Category: "Develop 2009"
After seeing Korina’s blog entry I felt the need to also do a recap on the goings on of 2009 from my perspective, or at least what I can remember happening.
It's pretty much 2010, I must say 2009 was maybe one of my best years, so I thought I’d try and show this in the following events, I’m not sure if it will express it as much as I’d like to but we’ll see. One thing I joined just before the new year started was, MyDailyPhoto I’m very interested in seeing how long I can keep up with it for. I hope everyone has a lovely new year, I’m imagining I will spend mine the way I like it.
23rd – I ordered my lovely cute little Dell mini 9, which was my new piece of hardware for the year, I still use it pretty much daily, need to sort out the files on it though
31st – I participated in my first ever 48 hour game making session, which was the Global Game Jam. I took part in it at my university, in Newport, Wales, it did actually finish in February, either way it was heaps of fun, and you can read more on it here
Through-out most of February I was very busy working on Void so I didn’t do much else this month, which probably sounds pretty sad to most people, but I was very busy.
9th – This was the day that I had my dissertation printed and bound and I think handed in a couple of days later, I was so happy with finishing this, and a few weeks before hand-in. I knew from the first place I wanted to hand it in early and not last minute, and I’m so happy I accomplished this.
12th – I was lucky enough to get to attend one of the Blitz open days for this year (which you can still apply to for next year). I must say it was a wonderful insight into the company, and was accompanied by a memorable night at the pub with some of the lovely guys from Blitz, I met some amazing people I will never forget. I only hope I have the opportunity to visit them all again.
April was another month full of intense working on Void (to be honest January to July I was constantly busy working on it), as well as working on Void, my website had a redesign, and I started writing for SK Gaming sadly with my lack of time I only wrote up a couple of articles though.
16th – It’s my nieces birthday, it was her first birthday so I went back home to visit her along with my sister too, it was a lovely time, and it fit together well with other plans. I love watching Bethan grow up, the following picture was taken on her birthday of her doing her sneaky laugh.
18th – With only a couple of months until I had to move out of my place in Wales, there was house hunting needed for the new destination of Aldershot. And oh my god, some of the places we visited (myself, my sister and Tim her boyfriend) were amazing. But sadly each had a bad point. It was then down to choosing which we preferred.
29-5th – Was the Computer Games Design 09 degree show, it was awesome the Void team attended every day, and made sure it was all running ok, sadly the main day people popped by was the opening night, but that was ok. You can check up my quick entry here
5th – I got to officially find out my results today, although only in the case of an overall grade, it was the last day of the graduate show and we were all heading home and on the way out of university and happened upon the list up on the wall, I already knew what I had, but it was exciting seeing everyone else pleased with their results.
17th – Upon deciding on our place to move into we popped down to Aldershot to sign contracts, was the first major move I felt I’d done, as it was of course no longer student accommodation. I felt I’d taken a huge step from doing this, while also feeling slightly nervous to if it would all work out.
24th – After three and a half years of working for GAME I finally called it quits and had a farewell party, sadly not many people could make it, but it was still a nice end to it all. Goodbye lovely staff discount.
27th – Today was the day I said goodbye Newport and hello Aldershot, was quite a tiring move, getting three peoples worth of stuff up two flights of long stairs, but we managed it in the end, and I must say this little flat has really grown on me, I must say I’ll enjoy living here for a while.
30th – I was privileged to be allowed to become the student blogger for WIG (Women in Games) which allowed me a paid ticket to Develop, which I am very grateful for. I never thought I would have been chosen, but I was, I very much enjoyed helping out at WIG 07,and I was and still am looking forward to helping out WIG in the future.
14-17th - After being given a ticket to Develop I had to make sure I used the opportunity to my fullest. As well as going to almost all the talks I could, I met up with a very lovely friend and even had a WIG lunch (totally love Char Sui pork). Either way it was an awesome conference and I wouldn’t mind going next year as well. You can check out the entries I made on my blog here
22nd – Just before Develop on the 10th of July I was fortunately given an interview slot for a job at EA Bright Light in Guildford (About 20 minutes away from Aldershot). Amazingly on the last day of Develop on my train ride home I had the most incredible phone call, informing me that I had gotten the job. I was so ecstatic I felt on top of the world. I started my newly acquired job on the 22nd and it was the best end to an awesome month.
To be honest I don't really remember too much of August, all I know is I was busy working lot, and that's pretty much it sadly.
1st – After working at EA for a few weeks I then found out we have a bake-off club run by one of the lovely members of staff, I made sure to join and participate in the baking . My first entry in the bake-off was some spiced oatmeal and raisin cookies. Unfortunately I didn’t win with them, but I had some nice comments from people telling me how they liked them, all the spares got munched up too, which was good .
