SO WHO IS THIS GUY?

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Hi there! As you can see, my name is Chris, I'm at university and I'm currently 21 years old, but there's more to know than my name and age. So what am I doing then? Well I'm studying Game Art at DMU. I am aiming to be one of the top proffesional vehicle artists in the industry. In the meantime, check out this Blog of mine and when your finished, take a look at my website!

Second year review


The second year has been quite an interesting time for me, as I have created some awesome work and learnt a fair deal this year. Firstly, the Queens project was really good fun to do which I believe was down to the group I was in, as we were all level headed and weren't stubborn or obsessive of our own ideas or critique of our work. There are aspects of the level we made that can be much better/improved such as sound. Overall however, the quality of the assets produced by each member was very good and we all helped in improving each others work.

I have also learnt much in my art, specifically life drawing as this I what I enjoy the most. I am now able to create my art work with minimal lines and I've vastly improved my rendering techniques as I have tended to be quite heavy handed. Digital painting has been a bit of a pain to me this year as I feel like I have not improved as much as I wanted to. Although I am capable at digital painting, I tend to feel to disappointed with my final pieces.

However, I think the main highlight of this year was applying for the internship at BMW. Although in the end I was not accepted, I have managed to gain a good contact at BMW and produced a cool Z4 car model in the process. Even though I was quite devastated of loosing out on the internship, its made me realise that I can get a job in what I want to do and this has motivated me to create much better car models now and I'm learning Vray to achieve this. For this I am researching the areas of poly model and visualisation in car manufactures and I am gaining as many contacts in these fields as I can. I am aiming now to create photorealistic car models for both game and high res.

I will announce my new car project very soon and its going be much better than the Z4 and will take advantage of a lot of new techniques I now know!


Life changing or career building


When it comes to education for the games industry, it very much seems to be hit and miss in certain cases. On one hand, the creative industry's are very different from that of any other field, as its all down to the work you can do, not necessarily your cover letter and CV.

However when it comes to the educational side of the games industry which is more complex than that of other creative industry's, being able to have an education to gain access into the games industry is paramount in most cases. A lot of people who might be interested in going into games will likely have a very vague idea about the software's used, game engines and art requirements; so being taught by people who know the industry and what it demands is essential.

At the end of the day though, game developers want to take on the best people possible, mainly because games are expensive to make and having a slacker or having to train a new guy is time consuming and can be costly.

However, I think one area in games education that suffers when the new console generations come out is the games production side. I'm personally a little concerned over this as there are lot of strong rumours across Microsoft and Sony about there new consoles having secrete developer meetings, and even dev kits from Sony being sent to there first party studios. If these rumours are true, we could expect a teaser of the new consoles this year, which I do think is unlikely, but never the less, the jump in terms of technology and the new techniques and knowledge needed will be vast.

Creativity, talent, myth and craft


I think creativity is the ability to want to always be making or thinking of ideas. Although creativity seems to In terms of a game studio, I would personally say it boils down to each team member having that thought process.

Although some people are naturally more creative than others, it does seem to reflect on how they brought up and the kind of environment they live in.

Games industry


The games industry particularly over the last two decades, has seen extraordinary growth. This is particularly down to games being accepted into the mainstream and games outselling the highest grossing films and music sales on record.

Today, modern game studios require talented artists and highly creative people in order to create the best game possible. However, I think a major skill that is needed to work in any creative environment, especially with the pressures and stress at making a videogame, is that you need to be very good in communicating with other team members. This was something that I picked up on while doing the Queens project with my team. Although we were all relatively good at discussing the next plan and what were all doing, there were times were a lack of communication made the work process break down.

However i do think that having the determination and are willing to learn as much as you can is a big factor when applying for a job in the industry. At the end of the day, they want someone who is not only talented, but someone who is self motivated, a good communicator and easy to get along with.

Interaction and design

Interaction of games has been relatively strange to say the least, but it has only been the last couple of console generations that we seem to have a fixed idea on what a controller should look like and do.

However, there have been many different advances in game controls and play input. One of the most striking of these to me was the Nintendo Virtual Boy. It was essentially a painful experience to the user with its neon red and black coloured screen situated centre metres from your eyes... Although it wasn't the most practical idea ever, it shows an attempt at producing something that we all would want and might expect in the future.

The joystick was one major improvement for game input into games. It allowed players to control there aircraft in a very similar way to that of the real thing. Not only was it more immersive for the player, it allowed more buttons and controls for the game such as Flight Simulator.


Steering wheels have also had a large impact on racing games in the fact that they allow the player to interact with the game in a more realistic manor. Despite the fact there usually an absolute pain to set up, there awesome fun to use especially with the pedals! There has been an increasing market for these in racing games, particularly due to developer support for the manufactures of the steering wheels. GT and Forza both support a number of different steering wheels and this has fuelled demand.

Take a look at this link:

It shows a complete simulation package that the player can simply plug into the games console and enjoy. Although its a fairly high price tag, it shows the demand for better immersion in games, particularly racing games.

