Friday, 27 March 2009

Long road to…well I’m only a third of my way there yet

It feels like the first couple of weeks as I came to uni but its hard to believe that I’ve been here a while now. I came here to learn and better my skills in my chosen subject, that being an art based subject. I chose the subject since it involved key skills I wanted to develop. I was looking to learn how to do 3D modeling along with texturing. I could have picked this up from a course on 3D modeling or several animation courses but found that the course I was on was one of the only courses that included development of visual design and digital art at the time. I am pleased with the course at the moment since the key skills I wanted to develop are being developed but the bonus has to be the ethos behind the way the course is set out. The teaching is focused on game art along with furthering skills in key artistic areas such as enhancing skills in traditional media and sculpting. I have always tried to delve into different styles of art using different mediums. I never really thought of how simple it was to just pick up a pen and paper or any medium and just create. I always drew for a purpose and if the outcome was bad I threw it away. It’s a shame it has taken me a while to realize that true art is drawing what you see. It is what is around you in everyday life and using that to help create new ideas. So far it has opened my eyes to the possibilities of success in this industry as long as there is a drive, vision and freedom. I say freedom to finally justify my understanding of knowledge and life. Knowledge is up to the individuals who praise it, there is no point in learning things that will never interest you as an individual but striving to learn that which you want to learn. That is not to say that things you have learnt or do not care for are not important. They still play a part of life that overall, influence the decisions we make. I suppose that is the wonderful thing about university, there is so much to learn and do that everyday changes us in some small way or another. I look forward to next year although I Do Not want to look at it that way. For me next year is exactly like tomorrow where I will still carry on working, only difference is that there will be a slight structure.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

GDC go OnLive

OnLive is a device that claims to be able to provide real time gaming using a small box (micro box) attached to a PC or Mac. It is a new type of console that will require no upgrading, troubleshooting, drivers, installation or compatibility issues. All the hardware is mile away from you and is upgraded by the company so you don’t have to. The game content is simply sent over the Internet so you can stream and play in real time. The system is able to provide HD graphics at 60fps or so they say and will enable any computer to be able to play at full quality. The micro box is simply two USB slots, AV outputs and a Network Jack. The rest is elsewhere in a room filled with super computers to relay game activity. There is a lot more detail to this device and can be found on the link below.

To me this kind of device would have to be extremely powerful to provide exactly what is advertised. It almost seems impossible for this kind of technology to exist but we still don’t know what the future holds. A game rental streaming service seems like an odd way to play games. I still prefer to buy a console and disks in order to play games. There are so many oddities with such technology. What more is there to come?

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


Every individual has a vision of where they would like to be in ten years time. For me I simply want to create great art, making money is a part of that but more so the success in the industry. I would like to aspire to be able to create half if not more than what the artists I like, can create. I hope that the three years of University can put me on the right path to becoming the artist I want to be. I know already that there is a lot to take away from this experience more than just a degree.

Uni is the bridge that mends the gap between a world of education and comfort and a world of responsibilities and goals. It may seem scary but its always something to look forward to and is what can measure us as individuals later on in life. Taking care of oneself is a start and at uni I am already picturing a life with more than me to consider and it seems that, that would be a scary place. The responsibilities at the moment are minimal and I have enough freedom to realize who I am and the potential I have. Throw some more responsibilities and I would be lost in a paradox ending in me being in the same place over and over again. I suppose behind my scary words all I’m trying to say is, I would like to make the most of this experience and learn all that I can about the world around me including myself. So far I am pleased with what I have gained and cannot wait to do more. Seeing as assessment week is nearing upon up, I have come to realize in a short space of time how much I was taking for granted and the amount of extra self study I could have been doing. Reflecting back on this year has shown me what I want from life and how I can get it. It sometimes takes just a moment to sit back and look at where you have come from and where you are going. Reflecting is an important process of self development and can affect the way we carry on with our day-to-day tasks. Simply looking at my sketchbook I have come to notice how much I have improved just by using techniques learnt. The difference between teaching techniques has helped since individual study is encouraged and it truly pays to do so. With the way things are going at the moment I sense some relief in the fact that I can get to where I want as long as I keep working at it…

