Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Well that was a waste of a week

Euraugh, I've had a bit of a shit time of it recently.

I broke up with my girlfriend just two days after my formative assessment, not the end of the world, I'm not going to cry and be all dramatic about it. But it is rather annoying, as the collateral damage was rather unsavory. Plus she was a nice friend.
she lives with my best mates, I used to chill out with them every night in order to relax, can't do that for a little while! Which is ironic, as now I need that more than ever!

With this doing a good job of stressing me out, I then have caught some god awful flu, very similar to Mumps symptoms (I swear I've had my MMR so hopefully its not) Which has kept me inside my flat for nearly a week now. I've been in bed for the past few days, bar a small shopping trip to get some fresh air... Which made me even worse the next day :(

I feel a bit shit to be honest, my number of friends has essentially been chopped in half, I've lost a girlfriend I don't mind admitting I was starting to get quite close to, and I'm stuck indoors to think about it... all this, while sweating uncontrollably and shivering like an arctic explorer.

But why post this? Why moan?

I'm posting this because I feel it is quite important to mention. The last week I've not been able to do any work, every time I pick up a pencil I end up putting it back down and go to sleep. I tried some digital painting but it gave me a headache almost instantly, same goes for 3d work. I have only recently been able to start using my computer again without feeling like its draining the blood from my brain. Playing games is an interesting challenge, as my reaction times are comparable to 'paraplegic' or 'mentally retarded'.

I feel slightly better now, I can stand up, and even use my computer. Not confident with going outside just yet, I have the heating on full in my room, I'm wearing a hoodie, and I'm still freezing cold! - though I am also sweating, which should I believe? lol.

As for drawing? I'm sorry Chris but I can't see much happening this week if things stay like this, I feel shit, emotionally, mentally, physically. I honestly feel about as creative as a 40 year old investment banker. My life has gone from awesome, everything working, to - loads of things going wrong, that Guy needs to fix, but can't because he is ill.
As much as I love this place, Leicester, having my own flat, my course and my friends, I need to get out and away from it for a bit. I need to forget about Kaleigh, I need to remind myself of the friends I still have, get home in the safety of my parents place and sort my life out, I just wish it hadn't happened at such a shit time.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

What just happened?

What just happened? I'm nearing the end of my first year already!?

In a quick round-up, what a year. I've enjoyed every second, met awesome new people, learned so many things and changed, as a person. It is safe to say that out of all the university courses in the country, I have chosen the right one. The one that inspires me, answers my questions, and most importantly, I enjoy. The course, unlike others, hasn't handed me reams of shitty essays and exams to be getting on with, just pure art. The course has opened my eyes to artwork, I've noticed things in drawings that I've never seen before, I've learned to draw and paint better than I'd ever been able to before. When I was home for Christmas, even my mother recognized a dramatic improvement in my sketching skills.

I've learned about the brain, why we think certain things, why some people are better artists than other, how born 'talent' doesn't exist. How to beat the creative block, how to develop my skills. The list is endless.

A friend of mine is on the Teeside course, I'm not shafting them, but when we met up at Christmas and talked about how we've been doing, our stories were drastically different. He'd been writing essays, not much of the 'real stuff'. I'd been modeling, drawing, and learning so many things.

The course structure has been great for the first year. The socializing with the other years has helped surprisingly, talking to Cameron for example has taught me a lot about digital paintings. I know, it didn't work as well as it could have, not all computer nerds are social to people they don't know. Del, as another example, helped me with little tips for texturing my character.

I wouldn't change a thing - apart from, Chris, please could you be a little mores specific with your assignments. I understand you want us to be creative, but sometimes the briefs are so vague we aren't sure what you want - however, I suppose this is all about creativity, not fearing being wrong.

Any suggestions?:

I would like to suggest one thing. From my experience in the 1st year, it really helps to speak face to face with a 2nd, or 3rd year student about my work, and their crits. I understand the Facebook accounts are supposed to replicate this, but how about, in addition, we have a session, say, on a Thursday, where we rotor in students to present a project they are working on to the other years, a real forum so to speak. To ensure attendance we could make it a 'registered' event.


