Sunday, 14 December 2008

Week 11 - Gameplay

One of the important aspects of gameplay is user interface. Although it may look extremely complex at first, with various options and tools in front of you just as you start, it is learnable and the player gradually gets used to it. Take Eve Online for example. The user interface is extremely complex, however but one is introduced to elements slowly though the tutorial, and gradually gets used to it by trying out different things. By finally understanding the complex user interface, the user is able to do many different things in the game. However, clunky interfaces causes the game difficult to manage and run, thus draining the fun. Players do not want to have trouble controlling characters, perform basic tasks, or deal with the UI that is not very clear or responsive.

One thing I think games need to avoid is oversimplication. A game should not be so simple that it leaves the players bored and disappointment. The first example that comes to mind is Spore. I loved it so much at the beginning, controlling my sea creature was so much fun but then it gradually become more and more tedious for me. I just didn’t want to touch it after awhile.

Gameplay elements should be considered. There should be several in order to allow for more things for the player to do. At the start, I would not want to be completely overwhelmed, so I would not expect everything to hit me all at once. How the player would respond to the game, especially psychologically, should be taken into consideration while designing the gameplay.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Week 10 - Characters


I love characters. When I read a book, watch TV series or play a game that has a storyline, one of the most important things that keeps me going is a favourite character within the story. I like loveable characters whom I cam empathize with, with likeable character traits. For instance, while it's possible to empathize with Tidus from Final Fantasy X, he whines way too much and is difficult to like. I have to enjoy “being with” the character. This means that, in games, I prefer characters in third-person so that I can see the overall situation around them, watch their expressions and their reactions to different situations, instead of in first-person where I become the character myself.

If there is no loveable character in the story, then I may lose interest. I am currently watching a TV series where there is an amazing character at the start, but then his screen time becomes less and less, and I ended up getting a little… bored with the series! However he has returned and has become more epic than ever.

Normally, if there are more than one protagonists, I would prefer the weaker character, especially if they have suffered some sort of misfortune in the past. As I mentioned above, I like to sympathise with my characters and watch them behave and deal with the world they are in, watch them grow and develop, and see where they end up at the very end. So in storylines, it is those type of characters that feel more human and realistic than the annoying good-at-everything perfect character.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Week 9 - Game technology

In the beginning, games consoles and controllers had extremely boxy angular shapes, like many other things during those times (buildings, vehicles, etc). They were made so that they “did the job”. Take the Atari 2600 controller for example. Being one of the first joysticks made, it was extremely awkward to use and heavy, with only 8 directions.

In 1985 there came the Nintendo Entertainment System. Still brick-like, but I sort of begin to associate it with some of today’s consoles. Thanks to the NES control, the games industry revitalized and took a big step forward.

6 years later, Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Its technology improved vastly, as did its appearance, with a some curvy shapes on both the controller and the console.

Now, we have the sleek and sexy designs of the PS3 and Xbox 360. They are great to look at, I frequently drool over them at game shops, and the controls are made to be more comfortable to hold and use.

Makes me wonder what game consoles will look like in 10 years time...

My first ever console was the Game Boy Colour, which I received as a gift from my parents for passing the entrance exam into a good secondary school. If that hadn’t happened, then I would probably not have had a console at all until less than 2 years ago when I got my PS2. When playing, I prefer holding the Xbox 360 control because it is extremely curvy and my hands fit comfortably around it.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Some final pieces

Some finals: 2-Point-Perspective, Abbey Park and Space Station.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Note to self: do not eat

Final version of my organic character. Not cute anymore, heh...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Week 8 - storyline in games

Normally I play games for the storyline, but if I want to experience something fun and exciting, I would probably go for a good beat-’em-up game like Tekken 5 or Mortal Kombat, or a puzzle game like Portal.