However, one area that I'm particularly interested in is the prospect of 3D in games. Despite the fact that the majority of people are just starting to settle down with there HDTV's, the impact of 3D technology for games is really starting to flourish.

Although I've only experienced 3D TV at the shops, its quite an awesome addition for games. Gaining a true sense of depth and scale in a game will really open the gates to unrivalled immersion in games, particularly racing games. If you were to have a steering wheel, pedals, surround sound and a 3DTV, i think you wouldn't see daylight for sometime.

However, i do think that 3D in games wont fully take of until the technology in TV's is affordable and demand is significant. We barely have any HD coverage on the air let alone 3D, so why will people suddenly want to adopt a 3D tv, especially when the glasses cost £100 each!

Sound In Games


Sound in games plays a particular role in portraying emotions, immersion and atmosphere into game worlds. Most notably as well, is that it can create instant recognition with a game franchise.

However music and sound in games has come a long way but still has its technical limitations with current generation hardware. For example in older generations of consoles, sound was very limited by the hardware and tends to take up a lot of space on both the games media device and the console.

However there have been many ways for developers and sound engineers/designers to overcome these limitations. One example and a rather obvious one, is the use of a race cars engine sound in old games. Whenever the car would up shift, the pitch of the sound would be increased to represent further speed and power of the vehicle, and visa versa.

Personally for me, there have been a few games that have really stood out in terms of sound quality and leaving a lasting impact on me.

Firstly this would be the metal gear solid series as it has always had compelling and realistic sound effects along with a background music that fits the situation of the gameplay. Another lasting impression i have always had is the fact that NPCs talk and communicate with each other, even though it might be very limited in detail, it adds further immersion to the games world through sound.

Secondly would have to be the Uncharted series. Every detail down to stepping on puddles, rock, mud and wood are all given there own unique sound in this game. Not only this, but the voice acting for the game is what really sets it apart from other games this generation for me. For example, during gameplay you will often hear Drake talking to himself and muttering one liners. It shows what sound can do to help bring life to characters in games and not only the environments which I think is sometimes overlooked. Even down the theme music which is very iconic for the series, it helps to create a sense of adventure and excitement about the game before you're even playing it.

Game Engines


There are many different game engines available to developers, some have unique features and offer a better workflow compared to others.

Firstly there is the UDK engine. This engine has won numerous awards for its ease of use and flexibility. It features many advancements that allow the artist to create realistic worlds and create what is needed for the project. one such feature is the Terrain modifier. This feature allows the creation of hills, mountains and other environmental features with relative ease. there is also Matinee animation and Kismet which allows for the scripting of events, animations etc.

Another very interesting engine is the Frostbite engine. This was developed by DICE in Sweden and is a very powerful engine. It features highly developed lighting which allows for incredible visuals and also incorporates the ability to render rich colours in game. This was one feature that DICE specifically wanted to create after they worked with UDK to create Mirrors Edge, and incorporating this into the Frostbite 2 engine, allowed them to create the richly coloured Battlefield 3. Perhaps however, the most significant feature with Frostbite 2, is the ability for buildings to be blown up and the cover of walls to be chipped away at with bullets.


One engine that i find particularly interesting is the CryEngine. It features a fully dynamic lighting system without the need for light mapping unlike the UDK engine. It also incorporates a dedicated facial animation editor, sub surface scattering and independent AI programming to allow NPCs to have sight, hearing and awareness of there surroundings.

http://udk.com/features
http://www.battlefield.com/battlefield3/1/frostbite2
http://devmaster.net/devdb/engines/cryengine

Documentation


 A modern day illegal biking scene has grown into huge sporting events, with races spanning hundreds of miles across remote roads and locations, despite the authorities best efforts. However, due to the illegal and criminal nature of the events, racers frequently carry weapons of all forms to gain any advantage possible during the races.

It is every man for himself!
Set across northern USA and Canada, the player joins the ranks in this extreme form of racing, progressing from lower tier CC engines to full blown Moto GP level bikes, with increasing difficulty. As the game progresses, the events become increasingly difficult with the risk of police intervention, extreme weather "Ice on roads, storms" and ever more violent racers. If the player falls of there bike along with an NPC, they are allowed to steal the bike if they so wish and so can the NPC.

Each playable level will consist of many different routes and different tiers of Motorbikes, i.e. MX bikes, choppers etc. Each class of bike will have unique perks, advantages and disadvantages, MX bikes will be superior on dirt routes than that of a Moto GP bike and visa versa. The maps them selves will tend to avoid a linear fashion of progression and allow the player to make there own choices when progressing, for example, the race starts at X location and finishes at Y location, choose your own route.

The game will feature on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The overall style of the game will be very much based on the real world, consisting of many rural areas with the frequent town/urban area. The game will be built to work with a modified Frostbite 2 engine, allowing for superior colours and lighting and environmental effects "damage to terrain and buildings".

