Monday, 20 May 2013

Major Project Evaluation

Directing & Unity

My directing and unity portion of my projects is where I feel I've learnt the most this year. While at the beginning of the year I barely understood scripting and hadn't had much experience with a games engine, I have now directed a game project and been an essential part of the unity team. I feel the directing of the game went well - everyone engaged well with the project and accepted feedback and requests to change things to better suit the finish-ability of the game. I managed to arrange deadlines with people, and if I saw people weren't able to meet those deadlines, I would rearrange these deadlines before they past - so that no one was ever 'behind' a deadline, and those waiting on the model/rig knew what the new date for release was going to be. I believe this helped keep the project on track as everyone always had a deadline that was in front of them, not behind!

Within Unity I have found I have a preference for using javascript for coding, and have used javascript to create a GUI interface, many puzzles, and atmospheric effects. I've also learnt a lot about how level building woks within the games industry, and how the terrian editor works. I feel my environments I created were flawed, but a very strong attempt considering my lack of teaching and experience within the subject. While the levels lacked some of the usability of mainstream games, where I feel I excelled was creating the atompshere in the level. Each had there own personality and feel to them, with juxposation between them reinforcing their atompshere.


The dragon was the first model I created in the project - importantly as they model needs to be very quickly rigged so that it could be given out to the animators in time for them to complete their animations. I had a week and a half to create the model and unwrap the model, so that I could hand it over to Joe to rig. I feel I completed the base mesh quickly and efficiently, with the mesh coming under 4500polys. I liked the design, and adored getting to texture the feathers and create that sort of feel to him, but I wish I had taken the design further. In the end there was a giant version of the dragon in the level, and while the design worked perfectly for the tiny dragons, it failed to scale up well. I would like to go back to the model and do a 'big daddy' version of the dragon, with more wrinkles and a much older looking face. I would probably make his skin look a bit faded and streched, and possibly have it mid shred of it's skin. I feel that this design works well in a computer game, and was enjoyed by the animators, which I found very rewarded.


I made props for both environments, with a focus on the ambient scenery instead of the character main pieces of an environment. The props I am most pleased with in this block are my trees and the ruins with the optimized ivy. I feel the trees work really well within the level, and the fact I based them on bonsai trees helped give them a lot of character and style which really added to the game. Optimizing the ivy really taught me a lot about game techniques in this project, and I feel these have really aided me as an artist in creating props which are engine safe and quick to produce.

I feel possibly my downfall in this project was creating too many props for the project - I have a lot which are only to an 'alright' level as I had to split my time within all of them, and only ended up with a few props I feel reflect my skill level. I feel my position as director/level builder was one of the aspects which lead me to over creating props, as whenever I saw there was a gap I instinctively went to create a prop to fix it. However, despite this downfall, I feel that this has at least given me the confidence that I can create game assets very quickly if needed which are serviceable, if not great.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Fuel: Green tea

I just wanted to quickly update people that my website is now live!

It's going to be getting a lot of new content over the next month as I put together my 3rd year showreel. Also I'm looking at putting some tutorials on there in the next month (including the ivy optimizing one), so feel free to check it out.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Echoes Returns for it's 2nd Play-test!

We had our second playtest for Echoes today, which had quite a few people turn up! I'm going to be getting through the feedback surveys later tonight, but having skimmed through it it looks like we've had a lot of great suggestions again and the feedback is more positive than the first playtest session's so this is feeling really rewarded right now. Anyway, enough talk, here's some of the screenshots from out second playtest!

All Screenshots (C) Echoes.

Monday, 6 May 2013

More to come

As you can tell, the past few weeks have been a bit busy with arranging hand in stuff and getting everything together for major project deadline in two weeks, but I just wanted to share my happiness that I'm going to be having a busy summer afterwards as well!

Martell Masterclass
This one just sort of happened as a surprise. I won a ticket for Lucas Martell's Short Film Masterclass. For those of you who might not know Lucas Martell is responsible for the animation short Pigeon: Impossible. I've looked through what the sessions are going to cover and I'm quite excited about learning things more short film focused. I often feel like when I come up with ideas for short films I have no idea how to go forward with them or make them beyond my vision of an idea, so I really feel like this is going to open up my ability to comfortably direct this sort of project. (For those interested in the masterclass, you can get tickets by funding his new project

London Symposium of Art and Design 
I booked my ticket for this a few months back now, and it's sort of crept up on me that it's almost time. It's an art workshop organised and run by, and looks like it's going to be an amazing life changing event from an artistic point of view. Honestly, I feel a little under prepared. I had a lot of plans to work on my art skills between then and the event and I feel like I haven't got to where I wanted before I went. Despite this, I am sure I will still find it just as helpful in my artistic progression. I really can't wait to meet the people there, and all of the workshops in general (gosh, the line up looks amazing so far). It feels like this is going to be a big stepping stone in my artistic knowledge and my realizations of where I want to be going.

