Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Now for all my joking in my blogs this is the first task that i have no idea what i was doing at all. This is what i've come up with and it seems pretty weak... enjoy.

Game design documentation
For this task I have been asked to produce a technical spec for a level. Not sure at all what I will be doing will be correct so apologies as always in advance.
Project outline: Over the course of this mock project I hope by the end to understand better the amount of work and thought needed to construct a modern day computer game, and of course produce the specs needed to artists to start working from.
Platform: Xbox, Ps3 and P.C
Genre: beat ‘em up
Audience: 15+ strong language, blood and violence
Technology and software: Unreal 3 engine, 3ds max 2011, Zbrush, Crazybump and Photoshop CS5 upwards.
Lead character/s: 20,000 polygons, 1024 bitmap x2, 1024 normal map x2, 1024 spec x2 and custom rig
NPC’s: 8,000 polygons, 1024 bitmap, 1024 normal map, 1024 spec and generic rig
Vehicle: 60,000 polygons, 1024 bitmap x2, 1024 normal map x2, 1024 spec x2
Environment: 500,000 polygons, 1024 bitmap x20, 1024 normal map x20, 1024 spec x20
Props and Scenery: 20,000 polygons, 1024 bitmap x2, 1024 normal map x2, 1024 spec x2
I’m not sure what else to include apart from where the game is set and the story? But isn’t that leading more towards a pitch and not a tech document?

Polygon numbers based on http://www.rsart.co.uk/2007/08/27/yes-but-how-many-polygons/
Game engines again…
As I said in the first blog about engines, I don’t really understand them. I don’t think it’s because I’m unintelligent, I think it’s just because I’m lazy and haven’t tried to understand them. I’ll start by talking about the two big engines I’ve looked at and what games they’ve supported.
The unreal engine: the big daddy of the gaming industry. It’s a well-known fact most modern day engines are based off the unreal engine in some way shape or form. The main thing with the unreal engine is that it can be downloaded for free. Obviously you will have to pay for using it if you publish a game off it, but this means that people learning the trade like myself have a chance to learn for free. However because a lot of people develop work using the unreal engine, when it comes to publishing they choose to make their own version of the engine to avoid paying for the licencing. With is being so popular it is of course compatible across most platforms and written in C++ programming language (makes me sounds cool).
The unreal 3 engine is coming up to 6 years old now and has reached its potential in gaming but with the success it has had comes a successor that is being worked on currently. Proof of its success can be seen in the title it has been involved in confirming its position as the big dawg of the industry.

Unreal engine games:

Unreal Tournament 3
Gears of War and Gears of War 2
Mirror’s Edge
Medal Of Honor: Airborne
Bioshock and Bioshock 2
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2
Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2
Mortal Combat VS DC Universe

So what’s the other big engine in the industry? Don’t ask me as I know nothing about it, but apparently it’s the Cryengine, or specifically Cryengine3. This engine without a doubt makes games look better. I will post comparison screen shots of the engines at the bottom. Its showcase from GDC 09 is well….unreal. The engine is available for education use but not as freely accessible as Unreal as you have to apply for an educational licence from them. The engine is meant to use more memory than unreal and isn’t as developer friendly with some tools being a difficulty. But who cares? If it can games to next level of realism it’s surely a winner? However when I say games…

Cryengine 3 games, in total
Sniper:Ghost Warrior 2
Cabal 2
Forged by Chaos
Crysis 2
Codename Kingdoms

Now I keep up to date with games, and I can only really see one big name in Crysis 2 and one mid-card game in Sniper:Ghost Warrior 2, is this due to the difficulties in getting this engine to work or just a sign of Unreal’s domination in the world of game engines? And will the revenue from the listed Cryengine 3 games cover the cost of its development? If they don’t we could be looking a case of genius before its time or pure and simply bullying into extinction from unreal and it’s numerous offspring.

Cryengine3 with Unreal engine 3 below

Happy New year, hope you all had a good Christmas

To be honest i'm inundated with blogs to post from over christmas so why not just pile all 3 of them all on in the same day? ok!

Game level design
In its fairly short history, computer games have explored only a few genres. If you were to compare just main characters from various game franchises you wouldn’t look to silly to say what’s the difference. For example you could forgive an average Joe of the street with no game knowledge for thinking Solid Snake and Commander Shepard are in the same game as they both wear armour.
So how do we define these characters from each other? Through level design is the answer if you haven’t guessed what this blog is about. If you were to show the same average Joe the characters in their own environment they should be able to see the difference between earth and space, if not there is no hope for us all.
I think level design can be split into two main areas; practicality and aesthetics. What do I mean by practicality? Well if you design a level like Wasteland from Cod 2 and modern warfare 2 for Gears of War 3 you are going to experience a massive poo storm of complaints and here’s why. With GOW being a third person shooter relying on cover systems to win the game, if you were to design a level that had vast open spaces and little option for cover you are effectively putting cyanide in your own tea. To create a level that will work well with (Alliteration win) the principle in GOW which is the cover system you need to obvious create lots of pointless crates and broken walls for the player to glide to like a magnet.
Aesthetics: I think we can all agree that looking at the main character in game is very cool, but the level takes up 85% of the screen so it can’t just be a blank screen if you’re portraying a 1940’s bingo hall. The aesthetics define the atmosphere of a game. This doesn’t mean every level has to be made up of concrete buildings and pipework. Aslong as the art direction is stagnant you can get away with it, for example streets of rage 2 you went from the streets to a cave with a massive spider to a pirate ship to a baseball arena. The art style was consistent so people overlooked it and saw it for the game it was, a beautiful game. This also applies to colours used in the levels, as of recent a lot of games have gone for predominantly greeny blue environments that obvious don’t make for the most interesting views.
Level design isn’t the bee’s knees the whole time though. It can of course be a game wrecker. I’m sure we have all fallen through a wall or experienced people killing us from under a map. My personal favourite is calling and airstrike in on Battlefield: bad company 2 when slightly in a bush and the game references the alpha that is clear on the screen as the point you wish to bomb, therefore killing yourself when you expect to see all hell break loose infront of you.
Hope that was worth your time reading, cheerio.