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Redemption

It all starts here. I will drag my brain out from the rock it has been living under. This will require dedication and commitment, two words I don’t usually say in the same sentence. Hell I don’t say they much at all. Things need to be done and I realise while I am writing this to be read by some people here, that may or may not read my blog. I am really writing this for me, so I will wake the hell up, because I need this wake up call. I called this post redemption, that might not be pertinent, but I believe it is the right use of the term.

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Rules in games: they can shape a game, make or break a game and create something so unique you have more than a game. Rules are breakable, mainly because in most cases there are more like guidelines. But if you go into depth in games you have laws and laws can’t be broken. Simple example gravity, you build it into your game, you cannot change it it’s a law. Well unless you hard code in some cheat that makes you superman or something. In most games, rules are brought in from real life and are in a way unwritten rules. What I mean is that because they are part of normal life you don’t even consider them rules. But in some cases I.E GTA you kind of through those normal day rules out the window and go crazy, because after all it is a game and if you cannot differentiate then you have a problem(see my previous post on addiction)(Also don’t kill people in real life because of a game, it gives games an unjust bad reputation).

Remember GTA fans follow the rules- Said by nobody

Remember GTA fans follow the rules- Said by nobody

In most sporting games, the rules tend to transcend the sport it is based on, but there is sportsmanship which isn’t built in and can occasionally occur amongst gamers. I have an example I was playing Fifa during a console day host by the universities games society. while playing one player was given a penalty, in the replay’s in show that in wasn’t a penalty due to a glitch, so out of sportsmanship the other person missed his penalty intentionally. Now in real life this would not happen to be honest I only remember two players who actually said to the ref that it wasn’t a penalty. Begs the question, if there were replays in football and the decision was wrong and it was up to the benefiting team to decide what happens would they be sporting or not. I guess we will never find that out. Another strange one on rules in fifa, is they have built in mistakes, now that may seem strange, but they are forcing there computer to be wrong at point. How so you ask well the linesmen and referees can get decisions wrong. Why? you ask, well it is because that is what happens in real life football. It’s crazy I know, but they want it to be a realistic as possible. I don’t think I have heard of another game that is forcing there build to be wrong on occasions. That would be like playing a FPS and your character gets kill but wait know he doesn’t because the grim reaper happened to miss that bullet. Silly stuff I know but that’s rules for you. They’re there to keep the game in check, but they are not all that important. Clearly.

When talking about  addiction in games, you have to mention one thing, when does it become unhealthy? and if you reach that point and don’t care then I think you may have a slight issue of addiction. I think like most addictive things, it is fine once you are not risking you help. I mean everyone would probably be cool with smoking if it wasn’t so bloody unhealthy. I think that is the only reason why addiction is such a big deal anyway. If you are causing your self harm because of something you choose to do in life and refuse too stop even with these warnings, then my friend you are addicted.

The first addictive game?

The first addictive game?

Dungeons and Dragons, is this were it all started for addictive games. Almost certainly, but is this a bad thing, yeah, but only because people played it so much it became there life and blood. There is nothing wrong with the game it self it has almost endless possibilities, but this cause players to test those bounds and in this journey they take, it becomes unhealthy and dangerous for them. “It’s just a game” such a strong quote, who said it originally, I don’t know but I’m sure the first people everybody here it off is there parents and they should be hearing this, because this is so important. I can’t deny addiction in video games, I don’t think anyone can, even if it is only a small number of people that will take it to that next level, it still means there is the possibility of addiction for others. Take this top 10 list , ok some of the deaths are not related to this subject, but the ones that are, killing your mother because she took a game away from you, that’s like a drunk killing someone for taking there liquor away from them. Then there is killing a random stranger for money so you can pay a subscription for online gaming, sounds like a drug addict stealing from someone so they can get there next fix. It doesn’t look good for gaming in this regard and to be honest I don’t think it will stop, especially when money is involved, 100,000 dollars for a starcraft tournament. Not everyone who enters a poker tournament is an gambling addict but some are, so a starcraft tournament won’t be any different, “the more I play the better chance I have of winning the prize money”. It is sad that something that brings so much joy could potentially be so dangerous, but I’m sure someone somewhere said that about cigarettes and alcohol.

