Saturday, 21 January 2012

But wait......I haven't finished expressing myself through the medium of interpretive dance yet

I seem to be on a roll with these random journal entries, but that's good! I didn't do enough of these before Christmas and its something I want to do a lot more of cos its not only helping toward my course, but im also finding it quite therapeutic in helping me with things as they stand at the moment :)
After browsing through other journals and blogs something someone said really caught my attention and got a reaction out of me; them basically talking about how a game that they saw someone play just didn't do it for them basically, and how they really struggled to see how it could be 'fun' and how they really found it hard to cope with even watching this game being played. As the particular game in question was the latest in the game series that has influenced me into wanting to be a game artist, despite the obvious fact that im aware that everyone has their own tastes and opinions, it really made me want to jump to the games defence! 

Its funny, because you can have opinions of other games and think yeah I really don't think I could ever get into this, and it could be the biggest and most technically marvel of a game ever.... but at the end of the day, if it doesn't interest you then your never going to go out of your way to play it. Its all about personal preferences (obvious I know), but that's another things that I've also noticed at the moment. I've recently been playing Red Dead Redemption as I got the game of the year edition for Christmas, and even though the whole wild west genre and setting has never interested me in the slightest, its quite easily one of the best games ive ever least on the current generation of consoles. Just the whole open world thing, and how authentic it feels is very true to how Rockstar make the Grand Theft Auto series, it just feels so easy to immerse yourself into the vast Wild West landscape to such an extent that you lose hours just roaming about and exploring. 
Them Bastard Cougars! literally one tap on your horses ass is all it takes to take them down, then next thing you know your cat food.... if that doesn't justify hunting them down and skinning them so you can have a nice new hat then I don't know what does
Its also taught me that as someone who has strong views against animal cruelty, you can still have a whale of a time killing and skinning literally every animal you come long as its just in the game, of course....~cough (now where did I put my knife...?)
Yin and Yang right there 

Hahaha, I guess the passion I have for games is still there, so thank you to the little sparrow that caused me to react in a way that made me realise that :D 

The Storm is over....Chase The Rain!

A random as anything title...but then again this is going to be a random as anything entry, I need to vent dag nabbit!
Drawing and being creative has always been my own way of escaping the life ive had that hasn't always been easy. As I got into video games I then found another route to take in which to escape a reality, and later down the line I found I could merge the two in what would be my first step and interest in designing art for video games for a living.

So now....what's changed?

I find myself on a course that has taken me a lot longer to reach than most others, the road hasn't been an easy one but im finally here, studying to do the job that I could only ever dream of growing up....and yet now here i am, when faced with something creative to do I lose the inspiration to get me started...the ideas are there, but the drive I used to have to push on with it.... well its really suffering at the moment. 
A lot of big things have happened in my life recently, that I will save you from hearing on here, but the negative  effects of which have impacted my life and how I feel about things...its funny how unrelated things in your life can have such a negative impact on your workflow, and how you usually work, buts that's exactly what I feel has happened and its really getting me down.

Sounds like im making excuses for sitting on my arse not doing anything right? ha!

I think a key thing I really need to focus on is to become inspired again....focus on the good things in my life, and use them as inspiration to recapture how I used to feel about creativity and video games.....the passion is still there I believe, its just finding the fuel to get the fire burning bright again. Friends, family, that special someone... art, design, inspiring artists, writers, music games, movies, the list goes on of things that have made me happy and influenced my creativity over the years, and their still there! Nows the time to take these things and use them to re-ignite my passion! 
I CAN DO THIS! ~dives out of nearest window from the excitement of it all 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

2011 End of Year Review

Visual Design
From where I started at the beginning of term, I think that my drawing ability has noticeably improved. When I had my assessment Chris told me that the areas which show my strengths and potential are anatomy (shown in my dinosaur bones drawings) and rendering, though with my shading I need to vary the strength my pencil pressure on the page to give my pieces more balance and subtlety. Time management is also an issue; I need to start practicing speed drawing faster for my initial sketches. This will greatly improve the use of time I set to spend on the final piece. I need to do at the very least, one still life a day to help me improve.

