23 March 2012

Working in the Games Industry - Interview Preview

The Blurb
Working in the Games Industry features interviews with 21 people working in a wide range of jobs. As well as general information about careers in this field, the book is made up of interviews with real people talking about their jobs.
The book is part of a series of Working In titles published by Babcock Lifeskills. These are well-respected careers guides produced to help 13- to 19-year-olds of all abilities with their career decisions. They are available in schools, libraries, careers centres and bookshops throughout the UK.

Release Manager
Andrew Powell is a release manager with Eutechnyx in Gateshead.  As a new game goes through development, it’s Andrew’s job to build the constant changes to code and art assets into ever-improving versions of the game, to check the work-in-progress and report any bugs or crashes.

How would you outline your role?
I work with the team that creates the NASCAR games.  My job is to accumulate all the changes made by the different departments working on the game into a playable version.

What are your main responsibilities?
I decide when a new build (a revised version) of the game is needed, although there are also requests from other departments to check what they’ve been working on.

I grab code changes and art changes using special software and briefly test all the enabled functions to make sure they are playable without crashes.

I usually do this on a daily basis, alternating between different platforms, such as Xbox and PS3.  I run the current version on multiple test kits using debugger software.  This software records everything that is happening code-wise on the console.  This simulates the end-user multiplayer experience and captures any crashes or bugs to be examined later.

What is your working environment like?
I sit at a desk surrounded by the programmers of the team.  All other members of the team are just a few steps away.  The atmosphere is generally calm with members of staff coming and going, communicating ideas and solving problems.

Who do you work with?
I work closely with the lead programmer of the project, and other programmers that take care of various aspects or modes in the game.  I also work closely with members of the QA team when I find a bug that needs extra attention.

What special skills or qualities do you need?
I need to be self-motivated as I manage myself day-to-day.  I need to know what’s going on in terms of progress – is this particular aspect of the game working or not working?  What’s needed for the next milestone?  If it’s not working, I’m normally the first person to notice!

How did you get into this job?
I knew I wanted to have something to do with computer games as early as 12 years old.  In secondary school, my strongest subject was IT.  I decided against the general education of sixth form and went to college to study ICT for a year instead.  I then went on to a BTEC National Diploma in IT Practitioners in Software Development.  Here I had my first experience of programming and realised what doors it could open.

Afterwards, I went to university to do a degree in games computing, which helped me get my first job.

What training have you had?
Different studios use different hardware and software and much of it isn’t available commercially to the general public.  Some studios even develop their own in-house tools and engines to achieve the required results.  It means you tend to train as you go, working with new equipment and learning from your colleagues.

Do you use any special tools or equipment?
I use test consoles for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, a debugger and a lot of specialised software packages.

What do you like and dislike about your job?
When things aren’t working, progress can be very slow and frustrating.  But I enjoy knowing my actions make a big difference to the final product.  I get a real buzz when the project is finished and in the shops, knowing my name’s in the credits.

What are the main challenges in your work?
When people ask me to perform different tasks at the same time, this is when I’m really pushed to my limits.  It’s easy to panic in that situation but you just need to step back and assess the situation, then prioritise the order of tasks.

What are your long-term career plans?
I’m interested in becoming a games designer or producer or in leading focus tests with users.  At the moment I’m really happy where I am.  I’ve haven’t learnt everything my role has to offer.  When the time comes, I’ll look for opportunities within the company or companies I’ve already worked for.

Andrew’s route
● GCSEs.
● NVQ level 2 in ICT and BTETC ND IT Practitioners Software Development.
● BSc (Hons) Games Computing.
● Jobs as a graphical artist and in quality assurance.
● Release manager with Eutechnyx.

Andrew’s tips
● Try to play as many different genres as possible.  You won’t enjoy them all but you can ask yourself: Why has the game been designed like this?  What makes it enjoyable? What could be done better?
● Know your hardware.  Gain experience with all current consoles and handhelds still in production.

Related jobs
Computer games developer
Computer games tester
IT support technician
Software developer
TV or film producer
Web developer

Getting in
Some studios only take graduates – usually with a degree in games computing or development, but not all.  A strong portfolio will put you at the top of the pile.

16 March 2012

Eutechnyx

Since my last blog post I've moved studios to Eutechnyx in Dunston, Gateshead. Weirdly the studio is located pretty much horizontally with Ubisoft Reflections my previous employer with the River Tyne dividing them. Not only have I changed studio I've also started a new position as a Release Manager.
I'm currently working on NASCAR The Game which is a product that is specifically aimed at the American market, Not only that but two other titles are also currently in development the freemium Auto Club Revolution (ACR) and Ride To Hell so the studio is very busy and rapidly expanding there still looking for people to fill positions so take a look here.
I've also recently finished being interviewed for a careers book aimed at 13 to 19-year-olds called 'Working in the Games Industry (Working Title).  The book is made up of interviews with real people talking about their jobs and will be released sometime in the summer.  It's my way of giving something back to the kids.  I'll be posting up my section as a preview of the book in my next post in a week and welcome comments with any questions you may have regarding the post.






12 November 2011

Just Dance 3

My time on Driver: San Francisco has come to an end now its been released.  It ranked No3 in a very competitive September launch window in the UK charts, and received some great reviews.

