Thursday, 20 December 2012


Project outline
I would like to be an environment artist, so I would focus a lot on the environment and props if I was making a game. I like the concept of Luminesca, and indie game on PC, it is about a small plankton trying to escape and survive, the overall style of the game is very cartoony but quite beautiful. The little “planktids” are very cute, and I like how you cannot see much as the player, but you have to swim around blind and use your own bodily glow to light the way. 

I would like quite a natural but fantasy environment for my game, so a lot of trees and mountains and maybe I might use the glowing idea from Luminesca.

There will be a main NPC that will give you quests and will be a giant tree, like Harold from Fallout 3, The giant tree from Zelda, and Treant from Dark Cloud.

4500 triangle budget
1x diffuse, specular and normal

A vehicle
Quite beautiful vehicle, a mixute between natural and man-made, pretty like the mounts on Avatar or Majesty 2, but quite sleek and modern.

3500 triangle budget per vehicle
1x512 diffuse, specular and normal per vehicle

An environment
Very larger overgrown plants, glowing mushroom trees, like games such as: Blackreach in Skyrim, Shivering Isles in Oblivion, certain parts of Warcraft 3, The first level in Alice Madness Returns.

As I want to go into environments, this is where my focus will be for the game. The Environment will be very detailed and beautiful

15,000 triangle budget as a whole
1x256 diffuse, specular and normal for each asset

Prop or scenery objects
1500 triangle budget per prop

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Level Design

When playing a game, it would get very annoying and confusing if your character kept bumping into invisible barriers and there wasn't an obvious path to take. The level designer places visible obstacles in the way; such as environmental objects like trees and mountains, or man made objects like locked doors, rubbish piles, and buildings.
Level designers create obstacles in the level to prevent the player from entering a door or just to slow them down. In a lot of Lego games (developed by TT games) the levels are very linear as in you cannot move outside of the set path. However the Lord of the Rings Lego game is more free roaming than the previous Lego games released. 
Like all Lego games the Lord of the Rings game is split up into the levels that follow the actual storyline, (although it cuts out more of the story than the films do) and the free roaming level where the player can walk around all of the different towns and locations in their own time to unlock extra collectables and playable characters.

 I chose to talk about the Lord of the Rings Lego game because it is the most recent and also on a much larger scale than the other Lego games. Lego Batman 2 was reasonably big, but Lego Lord of the Rings is bigger. I enjoy playing Lego console games because they tend to break up the serious fighting parts with puzzles and simple humour to calm the players. The levels are unpredictable and have to be played through again with different characters that can be unlocked in later levels.

A good example of bad level design is Beautiful Katamari, the aim of this game is to roll your Katamari (ball) around a room sticking objects to it, the bigger the ball gets, the bigger things you can stick to it. The downside to this is that a lot of the time the katamari gets stuck in between something or just stuck glitching through a wall and you spend most of the time trying to rotate around the katamari to get it unstuck. The game gets very repetitive and quite annoying especially as if your katamari isn’t big enough by the time limit the king will shout at you and say how pathetic you are. :(

(Or maybe I'm just not good at this game)
Either way, this GIF describes what a game would be like without good level design:


Level design is a precise and technical job concerning the players movement through the level. The layout and placement of moveable and unmoveable objects and the over all duration of the level are some of the main things a level designer is concerned about. 

Other key factors in level designing are:
The genre of game.
The number of people the game is intended for.
Are both teams equally matched?
The difficulty of the level compared to previous and future levels.
The time it takes to complete the level.
The skills that might be required to complete the level.

Once a level designer has been given a brief they can map out the level using basic shapes. Most game engines will easily let level designers great a blueprint of the level without having to start up 3D software. This is so that they can get a rough idea of what works within a level and what doesn't, this is called white-boxing in UDK.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Concepting and Planning


One of the most important processes of designing a game is to concept what you are going to create. It helps to develop an initial idea into something that you can work with regardless of which area of the team you are. 

