Monday, September 5, 2011

Particles - It's What I Do

Hey, everyone. If you haven't been following my blog or haven't looked at the "about me" section on the side of the page, I am a Game Design student at SCAD. This also means that I make games, but I haven't really posted anything about that on the blog not start now, eh?

Over the past month, I've been helping with a senior project that a few of my friends were doing. We were making a mobile game using UDK. My job on the team was the Technical Artist. As the Technical Artist, I was in charge of some of the more complex materials like water and others that involve glowing, moving, pulsing, or anything else really cool. Along with that, I was also in charge of the particles in the game. Particles are basically the special effects in a game including fire, water spraying, explosions, and other similar things. Rather than describe all of these, I have posted a video of the particles I did to make it more interesting.

Also, Dead Island releases on the 6th...which is actually in about an hour. And that's when it unlocks on Steam. I am personally pretty excited about the game because its a zombie game on a tropical island. Since tropical islands are awesome and zombies are fun to kill, this game sounds like it might be promising. But you can't judge a game until you have played it, so I will post later with my review of it.

Another thing that needs to be pointed out is a new "project" I'm going to be working on over the next few weeks or so. It can be found here . So keep an eye on that page for an update in the near future.

That's all I have for now. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments. Also be sure to follow the blog and twitter. Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Owning Words?

Hey, everyone. To start off with, I would like to remind everyone of Dead Island coming out in about two weeks. The trailer's are making it look like plenty of good zombie-slaying action, which is two thumbs up from me. Another few upcoming games I want to mention are Stronghold 3, Battlefield 3, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Bethesda, the company developing Skyrim, is actually the main course of this post. I'm sure if you have read any previous posts of mine, you can see that I'm a fan of Minecraft. The endless digging in hopes of finding something other than dirt and stone never seems to get old. And recently, Bethesda (the owners/developers of The Elder Scrolls Series) are trying to sue Mojang for making a game that they plan to call Scrolls.

I personally think this is ridiculous! To me, it sounds like a big company is getting jealous or feeling threatened because of a smaller company and is looking for a way to calm their nerves. Mojang has even specifically stated that their future game is not related to The Elder Scrolls Series in any way.

That's all that I have for today. I just hope that everything works out fine with both companies. I have nothing against either company and think that this is all just a big misunderstanding. I, myself, respect both companies and their games and wish the best for both companies in the long run. Good luck to both sides.

There's not too much other news going on right now that I feel everyone should know about. If you want to share some news, please do so in the comments at the bottom of this post. Also, let me know what you guys think about this whole situation between Bethesda and Mojang in the comments. Until next time, happy gaming!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Incredible Indie Game - Terraria

Hey, everyone. It's been far too long since my last post. I usually get busy with school but right now is the summer so there is no excuse for taking so long to post...and for that, I apologize. I keep saying that I will keep posting more often but that always ends up making me post less, so I'm gonna skip that part this time around.

Before I get into the main topic of this post, I'll start out with my list of upcoming games I'm looking forward to.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2. Dead Island
3. Battlefield 3
4. Star Wars: The Old Republic (Which has also recently been available to pre-purchase...and has a release date for THIS year!)

In other news, Dungeon Defenders is still not out yet. And there is still no release date set in stone. Maybe it will come out before November, the month that it was originally supposed to come out last year.

Also, for those of you who love cheap games, Steam is a great way to get a variety of games for cheap. Especially since they started having a daily sale that changes each day in addition to their usual weekly sale and weekend sale. Sometimes they will even have special sales events (like a summer sale) in which many different games are on sale for a week or two. In the summer sale that just passed, I bought an incredible indie game for only $2.50 (it was actually supposed to be a $5 sale but someone goofed when it went on sale.) Some of you may have heard of this little game called Terraria.

When I say little game, I mean in terms of hard disk space. But this game has an enormous amount of content packed into a little package. It's even more incredible when the game took less than 6 months to make and has been one of the most played games on Steam since it's release. Another added bonus is the free content updates that the developers have promised.

I like to describe Terraria as a mix of 2-D Minecraft and the old side-scrolling Castlevania games. It's also, in my opinion, really well designed because it rewards the player for exploration at just the right intervals to keep the player interested and satisfied without getting bored or tired. There are also events that happen throughout the game, some by chance and others by using certain items, and these events also keep the game exciting and, at times, intense.

Another great aspect of the game is the social aspect. This game can be played completely in single-player, but the developers really wanted it to be experienced as a multi-player game. The multi-player can support up to 8 people on the same world by default and as many as 24 or more if server mods are used. Lately, I have been playing with a few of my friends and have had a lot more fun than I probably would have if I had stuck to single-player.

