Sunday, 25 November 2012

Buick! (Update 25th Nov)

I've been trying out some different effects inside of Max to simulate the reflectivity of a car. It's a very basic material that isn't done yet, but it's a step in the right direction. Working on the environment at the moment, so that'll be up later. Hopefully. Back to work. Busy busy busy.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Buick! (Update 22nd Nov)

Thought I'd update the blog with some fresh screenshots, just to keep it up to date. I've been busy unwrapping the Buick and now I've started with the texturing, which has been misleading - to say the least. It's hard to know how much to do on the diffuse texture, considering a lot of the work will be handled by the shader setup. I think I might just neaten up this texture, give it some very minor details so it's not so bland, and then attempt to set up the shaders. It should look a lot nicer once the shaders are in order.

All in all, I'm happy with the Buick so far. Maybe it's sentimental attachment, maybe it's the pretty colours. Who knows.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Busy busy busy. Always so busy. Totally forgot to take screengrabs as I went, though I save often in increments so I can go back and grab some earlier shots with ease. Anyway, here's a front/back of the Buick so far. There are a few details still missing (forgot the side trim, for example) but it's about there.

It's off in places, it's not a 1:1 accurate recreation, but I was never aiming for that. Just a general likeness, which I think it'll be once it's had a lick of paint. 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Codemasters' Vehicle Brief

Yeesh, it's been a while. I'm not gonna start throwing excuses out, I'm just really easily distracted. Moving on.

So I forgot to post anything related to the rooftop project up, and now that project is over, I feel it'd be artificial to fake work-in-progess related posts. I do play to revisit that project, however, so when that time comes I'll try to remember to post the revised content. However, currently running is the vehicle brief, given to us by the fellows over at Codemasters. The short version of it is that we've been asked to create a model of a vehicle of our choice, in a fitting environment, and present it all purtied up.

Since my rooftop was distinctly science fiction, I wanted to try something different for the vehicle. Specifically, I wanted to go lighter and brighter this time, so I chose an old car and environment to match. I'm not a car person at all, so "classic" cars and the like don't appeal to me. Buut, I do really like retro-futurism, so immediately I knew what I wanted to do..

I just fell in love with this car when I found it. It looks like the inside of Ed's Diner. I can't explain it, I just knew straight away I wanted to create this, no matter how much trouble I encountered in doing so. 

In terms of setting, I knew there was only one place this car would feel at home -- an old fashioned garage! Specifically a home setting, like the car was a father's summer project, getting it looking all flash and fancy. Of course, the garage would be well lit and would have a view of the front garden, complete with picket fence and mailbox!

I've got a lot more reference for both the car and it's setting, but I'm not going to fill the blog with it. Most of it is piecemeal, so I'll post up concepts and sketches as I go to better help solidify the vision.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Coding with Notch (From the making of Minecraft)

I found this little clip interesting, it's nice to see someone at work just doing what they do naturally. It's also encouraging to know that everyone makes mistakes, like here, when Persson  tries to fix a bug and ends up making it worse. It just shows that it's all part of the process.

Coding isn't my territory, but it's just nice to see a creative person at work.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Making of de_dust

It's hard to believe that the most popular Counter-Strike map was made by a 16 year old fan. 

To say the map was based off really early Team Fortress 2 screenshots isn't really accurate - it was flat out copied. The author admits to that. But, he managed to take a few demo areas (which never ended up in TF2) and use them as the basis for a map which is still popular to this day.

What also interests me about this article is that he mentions having absolutely no plan for the level. As you do when you are that age, you take everything as it comes, and fortunately this turned out well for Mr. Johnston. 

Johnston also produced two very successful single player missions for the original Half-Life, as well as multiplayer levels for Brink.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Mars Attacks!

I'll be perfectly honest, when I saw the Mars Attacks! film, I didn't think it was part of a long-running series. I saw it as this wacky, cheesy, comical film that was a homage to a different era of science fiction. However, I read an article about the original 1962 trading cards (and the subsequent comics and reprints) in ImagineFX, and it got me interested in the vibrant artwork and energetic composition of the original series.

If you look at Mars Attacks! from a serious point of view, it's a morbid idea. Most of the artwork is very graphic in it's depiction of the invasion, and most of the victims are civilians in an idyllic american setting. It's not hard to believe that this was controversial back in it's time. We're not so sensitive to this stuff anymore, but back then there wasn't an over-saturation of grotesque violence.

