Sunday, 6 December 2009

week 9

I haven’t really though about ergonomics in games console before now. I’ve always thought I was more concerned with graphics and game play. I’ve played on and Amstrad (not sure what series) so I have had the joy of experience the device that has kick started this mini revolution. The classic D-pad and A and B buttons of the NES and Mega Drive are classics and were the first step to making games easier to interact with. These controllers compared to a modern day consoles is like sending G.I’s into a peasant village. There is far more possibilities and combinations that can be deployed that intensifies game play and game content.

I remember seeing the Playstation for the first time and thinking “that’s the coolest looking thing ever.” Compared to PS3 slim it looks like it should be being chased by TIE fighter. In such as small period in time, consoles have changed almost unrecognizably compared to there early forefathers. I can see in the future computers being either accessible through thought alone and a race of Virtual Reality junkies being born. And personally I can’t wait to see that as it will hopefully get rid of the gaming pros that are the lil’ kids on Xbox live

week 8

Story, is it needed? What ever game you play there is always an underlying point to actions you do in the game. In Mortal Kombat the story is to kill everyone else to save the mortal realm where Mass effect has rough storyline planned out that the player can vary on. An RPG with no story would be as entertaining as channel 5 programming. If the player is to play out a story or play out a role, a story is essential. An interesting game is the SIMS; there is not a story at all. The player can completely control their SIMS lives and build and destroy endless possibilities in the character’s surroundings. The SIMS still needs a slight story though, which is written by the player through their interaction.

I think in all games story is present, it is just more obvious in some more than others. I’ve come to this thought by thinking about my own life. I’ve always seen my life as the present and recently I’ve found myself reminiscing past years and realising how interesting my life is. There was no plan at the point of creation of these great events but the effects are evident. I conclude all games have a story. Some games are more obvious in what you should be doing when writing your story. Others appear to have no story but through interaction allow the user to produce their own.

Probably nonsense as always but its posted now.

week 7

Welcome back to another exciting week of blogging where today I will be poorly communicating the role of an art director to you. So what is an art director? I hear you cry. These are the people who are essentially in charge of making sure a game looks like the same game throughout. If you were playing Gears of war (a visually stunning game) and were sitting through a cut scene, on return to game play you found yourself in a land of purple trees and elves you would think you were narcoleptic and had the games swapped whilst you were unconscious.

The role is very similar to a Film director hence the director part. A game, much like a film has a story or script that needs to be portrayed in a manner suitable to its content and history. I’ll use the example of a Star trek MMO game. You could not as an art director make the setting (space) blue in colour and give the spacecraft fluffy dice. An art director must stay within the certain guidelines given to him or her. I feel a difference between an art director in game to one in film is that a director in game could afford to be lazier and let the game play pick up the pieces for a visually poor game.

I feel you must be able to put a twist on a classic as a director in film or game. This means that you must be incredibly creative to re-invent a product whilst maintaining its original foundations. I believe an art director must be able to put his/her finger in all artist pies (3D, sculpture, sketching) but most importantly able to communicate their ideas and visions clearly to those around them to create a product worthy of being called art.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Another masterpiece

So what is Game Design? My understanding is that it’s the building blocks of a game. Game Design is where you manufacture the rules of engagement so to speak within a title.
This is where you choose what platform the game is FPS, RPG etc etc. And map out all the background information of the game before some makes it attractive for the public.

Things like Game play can be outlined in the design of the game too. Game play is basically the experiences during interaction between the player and the game. Games like Pac-man required you to avoid capture from the ghosts and eat all the circles on the level, with different mazes changing the experience for the gamer. Modern games have more tools in their Itinerary to change the game play. A modern game such as Operation flashpoint: dragon rising requires the gamer to do multiple things at once. The gamer must think tactically in real time whilst looking after the health of others. Whilst of course trying to aim and kill enemies. Most differently modern games can allow for multiple objectives on levels to be implemented in level.

Game Design has gotten so complex in modern games that a team is needed to create a game. Back in the 80’s Atari could leave one man to design the games levels. The increasing pressure on games designers to make games with more interaction and realism has led to increase numbers in design teams.

When I play I game, I look to escape from realism for the hour or so I have spare. I don’t play Sims as I have enough trouble looking after myself; plus they always end up depressed and burning the kitchen. I look to be entertained and have my emotions fiddled with a little bit as so to engross me for more. Then of course I want to win. I won’t play a game I can’t complete or be good at. Thankfully I’m a gaming god and take names like Eric Banner in Munich. I’m not the most astute with words but I can tell a good game when I see one. I’ve also played through a lot of crap, so I know good gravy when I see it.