The whole point of the game is to mine (or dig), explore, create, and fight monsters. The creating can be anything from buildings to furniture to weapons and armor and many other things. It's these different activities in the game that all work together to make something that feels very rewarding when you play it.

I recently had an event happen in the world that my friends and I play on called a Goblin Army in which we received a message at the bottom of the screen telling us that a Goblin Army was approaching. After a few minutes, we were surrounded by goblins on both sides of our house (that we built) and had to defend ourselves until we had defeated the entire goblin army. It's events like this and others that really keep me from getting bored quickly.

The screenshot below is one that I took while fighting the goblin army.

(click on picture for larger size)

If, after reading this post, I have given you any interest in Terraria. I highly recommend checking out this piece of indie gold. The original price of the game is $10 which is very cheap for a project of this quality. Until next time, happy gaming!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hidden Gem

Hey everyone. It's been a while. I was very busy with finals the past few weeks. Anyway, it was a good quarter and I'm glad it's over.

When the quarter was finished, I purchased HOMEFRONT. Since I pre-ordered it via Steam, I also received a free copy of Metro 2033. HOMEFRONT had a good story but it was a bit short. The single-player can be finished in about 5 hours but the multiplayer is the addicting part of the game.

But this post isn't about HOMEFRONT. This post is about Metro 2033. For those of you who don't know, Metro 2033 is a game set in Russia in the year 2033. An apocalyptic event has occurred and mutant demon creatures have taken over the surface. Radiation is everywhere and humans have been forced to live in the subways and tunnels underground. Sound like a pretty solid concept, right? Well it was released about a year ago and it was one game I feel did not receive enough attention.

I had heard of Metro 2033 when it came out but did not see too much about it. Probably because some big title belonging to a well known franchise had come out and stolen the attention. Or perhaps it was the lack of multiplayer in today's market of competitive gamers. Either way, I'm gonna give this gem what it deserves.

I know I already said that it had a lack of multiplayer, but Metro 2033's single-player experience makes up for it. The story is an interesting concept but perhaps a little bit cliche or similar to other stories from books, movies, and other games. The way the story is told is incredible though. Immersion plays a big part in helping to tell the story because you never leave your character's view. You may not always have complete control over your character but you never completely lose control either.

For the most part, there aren't many cutscenes in the game. Most of the scenes that help to drive the story along are scripted events in which NPCs talk to one another but you still have control over your entire body and/or your head, depending on the event. The game doesn't really break immersion, which really gets me into the game's story.

The graphics are also impressive, with support for DirectX 9, 10, and 11. The lighting and environment effects help to improve the games atmosphere. The tunnels underground have an interesting haziness about them which prevents seeing things from far away...which, in turn, provide for some spooky moments.

The sound also adds to the experience with more ambient sounds than music. The sound definitely creeps me out with growls of mutants coming from far off in the smoky distant tunnels and ghostly sounds of anomalies and other supernatural things.

Most people are probably thinking that no game is this good without a little bad. Well, the game isn't perfect. The AI are a little slow sometimes but most of the time they are pretty challenging. Though, my main issue are the bugs. Sometimes the game will mess up if an animation or cutscene is skipped or interrupted, leaving the player with no ability to use any weapons, look at their objective journal, or do any other actions. However, there are many checkpoints in this game and players can load any checkpoint from any chapter in the game to play through (granted the checkpoint has been reached at least once). Loading the game from the previous checkpoint will fix this bug and I've only had to do this one time.

All in all, Metro 2033 is an interesting, worth-while single-player experience that is a bit of a hidden gem. I recommend checking it out if you are looking for an immersive experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And it's only $20 on Steam!

As always, thanks for reading my blog. If you have any suggestions, I'm always open to ways I can improve my blog. If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to leave me a comment and I will try to answer it. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Interesting Trailer

Hey, everyone. Normally I would talk for a while in this section but I'm just going to skip to the meat and potatoes of this post because it's just that good.

Cinematics in games are getting better and better all the time. BioWare is a company that has been making their games cinematic for a long time. And cinematic trailers have been around long enough to have advanced to the point of almost being movie trailers.

Usually cinematic trailers get me interested in or really excited for a game (even though the actual gameplay will look completely different). However, it is rare that a trailer, cinematic or not, can evoke such emotions as this trailer. You are probably confused right now, but just watch it and you will understand. Please note that this video is a bit graphic and emotional.

