PHASEgaming

Jason Pook's Games Design Blog


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Skype- My week of Skyping into lessons.

From Friday 22nd November until Friday 29th November I spent the week in my house under doctors orders due to tissue damage in my knee. But the main argument with my doctor was I don’t want to miss my college work or fall behind as I want to be as successful as possible in my course. After much debate he told me I had no option the more I walked on my knee the worse it would get and the more permanent the damage might be.

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Luckily for me Phillip Maclennan owned an iPad with Skype on it as we had skyped a few times previously when playing on the PlayStation, the idea I had was that if Phil was ok with it and the teachers was ok I could use his iPad to Skype into lessons so therefore I wasn’t missing out on anything by using Skype’s free video call (webcam) feature. This was a success everyone was ok with it and I continued work as normal (well my head on a screen being carried around) my tutor Gareth was particularly impressed and told me so when I returned in my 1 on 1 tutorial.

“That initiative and thought to not miss a lesson even if you are unable to come in is exactly the right attitude as it shows you want to be here”- Gareth’s words to me.

This pleased me very much as that’s exactly the impression I wanted to get across, Gareth actually video recorded me at one point on my first Skype lesson as he wanted to show people it as I imagine it’s not been done before. A few people laughed and was quite fascinated by the idea but warmed to the idea and considered doing it themselves if in a situation like mine. On occasion at lunch times I turned my camera around and some classmates watch me play Crash Bandicoot on my PlayStation to keep them entertained, or put myself in Rome in relevance to my adaptation lesson using dell’s webcam central control.

Although there was sound problems and picture pixilation’s on occasion I still managed throughout the week to keep up and be involved in the lessons activities, even the 3ds max lesson which I struggled a little on due to the sound going and me missing a step but Phil and Paul assisted me back on track and I did complete it. So if in this situation again (hopefully not) I will be sure to do it again. Massive thanks to Phil for letting me use his iPad to see the lesson (also carry me round and rotate me for viewing purposes). I will try get the video/pictures off Gareth to show you what it looked like for everyone.


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Childhood Revival for £3.99- Crash Bandicoot.

Yes, you heard correctly tonight I discovered that whilst im waiting for the PlayStation 4 to arrive I can be revisiting some of my favourite games of all time from my childhood. This is a fantastic discovery I made on the PlayStation store, the first game I went to look for was the one and only Crash Bandicoot. Crash is such an iconic character in video games history not just in my personal life of religiously playing crash bandicoot when I was a kid. ########crash-bandicoot-av

And where better to start than the original PlayStation 1 classic of Crash Bandicoot which on the PlayStation store was only £3.99! this amazed me so much I swiftly bought the game and had the download running.

That’s a little glimpse of the introduction to the game and how it was back in 1996 (I was 1 years old), I got my PlayStation 1 when I was 4 or 5 and games such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the dragon was my utter idols that glued me to the screen. Safe to say for Sony at 18years old when I loaded this game up I must have had the exact same expression on my face of extreme concentration crossed with overwhelming amazement and my childhood screaming out “play it Jason!”.

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Although compared to now a days the graphics and performance of gaming is miles ahead of what it was back then this game is still fantastic for gameplay and fun. I can honestly say that the 2hours I spent on this after downloading it for 30minutes was the most fun I have had on a game in some time (actual fun enjoyment not raging one minute then telling other people how sick you are the next minute).  Crash has everything its got levels that have you running towards the screen away from a boulder which have you heart in your neck moments after running a long way from the checkpoints, to hog riding dodging spikes at a fast pace and other obstacles then sometimes if you collect the 3 pictures you have a bonus mission which goes left to right like Mario or sonic. I am currently on the second island right at the end, I have beat bosses Papu Papu and Ripper Roo with much difficulty it has to be said. I haven’t found this game easy in one bit and that pleases me as I wouldn’t want to feel like my endless hours of childhood could be smashed out in a 3hour session now I have played games most of my life. Emotions run high in gameplay from frustration at your own silly mistakes to utter joy when you finally get across that collapsing bridge after several (I counted 32) attempts at doing so.

