Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Characters from a book are detailed significantly in extensive words, since there is no imagery. It lets your imagination run wild, and plays out your own interpretation in your mind.
For this reason, depending on the author, I believe characters in books can be as effective with the right imagination but it isn’t for everyone.
In TV and Film, characters have the advantage of visual facial expression, expressing pain, anger and happiness, through acting. The advantage and disadvantages depend on how good the actor plays the character, the right character chosen for the part (will the characters connect naturally and believably) and how effective the script is.
In my opinion, if watching a TV program or Movie, in the space of time from start till finish you were so engrossed in their experience, you forget they are acting, it means the characters and script have done their job.
The techniques used to make the audience respond to characters, are made from numerous factors, their acting, their connection with other actors, the script and their appearance.
After watching any character for no more than 5min you automatically know if you can relate and believe what they’re saying, whether it’s a random conversation that means nothing or a serious life and death matter.  If the actor can pull off everyday realism, what we go through (normality) it makes us respond positively.
Appearance is extremely important in character choice. As an audience, it is the first thing we see and judge by. This can play a big part in stereotypical imagery, for example a teenage guy with a hoody rapping in a part, would come over as normal, but play a 50 year old guy in that exact part, would give a whole different response to that character. It would not be taken as seriously.
In film, most people get their parts because their face fits; whether they can act the part comes second. It just shows what an impact appearance plays in characters.
A bad script can make the best of actors look bad. Each part plays a crucial role in the final end product. Failure to do so in any of the above can cause a bad response.
The type of stories I find irresistible are mainly Asian dramas. I become quite addicted!.
There is a type of formula they use for Asian dramas that work. I find British and American dramas rarely have this with a few exceptions. 
It’s very important for the story to build up the character’s personality throughout the story, whether it’s their innocence, rebellious nature, or being plain misunderstood showing their change overtime.
If not done correctly, the viewer will not care, or sympathise with the character. You want your audience to feel something and make a connection with the story and what’s happening to the characters in it.
With Asian Romance dramas especially, the build-up of how the characters begin to like each other is very important. If the script and characters are not believable and have not been put through much effort to get there, the bond and chemistry will be lost and the audience will not care.

Devil Beside You

Art Direction

Art Directors need leadership abilities responsible for building a team establishing their visual style and quality consistency. This can include overall game assets, environment lighting, character direction, menu HUD, websites and branding.
The job role of an art director is to communicate visual ideas to their team, through documentation, example assets, mood boards, key drawings, art style and colour swatches. This job is vital to the games fast progression and final end product, as each team member needs to have the same vision in mind when creating there characters and assets.
Art Directors also have the pleasure of recruiting potential art employees and outsourcing groups. Making this decision can have a good effect on the game, instead of being landed with a team you don’t know the potential of. They get to take control on whether your skills can produce what they envision.  Art Directors work with Senior Producers and Design Directors to ensure the art direction fits in with the overall project goals. 

The amount of responsibility and control art directors have over a game project expresses just how creative the role actually is.  The important decisions they make, involve setting the visual tone, quality, and style for the game, environment composition and the placement of each prop in the location. Does the prop support the story, the feel and impression of the game?
Good art direction can speak for itself, telling a story without words being spoken. It’s the same with a concept design. If the drawing, placement of objects within the piece, can tell a story to the viewer through image, then it’s definitely a good concept.

Not only does placement play an essential role in art direction, equally colour tone and texture does, as a colour pallet can represent feeling, whether it’s shades of orange, brown, yellow (warmth) or blue, green, black (cold). It gives mood in a scene, or even a character. Does the character wear bright colourful clothes, to represent their personality or dull mild tones?
All these things are what the art director has to think about, and can be the most creative role in the game industry.