After Driver I joined the Just Dance 3 team working hard to get the PS3 move version of the game ready for release.  This involved me partaking in choreographed hand dancing to a mixed bag of pretty bad to dam right awful pop tunes.  Being a fan of the heavier Metal genre of music this project mentally destroyed my soul.  Not only that but my time outside work was spent with these horrible songs stuck in my head.
There were a few songs that grew on me over time, and kind of have problems admitting that. 
Baby Don't Stop Now by Anja was one of my favourites.  Have a listen below.


One of the songs that got stuck in my head on a constant loop was Pata Pata - Miriam Makeba.  I think it was used on an advert here in the UK but I can't for the life of me remember what it was for.
One of the worst tracks of the whole playlist had to be Les Rita Misouko by Marcia Baila a PAL version of the game exclusive. I really hated this song, as I didn't have a clue what she was singing about, and the dance steps weren't that amazing either.
All in all the project was very different to anything I'd done before, and I'm glad of the experience. We managed to validate additional version SKUs for the American market that was originally deemed impossible within the time given.  All submitted SKUs pasted with no problems with big props the heads of Ubisoft in France.

15 September 2011

DevJam #0

During some down time during the end of the development stages of Driver: San Francisco an internal game development competition was set called DevJam #0.  Employees from all departments were encouraged to form teams, and create anything that was interactive, and fun.  There where no rules, and no restrictions on tools, SDKs, game engines or hardware as long as they were legal and available to use in the studio.
I was keen to participate in the competition as it would given me that rare opportunity to work with some range talent people from different departments in the studio.

After several emails around the office between various like-minded people Tough Tofu was formed, here's a picture, sadly Kevin wasn't around to be included the picture.

Photobucket

Code – Gunay Ozkan, Kevin Williams, Wittawat Keawcharoen (Aik)
Game and Level Design – Richard Baines
Level Design and Art – Juan Castillo and Andrew Powell

After many meetings, prototyping, revisions, additions, and compromises Entropy Wars was created.  Here's the original concept.

'Entropy Wars is like a fusion of Katamari and Quake in terms of gameplay and has energy as the basic concept. There are two types of energy, useful work doing energy and waste energy, heat. Players use their mass/energy reserve to gain momentum and use weapons. They have to be careful though because everything they do contributes some waste energy in the form of heat. The prototyped game mode is a multiplayer base attack/defence game where players use a fixed amount of their base energy to spawn, and gain some mass/energy in the level and try to attack the enemy base with a net gain. If they successfully attack the enemy base, all of their energy in the form of mass, mechanical and heat is subtracted from the enemy base’s energy. Other game modes in consideration are Deathmatch and single player or co-op puzzle style games'.


Here's a few early screenshots of out first prototype, which was up, and running within a week. Aik worked very hard alongside Gunay, and Kevin to implement the games mechanics so we could quickly begin playtesting, and experiment with the various proposed game mechanics. Most of the 3D graphics at this point were default models pulled from Unity's example projects.

Early Prototype Version
Photobucket Photobucket

After some playtesting the stronger game mechanics shone through, then it was just a case of balancing them, and adding some new tron like graphics.

Final Version 1.1
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

The final playable game mode is a multiplayer base attack/defence game where players use a fixed amount of their base energy to spawn, and gain some mass/energy in the level and try to attack the enemy base with a net gain. If they successfully attack the enemy base, all of their energy in the form of mass, mechanical and heat is subtracted from the enemy base’s energy. Other game modes in consideration are deathmatch and single player or co-op puzzle style games.

Rules
Attack the enemy base by running into their energy stream.
- Every attack on the enemy base steals the amount of energy you attacked with.
- Every respawn once killed costs 900 Energy from your base.
- Attack enemies to overheat them!
- Consume massballs to increase in size.
- When you are big, you have more rockets, more lighting energy.
- When you are hot, your weapon become more powerful

After the judging was complete we were happy to scoop the 'Best Multiplayer award'.  For our troubles we were all awarded with some Jam appropriately named, and a commemorative T-shirt of the event with our team name listed on the back.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

09 July 2011

Moving On / New Project

Hello,  Sorry to all that read this the last couple of months have been pretty hectic with me changing job, relocating, and fighting with O2 to get a Internet connection in my flat.  This is why I haven't been as active as I would of liked keeping my posts regular.  As you may of guessed me, and Travellers Tales / TT Fusion have parted ways due to downtime during their development cycle on there various projects including LEGO City Stories.
So first things first I've moved to the north east and I'm now living in Newcastle, or Newcastle Upon Tyne if you're going to be particular.  I've started working for Ubisoft in their Reflections studio (Formerly Reflections Interactive).  We're currently working towards the end of our crunch period on the next Driver title Driver: San Francisco.  Things are shaping up well ready for a September release after some positive media coverage at E3.  Demos will be appear sometime before (TBC) on Xbox Live, and PSN.  Check out the videos below for trailers, interviews, media coverage leading up to E3.

Driver E3 2001 Trailer


Cars Trailer


Shift and Tag Interview

Video Interview with Martin Oliver and JS


E3 2001 with Freddie and Brandon!


