Thursday, March 29, 2007

Well, I'm home again now. Been up to London today and eaten sushi, yum! I am definitely planning on going on the slides at the Tate modern before this holiday is done.

We also had assessments Tuesday and Wednesday which went very well for me. I got an A- for the van which I am very pleased with, and if I fix the errors I identified with it (namely the shape of the bumper and the amount of polys on the roof) then I could make it an A.

The art assessment was interesting for me to say the least. I was really happy that all the tutors were so positive about my work, and it's really inspired me to crack on and keep doing crazy stuff like embossing and ink blowing and stuffing things in packets full of hair gel. I'm happy that I got some positive reaction from people in the class who didn't even realise that we could do stuff like that, and I hope that a lot more people do go and just have a play with different materials. The worst thing that can happen is that it goes wrong and even then you've learnt something.

In a way, I'm also pretty happy I got some negative reactions. People don't see the point, people think I'll get laughed at, but I don't really mind. It shows that I'm doing something different, and (to quote Cool Runnings) "People are always afraid of what's different." I also got defended by all four tutors, which was pretty cool.

I think the crowning glory for me was Mr P's comment (paraphrased)." I told you all to do a blog task about the definition of creativity. This is creativity. "
I think it's possibly the most huge compliment I've ever recieved about my work. Let's hope I can keep this up.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Final Blog task

I came to this course from an illustration focused art foundation, which turned out to be nothing like I was expecting. I was expecting to be taught different skills in different media to help me establish what I wanted to do in my art based future. Before about year 12 I wasn't even sure I wanted to do art. Art was just something that happened in my spare time and in art classes. It was part of me, but not necessarily who I was. As I specialised further and further in my school career, dropping things for GCSE, dropping things for A level, I began to realise that I couldn't just let art go.

I'd had the idea of drawing concept art for games for quite a while, I think since Ratchet and Clank 1 where one of the secrets you could unlock was the concept art for the game. I was inspired and the idea lodged in the back of my head along with my other vague plan - illustrating books.

So I moved on to the art foundation, where I was given vague ideas and comments. 'Produce a final piece on the idea of a votive object.' 'Draw without drawing' 'This is wrong but we will not tell you why'. When we came back after the Christmas break and were told we had better be damned confident in ourselves if we were going to be illustrators because we would have to sell ourselves every second of every day I broke down. I knew I couldn't do it. Couldn't compete with the egos and strange dress sense and overwhelming confidence in something I didn't even understand.

So I explained to my Mum what had happened and I bunked the next day and spent the entire time trawling UCAS searching for my two ambitions: Game Design and Book Illustration. I hadn't even realised you could do Game Art as a degree! I'd been planning on trying to get my foot in the door after finishing an illustration degree. I phoned round for some open days and suddenly life seemed a lot better.
As you can guess, I had an open day and interview at DMU and got on the course.

So why did I write all that? I don't think I've forgotten since I've been here that I have battled through a course that I truly didn't enjoy, and where I didn't learn what I wanted. Here I have felt settled and like I belong on the course, something I never felt on my foundation. I've also learned a lot, and it was stuff I was expecting and hoping to learn. So basically I am grateful for what I have here, which is something to keep in mind when reading my whiny complaints!

So do I have any suggestions for next year? Well I felt that the first project really flung us in at the deep end. While it did make us learn quickly, it was also pretty stressful. I know that Joel did his best with so many people who had no idea what they were doing, but I think we could have done with more one on one help. So for the sake of the next first years, I'm going to suggest a buddy system. Teaching other people how to do things that we already know how to do will ease the stress on Joel, help the first years feel more accepted and also re-enforce what we know.
Also having PCs that don't die every few minutes would be wonderful. We were all so impressed with their shiny newness at the start of the year but now you're lucky if half of them will run Max.
Other than that I feel like the 3DS Max stuff has been going well. I've really enjoyed making the street furniture and trees because you can see how it's directly relevant and ready for a game environment. There have been grumbles that it isn't interesting enough but we have to be able to walk before we can run. Group work should be interesting for next year, and maybe for after Easter if people still want to model animals from the zoo.

As I said before I've been really enjoying the drawing module. I surprised myself at the tutorial with just how much I've done. 3 full sketchbooks, one A5 sketchbook from the zoo and a big fat texture book. As well as a hand, wire man, chimney and arcade cabinets.
The formal drawing lessons have been really useful and not something that I've really had before. I had picked up various rules and tricks but the perspective stuff really helped. Shame we didn't get round to colour theory. That would be nice for next year.
I'd love for there to be more focus on the hand made 3D stuff next year, I've felt like it's been really beneficial. More time with Chris in classes would also be really good. I know he wants to be a full time tutor and I think it'd be really useful for us to have his direct input on our 3DS Max work.
I'd love if we could have our own studio space where we could work. I'm running out of space for all my 3D junk and my room is littered with the results of my artistic experiments.