The future qualities you would need to develop to be become an art director would be
·       A deep understanding of 2D and 3D software packages (Photoshop, 3DS Max, Maya, ZBrush, Mudbox)
·       Advanced understanding of Motion principles and Animation
·       +3 - 5 years professional experience in leading art production team in the game or film/TV Industry, as an Art Director or Lead Artist.
·       Solid communication and problem solving skills
·       Must be strategic, with an eye for detail, great commitment towards deadlines and delivering high quality art on time and within budget.
·       Experience managing multiple projects, motivational, priorities, schedule, and deadlines with a strong attention to detail.
·       Solid understanding of architecture, perspective, human character anatomy, gesture, clothing, art direction and storytelling/boarding
·       Broad understanding and interest in visual art outside of game industry world, e.g traditional art, photography, sculpting etc. 
·       Demonstrated ability to direct and multi-task effectively under pressure, while balancing speed and quality of the work.
·       Passion for making and playing video games, with an awareness of current titles and industry trends.

I bet you’re thinking.. wow that’s a lot right?
Art Directors have to oversee a whole team of individuals that produce and work on different mediums, whether its concept artists, character and environment modellers, animation team, audio team, visual effects, technical and graphic & user Interface artists etc. This means it’s very important to have insight on how everything works for the vision to come into play.  Not to mention the managerial role of delegating, problem solving, organisation, budgeting, deadline steadiness and keeping the art direction of a high quality consistency. 

Sunday, 17 April 2011


Even though next generation consoles keep drastically improving in overall performance, the basic objective “Character collects objects, evades, kills enemies” (Pacman) still runs through most platform adventure games as a basic principal.
Gameplay is what helps video games evolve into more exciting and complex situations, involving strategies to kill the enemy.

The job of a game designer isn’t just to create the idea of a game, but to define the Systems, Mechanics and Levels. A game designer can evolve around any media, from card games, social games and board games. Board and Card games are physically interactive, which gives the player more control after the rules have been set. Board games are less complicated, and are mainly for multiple players.
Most offline video games only cater for one or two players, with the exception of some.
Traditional board games in general like monopoly tend to make players wait their turn.
Gameplay involves player interaction with a game to overcome its objectives, as opposed to non-interactive reading books and movies.

A key skill a game designer should have is communication; they may be working under their Lead designer/Producers, and will also have to communicate their ideas across to the Artists, Programmers, Audio team and even PR Business and Marketing.
Each individual will think differently and always have something to bring to the table. It is vital they can take constructive criticism and change or be done with an idea that will not work.
Personal attachment needs to be left at home.

The game design process starts with an idea/pitch which may entail information such as platform type, audience range, stylisation, concept, plot ideas, who and how many staff needed, timescale among other things just to get the ball rolling.
Whether the pitch is accepted is another entirely different matter. Things to take into consideration are feasibility of deadline completion, scope and budget.
A game documentation is then made in more detail, which is continuously edited throughout the game creation process.

In early video game history, programmers took the job of the game designers as the designs were very simple and limited in the 1970s.
As consoles and software improve overtime, game graphics, story and game play become more complex needing team members solely for game design, instead of being shared with programmers.
Today, games designers share this responsibility with game design producers, lead designers and general game designers as the workload is increasing with the ever growing facilities.
For me, game play can make or break a game no matter how good the visual experience of the world environment and characters appear.
It is very easy, to make gameplay simple and repetitive with the objectives given.

“Find this crate, kill 7 rabbits that drop this?, then kill another 10 birds that drop this”

I find, it becomes tedious, and lose interest..
I prefer when the objectives start to actually mean something, when it’s incorporated correctly within the story.
E.g “Distract the guards, spike the guards drink, search guard for key, key opens prison cell to your freedom”
It becomes less of an implanted game objective, and becomes a fight for survival to protect your character.  It is something you want to do, rather than something it’s telling you to do that has no purpose.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Yakuza Game Review

The storyline of Yakuza was accomplished by having a well-known famous Japanese novelist Hase Seishu write the story script instead of game producers. For me, this is what kept me playing; you want to find out what happens next which really was the main success for the game including the cinematic cut scenes which carried the storyline flow in more depth.    After being purposely framed for a crime he did not commit, Kazuma Kiryu’s released out of jail 10 years later. He finds out things have changed; his journey has just begun.