Digital Trends gave us 'Best Driving Game', and a nomination for best multiplayer at E3.
Gamepro.com listed us as one of the biggest surprises but got our games title wrong Doh!
Wired gave us this great write up of their experience of the demo at E3.
Joystiq gave us a good preview, and eventually listed us as one of their 'Favourite Games Of E3'.
Destructoid gave us a small article on single, and multiplayer modes.
Dualshockers gave us a report on there hands-on with our multiplayer demo.  Then went on the record a interview with Martin Oliver and JS from our Driver stand at E3.
Games Radar gave us a pleasant E3 hands-on report.
Nomination for the 'Best Racing Game' in the game Critics Awards.

We've also as a studio gone social so if you're a social networking whore like me hook yourself up to our newly created Facebook page, Twitter account, and our Linkedin page.

So you've got all the info, heard all the hype what are you waiting for?  Pre-order the regular version or the amazing Collectors Pack.

Collector Pack Trailer

01 April 2011

New Project - LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

Alright,
Now Clone Wars has been finished, and released into the world to be consumed now is the time to tell you of the project I've been working on for the past two months.   LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean will be a multi platform release covering all four films including the new Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  I look forward to giving you more information in the future.

25 March 2011

Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars Released

Today is a good day,  Today sees the release of the first commercial game I've worked on.  This post is to basically document that and show off a little.  I really enjoyed working on this game especially on the 3DS as I got to play it way before it was released.  I've included some release trailers pictures of the game in the stores, and check out my name on the credits oh yeah...!




PhotobucketPhotobucket
PhotobucketPhotobucket

23 January 2011

What I've been up to

Seems like ages since I posted anything on here so I thought I'd give you guys an update.
As of Friday I'm moving offices from TT Fusion in Wilmslow to Traveler's Tales in Knutsford.  This is due to my previous project wrapping up and being sent for submission.  So I'll be moving onto a new project this time console based rather than handheld.  As soon as I can I'll give you some information of what I'm working on I will.
I can reveal now that I was working on LEGO Star Wars |||: The Clone Wars on the Nintendo DS, 3DS, and PSP.  It has also been announced as a release title for 3DS launch in Europe on the 25th of March. Below I have embed three YouTube videos of the 3DS launch event in Amsterdam so you can learn more about the 3DS, and other titles that will be released at launch.  I've also embedded a video from GameTrailers.com of someone playing LEGO Star Wars |||: The Clone Wars demo at the event,  Enjoy


18 September 2010

New Job!

Hello people

I've got a new job as a Games tester working for TT games at their offices in Wilmlow and Knutsford.  I'll be relocating to the Manchester area and living with what looks like three other new starters.  My planned start date is the 27th which also happens to be my birthday.  Wish me luck and a happy birthday will you.

While looking for a flat/house I'm going to try and finish of some tutorials I'm half way through as I'm not sure when I'll have the free time again.  Anything of interest I'll post for your eyes to feast on.

Cya

24 August 2010

Concept Work

Before I begin I would just like to state I've been made redundant.  So if you're looking at this, and you're looking for a junior artist that is willing to relocate and bend over backwards to learn new skills I'm your man.

The main reason for this post and the following are to show some of the projects I worked on while at PIXELearning.  I'll try my best to post in a logical order but as all ways I'll normally come back to a post and chop and change things as I see fit.

Below is some concept work I was working on before I parted ways with PIXELearning.  These concepts were put towards Kaplan International College as ideas for a serious game. At the time the idea was to involve famous locations from around the world that could be used to teach basic English skills to students at their college.  I'm unsure of the progress of this project at the moment but these ideas were at a very early stage and would no-way represent the standard of the finished project.

Treasure Map
This picture was a GUI that was made in Photoshop.  It would be used as a portal to launch to other game worlds.  It would display scores and your inventory.

Photobucket

Inside Statue of Liberty
This idea involved a game world inside the statue of liberty.  The intention was to have a game that involved puzzles that needed to be completed to work you way to the top of the statue.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Broadway
This scene I forced myself to model in 3DsMax although I'm not a great fan of its modeling interface compared to Maya.  This project really gave me a chance to improve my texturing skills.




17 August 2010

Video Editing

Here is a video I edited as a promotional tool for a meeting using Adobe Premiere.  The Finance Game is one of PIXELearnings flagship games, and has been used by junior and high schools to simulate the role and responsibilities of being the SEO of a business. As you may of noticed the following video has been removed. This is due to an agreement signed between PIXELearning and AAT that I wasn't originally aware of.  It's a shame because it was very professional, and received good feedback plus the music was really jazzy.

Photobucket

The Making of AAT Town

So AAT Town what is it?
AAT Town is a project that is currently in phase 1 of completion.  Created as an online flash based launching portal for AAT online courses and learning based flash games.

Simple Beginnings
Originally I was given total creative freedom to go about creating AAT Town.  I starting making various  models in Maya as I personally find it a friendlier environment to model in.  Later other models where added when my senior graphical artist Kev joined in on the project these were modelled in 3ds Max and imported as .Obj files.  Below are some early Maya software renders with some basic textures and lighting.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

The Evolution of the Idea
As the project proceeded and various concepts where shown to our client we received feedback that  shaped the further evolution of the idea.  Are client wanted a friendly cartoon style with influence taken from the popular website Comcast Town.  More buildings were created, street props distributed around the game world to give it a busier look.  Colourful textures were added to try to obtain a style similar to Comcast Town.