Some addictive games

Some addictive games

This topic is discussed to no end and that is fine, there are so many things in life, that are objective and strongly opinionated, that’s life, you will never get a definitive answer. There is nothing wrong with that, it happens a lot, but Gaut has 10 kinds of conditions that make up the successful cluster account of art. I will discuss each one and give my side, whether I agree or not we shall see.

  1. To sum it up art must be beautiful, graceful, or elegant. In my opinion yes they should but that is me. There is a lot of art out there that is considered art but isn’t beautiful. Then what is beauty in this regard. Isn’t the old saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So with that said all art is beautiful cause there must be someone somewhere that fines it beautiful. As for games being art in this respect, a lot of games are beautiful, unbelievably so so in this point games are art.
  2. Being expressive of emotion: Hmm I’m not sure I agree here. My reasoning here is because not all art has emotion in it. There are landscape paintings of the most boring landscape known to man, it has been painted with such skill it has become beautiful, but were is the emotion, the artist has done this as a challenge but no expression of emotion. Don’t get me wrong there is art out there that does invoke nothing but emotional responses but I don’t think that is all you need for art. You could go into such detail on the statement, like what determines emotion, anger is emotion. All graffiti invokes anger from someone but in most case it is not art, but the emotion it gets begs to differ. Anyway I disagree that is all that really needs to be said.
  3. Intellectually challenging: Once again I have to strongly disagree here. Why does it need to be intellectually challenging, because art critics say they do. You make the simplest piece of art that is loved by millions, is it challenging? well it is if you want it to be, hell 1+1 can be challenging intellectually if you really want it to be. But if you ask me this comment is purely down to interpretation, because the artist makes the art a certain way and if you determine it to be intellectually challenging, yet he doesn’t, then who is right.
  4. Complex and Coherent: Maybe this is through, but the artistic piece of an unmade bed is this coherent is it complex, probably enough to satisfy. How about a urinal, sorry how about a fountain. I don’t really need to say more here as those two choices make my case that it is not essential.
  5. Conveying complex meanings: Well I believe this to be through, in my opinion of course. What good is art if it doesn’t invoke a conversation on the multiple meanings it may have. Okay it might not have more than one but it is in the eye of the beholder as to what you see within a piece of art.
  6. An individual point of view: Well this contradict everything or proves everything depending which way you are looking at it. If the point of view is only the artist them looking at it any other way should be wrong. But if this statement is false, then it being open to multiple interpretations then is is conveying many complex meanings. Hell the most famous piece of art the Mona Lisa has not only many views and interpretations it has been well documented and study to prove this fact, so and individual point of view would appear to be false in this sense.
  7.  Creative Imagination(Being original): This is not specifically true, due to many art seeking inspiration from their idols and in some case copying technique. So this is not an essential part of art. As long as you as you put your own stamp on it I guess it is yours. The fountain for example. That was design/created by some one else, but Marcel Duchamps put it on display and he is applauded for it. Does the original designer get any of the money he get, I doubt it.
  8. High degree of skill: To a point this is true, but skill doesn’t hold someone back from being a great artist, If you have a unique/ interest style then you can flourish.
  9. Established artistic form:  This possibly true, but who is to say you cannot create a new artistic form, no one. It would be very difficult I’m sure but what is stopping you. Because all those no established forms had to start somewhere and become established as well.
  10. Intention has to be art: Well I do agree here mainly because you can’t really have art with out it being intended as art. Something doesn’t become art out of no were. It has to be displayed in a certain way of recorded for the intent of it being art.

Now that I’m done, I will apologise as I’m sure there are points in here that contradict other points, but as you write each point down your view can change based on the heading, just like a piece of art.

When you ask some one to name a war game in this day and age, they will more than likely mention Call of Duty, because lets be honest it is probably the most popular war game series at the moment. It is not the only one though and it certainly isn’t the only type of war game. There are multiple types that go from tower defense games to first person shooters like Call of Duty. My personal favourite though is Halo, a futuristic war based game and in my opinion the best war based game. My reasons are its entirely fictional, both in setting and story. There is nothing in it you can tie to an actual war. Although I’m sure if you looked deep enough you would probably find something like lord of the rings being based on world war 2.