The most obvious is 3D modellers using artwork from the concept artists to create the models. However the concept artists have to get their ideas from somewhere else, they will collect images and photographs and create mood boards before drawing out their ideas, unless they just doodle ideas from their head. I also feel that games with sequels can be used as concept for the newer games, a good example of this is Skyrim. Most of the Elder Scrolls games have references to the others, Skyrim has books in-game detailing the history of Oblivion and Oblivion has books about Morrowind. 

In a way the old models from Morrowind can be described as concept for Skyrim, as some of the same NPCs and props are used but have been remodelled in Skyrim. Also the different races have been greatly improved.

Personally I am not great at concepting, I generally prefer to draw things from life and find it difficult to create an idea from nothing. I have to do a great deal of planning and collecting imagery before I can create something “unique”.

Planning is the first stage in the creative process of tackling a brief, and the initial brief and final outcome can get messed up if sufficient planning has not been put into place. An important part of planning is knowing what you're going to do and how you're going to do it. Making lists of what I need to do helps me get my work done, although I am not very good at time keeping, and I hear that it's a good skill to have, so I will try and focus on that this year! Some people use timetables to help with their planning, but I feel that the time spent on creating the timetable might overweight the actual project. The final outcome of a project should be obtained by the development of initial ideas. Planning and concepting will help to focus on the initial idea and to not stray off into a random conclusion.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hooray UDK!

I was very frightened to start using UDK because I had never used a game engine before and it looked very difficult to learn. However I gathered up my courage and opened the program, only to find that it instantly crashed my laptop! Hahahaha..oops! 
I then installed it on my PC and it worked completely fine! I quickly learnt the basic process of importing my models, assigning the textures and placing them on my scene and after a few hours, my building and my trash project was fully imported! I spent a bit too much time testing my scene as a level and seeing how my collision boxes worked, by jumping on my bin bags and running up and down the steps, but I was really proud of what I had achieved! 
I didn't actually have any problems when importing my models, the only problems I had was assigning the textures that Blitz had provided on their buildings, because obviously as I hadn't made them, I didn't know which texture went where! I'm not sure if I got all of the textures assigned exactly correctly, but it looked the same so it was close enough! :D

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

What a Rubbish Project! ..Literally XD

This is just a quick update of the first few projects I have done when rejoining the course after summer. We have been given two briefs in Game production set by Blitz game studios. One is to model and texture a scene of a pile of rubbish using either the given reference images or our own images and textures. The other project is to model a building that would fit in between two supplied buildings using our own textures and references.

Here are the final renders of my Trash Project:

I used a different rendering program called “Marmoset Toolbag” for this project, as the renders in 3DS Max don't really look realistic. I was quite pleased with this project as it looks like I imagined, and it was a good introduction back into the course. If I had done this project again I would have made the bin lid a bit more round, but I ran out of triangles because I was a little bit over ambitious with the items I wanted to add to the scene. However other than that I am very happy with what I created.

Here are the final renders of the Environment Task:

For this project I tried to get the textures as close as possible to the existing buildings, which was very difficult but I was quite pleased with what I achieved, I based the style of my building on the existing ones to make it fit as well as possible in the scene. I chose to make my building into a tea shop to add more of a unique focus to it. If I did this project again I would have got round to texturing sooner, because I had a bit of a problem with the normal and alpha maps, but it was all sorted in good time for the deadline!
Now that I am happy with both of these projects, I have to export them together into UDK. I am quite scared about this because I have never used UDK before, I have only ever seen it on other people's screens and it looks very daunting! It's like now that we're reasonably confident with 3D Studio Max, we're presented with an unknown program and thrown into a world of confusion again! AAAARGH! D:

Monday, 5 November 2012

Contemplations and Aspirations

When I first started Year One of my Game Art course I was overwhelmed by the pile of work that kept growing larger week by week, eventually I got into a better frame of mind and kept on top of the amount of work, finishing it to a reasonably good standard. Initially I was really pleased with what I had created in my first few lessons of Game Production, especially my first texturing project - the wheelie bin. Now that I look back to my Game Production work, I feel that it is evident how much I learned and how my skills grew without really realising. I had a few setbacks where I recreated my Transit van and my Gladiator models as they were originally not up to standard, but I am glad I redid them as I can now see where I went wrong. 
I have now learnt to take my camera with me everywhere I go, just in case I see a nice texture or an interesting scene, and since scouring Leicester for wheelie bins and transit vans, I now see them everywhere, including video games!

