Monday, 7 November 2011

My Super Awesome Gaming History

Going back a while ago, mid 90's I think. My brother got a brand new shiny Amiga for Christmas (don’t ask which model as I really cant remember!). Watching him playing it for a few days I start to get more interested in it, as his excitement grew for it, so did mine. So a week later I decided I wanted to jump on and try it for myself. My first gaming experience started.

I spent countless hours playing games which I still vividly remember even today. Canon Fodder was a personal favourite of mine, I remember having a real connection with that game. As all your squad had names and improved as you advanced through the levels. So when you've lost one of them you’ve lost someone who you’ve seen improve and promoted throughout their digital life. To top it off he'd be replaced with some basic recruit who you knew wouldn’t survive the next level, sending you into a deep spiral. But fun never the less. Other notable mentions from this age are: Wings, Chaos Engine, Flashback.

Then going into the late 90's I started to experience the original Playstation which we got hold of on launch day. This is a time when I really fell in love with gaming. Always playing my PS1 instead of doing my homework, and then always being told “stop wasting your time playing games, that wont get you a job in the future”, well mum and dad, look at me now. I plunged many hours into Gran Turismo and its squeal with my brother trying to buy/unlock all the cars in the game. A sad day came when I (some how) stupidly wiped all the data of the memory was not happy. Of course with every other PS1 gamer on the planet I played Final Fantasy (7-9) and Metal Gear Solid to death.

1999 was a great year for me. For one it was my first trip to Disney Land Florida, its also where I picked up my first PC game. Unreal. This was my first experience of PC gaming. Before this, the PC was a evil place where I had to do home work, now its a place where I got to chill out and play games. Ever since Unreal I fell in love with PC gaming, the controls, the graphics, the sound, the games. Everything to me just seemed better on the PC, and it still does.

Years go by and we picked up the PS2 (on launch day, again). If I wasn’t playing on the PC, i'd be on the PS2, then if I had time...homework. With the launch of both GT3 and GT4 me and my brother would team up again to and play the game together. This is also the era where I discovered my passion for GTA. Too many hours I spent messing around with those game.

Years pass and Im still playing my PC games, on a PC I built myself. Bought a PS3 on release day (yet again) which I touch now and again, the PC takes up most of my gaming time.

Now what do I think the future will hold? Well seeing how we are slowing moving away from controllers in the hand and more towards a more interactive way (Kinect, Move, Wii). I can see in 5/10 years time we're going to be playing games in complete virtual reality, ala Matrix. With maybe levels and characters based entirely from our memory, making for a more personal experience. And that might put us artist into a tricky position job wise if everything is going to be created from your brain.

Stay Classy...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A Brief History Of Time.....For Games : Part 3

Now we are reaching a decade which is very familiar to my generation, the 2000s (naughties). Just like the 1990s we see a massive change in technology and innovation. We also see discover how costly game development has become,with some development budgets rivalling film development.

The naughties started with a bang. The follow up console of the original Playstation is launched, the Playstation 2 (released in March 2000). Which has become the best selling console of all time, racking in an impressive 150 million units sold world wide as of January 2011. A year later (November 2001 to be precise) came the PS2s main competitor, the Microsoft Xbox . This was Microsoft first try with a home console, and it did well, very well. Its launch success can mainly be put down to the impressive launch titles, mainly Halo : Combat Evolved which has now developed into a monumental earner for Microsoft. Nintendo also launched their console, the Gamecube, But it couldnt touch the success of the PS2 or Xbox.

This decade also saw the battle of the handhelds, with the release of the Nintendo Game boy Advance (released 2001), then being redesigned into the GBA SP 2 years later. Then as a little as a year little Nintendo release the DS, a very innovative bit of kit with its touch and dual screens, With Nintendo trying to milk as much money from this as possible they released a smaller (DS Lite) and later a bigger version (XL). Sony decide to jump on the band wagon and tried to compete with its Playstation Portable, although a success it couldnt touch Nintendos market share with the DS.

