Monday, 11 March 2013

From generalist to specialist

Generalists are adaptable and can take on more than one job, so are suitable for smaller companies as they don't have to employ as many people. Specialists are very good at one singular thing so are better for bigger companies who have more money to spend on quality. I think that as Game Art students, we should be focussing on being BOTH.
For example after doing 2 years of this course, I have decided I would like to go into 3D environments and props because that is what I enjoy the most. However I will still try and hone my skills in the other aspects of the course, such as concept art, characters and vehicles. I would like to be employable to both big and small game companies and not be too specific and picky when I have job interviews. So as well as having a reasonably good knowledge and creating above average work in concept art, characters and vehicles, I will focus mainly on the 3D environments and props that I want to get a job doing. I have a few projects that I have set myself to do over the summer, that I am quite excited about doing, so this should help with my environmental artist goal!

I went on a website called: They had carried out a survey on this website to show the different salaries of each position in the games industry. I thought it was quite interesting so I made a table summarising the results. It's all in dollars, so the wages are probably very different here in England, but I think it paints a good picture of the importance of the different roles.

Job Type
Job Title
Average Starting Salary
Average Salary after 3 Years
Average Salary after 6 Years
Game Programmers
Lead Programmers
Game Artist
Lead Artist
Game Animator
Lead Animator
Game Designers
Lead Designer
Game Producers
Project Lead/Producer
Executive Producer
Quality Assurance
Game Tester
Lead QA
Game Audio
Sound Designer/Engineer

From what I understand, I am already at a disadvantage in the games industry, and that is because I'm English, I live in England and want a job in England. Apparently us English are the most expensive to employ, so with the world as it is at the moment, the chances of me getting a job over someone in a different country is quite slim unfortunately.
I recently read up on a thing called “outsourcing” which is where a company pays people in poorer countries to do the work, because their wage would be a lot lower so it would save the company money. This idea makes me feel a bit sick actually, not only is it taking advantage of countries in poverty but also England is a dying country anyway, the government has screwed everyone over, and we're not even safe trying to get into an industry where you need a degree and a good range of skills to even be considered. It's absolutely pathetic! :(
A good example of outsourcing is the well known flop of a game Aliens: Colonial Marines which was predominantly outsourced, and contained many glitches, errors, unfinished parts and a terrible storyline. With the only gleam of hope being the online levels which weren’t outsourced.
So at the sole benefit of saving money, some companies are willing to risk unhappy customers and terrible reviews:

I think if the companies aren't willing to stop screwing everyone over and taking advantage of cheap labour then it would be worth either working for a smaller company or making your own company with the risk of not even having one of your games published. I'm not sure how my ultimate life dream of becoming a successful member of a games company really fits into this reality.. but I really hope it will! I'm feeling very pessimistic now :/ all I can do is focus on becoming employable by having a good range of skills and have absolute blind luck to get a job!

Interactive Technology

At first, game controllers were very simple, and only consisted of 3 or 4 buttons on a simple pad, or just a joystick, but now there's loads of buttons and analogue sticks etc. The games industry has to keep up to date with it's audiences ever changing needs and wants. Gamers constantly want the latest and most realistic gaming experience to enhance their escapism from reality. This is a little ironic, trying to make it more realistic to be able to escape reality, but that's how it is. One of the current attempts to make games more realistic is having the character move with the player through the medium of controllers (Wii / Playstation Move) and cameras (Xbox Kinect) that sense the players movement. However they haven't brought out any interesting games for this new technology in my opinion, for some reason they have focused it more on children and families, releasing more board game style arcade games which shuns out the proper gamers. I must admit, sometimes I do enjoy playing these brightly coloured mini games, but they get boring very easily.

"Future Controllers"

The consoles themselves have been changed to suite most peoples lives as well, they have been made smaller, sleeker and less noisy, some with the option of changing their colour. 

The Xbox was late starting in the games market, and the first console they released was a big heavy black bulky box with a huge X on the front. It looked very masculine and boring.