Halo 4

Halo 4

GamePlay:

I’ll talk about the most recent version Halo 4. Now not a lot of halo fans liked the fact that Bungie wasn’t doing this game and it was taken over by 343 industries. So with most people giving them the benefit of the doubt, I think they produced a very good game. The game play has change from previous titles, but not dramatically. They add some Call of Duty elements to the game and in my opinion, I think it works quite well. Alright not everything is great, because every game has its flaws. But the they have blended together some of the best elements of two of the most popular war game series into one. Of course you will have your die hard fans who will hate it until its dying day but who cares, as long as you enjoy it. Some of the disappointments are, the grenades have taken a turn for the worst in there timing and accuracy, the kill cams although fun actually show you sometimes that you should have died cause the person shooting you missed you by a mile. I’m sure most of that stuff will be fixed in patches but it hasn’t yet.

Technology:

Starting on the original xbox and moving to the xbox360, Halo has been a Microsoft exclusive and some were even released for PC gamers. With it only being on one platform really it has managed to do really well especially when Call of Duty is released on both Xbox and Playstation, as well as PC.

Story:

Like the previous trilogy, the story is based around the main character of Master Chief- John 117. Master Chief has been lost in space in deep freeze since the last installment. He is awoken by Cortana he A.I, because there is an intruder on their ship. With Chief awake, events lead him to a forerunner planet were the main antagonist the Didact is released. Throughout the rest of the game your aim is to stop the Didact. While also trying to get back to earth so you can save Cortana, as her life cycles are running out.

 

Other Topics:

The Cultures chosen in games tend to be the ones currently at war. Well if you are picking real war based games. America tends to be the go to good guy, even though they are not always portrayed in a good light they will always come out on top or at least make up for there wrong doings.

Moving on to America’s Army. I think it is a bit immoral to try and recruit people through video games. Mainly because not matter how realistic the game is it is not the real thing and there is not a living person at the other end of your bullet. It is creating an illusion and it isn’t right. I’m not saying it is brain washing people it is there choice. But you cannot in anyway compare a game to real life. Okay that statement is a little broad, the killing of a person in a game can not be come pared to really life mainly because your brain makes the connection to no it is not really in a game and it is easier for you to pull the trigger, were as in really life you brain doesn’t make that connection and things can go wrong.

The war being fought in games are very different. They tend to pick the biggest wars as there is more room for creativity and multiple story arcs. But developers also invent there own wars whether they be futuristic wars or add-ons to another war entirely. There will always be some war to base a game on. Two things certain in life death a taxes, well you could probably add war into that because not matter what the scale it has always been apart of this planets history, so I wouldn’t expect it to go away any time soon. I know that is controversial but can you really counter that point.

So the future of war games is probably bright I wish it wasn’t in the case of real wars. Made up wars or other world wars that have nothing to do with our planet and its people would be great. But like I stated already this planet known as earth will constantly bicker and fight wars. It’s in our nature and there is no stopping it. If anything games will be come more realistic a bit like the Battlefield 3 Simulator here:

 

For assignment 4, Shane, Colin and I came up with the business plan for ScratchComics.com. At the start of the project we met up for a meeting to discuss possible businesses we could develop on, but most of them proved to be too complicated or not feasible. For example we thought of an educational games company which sounded great, but getting the game to kids and making them aware proved difficult, so we couldn’t see the potential there. So eventually Colin and I started talking about comics and the idea spread from there. At first Shane wasn’t convinced and he wanted more details to be ironed out, so the idea could be sound. He provided some great constructive criticism, that helped develop the idea into a great prospect. The fact that we all liked comic books help as well.

