First blog post

Hi, this is my introductory post to this blog. I am Rachael Wingate, a NextGen student who is studying animation, 3D modelling, games design, programming, concept art and VFX. My main areas of interest are animation and 3D modelling, because it is my dream to become an animator, and my ultimate career goal would be to become a professional 3D animator. I expect that this course is really going to challenge me, I am completely new to all of the software and I know that the standards are really high and industry driven, however I am excited to take on this challenge and learn along the way. I love to be challenged, and I can’t wait to learn more about all of the above subjects.

Industry research post 1 – Job roles within the video games industry

My desired industry to work for in the future is the video games industry. The games industry has many available jobs, and luckily this course covers most of them. Hopefully this post will cover enough detail on some of the potential jobs up for offer within the video games industry.

Animators – This job interests me most, as I am extremely interested in becoming an animator. This job is responsible for bringing life to characters, making a believable environment, and adding charm to movement and behaviour within a game. This can be within gameplay or cutscenes. Animators work closely with programmers and artists to create the best balance between smooth life-like movements and optimising the platform’s performance.

Concept and Lead Artists – These jobs are mostly centred around designing the game’s visual style, and designing the look of the characters, and environments. Concept artists make the initial art for the game and roughly design characters, environments, and all of the important assets, which then get developed by lead artists into official game art that inspires how everything looks. These artists work closely with all of the 3D art teams, and animators to make sure that all of the visual works fit the game’s style.

3D Artists – This branch splits into many smaller jobs such as 3D modellers, texture artists, and rendering specialists. These jobs consist of creating the assets that will get used in the game itself using software such as Autodesk Maya and 3DS Max to build and make the models. These artists work mostly with eachother, and lead artists so that the game assets fit the official game art and style.

Programmers / Developers – Programmers make and write the code that is used to run the game. There are different levels of programmers, but fundamentally they all share the role of making the code to run and control the game, and making custom codes wherever needed. There are specific specialisms, such as physics programming, AI programming, 3D engine development, and interface and control systems development. Programmers work closely in teams, and also with games designers to make sure that the code will apply properly to the necessary aspects of the game.

Games Designers – Games designers devise what a game consists of and how it plays, defining the core elements of the game, and designing levels and mechanics. They make the story, setting, rules, interface design, and all of the important features relating to the game. Games designers work with everyone and all of the other job roles so that their ideas get through properly, and work properly.

Producers – There are many levels and types of producers within the games industry, but ultimately, producers work on ensuring the successful delivery of the game, and making sure that everything is managed and organised properly. They are the managers of the projects, and they communicate with everyone involved with the projects, and they make sure that everything runs smoothly between all of the teams.

These roles are some of the most important roles within the industry. There are other important roles such as audio engineers, narrative copywriters, QA testers, and technical artists (and many many more), but it would take forever to describe every role in the industry, so I only listed the ones that immediately came to mind. In my next post, I will describe how I plan to try and become a professional 3D animator, and how industry professionals have gotten this job.

Final post – Portfolio review, and end of year 1 summary

This morning I presented my portfolio, and overall I feel like it went quite well. The presentation itself was nerve-wracking, however I managed to get through it without being too harsh on my own work, because this is where I fell short last portfolio check.

Portfolio feedback

I received some mixed feedback, because my portfolio was admittedly very biased towards animation and 3D modelling, and therefore received quite a lot of constructive criticism for other things. Hopefully I’m not misquoting any of this, but here is the feedback.

  • My ident animation could still use some improvement, mostly for the lid of the cup, but overall I need to keep animating and improving my existing work to get better at it. My walk cycle can be worked on over the holidays, and I should maybe try animating ballet movements that I am familiar with.
  • I still need to make my VFX project, because ultimately there was nothing to review for this in my portfolio without it, so I need to make something for that ASAP, and submit it in time for the extended deadline.
  • My existing gesture drawings are a good start to this form of art, however I should experiment more with replicating the flowing movements. Focus less on the body, and more on the action lines and overall movement itself.
  • Experiment with new art styles, trying new styles will broaden my horizons and help me develop my own art style. Stray away from what I know for a while, and try new styles.
  • More content based on games design is needed. I should next time add content from either my walking simulator game, my spaceship game, or ideally a game that I have made in my own time.