The artwork for Mars Attacks! is described as being pulp, or at least pulp inspired. I'm still getting to grips with how best to describe pulp as an technique, but from what I understand it isn't easy to define. It's not so much a style of painting as much as a mindset, and it evolved from the technical limitations and time constrains the artist's had to work around whilst producing the artwork.

"Pulp" isn't a style/genre/whatever that I've been interested in before, but I'm intrigued by the Mars Attacks! series. It's got a charm of it's own, and I can see how it could bring a nice visual flair to certain projects.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Watercolour Gallery

Just found this gallery of watercolour paintings out of the blue on an unrelated search. Quite an impressive gallery overall! Makes me want to do a watercolour painting, despite it being midnight..

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Still Life Batch Update

A bulk of Still Life paintings I've been doing since the last update.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Still Life!

I've been procrastinating like mad recently, doing anything other than something artistic. I've even been done some coding, that's how it's gotten. So I decided to do a still life to shake the rust off a bit. I plan on doing a lot more of these in the following weeks.

Bear in mind that it's sunset, and I'm currently living in the darkness since the fuse for the main lights blew a few days ago.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Personal Project: RTS Set #1

After I'd handed in my work and officially finished for the academic year, I set about jumping straight into a personal project, which I've been working on ever since. It's something I've wanted to do since my first year.

Real-time strategy games were big in my first few years over in this part of the country, namely Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun. It was an old but interesting game, featuring two distinctive factions with differing sci-fi appearances.

I wanted to create a small batch of assets for a RTS game, to practice low-poly modelling. My inspiration for their designs came from games like Morrowind and the Eldar race in Warhammer 40K, and many of the cultures in Farscape. Anyway, less talk, more pictures.

So here were the quick concepts I did for the project. Not brilliant pictures by any standard, but their only purpose was to visualise ideas quickly, so I wasn't aiming for anything else. Two infantry (light & heavy), and several structures (HQ, Barracks, Furnace, Gate/Wall, Power Plant, Watchtower).

My first task on this personal project was to create the first character model, a very very low-poly character. I used the technical specifications of a current-gen realtime strategy game (Command & Conquer 3) as a base, which meant triangle counts under 800 and texture maps 128x128 in size.

Anyway, this is a work in progress of the Jackal character, a heavy infantry unit. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Morrowind art book

I've been looking for Morrowind-related art for a long time, I loved all of the designs and cultures they created for that game. And I found this; The insanely rare "Art of Morrowind." book, scanned in.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Task 24: Personal review of the second year: Where do you want to go, and how do you get there?

Task 24: Personal review of the second year: Where do you want to go, and how do
you get there?

So, what are universities for? Well, the obvious answer is that they're here to provide people with education and skills that'll benefit them in employment, or to give them the skills required to obtain a job. They also help break us out of the habits we've all picked up in our time in education prior to starting. Obviously, some students do not come straight from education, so for them this point isn't applicable, but regardless university does force us to take responsibility for our own work and education.

Universities are age-old institutions, some of the earliest evolved from monasteries. Religion was a driving force behind the development of the university system. Churches and mosques would require scholars to keep record of the faith and to research it. Over time, they broadened their horizons to include scholarship, mathematics and medicine. The University of Salerno was one of the first, focusing on medicine, though it faded away with centuries.

When I first arrived at university I was expecting more formal education, I imagine that impression was based on my prior experience in education. Throughout my time in mainstream education I've always had the impression that education was a one-way thing. Personally, I blame school for that, as we were all just expected to sit their and absorb everything that we were told. Any extra-curricular work was usually a sheet full of questions that no-one had any interest in. In my time here at university it's slowly sunk in that education here is two-way. I say slowly, because 13 years of mainstream education is hard to shake off in such a short time. However, it's been eye-opening.

As to what I want to get out of my time here at university, that hasn't changed. It's always been about trying to improve my skills as an artist, and to get into the mindset required for the industry. Granted, the transition has been hard and I'm still working on achieving my goals, but it's not been fruitless. One of the major obstacles that I've faced these past two years has been dealing with the problems that I've faced outside of work - going straight from the comfort of home into having to handle everything myself has been a rough line.

Over these past two years I've learnt a lot, and I'm not ashamed to admit that the majority of it I've learnt outside of set work. It's been the times that curiosity has driven me to new things where I've learnt more. That's not to say that tutorials and lessons haven't taught me anything, that'd be completely untrue, but I always seem to soak information in better when it's something I've gone out of my way to learn. Maybe that's a by-product of my experience in education, maybe I have an inability to soak in information unless I'm fully into it, I don't know. In reflection it's better to embrace it then to fight it.

To reflect on my second year as a whole, I feel it's been a learning experience greater than the first year. The first term was a step up from the work we did in the first year, both in terms of scope and speed. The group project was a major challenge and an all-around ball ache, but it was fun at times and it taught us all a lot. It was also a great example of the trials and rewards of working with other artists on a task. Overall, the second year has been challenging but not without it's merits, I've learnt a lot and had plenty of fun with the tasks set.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Task 23: Life Changing or Career Building?

Task 23: Life Changing or Career Building?

Technology within the games industry is constantly advancing and changing, to the point where certain technologies become obsolete within a couple of years. Some new technologies are simply an advancement of an existing one, so simply require a little bit of extra learning. However, some require totally new skills to be developed.

When it comes to jobs within the industry, employers are often looking for a mixture of current gen technical skill and traditional art background.  The two elements are opposites - the technical skills are very current and constantly changing, whereas the traditional background is an age-old skill that has changed very little over time.

It's hard for educational institutes to know how to provide their students with the right balance of current-gen technical skill and the underlying artist foundations. Since the industry is constantly changing and advancing, they need to constantly refresh their curriculum and covered topics. However, without the underlying traditional element, students will be left only with skills that are soon to expire. The underlying skill change to a lesser degree since they are fairly universal, which is why I feel they are worth more of a focus.

In my opinion, the underlying skills that subtly affect all the work that we do are far more important than specific technical skills. It's like trying to paint a wall without first putting up the wallpaper. I imagine that employers would be far more interested in an applicant who has a strong artistic background than someone who knows technical skills that are turning redundant.

At the end of the day, you can learn many new current or next generation skills from the internet, via the vast array of tutorials available for free. New tutorials come out to keep pace with the industry, so in that respect they're a viable alternative. However, I think the underlying artist foundations are something that benefit from formal education and cannot be developed as effectively through public-domain resources.

I looked at a job for a Junior Character Animator. Despite being an animation role, it paints a similar picture to game artist job roles I've seen. Candidates need to have thorough understand of animation software, animation principles, an a strong traditional background. This surprised me, considering it was a Junior role, I expected the requirements to be looser.

This just goes to show the tough situation employers face, and similarly education faces. The industry needs people with good art backgrounds and good current-gen skills, however this creates a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none situation when it comes to education, since it's hard to develop both qualities simultaneously. Education faces a definite problem as to which area to give priority.

I could waffle on and fill another 50 words but I think I've done enough waffling already here.

Task 22: Creativity, the talent myth and craft


The use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work.

Task 22: Creativity, the talent myth and craft

"Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach – how you look at things." 

It's hard to describe creativity, but personally I've always thought of it as the ability to create new things out of existing ideas. I can't remember who said it, but I remember the quote "there is no such thing as a new idea, only a new combination of old ideas". I believe that to be true, more so now than ever. 

"The creative process can be accidental or deliberate."

The belief that creativity is something we're born with is widespread. It suggests that creativity comes naturally to some people and not others, and that it's something that we cannot learn or develop. I believe this isn't true. As kids, we all painted stick figures and drew wonky houses, freely expressing our creativity in any way we could. Somehow, along the line, we either keep or lose that creativity we had as children.

There's a line I really like from an eBook on Creativity by Steven Mithen, which is "the surprise caused by a creative idea is said to be due to the improbability of the combination." It's an interesting way of looking at it, and I think he's onto something. Many 'creative' ideas mix several seemingly incompatible or undesirable ideas and create something interesting or unique. One example of this I could give is Morrowind, which spliced together giant turtles, colossal waterfleas and mechanical spider-dwarves and managed to create something magical looking.

Creativity can be developed, I believe, by anyone. It's not something that you can develop by reading a book or taking a lesson, more something that comes naturally through processes. 'Talent' is a similar concept, though talent refers more to someone's overall skill rather. Talent too can be developed, but not directly, it's a sum of all parts (including creativity).