Thursday, students to present are; Guy, Mitch, Matt, Abi, Tash, Andy, Cameron, Del, etc.

We each in turn, load our work up onto the projector and show what we are doing to it, what we have done, and how we are going to improve it. And those watching can present crits, offer advice, even take over and show them how to fix something, in front of everyone.

Receiving face to face crits is awesome.


Andy is showing a model of a figure that he is doing for an online mod, its not finished but its looking pretty good. Del notices that some edge flow is slightly off, he also notices that part of the texture could have some noise added to increase the believability.

Andy tries it there and then, and notices it looks better, everyone watching learns from the tuition and remembers it for their next/current project. Awesome, Andy says thanks and Mitch steps up... etc....

End of suggestion.

In conclusion, I've loved my first year, even thought we didn't have the labs at the beginning I feel it still went well. The Facebook group was an original, quality idea. Watching movies on a Wednesday has been inspiring, and has definitely broadened my experience of different genres and artistic styles. Life drawing has been useful, I've learned a lot, and trying different mediums has been exiting. I'd never used charcoal before, now I love it, I've definitely found my preferred technique for drawing life (the initial smudge technique).

Blind drawing has 'opened my eyes' so to speak, about engaging the right side of the brain and not 'thinking logically' about my drawings.

Heathers modeling classes have still taught me a lot of things I had overlooked, use of 'snaps' for example, efficient use of normal maps (the NVidia Filter!) specular maps, working in triangles rather than polies.

My first year has been awesome, and I can't wait to improve, roll on year 2!

P.S, My mod work has improved so much since I've been here. Just the other night a friend said this over MSN:

[RHS][Vex_man][I44] says:
lol, no offence but I never really remembered you as being this good

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Awesome Artwork

Ive got to be quick as were heading out to the cinema in a minute to watch Watchman (I hate comings, this film is going to suck)

But I've stumbled upon this section of the Elder Scrolls web page. I had seen it before but because I wasn't as aware of things around me as I am now it never really sank in. Now Its really fun to look at these images and wonder how I could produce something similar.

So here it is, have a look, its very inspiring, I personally love the art style.

Its humbling also to see that some of the art isn't all that great, some perspectives are off, some proportions are off, but it all gets the point across perfectly, is it this that really makes good concept art?

GDC 09

MMMmmmm... I love California, when I was there last summer I never got the chance to check out San Fransisco, its definitely one of the cities I want to see, and also where GDC is taking place in only a week or so!

I've had a look at whats going on, and there are definitely a few sessions I would love to go see. Most notable would be the 'Terra forming of Far Cry 2'.

Far Cry 2 is a really fun game, I wont lie, the story and missions get repetitive and boring really quick, but. Its so beautiful, it feels like Africa, the graphics are awesome, the grass, when set alight burns ferociously with a roar, and spreads with the wind.

I initially bought FarCry2 as a benchmark for my new system build (and it doesn't lag, even on super high graphics :P) But I soon realized what an awesome game it is, the multi-player is fun too! but the defining feature was definitely the scenery, and the setting. Without this setting the game wouldn't be half as engrossing and impressive.

From working in mod teams, I have learned fairly rapidly that it is always the maps that take the longest time to make, and the longest time to perfect. They always have the most bugs, they always take ages! When working for mods of 'Operation Flashpoint' I soon learned that the huge maps, were built object by object. The map mappers would place every tree, every building, every clump of grass. And it literally took months (I believe its the same process for ArmA but I'm not sure).

But what about FarCry2? The map is huge! and even more detailed! For someone to place every individual object on such a game would take ages, years maybe.

And this is why it interests me, my understanding of level making leads me to suggest that something interesting is involved, that the developers have used a new 'trick' to help them develop their environment, and I'd love to know what it is.

For the record, I'm guessing it is something along the lines of the technique used to populate 'Oblivion's' forests.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Anatomy! Anatomy!

My 2D work has never been a strong point, especially figurative drawing. Hence why I've taken it upon myself to do a few sketches of the human anatomy, based on reference from an awesome book Kieran Lent me.