In Visual Design I learnt to hone my drawing skills by being set new projects almost every week, which mainly made me learn to draw quicker, as I had already learnt about perspectives and life drawing in my foundation art course. I enjoyed going out to different places to draw, my favourite being the National Space Centre, as I have been interested in space since I was young. It was interesting to have a different scene to draw and also a good way to learn where places were in Leicester, as before this course I had never been to Leicester so didn't know where anything was, which is a scary part of being a first year! I think that the main thing that I learnt from my Visual Design lessons was to look at a landscape and to find the best place to “frame” it to draw pictures from, and to not be completely “precious” over all of my work.

The main thing that I enjoyed in Critical Studies was watching films in the afternoon, because we mainly watched psychological thrillers that I wouldn't have watched by myself (I generally don't like gory violent films). The films were really interesting and made you think so broadened your mind a bit more, so I was a bit disappointed when they got cancelled because the DVD player broke and no one could be bothered to bring a laptop in or anything. The rest of Critical Studies was to teach us about the history of games and to help us with our other work by giving us new ideas of things we could reference and base things from. I must admit that I didn't really enjoy Critical Studies as much as the other lessons because I am an art student, I always have been, and I will never enjoy writing. It has taken me a while to get round to writing this blog post actually, I would rather be drawing, sorry! However I don't think I will forget the things I have learnt from Critical Studies so I am glad that it is part of the course.
Ideally I would have liked to have written more blog posts over the summer holidays but I was quite busy making my summer project, swanning off to Germany with my friend from college, and making a Loki costume from scratch!
(My 21st birthday was shortly after the summer holidays, so I wanted to celebrate it in style, by having an Avengers party and going to Drayton Manor!) ^__^
But this year, as my birthday isn't as special I will concentrate more on my blog over the summer.
Here are a few images of my summer project:

I decided to make a Tudor style village featuring a few houses, two horses, a tavern and a house with a water wheel. Ideally if I had more time and a bigger triangle budget, I would have added a small market place with food stalls, and maybe some carts for the horses.

In conclusion the first year was quite challenging, I found that I was out of my comfort zone, I didn't know anyone, I found it difficult living away from home for the first time and having to live with some very inconsiderate people that I really disliked. The course itself was a bit nerve-wracking as well because there was so many new things to learn, scary new programs and feeling stressed about meeting the quality of work of my peers. However I enjoyed it, this is definitely what I want to do, and I got through each challenge I faced, so I can only grow stronger. Every day just gets me closer to my initial goal of being a part of the games industry, and when I look back to what I have achieved in just a year, I feel quite amazing!
I passed the first step, It's a new year, I have a new hair colour and I'm ready to learn, so bring it on! XD

A few things that I would like to achieve this year:

+Learn to doodle quick sketches for visual design concepts
+Be an absolute pro at 3DS Max
  - Get better at unwrapping/texturing 
  - I can bake cakes, but not textures, learn how to bake textures! 
  - Learn to export into UDK 
  - Create more realistic renders 
  - Learn about lighting and shaders
+More blog posts to express what I've learnt and to show off how amazing my work is!! (..haha ¬_¬ )
+Learn how to digitally paint correctly
+Actually do the correct amount of work on time without leaving it to the last minute
+Practice drawing more landscapes
+Push myself out of my comfort zone
  - Use different medias for drawing 
  - Practice different techniques
+Try and enjoy myself!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Thor: God of Thunder Review

Most video games based on films have been very disappointing in my experience, they either lack a good storyline or just copy the film entirely, so there are no surprises if you have previously seen the film. I recently saw The Avengers, (which I fell inlove with and ended up seeing a further 4 more times!) which then prompted me to see the individual Marvel films again. I realised that I actually really liked the Thor film because I really sympathised with Loki’s background story (plus Tom Hiddleston is one of my all time favourite actors). Learning that Tom actually performed most of the narration for the Thor game (along with Chris Hemsworth as the voice of Thor, of course) meant that I had to get the game to try it out!

