Saturday, 17 April 2010

There's a Zombie on your lawn

Oh dear, my latest obsession is yet another Popcap game.

It’s a challenging, problem solving and intellectual game that pushes the boundaries of in-game humour

Oh yes, and it all centres around zombie eating plants.

Plants vs. Zombies is the latest sensation to take over my life. I would be ashamed and embarrassed, what with major upcoming titles being released but I’m not.
Because it is awesome.

As my loved one sits glued to his PS3 drooling over the latest Final Fantasy, I can be found sat at my pc, fending off a horde of brain-eating zombies with sunflowers and wall-nuts (I said it was intellectually witty). The simple, colourful 2D art and cheerful jaunty music can keep me entertained for hours.

Which has inspired me to do a bit of detective work. I am now curious how Popcap has such a huge following of casual gamers…what is their secret?

Let’s start with some background info, which I’m pointing out I didn’t pull straight from Google.

Popcap was founded in 2000 and currently has around under 180 employees under it’s control. Their major-title ‘’Bejelewed’ sold almost 50 millions world-wide over all major consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PS3 and their efforts have won them over 25 industry awards.

Their latest title ‘Plant vs. Zombies’ was apparently an App store record breaker selling 300,000 units in the first 9 days of its release onto the I-phone.

The audience of most pop cap games is on average a 43 year old woman playing on social networking sites such as Facebook. This audience alone generates more than $1 billion which is mostly made from virtual currencies and buying in-game gifts. This specific audience gave reasons to their gaming addictions as to play with relatives and friends.

So it would seem that casual gaming is mostly comprised of a female audience. Simple rules and addictive gameplay is vital to draw their players into purchasing in-game products to keep this multi-million pound industry afloat.

Bye-Bye Z-brush, hello pixel art?

Friday, 16 April 2010

A Crisis of Faith

If I were to describe my university experience for the second year I would say it was demoralising.

The start of the year was great, I was engrossed in an interesting project, testing out new software and visited interesting places, overall I was a happy bunny. This led on into a relaxing Christmas holiday and some encouraging feedback that spurred me on into the second term but then everything seemed to collapse underneath me.

I had fallen out with my flat-mates and my self-esteem took a huge knock in which I still haven’t fully recovered. Not only that but I was asked to improve my life-drawing skills with no model, I was asked to stay sane with no weekly therapy sessions and I was asked to make a working group level with practically no group.

Now in all fairness some of these events are unfortunate, due to circumstances that couldn’t be helped and so I took fate into my own hands and tried to make the best of things.

I used my loving boyfriend as a life model, so that I could catch-up, I held make-shift therapy groups down at the pub with fellow peers so that we could vent of steam and having been re-assured that the group projects were individually assessed I began to concentrate more on me.

But this is where it boiled down to the main problem for me, what was said and what was done didn’t quite meet.

After having presented our group projects I was told that the lack of work from other group members wouldn’t reflect on me, but I think it has. I can’t help but think that the projects were assessed in the blink of an eye and those initial prejudices have stuck.

What hurt me even more was that after initial concerns with the overall size of the level, I personally explained our brief and our ideas with the new-improved layout, fairly early on in the semester and got the go-ahead, but then for some reason at the presentations we were told that it wasn’t good enough and too small. If this is the case then why weren’t these issues brought up sooner instead of just patting me on the head and sending me on my way?

I have apparently wasted hours of work on a brief that was never going to be good enough.

I also couldn’t help but notice that the main concern during the reviews was the lack of work with frequent references and comparisons to the 3rd years. I personally believe this is grossly unfair. Surely assessments should be based on the individuals capabilities and under no circumstances should comparisons to students who have 2 years more experience than us should be made, I have found the whole experience demoralising and now I am just focusing on improving my skills and planning the best-damn FMP there shall ever be :P

Although this sounds fairly rantish or possibly even rude. It is not at all intended this way. I am merely trying to keep my self going and to stay sane. These past few months have been testing for me and i have had to change as a person, but by no means am i giving up. I am learning and growing as a person for every day i am on this course and i have developed a repetoire of skills that i hope will be invaluable to me for the rest of my life. If anything, this year has taught me to keep fighting. Not to make excuses and shift the blame, not to run home and hide in the comfort of a mother's love. It has taught me how re-assess my life and instead of giving up on problems, try approaching them from a different angle.

This is not the last you have seen of this Game Art student.