Well here we find ourselves at the end of another week and another poor entry. See you this time next week.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Once again facebook has blurred my work. Need to figure out the scanner me thinks

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Tired and pissed

Modern day game reviewers face many barriers in the current game industry. The financial slum the world is going through has meant that funding and staff has been cut. With these variables in place, writers are left to pick up the pieces of their fallen comrades and produce a product to the high degree the investors expect each time.
The average British game magazine is turned over in 19 days. Two weeks to fill 150 pages is nothing when you add on the actual reviewing of the game they have to conduct to. Tight deadlines on diminished manpower have left writers to cut corners in areas of their work to reach the deadlines set.

They face growing competition from freelance reviewers who can post on the internet quicker and spend more time on their reviews and adding to the overall value of there review. The internet as we know is generally full of a load of poo. With so many budding writers appearing and reviewing any game on the market, you can sometime find yourself searching through a big pile of internet poo before you come across something you like.
Mainstream magazines effectively cut away the dead wood, and cover the major stories in the games industry. There are totally entitled to do so as they have to appeal to as many people as they can.

People criticise magazines for using objective ranking systems, but in the fast pace society we live today people don’t want to read a dossier on a game, they want to look, process, buy, play. The generalize scoring systems quickly allows the reader to indentify with the product and whether it is worth investment. For the time allowed and standards to be reached I think game writers do a sterling job. To be honest if someone wants to write Shakespearean literature on a game they are more than welcome, it doesn’t affect me in any way. I’m an average guy, average height, average weight, nuclear family etc etc. As a typical mark for game magazines, I feel there is nothing wrong with writing in game magazines. They do the function that the reader and investors want, they appeal to the masses. Of course there will be people who it doesn’t appeal to but they will setup their own internet review cult and do their Branch Davidians impersonation.

My writing style will probably be torn to shreds by the Branch Davidians for my poor…everything. I really couldn’t care less; writing is all about communicating ideas. As long as people get across how I feel I am happy. In my eyes there is no purpose for Russell Brand wizardry with words to confuse common folk like myself. If you where to speak to me in person following the same rules you write within, I would have no time for you sir. Rant over; hope this was entertaining to read. It was written by a very cranky Kristian after a long day out.

So I bid you adieu

Monday, 26 October 2009

A look to the future?

So to continue where I left off. The N64 had just had great success and was widely admired for Zelda, Goldeneye, Mario 64 etc. In 1998 Sega looked to get the jump on its rivals by releasing the Dreamcast. Sales where poor and Sega lost a lot of money. This added to the damage caused by the Sega Saturn and spelt the end for Sega in the console market. The next year a PC gaming went to another level as Counterstrike was created by two modders, to this date it is still one of the most played games.

The turn of the millennium saw the release of the Ps2 and one of my favourite games, Timesplitters. The next year saw the release of the GameCube and the Xbox. This was a big step for the game industry as this saw the arrival of Mr Gates and Microsoft into the gaming industry. The GameCube sold on the back of the N64’s success. It wasn’t that big a step up in gaming compared to the Ps2 and Xbox, leaving Nintendo scratching there heads. With the introduction of Xbox, the revolutionary Xbox live was created in 2002. This was the first time that someone on a home console, could play against any Xbox owner in the world via the internet. This was such a big sell for the Xbox that similar systems can be seen in all modern consoles.

PC gaming came back with a vengeance in 2004, as World of Warcraft was released. As to date WOW (as it’s known) is the biggest online MMORPG in history. This leads us nicely into the 7th generation of consoles. In 2005 Microsoft released the Xbox 360. The Xbox was the first of the new generation of consoles to be put on the market. Unlike its other predecessors with this title, it didn’t flop. On the contrary it was a big success as people couldn’t wait the extra year for the Ps3. This led a lot of loyal Sony followers (including myself) to jump ship to Microsoft. After a year and a half the Ps3 was released at a similar time to Nintendo’s Wii. The Wii almost shocked the gaming industry as it changed conventional interaction between human and machine. It replaced the controller/joystick system that was almost as old as the idea of computer games itself.
The motion sensor remote (or its nickname wiimote) gave the user a higher level of control over the input into the game. The game play on the Wii is more rewarding than the Xbox 360 or Ps3 as you’re not lying on your back smashing buttons to a pulp. If you achieve something on the Wii, that exactly what you have done. YOU have achieved it, and are relatively tired after flinging your arms around for hours.

As for the future of the console, we will either see it go two ways in my opinion. Either we will see and increase in Graphical perfection (gears of war 2 environment) or more interaction with the human body itself (Nintendo Wii). The ultimate gaming experience for me would to have actual Virtual Reality for gaming. An online system where graphics resemble the real world and human interaction is the only way to operate it. Of course there is always the slight danger of people getting confused and dying in the machines. So it’s probably not the best selling idea for Mr. Gates, he hates a lawsuit.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

This is my 2nd week final piece. I posted it on here because Facebook decided to blur it. I hope its not too small now.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

It was acceptable in the 80's...