I have never before been impressed by a game based on a movie before, but from a Game Art point of view, this game is visually beautiful. The realistic feel of the models and the texturing is impressive as the characters actually look like the actors. The game shows a lot more of the layout of Asgard (which I felt was lacking in the film) and also illustrates in great detail the other realms and their inhabitants mentioned in the movie, as they are playable levels.
Although the models look realistic, the animation and overall movement of the characters lets the whole game down tremendously. The movement is not believable at all and makes the characters look really slow. I have been told by friends that this is the case for other games produced by Sega, especially the other Avenger's games. 
The lip syncing also makes the game an unrealistic experience, as although the actors from Thor are used for the voices, the models don’t seem to be saying the words properly. I personally felt that maybe the voices had been recorded in different languages and the same animation had been used for each language, like a badly dubbed film.
The storyline is different from the film and so makes the game more interesting as it explains more about the different realms and the relationship between the main characters. The levels are quite repetitive and the game-play reminds me a lot of Fable 2 as the conflict and controls are very similar. There is also an option to upgrade things like special attacks and the heath meter, once a certain amount of points have been collected, which is similar to many games.

Overall I would give this game a 3 out of 5 because the graphics are excellent and I like that the actors from the film have done the character voices, but the animation and the repetitiveness of the levels let it down. 

Friday, 13 April 2012

Interesting Demolition Pictures

Early last week a local car park down the road from my house got demolished, (one of the most interesting things that has happened in my hometown since I have been alive). I took photos of before and after, but sadly I missed the actual event, lots of people have posted videos of it online and this is the best one that I have found:

These are the photos that I took of before:

And these are the photos that I took after:

I thought that this would be an interesting thing to share, as it isn't every day that a local major landmark is demolished.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Project "Have Fun" ~ Final Outcome

Project "Have Fun" ~ Designs

I started my design process by looking at other games currently on the market to decide what genre of game I will design. I looked at the different colour scheme that each of my chosen games from that genre had:

After much thought I had come to the conclusion that an Online Multiplayer First Person Shooter game for the Xbox 360 would best suit my industrial idea. The concrete works from my photos could serve as either a prop in my level or an actual playable environment. I jotted down a few rough designs to get an idea.
I liked the idea in Design 2, where the concrete building was in the centre and could be accessed as part of the playable area. I also liked how in Design 4, the building was the main focus, and the player was forced to go through the building in order to get to the other team. I couldn't decide between the two so I created a design with both of those ideas:

The concrete works will be just off centre, with rubble and barricades either side, forcing the players to go inside the building in order to fight each other to get points. Each team starts at different ends of the area, surrounded by a fence and some trees to stop players from leaving the playable area. Inside the building itself I was thinking of making it like a maze, so that it actually takes the teams a long time to reach each other. However this may detract from the purpose of the game, which is to kill off as many of the other team as possible in the time limit. 

From this design I then created a clearer design, (so not just me can understand the design) it is still quite basic, but I have a general idea of where I would like things to be in my level.

Hopefully this design should show off my ideas more clearly! Having three playable floors to my level design should be a lot more interesting to play. The team on the left must go up the stairs into the building, find their way through all of the rooms and corridors, go up a set of stairs and then proceed down the concrete chute to the other teams' area. The team on the right have to make their way up the concrete chute, down the stairs, though all of the rooms and down some more stairs to get to the other teams' area. Either way, both teams will probably meet up in the central part of the building, which is why I added so many different rooms to this part, so there are more hiding places and barricades to take cover under.