Photobucket

Last Touches and End of Phase 1
In our last meeting with our client we agreed that AAT Town need to be condensed with more buildings in the screen.  This was done by rearranging the grouped geometry in the scene, and duplicating blocks of buildings and rotating in to position around the scene.  The scene was render and then extra detail was added in Photoshop.  It was then passed over to our resident in-house flash master Jiawen Liang to add the flash interactivity.

As you may of noticed the following three images have been removed.  This is due to an agreement signed between PIXELearning, and AAT that I wasn't originally aware of.  It's a shame because they were really cool, you're going to have to trust me on this one.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

17 July 2010

Quick Update

Hello, Have not updated for a while and my blog is always in the back of my mind so I thought I would take five minutes to have a quick catch up with my readers.

Why so long since my last update?
Well I've started a full time job, Working for a serious games company in Coventry called PIXELearning, as a graphical artist. My job initials many things but most of my time involves creating concepts for games in Maya, 3Ds Max, and Photoshop. Already I've worked on some interesting projects with many in the pipeline so watch this space.

What next?
At the moment I am settled into my new job learning as much as I can day-to-day, Working hard to adapt my skills from maya and transferring my knowledge to 3Ds max. I am working towards mastering Texturing, Lighting/Rendering with mental Ray with the intention of moving on to VRay when I've get the basics down and feel confident to move on. I hope I will be able to give you some screenshots and some links of work I've contributed to so far but need to check with the boss to see if there are any legal issues surrounding it.

Catch you soon

11 March 2010

Maya - So Far

I've been learning Autodesks Maya for sometime now, around 3 years.  In all honesty it's one of the most complex software programs I've ever had the privilege to use.  I've been dipping in and out of learning as responsibilities rise and fall in my spare time.
I've decided to post up everything I've made so far so you the viewer can get an idea of what I'm capable of.  There are all sorts of models shown below in various stages of completion.  Me being a perfectionist I will often go back to previous work and change it with a new technique or method I've learnt.  This way my models are always being improved.
I'll list the models in order of my most recent first.  I'm afraid they are just screen grabs at the moment, but will be full rendered scenes once I'm happy with the models, textures, and lighting.  Keep an eye out for model improvements and final renders.

01 March 2010

Heavy Rain - A Step In The Right Direction

Before you read there may be elements of this post that could be considered Spoilers (You have be warned)

I've been waiting to play this game with some excitement for along time now, so when it was released this Friday (I got mine this Thursday limited edition from HMV) I was ready to spend so serious hours sat staring at the screen. Also because I ordered the Ltd Ed I get to play the first of 4 DLC episodes that are prequels to the game, the first being Madison Paiges first lead on the Origami Killer. I will try to get a short post up give you an idea if it's worth buying or not.

The best way to explain Heavy Rain to someone is not to compare it to a previous games at all, because it's a very original title. Something we do not see very often.

I do not know if you into reading as a child, but I had a phase of reading multiple choice books or adventure novels. This is where you are given a choice at a specific point in the story-line and depending on your choice you would be directed to a certain numbered page to see the consequence of your actions, and continue with the story or not depending how badly you messed up.
Heavy Rain is a little like that but from multiple perspectives of four main characters all in some way involved in the Origami Killer case.
Characters consist of :-
  • Ethan Mars an architect with a wife and two sons.
  • Madison Paige a photojournalist.
  • Norman Jayden a FBI profiler sent to support police with the investigation into the Origami Killer.
  • Scott Shelby A retired police officer, currently working as a private investigator. On the behalf of the previous victims' families.
Not only are the games decision tress and story arcs set out like a novel, but the themes that run throughout the game can be compared to a best seller or blockbuster film.

I made sure I played the demo when it first came out, and made certain to try to make different decisions when I played for the second time round to see the results of my decisions. First time round I gave Troy a good kicking when he started to beat on Lauren, but took a few punches and ended with some bruises on my face in later scenes.
The second time-around I wasted as much time as possible trying to find my inhaler in the hall so Lauren took a pasting before I kicked the door down and again gave that skin head a kicking, that resulting in Lauren developing a bruise around here eye. Little differences like that make you realize how much effort has gone into the development. Although these are only trivial decisions there are many more in game, that shape your progress and ending of the game.
Below is a play-through of the demo so if your unluckily enough not to have a PS3 you can have a look.

One reason I like Heavy Rain so much is that it has so many game experiences firsts.

I've never had to crawl through an incinerator lined with glass slowly as not to cut myself. Using only a match and the direction of the breeze to find my way out. I've never felt so emotionally attached to a character that I've felt real panic when they've disappeared from view. I've never felt obliged to look after a character in my company while under my supervision.

03 February 2010

Newspaper Advertisment and Business Card Design

Recently I was asked by my sister to design a business card.  Its purpose was so she could leave a calling card with clients when she was away from the salon doing house calls.  Although I didn’t charge I considered treating it as if it was my first freelance project.
Her specification involved a business card sized card with her Salon name, address and contact information printed on the front.  Her price list printed inside, and reservation form printed on the back.
I used Adobes InDesign graphic design package to set the correct template, and layout the text.  Logos and purchased photos were also dropped into place using different layers.
I found some suitable high resolution royalty-free photographs that related to hairdressing on bigstockphoto.  Luckily the hairdressing salon she was currently based at gave us permission to use the logo so that wasn’t an issue with this project.
Because I had no professional printing equipment I had to organized the printing of the business cards.  Due to its unique business card size and book like deign with high resolution printing on each size this took some research.  Eventually I found a company that quoted me a reasonable print number and price they were called Perpertuapress.
The finished design can be viewed below as a PDF file including a newspaper advert I made to be displayed in our local paper. 

