Drawing 101 – Life Drawing (16/10/13)

Today in drawing 101 we got a nice chance to practice at life and observational drawing. Gareth brought in some musical instruments that we got chance to look at and draw, he brought in some art supplies and come mannequins that we got a chance to observe and sketch.

The Art supplies where the easiest to draw because most of it was simple geometric shapes and shading, i wish i had spent more time on drawing these.


The next step up was the mannequins because these where not just simple shapes, but they gave you the basic contour lines in the seams of the fabric the was covered in. Lastly was the hardest of the 3 due to them being unusual shapes and not having visible contour lines, I really wanted to push myself and give these a go, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the picture with a student in it.

20131016_120705 20131016_120720

Basic Photoshop and Colouring (14/10/13)

Today in Technical skills we have been introduced to Photoshop. Photoshop is a key piece of software for any games designer to have a knowledge of and be at his disposal. It has taken me longer to get used to it than most, but I am picking it up slowly and working on my Emerald Dragon Logo. This logo is just a prototype and i will be making some more rough designs for my logo and see which i prefer.

Emerald Dragon Template

I scanned this image into the computer at 300 DPI (Dots Per Inch) and imported it into Photoshop and have been working on it to make it look nicer. I will make another post on my progress of this picture.

We learned about the DPI (Dots Per Inch) 72 DPI tends to be used for the web as pictures like this tend to be small and not used for much things other than an avatar or profile picture, pictures at this DPI are quick to load on a computer. Then we have 150 DPI which is used for web as its fairly easy to load but can also be used for printing as a picture at this DPI wont distort very much during the printing process. Finally we have 300 DPI which is what my dragon is scanned at, this setting will give the best quality when printing and as it is so big i can then reduce the size to fit my needs.

We was then introduced to some basic tools, most of these tools you can find any simple program like paint or similar software. But a few of the tools are only used on Photoshop such as layers, Layers allow you to make slight changes to a picture and place them on top of or merge them together with the actual photo. The Burn and Dodge tool can be used to make colour lighter, The Dodge tool, or to make the colour darker, The Burn tool.

Emerald Dragon Template 2

This is basically the same picture but with a copy of the background over the top and merged to make the lines darker and everything else pop. I will be making more prototypes for my logo and i will keep them updated on my blog.

CATS – Log Book – Entry #2 (11/10/13)

Today in CATS we spoke and learned about “Analysis” what it means and what it is.

“A detailed examination of the elements or structure”

Last week we was asked to take or find a picture that got us interested in games design, I chose to bring in a picture from a game Gears Of War as this game is the first game me and a friend played together and it was the creatures “Locust” that got me interested in games design and 3D modelling.

After this brief discussion/analysis of the pictures we brought in we went on to analysing a clip from a film “2001 Space Odyssey”

we had to analyse this short clip, these are the notes that I got:

  • Monotone Voice
  • Hissing Sounds
  • Heavy Breathing
  • Empty Silence
  • Red Room
  • Emotionless Voice but words full of Emotion
  • Zero gravity – Very slow but focused movement

These are the notes I got from the short clip and we then discussed with the rest of the class what we got for our analysis and discussed what we all thought it meant. The tutor went around the room and gave us all keywords that we had to look at and analyse the clip based around these words. My groups key words were Sound, Movement and Time. All of these words link together as the common theme for the clip is Haste and Fear. As the character is moving through the scene you can hear a constant hissing sound (Like air leaking from his oxygen supply) which gives you the feeling of urgency, the movement was very slow, we deducted it was due to the zero gravity of space and how difficult it must have been to move. Finally, Time, we felt that the clip was packed with tension and that combined with the sounds and atmosphere, that for Dave (The Character Deactivating HAL) those 4 minutes could have felt like hours.

Shortly after we was set an Essay to do by next week analysing a cultural artifact, this could be a picture or movie or game. We had to use 3 stage analysis, Description of what we see, Analysis of what the work is about, Interpretation of what it all means, with your own personal opinions and experience thrown in.

Cats – Visual Analysis Task (11/10/13)

La Noire is a detective thriller set in 1947 Los Angeles (La). You take control of an LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) officer to solve a range of cases across different departments (Homicide, Drugs, Forensics). You must investigate crime scenes for clues, follow up leads & Interrogate suspects to reveal the truth (You are given multiple choice questions to reveal the truth based on the amount of evidence you have gathered).

