Sunday, 22 November 2009

Game Design

The one thing that has always puzzled me about the games industry is: how are games designed? Who is the person that is responsible for the idea of one game? What is their inspiration?

Little Big Planet is an excellent example of great game design; it has originality in its gameplay, level design and character design. All imagination and adventure has been brought together in this game, and it is basically up to you what you do with it; and not only that, but you are able to create your own levels and publish them online. In a way, each individual person who creates a level, becomes a games developer. In the actual gameplay mode (and in your own level, maybe), you can clearly tell that it isn’t a realistic place; however the objects on the level are all using materials which actually exist! The main reason I am so fascinated by this game is that the materials in the game, say a ball on an elastic piece of string, the elastic string would react physically as it would in real life.

Just like building a house has a blueprint, so do games. The Games Design Document (GDD) is basically the blueprint of a game; so every single necessary detail put onto the blueprint, will be on the game; but if it isn’t on the blueprint, don’t expect to see it on the game. The GDD is a reference document that all members of the development team will use to find specific information; and to make sure there isn’t an overload of information in the document; they have an Art Bible or Test Plan, holding additional information for the game (which is still as equally important as the GDD).

I think that the most important parts of a game for me is the technology, storyline, realism, attention to detail, and originality of the game. I really can’t stand games where women are practically naked with boobs the size of melons, or guys with weapons so big that it is physically impossible to lift up, or a game that has a ‘flash’ cover up but is basically the same as every other game out there… I could go on and on… It really gets under my skin!

That is why I love games like, Little Big Planet, Eye Pet, Uncharted, Ratchet and Clank, Fallout 3. I don’t believe that I am a ‘girly’ games player, but attention to originality is the key thing for me.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Writing about games- this is a little different though... But Mike said it's ok =]

In the 2009 Game Developers Conference (GDC) there has been a huge debate on what should or shouldn’t be accepted in game production; at the moment the games industry have the upper hand from the critics in the “family values” right. They have been routing for the exclusion of violence, sex and drug abuse in games. "We are in a culture war here. We didn't ask for this--we're just trying to entertain people with a product the public seem to want." Lawrence Walters, an attorney from the free speech and constitutional-rights, has identified that “political correctness” is the new enemy of the games industry. “We can debate all day long whether racist stereotypes or derogatory language is even appropriate in video games, but that's for us to debate, and not for the government to decide". I think that this is true; it is like we are losing our freedom, we are being controlled into what we can and can’t watch, say or do, there was a time like that, but it has been and gone.

It seems to me that we can’t just do what we want to do anymore; we have to also say what others should be doing too. If an incident should occur, they use a scapegoat and guilt it on say, a violent game. It is like blaming a film or type of music on someone’s horrific actions. For example, the teenage pupil who opened fire in his high school, killing two and wounding twelve students. Blaming his actions on the music he listened to (Marilyn Manson) is shifting the responsibility onto the artist, as it is such an unheard act, there is no possible way the child could think of this himself, was it because of bullying? Certainly not.

Would we let the government ban movies with profanity, violence or sex? No, because it will be eliminating almost every movie available. This is the same within games, would the stereotypical gamer want to constantly play a happy little pixy game? No, we want a variety of which we can choose ourselves, because we want to and can.

Monday, 2 November 2009

A History of Computer Games: 2000 - the future

We are currently in the 21st century and a lot has changed- especially for games. Technology has dramatically developed over the years with all aspects of the games industry, including console manufactures and games publishers alike. For example, with the Playstation series, the PS1 used CD’s, PS2 used DVD’s and now the PS3 uses blue ray; each year becoming more able to store a higher amount of information, providing bigger games with greater realism, and even more sophisticated AI.

As well as this advance in technology, games have become far more interactive. From having rumble in the controls, we now have motion control, peripheral such as guitars, drums, steering wheels and so on; and also gesture recognition with cameras such as the Playstation Eye. The most recent game to make use of this feature is the Eye Pet (your own virtual pet) on Playstation 3.

The technology behind this game is mind blowing! One example of this is that when you tickle the tummy of your Eye Pet, sending him to sleep, he has dreams of his past experiences with you since buying the game. This is amazing, because it may only have been a few days since you had started the game, but the Eye Pet is constantly storing footage onto the PS3 in the background so that you can watch yourself interacting with your pet, from previous days when you didn’t even know that the footage was being stored in the first place! (I actually couldn’t believe it the first time I saw this.)

To develop and produce a current generation game, costs around tens of millions of pounds, and even more for consoles exclusive AAA titles, such as Gears of War, Uncharted 2, and soon Gran Turismo 5, which has taken 150 people 4 years to develop than the original Gran Turismo. On the other hand, mobile devices such as the iPhone, games cost less and are allowing small companies to produce games for these on a much lower budget.

Not only is it the pressure of cost, but also competition from the manufactures, publishers and consoles.

PS3 vs Xbox vs Wii. Sony vs Microsoft vs Nintendo.

Microsoft released the Xbox 360 sooner than planned, so as to beat the PS3 into the market; unfortunately this caused problems, such as the “red ring of death”- turning the Xbox 360 into the Xbox 3fixme (heeeheee) and making more costs for Microsoft to fix the consoles.

Today’s games are filled with realism, fun and entertainment for all; but what about tomorrow’s games? I personally think that we will soon enter a new era for games, and that era is 3D! Already I have experienced this at the London Expo games convention; the television itself was 3D capable, but I still had to use 3D glasses. I believe that we will have 3D televisions where there is no need for the glasses. But then what’s next?