Newspaper Advert
Business Card
Front
Middle
Back

Games Computing Group Project

A module studied at university called ‘Games Computing Group Project’ required myself and a team of 4 to see a project through from start to finish.
The aim of the module was to develop a game for Microsoft Xbox 360 made using XNA and programmed using C#.  The game would be for educational purposes to teach in the area of environmental sustainability through the use of technology.  It was aimed to comply with the ESRB Teen rating.

Meetings where arranged as we saw fit with them being held on a weekly bases then going down to fortnightly as we became acustomed to our indivual roles and tasks.  Each week we chose a different chair for the meeting until a member with good organisational skills became apprant. After a while roles started to appear within the group and it was discussed at one of the meeting what roles we should fulfill for the rest of the project. 
The initial meeting involved agreeing on communication methods as we would be carrying out work out of university hours in different locations.  As the project wasn’t funded we would have to make the most of free and readily available software programs.  Some worth mentioning were Google Docs for simultaneous editing of documents with several users working at the same time and MSN.

02 February 2010

Game Design Documentation - High Concept

I've been playing around with game ideas for some time now, jotting down ideas as I have them when I become inspired. I thought it would be best to get them written down. Below is a example of one of my game ideas.

Road Rash Clone Title
EA was developing a Road Rash title but dropped it during the early stages of the game. This is the only unofficial released footage that was posted on YouTube by a employee. Who knows if we'll ever see this game released. But for now the project is definitely on hold.
Here is a link to download my High Concept Document with my ideas for a Road Rash Style game. I would look forward to hearing your comments and ideas.

21 January 2010

Super Mario Kart Board Game

Retro Game Choice Rationale
We decided to pick the game ‘Mario Kart’ as we felt that board games as a whole would appeal greater to the younger audience and so to pick a theme of which embodies that audience, our game would be just as successful.
Super Mario Kart is the first video game in the Mario Kart series, it has become apart of a franchise under the ‘Mario’ games released mainly by Nintendo. Super Mario Kart was released and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto featuring music composed by Soyo Oka and Taro Bando. It featured advanced graphics for the time thanks to its use of Mode texture mapping. Super Mario Kart is the third best-selling game on the SNES, with eight million copies sold.
Now that we chosen our retro game we can now begin to look at how to it appeals to its audience and disassemble the gameplay features accordingly.

Mechanics
There aren’t many rules in Mario Kart, the main objective is to be the winner of the races or the battles. There are also minor secondary objectives alike to, knocking and eliminating all other people off the track and stopping them from winning.

Dynamics
As the rules are very simple, so is the gameplay. Players aim for weapon pickup’s to gain an advantage over other players in order to reach the best position. Typical of many retro games it presents a very simple yet extremely addictive concept.

Aesthetics
One thing that we have noticed from play testing the game is that players get very involved with the gameplay and in turn will often aim for specific players and create mental rivalries. The gameplay is based on a colorful cartoon style and appeals mainly to a younger audience; however, the competitive feeling enjoyed by older players makes the game appealing to them as well.

20 January 2010

Major Update, Name Change, All New Blog

Hello Reader,

This is a update to explain what is going on,  This blog was originally used to upload assessment work for my Creative Technologies module at Lincoln University.  It has been unloved and unused for sometime now.  It hasn't really had any use since the module finished back in 2007.  But don't despair it's back.  Now I've finished university I've decided that I need somewhere to post creative things I've done for possible employees.  You can call it a portfolio if you want, but based on a blog.  I've given it a major update today including a domain change, layout, gadgets etc.  There is still a little more to do before I deem it perfect so please be patient.
You may be aware that I have another blog called Andy's Computer Game Banter this is still up and running, but will now be strictly computer game banter like the name suggests.  Whereas this blog will demonstrate my creative flair and portfolio work.
So stayed tuned,  I hope to get all my photo links fixed as soon as possible, along with more posts of university assessment uploads, and some new projects I've been working on recently.

That's all for now thanks.

08 November 2009

What I've been up to, What I'm playing/planning on playing

Hello world, how are you doing? Just a update on what I've been up to lately. Gamewise I've been playing the BETA version of MAG, which is fairly good, maybe worth a purchase in the new year. The time I dedicated to playing that has been cut due to the available server hours and the purchase of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Just like the hype, and reviews suggested it's a truely amazing game. Things to note are how the cinematics and gameplay smoothly run in and out of each other + a great multiplayer experience. Due to the Wii ambassador program encouraging people to get other Wii owners set up on the Internet channel I've gained quite a few Wii points. Those I've spent on the NES classic Kirby's Adventure and the WiiWare exclusive Bomberman Blast. Both are a good games, but Bomberman is so hard, I need to put it more practice. Games on my Christmas list are Tekken 6 and Modern Warfair 2. Thanks for reading more updates soon!