And I've found a really cool, quick way of doing it. Thanks to the book 'Drawing and painting Fantasy Worlds' - so, thanks Kieran!

Click here for a quick scan pic.

Still some errors, but its fun working them out

What do I REALLY want out of university?

Its a hard question to face.

A lot of people don't event think about, not even before they go. Some of my friends went to university because it was the next logical step after 6th form. What do they want to be when they are older? "I've no idea" they say. Now, I'm not bitching about my friends behind their back, but have some goddamn foresight! University is a massive investment, quite possibly the biggest investment one will make in their life, to go, without even sparing a thought as to what you want to get out of it seems crazy, 'stupid' dare I say.

Then I know other people, who blindly go to university, assuming that the course will make them eligible for a nice well paid job. Almost ignoring the fact that you will only be eligible for that job if you actually know your shit. A nice degree isn't some kind of pass card to a cushy job.

But all this talk of others, what about me? Why am I here, and whats me reason for being?

Unlike the first group I mentioned, I know where I want to be. My goal, after this three year course, is to be good enough, at creating Game Art, that a company will want to employ me to work for them. I understand that companies don't really care much for degrees and education background, its all about how good you are. And because of this, it almost seems silly me being on an expensive degree course. But this bring me onto my next point. My main reason for being on this degree course, isn't for the grade I get, to be painfully honest I'm not really fussed whether I get a 2:watzit, or a 1st. My reason for being here, is to develop my skills, learn new things, and grow as an artist, to the point I aim to be at, fuck it, PAST the point I'm aiming for.

You know what, I want to be employable by the end of the second year, at the end of the third year god knows where I'll be.

This said, I also understand another important point - the information I'm being taught now, will be obsolete in five years time. If I only learn what I am taught in the next three years, I'll be employable for about half a decade. Not worth being in debt about is it?

Being at university is not necessarily about learning SPECIFIC pieces of information, rather, learning a way of thinking, a way of looking at things, that make the possibilities for continual development endless. Learn how to learn, and learn how to adapt.

I'm also at university to build up a portfolio, create loads of stuff, whether its course related or not, who cares, I don't have any other work to do so lets just go nuts and enjoy it. Its only going to benefit me.

By the end of the three years, I will be employable, not necessarily because my grade says so, but because I'm good. And I'm good because I modeled stuff, I DID 3d work. I learned how to overcome what was keeping me back in 2D. This is my goal.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Creativity - Part Deux

Since my last post on Creativity, I've been introduced to new ways of thinking, my brain has been packed full of information on the very subject, but its kinda safe to say... my views haven't changed... MUCH....

Creativity is still wanting to DO, its still driving yourself to create new Stuff. But after watching the Ken Robinson speech (see earlier post) I've realized that, not only is creativity 'Wanting' to do make/do stuff, its also 'Willing' to do stuff. Sometimes, Due to partly to our upbringings and social stigma attatched with being 'wrong', doing something new, can be pretty scary. We can convince ourselves that we don't want to be wrong, and because of this we don't dare risk being creative.

What Ken Robinson has to say about creativity is very interesting indeed. That we are all born creative, children are naturally creative because it is the body's way of ensuring we experiment and learn about the world around us. This willing to try new stuff conflicts with the rules of Maths, English, and other Logic based subjects, where there IS a wrong answer, and it should NEVER be reached. In schools, children are almost purely taught this logic, and it gives us a very one sided view of the world.

But in an experiment, can we really go wrong? Surely an experiment is just a 'test' to see what a result for something is. The Social stigma of being wrong stops us from taking part in these 'experiments' and because of this many people don't learn to draw, or paint, or dance, or 'break the mold'. We don't throw caution to the wind anymore, but why not? Its perfectly sensible to be afraid for ones safety, but to be afraid of being wrong? Its almost pathetic.

Is this the right theory for creativity? How can it be, when there is right or wrong answer ;)

Thinking in this way has certainly helped me to knuckle down and get things done, so why shouldn't it be? For me its the right theory.