ScratchComics.com Logo

From all that, we broke down the parts of the project for everyone to work on. I worked on the Product Description and Customer Benefits, Colin worked on the Innovative Characteristics and Customer Description and Shane worked on the Financial Projections and the Future Prospects.
The lads did a great job on there parts. Colin designed a mock website and the logo for Scratch Comics, which are both very impressive. Shane came up with some brilliant financial projections, which give us a profit after the first year,  I really don’t know how he managed that, but everything is in there. Begs the question, why don’t we start this business. Well it is something all three of us will think about down the line, when me and Colin are homeless and Shane is really successful. We‘ll bug him until he wants to do it.
The product description was pretty simple, because we discussed it in such detail together. So I did the write up on our google doc and tried to elaborate on some of the points as best as I could, because this will be the section I will be doing in our presentation of the business plan. With the write up done, it had to be narrowed down for the slides for the presentation and also had to be summarized for the executive summary. I did pretty much the same thing for the customer benefits, the only difference being that I had to break down the different types of potential members or customers we could have and elaborate on what they could have access to. We basically have three types of customers, General public which would be people who can view and buy comic without entering any of their personal details, just that of payment. After that, we have our basic members who have a profile page and can follow other members and get access to our public forums. Finally is our premium members, they get what everyone else would get but they pay us to publish their comics and they can connect to other artists and writers, as well as doing tutorials to help the less experienced members improve their skill. That was my part pretty much summed up, but the whole thing was a group effort because we really liked the idea and we all just ran with it and kept making it better and better. One more small thing me and Colin did was contact DC and Marvel respectively, unfortunately we received no response as of yet, but I live in hope that they would like to scout our website for possible artistic talent.

 

Over the last month or so, James, Shane, Gerry and I were working with the Nexus Innovation centre. We first met up to have a discussion with Nexus, to see what they wanted us to achieve over the time period set. The tasks we were set, was to help improve their visibility around the UL campus.

One of the tasks put forward to help visibility was, to create new poster templates that Nexus could use when advertising themselves and the event they would be having. Based on a brainstorming session we came up with many ideas for poster templates that would really help in advertising Nexus when ever they needed it. Here is a few samples:

Some of the templates we came up with

The Nexus Innovation centre was set up to help young and old entrepreneurs develop their business ideas into something more concrete. They would offer help and an office space for the companies to be set up. Not every company is accepted though, as they have to go through a process. Currently there are more than ten companies within the Tierney building, that have been helped by Nexus to be set up and improved. One of the tasks that we approached, was the implementation of a link-back button that these companies would for want of a better word advertise on their web-sites to get network traffic flowing towards the Nexus website. So we created a JavaScript button with a Nexus logo picture attached to it. This would be displayed on each of their web-sites and it would be a link back to the Nexus web-site. If they didn’t the click the link it was still advertising Nexus Innovation, which is a plus also.

This would be the picture that is a hyperlink

Along with the poster templates, a challenging goal was set to create a logo for the Nexus Innovation centre. They created a program called the studio to street, in the summer of this year, but they wanted a logo to help advertise the course. Again with the brainstorming, although in this case it didn’t really go as well as the other session, because what I came up with was ridiculous and I know that now. Anyway we eventually got a nice logo that needed some tweaking based on Nexus feed back.

This is one of the few variations of the logo.

Another project piece we managed to do was to create landing page for the Nexus website. The page was suppose to help new comers to the website find all the information they needed to know straight away. For example if you were a student it would point you in the direction you need to go for any help in starting a business. The landing page consisted of some information on Nexus and two question with hyperlinks attached to there given answers. This was created using HTML and CSS.

ScreenShot of the Landing page

Other tasks included giving Nexus help from a fourth year perspective, to improve there presentations to fourth years around the campus, they needed to know what we would want from them if we were planning a business. We obliged and help them in this respect also. All in all this was an interesting experience and a good insight into advertising. Okay, I will admit it wasn’t exactly what we had in mind but it worked out in the end and the group I worked with were a great group very hard workers.

Skyfall-A review

I have to say I enjoyed Skyfall, but it took me two attempts to enjoy it. I went to see it and came out very underwhelmed, thinking it was ok nothing to special. So I decide to give it another go, now I don’t normally do this unless I feel I haven’t given a film it’s far chance. By that I mean sometimes I am so excited about seeing a film that I can be disappointed by it. That can be due to over expectation. So I went to see it again and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The acting was reasonable, the stand out was Javier Bardem(for some reason he was born to play a bad guy). The rest of the cast was bearable, although I can’t help but think Daniel Craig seems to be a bit past it already. I don’t know but to me he seemed old in this movie, maybe that was what they were trying to get across but it seem very dramatic a change from the previous two installments of the Bond franchise that he has stared in. I mean come on he only really became a double o two movies ago it’s not like he can be an old age pensioner already.

