Sunday, 5 December 2010

Task 5: My Personal Gaming History

I’m what most of you older gamers would call a noob when it comes to computer games that I have played.
My very first console I played on was my Dad’s PlayStation Original. I used to play ‘Driver 2: Back on the Streets’ and some of the Fifa series games. However my favourite game for the PlayStation was ‘Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue’. It was an amazingly fun platform type game that leads you around 15 levels collecting pizza tokens you got these tokens by finding the all-important 50 coins, 5 lost items, competing in a race, completing a certain task at a specific location and defeating a boss. The game was very addictive and very hard at certain levels, I remember being stuck on Level 4: ‘Construction Yard’ for a very long time. You were climbing up steel girders on the construction site. These girders were hard to keep Buzz Lightyear on so you would be constantly restarting the same sequence but I wouldn’t give up because I was addicted to it.
I then Had a Gameboy Colour and I used to play ‘Pokémon Yellow’ and ‘Pokémon Silver’ all the time on it. The Gameboy Colour was great for me because I could take it on holiday and play it during my travels. My favorite game on my Gameboy Colour was ‘Micro Machines v3’ which saw you racing a microscopic vehicle against A.I on different circuits i.e. food table and ponds. After completing certain levels you got to drive different vehicles like jet skis, tanks and racing cars.
I received the original Xbox for a Christmas present and all I remember playing is Jet Set Radio Future (JSRF) for the first few months of having my console because it came bundled with the Xbox In JSRF you played several characters you part of a gang of inline skaters/graffiti artists your job was to express yourself in a future Tokyo where freedom of expression was outlawed. The main things I remember about this game were the music and the cell shaded stylization. The music was up tempo and played in a playlist, each area had a separate playlist and was randomized. Mainly Japanese dance music was played but there were some recognizable names like the Beastie Boys and Scapegoat Wax.
The best games I have played on the original Xbox have been the ‘Halo’ franchise starting with ‘Halo: Combat Evolved’ and then ‘Halo 2’. I remember days and nights when I would have my friends around to play 4 player Halo, the banter was intense. This introduced to the multiplayer side of playing games.
I’m going to skip talking about owning a PSP and Gameboy advance because they are hand held gaming devices and I only used them in long car journeys or on holiday and the games weren’t amazing that I owned.
The era of the Xbox 360, I received my Xbox 360 again as a Christmas present but I couldn’t play it out of the box because I was DOA (dead on arrival). Fortunately it was replaced on Boxing Day so not too much gaming time was lost! I have since had 2 more replacement Xbox 360’s (1 with the inevitable red ring of death) and I had to buy a completely new one once because the broken ones warranty had ran out. Thankfully later machines seem to be more reliable.
The first multiplayer game I recall playing on the 360 was Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Vegas’. I played with my friends countless time online we would get into lobbies and then just own the enemy team because we played as a team each with there own individual tasks. We then started to play competitively on Game Battles, at one stage our team got to number 44 in the European ladder.  However we stopped playing three quarters of the way through the season this was mainly due to our leader getting banned due to offensive language when playing! This unfortunately lead to the break up of our team.
Currently I enjoy multiplayer player games such as ‘Call of Duty’, ‘Gears of War’, and ‘Battle Field Bad Company 2’ and any other shoot em ups,
I also enjoy single player games in particular ’Bioshock’, ‘Batman Arkham Asylum’ and ‘Assassins Creed’. These games have stunning visuals and are very atmospheric.
So that’s the end of my history with games but i am looking forward to the future with games such as Bioshock infinite, Guild wars 2 and L.A. Noire. I also think the next generation of consoles will come out in 2014 or even later but I am looking forward to playing on the Nintendo 3DS when released.