Another game I enjoy is Dynasty Warriors. Koei based the Dynasty Warriors series on real historical events, a clever way to tell a great storyline from all the different playable characters’ point of view, and at the same time give players a fun and adventurous way of learning history of the Three Kingdoms in 3rd Century China! My favourite game at the moment is “Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI” by the same company. It is similar to the Dynasty Warrior games, however it is an exciting turn-based strategy game. And of course, being a strategy game, you have complete control over your people and your cities, allowing you to take control of your own events in parallel with the historical events during the game. Now I find this extremely interesting, weird and rather shocking sometimes because it means that I can change history… (in the game only of course)! It’s so strange thinking that had I not executed this one general, he would never have introduced the other general, which would NEVER have led to this famous battle of whatever, or had I released those prisoners AFTER whichever important events, would the historical events after that ever happen? The “storyline” and the way it lets you choose your paths in this game really makes me wonder… History is full of big “WHAT IF”s, and this game really makes me think.

I was pretty shocked when I executed an extremely righteous general (on the enemy side) and kicked the Emperor off the throne to crown myself, thus ending an entire dynasty and starting a new one of my own…

Right, enough fangirling from me…

In general, if the game has a storyline, then it should be strong and engaging, with interesting characters, preferably a loveable one! If I dislike the characters then I probably would not enjoy the storyline as much. I would like the characters to be intelligent and be involved in a complex and intelligent storyline with interesting twists. To me, a great storyline also evokes a lot of emotion to make me feel like I am completely part of it myself. A good example is Final Fantasy VII.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Watching it grow...

Developed my organic character a bit more:

Final one below perhaps? We'll see.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Week 7 - Art Director

In companies that involve team work, an influential group leader is always required, and in professional game companies it is the art director. The job of the art director is crucial in making visual side of the game effective, stylish and successful. Along with exceptional artistic abilities, they must also possess great leadership and communicative skills in order to manage and inspire a team. They come up with the initial ideas to motivate the artists, but at the same time their work is to supervise the group. When the work is done, they are the ones who “mark” the project to make sure that all the work is up to their expectation. They plan out all the objects in the environment, all the props, the character, and assure that the entire visual design of it is exactly how they had planned it.

Art directors communicate with other leaders like the Art Manager and make sure the projects are on track. They carry huge responsibilities such as managing projects, time and budgets, etc.

At this stage, I personally would not think about wanting to become an art director as I like to be able to work on projects and be extremely close to the artistic side of it. Many years of experience may alter my decisions, however. Who knows what the future holds?

Monday, 17 November 2008

My organic character, Spronion...

My organic character is extremely surreal...

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Weeks 1 to 6 (from old Blog)

Well here are my old posts from my previous Blog, from Week 1 to Week 6:

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Week 6 - Gameplay and game design

It annoys me no end when someone says to me, “I refuse to play that game because the graphics is so old!” A good game isn’t just about graphics! For me, it’s mainly the gameplay and storyline, how the game was designed, including the rules and the action of the character you are controlling. It is how the player interacts with the game. A game with a good gameplay will attract my attention far more than a mediocre game with pretty graphics.

Back in the old days, the job of the Level Designer was to, well, design the different levels of a game. These different levels were obvious to the player, with each one being harder than the last. An entire game could be created by just one person. However, in modern games the levels of difficulties are much more subtle. They are usually intertwined within the story. Games became more complex, requiring more people with a wider range of skills to work together and produce a game.

When playing a role-play-game, I like the feeling of being involved with the storyline, allowing me to take control by choosing my own destiny (an example is Knights of the Old Republic where the player can choose to be on the “light“ or “dark“ side). Letting the player choose different tactics and options makes the game and its storyline a lot more engaging, as though I am part of it. Instead of progressing through the game linearly, different endings depending on your steps and choices throughout the game is another feature which I enjoy.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

I think I'm getting addicted to this program...

I think I'm getting addicted to this program...

Thursday, 30 October 2008

I hope your eyes won't bleed so much this time...

I remembered what Heather taught us about the 3D church so I thought I'd give it a go:

Went on and made a house:

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

My first low-poly character... beware of ugliness

I did this back in August during the summer holidays, before university began.