“Experience one of the best action/platform games ever made! Enter the vivid world of Crash Bandicoot, a marsupial on a mission! His brain’s been scrambled, his girlfriend is held captive, and his arch nemesis has a big N on his forehead! And you thought you had it tough! Over 30 crazy levels with the type of gameplay you love the most! Encounter bonus levels, fiendish traps, hair raising enemies and disappearing bridges!”- PlayStation Overview- Sony.

I mean what else is there to say other than in that brief overview its epic. So for just £3.99 you can have one of your most cherished childhood games on your PlayStation 3 like me. That’s if you don’t still have your PlayStation 1 and if you do you are epic. This will certainly occupy my time very well up until the PlayStation 4 on Friday alongside work.

Recent news that Activision are considering reviving the Crash Bandicoot series had my jumping from wall to wall with excitement as imagine Crash on next generation PS4 I cant even think of how awesome that would be for me personally. Thank you Sony for so cheaply reuniting me with my childhood.


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Platform Expos Day 2- Social Event (16/11/13)

After the eventful day from Platform Day 1, we had returned to platform the next day to see the rest of what was going on. Day 2 was slightly less planned out than Day 1 as we just wanted to play on most of the games, talk to a few of the stalls like marmalade, and just enjoy the wonderful world of gaming. Really it was just do this then “ok where shall we go next” then move on, this allowed us freedom of time as we wasn’t constantly checking our watches for the time as we had to be somewhere (all being said day 1 was amazing for seminars). We started our day collecting our tickets for the 18+ section, Hull College had been given free tickets for us Games Design students but when I went to collect my ticket there was some confusion with the staff which led to me nearly being arrested by a storm trooper, all being a joke of course but I don’t fancy being Princess Leia in the death star thank you. Once sorted we headed straight into the City Hall which was the main area for all ages of gaming, but of course we had been here yesterday and no confusion of where the 18+ section was arose and we headed straight there.

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The 18+ section had games like GTA V, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and Gears of War Judgement. All very violent games with a lot of blood so we was in the right place, as soon as we walked in there was a free for all tournament taking place on Gears Of War so we decided to jump in and do our best being that everyone was already 7-10kills ahead at first to 25kills. This didn’t stop us though we entered the game and started playing, myself being a gears of war beginner I used my little knowledge on the game I learned yesterday combined with the skills from the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield to try get into the game, it worked I was sawing people in half sniping even using a helicopter turret at one point to put me in the lead. Being very impressed I was even in the race never mind winning was short lived as one of our friends Lewis killed me to win the game with Phil 2nd and Myself 3rd, yes I was slightly gutted I didn’t win being a rookie and 1st placed at one stage I was still happy with my effort. Doing this made me realise how quickly I can pick up a game just from experiences on other similar genre games, not to mention that Gears of War was a fantastic game which I had never even played before and unfortunately to me its only on Xbox which is a system I have never owned. Moving on from Gears of War we ventured over to GTA V, with myself being a avid GTA player I decided to just spectate as one of our group had not played it and I have completed it fully so I didn’t want to spoil, GTA V is a fantastic game nevertheless one of my favourites. I have done an analysis piece on the game in 600 word essay as well.

Obviously after this we had to walk past the PS4 and David couldn’t help himself but challenge me to another rematch on FIFA 14 thinking this time was his time. Well I won again and he didn’t have a shot I personally felt embarrassed for him playing that badly in front of so many people or was it just I was too good, unfortunately no video of this match but it would have been very one sided. Moving on with one man with his head firmly planted down on his chest from shame we headed back through to the main area to see if there was anything we had missed on Day 1.

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Well we had missed one thing that even might have not been there yesterday and that was a stand with representatives from Marmalade. Marmalade is an SDK which allows you to code in C++ but the unique thing about it is that once you have coded once it makes your code accessible to a multitude of platforms, basically its a cross platform SDK for building games. We was personally educated at Marmalade by a man (I forgot his name, think it was Scott) who we introduced ourselves as Games Designers then explaining we are fairly basic users of code so was there a quick and easy alternative to Marmalade as code is not our area of study particularly. Then he quickly told us about Marmalade Quick which was a faster easier version of the normal version as it was purely in 2D, he made a bouncing beach ball game with gravity and collisions in just 5minutes showing us using basic code and it still supported the platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Windows Desktop, Mac Desktop, Tizen, BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry Playbook and Roku). For us this could be a very useful program in the future and he offered us many different things but being students we lack the funds for the full version of software’s, so he suggested the 30day trial and if we produce a game with coding up to their standards we will get a years free licensing on marmalade (personally I thought that was awesome). This gave us an option to do in possibly the near future as if we plan it well enough we could do a 30day game of a good standard and win a year free. For now we agreed its best not to waste this free trial as we are not prepared, then we got given a merchandised bag with leaflets and freebies in to send us on our way.

