Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Gamescom 2013 Review ^__^

So this was the first games convention I have ever been to, so I thought I would do a review. As I absolutely love dressing up, I decided to dress as Harley Quinn from Batman: Arkham City (Harley Quinn's revenge DLC), and my boyfriend dressed as The Riddler, also from Arkham City.

On the reasonably tiresome walk from the train station to Koelnmesse (where Gamescom is held) I overheard a woman saying that she comes here every year and this is the busiest she had ever seen it. 
In a way, hearing this filled me with a bit of dread, I generally don't like lots of people, especially thousands and thousands of them, even more so that I couldn't see many of them dressed up. I could see a handful of people dressed as anime characters (possibly, I don't know as I'm not really interested in anime, so I couldn't recognise who they were supposed to be!) However, as soon as we got into the first hall, with all the brightly lit up game banners, loud music and so many interesting things to look at in all directions, I knew that this was definitely what I had imagined a game convention to be like, it was overwhelming.

There are some very exciting game titles coming out this year including: Thief, Fable Legends, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Grand Theft Auto 5, The Sims 4, Titalfall, WWE 2K14 and last but not least Elder Scrolls Online. Not forgetting a sneak peak into the next generation consoles as well of course!
Some of the upcoming titles that I am personally looking forward to are:
Batman: Arkham Origins, Saints Row 4, and Lego Marvel Superheroes - and I got to play all three!

Batman: Arkham Origins
The graphics on this game looked even more spectacular than before, if that's even possible. I was already quite enthusiastic to play this game as me and my boyfriend got to skip the queue, as we were dressed as characters from the previous Batman game released. :D We even appeared on the official Batman: Arkham Origins webpage ( amongst other Batman Cosplayers, but our outfits were clearly the best.. The game itself is quite similar to Arkham Asylum and Arkham City as it is a prequel so the controls are the same, there are some new gadgets and obviously a different storyline, but other than that it doesn't seem that much has changed from the last game. This however isn't in any way a bad thing, as the Batman Arkham games are very well made and an interesting play.

Saints Row 4
Another Saints Row title! Amazing. In my opinion Saints Row has always had what the Grand Theft Auto games have lacked over the years. - Saints Row is purely for fun, yes it's ridiculous, but it's also brilliant! Sometimes you just feel like dressing your overly-musculer male gangster character in a small pink cocktail dress and catapulting people out of a cannon that's attached to a car shaped like a cat, or equally, hitting the general public with a ludicrously phallic looking weapon. So ultimately I am super excited for this game! Having had the opportunity to play this at Gamescom, I found that it looks and plays just like Saints Row 3, which is disappointing in a way, as there hasn’t been much improvement...except the fact that you now have SUPERPOWERS! Awesome idea! You can run super fast and jump the height of buildings, it's so cool! I also really loved the addition of the Dubstep Gun, and the Black-hole Gun, both are as the titles describe, and are both just fantastic. I will definitely be buying this in the next few days.

Lego Marvel Superheroes
Lego and superheroes, what could be better? I am definitely a huge fan of the previous Lego games, and a huge Marvel fan, especially the Avengers, so I am really looking forward to this title. Ok, I know it could be argued that Lego games are pretty much all the same, but with different characters in, but Lego games are great, there is absolutely no need to change them! In my short play-through of this particular title, I was controlling Thor, Wolverine, The Human Torch and Captain America and our little team had to save Thor's home-world of Asgard from the invading Frost Giants who were invited in by Loki. I'm a little bit disappointed that they didn't use Tom Hiddleston to voice Loki, I am a bit of a fan girl for Tom Hiddleston and I'm sure he would have been up for recording his voice for it! (he did for instance do most of the narration for the Thor game.) But I digress.. The gameplay was very similar to the previous Lego games, except now with the introduction of superheroes a lot more abilities are available, (like with Lego Batman 2) this will probably be a bit confusing with all of the different characters at first, but I'm sure I will get used to it!

The whole experience of Gamescom was overwhelming in a great way, there were some amazing live bands promoting various games, loads of cosplayers dressed as characters from games, films and anime. 
There were loads of people wanting to take photos of us as well which was fantastic as they recognised who we were supposed to be! I would love to find some of the photos people took with us, but I've had no luck yet unfortunately! We also found the Saints Flow Can guy! Yayy! <3

So all in all, I would definitely go again, I really enjoyed myself, I loved dressing up and I loved getting the opportunity to play games before they are released to the public. 

Here's some of the swag that me and my boyfriend got from the convention. :)

Self Set Summer Project 1 ~ Joker’s Hideout [Post 4]

Where has the time gone?! I have had too many distractions, all I wanted to do this summer was to get this project out of the way, and maybe do another self set project afterwards. 
I managed to finish the 5 Visual Design projects that I was set, before the deadline, so I had enough time to prepare myself for my holiday to Germany which I have had planned for months. 
I went to Gamescom, dressed up as Harley Quinn, acted like a complete loon and had a fantastic time! XD But now FINALLY back to this project!! 
I wanted to get my Joker project finished before going to Germany, but recovering from my laser eye surgery and having 5 extra projects piled on top of me got in the way of me progressing as quickly as I planned.

