Sunday, 18 January 2009

Look a little deeper and terror strikes

Its seems from first glance that everything’s ok, with excellent statistics but look a little deeper and terror strikes, people that have been in the industry years are being laid off how on earth will I be able to get into the industry, at least its only my first year and hopefully the industry will stabilises by then but that thought is fighting against the other that’s saying this could get really bad and by the time i’m finished there wont be any jobs for people starting out. So it seems i’m having a bit of a reality check. The only conclusion is that if i’m going to have any hope in hell of getting a job for the next 2 ½ years i’m going to have to get my act together and work my arse off.

As to being specialist or a generalist in one way being a generalist would mean finding a job easier but only if you’re excellent at the different areas and not just having a mediocre knowledge/skill in multiple areas. Otherwise become a specialist and be as good as possible in that area.

The face of the industry is smiling showing good profits but theses figures are of those games which have already been developed and on the selves which is giving the false impression that the games industry is ‘recession proof’. The truth is that there are widespread lay off's even the giant EA are cutting back and not just a little but 10 per cent of their global workforce which is about 1,000 people.

Outsourcing from a company view is cheaper but with more risk, the work that is outsourced has to be considered carefully however from a job hunters view this isn’t as good as places that they would fill are now going abroad.

Image by Yue Minjun -Big Swans

Sunday, 11 January 2009


To me creativity is simply creating something, when referring to a person being creative I think it’s a want/need to make something this covers all aspects of life you could have a creative way to go to the toilet if you really wanted but what to me it means is to think about something and if its something that is done regularly then thinking about it in a more practical way of doing it or a more interesting way of do it. So I guess what i’m saying is that in my view creativity is contemplating something and trying/making it. But i’m not going to ramble on about what I think it is, so I looked at the definition in the dictionary and the definition was;
1. Having to ability to create
2. Imaginative or inventive
3. A creative person, esp. one who devises advertising campaigns

Which is kind of what I was trying to get at but as usual my way was more convoluted. I then when on to question a couple of people and what came out of that was
someone who create
When you can make out of something else to use it to its full potential.

Which is pretty much what the dictionary has already told me however when Katy tried to explain herself it made more sense (she’s a music student hence in the musical example) ‘I think that a creative person compared to a non-creative changes a cord and places it with another and makes (with knowledge and understanding) a song instead of irritating noise.’(Ok so that’s not her exact words but it’s what she was getting at) I think I agree to a certain extent with that but isn’t everyone creative to a certain extent what defines a creative person from a non-creative person is it that “imagination” (and yes I did corner another friend for there thoughts on the matter) which I get because some people just don’t seem to have a particularly developed imagination which would make it more difficult to come up with a different way of doing something.

“Today’s economy is fundamentally a Creative Economy. I certainly agree with those who say that the advanced nations are shifting to information-based, knowledge-driven economies… Yet I see creativity… as the key driver. In my formulation, ‘knowledge’ and ‘information’ are the tools and materials of creativity.” -Richard Florida

creativity within games is shown in every aspect that isnt already mapped out, its just generally conceived as something ‘arty’. But this isnt true my Dad is a builder and after seeing what he does for so many years what he does as creativity it’s a combination of problem solving and passion for making something that works well and looks good.there are some professions which would make me a bit nervous for example a creative doctor sounds scary (would Dr creative think that you would be without a leg?) and so it seems a recurring thing that creativity is making things but like Richard Florida 'you need knowleadge and information to make profitable creativity' otherwise all that your going to create is The ‘Brain Fart’.
Gameplay to me at least it more important that most other aspects of a game it is how the game plays I know that’s kind of a given but to put it in perspective I bought ICO for PS2 a couple of years ago and it looked nice, it had a ok soundtrack, the storyline made sense and so I put it down to Gameplay, the camera would every now and then do a weird angle which I couldn’t change you had to CONTINOUSLY drag some floating girl out of danger, it was unbelievably linear. But the thing is if it handled better, and shown form better angles then maybe it would be a alright game (it wouldn’t have ever been able to be a great game) the concept was good but somewhere along the line someone thought ‘why not make it a little more cool’ and in the process turned it into a steamy turd.