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On our way out we bumped into our tutors once again doing a character building workshop but in the entrance of platform this time so much more people had drawn, we did go to tell them of how it was going mentioning things like the Sony conference yesterday and what we had done with our time which pleased them a lot as they could see we had taken things away from this Expo which are relevant to our course. We then headed to Guild Hall which was said to have every games console in history inside according to one of the Platform volunteers so understandable we was pretty hyped for this and headed straight there. Only to find out a handful of consoles and nothing iconic so it was a little bit of a disappointment after being told different, still we played as much as possible and discussed our opinions. Personally by going there I thought I could have gathered a lot of gameplay information for my icons of gaming research as it was supposed to be retro-present but unfortunately it wasn’t. (icons of gaming research and survey on icons)2013-11-16 14.32.28

A few games that surprised us to be there was things like Congo Bongo  for ps2 which involved small bongo drums which you hit to the beats on the screen, I enjoyed playing this as I like games that try to revert away from the traditional controller to bring a different experience of gameplay as in most cases with games like this they are party games.

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Then we noticed that Taiko Drum Master for ps2 was in the building, this game was something I was unfamiliar with but David had owned and knew about all its Japanese origins (which I later found out was on a massive scale compared to what we was playing), so we had a go. I must say it was awesome I really enjoyed it.

This game being released before guitar hero had all the similar features as gameplay such as a rolling bar with beats to hit by playing your instrument, with added extras like hit the edge of the drum to hit the blue notes and hit the drum with both drumsticks for the big circles and go mental drum solo on the bars or notes. The gameplay was brilliant we happened to stay on that one game for nearly 1hour before coming off as we was having drum battles versus each other over and over on different songs just really enjoying ourselves. We collected a few videos of the drum battles as well.

After being all drummed out and feeling pretty boss about getting a drum master score on one song we left to head back to platform city hall. On the way I realised I had now seen everything I needed and the only reason to go back would have been for some freebies and cheap last minute clearance offers which I wasn’t too bothered about, unfortunately we never got round to seeing any talks on that day which the indie developers stories would have been interesting but due to enjoying our day and not planning to go unless it came around we never got round to it. This rounds up 2 fantastic days at Platform Expos and im sure that I will be going to it again next year as well as many other expos hopefully in the near future.

Check out my YouTube page for these videos and more or like my Facebook page for updates. Let me know what you thought about Platform Expos!

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Platform Expos Day 1- Social Event (15/11/2013)

Today was the day…the day us games designers have all been waiting for and that is Platform Expos in Hull.

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“Platform 2013 is an annual event in the Humber Region that showcases the culture of the video game and content creation industries in a two-day event jam packed with activities for all to attend. From hands-on gaming to industry speakers and workshops, Platform 2013 has it all.” –http://platformexpos.com/

That quotation included everything we fully intended to do just in day one never mind again tomorrow it was going to be epic. Before the event had event come around I and 2 other students (Phil Maclennan and David Smith click to see there blogs) had already done our research on the event and planned out our Day 1 so that we got the most of this day that would benefit us as Games Design students a lot. The schedule was 10-11 Character Drawing workshop (which we enjoyed and turned into 10-12), 12.30-1 Industry Speaker- Developing for Microsoft, 1-1.40 Running a game studio for Microsoft, 1.50-2.50 Working at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (Turned into how to pitch your game and break into the industry), then to city hall until 5 to see the line up of companies that arrived at platform. This turned out to be a fantastic plan as we got some extremely helpful information and enjoyed our day, I will now describe each part of our day in the order I described with some video footage I recorded to aid me in some cases.

