Wednesday, 30 December 2009


As a child I was very imaginative, in the playground my classmates would gather round as I invented something new and fun to play. I’d whisk us off to a magical world where we were powerful fairies or demons, or we’d play our own take on Cops ‘n’ Robbers… vampires and princesses ( I had unusually large canines as a child so naturally I was always a vampire.)
Because of my imagination I was gifted with artistic skill, I could spend ours doodling new shapes and colours but one thing always frustrated me.

I could never put across just exactly what I was picturing. My head would be filled with mythical beasts and creatures but I could never draw them how I was imaging them, so alas I had to rely on my descriptive capabilities which also made me and good at English. Huzzah!

I’ve always struggled with drawing thins from fantasy until quite recently, when I realised that using the world around me could help me get across my vision.

Take last year’s organic creature project for example. I knew vaguely that I wanted to create a creepy two-legged creature but by studying the shapes of eggs I had created myself a body and by looking at the branches of ivy I had created the legs.

I was amazed at how everyday objects could be used creatively to make something new. I have also learned to approach projects with a clear mind and to never-ever go with my first idea. Instead, I take that idea and hybrid it with something I find interesting. For example I was challenged with designing a vehicle, I wanted to make a helicopter but to define it as my own I studied the shapes and colouring of wasps to create an original vehicle concept. However taking into affecting my new understandings I abandoned the helicopter idea, worked and reworked my design until I had a wasp/submarine hybrid that I was proud to call my own.

From all of this I have learnt that using examples from life and studying the world around us is invaluable. Though we may all have our own designs and ideas, using realistic examples creatively will result in a much more professional and original outcome.

However the only drawback from all this is that I am now a hybrid designing monster :)

An Epic Battle is on it's way, choose your side

Realism versus fantasy, an epic battle of which gamers everywhere take up their AK’s and Magic Staffs and fight to the death in an epic battle that will last centuries.

Well not quite, but I do wish that someone somewhere in the world of gaming would turn around and be like “ hey let’s not try to make this soldier as real looking as we can, why not make an awesome looking yeti?”

Yet again, this is my one woman rant on realism.

I have tried on numerous occasions to approach realism with open arms only to be cast aside as I realise that realistic games are god-awful and dull to play. I just don’t understand who on earth turned around to their production team an said “don’t worry guys, we don’t have a storyline and we’ve only programmes the X button but it’s fine the graphics will make the game.”

Nothing makes me more angry than when an awesome looking game is just that. No gamelay, no originality, nothing. Which begs the question is there anything creative left in reality?

Obviously I approach this question from a Game Artist point of view as the world around us is undoubtedly creative to artists, architects etc. but how many nice-looking trees can be modelled before they just become objects gamers completely overlook?

Take children ,for example. Even though today’s youths are exposed to a world of war, violence and death, the majority of them can be found in their back gardens playing in a make-believe world of fairies, magic and pokemon.

Deep, deep down in all of us it is innate, we all secretly prefer a world of fantasy and magic, we all wish we could fly or cast fire.

Which is probably why films such as Avatar and Lord of the Rings have do so well because we all like to escape from realism so why don’t games do the same?

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Take me to a world far far away

I want to be Na'vi...

'nuff said.

They call me the Christmas Critic

It’s Christmas time and without fail me and my brother will receive a nice little collection of games between us. I am not in the slightest way saying this is a bad thing as my Mum always seems to get games we really enjoy.
But alas, since my eyes have been opened to the bitter world of anatomy, colour theory and bump maps I can’t help but pass judgement on every game I play.

His face isn’t right, her arms are too long, why is that tree purple?

But then, I think back to older games such as Tomb Raider or Croc. Oh my word, there is endless amounts to pick at in those games yet we don’t. we pass it off as being old. Much like how an elderly relative can get away with saying the most filthiest things but everyone overlooks it because there old.

But this just pondered me further. In a very competitive industry can we get away with ‘old’, or should we z-brush the oblivion out of everything we do? Is it more creative to use more polys or more texture space? In which case, are the ps3’s games more creative than the DS’s.
Of course not, but I can’t help but think we’re being pushed that way. There’s seems to be an underlying tone amongst colleagues that it’s better to work for Naughty Dog than Sega, or Sony than Nintendo but I fail to see why.
I believe that a 5,000 tri character executed with perfect topology is far more impressive than a 80,000 tri Z-brush sculpt but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more creative.

Creativity is personal and individualised. No two people like the same painting for the same reasons and the same applies to games. What my brother will find amazing I will find fault in for I am the Christmas Critic.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Because Dinosaurs live under the Great Wall of China

During my increasingly busy schedule of sleeping, drawing and eating I somehow found the time to raid my boyfriend’s PlayStation games and play Tomb Raider 2. I remember playing the pixelated game as a kid but I felt that a bit of reminiscing was in order.

After pratting around on the assault course and repeatedly locking my butler in the fridge, I passed the controller over to my loved one, so that he could fight the scary T-Rex’s and tigers and face the horrifying timed jumps in which Lara decides to start knitting instead of doing what-you-are-telling-her-to!!!

But as I watched him play, I no longer saw the same game I feared as a child, no, this time I watched it through the eyes of the horrid critical monster I had become. But as I giggled at the 500 tri cave and the various shades of grey squares that made up it’s walls, I had an epiphany.

I wish I was born ten years earlier.

If only I had grown up in an era where games were made up of simple meshes and no-one had even heard of a specular or bump map. How nice it must have been to open up photoshop and draw an orange rectangle as a brick or a grey square for a stone.

Gone would have been the days where I sit frustratingly tweaking the warp tool just so that my bricks don’t tile repetitively.
Vanquished would have been the weeks of me tweaking 9,000 verts and polys and how welcoming it would have been to watch the industry grow from the beginning, to be able to improve my skills along with it, instead of being chucked head-first into a violent sea of countless polys, terrifying tri-counts and ambient occlusion nightmares.

Oh-wait , hold it there, a T-Rex has just appeared in Tomb Raider. Yes Lara, because dinosaurs do indeed live under the Great Wall of China… or maybe they do and that is indeed why the great wall was really built. Someone should really tell the Mongolians to stop stealing stones from it for their farms or they are going to be in for one nasty surprise.

But I digress.

Just as I am sitting here wishing I could make a hugely successful pixelated mess, I bet the artists back then wish they had worked on pong.