Friday, 15 November 2013

Year Three - well and truly underway

I'd be better starting this blog with some swearing, but im just going to go with blimey. Blimey! time is moving on quickly and im already well into my third year and the second project of the semester. The thought of keeping up to date with my blogs keeps creeping into the back of my mind and somehow it seems to escape me each time.

Suffice to say im already struggling with my time management. The last few weeks have been quite hectic to say the least and there's been some positives and negatives to come from this.

The main positive to come during the past weeks has been that Pudding Lane Productions, (the group I was a member of during the group projects last year), won the Crytek and British Library Off The Map competition which was announced at Game City in Nottingham at the end of October. The team were invited to a QandA at the Crytek studios in Nottingham before the event which was great. The team got some excellent feedback on the level and I was able to ask some more personal questions in regards to my employability concerning my more complex situation at home. The team then attended an event in the evening where we were announced the winners of the competition!

The response the team have had since winning the competition has just been insane, something we really weren't expecting when we first set out on the project in February. The story has been featured on almost every reputable news and gaming website, we've had a tremendous amount of positive feedback from both the mainstream media and the general public and over the last few weeks our Youtube video of the fly-through of our finished level has almost reached 400k views which is just staggering. The whole thing has been quite overwhelming in all honesty and, at first, I don't think some of the team members quite grasped how big winning the competition had become as the team and our work are now being showcased all over the world. The team have now had numerous offers from a variety of different sources in regards to using  the work we have done further and even developing it but at the moment, with all of the third year projects everything else is unfortunately on hold. Some responses I think I'm personally most proud of though is reading comments from people telling us that they are primary school teachers who are using our video in their classes to teach history and I think that, that is just awesome and exactly the kind of thing we wanted to demonstrate how video game technology can be used in so many different areas.

Unfortunately, the Off The Map event took most of the days out of my week for various different reasons and this had a major knock on effect to my first project of the year which was the Rooftop project. I'm really upset about this because I feel I had a really strong idea to go with. Admittedly I was too ambitious with what I wanted to achieve and may not have come to an adequate finish even with the extra days I lost but I'm confident that I could of added some finishing touches and polished what I had if i hadn't of lost those days.

My Rooftop project idea was to build a hub for a near futuristic world where hover cars are the norm, taking inspiration from The Fifth Element in particular and also Blade Runner, so the rooftop would effectively become a street scene/ landing strip for hover vehicles to land and park. Again, I was too ambitious with the scale I chose to build the level, and, if I where to do it again I would certainly build at a much smaller scale and aim to include more detail, which of course would be more achievable. So, at the moment my Rooftop is not at a place where I would be at all happy to include in my portfolio, basically, its unfinished, but there is still potential to pull it back I feel. I need to add lots of detail such as doors and windows to my buildings as well as a lot of surface detail/ decals such as cracks/ road markings/ erosion etc that would really sell the material properties within my level and inject a lot more life into it. Below are just some final screen grabs to give you an example of the stage i did reach before the hand in;

As you can see from the screen shots above, some of the fundamental elements of the level have been nailed including the warm colour palette I was aiming for in contrast to typical sci-fi/ futuristic environments, most of the base, tile-able textures are in and sit on the mesh nicely, the level itself is interesting in its layout and great to explore including the upper and lower levels and some smaller details have begun to populate the level including the glowing cats-eyes on the landing strips, working traffic lights and crossing signals and other smaller props including traffic cones, railings, lamp posts, phone boxes, information boards as well as area specific props inside the garage and fuel station and a chrome material and glow tubes on the diner for example.

Despite feeling quite negative about its current state, the level clearly still has potential and provides a strong base to build upon to finish it. I would like to go back to it, sooner rather than later, and inject that final detail that the level is crying out for in order to make it more presentable but I'm struggling at the moment to find when that will be. I was hoping to come back to this at Christmas but the third year seems to be relentless with its work load, there are still two more projects to hand in before Christmas, one of which i will have time to work on during the Christmas break as well as beginning to finalise ideas for my FMP and begin developing the brief and getting work underway. Currently I'm working every available second I have and it still doesn't seem to be enough time to get the work done so I'm not sure if this will happen.

I'm currently working on the second professional practice brief which is a vehicle and material project set by Codemasters, one of the companies I've talked about and shown a clear interest in working for, so I really want to finish this project to a high standard. I will post some updates on that project very soon. 

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