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  Despite being outdated I still really enjoy arcades and play them where ever I find them.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.