7th – I then participated the next week and baked something that I hadn’t really tried before, chocolate rum truffles. They went down really well, and I won as well. I was really chuffed, I even made some for my sister Emma for her birthday as she loves rum truffles.
10th – After leaving Newport so long ago in September we all finally got to graduate, it was fun saying hi to everyone again, although it was so busy as it was packed because the whole art school were graduating. We had some fun after the ceremony taking pictures though. Was a nice little fun day out, anyone who’s my friend on facebook can check out loads more of the pictures on there .
30th – My last bake-off of the year and I won again, but then I did make a delicious chocolate brownie torte, it was so rich and yummy. I hope to make something else in the new year, or just keep baking on weekends.
9th – FLIPS on DS was announced, all four titles that I’d spent my time at EA working on. Basically they’re interactive books for kids, so parents can try to get their kids to read a little more if they don’t. Or so kids can read their favourite books (if they like the series we released) on their DS. I loved working on them, and I hope those who now have copies enjoy them. You can read a bit more on the announcement here.
24th – I attended London Expo (didn’t go to the earlier one in the year) and my main reason was to get my BSG poster signed by the lovely Kandyse McClure, along with with that I got to play Borderlands, and realise it didn't live up to the expectations I had for it, perhaps I had followed their marketing the wrong way, I'll probably pick it up for PC, but it didn't really feel like a game best suited for Xbox 360, along with getting to play the lovely Muramasa and a few other games, as usual it was a jolly old laugh to go there, and again as always was bloody annoying with all the people with their hug signs. My favourite picture from the day however was this lovely Tingle, she was so much better than the other guy who didn’t do a Tingle pose!
30-1st - Now GameCity was the main event to end October, it did start earlier than the 30th, although with work commitments I was unable to travel to Nottingham until the 30th which was a shame as I missed a lot. However what I got to attend was worth it all in itself. I had the opportunity to meet Masaya Matsuura for a second time and give him a Parappa gingerbread cookie (and get him to sign Major Minors Majestic March) and he also remembered me from Develop. I also gave Keita Takahashi a prince & nobi nobi cookie too, which he thought was cool, and he really apologetic when he broke the nobi nobi boy too. The final party, was very enjoyable, it was awesome hanging out with my university friends again, and on my birthday too. It was a great time, even if I did bruise my side and spend hours travelling home on the Sunday!
12th – So for a few months I’d been very much looking forward to getting my hands on a HTC HD2, and after many days of refreshing pages and waiting for the phone to be up on websites, I finally ordered one and it arrived on this date, it was awesome, and I couldn’t believe how big the phone was. Now I can’t believe how small other phones are when I use them. I’m so happy to have gotten the HD2 and I wouldn’t switch it for any other phone.
22nd – The first time I ever went to the Barbican was back in September 2002 to the Game On exhibt. More recently I went to the Barbican twice in November, once to see Brendan and the Secret of Kells (amazing animation) and A Serious Man, and then seeing a dubbed version of Ponyo. The Barbican is nice, however in relation to the BFI. The BFI is a much better place to go, at least in my opinion. At the BFI it goes straight into the film, at the Barbican however there were about 30 minutes of adverts before the film. The Barbican is quite far away from Waterloo and doesn’t have many food places nearby (the Barbican’s restaurant is a little expensive for me). Whereas the BFI is on the South Bank so there’s loads of different places to eat. Before this turns into a huge rant, I love that the BFI and Barbican support independent or lesser known film.
5th – I was lucky enough to be invited to the Capcom Xmas party, it was an amazing party, at a bar in London. Free drinks, along with game playing, and chatting to Capcom fans made it a very enjoyable event. I only hope they do similar events in the future, and on weekends too! I hope to write up a short entry on the party at some point in the future.
11-13th – So I managed to take part in my second 48 hour game making event for the year, which was Ludum Dare #16. I never imagined I’d be able to do so, but I did, and it was different this time as you had to make a game on your own, and you did it at home. All in all I hope I can take part in the next Ludum Dare, you can read some more indepth entries here and a post-mortem here.
19th – I got to see It’s a Wonderful Life at the BFI, I feel things like this are amazing, first seeing Brazil and the Fisher King at the cinema, which I never thought would happen, and then having the chance to see a film like It’s a Wonderful Life on a large screen at a cinema is amazing. I’m so happy to have gone to see it, and it was a very high quality transfer as well.
24th – Had a lovely Christmas this year, although I could have spent a little more time at home home (Chelmsford) but it was still enjoyable.
Here's to an equally awesome 2010!