MAG

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Kirby's Adventure

Bomberman Blast

28 September 2009

Who I Am, And What Type Of Gamer Class I Fit Into?

The Jung Typology Test helps you obtain your type formula, strengths of the preference, and type description. It can help you identify your life style in general with respect to specific fields of activity. It can also obtain a list of suitable career choices based on your personality. Apparently I'm Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging. My results are broken down for your viewing pleasure. A more detailed description by J.Butt and M.M Heiss is given here.

Your type is INTJ
Strength of preferences %
Introverted: 22
Intuitive:62
Thinking: 25
Judging: 44

You are:
  • Slightly expressed introvert 
  • Distinctively expressed intuitive personality 
  • Moderately expressed thinking personality 
  • Moderately expressed judging personality

04 September 2009

My Sega Interview


Today I had an interview with Sega for a Games Tester/QA position. I thought I'd write about it since this possibly could be my first job in the Games Industry (If I get the job). I'd been looking around on the internet for anyone who may have had one before to see if I could get a heads up. I didn't find anything, so this is for everyone that will follow in my footsteps, or is just generally interested in what I've been up to.

The interview started with a short test of reading, writing and logical tests to assess general knowledge. This included:-

  • Proof reading text for spelling and grammar 
  • Some basic math questions 
  • Logical questions involving graphs and diagrams 
  • General knowledge of Sega's published games
 The interview process moved on with a play-through of the Nintendo DS game 'Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll. As I completed each level I was asked to record what I had achieved such as :-

  • If I completed the level 
  • How many tokens (Bananas) I had collected 
  • How long it took me two complete the level 
  • How long left I had to complete the level 
  • How many lives I had at the end of the level 
  • The score I had achieved at the end of the level 
This sounds easier than it was as there were no pauses between levels and I had to remember all that information before recording in on paper. I'm assuming they where testing to see how much information I could remember, and record in a short space of time.

18 July 2009

Teaching Games Design With Play


I've recently been networking to my hearts content, Blogger, Twitter and Facebook. One of the advantages of this is you get to network with some really interesting people. These can be people you would of never met in your day-today life. Twitter is a especially useful tool as people that you follow will post up links and talk about topics you hadn't considered researching. In a weird way it's an abstract way of getting to know someone, by finding out what makes them tick, while never meeting, or communicating with them directly. Through Twitter I've found a blog run by Ian Schreiber called 'Game Design Concepts: An experiment in game design a teaching'. Like the name suggests he's experimenting with teaching online and is offering a free online course in game design. I highly advise anyone interested in this field to follow the course as it's as good as anything you would be taught a college or university.
Anyway from this blog I followed some links to some interactive flash based games design lessons. They're really fun to do and I was personally impressed by their presentation and thought provoking nature. The links are posted below for your enjoyment.

Understanding Games:

25 January 2009

Manhunt 2 Case Study

This post is my finished assessment piece from my Professional Practice component. I was required to present a discussion on a case study of my own choosing from a legal, professional and ethical standpoint. I chose the banning of Manhunt 2 and the story that was portrayed through the media.

Précis
The case study I have chosen concerns the article “‘Killing link’ video game new ban” written by The BBC which was published on the BBC News Leicestershire website on Monday the 8th of October 2007.

Key Actors 
The key actors involved in this case are: -
• David Cooke – Director of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)
• Edinburgh based Rockstar North – Developer of the Manhunt computer game.
• 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah – Fatally stabbed and murdered by Warren LeBlanc on the 26th February 2004.
• Giselle and Patrick Pakeerah – Linked the murder of their son to inspiration gained from Manhunt.
• 17-year-old Warren LeBlanc – Pleaded guilty and convicted of the murderer of Stefan Pakeerah.
• Police – Claimed there was no evidence to prove Warren LeBlanc was inspired by the Manhunt game.

Summary of Main Points of Interest in Case
In June 2007 the BBFC rejected a new version of the computer game franchise Manhunt. Manhunt 2 was the first video game in a decade to be refused classification; the last game to be refused classification was Carmageddon in 1997. David Cooke director of the BBFC was quoted on saying (Appendix 3, BBC, 2007, ‘Censors ban ‘brutal’ video game’) "Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone”
He was also quoted saying (Appendix 3, BBC, 2007, ‘Censors ban ‘brutal’ video game’) "There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game".
Rockstar Games submitted a revised version for review but again Cooke stated, “we do not consider that these [changes] go far enough to address our concerns about the original version”. The modified version of the game was released in the US in time for Halloween, along with a statement from Rockstar Games describing that the game was “in line with other mainstream entertainment choices for adult consumers”.
The Parents of Stefan Pakeerah who was fatally stabbed to death in Leicester in February 2004 believe their son’s killer, 17 – year-old Warren LeBlanc, was inspired by the by the original game. A Police investigation said there was no evidence that Manhunt had played a part in the murder.
In order to gain a greater understanding of this case before reading the evaluation that is presented here, a full read through of the case is suggested. This will help you understand the actors and main points raised in this case study. Please refer to the bibliography section fo articles to gain insight into the case study.

04 July 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Smash Balls, Dragoon Parts and Assist Trophies


After a wait that seems like an eternity the eagerly anticipated third instalment of the Smash Bros series is released Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Instead of repeating the gameplay mechanics of this game I’ll ask you to refer to the official website. Smash Bros. Dojo was written by Mr Masahiro Sakurai himself during production and proves itself to be a valuable source of info and insight into this wonderful game. To be honest Mr. Masahiro Sakurai has saved me a lot of time while writing this critique and I won’t argue with his explanations as it’s his game and he knows best.