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Creativity Part 2

Well after watching Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation on creativity, it inspired me to do more with my time. I thought of the possibility of life without education (school in particular). Would we be able to become better at creating whatever we enjoyed creating. Would a child who loved building toy cars and mechanical objects become an amazing inventor or mechanic…

In my last post on creativity I commented on the fact that most people grow out of creativity since they are born with it in the first place. I mentioned how talent helped individuals succeed in what they do. Well to be honest I would rephrase that to account for the fact that talent is only really the perseverance or love for a particular subject that allows one to be able to exceed in what they learn. Looking at our lecturers’ presentation of his personal work, certain pieces done as projects with individuals portray creativity within us all. The ways in which his creativity manifested proves that we truly can and should do things out of the ordinary without fear of being judged since that is what personal creativity is all about. There are certain boundaries however that one should consider before deciding to become creative for example; ensuring that the law is not broken in order to create a piece of art. This would I suppose be creative but on a social stance it would be immoral.

How do we now become creative if we have lost it from childhood? Well I don’t think we have lost creativity, it’s just that people are afraid of being judged since judgment can lead to failure. If however, creativity cannot really lead to failure, why not just try. The only way people can be creative is to just try and once achieved, perfect the necessary skills through trial and error. Use everyday objects, environments, moods and general influence to discover creativity and achieve what was intended.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Red Pill or Blue Pill...

I am as lost as can ever be; the time to make use of the squishy thing in my head has now come. Liberal Arts or Specialization, it’s almost like voting again…trying to finds the pros and cons. Well the squishy thing is begging to question why we can’t have a bit of both like in a buffet line. It may seem weird but our lives are a long buffet line with good and bad things to come. We start as the child who is given the food that we essentially need, walking past as our parents decide what will be good for us and what won’t. We find our likes and dislikes, experimenting with everything and anything we can find. It is then as we move past the lovely kind lady who serves us chips and gravy to the stage at which we move into the compulsory line (School). Here we have to maintain a balanced diet of meat, veg and dairy that is seen to be good for our surroundings and what is to come. The scenario pushes past the point at which we now decide, are we full or can we keep going. Do we go to the seconds’ line (Higher Education). This is the point at which we discover where we want to go in life and what is needed to get there. Do we need to move onto the Dessert line (Further Education) and when we are there do we need specialized Dessert or simply Liberal Dessert…

Well I’ve not been discussing my specialties at a buffet line but more so the process to which we get to the point at which we can finally decide what we really want from life. It boils down to the question of being well rounded in a field of knowledge or just getting straight to the point at which we become specialists. Well I believe it all depends on several factors that need to be considered, for example in a field of medicine a surgeon can only further by selecting a specialty. Whether they want to focus on cosmetic or neurology, they cannot be both since it would be dangerous to the patient if they were under-qualified for a certain procedure. In this case, specialty is needed and thrived upon, however in an artistic field it would be advantageous to be liberally taught. This way the generation of new ideas and methods can easily be approached and changes within industry can be made. Specialists in this field would tend to carry on the way they were taught since those methods prove well to them. At the same time it can be argued that a liberal would not understand some of the techniques and procedures involved and therefore be at a loss since productivity would suffer.

This is queue for Mr. Squishy; this is where a blend of both teaching methods would help a lot. Imagine an artist who is technically gifted and highly trained but has the ability to formulate new ideas and creativity. The artist would be able to see things from different perspectives but be able to relate them to what they are already taught. Looking at Fine Art course verses Game Art course, Fine Art skills provide students with the ability to be able to create any form of art and develop a strong artistic judgment. These skills can be applied to any industry since the basic ability is transferable, the skills teach the student how to produce art that in some way expresses them. Game Art is specialized and therefore the skills learned are meant to be taken into the games industry, a student would only be able to design certain sub specialties such as characters, environments, props and vehicles or the lot for the game industry. They would develop an artistic judgment but one that revolves around the needs of a game. Mood and emotion would not be a part of the work they create, it would not have a story just a purpose. Not saying that Game Art is not good since the skills learnt secure a job in the industry and are skills that a Fine Art student would not know unless taught in some way but it would be better to combine both skills.