As I've said  few times by now I applied to do the inform.animation ERASMUS program in Sardinia. We got interviewed a few weeks ago, and I can now confirm I was one of the people picked for the trip. I was a little worried that as I didn't have any experience of much beyond games at this point in time that'd act against me, but it seems not! Its going to be two and a half weeks in Sardinia working on live briefs to produce informative animations with other students from around Europe. I really can't wait, and honestly think this is going to be an amazing opportunity to further my art and communication skills. I also feel this is really going to tie in with some interactive book projects I'm considering doing on the masters, as these are currently planned to be informative multimedia books.

I will now apologise for the possible overuse of the phrases 'great opportunity', 'I can't wait' and 'am really excited'.

And that's all I have planned between now and the end of June! 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Project Eches - Sneaky Peak

Here's a sneaky peak at the game we've all been working on for our final project this year. (Echoes)
Still not finalized but the team all have a great feeling about this project and that it's going to be completed to a good standard before the deadline! We're holding a second play-test on our university campus this week after the great feedback from the 1st (and hopefully our playtesters will agree we've worked on that feedback!).

Less than 2 weeks to get this project done, so I'm going to keep working at it until then. Wish us all luck!

Friday, 3 May 2013


The interview for the Sardinia ERASMUS program has got a couple of us thinking about transferable skills. Leaving us to come up with a couple of rapid fire projects we could get going after our final deadline so that we could work on some of our less gamey skills in case we got picked!

For me, one of the things I'd definitely want to see strengthen in the next month or so is my drawing skills. Having spent a lot of my time in the past few months directing and working in engine I've found I've had little time to get as much drawing one as I've wanted to and I am sure I am uncomfortably rusty at he moment. One of the riggers on our course wants to work on a quick 2D rig some point around that time so I've agreed to do the 'model' for it.

I was only really introduced to this concept when I watched a talk by Blue Zoo a couple months back, before then I hadn't really considered 2D being animated in a program in Maya.

The Blue Zoo talk and the ERASMUS program have really got me thinking a lot more about TV, advertising and info-graphic creation. While it's something that's always been at the back of my head, I feel like it's something that I want to be working towards being able to do now, and feel that the Blue Zoo talk has helped inspire this as it's given me a lot of insight as to what working in one of these studios is like and to me it sounds like the sort of amosphere I could really see myself working in. Although most of my work this year has been with games engines, I'm quite eager to learn new skills (such as prepping at for 2D rig creation), to try and get more of a 'feel' for what area I want to be developing in at the moment. While it may seem a little bit like I'm flittering between disciplines there are a lot of transferable skills between them, and it allows me to understand where I am creatively. Then, if I do find that all's going well with these sorts of projects I'd like to see about applying for places like Blue Zoo after the MA Animation.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air and a Cup of Tea

So despite (and quite possibly because) it's just over 3 weeks until I finish our last project at university I've been thinking about other projects I want to get started on!

Not that I'm not enjoying Echoes, it's still a good project and continually teaching me new things as I work towards the deadline. However, the team is rounding a lot of things up now, and we've learnt a lot about the mistakes we've made and I'm really looking forward to making a project where I can take the things we've learnt and avoid them in the future. Also, it'd be lovely if I didn't have to see another creepy little devil girl this year.

At the moment the team I've been directing for Echoes are talking about what projects we want to work together on during the summer. 

Personally, I have in mind two things which I want to develop during the Summer.

I want to develop a mod in CryENGINE during the summer, after working in Unity I've built up a lot of confidence working in games engines and feel like CryEngine is the next place I want to develop my engine skills. I have very much enjoyed the level design aspect of my role within Echoes, and it's a skill I can really see myself developing and working in within the future. My first idea is unsurprisingly inspired by Crytek, though more specifically (and possibly embarrassingly) Fibble – Flick 'n' Roll. I know, I know, all that power and I want to do something cutesy that Crytek did with their mobile engine? True, however I like to believe that games don't have to be all gribbles and mundane realism. Also, while I'm thinking something colourful and light, I'm not necessarily thinking the simplicity of mobile games. One of the things I really admire about Crytek is the beauty of their games, and CryEngine has the reputation that goes with that, and I would like to work on something which I would hope has the potentional to look just as visually stunning as Crytek's games.

Another company which is influencing me at the moment is Blizzard. I've always been a great fan of their games (and trust me, once major project is over I will finally be getting Mists of Pandaria!). I love the art style, I love the cinematics  and I think they generally have a very high standard of tone and feel to their games. I would love to work on something similar as I feel the games have such a good environment and amospshere to them it's something I would love a chance to recreate.  I'm not entirely sure where I want to take this inspiration. I'm currently thinking I want to take this down a more Starcraft route than fanatsy, as I've worked a lot on fantasy settings while at university and want to grow more into different areas. I'm tempted to do something influenced by Kerrigan, but take it down a more techy route than an alien route and see where that goes. I'll most likely want to do some sci-fi environments to go along with, but it'l depending on what other people I know are interested in working on, as I'd prefer to work as part of a team and create something bigger together than just do a character and some environment sets and then have nothing more to do with them!

And so, on with Echoes! Just to get this project finished and then I can delve into the potentional of new projects once this one's over.