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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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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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Social Event- PS4 Lockdown- 25/10/13

PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4

I and a fellow games design student attended a lockdown at GAME in St. Stephens for one of the most anticipated consoles coming this year, a next generation of gaming console the PlayStation 4. As I had already had the console pre ordered for some time I was very excited to finally get my hands on the console to really see if it lived up to all my expectations from reading multiple psn magazines and latest console rumours. I must say even for the short amount of time I had (roughly 30minutes) due to GAME wanting rotation on the console due to 50people between 12 places on the PS4’s the console was magnificent. The smoothness and clarity of the console and controller was so much of an improvement on any previous console. The controller (which has undergone some radical new changes to become the dual shock 4 from the dual shock 3) was very comfortable in hand and after 5minutes I had got used to it, the new very grippy analogue sticks stopped the previous problem of your thumbs slipping off (usually at a vital moment e.g. hanging off a building on Assassins Creed), the touch pad on the controller something that is completely new to the controller was so smooth to use we tested it on a program which comes with the console called the Playroom.

Here is a brilliant quote on the Dual Shock 4:

“Its a big step forward from what we have [on ps3]. It feels incredibly accurate and with really high quality materials it feels solid in your hands. There are tweaks to the indentation on the sticks, where you have your thumbs on them- we’ve slightly raised them so there’s more precision. These slight changes make a huge difference. It feels like your in control” – Hermen Hulst- Co founder Guerilla.

The playroom used the new camera to help you maximise the controllers capabilities, a futuristic version of air hockey was very entertaining using motion sensors on the control when you tipped it to bend the platform of the air hockey as well as sliding your finger up and down the touch to move your puck and pushing the screen down to add power to your return. I dominated this winning 7-1 but we really enjoyed using the new features on the control, this was only to start with so I could tell this was going to be a leap in games consoles purely on that. I was also pleased to be told that the playroom will be installed onto every ps4 for free.

Another thing we tried out was the latest edition to the FIFA series: FIFA 14 on ps4. although it was a demo much debate has come up on whether will it be any different to FIFA 14 PS3. Well just from the demo I could see a difference certainly in graphical terms, the clarity of the stadium and its crowd was a much improved on the ps3 version. Whilst much features I didn’t see any difference in (maybe due to it being a demo) I definitely felt once again the controller improved the gameplay for reasons similar to when we played in the Playroom. The new Ignite Engine for EA on next gen will definitely play a huge part in the differences between the ps3 and ps4, most companies had to build new engines to support the ps4’s immense capabilities.

The final demo we played was KNACK a new IP for PS4, this was a very impressive game which ran throughout with effortless flow of battle and growth or transform of your character. KNACK has a feel of Ratchet and Clank to it which we both said straight away, especially with smashing the boxes to reveal bolts which magnetized to you. Although with KNACK the blots added to you symbolising health in stature of your character.  Another feel of ratchet and clank was when KNACK turned into a small laser proof robot so you can get into small areas and through security this character resembled clank a lot. Despite that the combat was very good and used combinations just like most fighters do with added superpowers when enough crystals had been collected. Overall KNACK was the most enjoyable game that I had tried at the PS4 social event and will definitely be a game I will purchase in the future.

“What we’re seeing here is a game that fully utilizes the processing power of the PlayStation 4 system, bringing massive amounts of graphic pieces together to tell a story that’s not just impressive graphically, but in its ability to blur the lines between storyline and gameplay as well.” -Slashgear, Chris Burns.

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. With just those 3 experiences on PS4 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.


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Social Event 04/10/2013 Beyond:Two Souls

On Friday I attended a social open to the public gaming event which allowed us to play the full version of Beyond: Two Souls on the PlayStation 3 pre-release. I attended the event with 3 other students as we wanted to get a glimpse of the game, but when we arrived expecting the event to be very busy and we would see very little gameplay we was 4 of 8 people at the event. Due to the lack of people we got to see a lot of gameplay and properly test the game for ourselves, unfortunately we was not allowed to record or take images of the gameplay due to copyrighting and the game being unreleased.

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This game which I have been particularly excited for due to the previous success of Quantic Dreams Heavy Rain which won 3 BAFTA’s for its original music, technical innovation and story. So due to this I expected no less than visual magnificence and I must say it didn’t disappoint the graphics and rendering of the game was very pleasing to the eye the realism of the faces was particularly surprising with the eyes having extreme detail. The controls were very simple once you had got used to them with the movement of the characters being fluid and realistic, the right analogue stick was used for movement which is a big improvement from the R2 of Heavy Rain. On one particular part your character uses her physiological paranormal powers to fly through the walls of a bathroom and take over the mind of a person to retrieve top secret details. This for me was fantastic as no game I had played before had used paranormal powers in that way with such elegance and fluidity supported by simple movements of the analogue sticks to take control of the mind.

That being said it seemed to me that this was more of a visual spectacular rather than gameplay as much of the game that we played involved cinematic scenes which had one or two controls to continue to visual scene. This slightly disengaged me from the character as I didn’t feel as in control as I should have been to begin with. 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. In most cases it lead to the scene having to be repeated or ended as the objective was reliant on this action precision. Another feature incorporated was optional replies which was down to you to choose, for example you was asked a question and the options was Truth, Lie or Ignore which all had different outcomes to the scene, this feature allowed the gamer to have more choice in what they might wish to happen in the upcoming events. For a  official overview of Beyond: Two Souls follow this link.

This is the 60second TV trailer for Beyond: Two Souls.

Overall I was very impressed with the game and I am glad I went as I was unsure on the game beforehand but now having played it I am sure I will be purchasing the game. This will certainly be a game which will immerse you the gamer in the plot, its definitely a game which has had the objective to explore the emotional side of gaming using gameplay and cinematic scenes in seamless transition with each other.

Another good video and view of concept art from Beyond: Two Souls.

Also at the event we was surprised at the end when we got to experience gameplay on a PS4 as a Sony representative was there, it looked amazing in every way from the controller to the home menu layout, that is a console I am very excited for.

I will be blogging more about social events with the next one being Platform Expo in Hull on both 15th and 16th of November. I will try to attend as many events as I possibly can to broaden my research and bring information to my brilliant subscribers.

Check out my recent Event blog on MCFC 1894.