The free roam is a core part of the game, allowing you to explore the Tokyo like town which has been created from licensed shops specifically delivering an authentic feel of realism, freely without being stuck in one certain place. This allows you more freedom and choice with where you want to go next, and what you want to do however this is where random encounters appear from yakuza thugs, street gangs, or random hooligans that want your money. At the beginning you will find yourself constantly smashing the square button, however as you progress through the plot and storyline that hooks you in, the game play fighting method's and strength build up, allowing you to train multiple techniques.

In part of the game you have to look after a little girl you’re protecting that is vital to your main end mission, taking her to fun places for example the batting cages. Beating your opponent will gain loyalty with the girl, which when filled up unlocks special items, taking her to arcades, winning a certain teddy bear, using photo booths, and buying her, her favourite food and drinks. I believe special inputs like this, which is not relevant to main game play, allows you to explore the extra fun areas of the game that make it less repetitive, also letting you build a friendship with the character. If you take her to a secret gambling joint behind the lotto bar she helps you win a lot of money. A side mission I came across outside a Strip club was helping the owner guard her entrance working as a bodyguard from hooligans. After beating numerous bad guys you receive a generous sum of money which helps you on your main mission. The extra missions keep the game interesting.

The game became so successful with RPG/Action Adventure players the company later produced a sequel Yakuza 2 for console Playstation 2 released in Japan on December 7th 2006 and have developed a further two sequels for console Playstation 3.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Game Reviewers

Issues reviewers face
Game reviewers face many different issues when writing for magazines, papers etc. They are given strict deadlines so time is very limited, giving a lack of depth to the review that can change viewer’s perception of the game being reviewed. Magazine companies may have short funding, which affects how many staff they can recruit. Low workforce affects the amount of workload the current staff has to handle between them; therefore, the quality in review is damaged.
Management, depending on who they are, can be in favour of certain video games, or companies, which have a biased view on what they want to portray in their review. i.e. if they have connections with the game company. This means the journalist has to write one-sided as it is their job and they are being paid for it.

Ranking systems

I feel the only way you can make a reasonable ranking system is to sort by game genre.
People generally have certain tastes whether it be Fighting games or Racing, so comparing different genres together doesn’t give an accurate outcome.
There needs to be a mix of Objective and Subjective ranking as a one-sided viewpoint does not explore all the possible flaws/problems or positives other people could not see.
A less experienced game reviewer may only put forth their subjective views and feelings towards the game from their experience playing it, which does not help the general public wanting information about that game to ensure it is worthy of purchase. The objective details being left out could be of vital importance.

Media Resources
Finding reviews about video games via Magazine or Internet. What would you choose?
Magazines cost money, traveling to a shop to buy it takes time; however, the Internet is free/something you have already paid for, and is easily accessible. Which type of information suits you best? Magazines are written to a better quality as they employ experienced journalists, however will take longer to composite, publish and print. Internet sources, which could be written by anyone, qualified or unqualified, so finding quality or depth can be hit and miss. However it is instantly available for viewing and is easily accessible.

Gaming reviews are important for the selling market launch as soon as a game is released.
Bad publicity rating can be fatal to sales plummeting in disaster.
Gamers who rely on these reviews who are oblivious of the games potential or failure, may already base there assumptions on the review or ranking.
There are many different types of review styles and formats which vary from game related websites like game spot and IGN which are more objective based on a ranking system 1-10 which any user can review as well as the critique staff from other websites.
Other forms of reviews are based no video animation skits grounded upon humour, this is deemed very popular upon gamers choice, as I found out in college.

The Escapist - Zero Punctuation

I personally do not peruse any of these forms of media to gain information about a game as if find reviews are based largely on opinions and can be biased. Whether you agree or not each individual are different as each game caters different tastes.