SPP3 – Assignment One

So, for the first assignment for SPP3 I have to find four full-time multimedia jobs, four full-time post-graduate courses, and “mock” apply (as in write out the paper work but not actually send it) to one of each.

Task A: Multimedia Jobs

This was tricky, seeing as most jobs usually ask for a couple years of experience; if you’re good at searching though, you can find ones that don’t have it listed as a firm requirement. I narrowed the results down to four via a combination of realism (no “Senior” positions for a first-time job – I learnt that when I attempted to apply for a job at Linneys Design near where I live about 4 years ago. Obviously, I am older and wiser now).

After careful consideration – and realising that the fact I don’t have a passport would be, to put it lightly, problematic (yes, I know we aren’t actually applying for these, but it’s still something to factor in considering how many jobs are overseas), I “applied” for the role of Game Artist at Playfish. Since I obviously don’t have the previous experience it lists as being a plus, I did my best to make my covering letter as interesting as possible (you’ll be glad to know that it’s a marked improvement from the last one I did – this time I actually have some idea of what I’m doing).

Task B: Post-graduate Courses

This one is somewhat unfair considering I’m an overly curious academic at heart, meaning there are a lot of courses I would be interested in studying. But I did eventually narrow it down to four.

Of the courses, I decided I would mock-apply for the Escape Studios Animation course. Not only would it make it even more likely I would get a job, the subject matter it would teach would be invaluable; I already know a lot about 3D modelling and texture, so I would really like to focus solely on the animation instead of having to construct my characters and rig them first. The downside, of course, is that it costs ¬£8,750, and whilst the reaction of my parents would be amusing, that’s not something I’m about to tell them.

Another thing that’s come out of this:- my CV has improved ten-fold. I found the old one I had uploaded at Monster.co.uk the other day, and lets just say that it did seemrather amateurish (mind you, it did get me an interview for a position in the local paper’s main office, so it can’t have been that bad).

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Games Project.

Whoops! Forgot that I hadn’t posted anything to do with this.

So, I decided my level would be a Steampunk airship hanger, because well, it was an excuse to draw airships in seminar. Anyway, I did some sketches of a layout and some design elements.

shipsketches sketches

Yeah, excuse the confusing level map, I haven’t found that book of tracing paper I got with an animation kit a few years back yet. Rest assured I have a rather good idea of how it will look up here. *taps head* Just the dimensions that I have trouble with.

I went fishing for airships and steampunk on the net – Final Fantasy is a goldmine for this sort of thing. I admit I may have been channelling Final Fantasy IX with the airship sketches as I love that game. I also found some awesome pictures of industrial piping and stuff from factories.

steampunknautilusshipsteampunkairshipprimavistapipesandtankscardboardairship

I’ve been building the airship in 3DS Max as hopefully the right size to put into the level. However, I’ve quickly discovered that getting it into Unreal Editor isn’t as easy as you’d think.

airshipmodel

Here’s the rough airship, looking very… ship-like. The little dark blob in the bottom left corner is my character height guide. Now, when I put it in the editor, I got this:

unrealeditor

Looks odd, but I only wanted it for judging my placement (I’ve already mucked up the floor, the pit’s not meant to be all the way along), I can add the final thing later. So I run the level to check the size in-game and this happens:

leveltest

Holy smeg I’ve got a ghost ship! I have no idea why it’s doing that, and I’ve been looking online to try and find the reason (the book only covers Maya, and while I may be good at translating from one program to the next, I have limits). May have to rethink being able to go inside the ship (but I’m sure as hell making sure you can go on the deck) but once I’ve figured it out I’m sure it’ll be easier to do. I’m currently trying out unwrapping the UVW and giving it a proper texture file to work from. Slightly fiddly, and I haven’t even got to the mast yet.

uvwwip

I’m still incredibly amused at the fact one of the set of faces turned out like an axe. I’m sure I’ve seen one of those in World of Warcraft.

Erm… other stuff when I can sort through my files (I have a fully rigged character for animation done, pending a couple of tweaks).

Games Design Overview

Okay, finally got round to putting this on my blog – btw, posting the modules in alphabetical order wasn’t intended, it’s just that I haven’t got all the files for Visualisation on my mac (that’s the problem of working on two different platforms, it’s a nightmare keeping things synced).

Anyway, my game was called (imaginatively enough) Ragnarok, since I’d based it on Norse mythology. I ended up with a kind of hybrid between a card game and a board game, was certainly fun to make, if problematic in getting it to work.

So, here are the scans from my design journal (which I’d better be getting back at the start of term, there’s still 70 odd pages left in it to use up) and some photos of the final game (excuse the poor image quality, my camera phone lacks a decent macro mode). My game testing notes are notable by their absence, since I didn’t get a chance to scan them.

I did artwork for all 14 of the cards – and thereby broke my record for speedpainting, I hardly took more than an hour on each. The level of detail varies wildly, and in one instance the original version of the speed paint was lost after I hadn’t saved and turned off the mains extension by accident (don’t ask). In one of them I think I must have been channelling my mindset in the run up to the deadline, because it’s kinda unsettling. Also, my horse anatomy sucks. I’m seriously out of practice.

Visualisation¬† should be up later tonight, then I have some of the stuff I’ve been doing in my spare time in the past term.

Games Mind Map and Critique

Quick thing from Tuesday’s games seminar before I go into my SPP critique. We did a group brain storming session (note to the PC brigade – if you can think of a more apt term term than that for the the process then I by all means I’ll use that. But ‘mind mapping’ sounds plain daft) for a board game which I copied down. In the event of being unable to read my own writing I typed it up in a free app called FreeMind – a brilliant little program and incredibly intuitive – so I had a copy that I stood a chance of being able to decipher. I’ve uploaded a jpeg of it; feel free to save a copy if you either didn’t note it down or weren’t there.

boardgamemindmap

On to the SPP task, where we have to critique a piece of work. So I took a look at my watch list on deviantART and picked out a painting called Bound Destruction by Mythori (not sure what her real name is). I am a rather big fan of her work, so a bit of bias might creep in. Also the questions from the seminar are about as useful for critiquing paintings as a bar of soap is for sketching. Consider them disregarded.

This is first and foremost a tribute to the artist Todd Lockwood (who’s a brilliant artist himself). But obviously it’s at fantasy fans and fans of dragons in particular. There’s a looseness to the artist’s style, most noticeable with the background, that, along with its desaturated browns and greys, manages to convey the sense of desolation and decay of the ‘graveyard’ far more effectively that minute detail by just hinting at objects and debris in amongst the haze. The highest point of contrast is by the dragon’s head, drawing the viewer’s eye to it. There’s a slight issue with the Rule of Thirds though, as although the head is situated on on of the vertical third lines it’s below the high point of contrast meaning my eyes are actually fixating slightly above it instead of on it. However, in a nice bit of compositional placement the pipe or whatever it is (it’s not clear) leads the eye downwards, allowing the viewer to notice the small figure at the bottom and immediately telling us the sheer size of the beast.