Unless you’ve actually ever made a computer game you may not be aware of how complex the process really is. This isn’t a boast with which I intend to inflate my ego, or some excuse for the time such endevours take. It’s just a stamement of fact about the way things are. Computer games are not alone in the set of all activities that are challenging, nor are they sole occupant of the set of things that when done well appear to the end user (or target audience) as usable and approachable. However, they also occupy the set of things who’s creation feels like it should be simpler than it really is. Who’s creation is filled with little things that on the surface seem simple but turn out to be filled with layers of complexity. I think in that, they may well be alone. As an excercise next time you play a computer game, consider what complexity might hide behind simply making your character move, jump or attack as you’d expect when you press a button (obviously assuming you’ve chosen game that has a character in it). You may be suprised, and unless you’ve ever written the code for it, …
At the start of 2009 I created a simple puzzle game called Efficiency. Despite being a simple project that I put together in a few weeks it turned out to be much more popular than I ever expected. Over time I got lots of people asking me to fix It’s biggest failing. A total lack of functionality on Windows 7. So here by popular demand, is a new and marginally improved version of Efficiency (which to celebrate I’ve added a ‘ + ‘ to). It should work fine on windows 7, it’s got much nicer procedurally generated music and it’s even got a few added bits and little fixes. Download
For the quiet sections of iO I needed a calm track. Something ambient that didn’t get annoying after the fourth or fifth time round. This turned out to be a pretty tricky task.
This track is basically as close as I got to what I needed. It’s ambient, it doesn’t really go anywhere and it’s almost impossible to spot when it’s looped. It’s alright but it’s not as good as the Hectic track I made for. So, if I get a chance (and I go back to iO) I might yet replace it.
There are two main reasons I could never be a proper musical artist.
First of all I’m too fickle and whimsical to stick to a single style. Someone listening to one track might decide it’s something they like only to find every other track I’ve produced to be nothing like it.
Second, and more importantly, there’s no way I could argue that what I do now for my own amusment is anything like actual music creation. I can’t play a real instrument (aside from a bit of drumming and I’m not really sure that counts) I can’t read or write music and I have no knowledge of music theory
Having completed Ferrari Challenge to such a high standard, we got the opportunity to include all the other exciting high performance cars that don’t feature a prancing horse on their bonnet. Supercar Challenge was basically all the bits that never made it into Ferrari, plus lots of new stuff. Lots more cars, more tracks, better multiplayer, better renderer, more game modes, more downloadable content and crucially (for me) better visual effects
As a bit of a departure from the high saturation colour schemes and arcade physics of the game we’d been working on upto this point, Ferrari Challenge was a real racing simulation. All licenced cars and tracks, with the added bonus of the vehicles being smashable and damagable (a first from a car manufacturer I think). By now I’d really settled into my role as lead visual effects programmer. I had lots of code and systems written and the trust of production management to get on with stuff and do what ever I could to make everything look better. I think visually the game is definitly the best looking I’d worked on to date.
This was one of those nice tracks that just fell together easily, all the components came to hand as I searched and the places I put them just sort of worked first time. It’s a great shame that these days such occasions are very rare.
I’m beginning to think that the time really has come to give up on the manipulation of samples and learn to use a synth and some proper music skills. like it’s that easy
I’ve mentioned it from time to time, but as yet I’ve not really gone into any real detail about the development of my iO project. In this post I hope to remedy that a little starting with some history. Some years ago (around 2004/2005) I created a somewhat complex game concept which for lack of a better name I called ‘spod’. It was a robot construction game in which you were tasked to create a team of automated battle robots and pit them against teams created by other people (or and AI opponent). Without doubt it was far (far far) to ambitious, and as such it was never completed. The screenshot below shows the main robot editing area. Looking back at it now It’s clearly a disaster of poor interface design. If you knew what things did and how stuff worked then you could create some really interesting robots but in terms of usability it was a very long way off the mark. Any new player would probably spend a while poking a things feeling generally lost and then just quit. That or just quit in horror at the sight of all those buttons. So I stopped. Instead I decided …
I’ve put aside iO, and it’s now become clear how much it was stopping me getting ideas out of my head. Without doubt, Its constantly changing form helped improve my programming skills and has resulted in dozens of added features to my game and rendering engine, but ultimatly no real (fun) game was going to result any time soon. The engine has (and will continue to serve) as a great test-bed for ideas and tools in my profession but I think for the most part it now has no real use to me for making games. It’s based on the now aging DirectX 9 and targeted soley at the PC, a combination that is unlikely to feature in the future of games creation as a whole for very much longer. Instead I’ve turned to XNA and C#. An excellent platform for making games on a well established platform with excellent tools in a fraction of the time I was taking to write anything in C++. As if to prove my point, I’ve already finished writing the code framework for my new ideas and started on the artwork for my first project. The first thing I’m getting out of my head …
Nothing deep and meaningful in this one, just a girl with an inprobable hammer and a bomb.Originally it was just a simple sketch while I was playing with ideas. I liked it so much I decided it needed colouring.
There’s a lot of poetry. and the tools available to search for good bits amongst the mountain of rubbish are about as poor as they could be
It’s not that I’m against poetry, there are some pieces I really love. it’s just a shame that there is so much and no easy way of finding what your looking for, especially as audio
On the occasion I was looking for an interesting piece to thread through the various bits of a track I was making (some time ago now) I came across ‘I Am’ by John Clare. It falls quite easily in the set of poems I like (though a great many of his do not) so it became the first poem I used in one of my tracks, and to date it’s probably the best
Old Illustration Style.
Pencil Sketch + Photoshop.
Something I’ve been working on for a very long time. It started as a simple pencil sketch. I scanned it, redid most of the line work again digitally and then split the job of finishing it into colour and lighting.
The lighting and correcting of all the really horrible anatomy issues took about 90% of the time. For the colouring, I tried to emulate the look of the old water colour storybook illustrations. I might try a few other colour finishes if the mood takes me.