The current Game Art course I am on seems to try and blend the two styles into one. The ability to work as a professional but transfers the skills that would be applied for a games industry into another field. Fine Artists would find it difficult to work on a commercial level since their work is produced for their judgment whereas Game Art is commercial. The blend of artistic judgment, ability to formulate creative ideas and work at a commercial and technical level would make a good overall artist. In certain other fields, employers should create a blend of Liberal back-grounded people and Specialists since specialists can keep the present going whereas the liberal individuals would be able to look at the future. They are adaptable and sustainable to change and can provide a wealth of knowledge from different backgrounds. Specialists can relate to the way things are going presently and keep them in tact.




Friday, 6 March 2009

Play a tune for me why don’t you?

Sound is an important part of any entertainment form since it allows more senses to be stimulated at the same time. When playing games, atmosphere is built using imagery, lighting and most importantly sound. Sound allows the player to know what is going on in the game, what is to come and allows for immersion into the virtual world.

Imagine playing a survival horror such as Resident Evil to the sound of circus music. The scary, tense feeling will disappear and the player’s gameplay will change to them feeling more over-confident about taking on enemies, doing so in a comical manner. With most games, music can be a presentiment for what is to come. In areas where enemies and fighting occurs, music changes to a more intense and adrenaline fueled style. This informs the player that they need to get ready and be careful. In safe areas, music changes to a soft melodic or less tense tone providing the player with the sense of safety. Some games have changed the way music is provided by constantly throwing the player in a false state of security to heighten frightful moments since the player does not know if there really is an enemy coming or if it really is safe.

Sound also plays a key feature to music games since without sound the genre wouldn’t exist. Music games use present media to excel the experience since most people like to impersonate their favorite music artists and would like to sing along to current or popular songs. Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Singstar all use existing songs from professional artists for players to sing and play along to. They work well in both selling songs and allowing for constant entertainment all using sound as the primary form. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are similar in style and game systems but the only way one can be better than the other is from the selection of songs available. This sets the bar for musical artists since they can profit from advertising their songs on the best game.

Martin O’Donnell, Kenji Yamamoto, Toru Minegishi and Koji Kondo are some of the well-known composers in the gaming industry. Kenji Yamamoto worked on the Metroid Prime series as well as contributing to Super Smash Brawl. The music in Metroid Prime is some of my personal favorites; it allowed me to be immersed on Tallon IV. The atmospheric and calming music in Phendrana Drifts (tundra) especially allowed me to enjoy the frozen wasteland even more, to the point at which I went there after battles just to look around and listen to the ambience and soft music. Toru Minegishi and Koji Kondo have worked on several titles also including contributing to Super Smash Brawl. The work I prefer has to be from the Legend of Zelda series. Again as with Metroid, the music in Zelda games has always made me revisit certain areas within the game just to feel how the music intended you to feel. Zora’s Domain, Hyrule, Kokiri’s Forest, and Goron City have to be some of the most amazing places in Ocarina of Time. Each place had its own individual musical style that made it fun and interesting. All the locations in Zelda never get boring and will always bring back memories. Martin O’Donnell is the man responsible for the music in Halo. Halo has large worlds and environments each filled excitement, fear and activity. With so much going on, the music balances the scenarios, injects emotion and above all is able to magnify the beautiful landscapes. Each moment of battle makes the player feel like a war machine able to fight any enemy (including scarabs) all down to the right balance of music. Martin O’ Donnell worked with some famous artists such as Incubus and Breaking Benjamin who provided their own individual styles to help push the game forward.

When talking about music in games, my personal favourite above all has to be from Zelda. Reason, the music in the game is a good balance of modern music in games mixed with a retro feel to it. The music never gets boring and makes the player feel like young Link. Towns and Cities are filled with happy music that gets ingrained into your subconscious only to make you hum the tune for the rest of the day. The best bit of the game involves the use of the Ocarina. Learning the songs and playing them on the ocarina makes the music aspect of the game even more rewarding. I loved remembering how to play songs such as Epona’s song, Saria’s song and Zelda’s Lullaby by humming the tune and miming the button orientation. The saddest possibly thing I have ever done however, has to be learning how to play all the Zelda Songs on a real ocarina just hoping to see Epona appear out of no-where (Still waiting for the day that happens, then we’ll see who’s laughing then...I’ll have a free horse). As for influential recordings, I believe that there can’t be one definitive recording since people have varied taste in music but it is up to an individual to decide their own.