The blogs have become a lot more fun for me, and I think I'll do my best to keep them up. God knows what Mr P thinks of all my days/ nights out but I like posting about them. It's a fun way to communicate with everyone and it's far better than essays would be. It would be nice if the blog tasks would link more closely with the lectures we have but I know that's not always possible because people are unpredictable.

The lectures have been really interesting and have provoked a lot of discussion. I think the inclusive gaming was probably the most hard hitting one for me because it made me analyse my own habits and preferences and examine what they're affected by.

I think I'd like to comment on the amount of notice we get for some stuff. In my experience Art departments are always slightly shaky on the organisation front. Deadlines and criteria changing, sudden field trips, unexpected tutorials, and timetable mess ups have all been annoying simply because they are all so preventable. Notices on the VLE would solve most of it.

Finally, the VLE itself. Could be a very useful tool but people just don't really check it now apart from for briefs and project deadlines. At the start of the year it had a bustling forum which has now sadly stagnated. Perhaps having a link to a separate Vbulletin messageboard or similar might be better?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wow, the final blog task is pretty hard.

I've had a pretty cool week this week, Tim's been down, we've all finally viewed a house, played drunken guitar hero, saw 300, had a smoothie from the nice milkshake place in town and eaten chinese food. It seems far too early for the term to be over.

Plans for easter:

Catch up with all my friends from home.
Dress up like a pirate and go boating on a lake with my friends. Did this last year and it was brilliant.
Work for playschemes. It's basically a day camp for kids during the holidays. We do stuff like ourdoor sports, art and craft, drama, whatever. It makes you never want to have kids. EVER. Ah but the money is good.
Go round London lots and lots. Enjoy the extortionate prices, stupid tourists and tube bogies.
Go to Turkey. Oh god I need a holiday this will be sooooo nice if it happens.
Maybe some work will fit in there somewhere.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Have you ever wondered what would happen if your life took another direction? If at some point in your life you made a decision that changed how you are today? This may sound like it's going to become all philosophical and deep, but it really isn't. It's just an excuse to post pictures of me dressed as a chav.
For those of you who don't know what I look like or need reminding here is a photo of me and Tim, who for some reason looks like a ska musician:

And here is a photo of our bizarro universe chav counterparts. We were actually very scared of one another for a while that night, especially when Tim decided to name himself Darren, or 'Daz' and continually ask people 'if they were startin'?!' .Someone actually told us that we were so convincing that if they saw us in the street they would cross the road. High praise indeed.
So in conclusion I'm glad I'm not a chav.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

All Hail the Zoo!

I went to the zoo today along with Caz, Alex, Nikki, James and Joel. Getting there and back was quite an effort as we had to get a train to Nuneaton and then a bus which only came once an hour and took an hour to wind its way through the countryside to the zoo. But it was definitely worth it. We got the bus fare and zoo ticket together for just £6.50 which was a nice surprise, and we all took tons of photos and did loads of drawing.
Quote of the day:
Alex: 'I only eat solid waste.'

The whole idea of this is to model loads of fun animals and make a first person mauler, where they all run around slicing/ goring/ trampling each other to pieces. Should be fun!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Week 22: Games Design Conference

I had free rein on this one so I just decided to look around the site until I found something that sparked my interest. This lecture looks really interesting, about knowing your target demographic and knowing who plays games. It seems similar to the lecture we had about inclusive gaming, if you make a game more inclusive, it will appeal to more people and therefore have more potential sales. This part in the description especially interested me:
"Analyze This! - Players Live On Stage" a live player study on the Wii provides insights into players' minds.

It's incredible when you think about it how many different ways people will come up with to play the same game. This is especially apparent in multiplayer versus modes, where different tactics will have different advantages. When we play Lord of the Rings in the lab, we all seem to have settled in to our chosen races. If there is a choice, I am usually Goblins, Tom the Elves, Sophia the Men, Alex the Dwarves and Darsh Mordor.
I prefer the Goblins because I can make lots of mountain giants, big ro
ck throwers, and then spam cheap basic units to act as a meat shield for them. But why do I like to play like this? I could easily go a different route, but yet I don't. Why do I play the way I do?

What kind of factors most affect how we play games? Is it to do with our personalities? How we solve problems in real life situations? How we've played games before? I'm not offering any answers because I can't go to the lecture but it's interesting to think about.

Another slight tangent I went on from the lecture description was here. Facts and statistics about computer games and who buys and plays them. The pie charts for the best selling genres really surprised me. Action and sports games had the highest percentages for console games and strategy and children's games for PC games. If you'd asked me what I thought sold most I probably would have said shooters and maybe racing. But is that because I'm currently in an environment where those genres are more popular? Lots of people play CoD and Gears of War in the lab and any adverts on TV tend to be more shooter and racing game orientated, although I have seen some for Final Fantasty XII and Wario Ware.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Let's draw retarded Pokemon

So I did.
Ah how I love :)