Years later the Xbox 360 was released, offering a much nicer thinner design and the ability to play with the console any way up you wanted it, for some reason they only brought out white consoles at this point, possibly to stand out from the other consoles on the market. This console had a removable hard drive in it and memory card slots so that you could store as much game information as you wanted, it also gave the option to take your game saves with you and play on someone else's console. It has 2 USB ports and an Ethernet cable port for connecting to the Internet. There was a lot of problems with the original Xbox 360 though, as a lot of people experienced their console overheating and the “red ring of death”, which meant that there was something wrong with your console and it had given up with life.

A few years later the Xbox 360 Elite was released, which apparently had most of the problems fixed, it included a HDMI cable for better quality visuals, and a much larger hard drive, it was also black like the original Xbox, maybe they realised that most people prefer black as a colour as opposed to white (much easier to keep clean!).

A few more years later, Microsoft released the Xbox Slim, this was a much smaller console, it came with a glossy or matt finish option, it had a built in hard drive, and also built in wireless. It came with 5 USB ports, built in Wifi, and a port for Kinect, the overall console was a lot quieter than the previous models as well. Some people say that this was the console Microsoft wanted to initially release, if they hadn't been rushed to compete with the other console releases.

Soon enough the next generation consoles will be released, most people are excited about this, personally I am not, I am quite happy with my current Xbox and I don't want to have to spend loads of money on a new console so I think it will be quite a few years until I get a new one. Just like with Kinect, I will wait until they've brought out some good games for it first!

The Internet's response to next generation Xbox consoles.
Some people are calling it the Xbox 720, I sincerely hope it isn't actually called that, because that name makes no sense and is stupid. :)

Game Engine Comparisons

Stop having fun and get back to work!! D:

Using the right game engine is an important choice when creating a game, different engines offer a selection of options better suited to certain genres and types of games. I will be comparing Unreal Engine, CryEngine, and the GameByro engine.

Firstly the Unreal Engine:

In my experience this engine is better suited to first-person action / horror games which are overall very dark. The games I have personally played that use Unreal are:
Alice Madness Returns, Army of Two, Batman Arkham City, Borderlands, Destroy All Humans!, Gears of War. A few of these are in my top 20 favourite games, and I have even done reviews on some in the past. So from my experience most of these games are set in dark environments, and offer a creepy edge to the games as (with the exception of Army of Two) there are mutated creatures and nightmarish enemies to fight against. So I would come to the conclusion that the Unreal Engine is better suited for a horror style game. A few more well-known games from that use this engine are:
Bioshock, Tom Clancy games (Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six), Mass Effect, A lot of Kinect games, and of course Unreal games (Unreal, Tournament, Championship, etc)

Here is an example of some game trailers that use the Unreal Engine:

Secondly CryEngine:

I have never actually played any games that use the CryEngine, because they tend to be mainly army themed first-person-shooter games, which don't really interest me. But an example of some of the games that use this engine are: the Far Cry games, the Crysis games, Sniper: ghost warrior, Warface, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, MechWarrior Online, Tour Golf Online, God Slayer.

Here are some trailers of the games that use CryEngine:

Judging from these trailers, games that use CryEngine are mainly first-person-shooter games based outdoors in daytime. So maybe this engine focuses more on natural lighting and movement such as trees blowing in the breeze etc.

Thirdly Gamebyro:

A few of my favourite games use the Gamebyro engine: Bully: Scholarship Edition, Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. These are third person games (with the option of first person for Fallout and Oblivion). There are a few other well-known games that use the GameByro engine such as: Epic Mickey, Ragnarok Online II: Legend of the Second, Catherine.
An example of game trailers that use the GameByro engine:

Technical Shizzlewizzle:
Engine Name
Date Created
Primarily based
Unreal Engine
North Carolina, America
C++, Microsoft DirectX 9/10/11, OpenGL, Android, iOS, Adobe Flash Player 11
Windows Vista/7, Linux, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U
Frankfurt, Germany
DirectX 9/10/11, MMO
Windows 7, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U
North Carolina, America
C++, DirectX 9/10/11, OpenGL
Windows, Linux/Mac OS X, GameCube, Wii, PlayStation 2/3, Xbox/360