Having a look over my level, I realised that I have mainly concentrated on the factory and maybe wasted my time a bit with lighting etc, that can be done after everything is built. 
I decided to concentrate on the sweet shop, as I hadn't done anything for this, and this is supposed to be the starting area. So I started building the walls and a few of the bigger assets that would be needed, like a display counter and some barrels filled with sweets. Soon enough, once I had made the textures, it started to look like a sweet shop. 

I decided to use the purple and green colour scheme to hint at The Joker, and I wanted to add a few signs around the place as additional hints. (e.g “Service with a Smile!”) 
The floor tiles are supposed to look like chocolate, and I think I succeeded quite well with this, but once I have made a normal and a specular map for this, I think it will look a lot better.

On the back wall, I was considering making a large Joker face that vomits out sweets, a bit like the one from Harry Potter, in the Wesley's shop, but a bit more creepy. I'm not sure if I would actually animate the flow of sweets to look like they are being vomited out, or to just have it stationary. 
Obviously it would be easier to have it stationary, but I could probably figure out how to make it animated, (like the glowing beakers in the science room of my group project level.)

I created the bags of sweets by taking photos of some sweets I had at home, the bags of strawberry laces look a bit like actual hearts in my opinion, but maybe that's OK as it adds to the unusualness of the level. I will keep the sweets as they are for now and if I have some spare time at the end, I might change them. There is still a few things in this room that needs addressing, like the windows and the texture on the ceiling and the jars of sweets on the counter, but other than that everything is looking as I expected it to. Some more sweets and signs need to be added and possibly the giant Joker head that I mentioned before, but overall I am quite happy with how this room is.

I am glad that I can get on with this project again, as I was feeling a bit annoyed that I had to abandon it for a while.

Friday, 19 July 2013


My eyes have just about healed from my operation now, which is why I haven't posted on here in a while. They have been incredibly sensitive to light and even with the brightness turned down fully on my computer monitor, I still had to wear sunglasses in order to see without squinting! I am a lot better now, I am off my medicated eye drops and only have to use the “fake tears” drops when my eyes go dry. The only remnants of the surgery is a blood splodge on each eye where the “hinge” of my lense was and a semi-circle of pink under my eyelids from the machinery. 

I think I underestimated how much time I would need to get over my operation, I thought I would be OK the day after and I wasn't worried at all, so I had the operation the day before my parents went on holiday. My boyfriend had to stay with me for about a week to look after me instead as I kept walking into and tripping over things, I felt like such an invalid! 
The operation itself was pretty traumatic, I don't actually think I have been so terrified in my life, as I am generally quite brave when it comes to medical things. I went blind for a few seconds which scared the hell out of me and then once I could see again, everything was incredibly blurry (this must have been when my lenses were removed) so I didn't know what was going on. I was then asked to stare at what I can only describe as a load of miniature disco rave lights, and I could hear a loud ticking noise and smell burning. Once that was over my lense was obviously replaced as I could see a bit better than before and noticed a plastic trowel type tool being scraped over my eyeballs. Once that was done, it was all over, I must have only been in there for about 2 minutes, but it was horrible! 

I am definitely glad I went through that though as I CAN FINALLY SEE!! 
This will last me for the rest of my life until I get properly old and my vision deteriorates like everyone else's. I have wanted laser eye surgery since I first heard about it when I was in my early teens, I have had bad eyes since I was very little and it has always been an annoyance, but now I am finally normal! (sort of...) I am very happy with my vision now, and I would definitely recommend the operation to other's with bad eyes. It is very scary when it's happening but it's only for a few minutes and you don't even feel anything because of the anaesthetic eye drops. 
So yes, I am happy so EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!

Aaaanyway.. unfortunately I have had to postpone my Joker's Hideout project because of my surgery and I will have to postpone it further as I have been set some Visual Design projects to do. I'm not very happy about this as I would much rather teach myself more about UDK and I hate that I have missed my self set deadline but I HAVE to do these projects. I will definitely carry on with my Joker Project in the near future, once I have got these additional projects out of the way.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Self Set Summer Project 1 ~ Joker’s Hideout [Post 3]

So I'm back from my holiday now, I had a great time, but now it's back to work before I have my eye operation! I have made a few more assets for my level, but the most important thing that I had to sort out was the floor. I was using the existing UDK floor in my level, meaning that the vent couldn’t be crawled through as it went underground. I decided that I would make separate floor pieces for each room, as I may want a different texture on each of them. I made a new floor just for the factory, and just applied my basic tileable dirt texture to it to get an idea of what it would look like. I would like to create a concrete or slab flooring for this room eventually. 

After I made the floor in the factory, I played through my level to test it and found out that now every time I tried to crawl through the vent, I would automatically die. I thought that this might be a glitch with my flooring, or maybe the collision boxes, but I managed to solve the problem by selecting everything and moving it up. I figured out that as the vent was lower than the floor, UDK was seeing it as the player had fallen off the edge rather than crawling through a vent. So I have learnt that the player cannot go down past a certain point so things should be made above the default floor, this may be able to be changed through one of the menus, but I'm glad that I figured this out.