Task 4: A History of Computer Games, Part Three: 2000’s

Straight off I have to state that the most amazing game released in the 2000’s was ‘HALO’. Again this is my opinion so you don’t have to agree with me, and I will be coming back to the biggest and best franchise in my eyes later in this blog.
In 2000 we saw the release of the PlayStation 2 which has been the fore runner in the next generation of consoles. Its staggering graphics and the use of a DVD-ROM drive made it possible to watch DVDs without you having to buy any accessories. The PlayStation 2 sold a lot of units due to its backward compatibility meaning it could play PlayStation 1 games. The PlayStation tried to appeal to a wider audience than other consoles before it, it did this by introducing the ‘EyeToy’ and other peripherals to the market. The ‘EyeToy’ was designed for casual gamers, it allows players to interact with games by using motion, colour and sound detection.
Nintendo and Microsoft then released their own consoles in 2001, Nintendo debuted the ‘GameCube‘. The ‘GameCube’ played only mini DVD’s so it had a disadvantage because it could not play DVD’s however it could connect to the ’Gameboy Advance’ allowing it to play on a bigger screen and also get exclusive features and content for games. Microsoft’s ‘Xbox’was released in late 2001. The ‘Xbox’ had great launch titles with exclusives such as ‘Halo: Combat Evolved’ and ‘Project Gotham Racing’, that were welcomed and highly praised.
‘Halo: Combat Evolved’ is one of the most important games of all time and it’s not just me with that thinks this, magazines and gaming websites have also said that it is one of the most influential games of all time. ‘Halo’ introduced the concept each weapon having a unique purpose, thus making them useful in different scenarios. It also allowed you too throw you grenade without putting your gun in its holster and you could use your weapon to bludgeon your enemies.
PlayStation responded to its rivals by making highly anticipated games like ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ and ‘Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty’ exclusive to its platform. ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ was then later released on to the ‘Xbox’.
The seventh generation of consoles saw the reinvention of the handheld gaming device with the ‘Nintendo DS’ and the ‘PlayStation Portable’ (PSP). The Nintendo DS used dual screens one of which has an overlay touch screen which could be used with a stylus for a more interactive gaming experience, you could also play ‘Game Boy Advanced’ games on it. The PSP appealed to more of a experienced gamer whereas the Nintendo DS appealed to the younger generation with games such as ‘Mario Kart’.
Next time round it was Microsoft who released their next generation console first in 2005 with the ‘Xbox 360’, which was shortly followed by Sony with their ‘PlayStation 3’. The Xbox 360 included a new and improved ‘Xbox Live’, which meant it was a lot easier to chat, play games and compete against other players all around the world. The PlayStation 3 had a unique feature a Blu-Ray player which was built into the console. Both consoles fought to be the market leader. The ‘Xbox 360’ gained an advantage by being sold at a cheaper price, making it affordable to more people.
Nintendo then released the ‘Wii’. The ‘Wii’ used motion controllers and was a very controversial gaming console due to its less powerful processor and lower quality graphics. However it was very cleverly aiming for a different market than Sony and Microsoft who appealed to traditional gamers. The ‘Wii’ was aimed at young children who found using a traditional controller difficult and also to a more mature person who could not only play games on it but also use it as a fitness tool when they purchased the ‘Wii Fit’ balance board. This proved to be a very smart piece of marketing which Microsoft and Sony are only just responding to.

Task 3: A history of computer games, part two: 1980s - 1990s

The start of the 1980’s, saw the push of consoles and simple computers into the houses of many families. The Atari 2600 was the first major games console released, it boasted an array of games that would lead the way for all modern classics, games like ‘Pitfall!’ ‘Pac-Man’ and ‘Adventure’. ‘E.T the Extra-Terrestrial’ game was also released for this console, we will be coming back to this game later. The Atari had at the time amazing 8 bit processors and an astounding 128 or 104-colour pallet depending if you used NTSC or PAL.

In 1980 The Intellivision was brought to the market by Mattel. Over 3 million Intellivision units were sold and a total of 125 games were released for the console. Third party developers that used to work solely on the Atari games such as Activision and Imagic started to release games for the Intellivision also.