In the 80’s the technology was made available to produce personal gaming software at low cost. This lead to experimentation with the new software, were new genres were created that have moulded the game industry up to the present day. In 1981 Donkey was created opening up the platform genre. Dragon slayer 2 is another influential game as it created the role playing genre that dominates in today’s market. In the early 80’s the most popular consoles were the commodore 64 and Apple 2. The commodore was fairly priced and allowed the user to plug in existing joysticks from there previous consoles to use.

In 1985 third generation consoles were introduced to the market the first were the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga These consoles were milestones in the market as they both had 16bit processors. A year later the Nintendo NES was released. The console came with the game Super Mario Bros, and was an instant success. Due to the success of the NES, Nintendo were able to create titles such as “Legend of Zelda”, “Metal Gear” and “Final Fantasy” all of which have their own series that have carried through into the modern era. I own a Nes, that I believe has gone for a walkabout in the attic. Despite this could have still have hours of fun on Super Mario Bros 3 (Especially in the racoon suit) when the Ps2 was at the height of its power.
With the rising popularity of home gaming, arcade games started to suffer. Arcades started to close around the country due to people preferring to wait until the new arcade titles where available on console. Arcades did survived though due to a strong group of enthusiasts.

1989 saw the birth of the Mega drive, Game boy and a very handsome man in Northampton. It wasn’t until 1991 that the Mega drive became the market leader due to the release of Sonic the hedgehog. This coincided with the release of the Nintendo SNES. In 1993 Atari released the Jaguar as the start of the new 5th generation of consoles. The console flopped as it had next no games and was pulled later the next year. In the same year Sony released the Playstation and Sega released the Saturn…. A mistake some think.
Also at this time Arcade games made a brief comeback with the release of “Street fighter” and “Mortal Kombat” this was quickly crushed as the power houses put these titles onto their consoles.

The Playstation quickly dominated the market whilst we waited for the arrival of the N64 in 1996. The N64 was worth the wait though. In 1997 “Goldeneye” was put into production and the following year “Zelda: ocarina of time” was released. Easily two of the best games available, on this series of console. The downside of the N64 was that the games where put on cartridges. Yes, the games loaded quicker. But cartridges were more expensive to produce and couldn’t hold as much data as a CD. Due to this, some of Nintendo’s game publishers went elsewhere, most notably the final fantasy series.

This was another brief overview, of a period of time as old as myself. I hope it was bearable for all.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The history of video games.... kinda

The history of computer games is a relatively short period in human existence when placed against the light bulb or even the television. In 1952 a Cambridge University graduate called A.S Douglas. Who just finished his degree on the interaction between humans and computers, created the first graphical computer game. It was a basic version of tic tack toe that would revolutionize the world. The knowledge that computers could be used for fun as well as business has opened doorways that have led us into the modern era.

Being of a relatively young age, my first game experience was when I walked in on my brothers playing Streets of Rage 2 around 1993/4. The simple one button smash control system meant that when I was finally aloud a go (after running to mother), that I could play the game to a standard worthy of Co-op play with my older brothers. Still today this is one of my favourite games of all time. The plot wasn’t great and is fairly similar to all Jean Claude Van Damme films, but the button smashing and banging electro music of Yuzo Koshiro still brings a big grin to my face.

Since then I’ve dabbled in a lot of consoles. I’ve played on the Amstrad, that I still own. I’ve passed through the N64/Playstation battle. That I must admit I sided on the Playstation side. If I were to choose allegiances again I would side with the N64 for the playability, sheer humor of their games and possibly Super Smash bros as a lone reason.

These days were over when the Ps2 was released for me. I was already a Playstation man, so it was the logical upgrade and the right upgrade, up until the point the Xbox was released the next year. However at this point, mine and a lot of other teenage boy’s parents were still peeved about paying £200 for the Ps2 the Christmas before.

The current series of consoles is when I finally put some money in Mr. Gates’ pocket. After playing Call of duty 3 on Xbox live, (which is the best COD online to date) I realized that I was making a big mistake waiting and extra year and a half for the Ps3. So I bought one as soon as possible (so, it was given to me at Christmas). Up to this point I’m very happy with it and intrigued with how much more than can squeeze out of it before the next generation of console is rolled out.

This is only a brief description of my gaming life but throughout I’ve always looked forward to new advances in the industry. So far there hasn’t been a new system that has been worst than it predecessor, except for maybe the Sega Saturn and its horrible dual chip processor. This pattern of gaming success has ensured my long term commitment to the search for the ultimate gaming experience.