With all those complaints out of the way, I will move on. What Sam Mendes has done here is quite fantastic, he has manage to keep the gritty new bond feel created from Casino Royale and merged it with the more traditional style that most Bond fans love. A difficult task but successfully pulled off if you ask me. I mean find me a bond fan that watched Skyfall and didn’t nearly wet themselves with all the throw backs in this movie, I know when the Aston Martin DB5 came on screen I nearly had a fit.

 

Aston Martin DB5

Look at this beautiful piece of machinery

All in all I would say it is up there as one of the best in the series of Bond movies. It has defiantly put Bond back on the map after the disappointment that was Quantum of Solace. So well done Sam Mendes for creating a very good bond movie cause there was a lot of pressure to do so and also well done to Daniel Craig for sticking it out through all the crap that delayed this movie being made.

Also can I just put it on record as a kind of side not if they ever plan a remake of the Addams family, I want to put forward Javier Bardem to play Gomez Addams cause he would be the perfect choice for that role. He may not do it but I just want to put it out there.

The Mistake

I may have messed up a very essential part of my FYP today. Well we will see in the coming days if it is as bad as I fear. I was suppose to get ethics approval as I wanted to do a paper play-test of my App game Numble in the national school up the road.

But with all the panic around stuff involving kids nowadays there is a lot of stuff I need to do to make sure everything is above board. One thing is to get ethics approval from the college to make sure they are legally cover just in case anything happens. Just to clarify I have no issues with these precautions that have been put in place to protect kids this post is not a complaint about that.What it is about is either I messed up and wrote down the wrong date or the date for the application has changed. I’ll elaborate. The ethics committee only meet once a month and I missed out on the last month as I didn’t know I needed it then, So once I knew I checked the date and wrote it do so I had it to hand if needed, hell I even put it on my phone as a reminder. SO the problem I check the date again today and it say the deadline was hey presto today after waiting for a few weeks so I can make sure the form is perfect with no problems that could trip me up I missed the deadline. Now what to do I don’t know yet. I guess I can move on with out the play-test and just develop it as best as I can. Only problem there is I miss a big opportunity to get feed back from the target audience, which could also be a big chunk of my final report. The other thing I could do is just wait for the next date for ethics approval, if I do that the approval won’t come through until the 17th of December and at that stage the primary school kids will either be nearly gone for Christmas holiday’s or just plain gone altogether.

Anyway rant over, i guess I will have to wait and see what happens now and if there is anyway of salvaging this.

The Hydam Project was an Oblivion mod Shane Walsh, William Cole-Baker and I created during third year of college. We created it using the Elder scrolls construction set, a very difficult and crash heavy development tool(note: to anyone wanting to use it, save all the time). The Basis of the mod came from Shane’s creative mind, but with mine and Will’s input we manage to make it more. To be honest what Shane came up with was quite impressive and would make a very good movie if it was ever to be made into one. Well what I did in the building of this mod was level building, The level we created for the mod, was designed by me originally and improved with Will’s input. The basic idea was a maze. You get decisions on your journey and those decisions determine where you go, and if you make it out alive. I built certain rooms and obstacles on one side of the map and Will would build along the other side, with it eventually coming together at the end for the final showdown. While we were doing that Shane was doing the scripting of the NPC’s and designing the Characters them-self. The levels I built involved three challenge rooms the hallways and two more rooms full of enemies. Here is what they kind of look like:

Samples of levels built

Obviously after building the levels, I had to populate them with objects of some kind i.e Barrels, stone tables, weapons and turrets to kill you in some places. In one of the rooms I had to simulate a nuclear reactor, it was difficult because most the stuff in the construction set is based on medieval times. To be honest the whole mode was extremely difficult to make look like a futuristic setting, but I think we made it work as best we could. I mean who doesn’t like a challenge. Here is some images of populated rooms.

Full of joy

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