Out of the last talks of the Thursday I was really tied with what to go to, in the end I went with Gamesification panel, which ended up being made up of Maurice Suckling - The Mustard Company, Charles Cecil - Revolution Software, Antonia Saraiva - , Jorg Tittel - The main emphasis of the panel was 'product, people, platform, process - making a good game'
It was interesting hearing their problems they've had while in development of games Jorg had worked on Minority Report, and his team hadn't seen the film, and didn't until a month before the game's release, which is why the game was a bit of a failure he feels. If they had researched into the film, and found relevant experiences that the film had to offer, which could have made Minority Report very similar to Mirror's Edge perhaps.
Charles faced many problems when consulting on the Da Vinci Code game, firstly from being told by the producers and directors of the film that they did not want a game. After giving his ideas on it they came to a compromise, but when working with The Collective on it, they apparently only wanted to make a fighting game, which is pretty much what they did.
A point that Charles brought up on game to film adaptations was that people don't understand the process that is required when taking a game and turning it into a film. As he feels most directors rush things, and don't realise that they're taking a character who usually is controlled by a player, from taking this character and placing them in a film it doesn't create the correct atmosphere, and doesn't usually become addressed.
The best way to make a film into a game is by looking over the film and finding relevant experiences that will make an interesting game
I was so happy for Matsuura-san to come to Develop, coming all the way from Japan it was an honour to have him attend, especially the year that I happened to be attending Develop. His talk had an introduction for while people were entering the room, which was a video of himself playing some music.
One of the first points brought up is that he feels it's his personal mission to keep making games for the music genre. He feels that games should use music as a way of conveying information just like films do.
The music needs to be integrated into the gameplay, a game that does this well is Mario, with the speed up of music when the time is running low, mixed with the diegetic feel the music has when playing the game.
His main goal lies within implementing rhythm into the games he creates, I can say I honestly can see where he is going as his games such as Mojib Ribbon and Rhyme Rider Kerorican show this use of rhythm amazingly.
One thing he wanted to integrate into his games as well is the feeling of call and response, so that during play the player would get some feedback from the game while inputting. So for example the music would change depending on good or bad circumstances.
He has always enjoyed creating games that can generate game data from music and lyrics, this was of course addressed in Vib Ribbon.
While then also informing us of what he'd love to see in some new music games being:
- A game where you can perform with actual musicians
- A game that gives the player an opportunity to play as a musician in the London Symphony Orchestra
- A game that uses anything and everything as a musical instrument, so everything you pick up or touch creates a musical sound
Matsuura’s talk was very entertaining as he showed us 3 videos during his talk, all being very cute and entertaining, one including a talking Vibri.
I was very interested in going to Dennis Dyack's talk on games as the eight art, it seemed like a bit of a silly talk in some respects, he was explaining how he feels the telling of stories is going to become much more noticeably dominant than gameplay, which myself and I'm sure a large portion of the audience didn't really agree with. There were a large amount of questions raised on his opinions at the end of the talk.
Going back on Jenova Chen's talk and his "visual bucket" way of creating a good game through creating an even flow between each element is where I would agree. Dyack's example was of Myst being one of his favourite games, which of course being a point and click/interactive narrative/graphic adventure or what you may wish to define it as, although being a well laid out story, just like every other point and click, it doesn't captivate all players and then targets a niche market in terms of consumers.
Dyack feels that every single game has a narrative, which doesn't essentially mean the story of it, so for example his idea of the narrative of an RTS game is defined by telling your friends about what happened in the game when you played it, then creating your own unique story.
One subject he touched which I don't essentially agree with is Dyack feels that games can only really be compared alongside film once there is one console for all games, as he felt with three main consoles out they aren't broadly accepted by all. The reason he claims this will make games become more accepted is as he feels there is only one way for film to get across to the general population, which isn't necessarily true.
Although it did seem that the only reason he felt games needed to become recognised as an art form, is so that they would be taken seriously, which I don't think is hugely essential, as people's views are constantly changing on games as time passes by.
Overall it was a fairly interesting view into his view on games, the questions at the end were a little negative towards him though.
The first scheduled event of Thursday morning that I decided to go see was the Designer mash up with Jenova Chen and Masaya Matsuura. It started off with Masaya playing Flower, where he explained to us how he doesn't play a huge amount of games because he doesn't enjoy shooting and killing people. So instead of playing a large majority of games that were released he spent a large amount of his time thinking up new game possibilities. So when he played Flower for the first time he fell in love with it, as it brought up a whole host of memories from his past that touched him. He told Jenova how he was so pleased to be able to meet him, and was very surprised at how young he was, for making such an emotionally complex game.
Just like Flower, Parappa the Rapper took around two years to develop, and was created by about six people. On release they received large amounts of positive feedback, and weirdly lots of feedback saying how couples had gotten together because of his game.
An odd topic that was brought up is that Matsuura-san believes there should be a Michael Jackson of games, as there is currently not one in existence, and he feels this will bring a wider appreciation to games.
