Monday, 5 December 2011

The Thing - A short review

John Carpenter's 'The Thing' was released in 1982 and is one of my favourite films of all time, so I was really looking forward to watching the new one released a few days ago. I was worried it was going to be a remake but was relieved to see it was a prequel!

The 1980's 'The Thing' was about an American camp in Antarctica that starts with Norwegians from another camp chasing and trying to kill a husky dog, reaching them. We are lead to believe its just a normal dog, but when the Americans go to investigate the Norwegian camp it becomes clear somethings not right. At first they assume its cabin fever but discover a destroyed camp and burnt and twisted bodies everywhere. The Americans return to their camp with a body to do an autopsy on and their medics find its not human. At his point all hell breaks loose. 'The Thing' starts spreading and infecting, first the husky dogs, then the people and its a fight for survival. The film ends with 2 Americans surviving uninfected, they have managed to kill 'The Thing', but have destroyed their camp in the process and are now alone in Antarctica with no shelter and no idea if rescue is coming.

The 1980s The Thing
'The Thing' released this year is a prequel that shows us what happened at the Norwegian camp. The Norwegian team picks up on a distress beacon and while looking for the source crashes through the ice to discover an alien ship. They gather a specialist team to excavate an alien creature that has been frozen in the ice and take it back to camp. Shortly after 'The Thing' starts thawing and breaks out of the ice, the Norwegians hunt and kill 'The Thing' but it has already killed and infected people. They do an autopsy on the creature to find a partially replicated/absorbed team member. They learn at this point 'The Thing' imitates people but can't replicate inorganic mater such as fillings or implants. After finding some fillings and blood in the shower they realise someone among them is infected. 'The Thing' attacks and members of the Norwegian camp start dieing off and becoming infected. The result is the camp gets destroyed with charred bodies everywhere. Two survivors chase 'The Thing' back to its ship where they kill it and destroy part of the ship. The film ends with 2 survivors chasing the dog in a helicopter, which is where the 1980s 'The Thing' kicks off.

Alien ship
I've always wanted to know what happened in the Norwegian camp so I really enjoyed the film. It was great to see the environments from the 1980s film recreated so you can see what they used to be like and what happened to destroy them. All the bodies that were found in the 1980s are explained in the new film and you can see what really happened there. I liked the creature design and the fact you got to see alot more of 'The Thing' and its ship in this film. 'The Thing' has a fantastic well thought out creature design and seems very similar to the creature design in 'Dead Space' a game which I really enjoy.

Alien in ice block

The film hasn't got the best reviews as people seem to think it was a unnecessary addition that doesn't live up to the first. I personally thought it was a really good film and well worth a watch. The CG can be a little poor in places but it doesn't really affect the film and I thought it was awesome being able to find out what happened at the Norwegian camp.

The thing on fire!

8 out of 10!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Why is everything going 3D?

I hate the way everything is going 3D at the moment and I can't understand why its becoming so popular.
Its been around in the past but been a novelty at best but in recent years has taken hold of our entertainment. TVs are 3D, handheld consoles, PC monitors and games, console games, sky and the majority of new films.

I can understand its an interesting new concept and an accomplishment we've been able to come up with the technology to make 3D viewing possible at home. But why is it even necessary. Whats wrong with normal TV and normal films. I don't think 3D really adds anything to the experience apart from a headache. I can't understand why people would pay loads of money to replace their TVs with 3D capable ones just for that extra feature. Not to mention forking out for those stupid glasses that you then have to wear constantly just to get the 3D effect. Why do we constantly feel the need to improve something that doesn't need improving.

We've made alot of advancements in viewing technology in recent years, like the shift to HD and then full HD, but 3D viewing is not something I would of thought as worthwhile. I can see the value in increasing the viewing experience by improving the quality and clarity of the image through HD but what does 3D actually add? I don't think it even fully works. But this what we have always done and will continue to do. Advance, innovate and improve. Hopefully we'll pass through 3D pretty quickly and be onto the next big thing! God knows what that will be. Full virtual reality maybe!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Reviewing the reviews

Games reviews, previews and information is everywhere so its hard not to come across. Games are becoming more popular which there are more people finding ways to make money from them like journalism. I don't go out of my way to read people's opinions online because there are just too many people doing it these days. I don't know them, where they are from or the games they like, so how can I put their opinions into context. I do buy and read some gaming magazines however. I still don't know the people writing for the magazines but I'd hope they were at least more informed and experienced.