Empire of the sun - No, not the film...

Curious as to the name of this band, I allowed my Swedish friend to pin me down on MSN and make me listen to some of their music. Usually I writhe uncontrollably and block my ears when a friend sends me a you tube link on MSN and says something along the lines of 'Check out this cool band I like, but you will probably hate'.

And you know what, it took a few listens, but this one stuck. I actually like it. I've only listened to two of their songs, but the rest are probably shit.

Here it is, Empire of the Sun - Walking on a dream.

Now this song poses a real question.

Is it me or do they seem kinda gay?

Am I listening to a gay mans beat off music?

Was my friend trying to drop a hint when he said he 'loves' them over MSN?

AAAAAAA!!!! I can't decide!

Also, check out 'We are the people' - If they aren't gay, then that's my summer song.

Local Hero

This was a perculiar film.

I watched it on TV before I went to America, so early Summer 08. To me it was just a shitty 80's looking film. I started watching it just past the half-way mark, and i diddn't really get it, at the time I was just relaxing on a summer afternoon infront of the tv with the bay windows open.

But after watching it, and paying attention to it, there is something about it, something, I can't put a finger on it, but I like it. I enjoyed the film, it was kinda uplifting, made me feel happy in a way.

But I don't even know why, the story is about some people who stand the chance of getting rich, them some smelly selfish bastard who lives on a shack on the beach ruins it all for them.

I suppose its the friendships, or something. It can't be the Scenery though, I fucking hate Scotland, its cold and shit, with lots of hard rocks to fall on.

All in all though, I liked it, it made me happy, and I don't know why.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Sir Ken Robinson - Creativity

My University lecturers have directed me to a video, of a speech on creativity, by Sir Ken Edwards, at a TED meeting in Los Angeles.

Here is a link to the video:

I want to do a quick review, as this video has effected me, in the way I think, in the way I want to approach tasks, and has motivated and inspired me in ways I feel are quite rare.

This video reminds us, that all humans are equal, and are capable of anything. If we aren't good at maths, chances are its because that part of our brain, a muscle don't forget, has not 'worked out' in a while. Essentially, to get better at something, all we need to go is take that part of our brain to the proverbial 'gym' and give it a work out.

I've sometimes felt slightly stupid when around other people, my maths skills are getting exponentially poorer, my handwriting not as neat as other peoples, sometimes I say silly things. And I can't help but sometimes get a little down about it. I don't like being ridiculed because I don't know the square root of 98, I felt kinda upset when a 'friend' gave me a grammar competition and kicked my ass. It made me feel a little shit, like I was a 'worse' human than them. That they were better than me.

But the Ken reminds us, that we are all diverse, and that while we might be a little rusty at somethings, we are all good at something. And I think thats why I like the video, because it reminds me I can be good at something, dare I say it, I AM good at something.

We all want to feel like were good at something, like we have a niche, and we all are.

A friend of mine at school, 'Dean May' wasn't really awesome at much, he could communicate quite well, but we both sucked at maths, and I used to laugh at his science book. He was regarded as one of the 'poorer performing' pupils in our year. But at what? poorer performing at academic skills invented by other humans?

Dean left school after GCSE, and started a business selling motorbikes with his brother. I don't know how the business is going, I'd love to be able to tell a story comparable to Ken's Balet dancer story. But I'm sure they are doing well. He is happy, earning an income, and from what I could tell, not too bad off for money.

We're all good in our own little way. I love 3d Art, thats why I'm here, and I'm gonna work that brain muscle till it bleeds (but not too much because that might kill me)

What DO games companies want from a graduate?

This is an interesting question, funnily enough I was thinking about it the other day, before I even read the brief for this blog (:| I know, but I'm catching up fast!).

If ever games company produces different games, what do you show them in an interview? What do you specialize in? What do they need to see to want to employ you?

With questions like these whirring around my brain late on a Sunday afternoon, I decided to find out, from the horse's mouth so to speak, and e-mailed a games company.