Whenever Jenova needed inspiration he would always look to Hayao Miyazaki's films, he explained that the reason he did this was because in order to understand a culture that he was not a part of, he finds the messages he needs to understand a large segment of Miyazaki's films.
It was really interesting sitting in on the designer mash-up only if it was to see a long standing person from the games industry talking with such a recent addition to games. But even though there is a significant gap in industry knowledge they're ideas are both at such interesting levels.
The Art keynote of the conference was one given by Mark Healey and Kareem Ettouney of Media Molecule, focusing mainly on what decisions were made when creating Little Big Planet. If anything the main focus of the presentation was showing us the process they went through when choosing the direction they wished the art to go in.
It started off with the idea of wanting to create a tool with a visual style that compliments it, from this they started looking into visual cultures of different countries, going over how they could integrate this into their game.
There was a lot mentioned on their early stages of development, firstly with reference to Yellowhead which was their 2D physics demo originally created to show the idea of what they wanted in Little Big Planet.
We were also shown a quick little animation that Mark had made showing what they were aiming to do in 3D. With the core gameplay then being nailed down they then went back into the art, attempting to create a virtual craft box inside of the game.
The third talk of the day that I attended was a panel on games as architecture, which was extremely interesting mainly just from hearing Viktor Antonov's explanations of what input he had on Half-Life 2. It was also made up of Alex Wiltshire of Edge, Rob Watkins of Lionhead and Rory Olcayto of The Architect’s Journal.
Viktor Antonov had always been attracted to epic scale buildings, and similar iconic architecture as found in film, and he started off working in industrial design, but decided to go into video games.
Some key points that should be known pieces of information when looking over architecture found in games, and that I agree with are:
- Everything in games are establishing shots – shots that will set up the scene that the player is about to experience.
- The main tools tools available to direct a level to the player are by using architecture and light, these will aid in telling a story while getting the player to go along the correct path.
- In order to create monumental buildings and views you must create a contrast by creating many smaller items and buildings, this helps to create the illusion of a larger presence.
Another means to lead the player is by creating strong perspectives and focal points, this then tricks the player into going the correct way through the level.
There are not enough surreal and subjective architectural experiences in games.
What was interesting was that Viktor did a talk on Futurism at an architecture school, and it then became apparent that all the students played games for a means of looking into architecture, especially Half Life 2. Which I find very intriguing as one of the questions raised at the panel was what can architecture learn from video games.
The second talk of the day that I had a chance to witness was Paul Barnett's talk on his time as a creative director for EA, entitled 'When a Creative Director Attacks! or What I Learned this Year with EA!'. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from the talk, it was hugely enjoyable and anyone I spoke to about it agreed as well. It was a little confusing at times being a very fast paced speech, going off on tangents and finishing some explanations minutes after first mentioning them, but it still flowed evenly.
The useful pieces that I plucked from his talk however were that, ideas can still be exciting even if they're mundane tasks, this can be from carrying it out for the first time and being exhilarated from the fact of performing the task, or renewing a forgotten pleasure. It's how creative directors must think, as once a task has been carried out, once it's repeated it won't have the same impact upon a person. An example given of this is when you have someone see an iPhone for the first time and they become fascinated by scrolling back and forth on the menu, where as someone who has owned one for a while would find it idiotic to be so entranced by this. A creative director must make sure to stray away from this at all times, otherwise they will never be able to envision fresh ideas.
A large proportion of the talk was on how you're defined by your culture, I could relate to Paul as I seemed to have the same childhood as he did (just of course more recent than his), being raised with games. He was referring to it as our ‘Golden Age’; some may have theirs at other times with greater influence from other forms of media. After talking about how much these "Golden Ages" mean to us, we were then told to completely ignore them. As being a creative director that allows their history to get in the way will not work well with other employees. It stops workflows, everyone has a different history and will not understand everything that you may talk about. This can then cause arguments and will not help the development of games. His blunt way of putting it was that nobody cares about your history, so don't bring it into your work.
We were then told that every manager/director is either going to be a Captain Kirk, or a Captain Picard when it comes to working. Which is a little of a weird way to put it, but I felt that people may have the chance to be both at times, depending on the decisions being made.
The talk went onto what he feels is disrupting games at the moment, those things being the Nintendo Wii; allowing anyone to get into playing games, which then changes demographics. The market is currently disruptive, by now having free to play games, and the use of micro transactions, there now no longer being just simple buying when it comes to purchasing or playing games. Then of course the internet doesn't help things, from the elements of a disruptive market coming into play along with the use of torrenting.
Even though it was one of the less informative in a way it had to have been my favourite talk from the conference, just from the amount of energy and enthusiasm Paul expressed.