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To begin our day we picked up our 18+ Tickets from the platform entrance at around 9.30am ready for the day ahead of us, we then entered city hall to see a massive setup of gaming heaven, the biggest setup of gaming was promoting a game called ACE of SPADES which is described as “mine craft with guns” the set up for this was two big ring sets of computers which all linked on LAN so we could play online versus each other, the brief amount of time I had on this due to the huge swarm of school children wanting a go was pretty average I wasn’t impressed with the game enough to go and buy it; if you did enjoy it though the option to enter a multiplayer “hunger games” style mode was available up on the big stage for all to watch on the big screens. This allowed us to move on to explore the rest of the city hall, it had multiple things up for testing or even purchasing from FIFA 14 Xbox 360 to textbooks for sale on the ins and outs of gaming design/ software. After a walk around we decided to vacate to go to our workshop of character drawing, we left feeling like we hadn’t seen much but this was to be revisited at the end of the day (hopefully with less school students bombing round).

2013-11-15 11.31.302013-11-15 11.31.22Onto our Character Design workshop, we arrived at Hull College to find out not only is it being run by one of our tutors Gareth but that Paul our other tutor had picked up us all free tickets this morning, this frustrated us as we paid for the tickets but it wasn’t going to alter our day. The Character Design workshop really allowed us to engage with our create side as Gareth had some large wallpaper paper spread across multiple tables for a collection of mad designs across the day, to create a multitude of random drawings he had put pieces of paper in a pile and asked us to pick 2, we got rodent and robot. This meant we had to use our own creativity and imagination to try draw a rodent robot, I decided to do my first one which was a mech-bodied rat preserving the head in a cryogenic dome this was a fairly good idea but I had drawn my object in extreme 2d so it didn’t stand out on the page. With that happening I decided to start over with a Mechanical Squirrel (this was determined by pareidolia. See Drawing 101) this was much better as I used contour lines and shading to make my creation stand out which allowed me to add more to the picture like an hydraulic tail. Phil did a rabbit with one mech leg and just a single robot eye no head which was very funny but such a good idea for just a quick sketch, David also did a rabbit but it turned out like a turtle when he tried to separate some layers but still all good valid ideas and efforts at drawing.

This concluded out character workshop but it was on all day so we could return if we found a gap for it. Whilst waiting for our Microsoft industry speaker we had the opportunity to test out the client project which the 2nd year games designers are working on built in UDK it was LAN multiplayer which we had a good laugh shooting each other and running around it wasn’t finished but was well on the way. The controls involved the mouse to look around and aim your weapon, then WASD to move up, left, right and back; left click mouse to fire a small bolt of green energy (bullet) and then right click to fire a beam of energy. This gun was called the link gun and I found its concept very good it was well matched with the futuristic style of the characters who looked similar to a halo game. The setting of a burned down Victorian looking place I think was used to contrast the characters who were extremely futuristic so to possibly suggest a alien invasion on this location who are clearly an advanced race fighting over this planet (blue team vs. red team). This game was called Trinity Church as I later found out the reason behind this is that it is based around Hull’s Trinity Church and made to scale but in the appearance of a different era, I imagine this took a lot of research to get the building structures and appearance of the level right but it certainly made me think Victorian setting possibly earlier I don’t have the exact facts on the time period.

Once we had done we headed to Ferens Art Gallery which held the talks for Microsoft industry speakers which the industry speakers was the key thing that us as Games Design students had to listen to, we could well be the future of gaming and the more we know now the better understanding and chance we have in the future (as well as needing a good game and team). After the last speaker slightly running over a bit we finally got into the seminar with the speaker Richard Adams speaking a lot about how good Microsoft are to help young and new businesses by working with them to help them build. He then went onto talking about internships mentioning Microsoft is taking 35 interns on next years (something any student would be scrambling to be involved in) an internship would be great for any young Games Designer as it goes on your CV and you will get a hands on experience of working in the gaming industry. So with that in mind to look out for he handed over to his colleague Carla Prada. Carla showed us a PowerPoint presentation which involved the focus around a character she helped design for sesame street as an interactive TV game for children called cooper. Basically she told us everything about her process the bugs, the time, the deadlines, the software, her background of being an animator and to be honest the product was fantastic as a Kinect interactive game which also game us some ideas of what the process of working for a company might be like. That being said we was expecting from Platforms timetable Developing for Microsoft and working in a Microsoft studio, what we actually got was Microsoft internships/ brief support and a process of a 3d children’s character not particularly what we was expecting but nevertheless valuable to our field of work. In the Q&A after the talk most of the people in the room was trying to get any form of exclusive announcement of Xbox one features before release on 22/11/13 but all he gave us was what we already knew so no surprises there really. This concluded two industry sessions as they sort of just did it altogether.