Overall, I am very happy with this feedback! I completely understand why I need to up my game with VFX and games design, because those sections of my portfolio were really lacking quality content. I am overjoyed with the feedback I received for animation and 3D modelling in particular, because these sections are overwhelmingly positive, and I am also very happy with the concept art feedback, because this was mostly positive too.

Overall progress

My progress over this last year, in my opinion, is amazing. At the start of this year, I knew absolutely nothing about 3D modelling, and I was very new to coding, and now I think that those areas have improved immensely. VFX has always been a tricky part of the course for me, however I think that it is something that I am still gradually improving on. My art style itself has improved a lot since the start of this year, there wasn’t too many examples of this in my portfolio, however I can draw proportions much better now. My animation knowledge at the start of this year was limited to a couple of the principles of animation, however now I have a much better understanding of theory, and have learned how to animate with Maya, which feels like a tremendous improvement.

Chosen discipline

Next year, I would like to specialise in animation mostly, because animation is something I feel very passionate about. I have wanted to be an animator since before I even started the course, and throughout the course I have really enjoyed learning more about animation and actually trying my hand at 3D animation. I realise I still have a long way to go with animation, but it is something I never want to give up on. I have already planned things that I want to animate over the holidays, and planned how I want to develop and improve my existing animations.

Maths exam: Revision notes about FlightController code

I spent most of today revising for the up and coming maths exam. I did some overall revision of a lot of the maths involved in the code for my game, and answered some questions aimed specifically at learning these answers.

Draw the FlightController class out as a Class Diagram

FlightController class diagram

List the different data types used in the code

Float, Vector 2.

Explain the use of an ‘if’ statement

‘If’ statements work so that if a condition is within specified parameters, the statement is true, but if the conditions are not within the specified parameters, the statement is false. This can be used to make different events happen based on whether the conditions meet specific parameters.

Identify one use of Vector arithmetic

Transform code to make a player, enemy, or anything move.

Explain dot products and why they are useful for the navigation of the aeroplane

A dot product performs a series of multiplications with 2 vectors to give a single, scalar value. It multiplies corresponding values from the vectors, then adds all of those values together to make one overall value. This could be used to add the current vector direction to the direction that the plane needs to be at, to work out the angle that the plane needs to turn at.

Analysis of Game Design: Legend of Zelda, Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword 

Skyward Sword was released in 2011 for the Nintendo Wii. Although Twilight Princess was the first Zelda game to feature motion controls, Skyward Sword really pioneered the use of motion controls as a game mechanic. Although Twilight Princess required you to swing the remote to attack, and use the remote to aim arrows, Skyward Sword went one step further, and included Motion Plus to “accurately” swing in the direction you swing the remote, and used puzzles and weapon mechanics that required precise remote controller movement to perform.

The Legend of Zelda series as a whole targets a wide range of audiences, because the game is so accessible that anyone of any age can enjoy it. The themes of the game are quite simple, mostly revolving around friendship, responsibility, destiny, and growing up. The friendship between Link and Zelda is unusual for a Zelda title, but their adorable, unlikely friendship can appeal to anyone, and pretty much anyone can read between the lines and tell that Link and Zelda are childhood sweethearts. Link  is faced with immeasurable responsibilities in Skyward Sword, and when the story takes sad turns and Link can’t accomplish his responsibilities and protect Zelda, Impa weighs down on him harshly, and this is a theme that practically anyone can relate to. Destiny and fate is a staple theme throughout the Zelda franchise, and this game is no different, except this time, the characters have stronger obligations and links to their fates, and because of this, the game’s story is much sadder and more painful than other titles, because the friendship between Link and Zelda is so strong that when they inevitably get separated and figure out their fates, it is legitimately painful to see them get ripped away from each other. Similarly to the theme of fate, growing is also a big theme in this game. Again, a lot of Zelda titles are based around themes of growing up or growing spiritually, and Skyward Sword features both. Link grows into a more confident character, grows as a swordsman and a knight, and grows spiritually as he endures the Spirit Realm trials, and everyone can appreciate and understand growing up.