Note: I do not own this trailer, nor do I claim to.

From what I have read, my thought's on this game are similar to everyone's. Part of me thinks this game will be really emotional and will make me think for a while after playing it, but another part of me thinks that it will be an awesome, tropical, Zombieland vacation with plenty of fun zombie-slaying action.

The developers really did their homework on this trailer, though. If you will notice, they want the viewer to just watch and think that these people are all just survivors, while still leaving a little bit of confusion about their identity. Then they really make sense of it all at the end. This is how they give the viewer that lasting emotional effect that will stay on your mind for a little while. If they had showed that these survivors were a happy family on vacation at the beginning of the trailer, the viewer would have been sad but only for the length of the video...maybe a little longer. By putting it at the end, they allow the viewer to just watch the trailer and then think about what they saw instead of thinking about it while they watched.

Did the developers go overboard with the presentation of the trailer? I don't think so. They took a risk and presented it a bit differently than what we normally see. And their risk was rewarded with a lot of publicity, which is something every developer wants. This just shows that sometimes risks need to be taken to get something quickly.

What did you think of the trailer? Tell me your thoughts on the whole matter. As always, thanks for reading my blog. If you have any suggestions, I'm always open to ways I can improve my blog. If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to leave me a comment and I will try to answer it. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Midterms Are Over!

Hey all. It's been a while since I last posted. This quarter of school has been busy...really busy. Perhaps it's because I am trying to really polish my stuff for my classes. Especially my Level Design Mechanics class. I will try and get our latest project (the midterm) up here soon.

We had our critique today in class and my teacher and the TA both brought up interesting points. Somehow we got on to the topic of boss battles and grinds in games. The TA would love to see a game that is nothing but boss battles. This idea is one that could work sometimes but not all the time. Some games need the small puzzles or objectives that lead up to the boss battle but other games could just throw the player into the game and it would work.

The teacher said that he thought that games need to get rid of the grinds in between the really cinematic portions of games. He would like to see games played more like movies...two or three hours in length and really cinematic with a good story. He then backed up his statement by saying that nobody wants to pay $50 or $60 for a really short game BUT if games were made shorter, the cost of production would go down and the cost of the game would also decrease. It would be a little like buying an extremely interactive movie.

I agree with both points. To back up my teachers point, a game that I can see already trying to do this is Left4Dead and Left4Dead2. If you have read my previous posts, you would see that I use Left4Dead for a lot of examples but that's because it fits...and I happen to enjoy it a lot. But back to my point. The Left4Dead games are like several different zombie movies with the same main characters. There may be several campaigns but each campaign (movie) only takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to play through. This is great because you can pick up the game, play it for an hour or 2, and be completely satisfied.

As far as cinematic goes, the Left4Dead games are a bit lacking. That does not mean that it doesn't work. Not being cinematic actually works for this series. Instead of it feeling like you are watching an interactive movie, the player is put into the "movie." So the player is actually a part of the "movie" instead of just playing as a character in the "movie" which, in turn, also helps with the immersion.

Well, that's my thoughts for today. As always, thanks for reading my blog. If you have any suggestions, I'm always open to ways I can improve my blog. If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to leave me a comment and I will try to answer it. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Hey everyone. Just a short post today. It's a new year and that means a lot of games can come out in the next 12 months.

To start off, Star Wars: The Old Republic might come out this year. The developers have announced that they are anticipating a spring 2011 release but I would not be surprised if it is later. However, I know that BioWare will only delay it to improve it.

The Nintendo 3DS might also come out this year. I am really curious as to how well it will sell. I would like one but will most people be able to switch to a 3D gaming platform? As long as there has been 3D games, there has been the debate about whether or not it is good. The 3DS has also been given a early 2011 released date.

As far as Diablo 3 is concerned...there is not a release date yet. Many fans are speculating at summer 2011 but all that Blizzard tells us is "When it's done".

Minecraft entered Beta on December 20th which means the game is closer to completion! The game can be purchased for 25% off while it is in Beta and all future updates will be free. I recommend everyone to try out the free creative mode at For more info on Minecraft, check out my previous posts or just click on the Minecraft tag at the bottom of this post.

There were a ton of great sales on Steam over the past two weeks. Today is the last day so if you haven't seen them, go check them out now. Not all the games are on sale but there are enough for everyone to find something they like.

My stomach is telling me that it's dinner time. Thanks for reading my blog. If you have any suggestions, I'm always open to ways I can improve my blog. If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to leave me a comment and I will try to answer it. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter.