Thursday, 28 February 2013

Game Design: From Pong to Next Gen

Game design references the dynamics and mechanics of a game, whether that game be a board game, card game, video game or sport. The dynamics and mechanics are often the reason people play games and what they base their overall opinion of the game on. After looking into game design it is easy to see the different mechanics aren’t only present in video games, but even things such as twitch games ( one of my personal favourite styles of PC game, where the speed of play and the reaction speed is at the heart of the game) are present in card games such as Snap. This was very surprising as I hadn’t really considered comparing the dynamics of tabletop and physical games with the dynamics of video games.

This adds even more strength to my love of Magic: The Gathering, as a card game what I hadn’t realised about it is that it can incorporate almost every different gameplay mechanic within the same game. You choose how you build your deck and how you want to play the game; playing against others using different play styles. This makes the game even more dynamic as variety, preparation and skill pay off, tactics and play styles are incredibly different across the board of players. This realisation also adds to my arguments that esports and card games should have a similar status to that of football and other such sports (esports are essentially video games played in a competitive way with tournaments, pro players and world cups similar to physical sports).

Image found here.

Playing a great deal more Magic: The Gathering than video games nowadays I have reached the realisation that the game design between video games and tabletop games of any kind is incredibly similar. However there are a couple of things that differ immersion and company being the primary examples that I can come up with.

Immersion is often considered the defining feature of video games; graphics, realism, senses are continually being used as the selling points for new games. Often these new games are using an archetypal game design which has been around for years and years. This barrage on the senses, often beautiful and incredibly well put together, can’t be compared to tabletop games which offer a similar depth of immersion but not necessarily the same style of immersion. Where video games offer sensory immersion many tabletop games offer a more cerebral immersion. I find that I play Magic competitively and I’m completely immersed in what the other person may be thinking and playing in order to better prepare myself and plan my reaction. Along with the difference in immersion styles the two styles of games which are so closely linked in terms of game design have differences in that tabletop games are almost entirely multiplayer with the requirement of knowing others who share the same idea where video games don’t require anyone but yourself and sometimes a connection to the internet.

Image found here.

The game design for any game is an essential component to creating something appealing, this is where games such as Quake III arena and Counter-Strike: Source (Global  Offensive more recently) do so well. In terms of the visuals both games do very little they don’t try and be visually stunning but instead try to combine an immersive environment with a developed and technical game design, because of this both games are played often in esport tournaments. On the other end of the scale games like the Elder Scrolls series and Dungeons and Dragons require a great deal of game design and thought to successfully create a viable separate universe. All of this thought into the psychology of the player has to be worked out before the game can be made as without designing how the game interacts with the player, there is no game. Game Design, this understanding of the player, is what is so important to differentiate between games and films. I personally feel that game design has become more and more developed over time because designers have had the chance to study and try to understand how people play games. Having said this their results haven't dramatically improved or changed per say. With more advanced technology and a better understanding of psychology designers can be more and more ambitious with the details of the game design. Games however retain the same fundamentals which can be traced far back in the history of humanity's games. Awesome article on quake and its influence on game design over here.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

My Name is Maximus Decimus Meridius...

Just finished my gladiator based on Maximus Decimus Meridius (Main character from "Gladiator") in his first experience of gladiatorial combat. I'm quite pleased with how this project went although I do rather miss the straight lines and less organic shapes...

Friday, 15 February 2013

Some Updates

So I'm quite annoyed that I haven't managed to get any blogs done since the review about 3 weeks ago. There is however a distinct reason for this, I have allowed myself to get trapped by other work I thought I'd do an update on what's been happening with that recently.

Firstly “Game Production”, or 3D for most people, has been really good I feel like I’m really getting the understanding of 3Ds and I’m quite proud of what I’ve produced although there were a few hitches and a few areas where I wish to improve. Unwrapping tends to take far too long in my opinion, I find it pretty difficult to do effectively and tend to be unable to remain focused for long. I feel that from now on I will have to force myself to go into the labs to do the unwrapping the rest of the project I can do better in my own environment and I tend to work quicker and better but unwrapping I find no where near as fun or mentally stimulating. Despite this I handed the project in on time and here is the final render sheet, including the archway and wheelie bin from previous projects.

“Visual Design”, or 2D, I have found quite temperamental, in previous years I have done a lot of of life drawing  and I was starting to be quite proud of what I produced during the sessions until the beginning of this term. I’m uncertain of what has changed but I definitely feel that I’m not producing work of the standard in previous sessions, a certain amount of it I could attribute to physical comfort levels but I’m still uncertain. Here's a quick exploration of light and dark we were set for self directed study.

We have also worked on a vehicle design project which we have gone through to make physically, I decided to make mine out of clay which I thought would work best but turned out to take a great deal of time, so much so that I haven’t finished painting it yet. I was quite pleased with my visualisation of my vehicle and the redesign from a flying vehicle to A.R.V. I feel that talking to Chris about the design yielded some useful reminders which I seemed to have forgotten. Simplicity is always the best place to start, as with the way I draw and we have been taught to draw working from simple aspects to the more complex elements. This is what I did with my vehicle project creating many silhouettes and working up an idea through this way but I became transfixed with an element that wasn’t really working (the ribbon-like trailing bits on the in situ image) having another set of eye to make me realise this really helped to develop the project more fully.

Below is my unfinished clay model of A.R.V. hopefully I will finish painting soon.

Also alongside this work I have been making money from my hobby (Magic: The Gathering) the art of which is a key and much loved aspect. I adore the art of the game, anatomically correct people painted in a traditional style by proper illustrators. It is this art that I have been extending and just simply paying tribute to by extending the artwork around the cards initially doing this for friends last summer and slowly doing more and more until now where I have commissions coming in every now and then, because of the increased interest I have created a facebook page where I post the card alters up and also started posting uni work and my general art. Fortunately this hasn’t impacted my uni work merely my free time.

This is a card that I painted to be full art from this initial card using the original illustration as reference.