Here is a copy, verbatim, of the e-mail I sent:

Dear RTW

My Name is Guy Thomas, I am a student studying game art and design at Demontfort university in Leicester.

I am enquiring as to what you would like to see on a portfolio.

I'm still a first year student, and while I feel that I am quite capable (to produce 3d content) due to my long modding history, I would love to know, what you as a company would like to see on a portfolio for a 3D Artist. What skills you consider important, what is good, and what is bad. This will allow me, over the next few years, to build a portfolio based on knowledge gained not only from lecturers, but from industry itself.

One day, I would love to apply for a job at real-time worlds, I have played most of your released titles, and love things like the art direction on 'Crackdown'., Not only the Cell shaded shaders, but the oranges of the city contrasting with the blue of the player characters.

I hope you understand the nature of my enquiry, and I wish you all the best of luck in the future!


Yours Faithfully

Guy Thomas

And, being the good company that RTW (real time worlds) are, they hastily sent me a reply, once again, printed verbatim:


Thanks for your interest in Realtime Worlds.

In a portfolio from a graduate we would be looking for their best work, please don’t include everything you have worked on at uni as your earlier stuff is unlikely to be as good as your most recent stuff, and would lead the Hiring Managers to conclude the work as inconsistent. Also do as much work as you can that is not course work and state which pieces of work and course related and which aren’t.

Also, if you are applying for a specific art role eg Characters ensure there are characters in your portfolio. People often apply for roles but don’t have examples of that type of work.

It’s also important to try and have different styles of artwork for different companies ie your showreel for us would look very different to one you used to apply to a company who make WII games. If you don’t some companies might not take your application any further, or others might send you an art test, which just takes longer for you to get to an interview.

I hope this information helps. If you have any further queries please don’t hesitate to ask.



So, a fairly generic reply, but worth noting that she stated 'It’s also important to try and have different styles of artwork for different companies'. Meaning that if a company specializes in mobile phone games, they want to see low poly artwork. if a company is making a cell-shaded game, they will probably want to see very stylized models, or images, depending on your area.

So, companies want to see something that 'suits them'. But with so many different and varying companies, how can a university offer a course that is set to satisfy all different areas?

It is dangerous to say that 'universities need to teach it all', for fear that being a jack of all trades makes you 'good' in all fields but 'excellent' in none. But it is also dangerous to suggest that a course specializes in a certain art style, e.g realism, as this will make 30 doppelganger graduates, of whom only one gets a job.

Personally, I believe that a University course should give the students the skills they need to use software and understand how to create good, low poly models efficiently, and to texture well. Give the students the tools that they need, to develop their own personal style.(sound familiar?, its not a kiss ass, I genuinely agree)

For a student to 'develop a new style' they need to be fearless of being wrong, they need to try new things, break away and be creative. Remember, there is no logical way to be creative, and as a result it really cannot be 'Taught', rather, it just needs to 'happen'. It can, however, be aided, by images, movies, and general 'stuff', which is all a university course can really hope to do. To set a brief task, and see what happens, let the students loose.

By developing this personal style, and niche so to speak, students will find a job that suits them. If a student falls in love with realism, and creating realistic characters from photo reference, they can apply at a company that also specializes in realistic games.

For a university to produce good artists, it needs to give them a 'reason to work' a.k.a Assignments. The Skills with which to work a.k.a 3d modeling tuition, perspective classes, Anatomy classes. Fill the students brains with cool stuff a.k.a movies, pictures, investigate all different fields. And then let the fuckers loose.

Sound in games

Sound is prominent in all computer games, whether it be a title theme, or a distant ambient heightening your senses, its there. It engages more of your body's senses, and increases the believability of the game, drawing us into the virtual world. Sound Effects, give us a believability of whats happening, after all what is an explosion without the sound? What is a gun that doesn't go 'bang' (or 'sift' for silent guns). What are humans that speak with only subtitles? Without sound, games would just be fancy graphics, users would be given a nice interactive color show, but wouldn't be drawn in. Sound makes us scared, makes us tense, and makes us feel like we're there.