When it comes to video games, I think creativity can be expressed in every area, whether it's an interesting game mechanic, interesting visual style or music. Take a look at the Wii, it had massive success almost entirely due to it's inventive and novel control scheme. Despite being released in the age of Halo and Call of Duty and having last-gen graphics, the Wii was a commercial success. On a similiar vein, it seems the Xbox Kinect hasn't really taken off  in the same way, due to the lack of creativity in it's design.

As an artist, I try to express my creativity through any means available, whether they be artistic or otherwise. I hope that through the work I produce and the way I approach problems, my creativity would show through, though I do not expect people to acknowledge something that is not there. Some things I do are more creative than others, and some turn out to be not creative in the slightest way, so generally I do not look for acknowledgement.

While I do not consider myself to be 'talented' currently, I would hope that in time I would be recognised as 'skilful' rather than 'talented'. To me, the word 'talented' implies a natural-born ability, and a sort of prestige. I think 'skilful' is a more appropriate tag as it acknowledges that the person has developed their skills rather than being born with them. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Valve employee Blog

A very interesting read. Valve's informal company structure definitely seems to encourage creativity and teamwork!

Book of Eli Matte paintings & concepts

I was rooting around for something related to the film when I found this, which is pretty awesome. It's a page full of matte painting before-and-after's, and concepts for the film. I really enjoyed the film and it's visual style, despite post-apocalyptic fiction being a cliché. I thought they handled it well.

Anyway, I found it interesting seeing how they composed certain shots from the film. I could've sworn these were all real places when I watched the film.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

RE: Day 1 DLC

Found this on Kotaku, in the comments section for an article on something to do with Day 1 DLC. It's pretty good;

I'm not going to go into the topic, because I'm pretty sure everyone's read enough about it already. Suffice to say, I believe a lack of information is the culprit here, and until people really understand how game development works, the argument is just going to loop.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Genre Definition

What makes a game a Role-Playing Game (RPG)?

Is it the ability to customise your character? Can't be, otherwise APB would be an RPG.

Is it experience points, levelling up and perks? If so, Call of Duty's multiplayer is an RPG experience.

Is it a sense of choice & consequence, or karma? That would shift most JRPG games like Final Fantasy out of the genre. And that wouldn't sit well with their fanbase.

Is it loot-hunting, enemy grinding and mounts? In that case, Borderlands and most MMO games are the purest RPG games around.

Is it the ability to roam free in a huge world? Flight Simulator. Armed Assault II. Angels Fall First: Planetstorm. 

How do you define a genre? It's a thought that's been going around in my head all day really. It's a similar thing with other mediums too. You can't say a song is a pop song because it features catchy, clean vocals, because many other 'genres' feature this too. You get it in metal, often considered to be the polar opposite of pop music.

I think it's a sum of all parts thing. It's one one feature that makes it a certain type of product, it's a sum of the thing. Hence why you end up with sub-genres like the role playing shooter and the turn based simulation.

Pointless entry over.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Craig Collins, Porfollio

No way in hell did I just find a guy responsible for some of the art behind Future Perfect!* I was searching for reference and it just popped up!

On a side note, this guy has some impressive personal and professional work too. Cool find!

"Though they are under [a] NDA I have recently completed work on up-and-coming titles Fear 3, Firefall and Mass Effect 3."


* I should probably point out that I love that game, and it's different variety of settings and cultures.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Task 21: An introduction to the Game Industry

Task 21: An introduction to the Game Industry

Funnily enough, this is something that's been on my mind for a while now. Throughout mainstream education, we're all encouraged to experiment and metaphorically stick our fingers in different pies. Also metaphorically, these pies are usually quite hot, and it's hard to get used to them at first.

God that sounds kinda dodgy. Maybe it's just me, I've got a dodgy mind at times.

Anyway, we're encouraged to experiment, and usually we find our niche and expand into it. Sometimes, however, our course/program/school/job requires us to work with these other "pies", and that can lead us into a jack-of-all-trades limbo state.

I think I'm a good example of this. After doing traditional work, digital work, sculpture, 3D modelling and level design this academic year, I'm in a muddle as to what I feel most comfortable with. Actually, that's not true, pencil & paper will always be my comfort zone. But I am confused as to what medium I should expand into and work on. Which is a problem, I think, especially considering how the games industry is currently very specialist focused.

