2nd week starting and Other Ocean

second week in, and what better way to start it then with a guest lecture!

we were paid a visit by a very friendly company known as `other ocean` based in Canada, they did the usual guest lecture thing, showed us some slides detailing their inception, the staff, the games they worked on etc

I was secretly hoping for some post presentation swag, but I guess nothing will ever surpass the lecture that criterion gave

they even had lot`s of jobs going. but as always the case with these lectures, it`s during the academic year so I`m focusing on other things rather than job hunting. but I`ll definitley keep these guys in mind! i liked the sound of their development style where they work on roughly 4 small game projects at any given time so that one games success does`nt dictate the company’s future like it would for solo projects or risky original ip`s.

i don’t know much about what goes into production and development into a large-scale company like this (with three separate branches across Canada no less) but that methodology really appealed to me. employees could potentially cherry pick which projects to work to tailor suit their abilities, and the diversity of their portfolio must open a lot of doors. (they even have a q&a sister company)

one gleaming nugget of information which stuck in my memory was that the artists working on the latest x men game for Activision actually got to create original mutants and enemies for the game, and they were officially adopted into the marvel mythos. talk about the perfect level of creative control!

aside from Activision they`ve also made games for Sega, Konami, Marvel and Capcom.

Castlevania: symphony of the night (which I spoke at great length about in my digital media presentation last year) which is quite the accomplishment considering the legacy and fanbase that title has. super monkey ball for ios, nothing to scoff at. x men destiny for Activision as mentioned (the DS version) and dark void zero for Capcom.

that last one is of some relevance, especially to my honours project. just look at these graphics.

and the music. good god make sure your speakers are on.

dark void zero was released on dsiware sometime last year (and is now available on the 3DS eshop) and it was a huge success, even more so then the triple a title it was spoofing/homaging. dark void for the HD platforms didn`t fare so well in comparison. it was severely over budgeted, it wasn`t recieved well by critics and it didn`t set the sales charts on fire. the best thing to come out of it was probably dark void zero.

I actually asked the company representatives at the lecture today about the title, what it was like developing a game of that style.

and STYLE is the choice word here. look at those glorious pixels!

answer was very interesting, not only did it only take 3 months to make and they had fun with their self-imposed limitations (the NES graphics of course and the addictive retro soundtrack) but also they didn’t adhere so strictly to them so that it was detrimental to the product. for example, they ignored the `X number of objects on-screen at once` rule. in the final game you can spam like, a million projectiles from your weapons onto an already cluttered battlefield with silky smooth system performance. not something the NES could have pulled off without a frame rate dive and lots of sprite flickering.

but the game still feels hugely authentic of the era it`s trying to copy. and they were right to cherry pick only the good stuff like they did.

so let`s weigh up the plus`s. the game took an extremely short amount of time to develop, was cheap and appealed immensely to hardcore gamers. I`m thinking back to my mind map in the last blog, where I rambled at length about getting publishers interested in sprite games. i daresay dark void zero is the ideal topic for that thread.

the game is a paramount example for my honours subject and a personal favourite of mine, it was great to actually meet the people behind it.

epic. love me some fake cheesy boxart

so yeah, no actual classes today so nothing else to mention. now I should finally answer those 3 questions that Belinda proposed.

1.what inspires/motivates me

well,video games I guess. that and coffee.

I find that, games with awesome speed or awesome soundtracks really get me psyched. mechanics and gameplay are another issue, because quite frankly I`ll play any genre. i never used to be crazy about sports game, but things like NBA jam and pro evolution soccer are just too well made to ignore. on the flip side, i`ve always time for one more world war 2 shooter or cover based shooter. so long as it`s good.

but I feel like im pigeonholeing it a bit. I can find something inspiring in pretty much any game I by. except the bad purchases that I regret obviously. i`ll show off a few standout moments from recent memory.

spoilers aplenty

one of the last levels from sonic colors end game chase sequences should be in every game frankly.

cheesy 80`s rock combined with masterfull fingerwork uber levels of motivation. even more so when you can pull it off on harder difficulties

the best rhythm platformer ever I lost so many weeks trying to collect every gold bar in this. gave up on the special stages for the sake of my sanity. the synergy between level design and the soundtrack is heavenly.

shooting ugly aliens in the face feeling like a badass conquering impossible odds. something videogames do better than any other medium.

and many many more times that can’t be put into video. like in monster hunter tri when me and my friends manage to take down a particularly strong enemy. or in left for dead when we scrape through an expert difficulty campaign with all 4 of us alive.

but I digress, it`s far too hard to list all the moments or to even answer the question successfully in words. inspiration is closer to a `feeling` or `experience` then something you could distill and replicate. it`s like I said before about immersion. once all the other variables have been aligned perfectly then you get that feeling.

that and coffee, seriously. i`ve only since discovered that stuff since uni got tougher but it gets me buzzing and working like a mofo. tip to anyone wanting anything done by me. it`s pure motivation juice

2.how do you research/explore ideas

I guess, check Wikipedia pages and browse for interviews on the relevant subject?

again, another futile vague question. if a game mechanic interests me I`ll usually pursue similar games once i`ve played the initial interest to death. and of course, buy subsequent games in the series like the slave to the entertainment industry i am.

if the question is regarding my own ideas. I guess the best way to research them is google similar things. or through the wonders of social networking ask co-workers and friends for input, advice.

often when I get an idea bout animating something I`ll quickly experiment in flash for whatever I wanted to test. or for a texture or layering trick i`ll have a muck about in photoshop. and of course, there`s the ever faithful physical sketch pad for the more primal artistic urges.

3.how do you communicate/define ideas

again, the wonders of social networking.

defining ideas… I guess whatever I can think up, it gets grinded down into a relevant category like “visuals` or `gameplay` judging from my past experience in group projects making games.

communication with my peers is no problem as i`m familiar with the relevant terminology in my field. heard an interesting story from the lecture this morning where publishers would tell other ocean things like “this graphic needs to be more flipperlicious, or neotastic”

I guess defining ideas is a process which happens from testing them out and iterating them. legend of fail was just an idea to begin with and it`s changed a lot from episode 1. it started off as a confused mockumentary with no polish whereas now it`s a much more fluid `lets play` with it`s own gimmicks and themes.

okay! time for something which isn`t physchobabble my tiny brain is incapable of blogging.

made some character sprites for the side project/sprite exercise

should animate/excuse the horrible colour compression

I quite like the female characters movements. it`s her`s I did last so even in the space of three characters im learning so much that I want to go back and redo them all.

heavily inspired by David Caruso. but with a bananaman colour scheme.  I have Faisal for creative input, go figure.

this animation was actually an accident. I made this as an idle animation for in-game but turns it out it was waaay too high-resolution compared to all the other characters. so i`ll delegate this asset to a cut scene. i suppose he`s an important character now! lol

and of course, i`m in the progress of remaking y fronts man`s dialouge portrait

look at those dead eyes!

not quite happy with it yet. but i feel as i make more i`ll become more confident and want to come back and remake it. the shading looks kinda nice in places so i think i need to have the anatomy of the pose more exaggerated/defined.

and that`s everything for now. not a whole lot since last time but meh. not had enough face time with tutors to get really get into the nitty gritty yet. I hope I learn enough sprite experience for when i start to create final work for my honours subject. onwards with week 2!


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