But back to the question at hand within the reviewing world I think its seen as the desirability of the game which would be easier if it was just called the desirability but after looking into games journalism that is just the way its (bad).

Being 'at one' with the character

Adventure games allow for good characterising as they are generally in the 3rd person and so the character has more of a history compared to a first person character, the history explains why the character is doing what there doing and more importantly their motives. Take Lara croft from Tomb Raider she is shown as a beautiful adventurer who is also incredibly rich and so is adventuring for personal reason rather than financial. Lara has been in many games now but in each game she has a mission to find something and this (from the ones that I have played) is to find out about her history. (Lara’s parents are dead.) Her father was an adventurer and she is following in his footsteps. There has been a large amount of story over the course of the series and because of this she seems familiar.

I personally like 3rd person games as there is more of a past to the characters but i’m starting to get into 1st person games as they do absorb the player so that you become the character.

First impressions do count in games (and reality) if a NPC looks weak and fragile but within the game the character is supposed to be a strong expert fighter which is physically unfeasible then the game won’t be believable. Are preconceptions of character can change but the player will still have there first impression of the character.

Generally characters are attractive as to appeal to the player, I think when playing a game the player wants to play as a ‘better version of themselves’ I think this has a lot to do with being the perfect hero and that is being strong, smart and beautiful.

Beauty and substance

I tend read novels and you’ll probably Judgy me on this but….I love vampire stories and I don’t just mean the Anne Rice’s books I mean I love all Vampire novels no matter how cheesy or badly written and the worse part even vampire romance which is cringe worthy and even seems odd to me as vampire romances are so far from what I see a vampire to be. But there you have it one of my dirty little secrets.

However I don’t just read the vampire books, i’m actually quite round in what I read, I love historical fiction, horror modern fiction, fantasy basically anything except crime. What binds the genres (exclude the cheesy vampire ones) are strong lead characters and settings that I can visualise generally if I can’t ‘see’ the story I wont like it.

I have similar taste with films however I don’t mind crime based films. House of flying daggers is one of my favourite films and I can never remember the storyline what I remember is the stunning bamboo forest or the horse ride though the woods with the golden leaves on the floor, it is a truly beautiful film.

I don’t read as much as I used to but mostly I read when travelling or when I need to escape/cheer up, films I tend to watch when bored or with friends and games are for a bit of ‘me time.’ I can get totally absorbed and disconnect from the world for an hour of two. Games should be a combination of both beauty and substance.


After hearing all the praise for portal I thought I should give it a go. We’ve had it at home for a while but I was dubious to whether I would like it, to me the concept seemed odd but I was pleasantly surprised when I started to play. I loved this game from the moment I started playing it I couldn’t put it down finally I stopped playing when I got to the seventeenth level and even then I was reluctant but due to the continuous flipping though portals I honestly felt sick.

I got so into the game that I started to talk back to it. (This isn’t something to tell your psychiatrist) I got annoyed with her (the computer) when she tried to burn me in the flames but in my head I actually started to justify it, so when I came to killing her I felt bad. (not bad enough to stop playing mind you) she was trying to talk me out of killing her and I wanted to believe what she was saying however she had so far proven herself to be a chronic liar and whilst all this is going on there is my common sense telling me this is completely irrational firstly because she has been trying to kill you the ENTIRE game and secondly it is only a game.

So to anyone that has doubts about Portal I would say give it a go, however it may cause an internal battle for you as well.


Ergonomics is design with concern to the users needs. When it comes to the ergonomics of consoles I haven’t ever really thought that much about them. When the PS3 came out my first thoughts weren’t that’s a practical method of cooling instead if anything I thought it was much more rounded similar to they way the Xbox 360 has been smoothed.

It seems the next generation consoles are trying to look more attractive to the consumer, well the 360 and PS3 by rounding them, I personally prefer the new Xbox design as it ‘flows’ better, the PS3 looks bulbous and the Wii is really a glorified rectangle.

The Atari 2600 controller was a joystick with no buttons and the joystick only had 8 directions. The main problem consumers found was that there was no pause button. Next the Atari 5600 controller which was similar to the 2600 but had full 360˚ movement and a pause button, Atari also added a numerical pad beneath the joystick and some buttons above which was apparently very difficult to use. The NES controller was the first to feature the D-pad which is still common place today. The NES controller was a basic rectangle with A and B buttons, this was quickly followed by the Sega Genesis which featured more buttons and actually looked comfortable to hold same as the SNES controller.

The PS1 has a grip which goes into the palm for more comfortable gaming, the PS1 console was the first to be able to play CD’s. On the N64 controller they couldn’t decide wither or not to remove the D-pad in favour of the analogue stick and without really meaning to created a verostile controller. I must confess I haven’t used these consoles so I quizzed a friend on them and the N64 is by far his favourite controller as the ‘middle part feels like a gun with the analogue stick above it making it wicked for FPS and 3rd person games, whereas the D-pad worked well for driving games and basically anything else. Also the button layout means less stress on thumbs’

Duel shock controllers for the PS1 allowed you to be able to feel when something fell or the character got shot enhancing game play. The dream cast controller ‘fits nicely into the palm however is bulky, the memory card fits directly into the controller which is a nice touch’

With the current controllers there all wireless. The PS3 controller features Sixaxis which is a good concept (it not trying to ripe offs the Wii) but doesn’t work very well. ‘The PS3 controller lends itself to driving games whereas the Xbox 360 is better for FPS.’ The Wii is different to the other two as it is many used one handed but can be used with both and is a basic rectangle however for the way its used this works well.

A good controller/console should work without having to think about it, on a controller your hands should be able to move seamlessly without discomfort across the controller. As for the console I would say atheistic are a plus as long as the performance isn’t scarified.

Be brave and attack one of the monsters

If the storyline is weak then most likely the games going to be weak as well, isn’t that what a game is? A interactive story. So If you’ve written a ‘Im going to kill everything whether it moves or not’ (GTA style) its fun for a while but after a bit you’ll find a urge to bond with a character, so see them grow and change. This doesn’t have to be in a positive way, the character could slowly become more bitter and twisted. But personally I want to feel like I have had an effect on the character. (Which I know is impossible but I like to delude myself) a truly awesome game doesn’t just make me feel like I have changed the character but that the game has changed and affected me.

If the is enough in the budget for a writer then one should defiantly write the script and better still find a writer with a interest or personal experience with the genre. A writer has been trained to write, a developed may have an interest in writing by 9 out of 10 times their not going to be nearly as good as a professional script/character profiler. Take Gordon Freeman from Half Life 2. He can’t speak, physically or emotionally react so why is he such a recognisable character? Well firstly the way the other characters react to Gordon and secondly because you become Gordon Freeman. This shows a good writer, being able to make you the player feel at one with the character and feel what the writer wants you to feel. The writer can make you feel good or bad, powerful or weak, just look at the best selling games there all about being the indestructible hero, Halo and the Halo suit. You can shot the enemies a couple of times and they die but you can take an entire clip and walk away. Doom is a prime example of this, your shipped to mars TO SAVE THE WORLD and not only that but your doing it ALONE. If that actually happened in reality you would either be brave and attack one of the monsters from hell with whatever you had closest (probably a frying pan or other similar household objects)and probably die. Or would you run away?

the art director

The art director is responsible for basically everything within the art side of a game, from the overall vision to the budget, they are the overseer, whose job it is to organise and correct. This is a creative role as to really know what is going on within the team they have to understand what there actually doing. The art director defines the principle concept of the game along with the art manager and animators (the lead in each department)
An art director needs to be and expert. The need to understand each process throughout the art department they need to be able to push the team to final goal hence being able to communicate their ideas coherently and see how all the different sections fit together.
To become an art director first and foremost a company wants experience generally with AAA titles, someone who has an in depth knowledge of each stage of development so can offer insight and advice, along with this they also need to be a good leader. Art directors can only be successful if they can see problems and do something about them.
This isn’t an easy job if something goes wrong of the game flops because of the graphics/art then it’s on the art directors head but a good art director is worth it.