Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Work Review ~River One Point Perspective

This is my final piece done for the practices in one point perspective, drawing the river. Focused a lot on rendering in this piece, tying to balance the shading so darker shades were closer to the eye than further, though found it difficult to balance this with the dark shadows cast by the bridge. 
I also think a few areas could be improved, such as making sure ALL lines follow the vanishing point accurately (probably because I didn't make use of a ruler for this, which is a bit daft), particularly the middle support in the middle of the river, its a bit wonky to say the least. Need to pay attention to EVERY line when doing perspective pieces like this...more practice is needed so I don't have to make little mistakes like this later. 

Videogame History Part 4: 2000 ~ Now

The games industry and market today is now spilt into the three big companies: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, all of which have solidified themselves as the cornerstones of gaming today. The costs of making videogames in today’s market are at an all-time high, with the cost of most high profile titles being in their millions. Today each company strives to compete with each other on every level, as has been seen with both Sony and Microsoft’s attempts at tackling the motion control market that the Nintendo Wii has had since day one. As more and more ways at creating games are being explored so is the platforms, so not only do we have console, pc and handheld consoles but also now most major smart phones are having games produced for them, fully developed games that are a long way from ‘Snake’ seen on the mobile phones I had when I was in school.

The issues of big business and mainstream company management means that today, even though the creative folk that actually make the games we know and love still do so, the people at the top are those that ultimately make the final decisions on the end product because they make sure that a game is going to make them money; at the end of the day they don’t care whether the game they make is the same as so many of its previous releases or those of the competitor, so long as it makes them money that’s all that matters. And yes, this is of course important, but it’s not the whole reason games are made, and I think the way the economy is being hit in today’s modern world, means that a lot of developers are too scared to take the chance on more original ideas in favour of choosing the safe option that they know their target audience already likes.

A popular example of how some companies like to play it safe to guarantee their success, the Modern Warfare series had such an impact on the games industry that instead of evolving from it, the series has remained near enough the same up to the latest release 

I think that as someone who wants to be a part of the industry in the future, it’s necessary to understand what skills that I will need to make my way in such a fickle business. The ability to not only have the passion for doing it, but also being able to adapt to the ever changing landscape that seems to be the case in modern gaming are also vital. It would be awesome to see some of the risks that used to be taken, by giving some of the power back to the game creators themselves, but unless the landscape of the current market takes a change for the better (which is unlikely to happen anytime soon) unless those producers are responsible for IP’s, then the power will continue to lie in the hands of those without the creative vision.

It’s intimidating to look at the future of gaming especially with where it is now, but I think from my perspective of someone with the passion to want to be a part of it, and the potential to develop my talents to industry level, then it’s more of an exciting prospect than anything else.

Videogame History Part 3: 1990's ~ 2000’s

Pokemon took the Handheld game market to new
levels with its unique feature of 'trading' Pokemon
between players. 

As the gaming industry headed into the new millennium it was already picking up a massive head of steam from the last few years of the previous century; throughout the nineties games would take another area of the market by storm in handheld consoles, and led the way by Nintendo’s Gameboy would mould how we play games today. It was also where we started seeing games that would either introduce game franchises that would revolutionise the industry, or create them anew. 
The likes of Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Pokemon (pretty much the only reason I owned a Gameboy), The Legend of Zelda, Golden Eye, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy VII (which is a game that practically opened the doors in the west for every other Japanese RPG that wouldn’t have seen the light of day over here, had it not been for the success of this instalment). 

Final Fantasy VII: The first instalment to make
it to the west, leading the way for other major
Japanese games to be released overseas
Its also interesting to see that a lot of these important games came along with the introduction of Sony in the games console market with the Playstation, a system that solidified itself as one of the major three forces in the console market in the future. Though the Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast were the Playstation’s rivals, it would only be Nintendo that would make it through to the next generation of games consoles, with poor sales of Sega’s Dreamcast meaning that Sega had to drop out of the console market and just stick to producing games instead.