All assets will be created using Autodesk Maya, which will benefit in accommodating the frostbite engine into the package, and quickening the production pipeline.


Lead Character:
The lead character will be aged around his middle to late 20's. He will be of average height and will have short messy brown hair. He will wear his own form of racing clothing, a thick leather jacket, standard helmet, jeans and boots. These items will require extra assets due to in game customisation such as new helmets and racing overalls.

The character will consist of no more than 8,000 triangles on a 1024x1024 texture sheet, including Diffuse, Normal, Specular and Ambient Occlusion maps.


Vehicles:
All bikes will be drivable and therefore, will require the same level of detail. The standard mesh will consist of no more than 16,000 triangles with 1024x1024 texture sheets with Diffuse, Normal, Specular and Ambient Occlusion maps and varying levels of animated textures to represent weather effects, such as light rain, heavy rain and increasing levels of dirt/wear and tear. The vehicles will requite 3 LODS, one at 8,000 triangles, 4,000 triangles  and another at 1,000 triangles along with the standard 16,000 triangle mesh.
This is the same for any drivable vehicle, MX bikes, racing motorbikes, choppers and police motorbikes!


NPC:
Non playable characters will consist of the other racers, police and pedestrians.

A standard police man will be of standard US or Canadian uniform with covered faces. These models will consist of 6,000 triangles with 1024x1024 texture sheets with Diffuse, Normal, Specular. In total, the model can consist of no more than 20 bones. The police models will require a gun holster and weapon that can be used by the animation team.

Prop:
Environmental assets will be relatively low poly, due the scale of the levels and the need to reuse assets.

Tree Elm. A highly realistic Elm tree that can be reused and repositioned in the game levels. This will consist of 1,000 triangles with a 512x512 texture sheet including Diffuse, Normal and Specular. The Elm tree will require a LOD at 500 triangles.

Environment:
Level one, US/Canadian Border, North Dakota. A century old barn that has seen the worst of weather and looks ready to fall apart. Overgrown with weeds and moss, planks missing and windows completely smashed. There are old boxes, tools and wood surrounding the barn that have simply been left to the elements.

The barn will consist of 2,000 triangles including the secondary props "boxes & tools". This will requite a 1024x1024 texture sheet with Diffuse, Normal and Specular

Level Design


Level design is essentially, the creation of the game world. The processes involved are quite vast and requires careful planning on both the visual, technical and gameplay for the player.

An example of early level design and testing in a games production is white boxing of the level. This is used to help gauge a much better understanding of the level in a 3D form, from the 2D concepts. This allows for gameplay and interactivity to be tested at a basic level with or without finished assets and art work.

Interaction with the game world is an important factor when creating any game. It allows the player to feel more immersed into the game world and subtle details like glass breaking when the player shoots it or the use of dynamic physics when a player knocks over a can or bottle, these elements all come together to help the level in which the player is in.

Of course most game levels are in fact quite linear, and this is one of the areas that good level design can overcome and in a sense, lie to the player in giving them the impression they have a wide choice of areas to travel. A good example of this is Metal Gear Solid series. For example in MGS3, the game takes place in vast jungles and the player gets the impression they can explore and do there own thing. However, each level of the jungle usually had 1 or 2 ways out, which normally both lead into the next area, but gave the feeling of choice and exploration in the game, even though you were simply progressing the levels the way they intended.

A good reason as to why this was so effective, was the fact that the game level incorporated numerous routes around the level, but all funnelled into the end of the levels area. 



Visual Composition


Composition is a key aspect to any 2D work and also 3D work. The main purpose of composition is to arrange and place elements to create impact and a point of focus for example. This can be achieved by using certain methods such as the use of colour, light and perspective. It is these essential processes that must be thought out before creating any image, and as a result, is very difficult to master.

An example of composition is this painting created by Frans Hals.

 
As we can see, the main focal point of the painting is the man leaning back on his chair. the use of colour and lighting  has played a big role in bringing out the facial features bringing the person to life in the image.

The foreground of the painting is much brighter and saturated unlike the background which is washed out. This helps to bring out the person from the rest of the painting. Another important factor is the placement of the table/cloth, painting and curtain. Due to the angle of the man leaning on his chair, the top right of the image would overpowering, if it were left with a blank wall. 
 
Another example of setting up composition in an image is by using the rule of thirds or the Golden mean.
 
The use of thirds has been used to help create a more pleasing image to the viewer. firstly, the contrast in colour is very apparent, however one area to note is how low the road is on the grid. We can see the thought processes that the photographer went through to take this picture. The most obvious thing to see, is the brightness of the background and the contrast with this in the foreground. The foreground in this image is much darker and saturated in colour, which draws the viewers eye towards the foreground.


Another example of composition in digital work is this image below. As we can see, the background is very bright which helps to bring out the contrast of the cassette and tape. Again, the subtle shading of the character on the ground, and the placement of items to the left and behind the character further add to the focal point of the image.
The use of blurring the background to create a sense of depth to the image has also been used.