Another home console to dominate in the second generation of consoles was the ColecoVision which was released in August 1982. The Coleco was (in my opinion) a rip off merchant it was tiny arcade machine and stole games from the Atari. The Coleco wasn’t known for its originality in creating new games. Here are some of the arcade games that it played: ‘Donkey Kong’, ‘Donkey Kong Junior’, ‘Carnival’, ‘Mouse Trap’.
The Coleco had expansion modules which were hardware add-ons, the first made it compatible with the Atari. This meant that the Coleco had the biggest library of games on any console for its time.

Activision was the world's first independent developer and distributor of video games. Activision was started by programmers that used to work for Atari they quit their jobs because they didn’t receive any bonuses for games that sold well, and did not receive credit for their games. Activision released Pitfall! In 1982, this is considered by many to be the first platform game. Activision later changed their name to Mediagenic because they started to create software other than games. This is one of the biggest mistakes they could have made as they lost the reputation they had gained under their previous name. Mediagenic went bankrupt but managed to find investors and in 1992 Mediagenic changed its name back to Activision and again focused on their core business of computer games and not software development.

‘Battlezone’ the first 3D game with a wireframe view by using vector graphics was created in 1980 by Atari. Three people worked on this arcade game Ed Rotberg (main designer), Owen Rubin (exploding volcano) and Roger Hector (tank & enemy graphics).

At the end of 1983, the industry experienced losses more severe than the 1977 crash. This happened due to lack off sales in companies that were selling both home computers and video consoles. Also poorly made games like ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (video game)’ to give it its full title were released. This game was made in six weeks due to Steven Spielberg wanting a Christmas release (the normal production time for an Atari game was 3 -4 months). Spielberg also wanted 5,000,000 copies of the game to be made when at that time an average game would have sold 300,000 copies.

1983 to 1995 saw the Third generation of consoles appearing. Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which was bundled with ‘Super Mario Bros’ which was a very smart move because Mario is now one of the most known IPs in the world. The NES was the leader of the pack and other consoles followed it by getting rid of joysticks, paddles and keypads and introducing the game controller. The game controller had a directional pad and normally more than two buttons. This was a massive change to the gaming world  so new IPs had were created to fully use the new controllers.

‘The Legend of Zelda’ series made its debut in 1986, ‘Final Fantasy’ and ‘Metal Gear’ were also introduced to the NES.

In 1991 ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ was created and gave the Sega Mega Drive a huge boost in sales and popularity which would rival the NES and Mario. ‘Sonic the hedgehog’ became the mascot of Sega and one of the most recognizable video game characters. It could be argued that the characters became better known than the consoles they were created for.

3dfx Interactive released the Voodoo chipset in 1996, this lead to the first affordable 3D accelerator cards for personal computers. This allowed games like ‘Quake’ andGrand Theft Auto III’ to be played in third person view, a whole new experience for computer gamers. This was the beginning of the explosion of new titles and consoles that appeared in the next decade.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Task 2: A history of computer games, part one: 1950s - 1970s

This is a brief history of the development computer games games using my own interpretations. (Remember this is my opinion!)
There are two people who have claimed to create the first computer game and I would totally disagree with the first claim but the second is harder to dismiss.
1947 was when Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann apparently created the first video game on a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT). The reason I do not support this claim is because it was not a completely computerised  game, you had to draw on an overlay to make it playable as this missile based game had no targets otherwise.

The second claim was in 1952, created by A.S.Douglas, the game was Tic-Tac-Toe displayed on a CRT. You played against a very clever computer which used particular algorithms to win whenever feasible. I do not count this to be the first game mainly because its Tic-Tac-Toe was originally conceived and played on a mechanical one armed bandit so to me it doesn’t seem to be very innovative.

Willy Higginbotham in my opinion created the very first video game in 1958. The game was played on an analogue Donner computer which was linked to an oscilloscope which was a type of display. The game was called Tennis for Two and was subsequently played by two people using hand controls to hit the ball over the net. You could decide on the power and where you hit the ball in terms of where it was on the court. This game was awesome for its time and I would be happy to have it as an arcade game on the Xbox 360 or PS3. I particularly like how the game was played on handheld controls, the forerunner of the controllers we have now with our consoles at home.