Back in the olden days, when games where made by a small handful of talented folk, generalists were abound. And while some games are still made by small teams of 2-3, the majority of titles purchased and played by the public are made by studios consisting of large numbers of artists, programmers, sound engineers and managers.

I took a quick look on a job website, and as I suspected, most of the jobs are very specific. For example, a character face rigger vacancy is open, which is a very niche role. It seems that a lot of these positions require a certain talent, like character modelling or environment modelling, and a hefty amount of experience and expertise. It's the same story across other job sites I've checked out.

I had a cheeky read through Mr. Tristan Silva's blog and he made a very good point on this topic about how studios try to keep an employee busy even when they've forfilled their role (in his blog, Tristan talked about a character artist sent to do animal modelling.). So maybe there's still a bit of wiggle-room after all?

Going back to my earlier pondering, I'm a little concerned that my lack of specialisation could trip me up. Realistically speaking, I need to find my area of interest and focus on it, rather than trying to generalise.

To sum up, it seems the (current) industry is focused around a number of smaller cogs turning a larger wheel. Each cog has a purpose, like character or environment modelling. Cog metaphor aside, it seems that you need a specific area of expertise to net yourself a job, which means a jack-of-all-trades approach isn't going to get you very far, unless your are amazing at everything. In which case, you deserve a medal!

And because I'm in one of those moods, here's an animated gif of Brian Blessed laughing enthusiastically. Why not. Enjoy!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Task 20: Elements of game technology, part three: interaction design

Task 20: Elements of game technology, part three: interaction design

Player interactivity has evolved over the years to encompass new methods of control. From the light gun to the joystick to the steering wheel, players now have a wider array of intuitive control methods at their disposal. These peripherals are specifically designed to be as user-friendly as possible, keeping all interactive intuitive and as natural as possible.

Recently, motion control has become a popular new method of interactivity. It was popularised mostly by the Nintendo Wii, and emulated in the PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect. Motion control allows player to control the game through gestures and body movement, either controlled via a handheld remote control or "hands-free" as seen with the Kinect. Motion control simplifies player input to it's most basic level, but in doing so removes the level of complexity you get with a standard controller, often limiting it's applications.

This new generation of Motion control has the potential to change how games are created and played. Traditional genres, such as the role-playing and simulation genres, wouldn't translate easily across the control schemes, and would likely be at risk if motion control surpassed conventional controls. Others, like racing games and sports games, would benefit from the new technology.

Designing a motion controlled game would demand a different approach, since developers would have to design the game around it's new form of input. There are plus sides to this, of course, as motion control is deeply intuitive and can allow for some unique gameplay mechanics. Some existing concepts just wouldn't work with motion control, like beat 'em up type games -- however, games like The Conduit have already proven that the new control scheme can apply to established genres like shooters.

3D technology is a relatively young technology that had mostly been embraced by the film industry. It has yet to see widespread adoption by video games, aside from Nintendo's 3DS handheld console. 3D adds to the players experience in a purely non-intrusive way, and requires little to no change in terms of game design by the developers.

Advancements in 3D technology are making it more and more viable within video games, especially with the newer glasses-free technology. Consoles such as the 3DS have proven that existing brands can adopt 3D technology successfully, so perhaps in the near future we'll see 3D technology incorporated into next generation video games.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Realism vs. Stylisation

I was talking to Aymen a few days ago about this, and it's been stuck in my head ever since. There's a compelling argument for both approaches, and both artistic themes work well only if done right. While realistic is hard to achieve, it's easier to research. Stylised looks easier, but I'd say it's much more difficult, as proportions and colours have to be tailored specifically to match the theme.

I don't think there's really much I can say here, as the debate really speaks for itself. Both approaches give a different feel to a game, and both require careful planning and execution. Rather than repeat myself for a few paragraphs, here's a few comparison shots from well-known games;

A shot from Team Fortress 2 next to a shot from Metro 2033. A side-by-side of a stylised and a realistic game.

Team Fortress 2 is easily the best example I can give here, purely because of it's popularity. I know many people who've never played the game, but still love it and quote it regularly. This is purely because of the art style and the recognizable characters in the game. I think if Team Fortress was done with a realistic, military art style, it wouldn't have done nearly as well as it did.

A shot from Timesplitters 2, next to a shot from Crysis 2. 

Personally, as much as I like Team Fortress 2's art style, I think Timesplitters is an equally good example of stylisation within a game. I grew up on Timesplitters 2's fast paced arcade action, and it's quirky graphical style. I think the Timesplitters series is a good example of "subtle" stylisation, as the characters have detailed textures and the environments are realistic looking.

A shot from Brink, next to a shot from Rage. 

Brink was a recent stylised shooter title, which unfortunately didn't do too well. Personally, I thought it was a good game overall, just little rough to play and lacking a single-player campaign. The art style Brink was, in my eyes, a cool move for Splash Damage to make, though I felt that it was done more as a gimmick then as a natural evolution. 

Battlefield Heroes, and it's big brother Battlefield 3.
Blogger's appallingly bad composition editor won't allow me to put these images side-by-side, now will it allow me to resize them a smidge so they fit. It's this, or tiny images. Bleugh.

Battlefield Heroes is a free-to-play multiplayer third-person shooter that has a nice stylised look, whichhelps lighten up the 1940's wartime setting.

A cartoon-ish character from Civilisation 4.

A game from my childhood - Medievil! Totally forgot about this one till recently.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Task 19: Elements of Game Technology, part two: sound for games

Task 19: Elements of Game Technology, part two: sound for games

I am a strong believer in the importance of sound in most forms of media, whether it be films or games. A very easy way to see the effect music has on atmosphere is to play a game, or watch a film, without sound. Try watching a horror film without sound, or playing something like Morrowind with the music turned off. It's just not the same.

One example of excellent use of music and sound effects in a game I can give is Left 4 Dead. Musical tracks were played based on conditions within the game itself, so when the players are under attack a different music track will be playing to when they are exploring. This changes dynamically, and also includes music cues when bigger enemies are approaching or when the players discover something unusual. The moment a tank arrives, the moment someone recognizes the sound cue, it's a unanimous cry -- "Taaaank!" -- and everyone knows what's about to happen.

An example of how music can change how a game fundamentally feels is the Unreal Tournament series. Being a sci-fi arena-based multiplayer shooter, the Unreal Tournament series had relatively fast paced electronic/orchestral tracks that convey a sense of atmosphere and compliment the fast pace of the game. However, in Unreal Tournament 3, the tracks composed for the campaign segments are more ambient and slower in pace, which changes the mood of the game significantly. It stops feeling like an arena shooter in these segments and feels more like a story-based shooter -- however, the music can only carry that illusion so far. I wont go into that though.

I usually say that Fallout 3 is my favourite game, because it's the one that I always remember fondly. Now, the game itself isn't perfect, it has it's problems and it's shortcomings. The reason it is my favourite game is purely because of the atmosphere that oozed out of that game when I played it. Music was a massive, massive part of this atmosphere. Moments like when you first step out of the Vault and hear the eery ambient sounds of the Wasteland - to the first time you enter the ruins of D.C to the sound of distorted patriotic american music - will always be vivid in my head. 

Another memorable game for me was Metroid Prime, and again the music here was key to the experience. Nintendo's Gamecube wasn't known for having great graphics, and while they really did a good job of Metroid Prime's graphics, it was definitely the music that created the atmosphere.

Just hearing the first minute of this is bringing back the nostalgia. That's how great I think the soundtrack for Prime is, it's instantly recognizable and enjoyable. It might sound a little odd out of context, but it's the music for the boggy area so imagine rain and fog. edit: Oh, and a credit to the music of Metroid Prime -- I've just sat writing with it still playing and I haven't noticed. It just works that well, it blends in so easily and becomes background music so easily.

Notable video game composers, for me, are people like Nathan McCree (who did the music for Tomb Raiders' 1-3), Inon Zur (Crysis, Fallout 3, Prince of Persia: Two Thrones), Jesper Kyd (Freedom Fighters, UT3) and Koichi Kyuuma (Metroid Prime). Tomb Raider always had great music in my eyes, and as the levels were spread out across the world, the range of styles was great. Freedom Fighter's had some amazingly music in the early levels which really brought the atmosphere together, as well as some Russian orchestral tracks which made you really feel like you were in a Russian-occupied American city.

And as for Chic's "Good Times", all I can say for certain is that it's been sampled a lot and it's bassline is very influential. Googling the topic, as always, turned up a mess of misinformation and duds that left me with very few facts.

From the Wiki article on Bernard Edwards:
"His bass line from Chic hit "Good Times" has become one of the most copied pieces of music in history, and had a huge influence on musicians of many genres when released and was the inspiration for "Another One Bites the Dust" by Rock group Queen."