(sorry about the bad sound a lot of people was talking or stomping around slamming doors, with the odd humorous comment from me)

We then headed according to our plan back to Hull College for the industry speaker that I was most excited about being a Sony fan was Sony Entertainment. This began on time unlike Microsoft and we was informed beforehand that platform had named the sheet wrong and actually what we was being talked to about was for more important for everyone “How to pitch/ break into game industry”, I was extremely pleased that we was being educated on this first hand as the aim for me is to be pitching my game ideas to companies like Sony in the future to hopefully get them to fund my game ideas. Peter Smith was the speaker and he opened with “is everyone over 18?…good we can do the one for adults” he was expecting school children as much of the day had been swarmed by but luckily for us we got the proper pitch due to no school students in the talk. This talk was 1hour long and I videoed it all, but this talk was so inspirational to me and my fellow students as people looking to possibly create our own company and games to pitch to sony we agreed to keep this pitch to ourselves as it could very well be the edge we need to get that Yes instead of a No in the future. One thing I was surprised by was this:

“Your game might get a No, but there is no saying that you and your team wont get a Yes.” -Peter Smith SCEE Sony.

This surprised me but also gave me much to aspire to, during the talk he said this and gave us an example of a team of people who didn’t have a good game to start off with to pitch but because Sony saw their passion so much in the pitch for their game they signed them, and that story is the story of the company who made LittleBigPlanet- Media Molecule. The key to remember is a gold painted USB drive to give them, there is a story behind that as the most expensive USB in the word is made of solid gold which he said as a joke is good to give us as a bribe, but if we painted it gold it would have the same effect on him as he suggested it shows we listened and took time to fine polish our pitch off. This rounded off todays industry speakers that we was going to attend and Sony was by far the most impressive as beneficial to us as the possible future of gaming, I can say just from these industry talks I have come out with a bigger understanding on how to get into the gaming industry as a game or a company which is the ultimate goal.

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Truly buzzing with excitement from all the things we had learned and could do with the information gathered from Sony we headed back to City Hall to the main Platform area. We headed in to see a much less crowded area and a few things we missed, including the prime place we paid to get in for the 18+ area which was down the corridor at the back (lack of signage to find it), this had LAN Gears of War, Call of Duty and GTA V all brutal violent games (right up my street). But once again the console that stole the show in that area was the PlayStation 4, even though it was the same station setup that we had been on previously at the PS4 Social event at GAME it was still irresistible so we had to have another go. The PlayStation 4 is set for release in the UK on 29th November, I have my pre order sorted have you? if not you definitely should. Again I wanted one even more, and that’s without the like of Killzone: Shadow Fall, Destiny, Battlefield 4, Elder Scrolls Online and many more exciting games and indie games to come that we hadn’t been on yet so all more to come. A master class was given to David at FIFA 14 in two doses first on the ps4 as Real Madrid (see video) and then again a rematch on Xbox 360 as Chunnam Dragons vs. Man United (yes 2star vs. 5star and I still won).

This we believed to have brought the day to a close as it was 4.50pm with only 10minutes left of Platform Day 1, but it wasn’t…on the way out we was shown a much anticipated feature in gaming the Oculus Rift device, basically a visor you put over your eyes which makes you see right into the game further immersing you in the game believing you are the character, moving your head and looking around in real life mirrored onto the games character its truly fascinating software, the game was Sandman coming 2014.

“The Rift represents the future of gaming- the rift is going to fundamentally change the way you think about entertainment”- GameFront- Oculus Rift.

This concluded Day 1 of Platform Expos, yes there is still another day to go of different things. The main focus tomorrow is on indie game designers, we will also see an appearance of Battlefield 4 multiplayer and Assassins Creed: Black Flag Multiplayer in the 18+ section. I have thoroughly enjoyed my day and cant wait for day 2 of Platform tomorrow.