I think one of the main problems with writing about games is everyone has different views and different motives. I don't know if the magazines or people online are being truthful, purposefully positive/negative or have other preferences which change the way they view something. That's true for everyone anywhere and if that stopped things being written nothing would ever get published, online or off. We could hope people in stronger positions would be more likely to be honest and fair, but we just don't know.

I've been a reader of PC Gamer for many years and enjoy the magazine. I don't really take issue with the things that are written but they don't really influence the way I buy games anyway. I like to read reviews etc because I like to read about games and I like to have a difference of opinion to others. I like to discuss and argue points about games, I think it adds to the enjoyment of them. I also like buying magazines because I like to see all the new previews of games, these tend to be the biggest games from the biggest companies, some could call this unfair but what do you expect? No one is going to dedicate the majority of a magazine to games no one has really heard of and leave out the bigger titles. it wouldn't sell.

I don't buy magazines or watch online reviews because I really want to know what the game is going to be like for me. Only me playing the game myself is going to tell me if I like it or not. I just need to see enough of the game to get an idea of if I think I'll like it, but thats still just an idea. I've bought games and then found out they sucked, everyone does it and its not necessarily on purpose. Sometimes we just don't enjoy games like we thought we would, but other people might of loved it. Reviews and similar texts are always just going to be people's opinions on what they thought of games. They might be completely different to your own views.

I think its good practise for people to right about games and what they think about them, some people might be lying but theres nothing we can do about that. if enough is shown/written about games we should all be able to develop an impression of the game and if we'll like it ourselves. How can anyone expect new games journalism or anything to ever be any different. Everything is always going to have a biased opinion in it one way or another because no one is completely neutral for different reasons. What matters is what we each take away from the reviews and how much we want to believe.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My Life In Games

I started playing games at a friend’s house when i was 6 years old. The first games I ever played were space invaders and frogger on the Atari. The following year my gran got me a Sinclair zx spectrum+2  128k in a bundle with more than 500 games. This was the first console I owned and I played it every day but remember the loading times taking ages.  My favourite games on that were Dragon Spirit, R-Type, Paper Boy and Dizzy, but I still went over to my friend’s house to play space invaders.

Dragon Spirit - Spectrum

My next console was the Sega Mega drive back in 1990 when it was released here in the UK. That was when I really got into games and gaming, with my first games for that being Sonic and Altered Beast. I really enjoyed the beat-em-up and side scrolling shoot- em – up games that were on the console with favourites including; street fighter, streets of rage, comix zone, alien 3 and loads more.

I got the Playstation shortly after it was released in 1995. Sadly I can’t remember a lot of the early games I played on it but I know it started with Tekken.  I also remember playing doom on the console, one of the first FPS games I ever played on a console. It was at this time I also got into some of my favourite gaming franchises like Resident Evil (which I played to death), Metal Gear and Guilty Gear. 


Despite having consoles at home I used to go to the arcades alot too and would spend all my money there every week. I really enjoyed going to the arcades because I loved the environment with the sounds and sights of the machines. I also went to play all the games that weren’t available on consoles like awesome retro games  and new releases. Games that I remember enjoying the most included; Metal Slug, r-type, Time Crisis, Alien VS Predator and Alien 3 the gun.  Despite being outdated I still really enjoy arcades and play them where ever I find them. I find it disappointing that they aren’t really around anymore as I think they’re one of the most enjoyable things about being a gamer and one of the best parts from my gaming history.

