March 11, 2008

Awesome Game

Writing about web page http://www.gamemakergames.com/?a=view&id=907

Jumper 2 is a very well made 2D platformer. It’s a game I’ve been playing for nearly a year now and I haven’t got bored of it. It has to be the only game where you can die 6735 times and still want to come back for more.
The learning curve is excellent and the levels are really well designed. I think it would be worth checking it out as a masterclass of how to make a game simple but fun, and even if you don’t stick with it I think a lot can be learnt from the game.
It’s so good, I even made a facebook group – http://warwick.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2363717729


February 22, 2008

48 Hour Competition February 2008

Writing about web page http://www.warwickgamedesign.co.uk/resources/view/competitions/48hour/feb2008

On the weekend of the 9th February we held another of our famed 48 hour game development competitions.  The idea is simple - teams of people begin at 6pm on the Friday evening and have 48 hours in which to create a game from scratch.  To provide inspiration, each of the games has to be based on a specific theme, this term's theme was transport.  The games are available on this page! We had a lot of fun making them, we hope you have fun playing them!


Teams making gamesCompetitions like this are a very social event, we hire out a room for the weekend and everyone joins in with a team of people.  It's interesting to see how the other teams are progressing throughout the competition and to share ideas on design and improvements. 

Discussing C++It's also a great way to learn about making games, for many people in the society the first chance they got to build a complete game was at one of these competitions.  We have books and resources available for people to learn from, and it's not just for programmers!  There are books on game art and a graphics tablet for people who want to try their hand at artwork, and sound and music equipment and software for the more musically inclined.  All these different skills are useful if not essential when putting a game together. 

Take a look at the games we made and tell us what you think!  Next week the judges from Rareware and FreeStyleGames will be giving us their thoughts, and we'll be awarding a ton of prizes provided by:

The Game Creators

Vivendi Games

Introversion


February 02, 2008

3D Modelling Workshop

Sam ran a very helpful workshop on 3d modelling last Wednesday. We used Blender3D because it is free and is also very powerful. You can download it here : Blender3D

We went through the basics, creating the polygons for the model, then texturing it and some people did a bit of animation too. Here is my initial attempt at making a spaceship:
First Attempt

I then added some more polygons and started doing the texture mapping:
UV Mapping in Blender

I did eventually get to make a texture for it, but for some reason it won’t map to the model on my home computer so you will not be able to see it in all its glory. The help sheet for this is available here: Resources

Give it a go!


January 22, 2008

New Year

There hasn’t been any posts for a while since the guy who normally did them finished uni and left the society, I’m going to start posting updates as to what the society is getting up to, so watch this space.


July 09, 2007

Game Demonstrations Event 2, Tuesday 19th June: a write up

by Jim Miles

One big difference about the game demonstrations event this time around is that now I’m Events Officer for the society. In practice, it’s not a big difference at all, but it’s nice to point it out and look all important.

This was really a 3 in 1 VGDSoc event, combining three things that have been promised for a while: another game demonstrations session, a video games quiz, and a barbecue. It took place at Bob Merrison’s awesome house again, in Kenilworth.

Bryan and TEAM PIRATE (Jon, Ricky, Dunk, and me) turned up at Bob’s house first and had a solid hour or so to mess about with the Xbox 360 (including our game Pirate Sea Battle) before Steve, Ali, Nic, Sam, Andrew, Jenny and Kieren arrived.

We started out with round one of the quiz that I made, which you can download here, then it was Ali up first to show off a game, none other than the awesome NiGHTs into Dreams (1996) on the Sega Saturn.

Woo I am NiGHTs a strange man alien person
The title screen

The plot of NiGHTs concerns two children who have nightmares which hold them back from achieving their goals (one wants to be a basketball player and the other a singer) but each night they go into a dreamworld where Mr NiGHTs (the purple, Twi’lek-like chap) collects stars and pearls, and flies through rings. It’s a beautiful, unique gameworld which is graphically 3D but has 2D gameplay, weaving around the themed levels. We saw one of the first levels set in a standard Green Hill Zone-like grass and hill area but then later Ali showed us an impressive snow level. The bosses we saw were the iconic “Puffy” – a round ball-like female who must be grabbed and launched through walls – and “Clawz” – a cat who lives in a strange circular structure with fireworks which must be flown into before he can be beaten. NiGHTs is an interesting game because it came out at a time when many titles were still following the conventions of the 16-bit and PC 3D era, but was itself entirely original, with a completely new style of plot and gameplay. This is some of the best linking, score attack gaming ever produced.

Link as many pearls stars and hoops together as you can
I want to get away; I want to flyyyyy away.

Next was the music round of the quiz, which I was particularly pleased with. You can check out the music below – there are ten excerpts of game soundtracks in there, to be identified:

NOW, WHAT IS YOUR MISSION?