Game Production
I think that even though an area I still struggle in, things such as unwrapping and texturing I am finding easier to do each time I do it, the process now feels like it comes naturally so I am steadily learning things that I initially found impossible. I just need to spend time perfecting the details, so that the end result looks more polished and professional. More practice outside of projects is a must, so I don’t feel as intimidated by more challenging projects later on down the line.

Critical Studies
The area in which I need to improve in Critical Studies is easy; it’s just a case of making sure I do it, and what I need to do is make sure I write up everything as soon as I need to, as opposed to bloody leaving it all until the last minute. One thing I haven’t done as much, is utilise my blog to just vent about stuff in gaming, art, etc. that I think about all the time, yet always forget to note down.

Overall… Time management! Need to do it, and need to do it properly, writing myself a timetable if I have to. My memory is terrible, so creating one of these and sticking to it will help me a lot I think. I think if I master the fine art of time management, id actually be able to find time to actually play videogames which I have hardly done since starting uni, its kinda depressing… need to keep my hand in, even if it’s only a few hours a week. I think this will keep my passion alive, because that’s the reason im here, so I think it will be good to remind myself what it is I love about games so much.

Games Journalism

Videogames have reached a stage now where everything about them is critiqued, analysed and reviewed in an industry that is constantly growing and evolving. Game reviewers themselves face a tough job of not only informing us, the gamers about everything we need to know about new releases but also the bad and good qualities of each one, all the while remaining as impartial as possible so that we can make up our own mind. Obviously, different writers are less impartial than others it tends to vary, but you can tell when a game has really excited them by how passionate the reviews will come across when you read them: regardless of how influenced you are by reviews, you can’t help but be interested when a reviewer is noticeably excited as if you think about all the games that they go through in their job, if one is enough to do that, then it’s usually enough to spark my interest too (even if I don’t instantly go out and buy the game in question, I’m not that stupid).

After reading many reviews over the years, it’s important to notice how they affect the games in question. If a game gets a bunch of high ranking reviews it generates interest, even if it just starts off at one writer praising it, they will soon pass it on to others and the word will spread like wildfire in the game journalism world, successfully generating hype about it. The opposite I have noticed is also the same; If a well-known or established franchise of games doesn’t send a reviewer an early copy of the game, that alone is usually enough to create suspicion that the title isn’t very polished or up to scratch…. the developers trying to bypass the initial harshness of a review in order to get their product directly to the consumer. A lot of developers forget that games journalists are games journalists because they genuinely love videogames, so instead of sending early copies to them a lot of them act scared of them as if they’re going to highlight issues with it that they are already aware of, and too be honest if they know about them should have ironed them out during production.

So far as my own opinion on the matter is concerned, I think that games journalism is necessary but like with every opinion to be taken with a pinch of salt, as it will ultimately be your own opinions on a game that you play yourself that will be the deciding factor on whether you like it or not, and for what reasons. I will always respect the opinions of game reviews, but they will never be the sole reason for me buying a game. I know what types of games I like, so I guess I’m biased towards what I like and don’t like, an open mind and a knowledge of what makes a game seems to be the most important requirement when writing about videogames. 

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Personal Gaming History ~ PlayStation 2 to Now

PlayStation 2
Definitely the console that I (and most other people) regard as the best ever, I mean the games that were produced for it just speak for themselves.... the era in my video game history that opened my eyes at what could be done in this particular medium
Grand Theft Auto: Though I played the older version's on PSOne, the introduction of a 3d world you could just explore and cause havoc in at your own leisure was incredible when I experienced for the first time. I lost many hours just exploring the awesome cities that these games brought to life in their own unique style. And the soundtracks.....~inspired

My love for the Final Fantasy Series continued onto this generation, though the series decline was first evident in the tenth instalment....mainly by making the game linear, by removing the freedom given in previous games with the World Map. Still epic though, immersive characters, story and a world you just got sucked into make this a classic

The Warriors games (Dynasty, Samurai and Warriors Orochi) aren't necessarily the most original, but the combination of my interests in Feudal Japanese and Chinese history with hack and slash game play make these games a favourite of mine. There's nothing more relaxing than battering at least a thousand faceless goons in the face with an oversized spear....ahhh, history

A game I never owned, Soul Calibur 2 was a favourite beat em up of mine because its one id always have fun playing around a friends house on multi player with. The combination of the ice rink arena and comedy weapons, with health set to maximum is still a favourite game set-up that me and my friend still play with to this very day
Ratchet and Clank are seriously some of the best and most fun games I have ever played, and continue to be up there with some of the best in my books. Probably the last great platform game to feature a non-human character in my opinion

The Kingdom Hearts series: people either don't get them, or love them a little TOO much. I love them for what they are....a genuinely unique combination of two great franchises, that works perfectly in creating an awesomely original game series, that keeps on growing with more anticipation with each new instalment. A game series I keep very close to my heart indeed :)

Dragon Quest: journey of the cursed king:  The first in the long running series I ever played, mostly as it was the first released over here in the west. What amazed me about this game was the sheer size of the world it was set in was, and coupled with the lush cel-shaded visuals was not only an awesome game to play but also a feats for the eyes ~drool

Okami: In my opinion.....ONE OF THE BEST GAMES EVER! you only have to take one look at the footage of this game in action to realise your seeing something truly original, something next to impossible to achieve in modern gaming. Who knew a game about a Sun Goddess in the form of a wolf, restoring nature by using a celestial paintbrush could be so good?

Final Fantasy XII: Yes, yet another FF game in the list, though this stood out to me as it was very different from previous instalments, so much so that a lot of fans didn't like it at all. I did though, and I loved how the new combat system allowed you to fight monsters you could actually see in the game world as opposed to the traditional 'random encounter' system the series had held onto for so long.

Rogue Galaxy: A truly great JRPG that was overshadowed during the last days of the PS2 by the game above. It combined a massive world with great characters, and together with a massive customisation option for every character and an epic story involving space pirates, it was a great swan song to my gaming years on this platform.

Gaming Today
Though gaming is still a big part of my life today, the way that the industry is today means that some of the magic that used to be there has waned slightly, though my passion still remains and has led me on my path to start creating them as a career. 
Today I play games on my Playstation 3 and Nintendo DS, and although I tend to games series' I  already know when I venture out of my comfort zone I am often pleasantly surprised. 

Nintendo DS
Chrono Trigger: The re-release on Nintendo DS allowed me to play what I think is one of the greatest games EVER. seriously, not many games come close to comparing to the time travelling adventure that this game managed to perfect, the story and characters are still some of my favourites ever. Such a collaboration from so many different creative and legendary figures in the gaming history, wouldn't be possible in today's climate.....shame, when its a game like this that is the end result

Dragon Quest 9: Continuing the solid RPG style of the series, this new instalment allowed you to be able to customise your characters to how you wanted to use them in game which I thought was a cool feature.

Final Fantasy 3: Finally releasing the 3rd instalment of the series in the west, Square Enix even revamped it in 3d graphics which worked quite well for the DS. Was good to see where the class system seen in later instalments came from, and the game despite the originals age, stands up fairly solidly to newer games in the series.

Pokemon Black/White: The last of the main series of Pokemon games brought its usual concept which is still as addictive and fun as ever, but now with a load of new Pokemon and nifty 3d graphics in some areas. The story this time was a lot deeper than the usual 'collect Pokemon, beat gym leaders, stop evil gang' as well, which was refreshing to see

Playstation 3

Eternal Sonata: One of the first RPG's I played on this generation of games consoles, it was unique in its heavily influenced by the classical music of Chopin (in fact the main character was based on him). The colourful graphics betrayed a deep game, especially when it came to the addictive battle system.

Fallout 3: Id never played a Fallout game before this one, probably because ive always been a console gamer but I loved this game as soon as I played it. I had a really grim atmosphere that really made you believe you were roaming a post-apocalyptic world
Metal Gear Solid 4: The ultimate conclusion to one of my favourite game series didnt disappoint. Some people complained about the lengthy cut-scenes, but as a fan of the story i was eager to see how they were going wrap it all up and so thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Also the battle between Metal Gears on Shadow Moses island.......EPIC

Valkyria Chronicles: Despite being an older PS3 game, its one I've wanted for awhile and have only just got the chance to play though the wait was worth it. I'm not usually one to rate a game based on its graphics, but when I saw this game in action it blew my mind; the whole thing looks like one big water colour painting, its just beautiful to look at. It was also the first strategic, turn-based RPG shoot em up I ever played....and probably the last to be honest