In the mid 2000s we saw another battle with the “Next Generation” range of consoles. Microsoft release the Xbox 360, Nintendo with the Wii and Sony with the Playstation 3. The Wii was an unpredictable hit, being sold out for 18 months straight. Nintendo got this success by targeting casual gamers with its innovative “Wiimote”, and it worked well. Very well.

Some amazing games were released in the naughties, some which I and many other gamers have played to death. We have Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, proving that games can also be interactive films with a total cut scene length of over 5 hours. Impressive. Other genre defining games from this decades are : Call of Duty 4; World Of Warcraft; GTA: San Andreas; Guitar Hero and Half Life 2.

One of the biggest concerns of game development is the costs. The average game in the year 2000 would cost around $1 million to develop, jump forward to 2005 and the biggest AAA titles can cost as much as $70 million. This can be due to the expectations of the average gamer who is looking for an immersive game with sparkly graphics and sound to go along with their new HDTV and Surround sound. This means the developer has to now hire more and more artist/programmers/sounds engineers and all the other people inbetween so they can hit the high expectation of the consumer.

Costs of game development are only going to increase as technology and expectations increase. Dark times could lay ahead.

Stay Classy...

Monday, 31 October 2011

A Brief History Of Time.....For Games : Part 2

The 1980s and 1990s brought some amazing advancements in games and technology, and it also saw the home entertainment consoles explode into our homes.

The 1980s and 1990s brought along some major titles from many genres. Gone was the arcade style games, in with action adventure, role playing, beat 'em up, platformers, racing, real time strategy, simulation and many many more genres.

Arguably the most prominent title from the 1980s was Pac-Man (released 1980), not only did it bring addictive game play, it also popularised the first video game character which anybody will recognise. Many inspiring games originated from the 1980s. Major titles like The Legend of Zelda , Dragon warrior (which is now more known by the title Dragon Quest), Metroid, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy and Street Fighter are just some of the titles which are still alive today and are still getting sequels (Final Fantasy has gone the step further and had 15 sequels, along with many spin-offs).

The 1980s had many consoles to the decade as well games. The commodore 64 was released in 1982, one of the most popular gaming computers in the USA, it gained its popularity as it was marketed and priced aggressively. This was followed very closely by the ZX Spectrum, which gained mass popularity in Europe.

The third generation of consoles released in the 1980s was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Sega Master System. Both are 8 bit machines. Even though the Sega Master System technically had the advantage over the NES, it failed to outdo the NES's market share in Japan and America. The release of both these consoles saw the change of the old style joysticks, paddles and keypads to the recognisable game pad.

The 1990s was a greatly innovative decade in terms of technology. Graphics made a move from raster to 3D. It was also the decade we saw the rise of FPS, real time strategy and MMO's. We also start to see some more familiar game series starting in the 90's. Such as SimCity, Silent Hill, Command and Conquer, Starcraft and Resident Evil, Quake and Ago of Empire, just to name a few.

The major consoles we saw this decade was a range of 16,32 and 64 bit, these were the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) SNK Neo-Geo, Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, Ninntendo 64 and the massively popular Sony Playstation.

Stay Classy...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Brief History Of Time.....For Games : Part 1

Games have come along way from the 50's. From the little dot representing a tennis ball being bounced around the screen on an oscilloscope to the protagonist of the next AAA title boasting 10,000's triangles along with 2048 texture maps running around a beautiful environment . But without that little dot on the oscilloscope we wouldn’t have the amazing games we have today.

The first “game” ever made was far from being complex, it was something a tad more basic (it didn’t even have a score for goodness sake!). Enter Tennis for 2. A basic side on view tennis game, played through an oscilloscope, yes, an oscilloscope. The goal of this game was to bounce the tennis ball to the other side of the court over the net, setting the trajectory by an input device. Tennis for 2 was created by an American physicist/nuclear researcher at the Brookhaven National Laboratory , William A. Higinbotham in 1958 to entertain people as they visited the laboratory.

4 years later in 1962 brought us the first fully interactive video game, Spacewar. Developed by a group of university friends at MIT, those were; Wayne Witanen, Martin Graetz and Steve Russell. In Spacewar two spaceships (creatively named the wedge and the needle, reflecting how each ship is crudely rendered in the game) compete against each other with limited fuel supplies while battling against each other in a missle duel. Spacewar was a massive hit at MIT's annual science open house, infact it became such a popular game they had to develop a scoring system to limit the players time with it.