The game draws heavily from aspects of film Noir, which matches the time period of the game. Classic film Noir was most popular in the 1940-50’s, It even gives you an option to play it in black and white to make the experience even more authentic. Team Bondi (Founded by Brendan) recreated 1940’s Los Angeles by using aerial photographs taken by Robert Spence. In his 50 year long career Spence took over 110,000 photographs of Los Angeles in a plane. The games developers used these pictures to map traffic patterns and public transport routes and even building architecture & position to recreate a 1947 Los Angeles in perfect detail and scale.

La Noire is the first video game to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival upon release. The game received wide acclaim for its advances in Storytelling & Facial Animation Technology (MotionScan). MotionScan was showcased at E3 in 2010, shortly before La Noire’s release in 2011. MotionScan is a custom engine, combining Facial motion capture & Animation software. It was developed by Depth Analysis (Also Founded by Brendan McNamara and sister company to Team Bondi both founded 2003). La Noire was Team Bondi’s first and only project that spanned 7 years.


The technology itself relies on 32 High Definition cameras arrayed as stereo pairs to capture the face of an actor. The videostreams from these pairs are processed in a computer using stereo vision techniques to produce a 3D model for each frame from the combined streams. The processing of the data is done in the background of the capture process, which can be tuned for the users preference (Quality, Resolution) although the process remains the same.


The game La Noire uses the Havok Physics engine which allows for real time collisions (Traffic collisions or people bumping into each other) and Dynamics of Rigid bodies in 3D. Basically put when a characters body, be it Player or Non Player, is hit by and external force (Car or persons fist) the body doesn’t deform or “Fall Apart”.

After playing the game a short while I realised that the developers really did put a lot of effort into constructing the environment and trying to meet the needs of the player. This links to our lesson on Analysis in which we spoke about the link between Game and Gamer, the developers used the pictures taken by Robert Spence to make a visually fantastic environment to try to make the link between game and gamer seamless. The use of film Noir and live actors (Motionscan) makes such a huge jump in games development that the game could almost be classified as a movie, in which I believe we spoke of briefly in a previous lesson.


I got these pictures from google Images and the links to the sites they can be found are bellow:




Drawing 101 – Perspective (9/10/13)

Today we learned how to do drawing from a 2 point perspective. 2 point perspective is having 2 vanishing points along a single horizon line. We learned about doing simple shapes in 2 point perspective.


Then once we learned how to do simple shapes we attempted to do a wheel from a bike.


I was happy with the way this turned out, while drawing the circle of the wheel it started to look out of shape and not very wheel like, surprising to say that once I had finished I was shocked to believe that a wheel could look like a wheel with one face that looks like an ellipse. This is one of the most enlightening lessons we have had in the 2 weeks we have been at college.

3D Realisation – Subject Choice (9/10/13)

Today in our lesson I was given tremendous help in focusing my research and picking a subject to work on. My picking of 3 different artists that work in different areas of 3D games design was a huge mistake, but with the help of my tutors Gareth & Paul I was given clarity about my future in this subject.

I have chosen to research into Kevin Lanning’s line of work in Creature Design. In my research I have found 2 more artists that work alongside Kevin; Mike Kime & Mark Morgan. All of these people worked on the Gears of War series, creating the creatures called the Locust.

I will be making some rough sketches of ideas and plans for this subject shortly.

3D Realisation – Artists (2/10/13)

In our 3D Realisation lesson we have been set a task to find and research 3 professional artists that have worked in 3D and on shipped games. When starting my research I found it extremely difficult to find the artists and work they had done, that is until my fellow student thought to look in the games credits to find artists. Our research from this point exploded and we found more than a handful of artists to look at and find inspiration from.

I decided to pick 3 artists that would give me a range of areas to look at and study. This was a huge mistake on my part, in choosing a wide range of areas I found myself struggling to pick a subject to focus on.

The Artists I found:

Jesse Van Dijk – An Environmental Designer

Mao Lin Liao – A Character and Designer

Kevin Lanning – A Creature Designer

CATS – Log Book – Entry #1 (4/10/13)

During our first CATS (Critical and Theoretical Studies) lesson we was given an introduction to what we would be doing in this semester, this involves not only learning the history and theories of Games Design but also to look at them in a different perspective to give us a “toolbox of information” about our “Discipline”. We will look at others that give us inspiration and use their work to influence our own.

The first exercise we was given multiple pictures ranging from the Magnavox Odyssey (The first household Gaming Platform) to the iPad (The handheld Computer) and asked to us what they mean in relation to our chosen subject. We decided as a group to split these pictures up and discuss what each picture meant and how it was relevant to our course.