AVP Arcade Beat-em-up Game

The next console I got was the Nintendo 64 but I only got it for one game - Killer instinct gold, which is one of my favourite fighting games of all time.  Apart from that I wasn’t really a fan of the N64 and didn’t bother with it due to a lack of good games (the control pad was crap aswell).  
I got the Playstation 2 a little while after the N64, followed a year later by the DreamCast. These were my favourite consoles at the time and I had masses of games for them both. I’ve played such a variety and number of games on the PS2 it’s difficult to remember alot of them. I continued to enjoy franchises such as; Metal Gear, Guilty Gear, Resident Evil, Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Street Fighter. I also found interest in alot of new games like; extermination, primal and the now successful Devil May Cry series. The Dreamcast for me it was the best console ever made,  it had awesome games I loved playing like; Rival Schools 2, Shenmue 1 and 2, Zombie Revenge,  House of the Dead 2, Cannon Spike, and Resident Evil Code Veronica. I also owned the Xbox and GameCube but I didn’t have as much interest in those consoles. I don’t remember alot of the games for the Xbox apart from Halo and Steel Battalion, which had an awesome cockpit style controller! Due to lack of good games I didn’t really play the GameCube much and only got it for Resident Evil 4 which I played to death and really enjoyed.
Zombie Revenge DreamCast
I started getting into PC gaming around the age of 19 and it’s since become my format of choice.  I got into FPS games like Doom 3, Half Life and Counter Strike: Source. I’ve spent 5000+ hours on CS:S and don’t regret it. I went as far as to start my own clan with 30-40 members, buy a server and even met my girlfriend of 5 years through it. After 3 years I started to lose interest and moved onto games like Battlefield and Call Of Duty.  Although I like these games and their newer releases I’ve never played another game as much in my life as I did CS:S.  I find it difficult to say exactly why that is, other than CS:S was just good mindless fun. The game did require a level of skill to do well, unlike more modern games which seem so much easier to play.  

I’ve since moved into next gen and own the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and the Wii (that I never use). I’ve been a gamer all my life so I’ve got to experience games improving as much as they have and really look forward to seeing were they’ll go. I’m not sure how we’ll play games in the future but I hope it doesn’t change too much.  

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The course so far - A quick review

After just having our first assessment, I thought this would be a good time to do a short self-review of how the course has been going so far.

Visual Design
I've always been self conscious and over critical of my drawing and was concerned if I'd be good enough at it at the start of the course. This worry made me determined to get things done and I spent everyday of the first week at the canal drawing. The weather was horrible but I was determined to get it done and I was reasonably pleased with the outcome. As always I felt it could be better.
Canal final

In the weeks that followed we drew; the archway, 2 point perspective, cars, dino bones and Bradgate park.
2 point perspective final
I felt the archway went well and I used most of my thumbnails to decide on a composition for my final and think this process helped me get a nice looking piece.
I really struggled with 2-point perspective and didn't feel like I really grasped it. I found it easier t draw from eye than use lines to guide me. I'm not very happy with my final or my understanding of perspective and want to work on this further.
I wasn't looking forward to drawing cars at all. I thought they would be really difficult, especially as I found perspective on buildings to be so difficult. I was surprised at how much easier I found it than I thought it would be to begin with, but then found myself struggle with it more as I continued to draw them.
Archway final

 I enjoying drawing the dino bones in the museum. I found them easier and more enjoyable to draw than most things we'd done so far and found myself doing the most complicated skeleton there for a final. It took me ages and I redrew it several times but I think the outcome is good.
I don't enjoy drawing environments and find them quite difficult, so Bradgate park was a scary prospect. I found myself focusing on smaller sections to do and putting alot of detail into them and not looking at the larger picture.
Overall I'm not that pleased with my drawing and going by my assessment that's how I probably should feel. I feel my drawings themselves are OK but I just haven't done it enough and I haven't improved as much as I could and should of already. I think I put more effort into the first 2 weeks and this had a positive effect on my drawings and I need to continue that. I want my drawings to improve and need to put more time into doing them.

Game Production - 3D

I really struggled with 3D to begin with as I found 3Ds Max very daunting and confusing. I've been following the projects and despite struggling think I managed to make a good model of a dalek. I found the wheelie bin easier to model but got really confused with UV mapping and unwrapping. I've had experience with making textures before so didn't find that too difficult. I spent alot of time on my texture and think that helped improve the overall look of my model.