It looks so, so HIDEOUS, but it was actually really fun...

I take no responsibility if your eyes start bleeding from looking at it.

And here's a random hourglass I made:

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Week 4 - Game reviews

I’ve never really been much of a review reader. I have occasionally picked up game magazines every time I walk into WHSmiths, flicking through the glossy pages and pausing every few minutes to skim-read one or two reviews that are accompanied by a pretty promotional art from the game. But most of the time, if I really need to find out what a game is about before buying it I’d go on a website (such as and look them up, but to be honest they were not so helpful. So when I discovered New Game Journalism a few days ago I was surprised to see new this style of game writing. After reading some NGJ reviews, such as “Shoot Club“, I liked the way that it was all opinion-based, told in a very casual, story-like way, with the language more colloquial, rather than the previous reviews I’ve read where the writer almost forces his own “facts” into the reader’s mind. I can read the reviews and keep in mind that these are all people’s personal tastes, so reading a wider range of reviews may be able to help me come to a better conclusion.

So while reading NGJ it’s good to know about people’s own comments on the pros and cons of the game, rather give readers something like “large variation of mission types and side quests”, because that is just so generic and dull.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Week 3 - The History of Games - 2000s

So… now we look at the modern games of the 21st century. It’s amazing how much games have changed and developed since they were first created back in the 50s! Back in primary school only a few people in my class played games, but now gaming has become almost a part of our lives, with many different types of consoles and games for us to choose from. Games are no longer just for young people’s entertainment but families are enjoying it too, especially after the Wii was released (I’ve been told by a lot of Wii owners that their families are more interested in the Wii games than they are). Online games are extremely popular too now; the addictive World of Warcraft and another I’ve heard of is Eve Online. It goes without saying that games now take up far more money and time to make than back in the old days.

One of the things I love about the games we’re all familiar with today is that there is such an enormous variety for everyone to enjoy. Role-play games, first-person shooters, strategy games, fighting games, intellectual/puzzle games that make you think (Portal!!!), and the list goes on. There is so much competition; the more games produced, the more the industry is coming up with novel and innovative ideas of gaming.

What I’ve noticed during the past several years is a huge increase in sequel games from movies, TV series and comics. It appears that publishers prefer these sequels rather than new game ideas, and roughly 13% of the games being sold are not related to movies and TV series. Personally, I never touch these games - I just don’t see the fun in them! I prefer playing something I’ve not heard of before, like… Spore.

As many of you have propbably heard, I am currently obsessed with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and am enjoying playing the RotK XI turn-based strategy game which is based on that story. It's *so* good. I was expecting it to be like Age of Empires but it's a lot more complicated and you have SO MUCH to handle. Here's a screenshot of my current game... I'm currently stuck in a sea battle, argh!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Bradgate Park, Archway, Canal

My paintings of Bradgate Park, the Archway (which I still need to do a lot of work on) and the canal. I've never painted a proper scenery before so this was something new to me. It was enjoyable and I want to be able to add backgrounds to my character illustrations from now on :).

This one needs moar work!!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Paper Project

Here are photos of my Paper Project. I wanted to do something feathery, so I chose to do a peacock :D. The tail was quite hellish to make. I think this project was fun as it allowed our imagination to take over. I saw so many amazing paper projects by other people on the course! It really is a good way of getting inspired and learning from people around me.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Week 2 - The History of Games - 80s-90s

In my last post I wrote about the very early history of games. This week, my main focus is to review the middle ages of gaming history.

It was not until the 80s that people were able to buy game arcades and play them at home. As technology advanced, it was during these years that the games industry bloomed, providing opportunities for leading companies to be formed and allowing them to produce some well-known games.

The games that were produced were for single players only. People had not thought about creating multiple-player games, simply because this was the time where computers were then able to be brought home, and each person habitually used them on their own.

