Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Thinking of hotter climes…



I Miss Malaysia.

The State Of Play

It seems that games are being played more than ever during the recession. To be honest, this doesn't really surprise me. With consoles like the DS and Wii, gaming has become less of a cult hobby and more like a family bonding sesh. I was rather impressed at Nintendo’s new advertising campaign aimed towards the older lady. The Wii fit really is a good idea, and I can see that this particular ‘health conscious’ angle might lead to every household owning a games console of some sort.

However, while claims of increased gaming is undeniably positive it’s not always that simple. Money-conscious geeks appear to be spending more of their savings on used games and rental services and less on new releases. This makes sense to me, who wants to buy a £40 shiny new game when you can get a just as shiny £20 version on the next shelf just because it’s been played once before. When people are expected to pay this much for an experience it had better be a good one.

This provides a bit of a problem. The majority of games that have had that price tag are frustratingly average. So, industry, if you want me to shell out my grocery money on games you need to monitor the quality of your games being produced.

Thus far the games industry has been pretty clever at dodging the pirates. Technological advances and ‘Unhackable’ consoles have managed to beat off the free for all craze that is currently rotting away the music industry… but…Oh, I eat my words.

George Holtz (the guy that hacked the Iphone at 17) claims to now have cracked the Ps3:

"It's supposed to be unhackable - but nothing is unhackable, I can now do whatever I want with the system. It's like I've got an awesome new power - I'm just not sure how to wield it."

It was… Inevitable.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

I Am My Own Worst Enemy


What Mike talked about today really hit me hard.

I have to kick the habit of procrastination and denial. I need to replace that with practise and good time keeping.

STOP leaving things till the last minute.

STOP letting other peoples talents bring you down, and face up to the fact that if you DO more you can be as good as them. In fact, you could be better.

I am going to quit complaining and take responsibility for my own success.

Saturday, 16 January 2010


This is creative..


…But is this?


…Is this?

Picture 025

I love building snow dudes and their dogs.

What is creativity? How do we define it or who decides what is creative vs. what is not?

Maybe it’s the ability to conjure up an idea. This could be by combining or changing existing doodles or creating something brand spanking new just for the fun of it.

Does it show itself instantaneously as an astonishing and brilliant idea?  Or does it emerge as a simple and practical realisation that no one seems to have thought of yet…

Set a bunch of us in the exact same location and tell us to draw what we see. No two will be identical in every way. In an artistic way I see it as our personal point of view. We all have different backgrounds, different beliefs and have been through different experiences. This results in individuality. Creativity is the process of expressing it.

Everyone is born with free flowing creative ability. Remember how you were as a child! If someone gave you a felt tip and pad, you drew. If someone put some music on, you danced. As a child I felt free to express myself, but growing up it felt as if creativity became an after thought. Having a passion for creating was no longer something to be proud of, teachers wanted you to copy existing art, write essays on what defined expressionism. I never felt like I dabbled in the art that I wrote so much about.

Too much annotation, not enough sketching.

My foundation art teacher did not believe that straight forward pencil studies showed any real skill or creative input. They were the pieces I felt most proud of. He got angry when I wanted them to be first in my portfolio, and insisted paintings made with twigs and ink should be on the first page. Luckily I didn't listen to him, I’m not sure I would have got a place on this course if the tutors saw those paintings. They were utter crud.

Talking of utter crud, I thinks its pretty hard to find a truly creative game now days… Its feels like they are just making them to fit a pattern, to tick as many boxes and to make the most money. Is that creative? Sure the process of drawing and building takes a lot of imagination and creative skill… but are the ideas themselves novel and invigorating?

I guess I’m just going to try and be imaginative and inventive. To work as hard as I can and when it comes down to it, challenge convention.

I seem to have asked more questions than answered in this blog. I found the topic really hard to work with, my brain felt a little… overwhelmed.



… I forget how astounding nature can be.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Gameplay Wants YOU


Gameplay is a huge amount of variables converging in to one emotional experience. This could be created by a humongous amount of factors and lead to any number of emotions; sadness, frustration, anger, achievement, happiness, love, fear, disgust… the list goes on.

Gameplay is different from reading a book, or watching a film. YOU make the choices, not Johnny Depp. You chop the heads off, you run over the women, you save the baby for the burning building. Or you choose not too. Then you are left with the consequences. Films don’t make you feel pangs of guilt. That’s why games must be seen in a slightly different light than other media. You are involved.

It represents the potential for breathtaking beauty and sensory overload. It can be created/expanded upon using an element of choice. Fallout, in my opinion, creates a good contrast of good and evil. Chosen the light path? You gain respect and side quests are revealed whilst characters feel safe in your company. Become too good and certain dodgy types do not trust you, taking away big opportunities. Choose the dark side and gain extra exp for the kills, but citizens turn on you and people will not trust you with messages and items.

Gameplay is an experience that depends on the type of player you are. I hate time trials, I don’t  play well under major time pressure and it becomes a bad gameplay experience for me. My boyfriend how ever excels in being timed and spends hours beating top scores, and gaining medals. Things like characters,  game controls and storyline are all very important things, but in the end it is how you the player find the game. Did you  ENJOY it? Was it FUN? Yeah? Then that's good gameplay for you.

Urban Camouflage

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Heroes Should Have Acne

Characters need to be believable. In order for you to feel any emotional attachment, they need to be relatable at a certain level. Maybe they have no parents, or have issues with girls. Maybe they have huge ears or greasy hair. Maybe they have all of the above … poor kid… or just the one, but if they show a chink in the armour, us mere mortals immediately feel at one with them.

Harry Potter’s arch enemy Snape (yes, I am a Potter geek) became more than just evil when we discovered he was bullied as a child and had a freaky bloodline. Snape took me through emotional turmoil.. Good? Evil? Hero? Villain? And that kept me hooked on those books from page one. Harry himself is hardly hero material… Glasses, weedy… but yet I still wanted him to win the Tri Wizard Tournament and Marry Ginny. Rowling illustrated in my imagination such a believable character that I simply, well… believed in him!

Anne Rice creates a fantastic conundrum with her vampire novels. In one book you may learn about a vampires life, Vampire Lestat lets just say. Rice pours her skill in to describing the trials through his making and immortality - you become immediately immersed in his personality. When a group of vampires attacks him, you jump to his defence and assume that Lestat could do no wrong. In another book however, Lestat could become an anti-hero to the new lead character, and you begin to despise that which you once loved.

I love to read, and have a passion for books that get me wrapped and looped in to a story of which I can’t escape. Those are the sort of books you read again and again. Those are the sort of games you play.. and then play again with a walkthrough.

Shiny Shiny

Santa hauled an Xbox down my chimney this year… So I could play Halo and Mass Effect… and my housemate could play Forza 3.

With all the hype about this machine, I expected it to do my washing and cook tea straight from the box.. but to my disappointment it simply sat glumly,  peering jealously at my ps3’s shiny shiny casing. They both look pretty slinky to be fair, and in reality the ps3 looks far from dreamy covered in fingerprints and dust.

I think ergonomics in controllers is pretty darn important. When I play for hours on end (which used to happen often) I don’t want cramp in my wrists and a mutated thumb after half an hour. The Xbox controller feels like part of your body – a natural extension that just attaches like it’s been there since year dot. The Playstation controller feels more like what it is… a controller. but in some ways that’s a good thing…. gaming for hours on end is hardly healthy…


I’m glad that the Ps3 controller has yet to shift much from the original version. Its a system that's works. The wireless feature comes  in handy when numbed chilly fingers make buttons hard to press. Playstation under a duvet is the way forward!