Saturday, 29 October 2011

The History of Games 80's to 90's

When most people think about 1980’s they automatically think about the music and fashion scene which admittedly is a good place to start. As decades go, the 80’s sounds like a scary one full of nuclear warnings, the cold war, the Faulkland war, and strikes. House interiors were brown and grey, and mobile phones cost £2000! But it was a good time for the growth of computer technology. The music of the 80’s even started using computer technology to create unusual sounds and affects which gave birth to Electro music. 
The main technology advance was the move from arcades to home computing, consoles and computer systems such as the Coleco Telsar, the Mattel intellivision, and the Atari 5200 were brought out and surprisingly aimed at the adult audience. It seemed that video games were never intended for children to play with (which means that people have no right to tell me to grow up!) Unfortunately in 1983 everything went wrong, the end of the U.S dominance over the computing industry began, there was an oversupply of different consoles and home computers (many being dead on arrival) which lead to the bankruptcy of a lot of companies. Arcade games were becoming less popular as well; people could play the same games in the comfort of their own homes without needing the correct change! One console that survived the American game crash was the Atari 7800 featuring proper characters, colour display and games from still well-known companies Activision and EA games. The big change in the game industry was the sudden move from second to third generation gaming so companies that are still producing popular games today were just starting out. 

In 1989 the Berlin wall came down and Nintendo released their first Gameboy, I love the quote from their original advert: “You don’t stop playing when you get old, but you will get old if you stop playing” I think that this means if you stop playing the games, you will be out of touch with technology and feel old as technology is advancing so quickly. I think this is evident with my parents, my dad has kept up to date with technology and even shows me new things, but I have had to teach my mum a few things like how to use eBay etc! However neither of them are up to date with the games industry and were quite surprised when I told them I wanted to pursue a career in it!
I feel that the 80's was an important decade for gaming as it started the growth in popularity of consoles however the quality of the games were still nowhere near as good as today.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The History of Games 50's to 70's

Video games were founded on the invention of computers and there has been some conflicting information over who invented the first game, some would say that the first game invented was Pong, others would argue that it was Spacewar! created in 1962, and if you would count an oscilloscope as a computer, then the 1958 Tennis for Two game would be your first choice. Personally, being born in the early 90’s I was quite surprised to find that games hadn’t been around before the 1950’s and had improved in such a short time. Admittedly the graphics in the original games are incomparable to current games on the market, but the advance in technology is astounding! 
Computers were developed by the military to enhance communication and weaponry, the development of using a computer for entertainment was just a fluke; After-all Spacewar! was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology just to show what the PDP-1 computing machine was capable of. Original computers were the size of a small shop and required tapes to store information on, looking back at some of the old pictures of the computers I personally feel like I would like to see one fully working. 
I feel quite intrigued on how a big boxy keyboard with a cassette tape player that plugged into a television is even capable of displaying a virtual game that you can control. Computers of today would never have been a thought before the cathode-ray tube was invented and patented in 1948 by the U.S (which was a vacuum that allowed electrons to pass through to a fluorescent screen to produce an image) so I think that is worth a mention! In 1966 Ralph Baer created the first video game using a television screen and a handheld gun controller named “Chase”, which was made available to the public thanks to a company called Magnavox who packaged the whole thing together and sold it as the “Magnavox Odyssey” console. In 1972 Atari was founded by Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell, and they released the first coin-operated arcade game. Overall, I think that arcade games started the idea of playing games for fun in the early 1970’s, but I don’t feel that the creator’s of these games would have even dreamt how much games have grown in quality and popularity over the years. From just the invention of computers, billions of games have been created making people spend hours of their lives playing them and even inspiring people to want to be a part of creating them. After all, look how upset this boy gets over his Xbox! If that isn't someone affected by games, I don't know what is! :3

Here is a boring timeline about games/consoles, yay!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Visual Design

Oh dear, I think I am a little behind with writing stuff on here -__-‘ I will do my best to catch up though! It is a bit difficult I suppose as I’m really not used to writing a blog. OK, so I will write about my first proper Visual Design lesson. 
Here we were set the task of creating many little sketches of the local river and a large A3 final drawing. I found the perspective side a bit difficult as I haven’t done about perspectives since AS level Art (3 years ago) so it took me quite a while to create something that looked remotely like a river. After a few days of traipsing back and forth from my uni accommodation to the river, I found that I had got a hang of one-point perspective and I was actually quite proud at what I had achieved, I finished my final piece for the next visual design lesson. 

However as I don’t know how our work is marked I expected to hand in my sketchbook like I had done in my foundation course to receive feedback. We just went straight on to drawing an arch and I found this a little unusual because of what I have been used to in my past education, I don’t really know how you could prove that everyone has done the work on time. Anyway the arch was quite a challenge to draw because it wasn’t clear at first where the horizon line was and the vanishing point appeared to be through a wall! I was glad that we had started with something easier like the river and then moved onto the arch, as there was a lot of detail in the arch itself, let alone all of the trees and the cobbled road surrounding it, so I was glad to have had some practice with perspective first. 