During the mid 80s, games began to have interaction activities between itself and the user. At first it was text-based, but soon graphical fiction followed after the introduction of the mouse. Arcades began to decline in the 90s as there was a rise in the use of computers. 3D graphics became more and more popular.

And now, onto my own history of gaming, continued from the last post. I consider myself to be a “late gamer”. Apart from that nameless game I mentioned last time, the only other games I played were Tomb Raider, Virtual Fighter and Warcraft II. I only played them because my Dad introduced them to me, and he was very fond of games as well (now he just has no time to play!).

I didn’t own any consoles or PC games, so my own gaming time was when I was a friend’s house. From the age of 12 to 16 I hardly touched games, only occasionally playing Age of Empires II and the Sims.

Oh no wait, I remember my parents bought me a Game Boy Colour. I only played Pokemon Blue Version on that for about a year... and now I can't find it ¬_¬.

Anyway, when I was about 16 I met an online friend who was completely OBSESSED with the Final Fantasy seriesj, and this gradually made me interested in video games. He made me watch Advent Children, which confused me to much as I hadn't played Final Fantasy VII yet, so I went and bought FF7 (PC version because I didn't even have a PS2!), and LOVED IT SO MUUUUCH.

Since then I've been trying to find some older games to play (such as Chrono Trigger and FF6, which I really enjoyed (ha, it's like I'm trying to fill in the "childhood gaming" which I lacked)). Last year I bought a PS2 (so... late...) just for Final Fantasy 12, which I loved. I'm a bit annoyed that FF13 is going to be on the PS3 just after I got a PS2.... ah well.... maybe I can do what I did 9 years ago and raid a friend's house to play it at theirs.... >_> <_< style="text-align: center;">

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Week 1 - The History of Games - 50s-70s

This is a topic I’ve wondered about quite a lot for awhile in the past. There is a lot of confusion on this as there is no real answer to the what was the “very first video game invented” . I think it depends on people’s own views of what defined “the first game” during the 50s and 60s. Take Tic Tac Toe for example, that was a game that was played on an EDSAC vacuum-tube and was known as the first graphical computer game. However, as a game, the two players could easily play it on a piece of paper, taking away the “computer game” element. Although the very first video game was created by William Higinbotham in 1958 called “Tennis for Two”, many claim that Space War! (1962) was the first official game.

It is widely considered that Nolan Bushnell was the father of gaming. He was inspired by the game Space War!, and during the early 1970s and created the very first arcade game called Computer Space with Ted Dabney. The famous Pong was created by him a year later with Al Alcorn, and during the same year Atari Computers was established by Bushnell and Ted Dabney, which released the Pong game to be taken home to play.

During the next few years, more commercial games that could be played at home were created, including the Odyssey that had 12 mini games.

As you can see, the early history of game flows according to the type of technology that was being developed.

I can remember the very first game I played as though it was yesterday. Two players stood on top of skyscrapers, facing each other, and you had to type in two digits that determined the position of your opponent, so that upon entering, your character would throw a disc at them, hoping to chop off their limbs. Or their head. Or anywhere else that would be painful. If only I could remember the name of that game…

For those of you who know me well, you won’t be surprised to hear that the most recent game I’ve played is… Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI. *SQUEE* And what happened between? Well… just the usual Final Fantasy stuff XD… until my Ro3K obsession began ^_^.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

First *BLOG* Post

Well, hello there. I am writing my first Blog entry. This isn't new to me as I already have 2 LiveJournal accounts, so hopefully my writing will be alright here... and I say "hopefully", because one of my LJ accounts is an arty one where I spam my Friends' Pages with my art, while the other is my... hyper one, in which I spam my Friends' Pages with a lot of crazy CAPSLOCK. Ahem, I am drifting off-topic... so anyway...

I shall be writing mostly about game-related topics in here (perhaps I will add a little of my own squeefullness with it, if I can't control myself), so if anyone's reading my blog, I hope you enjoy your stay :).

PS. Squee!