Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The City Of Games

Over the weekend I attended the festival game city in Nottingham, and with high expectations I didnt come out dissapointed. One thing about the festival was that it wasnt as structured as it made out to be. I expected big halls, tons of press reporters and eager gamers/students like myself. But when attending some of the events, it felt empty, like either no-one knew about it or no-one wanted to be there. Saying that it didnt take much away from my experience.

By far the talks that I enjoyed most were the tetris seminars with Alexey Pajitnov, the creator of tetris. I could have sat there and listened to him talk for hours, answering questions, which I have to say were well thought through and really made the most out of the session. So kudos to the lady who interviewed him! Greater kudos to Alexey though, for creating the one of the greatest games of all time.

Unfortunately I didnt manage to get a picture with Alexey (mobile phone batteries aren't what they used to be) and ive got a feeling i'm going to regret that for a long time!

I definitely recommend reading up on the interviews, if you're a fan of the game (c'mon who isnt).


This link by the way, is from his second talk which is more about tetris as a game, where as the first talk ventured into the events surrrounding it aswell.

The other seminar that proved to be very motivating and worthy of note, was called 'What's it like to worrk in the games industry'. This featured 5 professionals who literally went through everything to do with the games industry (which took 2 and a half hours, which in turn meant I missed the Haze exclusive, but it didnt bother me since the talk had me hooked). Everything from the structure of a team to how to get into the industry, and even what people were like and the average day were explained from 5 working professionals point of view.

Overall it was well worth it, and I will be returning next year.

Oh and that wii light-sabre joke.......not very funny.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Week 1: Blogging - Rick Stirling

First of all this was supposed to be my first entry, buuut I got some papers muddled up so its become my second, sorry for any confusion :D

Now, the blogger I've decided to look at goes by the name of Rick Stirling, a game artist, designer, egotist and raconteur (whatever those last two are :s) His first site, rsart, is a good read and has alot of interesting and useful information on the games industry and his experiences in it. One entry that I found particularly interesting was called 'how many polygons in a piece of string?' which came from people asking 'how many polygons should I use in characters/environments/vehicles?' and his simple answer was 'it depends', then going on to explain why it depends, going through reasons such as platform, style of game and power required.

I feel he has a style of writing that gets his point very well, and spents a lot of time on his blog recommending books that he found useful and answering questions from anyone, which I think is decent of him.

His second site on twitter is more of a personal blog, talking about his personal thoughts none of which really relate to his job (apart from conplaing about it). He has stuctured it as short commment, which just show what sort of mood he was in or what he was thinking at the time, which is a nice change from technical computer talk.

As for me, Ive never writen a blog before, or even kept a diary, so it's a new experince. Im alright with the fact that i'm writing for an invisible audience, partly because I doubt that many people will read it (prove me wrong people!). I guess there is part of me that doesnt want to sound like an idiot by rambling on, but I do tend write too much generally, and go over word counts, which didnt make essays any easier, buy hey, I just guess thats my 'style'

Anyways, Ive got to get back to cleaning my bathroom since they did the flat checks a day early (sneaky bastards), here are the links to Rick Stirlings sites...



Oh, and these

egotist: a conceited and self-centered person
raconteur: Someone who tells amusing or interesting stories

They say you learn something new everday, yesterday I learnt that door frames hurt when you headbutt them.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Week 2: A history of computer games 1950s-1970s

Where did it all start then? Well, back in 1951, a young engineer was given an assignment to build a television set, one that would be the best. This engineer was named Ralph Baer, and he had the idea of incorporating a game into the set itself. He wasn't sure what kind of game he wanted to produce, but it didn't matter because his managers scrapped the concept. It would take another 18 years for his concept to take form.

In 1954 a US Korean War veteren by the name of David Rosen saw the popularity of mechanical coin-op games on a US Army base, and so started a company called Service Games to export these to Japan. In the 1960s he decided to purchase a Tokyo jukebox and slot machine company to make his own games with. The name SEGA, short for 'SErvice GAmes' was stamped on all of his products, and was eventually adopted as the company name.

1958 proved interesting when physicist Willy Higinbotham invented a table-tennis game displayed on a oscilloscope. Whoever said that science was boring! He later ran it on a 15inch monitor...but didnt patent it. I bet he was pissed when he found out it's now worth $58 billion.

In 1961, MIT student steve russle created Spacewar, the first interactive computer game. played on a CTR screen with new teletype terminals.

So back to Ralph Baer and his idea of using a television to play games on. He decided, in 1966 to continue researching it, and developed a chase game and followed it up with a tennis game. Wierd choice of sequel if you ask me. He finally patented the idea in 1968 and gets it licensed by Magnavox, to create an arcade version of spacewar in 1970! Well that only took 20 years.

When did it start for me then? Well the christmas of 1994, I was going to ask father christmas for a Jurassic Park compund! Being a Jurassic Park nut, having all the toys and watching the film about twice a week, this was the mother of all toys! My dad on the other hand had the bizzare idea that I should ask 'Father Christmas' for a Super Nintendo. A super what? Donkey who? As far as I was concerned, having my T-rex break the walls down on a compound, reek havok and eat people was never going to be surpassed by a gorilla collecting bananas on a tv!

But my dad was adamant, and since I knew he had some pritty serious connections to Father Christmas I trusted his judgement, and boy was I glad. Donkey Kong Country was my first ever game, and what a first game to have. I personally, still, think it's the single greatest platformer ever made.

So from now on, whenever my dad "Do you think a career in games is a good idea?" I can simply turn round an say "well I'd have been an paleontologists if it wern't for you!"