Then we was asked how Cultural artefact, Material culture, Media practice and Form of entertainment was relevant to Games Design. We discussed this in our group and identified that in some way each of them are relevant to Games Design.

Cultural artefact – The history and future of gaming shapes cultures of all varieties and ages due to the social participation involved in playing and discussing games and how it brings people together.

Material culture – That a game has evolved into a social gathering point online to speak and play the game co operatively for example: World of Warcraft

Media practice – One of the largest industries in the world with roughly 70% of people world wide playing video games and 91% of children are gamers

Form of entertainment – Goes without saying really, one of the most used forms of entertainment around the world with around 3 Billion Hours a Week spent gaming World wide.

We was then asked our opinions of what we believe the relationship is between a game and a gamer. This question is not easy to answer due to it being totally reliant on both the game (Thriller, Shooter, Action, Adventure etc…) and the gamer (Casual, Heavy or Spare time player) these factors all play a part in how Immersed the gamer will be in the game, it depends completely on the Type of player and the Type of Game.

After this lengthy discussion we watched a humorous video on a lecture held by Kevin Kelly hosted by TED on how technology evolves

Once we had watched this we was given a brief and a piece of homework. The homework was some keywords to expand our vocabulary and also we had to bring in a picture that brought us into the idea of Games Design. I chose to pick a game that me and my friend played that really brought me into the idea of Games Design/Creature design and to pursue it as a career choice. My game of choice was Gears of War, this game to me is a fantastic piece of art with all of the creatures being hideously deformed, although some do have a humanoid figure, this to me i really found interesting and is the reason i chose this picture.

Research Focus – Revenue & Sales (30/09/13 – 07/10/13)

On (30/09/13) we was introduced to the Module and our Brief to make an interactive presentation of our research into the history of gaming. We was shown a 45 minute video called Thumb Candy. This video was very interesting and had a lot of useful information.

“Our lives aren’t even about doing real things most of the time. We think and talk about people we’ve never met, pretend to visit places we’ve never actually been to, discuss things that are just names as though they were as real as rocks or animals or something.”

– Tad Williams, Otherland: Mountain of Black Glass

On (7/10/13) we have been given a focus for our research into the history of gaming. My research focus is on Revenue and Sales, which personally i will find very interesting. In the video i have linked, the designer of Tetris (Alexey Pazhitnov) didn’t get a penny for selling Tetris due to the soviet Government selling it for £30 mil. I will be going further back than the creator of Tetris and looking at this in a lot more detail.

As for the actual timeline, i plan to make an interactive Sales Chart with 2 separate lines and charts that become 3d once combined, one to represent the sales and one to represent revenue. The X-axis will be the Time/progression and the Y-axis will represent the sales & revenue with focus on one or the other and having the non selected section fade out to give a clear view of information.

Progress-Sales-Progress-Sales-Chartbar chart

As a representation. I would like to have the chart 3d with 2 line that are next to each other.

Social Gaming Event – Beyond: Two Souls (4/10/13)

Today (4/10/13) we attended a social gaming event which involved the full version of the game, Pre release. Me and a group of 3 fellow students attended this event with an expectation of over 100 people attending, that mark fell well short (8 people including us 4 students) 4 people as excited about the launch as us.

We was unable to take photos or videos of the event due to copyright issues and other things of that sort, but we was allowed to take a photo of the tall poster (Not brilliant but its all we could get)

Beyond Two Souls 4/10/13

Due to the tiny number of people at the event we was able to play and test the game with great ease. The game its self is beautifully textured and rendered, with great focus and detail on the characters and models. The controls are very fluid and felt like you actually had control of a real person, that being said the game doesn’t give the player much control during gameplay. Like I said its beautifully rendered and the designers don’t mind showing it, most of the action is done through quick time events (QTE’s) Where the player has a series of buttons or actions to input, in a specific order, the speed and accuracy of the players input will be reflected in the outcome of the QTE. The outcome will be good if the player does everything correct, or could be bad if the player does it incorrectly.

Overall the experience was enjoyable (Not only for the free pizza) but the lack of people meant if we wanted we could have finished the game, but I am very much looking forward to the launch and immersing myself in the gameplay. As for the graphics and textures, every aspect was beautiful and the cinematic style (much like Heavy Rain) will make for very intense gameplay. 

I will be posting more events in here as and when I attend them. The next I believe is the 15/11/13 – 16/11/13 for the Platform Expos in Hull.

Phillip Maclennan Games Design Blog. "Nothing Is Generic"