I think my understanding of 3ds max is improving and I'm pleased with how my current building project is coming along. I'm not looking forward to unwrapping it but I think once I have properly figured out how to do that I'll be OK in 3D. I'd liked to do some personal projects in 3D to help further my understanding and enjoyment of the software but think its more important to get the coursework done first.

Critical studies

I have a large interest in films, games and artwork and often discuss them with others. Everything is relevant in such a visually based world and industry so I think I could and should expand my blogs into other areas and interests in order to get the best grade possible in Critical studies. 

A history of computer games, part three: 2000s

Modern video game history, from the 2000s till now has been an exciting time, filled with new technology and great games. The Dreamcast, made by Sega, kicked of the 6th generation of consoles. It was one of my favourite consoles but despite early success it didn't do aswell as it could of and ultimately failed due to several reasons. The Dreamcast would be Sega's last console and they left the hardware market after it's release.
Sega Dreamcast

Part of the reason the Dreamcast failed was due to the launch of Sony's next console, the Playstation 2. Followed shortly after by the GameCube by Nintendo. The Playstation 2 did extremely well and still has a loyal following to date, with games still being released and openly traded. The Gamecube, however, wasn't quite as successful. It was Nintendo's first disc-based console but suffered from a reputation of being a console for kids and a lack of more mature games. The Xbox, by Microsoft, was the next console to be released and was Microsoft's first entry into the console market. Microsoft sold the console at a personal loss in order to stay competitive and aimed to regain profits from other areas. Halo was released shortly after the Xbox's launch and really became the underpinning of the console's success. The Halo series would go on to become one of the most successful console shooters of all time and a person favourite of mine.

Xbox - Playstation 2 - Gamecube
From this point on games became more complex and adult-oriented, with most of the succesfful 6th generation games having a rating of T abd M. Big gaming franchies like Halo and Resident Evil did well during this time. Even Nintendo, which was normally aimed towards a younger audience, started publishing more M rated games such as Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime.

Apple iphone
The N-Gage phone was released in 2003 and was Nokia's attempt to make mobile gaming more mainstream in Europe. The N-Gage didn't do very well and was taken off the market. Despite this first fail the mobile gaming market did become more popular and with the development of smartphones and, most notably, the iphone by Apple in 2007, mobile gaming became extremely successful.

After the success of their consoles all 3 big companies, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony entered a console war. Each trying to make a better, faster and more desirable console than each other. Microsoft were the first to kick off the 7th generation of consoles with the launch of the Xbox 360 in 2005. Followed by Sony in 2007 with the Playstation 3. Both consoles were a large technological step forward and were the first consoles to really challange the power of the PC.  Nintendo released their next console, the Wii, shortly after the PS3. The Wii had lower specs than its competition but had the edge of a revolutionary way to play games at home, motion control. The Wii was considered a novelty console by many and avoided by more serious gamers, but since its launch both Microsoft and Sony have released their own versions of motion control, the Kinect and Playstion Move.
Xbox Kinect - Playstation Move - Wii

While this advancement in technology and video gameshas been great for us gamers it hasn't been so great for the people making them. The increased complexity of production has meant a massive rise in the cost of development. This means game companies are struggling to make profits and most, even large well established companies are making huge losses. The industry is rapidly burning money and something has to give. With money so tight companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are holding off on development of new consoles are are instead trying to recoop on current consoles.
The industry has reached a deciding moment where something has to change in order for it to continue. Its difficult to imagine what that might be and how things might change in the future. But gaming has come so far already we would never have imagined what we have now 50 years ago, so we can't know what we might be able to do a few years from now.

What ever it is...I'll be part of it.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Computer Game History - 1980s - 1990s

I think the 1980s - 1990s is a time of great change for video games and the way we play them. Its also the time when I personally got into video games, both on arcade machines an on home console systems.
Arcade machines entered their 'golden age' in 1978 where they started to become much more mainstream and popular. The release of Space Invaders by Taito, was a success that inspired many more companies to enter the market and the arcade industry would continue to be successful and generate lots of money through to 1985.

In the early 1980s a series of cheaper gaming computers were released to rival the success of the Apple II and Commodore PET  which were released in the late 1970s. Included in this new series was my first gaming console - the Sinclair ZX Spectrum! The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was released in the United Kingdom and quickly became the most popular home computer in many areas of Western Europe.