In 1961, three students Martin Graetz, Stephen Russell, and Wayne Wiitanen saw vector graphics on a DEC PDP-1 computer and were amazed. The game they designed began with two spaceships shooting each other. As the students had creative minds they used a debugger program which generated random pixels on the screen, these randomly generated pixels looked like stars. The three students created a real constellation with moving stars and variable luminance. This looked stunning for its time but the gameplay was too easy. They wanted the gameplay to be more complex with some variables, so they added the gravity star, commonly known on earth as the sun, the spaceships were attracted to the sun giving it another component. I really like this game. It was finally called ‘Space War’, a lot of people have not classed this as a video game. I’m going to disagree; the game was bold, clever and even aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This game paved the way for future titles like ‘The Galaxy game’ and ‘Asteroids’.

Ralph Baer created the first playable video game in 1966, which was called ‘Chase’ game. This was basically two squares chasing each other around. In 1968 he then built the Brown Box which played ball & paddle games, target shooting games, and more. After several demonstrations to TV manufacturers, Magnavox signed an agreement with Ralph to create the first commercial video game console, the signing took place in 1971. The first video game system was released in May 1972, the system was called ‘The Odyssey’ and with it the historical game ‘Pong’.

In 1977 a lot producers of older consoles sold their systems at a massive loss to wipe clear their stock, creating an overabundance in the marketplace. This meant it was harder for new manufactures like RCA to create there console which meant they had to abandon their game console. Magnavox and Atari were the only manufactures to stay in the home console market.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Task 1: Let me re-introduce myself my name is...

...Matthew Fowler, I'm taking a BA (Hons) game art degree at De Montfort University.
My home town is Hemel Hempstead let’s say its near London, it’s a great place to live with lots of shops, Snow centre and Jarman park. I went to school at Townsend C of E school where I also took my A levels and also studied Russian and got a D at G.C.S.E. I was told by my school that i have dyslexia and dyscalculia but only a mild form. I found it hard with my times tables and mental maths (which I still find hard to do!) but I managed, with help to find solutions and managed to get full marks in my maths at G.C.S.E. foundation level. This proves that you can do anything if you put your mind to it (a bit cheesy?).

I play my video games a lot but I have other interests, I’m part of my local cricket team and I enjoy a number of other sports. I have a very creative mind and I enjoy art a lot and have been creating illustrations and producing pieces of art using my computer and my sketch book. Paintballing is expensive but I will go whenever I can it’s the same with going snowboarding at the Hemel Snow Centre. I go to the cinema with my friends on Tuesdays or Thursdays as is cheap tickets night. I like music going to gigs and festivals. My ears can take most genres too be honest but dubstep, rock, rap drum and bass are my favourite genres, I have been to The Wireless Festival, The Warriors Dance Festival and to see Coldplay and Jay Z at Wembley.

After visiting over 8 different university’s that offered Games art or Game design courses, I chose to study game art at De Montfort University due to the fact that it is more art based than other courses. Someone I knew came here last year to study and the person is enjoying their studies and the night life.

I want to learn and become familiar with 3Ds Max and also progress my drawing skills in the first year of my course. I want to graduate from De Montfort University with a good degree and an amazing portfolio so that I can get my dream job in the future.


My dream Job would be working for Rockstar North as an environment artist. As I like what the company is producing. I would be designing, building and texturing the world, I must have the technical knowledge to achieve great looking results and the skill to get the most from next-gen consoles. Advanced skills in one or more of the standard industry 3D packages essential. Knowledge of 3DS Max an advantage.


My blog will show weekly tasks that I need to complete and post, current work, thoughts and my opinions. The title of my blog "Long Night of Solace" is the name of a level in Halo Reach. The level is about the sacrifice that a Spartan has made to help his planet. The level Long Night of Solace has space combat which is a new element to the game. The space battle above Reach is the first and only space combat level played in the halo franchise. Also the Long Night of Solace is the Covenant super carrier-class vessel that led the advance assault on the planet Reach before the Fall of Reach.