

Ty starts to spasm in frustration at this, it is getting rather boring now......

My mind wanders from the game , I get in the time machine set the destination year to 2030. The time machine makes noises that would make the sound effects guy from doctor who jealous. I arrive, I get out of the time machine to see my now 30 year old son who towers over me standing there waiting to show me the new console of the future.....

I come back down to earth. I find myself riding a bird through the sky and shaking the controller with my right hand so vigorously that it looks like I'm imitating a sexual act. I giggle to myself, If anyone was able to see in my living room window I would be getting some serious dirty looks.

I look around the future front room looking for the T.V, it is not there. “ oh we just put these on now, mum” he says handing me what looks like a space helmet and a pair of gloves. I reluctantly place the “helmet” over my head and out the gloves on. I feel him push my head. “just switching it on” he says reassuringly.

I land the bird and walk too near the edge and fall off, a small scene where a fellow knight on a bird rescues me and tells me off for walking to close to the edge..... it lasts about 30 seconds....and is repeated every time I fall off, perhaps I should stop daydreaming....

I see a list of options in front of me. He tells me that I move my finger and press thin air to load the game I want. I select the latest zombie fighter from the list and suddenly the list disappears and I gasp I find myself in an actual creepy mansion or what appears to be one. I hear a muffled “graphics are good aren't they” “eh yeah I answer”

Will you stop falling off the edge its annoying” says Ty

er, sorry” I say, I was in my own world.

you were daydreaming about that time machine again weren't you?” he questioned.

Its not me, its this motion plus it makes the controllers go dodgy all of the time”

I take the Nun chuck out and put it in again. Another 15 seconds to wait....

pretend your fingers are a gun and fire” says Ty. I reluctantly walk around for a bit in this place. There are dead bodies on the floor that look so real it makes me feel ill. I feel more fear than enjoyment. My heart is racing, An zombie jumps out....

I'm playing a song on a harp by swinging the controller in time to the music it takes a long time to get the hang of it, I yawn it makes me feel quite sleepy....

I flick my fingers upwards to fire bullets, its a head shot bits of brain fly everywhere. This is too sick to be fun. The now headless zombie lies dead on the floor.... More of them come from nowhere....

I'm fighting a giant statue boss now.... it takes 2 minutes, I didn't even have to use a potion, maybe this is too make up for the drag in game play earlier......
“Do you think I'm either getting better or there getting easier” I ask my son.

“no, that was well easy......” he says....

“ It was too easy it was boring” I add..... another long cut scene occurs.... It seems to never end...

The zombies start to crowd round me now, there is no where to run. More and more of them come out of the shadows, it looks too real, I scream....


I snap back into reality, the boss has been resurrected and has hit me taking away the last of my hearts.


Friday, 13 January 2012

Whats the right side of my brain?

 I was thinking a day after I wrote this post that I have yet again failed to listen to my own advice. I have only suceeded in yet again doing something to show " this is what I can do" and that was not my intention.  It is so frustrating when your trying to act on  feedback that you do things without noticing them. 
I have come to the conclusion that I am trying too hard. Too many conflicting thoughts are going through my head.  Maybe nows time to simplify things and break things down.
Thats why I liked the blind contour drawing and the left hand drawing because we could not see the page there was no fear of messing up because it is ineveitable that you will mess it up, everyone will mess it up. 
I have been making 3d models half way through then thinking this looks bad and starting again and getting just a little bit furthur and starting again. What I should be doing is make them completely even if they look bad, that way I can make the mistakes that will help me progress in one go, then make another after that having learned from them.
Its time for a change in thinking this year. I need to step back every now and then from the work and reflect and understand what I am doing.
 EDIT: I have been doing some research on righ/left brain dominence and I found out that the right side of the brain tends to focus on the end result without giving much thought to the process. I think its more than a coincidence that as I am growing as an artist and learning to draw everyday and trying to speed draw all of the time, my right side of the brain has taken over, whilst before I would try to think with logic and what steps I could take to achieve something now i seem to focus on results, Strange? but is it really. Learning to switch over from one to another may be the key.
Edit:2 I feel that I am constantly contradicting myself as the moment, I think about things one day, then the next day my opinon changes. I welcome the changes in my mind, because It proves I am learning to understand myself a bit more and I like that. I feel I am learning things at uni everyday not just the academic side which is a good thing. Just being here and learning makes me realise that it dosent mean you know everything at my age, you dont. life is a constant "learning curve" I learn more through making mistakes Ive found, so i welcome them, and take from them what I can that will help me. I always thought there was more to this"uni stuff"  and there is so much more its sometimes overwhelming.

