Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Elements of Game Design~ part one

Game Design is the art of designing a game, to put it simply. Many responsibilities accompany such a task, and in my opinion, talent plays a big part. A Game Designer needs to be a good artist, writer, have a great imagination and a greater understanding of 'fun'. What the player wants.

Chris Crawford was a game designer in the 1980s and he had a few interesting points about what 'game' and 'play' actually was. He described a game to be an art form even, because:
"Art is something designed to evoke emotion through fantasy. The artist
presents his audience with a set of sensory experiences that
stimulates commonly shared fantasies, and so generates emotions."
 Back in the 1980s, games weren't very visually enhanced. I mean, you had pac man and missile command. The programmers were the ones to decide what things looked like.

However, today things are a little different. You have much more of a visual stimulation, it plays a much bigger roll in games. Compare Space Invaders to Star Wars, The force unleashed for example. Which would you choose if both sat side by side on a shelf? (imagining you'd not played either) When you walk into a game shop what's the first thing that atrracts you to pick up a game. Is it not the pretty pictures on the cover? Do you flip it over to see more pretty pictures on the back? All the time making estimates about how the game plays through it's visual style.

Fable. Man this game looks awesome!
Yes this is all well and said but when it comes to actual content and gameplay within a videogame, i wonder if many things have changed at all. I'll use Pac Man again, where the aim of the game is to collect the dots and avoid the ghosts within a maze-like environment. And now look at Mario, where the aim of the game, again, is to collect and avoid. You have the princess at the end and a few more extras but the principle is very similar. Especially when it comes to shoot 'em ups or FPSs, where the clue is in the title. Fantasy RPGs aswell where you choose a character (more than likely you have elf, human, ork etc) level them up and explore. Stuff like that. My point is, games are very similar to one another whether it be a card game, strategy, children's game, board game or video game. Within their elements the aim is almost allways the same. When it comes to video game, I think the major factor that seperates them is artistic style and storyline.

 The Game Designer has to come up with a game that brings new ideas to the table but still holding a grip on how to make the player entertained.
But of course, the Designer isn't the only one responsible for the final outcome of a game. Back in the day, it only took a team or 5 or so people to create a game. Nowadays it takes a team of many more because there is alot more to do and people have fell into the specifics like game art, programming, animating or production.
Generally how it works is, a game company recieves a Design Document from a certain game's designer and the company has a certain deadline and contract in which to create this game, aswell as a budget. First comes the planning, then the concept art and initial 3D ideas. The programmers then come and make everything work and the animators get right on to the cut scenes... (cut a long story short) the game is complete and everyone's happy. It's not allways that smooth but you get the idea.

So i guess the designer is the big guy with the idea and everyone else are like lil worker bees putting this idea together... huh. I wanna be a games designer.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Writing about games.

So apparently (not mentioning any names) somebody doesn't think that my cute lil' GIFs are "necessary". They don't think they help at all in any way, so I'm going to write this blog without any helpful (some may say distracting) GIFs at all.

This entry is a blog about video game reviews.
I had always wondered what it would be like to be a journalist.To write about the truth of things, for the good of the readers. I thought that maybe journalism is like in the movies when the investigator is all serious and full of honor. In reality it isn't like that at all. (who would have thought)
example of an xbox magazine. "ps3 is dead" it declares.
In fact when it comes to game reviews and magazine articles, it's a dirty business. Like every part of the industry, money has a huge deal to do with it. One of the big issues about game journalism is that all the top guys reckon that gaming magazines would get along just fine with untalented writers who get the job done. After all, who are we to distinguish between a sloppy review and a believable one? The gullible reader, who just wants a quick look at how many 'out of tens' Fable 3 got? The problem is that reviews have a big impact on how well a game sells. Which i think is silly.The xbox 360 magazine cover to the right here is just an example. At the top it says "unofficial, unbiased and unrivalled" then it states that "ps3 is dead" which actually made me laugh because it's such a stupid contradiction. How can you believe something like this? Just look at the cover, laugh to yourself and place it back on it's shelf.

When a new film that comes out looks interesting, unlike my other half, i refrain from reading reviews before watching it myself. Why? Well because after reading that review, the writer's interpretation is stuck in your head and alters the way you're going to now think of that film. If it was a bad review, you'd go to the cinema thinking you're about to watch a bad film. Even if the film isn't that bad at all, you're going to have that view in your head that whole time. Picking out the mentioned faults whilst you watch, even. Whereas if you entered the cinema with a clear head you can pick out faults you yourself believe to be and not what some idiot on the Internet trolled. I'm guessing it's the same with game. And who's to say that others don't have different opinions about a film? I mean, if i went to watch Thomas the Tank engine 3D at the cinema, no doubt i would hate it. I'd write, "This film is a boring piece of poo for people with a small brain or intellectual disorder." If a small child went to see it, they may say it was great! Fantastic! They learnt so much from the slow progression and easy to understand morals. My point is, you can't really pinpoint how everyone's experience is going to be like when it comes to watching a film or playing a game. People are different.
"There’s also all sorts of games writers who don’t give a toss about the craft of what they’re doing, either having completely forgotten why they were doing it in the first place after being stomped by their superiors or never really had a clue in the first place. "
Says Kieron Gillen in one of his blogs about crappy journalism.
You also have the danger of reading really badly written reviews. If this is the case then the reviewer was either flaming because he has a grudge, or was so impressed that he believes the game to be without flaw at all. (which is silly because every game has a flaw of some sort)

Newgrounds flash  about a certain game review that many loved and enjoyed because of it's truthful points and intellectual discussion. (No i lie, it's a funny about a terrible game review.) An example to all. What made it funny is the fact that the game is called "PSTW Rpg" (press space to win Rpg) and was intentionally a stupid game. This kid didn't get that cute pun however, and decided to make a stand. Like many game reviewers today, a kid doesn't get it and so the reader is pulled into the same type of thinking. I recommend watching it.

It's a pretty mean thing actually. This whole reviewing business. Mainly because people depend on them so that they don't end up wasting money on a crappy game. However, reviewers are all ways going to be bias of some sort. Whether it's to please the big guys or to hype a game because they're getting slipped a few extra to do so. It effects the gaming industry though and adds to the already huge pile of stress that comes with the whole palava. Stress that isn't really needed.

In my opinion, somebody should release a magazine that's truthful and non-bias. A hero to the world of gaming, with decent writers and honorable reviewers! A magazine that doesn't become all weak at the knees when the sound of money threatens to fatten up their wallets. Or something like that.