The arrival of the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in 1985 was the beginning of a new era of 16-bit machines. For many people they were too expensive until later on, by which point advancements had caused them to be costly and less efficient than competitors. While the ST and Amiga had many technically good games their life span proved to be shorter than that of 8-bit machines which continued to do well into the 80s and even 90s.

And this leads to the 1990s...a decade when computer games and the systems they run on really improved and advanced! It was the time we moved from raster graphics into 3D and the development of gaming genres such as FPS, RTS and MMOs. The release of the Gameboy in 1989 also led to handheld gaming becoming more popular. As home consoles became more powerful and much more common the market for arcade games and machines declined. Thus creating the important shift from public arcade games to home gaming consoles. 

Home computers and consoles continued to improve throughout the 1990s and with them games became more advanced with more publishers, higher budgets and collaborations with the music and film industries. The years 1989 - 1999 gave birth to the fourth generation consoles a time when I really got into gaming with many of my favourite games coming from this time and sparking a big change in our gaming technology that would continue into the 2000s.

Computer Game History - 1950s - 1970s

During the early 1950s computers were just starting out and were only designed and used for basic functions. While the advancements in computer technology are both important and impressive they weren't used for gaming until the late 1950s.

The first ever video game was created in 1958 by William Higinbotham using an oscilloscope and analog computer. It was called Tennis for Two and was used to entertain visitors at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. It was a simplified version of tennis played from the side were players would try to get a ball over the virtual 'net'. This was the starting point for games and would later be replaced by the similar game Pong. 

Spacewar was created in 1962 at MIT by Steve Russell and a small team of other people. It is widely considered to be the first real computer game made.  It is a two-player game, with each player taking control of a spaceship and attempting to destroy the other made possible by the PDP-1's operating system which was the first to allow multiple users to share the computer at the same time. Spacewar has inspired many other computer games over the years, some of which have the same name. Some games are clones of spacewar but most have introduced additional variations to game play. Spacewar! was also extremely popular in the 1960s and was widely ported to other systems.

Several other games were produced and released during the following years but the next well known and popular game made was Pong. Pong was created by Nolan Bushnell and released as an arcade game in 1972.  In 1975, Atari re-released Pong as a home video game.  Pong quickly became a success and is the first commercially successful video game, which led to the start of the video game industry. Soon after its release, several companies began producing games that copied Pong's game play, and eventually released new types of games. As a result, Atari started to produce other different games. The company released several sequels that built upon the originals game play by adding new features.

In 1977 the industry suffered a 'video game crash'. This led to the manufacturers of older obsolete consoles to sell their systems at a loss to clear stock. This made the market overloaded and caused several companies to abandon their game consoles. The crash was largely caused by the large number of Pong clones that flooded both the arcade and home markets. The crash eventually came to an end with the success of Taito's Space Invaders, released in 1978, kicking off a new rise for the video game industry.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


My name is Luke Evans, I was born in Cardiff South Wales and lived there all my life.
I've been drawing on and off all my life but never took it seriously. 3 years I ago I did a
short inspirational drawing class in the summer and things moved on from there. I moved
 to Derby to do a BTEC 1st in Art & Design and the following year did a Foundation at De

I've known about the Game Art course at De Montfort for a few years and its been my goal
to get here since I found out about it. Everything I've done over the last 3 years have been
stepping stones to get here and not all of it was enjoyable! I've ended up doing a lot of work
I didn't want to do or have interest in but it had to be done and its got me where I want to be.

I don't really have a set goal for the future of where I want to be or what I want to be doing.
I've always felt art was something I should be doing but I've never known what exactly. Now
that I've gotten this far I want to go into the course with an open mind and try everything and
see what I enjoy. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and constantly criticise and doubt my work but I
think this ultimately helps me improve as I can't just settle with something that's 'OK'.

My main goal for this year is to improve. I haven't really been doing this long and I don't think
previous years really prepared me for whats to come. I'm looking forward to all the challenges
the next year is going to through at me and hopefully I'll do alright and still be here this time
next year.