Just as in films, there are well known game composers too, the people who create the awe inspiring title themes that we hum in our heads for days. Video game composers are no less talented than any other kind of composer.

Here are a few well known composers:

Jeremy Soule - technically, the Soule Brothers, and they comosed the 'Oblivion' theme 'Reign of the Septims' (and the rest of the soundtrack). The Soule Brothers also composed the 'Morrowind' Sound Track, here are the links to the two main themes:

Harry Gregson-Williams is also a well known composer, who composed the theme to the 'metal gear solid' series. The Mgs2 theme tune has always stood out in my mind as being an all time favorite, here it is:

There is also Nobuo Uematsu
, who composed for the final fantasy series.

The most defining moment for me, which I still remember vividly was my first few hours playing 'Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind'. The setting, feeling, visuals and most notably soundtrack struck me. I almost felt compelled to stop playing and just BE part of the game. The music drew me in, made me feel not only see. its hard to explain the effect a good soundtrack has on you, and your memories, but Morrowind still remains one of my all time favorite games, and the soundtrack was a huge factor in that memory.

Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards - good times. most influential recording of the 20th centuary?

This is a hard question to answer, but I'd have to disagree, as much as I love the bassline to such an iconic song, it is worth taking into consideration to many other popular bands and recordings of the time. Lets not forget the Beatles, quite possibly responsible for a whole new genre. Other songs like the classic pop song 'I will survive' along with other major artists have also had a massive effect on the music industry as a whole and the industry is constantly being shaped by the songs produced from different bands.

The song 'good times' has had a massive impact , the fact I know the bass line from heart, and I wasn't even born when it was made. Is tribute to that fact, but there were also many other influences that shaped the industry today.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Games Engines

Games engines are vital, but often overlooked by your average gamer. Games engines are the code that makes things work. They keep a track of health points, keep a track of collisions, send 3d models to the rendering controller so they show up on screen. Basically Engines are code.

Games engines can essentially be broken down into different areas, for example; Graphics rendering, Physics calculation, Networking controller, etc. These different parts all work together in conjunction with each other to produce the games we play. Depending on the skill and knowledge of the programmer that designs them, different games engines vary in quality.

The way in which a games engines creates and displays its 3d matrix varies, but generally is either considered 'subtractive' or 'additive'. The difference between these two rendering methods is quite simple. In games such as 'Half-Life 2' there is a 'void' in which you put objects into. The void is infinite, and in such an environment, the designers need to close the level off from the void. (this is because lighting information cannot be calculated in the void, due to its infinite distance, if the engine tried to calculate the distance traveled by a 'light ray' into the void it would never stop calculating, and the game would hang).

In subtractive environments, such as the 'Unreal engine', rather than having an infinite 'void' there is an infinite cube. Rather than the developer placing objects into the void and closing it off, the developer must first carve out an area in which to place objects. The benefits of this are that the developer does not need to spend important time checking the level to ensure there are no 'leaks'. However, the developer does need to keep carving out space to use, so it is two sided sword.

Developers have an option whether to buy a new games engine, or write their own. There are pros and cons of both.

Games engines are big, fucking big, not to mention complicated. Its very easy to write a poor game engine. It is also very time consuming to write a new games engine. In today's industry where 'time is money', this can often be seen as a risky move. However, if a game being developed, requires features that are not well supported in a current games engine developers can be forced to write or modify.

It is also worth noting that while writing new games engines may be quite rare in the current state of the industry, many developers are building upon old engines that they have used for previous games. For example Bohemia Interactive have been developing their 'posideon' engine for three game generations now, improving upon it, rather than writing a new engine.

However, some developers choose just to purchase the license for an engine that has already been written by either another studio, or a private company. Many engines are commercially avaliable, for example the 'Torque' engine can be purchased for a very small price. Other more well known engines such as the 'Unreal' engine are also commercially available, however, for a much higher price.

As time goes on, so do engines, and they must improve along the way. As new games demand new features, the new engines must provide them. In current engines there is a definite exchange between playing space or detail. For example, 'Operation Flashpoint 2' being developed by Codemasters requires large playing areas, while still trying to remain aesthetically pleasing to its audience. it will be interesting to see how Codemasters overcome this challenge with their new engine.