In 1966, Ralph Baer, a German born inventor and engineer, also known as “The Father of Video Games” work along with Bob Tremblay and Bob Solomon to produce and demonstrate a system that allows spots to be moved around on a tv screen. The following year, 1967, Ralph Baer worked with Bill Harrison to build a multi game system, the world first console you could say, it was dubbed the Home TV Game (….how creatively named). Late 1968 they demonstrated Home TV Game, showing off its ability to play severalgames, like ping-pong, volleyball, handball, hockey and even a few shooting games used with the worlds first light gun, also developed by Ralph Baer.
Along with the accolade “The Father of Video Games” he has also won several awards, such as the National Medal of Technology for inventing the home console for video games and also creating the video game industry.

In 1971 Nolan Bushnell, an American engineer and entrepreneur who later founded Atari saw the commercial potential of video games so he set out to produce an arcade version of MITs popular spacewar. Despite the space aged looking machine it didn’t sell as well as he would like. Despite this setback, a year later he formed Atari which went on to create quite possible the most popular game ever, Pong. But more about that next week.

Stay Classy....

Monday, 10 October 2011

About Me

Hey, my name is Dan Hargreaves, a 22 year old student currently living and studying in Leicester. I was born and raised in a small town called Swindon which is a nice place to live, but lacks the lifestyle and culture of a city such as Leicester.

I have always been into design & art. From messing around with Lego as a child to create grand blocky cathedrals to making short cartoon animations in my mid teens with flash. Around the age of 18 I picked up 3ds max where I would create *very* basic models. After a few good months following online tutorials I started to make 3D models suitable for games. Years passed and at the age of 21 my skills in game art became good enough to work with a small indie team ( ) as the character artist where i spent roughly 8 months with the team working on “Conquest:Hadrian's Divide”. Sadly the team became very disorganised and our goals weren’t being reached at all so I left the team. This left my motivation for game art dwindling but the passion was still there.

I decided the best thing I could do to get my motivation back was surround my self with other aspiring artist, this lead me onto the research for a degree. After many weeks of research I had my eyes on DMU, as they have the most up to date game art course in the country, as well as being skillset accredited. So I applied with my new up to date portfolio ( ), and got accepted. Over the 3 years with this course I hope to iron out any work flow issues I have picked up as a self taught artist as well as honing my traditional art skills to become a competent character artist in the future.

For a long time ive had my eyes on working at Relentless as they are based in Brighton which is a beautiful city. Plus they are known for very rarely crunching for milestones, making for a more pleasant work life. Unfortunately they don’t have any art position going at the moment. So ill list another:

Below is a vacancy for a senior character artist at a new SEGA studio based in Dorridge:


• Spearhead the character pipeline satisfying the Lead Artist, Animators, programmers and designers
• Produce character art assets that meet the requirements of the projects style and detail
• Work with the producer to formulate the production schedule
• Manage any outsourcing requirements for the character


• Self driven individual with good organisation skills
• Able to work well in a team while standing out as an individual
• Amiable and willing to follow art direction and carry it out but with the objective of adding their expertise to the subject
• A good communicator and keen ideas person


• 4+ Years experience with 3DS Max and Photoshop, Zbrush/Mudox
• 2 + Shipped titles on PS3 or 360
• Excellent modelling and texturing abilities delivering performance and quality
• Excellent human anatomy knowledge supported by good drawing skills
• Able to develop custom character rigs
• Able to maximise the use of bespoke tools by using a natural sense of trial and error
• Knowledge of current generation shader capabilities 

As this example is for a senior position it requires a lot of experience for the role i.e. 2 + Shipped titles on PS3 or 360, which is something that only comes with experience while working in the industry, ive picked it as its the only character artist position I could find as it is a highly competitive role. The skills I have already attained and the knowledge I will pick up throughout this degree will make this goal more achievable. To get to this stage I need excellent human anatomy knowledge and drawing skills, which at the moment are my weakest points, so it is vital I improve in this area.

Stay Classy.....