After this I realised that maybe we aren’t handing in our work after each project so that it will be apparent on how we have improved with the different techniques at the end of the term as we will probably be given more difficult tasks each week. I was a little disappointed however with the summer project as a lot of people had put great amounts of effort into their work and it was explained on the sheet we were given to be an “introductory project” so I assumed that we would present or discuss what we had made with the class, as like an ice breaker.
Instead we just sat their with our work and then put it on a table and didn’t discuss it further. I had been stressing a little to finish this project as I had received the brief the day before I went to New Zealand for 2 weeks (3 weeks before the uni term started!) so really I only had to a week to create my paper project. I portrayed what the highlights of New Zealand were for me out of card, including the kiwi bird, the Punakaiki (pancake) rocks, their amusing road signs, (including a platform 9 ¾ sign at the train station!) Sauron’s armour at the Weta Cave, Hokey-Pokey ice-cream, the little one-storey houses that everyone lived in, Hooka falls, and the pretty maori tattoos and symbols etc.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Boring info about me! ^__^

Argh! I only just realised that there were specific questions to be answered, so here is some information about me that hopefully answer all of the questions!

My name is Samantha Lees, I don’t particularly like my name (as people tend to shorten it down to Sam. Sam is a boys name) so I prefer to be called Maffy (which is what I used to call myself when I was younger and couldn’t pronounce my own name!) I am 5”4ish, have blue eyes and long purple hair (naturally dark brown).
I come from Stourbridge (the dying town!) which is the other side of Birmingham and most famous for making glass, although there is hardly any glass being made there now, it’s more famous for charity shops and chavs! Yay! … :S
I chose this course as I have always wanted to work in the games industry ever since I was very young and first played on Banjo Kazooe on my N64, I’ve always wondered how the games were made and grew up trying to make my characters glitch out of the maps just so I could work out the construction of the levels.
Another positive of this course is that it is only an hour and a half away from my hometown, and as I have a long-term boyfriend, he can come and visit me every weekend! (and also I can go home if I’ve forgotten to bring anything!) Finally the biggest reason for me to study this course is that it is Skillset approved, and I had previously done a lot of research into which courses would make me look better in the eyes of the games industry :P 

My main ambition for this year is to make it to year 2 I guess! Haha.. I would like to make friends with more of my peers, but there is a lot of people in my class so I know that it won’t be like the foundation art course that I have most recently done, as there was only 10 of us specialising in Digital Applications so we were all good friends.

My interests other than my lovely Xbox and my boyfriend consist of going to concerts and festivals, I love metal music, Avenged Sevenfold is my favourite band and I’ve seen them once at Birmingham NIA and once and the Download Festival, although I must admit I prefer concerts over festivals as they are a lot less violent and I don’t end up looking like I’ve had a domestic! :D I have seen many other good bands most recently including Iron Maiden. 
I’ve also seen a few comedy acts including Ross Noble, Jimmy Carr and Lee Evans, which were fun! I like travelling to new places, I've been to a lot of different countries, my favourites being China, New Zealand, Norway and Finland, and my Grandad lives in Spain, so I've been there loads of times. 
I also actually like working! :O I don’t currently have a job but I’ve loved my previous jobs! I’ve volunteered for two local charities to get some experience and the people I worked with were lovely. I worked as Christmas staff for my local Gamestation last Christmas and more recently worked for a small company called Battlestorm HQ which is an indoor army-themed laser combat arena with replica P90 and M97 guns but I had to leave there to come to university, I will still go there to play though! Yay shooting children with lasers!

I guess I don’t really have a dream job title that I would want to be, I know that I don’t want to be a concept artist and definitely not a coder, but I definitely want to be in the games industry (and not in the retail side, as much as I loved working in Gamestation, it’s not really a dream job) so I will probably just carry on learning new skills until I realise what I am particularly good at and then try and get a job in that area. I think I have picked up using 3DSMax quite quickly, so maybe I am destined to be a 3D artist? At the present I don’t know. But here is a picture of a cat that is clearly Batman.
 That is all.

Monday, 10 October 2011


Hello and welcome to my first blog. (Yes I’ve never done one before, so bear with me!) Here I will portray what I have learnt during my 3 year BA (Hons) Game Art degree and share my feelings about how I have progressed.

Ok, so where shall I start? I am in quite a large class which is very daunting for me as I am quite a nervous person when introduced to new people, but hopefully I will get to know people a lot better! In our first proper lesson we learnt how to create a simple church in 3D Studio Max, I thought this was brilliant as we didn’t have any of those boring “ok so this is the start button” tutorials, we were just shown how to create the church and then were left to our own devises with this scary scary program! (I am a kinaesthetic learner so this suited me fine!) I seemed to pick up how to use the program very quickly and I was very impressed with the final outcome:

However, then we were set the “homework” task of creating a Dalek with no proper instructions rather than how many triangles it must be etc (no step by step instructions!) I managed to create the lower body on my own but then I got stuck on the neck and head, as I didn’t know if and how to piece different shapes together, after-all the church project was the first time I had used this program and I had previously tried to teach myself Blender which just resulted in a blob! This was another situation where my social skills failed me, I asked for help on my Game Art Facebook account and was told that the second years would answer our questions if we went into the labs. So I forced myself to go in, only to be faced by more people that I’d never met before, argh! In the end I unwillingly managed to ask for help in person and got my Dalek finished to a good standard.

You're probably bored to death if you read all of that, sorry! :p