Online games are starting to look 'old', but without improved networking controllers, the developers won't be able to add newer features and higher levels of detail. (the more 'packets' an engine needs to send to the server, and then receive, the slower the latency, online games try and optimize this as much as possible).

There are many more small challenges that confront engines, and it is the resolution of these challenges that keeps the industry progressing graphically, and in many other ways.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Gaming Cultures

Gaming is awesome, in more ways than one. Not only do you get to while away the wee hours of the morning, shooting new players on De_Dust, but you also meet people, and chat to people, gloat, taunt, and for some people, fall in love. Thankfully, I don't think I've ever done the latter, but I've definitely done the rest. Cultures in the 'fake' games world exist just as they do in the 'real' world (whever that place is). In the world today we have many different races, religeons, dress senses, accents, Broad cultures. In the games world we have consumers, n00bs, l337's (elite players), modders, developers, fan boys. They all exist, and can be seen in many of the different games played online today.

I personally feel that online games have the best cultural variety. On most single player games, we never really communicate with other people, and so we aren't able to express our views, and find our niche that we fit into.

Peronally, I consider myself a modder, when I play games, I want to put new stuff in them, I love fiddling with things. I'm part of different mod communities, I spend my freetime modding games, just as much as I play them. I'm definitely not a 1337 player, and I'd be shocked if you called me a n00b.

Modding occopies a lot of my life, dangerously consuming my time avaliable to do uni work, but I enjoy it, and its my leisure activity. its safe to say it takes up most of my freetime.

Through my time on the net, whether it be playing games, or modding games, I have met many 'virtual friends'. People I only know through the chat pane of MSN, some I have met while playing games. Take one of my friends Jack for example. Jack and I met on Counterstrike when I was fourteen years old. We stayed in touch all this time. Jack lives in Leicester, and when I came to university here, we met up and went for a drink. We're now good friends.

But most of my internet friends come from modding. We work as teams, on the internet to create content, but most I have never met in the flesh before. Its strange that I consider them my friends, when the only contact I have ever had with them is via text being entered onto a screen.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Games Industry

The games industry has grown since its small beginnings around the 70's. Its now a multi-billion pound industry, with many developers based all over the globe. The growth of the game industry, bar the small crash of 1983, has generally been steady. However in recent times things have started to looks unsightly, with the recent recession many games companies have gone bust, or been dropped by their publishers, and it seems that only the large firms have high hopes of scoring profits as we all stop spending money on luxuries.

For example, the games company 'Free Radical Design', once the proud developers of the 'Time Splitters' series of games, have found the economical shit storm too much, and have had to pack it in. A sad end to an interesting company. And this story isn't unique, its happening to many more, Take 'Pivotal games' for example. Pivotal Games, based in bath, UK have also had to cut jobs, and seek a higher power. In this example, the once privately owned Pivotal, are now part of the Eidos group, seeking financial security.

The games industry is still a massively high revenue industry, but of late it seems that even the big guys are under threat. The main challenge of the industry, is to see through this phase. When the recession is over, and people start spending again, the games industry will be able to take full advantage of the inevitable developments in hardware, and see an even bigger popularity and growth.

For employees, the games industry is a mixed place. I have been lucky enough to speak to a few people in the industry. People such as Ben mathis, Marcel Playster. Both are 3D Artists and both have varying opinions on their industry. Ben Mathis for example is a great fan of the games industry, and was adamant it was the most fun place to work. Marcel on the other hand, dislikes the pressures of working as an artist.

After questioning these people, it is evident that the company that you work for has a lot to do with your enjoyment of the industry. Some companies are more relaxed than others, some are very large and lack the personality of smaller firms, smaller firms are sometimes very spartan and don't have ample resources. Depending on your personal opinions, one firm will appeal more than another.

The pressure of the recent recession however affects the pressures faced as an employee, with no slack being allowed by the publisher, the industry must essentially get more done in smaller time. This can cause discomfort to employees.