It was me to show a game after that: the excellent, difficult, and highly-collectable Radiant Silvergun (1998). Radiant Silvergun is a scrolling shoot ‘em up from high quality game developer Treasure. It came out three years before Ikaruga and is much more complicated than that game, as well as being much more difficult. While Ikaruga was being developed it was known as the sequel to Radiant Silvergun, which is about right. At the event I described Radiant Silvergun as the Tristram Shandy of scrolling shoot ‘em ups for its sophistication and awareness of the genre it belongs to, to the extent of gross parody of its peers. In Radiant Silvergun there are bosses which serve as both fun challenges but also are, in themselves, whole references to other iconic scrolling shooters. For example, the boss pictured here has weapons mirroring the three main weapon types available in R-Type.

BE ATTITUDE FOR GAINS
Me being well skilful

A delightful touch is that with each boss there are three pieces of advice under the heading “BE ATTITUDE FOR GAINS”. These three bits of advice are cryptic at best, incomprehensible at worst. In the pictured boss the three attitudes for gains are:
Anxious for return
Gamely fight
Tender hearts

Another boss later in the game has the following attitudes for gains:
Brave for enter bosom
Placate to animal
Wild camera

It’s crazy. You can read more of the attitudes for gains on the FAQ here. There are far too many details and subtleties in Radiant Silvergun to go into detail here (and anyway, I feel like, having made the Ikaruga comparison, I’ve already done my job) but one thing I would just like to mention is that there are several little dogs hidden about the levels which you uncover with a particular weapon, locked on specific pieces of scenery. These dogs give a little “woof woof” and reward the player with points. Very nice.

After Radiant Silvergun it was time was the third round of the quiz (see here): more questions. Each set of questions was divided into about equal amounts of easy, medium and hard, with one true or false Miyamoto question in each medium set and one Final Fantasy question in each hard set, just for a bit of a fun pattern.

Thats my hand on the right holding questions
Bob Merrison ponders a question of pen-suck-worthy difficulty.

BRYAN GALE was next, showing We Love Katamari (2005) on the Playstation 2. A game where you roll a ball around, attaching objects and making the ball larger and larger (and able to pick up larger objects), Katamari is a unique title with a beautiful art style that is knowingly cartoon-like. The game attracted a lot of attention and oohing and ahhing from those assembled, as the ball grew to laughably absurd sizes.

ORIGAMI
The levels are requests from fans of the original game, such as this blue elephant.

Katamari is often cited by developers as an example of a truly original game, and its creator Keita Takahashi has got a reputation as the game designer’s game designer, a darling of the industry, outspoken in his criticisms of the current direction of the medium. The attention is warranted, as Katamari has an interestingly environmental approach to gameplay, with amusing little incongruences such as the way that the people in the game seem to be relatively unbothered by their world being neatly cleaned up by this huge rolling ball – Katamari may seem silly, but it makes you THINK. More pretentious writers than me (they do exist) have even gushed about how the game permits an eco-friendly interpretation.

Bally roll roll roll
Roll the bally ball ball roll.

After Bryan’s fun demonstration of Katamari we had the fourth round of the quiz (the second special round), which I had been really excited about, and talking up for at least a week. Probably the best way to explain this round is to post a picture first:

Kick punch its all in the mind
“Woah man, where’s Parappa’s ears?”

On a forum I post on, we had a couple of weeks where we would do our own MS Paint interpretations of game screenshots then post them up for people to guess. This round in the quiz was a collection of 35 or so of these screenshot interpretations which I had printed out for people to pass around and try to guess.

I really loved that round of the quiz, and I think other people did too – especially the screenshot from Dizzy.

I was the next person to show a game after this, because the Playstation 2 was already set up, and my second game to show was Frequency (2002), a Playstation 2 game. I wanted to show this because it was the first rhythm action game made by Harmonix, long before Guitar Hero. As we play Guitar Hero a lot at socials, it seemed like a good idea to show people what the company started out with, as it’s an interesting insight into how Guitar Hero crystallised.

In Frequency you use the shoulder buttons to make sounds, as symbols approach the foreground, just like the notes on frets in Guitar Hero. However, the sounds are incredibly varied, with drum beats, synths, guitars, and even vocal lines mapped onto lines of on-screen symbols. What is so elegant about Frequency is how a channel of a track “sticks” after you have played two bars perfectly, and you can move onto another channel, building up the song gradually from the component parts (a range of drums, vocals, guitars, etc.). The game really opened my ears to how music is constructed, and I found it changed how I listened to music, picking out the individual instruments more meaningfully than I had before.


You can play spot the difference with this and the Radiant Silvergun picture above (clue: look at the table)

And here’s a bonus, an interpretive screenshot of the game.

We had the final round of the quiz (here), then Ali showed the independently produced PC shmup Platypus (2005). This demonstration was special because of the sheer amount that Ali knows about the production of the game. One classic anecdote concerned the creator’s house burning down and him having to build huge parts of the game from scratch. Now, it’s irritating having to build parts of a game from nothing at the best of times, but when your game is Platypus, where every object is painstakingly constructed from plasticine, captured on film, and animated into the game, the experience must be impossibly painful. To the creator’s credit, he turned out a brilliant shmup, which uses the mouse control in a sensitive way, breaking out of the 8 way directional control standard of traditional shmups and giving a new sense of bullet dodging finesse. If you want to know more about this game, I suggest you discuss it with Ali over a pint – his enthusiasm for Platypus is unbounded, and he’ll do a much better job of explaining it than I could here.