It was the dawn of the new millennium that would shape the current market of games consoles; the Playstation 2 (2000) which would become one of the best selling consoles of all time, the successor to the N64, the Nintendo Gamecube (2001) and Microsoft’s first foray into the console market, the Xbox (2001).

Rise of Massively Multiplayer Online games

World of Warcraft, whatever your opinion of the game,
pretty much sums up how MMO's have taken the gaming
world by storm. And its hard to argue with its success,
recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary and still
going strong
With the new millennium came the rise of the MMO, games that utilised the internet to allow gamers to enjoy massive online worlds and games with thousands of others from around the globe. The game that would lead the way was Ultima Online (1997), a concept created by Richard Garriot, where he would create fantasy world that many players could interact with one another, basically setting the benchmark for all future games in the MMO genre. 

Many other games would follow, some matching the success of Ultima Online, whilst others fell by the wayside….The likes of Everquest (1999), Final Fantasy XI (2002), Phantasy Star Online (2000), and of course the ridiculously popular World of Warcraft (2001). Final Fantasy XI and Phantasy Star Online were games that showed that games consoles had advanced so far that they were able to run online games, and cross-platform MMO’s at that. Though Phantasy Star was fated to fall alongside the Dreamcast, and the Playstation 2 version of Final Fantasy XI practically didn’t sell outside of Japan due to the terrible nature of the PS2’s network adapter, they both showed what was possible on the generations consoles and what was to later come. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

A History of Computer Games Part 2: 1980's ~ 1990's


The decade that spanned between the 1980’s and the 1990’s was one of the most important in gaming history, not only because of the publishing companies would start to establish themselves in the industry (Electronic Arts), but because of the pushes in technology both in arcade and personal computing. It allowed for truly original games to be produced that were able to be unique and experimental due in most part to the low publishing costs of the time.

With the success of Space Invaders in 1978, the arcade machine would begin to spring up all across America, and early figures would show that the arcade videogame industry was generating a revenue of $8 billion in quarters at the peak of its popularity (1982)….which is interesting to note was more than both the annual gross income of the Pop music and Movie industry combined at the time.
Crazy stuff……basically was a good indication of where the gaming industry was heading in terms of sheer scale and influence on the entertainment industry as a whole.

Not only were arcade machines taking over in the 80’s, but this decade also saw the evolution and rise of the personal computer, which alongside the continuing development of home games console would more and more bring the magic of the videogame into our home. Though the technology that was being pushed for the creation of these computers was impressive at the time, pretty much every game that first appeared on a home game console was 1) Pong. 2) A variation of Pong. Or 3) some other game, that still managed to play like Pong. 
As the gaming evolution started heading into the 80’s however, genre-defining games would be developed that would not only inspire a generation of gamers (like me), but would also be a major influence on all future games. 
The likes of Action Adventures, Role-Playing Games, Beat-em-Ups, Platformers, Racing and even Survival Horror Games (amongst many others) would all begin to be defined with the release of original and classic games; The legend of Zelda (1986), Dragon Quest (1986), Prince of Persia (1989),  Street Fighter (1987) and Donkey Kong (1981)….and well, the list just too long to stay within my word count limit. Basically any major game you’ve heard of today was either created in this decade or was influenced by a game that was, showing why it was known as the ‘Golden Age of Videogames’.

1983 ~the Great Crash

As successful as the decade was, it was also when one of the biggest setbacks in the games industry occurred, with the 1983 Crash that would last for two years and was so serious that most people at the time doubted that video games consoles had the long-term viability that they originally thought. 
There were numerous reasons that caused the crash, but the sheer amount of poor games and consoles that were fluctuating the market at the time, as well as increasing competition from ever-advancing home computers were a couple of the main reasons that led to the main companies going bankrupt. Also the fact that one of the leading companies, Atari lost its publishing control after legal battles with Activision, only led to further degrading of their products.