Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The future and such

What do I hope to get out of university?
It's wrong that I've never truly thought about this. Obviously my end goal is to get a job, any job at this rate but I havn't really considered anything on a more specific level.
The task mentioned education about being a two way process and I guess I havn't been doing my part, just kind of being a sponge and soaking up knowledge.

Am I supposed to be specific? I just want to have the ability to create what's in my head; it's so frustrating not being able to draw or paint exactly how I see it. That's why I like reading fiction, the words do all the work, I just have to imagine.

Aren't we all working towards the same thing? Trying to improve these new skills to the highest standard we can in every single aspect.
I also want to be able to appreciate art and art direction a lot more, so looking at films and going to art galleries is something I should consider as a frequent act, not just one-off.

Already, I feel like I've learnt so much about the process of producing a game that I never knew before. While playing, I can see textures that don't tile well, I understand how alphas work and notice where they're used. The more I learn 3d, the more I look at games and think, wow that's completey attainable. I could make that, eventually anyway. I look at concept art and go beyond the aesthetics, seeing the light sources, perspective, composition, colour, brush strokes etc. It gets me psyched.

I want to do that, I want my work to be used and appreciated. I need university to get me there.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Specialist or "well-rounded"?

Admittedly I had no idea what studying liberal arts really was, but after some research I find myself persuaded to study it. I can definitely see why students and parents would wonder how a general education could benefit over a specialized one. However, it seems proven effective in producing people who learn to think and look at the world from many perspectives, hence creativity. Yet you cannot deny the validity of specialized courses as long as they actually teach students to an employable standard.

In the context of the games industry, I'm not sure how liberal arts would play a big part, I mean maybe if you were employing a leader or manager of some sort...liberal arts just seems more intelligent. Kids are so ignorant and lacking self dependance these days. We're just kinda shoved through this education system, forced to pick a subject to study out of fear of working in a supermarket or factory for the rest of our lives, and plunged into the first of many debts that greedily await us.......too dramatic?

Specialized education is marketed to us as a more 'value for money' option that makes a beeline towards your desired career. Apparently this makes us less wholesome and knowledgeable and there are factors that will support this point of view. For one, the teacher to student ratio and interaction is more personal on a liberal arts course and it's like studying the more academic subjects that we artists avoid and showing us how to use them on a day-to-day beneficial basis.

Courses like Game Art teaches us specific skills that we will unquestionably need to even be considered for a job in the how can we combine the two styles of education? Critical studies like this is a start; studying the relevant industry and everything that has, is and may affect it. We don't need to know about absolutely everything for one career, that's why courses started specializing in the first place.
Basically, if you don't know what you're on about, it's gonna show but I don't think employers should judge others based entirely on educational background and I'm sure some don't. It always boils down to quality anyway.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

United 93

So, I watched United 93 at home instead of at uni,; in a way I'm glad I did because I absolutely cried my eyes out.

I've never wanted to watch the real footage because it's just too much to process, and I thought this film was going to be a distasteful re-enactment that shouldn't have been made. However, I've come to realise that a film is the closest thing we'll ever have to understanding what those people went through.

You can't say "it's just a film" and try to forget about it because it's not, it was real, it happened. I don't know what to say. Just to imagine being there, knowing death was imminent, not being with loved ones, it's just too painful.

It was bold filming it right to the very last second, the frantic desperation to live really choked me up; you could feel the fear, the determination, the last minute of hope and courage.

As for the terrorists, I don't even want to waste my time trying to comprehend why they did it. It's horrifying to see what lengths people will go to for their own personal beliefs. It's certainly opened my eyes and I think it should be an event we all remember and use to give us courage in the face of those that do us wrong.

On a lighter note, Collateral was interesting, although I fell asleep on my first attempt to watch it. I liked Tom Cruise' character even if he was a murderer, he had one of those personalities.
At least it included a good song, Shadow on the sun by Audioslave.
Here's a link to one of my favourites of theirs:
It's one of those 'moment' songs that just really grabs you...if you like that kinda music anyway. Turn it up!!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Sound in games

There are a lot of 'don'ts' when it comes to video game music. The most obvious one is repetitiveness. Back when the option of turning the music off didnt exist, I wouldn't have wanted to play a game with no sound what-so-ever, just because the music got on my nerves.
Just like games have progressed visually, so has the audio, and the use of composers is becoming standard now they realise just how much impact it can have.
Simplified, there are two kinds of sound in a game. The underlying theme music and the interactive sounds. Unfortunately, I have overlooked music unless it was quite noticeable or rememberable.
Games like Halo and Gears of War have produced full length musical scores as an undertone to gameplay, with the music used to create feeling within the player at certain places in the game. I feel that Mass Effect had a particularly powerful ending in that respect, as the music was used to heighten tension and create a feeling of urgency.
One game I remember and appreciate for the environmental sounds is Half-life 2. Subtlety is used to their advantage and it completely works. The game is a vast landscape of realistic noises that sound original just because they dare to keep it simple.
Sounds alert us to the world around us and what's going on. This should also apply in game. How do we know an enemy is there? You could have seen them, but you probably heard them first. When enemies have distinct sounds, it telling you how you should react, what weapon to use, whether to fight or flee etc.
Of course sound shouldn't be so loud and contrasting that it's competing for your attention and confusing your reactions. It can be a powerful tool but developers need to know when to create an audio feast and when to tone it down a notch.