Bob is the only one looking at the camera
Clockwise from bottom left: Bryan, Ricky, Steve (sneezing?), Dunk (why the clenched fists?), Nic, Bob (the only one looking at the camera), me (“that’s not the right answer, lol”), Ali (must. concentrate. on. game.).

You can see what the game looks like in the mirror above Bob’s head.

Platypus was the last game demonstration, but there was still one more thing… The quiz answers! People wanted to know how they’d done, and everyone seemed particularly keen on finding out what the tracks were in the music round. We went through it together with each team (of two) marking another team’s answers. You can see the answers here, if you’ve been playing along at home.

And the winners were… Bryan and Sam. So well done.

The demonstrations session was over, the quiz was over, we’d had delicious barbecued food throughout, and Jenny had brought some yummy home-baked cakes, but there was one last thing which no meet since the 8th December would be complete without…

NINTENDO WII

SteveM has a halo
I’m a little teapot, etc.

You can read about the first Game Demonstrations event here.


March 13, 2007

Panel discussion with Rare re–scheduled for this week

rare-logo-001_tn.jpgWe're very pleased to announce that on Thursday 15th March (week 10), Warwick Video Game Design Society will host an interactive panel discussion with three programmers from Rare; creators of Viva Pinata, Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo: Elements of Power and of course Goldeneye. The discussion will feature Nick Burton, an expert on graphical effects programming, as well as Kieran D'Archambaud and (maybe) Steven Horsburgh - AI programmers responsible for Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo.

There is no particular theme for the discussion but expect it to focus on the technical aspects of graphics and AI in modern game development, as well as some discussion of the games industry in general and the directions it is heading in. We anticipate that the guys will bring along an XBox 360 so they can demonstrate some of the things that are talked about. It should be a really interesting session, so please come along if you're free! 

The event takes place at 1-3pm on Thursday 15th March in Meeting room 4/5 in Union North.  Don't feel any obligation to stay for the whole thing, but it should be really interesting!

You may also be interested to know that the Rare guys are giving guest lectures earlier in the day: Nick will be presenting "Real Time Graphics for Games: A Primer" for the 3rd year Computer Graphics module at 9am in L3.  Kieran and Steven are presenting "Smoke & Mirrors - the True Art of Game AI" for the 3rd year AI module at 10am in H0.52.  Everyone is welcome, not just those taking the modules.

Hope to see everyone there on Thursday!


February 25, 2007

Panel Discussion with Rare next week: CANCELLED

Follow-up to Panel Discussion with Rare next week from The Video Game Design Society

Unfortunately Nick Burton and the guys from Rare have had to pull out of tommorow’s panel discussion due to tight deadline constraints. They’re planning to come to Warwick at some point next term instead, so we will re-organise the event then. Sorry for any disappointment.


February 22, 2007

Panel Discussion with Rare next week

rare-logo-001_tn.jpgWe're very pleased to announce that on Monday 26th of February (week 8), Warwick Video Game Design Society will host an interactive panel discussion with three programmers from Rare; creators of Viva Pinata, Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo: Elements of Power and of course Goldeneye. The discussion will feature Nick Burton, an expert on graphical effects programming, as well as the two AI programmers responsible for Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo.

There is no particular theme for the discussion but expect it to focus on the technical aspects of graphics and AI in modern game development, as well as some discussion of the games industry in general and the directions it is heading in. We anticipate that the guys will bring along an XBox 360 so they can demonstrate some of the things that are talked about. It should be a really interesting session, so please come along if you're free! 

The event takes place at 1pm on Monday 26th of February in room B2.13/14 (off of the science concourse, just along from L3). We expect it to last around an hour.

You may also be interested to know that Nick is giving a talk for the third year Computer Graphics module earlier in the day at 10am in MS0.1. Everyone is welcome, not just those taking the module.

Hope to see everyone there on Monday!

Kameo


December 04, 2006

Wii Launch Social 8th December

Following our end of term shenanigans at Wingwah’s on monday, this friday we will be having a Wii launch party in B213/4 from 7:00pm till midnight.

There should be about 4 Wii’s, as well as the usual complement of consoles and DS’s, and Phil’s PSP ;)

This will be the last WVGDSoc event of the calendar year, and your first chance to play the Wii console in the UK.

We will be having a few tournaments with prizes for the winners, wii tennis/boxing etc.

I look forward to seeing you there

Nico Waller
President


October 15, 2006

Console gaming social! (Wednesday week 3)

It’s the first gaming social of the year! We’ll be playing Guitar Hero, Donkey Konga and SingStar among other things. If you’re able to bring a console, games or a TV then please respond in this forum thread.

It’ll take place on Wednesday week 3 from 7pm to 12am in B213-4 (see the forum/calendar for a map).


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