What I’m going to try and do as I play through the game myself is try to discuss some of these new gameplay additions and try to explain the dynamic and aesthetic quality they bring. I think I’m going to do this is parts as this game has allot of depth and will require some serious typing.

First up I’m going to talk about three of the new items during Brawls that I personally think add a new dimension to the way players will play the game. I may talk about others in following parts but these feel like the most important to me and the moment.

First up the unique final smashes of each character. Unlike standard moves that can be performed at anytime during the match the final smash has to be first obtained. By breaking a Smash Ball that will randomly appear floating mid air now and then during brawls the final smash is obtained. The unique final smashes will require some experience of your character as each one has it’s own unique qualities and characteristics. Sounds fairly straightforward doesn’t it but after your first hit the Smash Ball it takes on a mind of it’s own and floats away trying to avoid you damage. Not only does the smash ball try to avoid your damage once it’s been obtained it can be knocked out of you possession with a combination of attacks from your opponents. Loosing the Smash Ball results in it returning to its original randomly floating state and if it’s not collected or used within some unknown time limit it will disappear.


10 May 2007

Assignment 3 - Animated Website Interface

My pre loader bar was made by following supplied tutorial on the Virtual Campus. I simply added a Sin City logo that I acquired from the Internet and gave it a white boarder. Getting the pre loader to work correctly took some time adjusting the Action Script. The finished script was:
bytes_loaded = Math.round(this.getBytesLoaded());
bytes_total = Math.round(this.getBytesTotal());
getPercent = bytes_loaded/bytes_total;
this.loadBar._width = getPercent*277.9;
this.loadText = Math.round(getPercent*100)+"%";
if (bytes_loaded == bytes_total) {
this.gotoAndPlay(3);
}


Once it was complete a red bar filled a white boarder with a displayed percentage.

23 January 2007

10 Second Film Fest - Round Up

I've finally finished my 10 Second Film. Here I explain how I edited my footage. I will also mention any technical or copyright issues that may of occurred along the way. There will also be a section on my selection of video standards and codec's for CD playback.

Photobucket

First off filming. I didn't manage to get my hands on one of the university's cameras, as they always seemed to be out on loan. Luckily my friend lent me a camera that was firewire compatible, and had a tripod. In the end I went for the lift sequence as I thought it was the stronger idea of the two. I shot multiple angels of every scene so when it came to editing I could choose the strongest angle or if two where equally good I splice them together. I filmed every scene in the storyboard plus some extras that I thought of while on set. I made sure my cast knew exactly what they were doing before shooting and this resulted in some great acting. The only problem I had while shooting was the lift door closing to early or in the middle of a shot. This was quickly resolved by jamming them open with a foot or object.

17 January 2007

10 Second Film Fest - Storyboards

Here are a few of my ideas I'm still not sure which one I'm going with yet but keep watching for futher updates.

Photobucket
Photobucket

09 January 2007

Assignment 2 - 10 Second Film Fest

Looking at the Ten Second Film Fest (TSFF) website I've seen a variety of different genres of videos ranging from Action, Animation, Comedy. While looking for inspiration I decided to view the websites ten top tips.

The first tip is the original idea TSFF suggests that comedy is the easiest route for such a short format. But also warns not to limit yourself decide what message your trying to get across to an audience and try to make it connect to as many people as possible.

The second tip is to plan your 10-second masterpiece. TSFF suggests that you use a storyboard so you know what your shooting and making the most of the time you have. They also suggest that you read their legal tips to make sure your video is legally sound to submit and doesn’t hit any copyright infringements. I'm personally not sure if I'm going to submit to the website yet I'm going to see how the filming goes and of course the sound track may hit this criteria.

The third tip is production. What are you going to need to make your 10 second film? List everything cast, props, software, hardware etc. Make sure it's gathered together and off you go.

20 November 2006

Assesment 1 BigStockPhoto Results

Oh dear not exactly what I was hoping to see but then again I'm no professional. Maybe an easier theme next time like nature that doesn’t involve cutting and layers. I'm sure I'll have another go sometime just to see if I can make some money. I guess you win some you loose some :'(

Below is the E-mail I recieved enjoy

----------------------------------------------------------------

Andrew Powell,

The batch of 4 files uploaded on 2006-11-15 14:07:46
has been processed by our Image Approval & Moderation team. Below you
will find the status of the files in this upload:


Not Accepted Photos
----------------------------------------------------------------
The following files were not approved with a description
of why they were not accepted:

1002183 Silver Present Front
Reason: We have enough of this subject already...sorry...
Blurriness, sorry.. a little too blurry

1002324 Confetti
Reason: We have enough of this subject already...sorry...

1002415 Silver Present Corner
Reason: Blurriness, sorry.. a little too blurry

1002483 Silver Present With Party Poppers
Reason: Blurriness, sorry.. a little too blurry

Thank you for your help with BigStockPhoto.com!