The games design in Skyward Sword receives mixed reviews from fans, some fans love Skyward Sword, but it still receives a lot of negativity from fans, mostly because of the disenchanting motion controls. Nintendo brought out new software and hardware purely to improve the controller’s motion controls, and this game was one of the pioneer games to feature the new hardware, because it only works if the motion plus is attached to the remote. However, the game’s heavy reliance on this occasionally flawed hardware soured the reception for a lot of fans, because the calibration was easily knocked by players flailing the remote around, ultimately making it a flawed invention. In game fight sequences were true to the Zelda series, as fights are real time, however this made it more infuriating for players, because combat became really hard when the remote’s calibration went wrong, making that the main reason why combat was difficult. The boss battles are formulaic to most Zelda titles, requiring the new item you get from that area to beat them, however many items in Skyward Sword feature the use of motion controls to master, such as the beetle (which is essentially a drone that link can fly for a few seconds to collect small pickups or knock switches), and the Gust Bellows. Another thing that soured this game for a lot of fans was the assistant, Fi. A lot of fans don’t like Fi, because they say that she holds the player’s hand throughout the whole game, and patronises the player, and this is especially true when the batteries run out of the Wii remote. The environments in Skyward Sword are beautiful, the graphics and art style is inspired by the Impressionist art movement, and the landscapes very well reflect this art movement. The Faron woods is filled with lush greens and blues, the Lanayru desert looks barren, but with the flick of a switch can look as life filled as the forest, and the volcano looks daunting and intimidating as it towers over the Eldin province. Overall, Skyward Sword received very positive reviews from game reviewers, and I myself love this game, despite the finicky controls. The story is strong, and I personally love this game a lot.

Cartoon Character design: Eryth Myrrah

For a long time, I have wanted to create a Victorian character inspired by the work of Lovecraft, and recently I made that dream a reality. I needed to add some diversity to my concept art, and a cartoon styled character felt like a fun way to do it, so I decided on a chibi art style, and thought up some backstory for the character.

This character is called Eryth Myrrah. She is a Lovecraftian-inspired ghost hunter, and she is an angel who studies ghosts, undead, and the final moments before death, in order to avenge a lost loved one. She puts herself in harms way and acts rashly in order to study more effectively, but deep down is haunted by her dangerous studies, however, she hides it with an upbeat and lighthearted exterior. I wanted to create a fallen angel, not in the sense that this character is a demon, but just in the sense that this angel is no longer a good, lawful angel. She has committed crimes, murdered based on vigilante justice, and carried out many grotesque experiments to become a ghost hunter. I wanted to make a cute looking character with a dark Lovecraftian backstory, I just love the idea of an angel conducting dark experiments in attempt learn about ghosts and undead.

I like doodle pages, so I decided to make a doodle page for Eryth with a variety of poses and expressions. ( I haven’t got a scan yet, so this picture will have to do. I will also add colour to this, and bring her to life a bit more). I chose her colour palette so that as a being, she looks light, however her clothes are supposed to reflect that she is fallen, and now experiments with darkness.

Erythphonepic.jpg

 

VFX project: Planning and filming

I spent today planning for my VFX project. I made my plans and risk assessments, and then set off with my friends and started filming on location at Hylton Castle, because most of the group wanted to film there. I then started to panic that my footage couldn’t be filmed there, so I filmed some backup footage incase I couldn’t get around to my originally intended project.

I originally planned to for my project to be based on Silent Hill, and my plan was to film a pan shot of a room and then edit the room slowly turning dark and make the walls cover in darkness and change like the walls in Silent Hill, because I like horror games and the idea of making  environmental changes appeals to me most. I made a basic risk assessment and plan for this project

Environment project plan

Then, when we were filming at Hylton Castle, I got worried that I didn’t have any footage, so I filmed a short clip based on a cutscene in Persona 3 where the protagonist shoots themself in the head to unlock their persona. I am interested in playing the Persona games, so I figured this was relevant, however this is currently a backup plan, because it doesn’t feel wise to have footage in my portfolio of me shooting myself in the head, and I am not 100% sure on how to go about this, however here is some planning and a risk assessment, incase I decide to go ahead with this project.

Persona project plan.PNG

Eventually, I will make some storyboards for whichever of these projects I decide to go ahead with, however I will probably include this in an update to the post.