Friday, 2 March 2012

Personal Blog of Ulrich Thummler (His website)

I stumbled upon this today whilst working, thought it was interesting and worth noting down. It's the personal blog of someone called Ulrich Thummler, and while I do not know who this is, I can admire their work. He's put up some nice project work, in particular his Gothic-inspired medieval buildings and clutter is very impressive. He's not bad at characters, either.

I found it inspirational anyway, definitely inspired to keep on trying to improve. I'm now looking forward to the summer break, where I'll be free to knock out some personal projects :D

Monday, 27 February 2012

Mic Macs

So, for the second time this month, I walked into HMV and picked up a movie I thought looked interesting. I actually might start making a habit of this, it's an interesting way of finding new movies.. Anyway, oddly enough, this was a french film again, like the last one I picked up. But whereas the last (Eden Log) was a horror/sci-fi, this one is more light-hearted and upbeat.

Mic Macs focuses on Bazil (Danny Boon), a man struck by a stray bullet who shortly finds himself homeless. He's welcomed in by a family of mis-fits, who help him in his plot to get back at the people who're responsible for what happened to him.

The film has a very nice colour palette throughout, the images are vibrant and colourful even in the most unlikely of places. Even the night-time scenes on the rooftops are visually interesting. Characters and locations are well-lit, which lends to the general upbeat theme of the film. While the film is set in a modern-day environment, the hideout of the main characters is very makeshift and recycled, which helps create a contrast between them and the rich bad guys they're essentially trolling.

I agree with the reviews I've read on the net, the characters could've been fleshed-out a bit better. It's hard to hate the bad guys at times, who at worse just seem like unpleasant people more than evil people. While you can sympathise with Bazil because of his injury, not much of his character was built up in the flashback scenes, and he feels like an average joe who had an accident.

Overall though, I really liked the film. It's not perfect, but its interesting visual look and charming soundtrack really feel like a breath of fresh air.

On a side note, however, I'd like to point out that despite it's light-hearted theme, the film does contain some sexual themes and some graphic violence. Nothing overboard, but definitely something to consider before watching it with younger kids.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Eden Log

I stumbled upon this film completely by accident. I was in HMV looking for an album (which they didn't stock, no surprise there) and the cover caught my eye. As soon as I discovered it was a dark sci-fi -- and only a fiver -- I thought it was worth a look. I'm not going to do a 'review' here because I'm no critic, instead I'm just going to summarize my thoughts on the film.

Personally, I felt like the film had a lot of potential, but was ruined by some very cliché themes that seemed tacked on. A good story can usually be boiled down to it's core elements and transferred across genres, but the story of Eden Log was mainly focused around it's sci-fi elements, which was disappointing. 

The main character, played by Clovis Cornillac. 

The redeeming quality of Eden Log, for me, was it's atmosphere. It's eery soundtrack and high contrast lighting gave it a brilliant sense of atmosphere.

The film had a muted look, with dark scenes and very direct lighting. There were some fantastic camera angles throughout, and some nice visual choices - in particular, one scene where a projection lines up with a person's head, creating a visual sense of past/present.

The beginning of the film was probably my favourite part of it, as the character was alone and the pace was generally slower. The film was enjoyable, mainly because of it's atmosphere and soundtrack. I'd recommend watching it for those reasons alone,  it's a nice visual experience.

Oh, and don't even ask me about the ending. I still don't understand it.

edit: I forgot to mention, it's a French film. I say that not as an insinuation that it's country of origin affects it's quality, but as a speculation that the dialogue would sound better in the actors native language. I'll have to watch it again in French some time.

le Trailer;

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Queen's Update #1

The Queen's Building group project is going okay so far, there's a chance all our work so far could be up in the air so you'll excuse my lack of enthusiasm at the moment. The week just passed I finished the UDK blockout, and the "concept room". The concept room was suggested by Mike and we all agreed it was a good thing to try, although we decided to stretch it out over 2 days rather than 24 hours since the last time we tried to do something for 24 hours it didn't work.

Here are some shots from the blockout;

And some from the concept room;

Next week I'm going to be focusing on asset creation for the project, and revising the BSP if our layout is changed in our next meeting. Gonna be a busy week, as usual. Task #19 to follow shortly.



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