Most of the new assets I created are various parts of machinery just for the factory. The factory is my main focus at the moment, but I will make a few assets for the sweet shop soon. I experimented a lot with lighting on the machinery, and I would like to make some kind of animation of liquid chocolate or sweets being transported in the pipes of the machines. 

I have put some basic walls in to get an idea of the size and scale of the rooms. I will match up the textures later on, but I think I have a good idea of what it will look like and the amount of assets I will have to add to it to get the look I am going for.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Self Set Summer Project 1 ~ Joker’s Hideout [Post 2]

I designed a few layouts for the level, deciding on which rooms I wanted to make, and decided on having a small shop at the front which will be the starting point, leading into a corridor where most of the doors will be locked, maybe you can see something creepy through some of the doors. Then the one room you can get in, the door will be locked or covered in rubble so you cant get through any further, but there will be a hole in the floor that you fall down into a vent, you crawl through the vent and end up in the main factory. The factory will be full of weird machinery making sweets, and they will have faces on them and a purple and green colour scheme.

Using my floor plan, I make a basic block out on 3DS Max and then started making separate walls from this. One thing that I wanted to make in my group project was a vent that connected two of the rooms together, that had to be crawled through. But I didn't have a lot of time to figure this out before. However for this project, I made it a priority for one of the days, I now have a working crawl space to get into the factory. 
Once I had made this I realised that it is quite similar to the vents on Arkham Asylum/City, but this wasn't intentional. It took me a while to figure out how to make the player actually crouch on UDK, I didn't have to enable this feature on my group project as I was only building things on there. Eventually I found out that the game mode had to be changed in one of the many menus, but it wasn't an easy find as I didn't know the exact words or phrase to be searching on Google.

Using the existing design from the Batman Vault book, I modelled the “chocolate machine” and started texturing it with a basic tileable metal texture and a separate texture for the features. I will make the additional pipes and metal poles when I am happy with the walls and overall space that the machine will need to fit into.

I made a few designs for other machinery that could be in the factory part of the level – as this will be the main focal point. I wanted to reflect the real-life machinery that would be in a sweet factory, so these designs are for ovens that conveyor belts will go through to transport the sweets and heat them. I don't think that all of the machinery will have faces on, but I decided that an oven might be quite a creepy thing to have a face on.

It could be turned into an Adam West Batman style trap where Batman is captured, tied up onto the very end of conveyor belt, left in the room on his own and just as he’s about to get cooked alive, he escapes using a ridiculous gadget that he just happened to be carrying on that day.

So far I have made most of the walls, the crawl-able vent, the chocolate machine, the oven without conveyor belt, a tileable brick texture, a tileable metal texture, a tileable dirt texture, and a texture for the chocolate machine. I think I am working at an ok pace, I don't have a lot of rooms to do so I should get it finished by the time limit.
However, I have just found out that I am suitable for laser eye surgery and am having the operation on 5th July, so I may not be able to work around this time unfortunately as my eyes will hurt a lot! I may have to extend my set deadline because of this, but I will try and work harder before the surgery!
eye drops are weird :/

Monday, 3 June 2013

Self Set Summer Project 1 ~ Joker’s Hideout [Post 1]

I absolutely love Batman, the films are some of my top favourites (except the George Clooney one, but that is entertaining in its own way), the Arkham Asylum, Arkham City and Lego Batman games are amazing, and I still love watching the old cartoon series and Adam West Batman series. So I decided that as a project to do over the summer, I would design and make my own playable level building that would fit in the Batman universe. I think that I will use the dark, dingy style that is in the most recent films and games, with possible hints back to the Tim Burton style in the late 80s/early 90s Batman films.

This is a more stylised project so I’m hoping that it will reflect my creativity and ability to keep to a theme, I will be using 3D Studio Max 2013, Photoshop CS2, and the Unreal Development Kit. 
I’m giving myself 5 weeks for this project, I will create all of my own concept designs, layouts, assets, textures, and put it all in UDK myself. My final “hand in” date will be Monday 8th July and I will be using my blog as a design document. I have one holiday booked in this time, between 17th and 20th June, but that is my only expected distraction.

I had the idea to make an overly Americanised sweet factory, sort of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque, but as a hideout for the villains Joker and Harley Quinn. A lot of Joker’s hideouts are set in abandoned theme parks and chemical factories, I found some concept drawings of a possible hideout made from a sweet factory in The Batman Vault book (Robert Greenberger, Matthew Manning). But there were only a few basic drawings, and they were used for the cartoon series Batman Beyond which from my memory didn’t show a lot of detail in Joker’s hideout. I may use these concept sketches as a starting point, the outside drawing was used in the cartoon, but was changed quite a bit.

After doing a bit of research I found that a lot of sweet factories have large machinery with big metal tubes and conveyor belts leading into large ovens or metal vats. There are production lines of workers making, decorating and wrapping individual sweets. A lot of the results of my search ended up being sweet shops rather than factories, so I think I will need to include a shop at the front of the factory.