Upside down and back to front

This is an upside down left handed oil painting/self portrait painted over the best of some blind drawings. after becoming frustrated with learning how to paint/draw I wanted to dumb the whole process down to the max.
When I uploaded this to facebook all of the writing appeared upside down. weird.

This is the the upside down version...
these are both of the images.
The painting isnt accurate, life like, nor does it look like me, the composition is bad and the everything is completley out of proportion. I etched criticism into the wet paint. 
Id describe it as an oil painting that is no oil painting.
This has not made me a better artist and I doubt its going to get many likes on facebook, its not for show offs and I dont care if people like or hate it that is unimportant.
its mainly about admitting that I make mistakes and showing them and admitting I cannot achieve perfection straight away. but it has made me think about ways in which i can simplify things. 
And try to slow things down so I dont miss the important things I need to learn.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Pride comes before a fall

I had a revelation today that has taken over most of my thoughts. That revelation was “ I am doing this for the wrong reasons”.
I did not set out with that frame of mind, I felt I had matured emotionally and felt I was on the right path to become something good but somewhere between the assessment and now I have lost my way.

More importantly I have lost sight of what is important.

At the beginning it was about me and how I could make myself better FOR MYSELF. I feel I am slowly being pulled into something that I do not like. A dog eat dog attitude. Which leads to hatred and all those other nasty emotions we don't like to admit that we feel but we all feel them.

I understand the need to be competitive, to stand out from others who have the same goal as you. Where art is concerned there is always going to be that sense of competitiveness, it is inevitable. Sometimes things can get out of hand. This time I will pull myself out of this mess before it consumes me.
The only thing I can describe being too competitive as, is having a monster living inside of you.

I will not unleash the monster , just doing something to show off or to try and do more than anyone else or to try to beat others is not the way to go, it is consuming and soul destroying. We are meant to be a team. That is how I would like to think of it.

The temptation is always there to push yourself a little bit harder but for what reasons?

Recently I have been thinking of my blog as more of a source of entertainment than a reflection of how I am growing as an artist or as an individual mainly because I was scared of failure. Truth- This course does not stress me out... I stress myself out because of the above. I felt like I had to live up to something or people would stop being proud of me or thinking I was interesting.

My grades and my self esteem have been as one. So I was trying my hardest to make my self feel good. It did not work though I did not feel any better or any less inadequate.
It has been about the moment and “what I can do, look what cool stuff I can do”...It should be about the progression and “look at what I am learning that will lead to becoming a little bit better gradually over time” . which was what it was before I lost sight of it.

There is no quick fix for growing as a individual or as an artist or as anything at all. That's always been said. I knew it would take time.
Really Understanding that and I mean really understanding that, not just writing it down and hoping someone notices will take a little bit longer, perhaps a lot longer, more than a single revelation in a single day or a single blog post. Its a lot more than just knowing you have to put hard graft in for 12 weeks. Or 12hrs or 2 minutes even. I have continued to work hard but I have become blinded by pride. Well they do say pride comes before a fall. And it did. I have fallen smack on my face and I am glad as it has woken me up from this daydream.

Lets see how things change back here on earth?
....Where's that path again....the right one “oh its just there, been walking in the dirt for a while”

EDIT:  I just read "So you want to be a better artist". interesting, working smarter not harder sounds like a plan,

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Imagineering the best bits.

Theres something unimaginable fun about projects you know are never going to be marked. A little more freedom to do the things you like doing the most and to make them part of that project. The passion you have can flow freely without being restrained. The reason you are an artist.
I suppose the secret is to channel that passion into your set projects, to let it flow in a particular direction is something else entirley and requires alot more thought and self discipline if you are to stick to the task in hand.

I dont do things in a feeble attempt to impress anyone, I do what I do for myself, because I love it and it helps me progress. I didnt have to make 3d sculpture for this project, I didnt have to learn to paint with oils the past four weeks. Doing these things will inevitably help me progress and be at the level I want to be so I have the skills I need to carry on doing the things I love. In the end, That is what this is all about and passion can be such a great fuel to drive someone, Even if they dont have the ability or possess little talent, Passion is the thing that will push them to develop those abilitys and talents. Looking forward  to the year ahead.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The quotation conversation.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein.

Well that's it then I have totally lost the plot you don't have to be Einstein to work that one out
Victoria Cichocki

No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.

It is only too true that a lot of artists are mentally ill – Its a life which to put it mildly, makes one an outsider.
I'm al right when I completely immerse myself in work, But I'll always remain half crazy.
Vincent Van Gogh