BigStockPhoto Approvers '

15 November 2006

Assesment 1 Big Stock Photo

My Group:
Craig Davis
Dan Woodhouse
Jon Glass

On studying the BigStockPhoto website for ideas for my groups theme. We noticed that the most popular selling photos were very similar to Microsoft’s clipart photos with some looking nearly exactly the same. All photos featured on the website were of postcard quality, and were clean and crisp. If a photo featured a person they were nearly always an attractive model. Photos that sold well had a strong theme, or had a universal appeal. Popular themes included business, I.T and call centres.
My group decided to go with the theme ‘Party’ as this was quite a broad theme that we could all interpretate in our own way. I decided that a picture of a present perfectly represented a party. I bought a posh looking box from Clintons, and other members of the group contributed other props including party poppers and a cocktail glass. Once we had all the props we started to take some pictures. The group decided that we wanted plain backgrounds in are pictures so we wouldn’t have such a hard job manipulating them in Photoshop. Our photo room turned out to be the shower as it had a plain white background that was perfect. The shower also had a small seat that we could arrange our props on.
Taking the photos wasn’t as easy as we had all hoped. We had some issues with the flash reflecting off our props and our background so we ended up not using it. Another problem we encountered was trying to get the picture in focus. This was mainly due to the awkward position that we were taking the pictures at (Remember we were taking pictures in a shower). I experimented using the different options of the camera. Playing with the options I found the most useful was having the macro on as I was taking pictures very close.

04 October 2006

Creative Technologies

Hello one and all,

From today onwards this is where you will find all the latest news on my Creative Technologies unit. Over the forthcoming months you will be kept up to date with all the projects that I have taken part in. These will include group work, image assessments, moving image and video assessments. Samples of images, and video work will be included as they are created. Please stay tuned for further updates as the unit unfolds.

08 July 2006

Critique of Half-Life 2


Last year for an assessment piece I was asked to critique a computer game that was available through the Steam Café server. My game of choice was ‘Half-Life 2’ one of the few first person shooters’ (FPS) I’ve played on the PC being mainly a console gamer. Having played the previous title ‘Half-Life’ to completion and thoroughly enjoying it I thought it would be a good idea to play through the second title in the series and voice my honest opinions.
  • I’ve decided to approach this critique with a constructivist lens trying my best to investigate
  • The spatial relationships within the game
  • Atmosphere, ambience, overall experience 
  • Game design patterns 
Gordon Freeman appears on a train after having a hallucination-like vision as he is pulled out of stasis by his mysterious employer know only as the G-Man. Unfamiliar with his surroundings Gordon soon notices that City 17 isn’t your average city. Living under the dictatorship of Dr.Breens and his army ‘The Combine Civil Protection’ residents live as second-class citizens in constant fear. Free thought and free will are not tolerated with unruly residents beaten, tortured or killed. Luckily Gordon meets with an old friend Barney of forma employee of Black Mesa Research Facility acting as a combine solider. Barney helps Gordon narrowly escape the clutches of the combine civil protection and informs Gordon where to find the resistance. Against increasingly unfavourable odds Gordon is forced to fight along side his various allies in order to survive.

The designer’s aim at the start of the game is to slowly introduce and immerse the player to the game world of City 17. This is done by listening and observing other avatars and scripted actions that contribute to the story. This information gives some insight into what’s happened while you’ve been in stasis and guides you to what you need to do next.

The game designers intended genre or game type is clearly a first person shooter (FPS) set in a science fiction world as with previous titles in the series. The player is given a first person view from the perspective of the characters eyes to view the virtual world you must navigate through.

This is an extremely important part of the game as the designer’s made sure that the player’s and Gordon’s experience are one of the same. Gordon never speaks and all action is viewed through his eyes only avoiding cut scenes. This dramatically reduces back-story, as the player never sees what’s happened in Gordon’s absence and leaves the little narrative to be played out in game.

I felt this style of narrative left many unanswered questions from the previous title and conjured some of its own leaving the player with the sense of never really knowing what’s going on.

Although unarmed at the start of the game various weapons are given to you as you progress through the game by killing enemies and pickups. A basic weapon the famous crowbar and a Hazardous Environment Suit (HEV suit) make a return for the second instalment. The crowbar is used to protect yourself and attack enemies with melee attacks and destroy breakable objects that may prevent progress through the level. The HEV suit still provides an excuse for a heads up display (HUD) to be displayed on screen. The HUD gives constant feedback on the players health, suit charge and number of bullets you have left in your guns primary and secondary functions with the total ammunition collected. A new addition to the HEV suit is that it now allows you to sprint for limited amounts of time until the energy is depleted; energy can be replenished by waiting a short while.

I though the addition of the sprint function to the HEV suit was a great idea not just for speeding up navigation but combat situations where running for cover is now an option.

Unlike the previous title there are now moveable and breakable props known as prop physics to you modders. These can be used in conjunction with the Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator or Gravity Gun. Picking up different props to fire at enemies varied in success and results. This combination of weapon and prop becomes handy in low ammo situations and is forced upon you during the game. The Gravity Gun is also essential for completing some puzzles in game.

Although Half-Life 2 introduced navigation outside of Black Mesa I personally thought the long-winded travelling from checkpoint to checkpoint via dune buggy and airboat tedious and very linier. Although I must admit that these sections of the game created a sense of scale in the outside world it was let down by the poor handling of the vehicles and lack of freedom.