Tag Archives: computer games

Way back when, when I was a different me… (4).

A long while ago I wrote books (that’s probably a blog post to come) and then, when the time wasn’t there to write them I decided to draw them instead. Then, going through my backup CD images and finding a very cool website called Blurb.com I decided to put the two things together and make a printed art book.

Probably sounds very vain. Sort of was, but mainly I was trying to come up with different ideas to present my work in a portfolio style format which I could take to work interviews. Actually there’s probably a blog post about that sometime soon but I can’t find one of the things I would need to write that one…

So anyway, some images from a book of my artwork from the mid-80s to mid-08 when I was primarily computer bound:


This last one sort of catches the whole 20 years in one 48 image spread. Games worked on (Populous 2 Mac version – never released, Theme Park, Top Gun, Top Gun 2/The Cabal – never released, Burning Ambition – never released- spot a trend?), speculative games (Heroes Inc., Ro-Ra, Sunchasers), 2d, 3d, comics and all sorts. I suspect if I’d focused on something I’d possibly be more organised and methodical but then again that’s very much not me and I’d likely never have hit the tablets… Screens that is.

On the very unlikely chance this has whet your appetite for more scribblings prior to my hitting the tablets you can buy it (and more than three of you doing so could double the sales figures 😉 ) >>here<<*

*Actually, blimey, I wouldn’t blame you for not. Blurb’s prices seem way higher than I ever remember them. Yikes.

This is my Mario or Sonic…

Naturally I don’t mean in terms of exposure, success or prominence, things I aspire to with little confidence or hope. Nor do I mean that he is the occupant of a colourful world filled with amazing dangers, set pieces, bad guys and shiny things be they gems or star bits or rings.

Nope, this is the guy who inhabits my thoughts when I think on computer games, the ones I want to make. I dare say anyone who’s worked in the industry has wanted, at one point or another, to create ‘the game’. Certainly when I worked in the industry most of the people I sat alongside would have done the game they were working on differently, whether it was a material based flight sim (Magic Carpet PC) or a metal based flight sim (Top Gun PS2/GC/Xbox) both of which I worked on (I also worked on The Cabal, Populous 2 (Mac) and Burning Ambition, all unreleased, Raucous Caucus, FA 18E Super Hornet, Theme Park, Creation, Dungeon Keeper and Syndicate/Syndicate Wars in a variety of roles. FA18/DK I did a tiny amount on, the rest a little more).

Anyhow, I digress. I have always wanted to make a number of games, the ideas for which reside in my mind and struggle to break out on occasion. I want to do a spin on a football game which makes PERFECT sense, a music/rhythm action game which changes the game a fair amount and mashes another genre into the mix. I want to make a pinball/action game, an MMO with a SERIOUS difference and, most of all, an action/adventure game which stars the guy above: Intimidus. If I had to choose one game to make it would be this one (although from a logistical standpoint I’d make a couple of smaller games first just to bed in a team and work out the pipeline of roles and responsibilities…)

Without giving too much away (and some of this has been done elsewhere, the ideas been bubbling away for 6 years or so) Intimidus is the bodyguard of a murdered Roman Senator. Left for dead in the attack, then accused of it, he runs away, first to escape and then to clear his name and find out who caused so much harm and so many changes to everything he understood. He falls in with people he previously attacked, through need rather than choice, learns something of the consequences of his blind obedience and, most of all, he comes to understand life at the other end of the sword. Yes there would be violence in the game – I have no issue with the concept of violence per se, having more of an issue with the fact that computer games deal, for the majority of the time, with consequence free violence and part of the game focuses specifically on this fact. So anyhow, the game I see in my mind is dirty, earthy, gritty, painful, unpleasant, honest, occasionally violent and stars a man equal to all of these things.

One day I hope to make the game. Yesterday I had a number of chats which led me to wonder if it could actually happen. We’ll see, but I enjoyed the chats yesterday and feel more energised than ever about it, hence drawing the picture above on the train from Esher to Guildford while standing up 🙂 One of the struggles that managed to make it out of my mind… I hope one day the rest follows.

(Sorry forgot to add, and heard the voice of Yvonne in my head reminding me I should listen, that this was drawn on my iPad nano – or iPod touch, whichever name you prefer 🙂 )

Halo 3: Odious Tea.

One misheard computer game name title quoted on the Joystiq podcast and this fell out of my fingers onto Brushes. Probably won’t make sense to the vast majority of anyone who checks this out but regardless; doodle ahoy:

od-iou-s-t001-small

((It’s a riff on the next in the Halo series – Halo 3: ODST – if anyone’s causing themselves scalpal issues with the head scratching nature of the secret hidden code.)) (((Also, in a little bit of art imitating life, I’m not a big fan of tea either. I’m more of a coffee guy myself.)))

Lets talk about apps…

Or one in particular: geoDefense on the iPod Touch.

I’m teaching games at college at the moment and geoDefense is the game that’s getting the most love and hate.

For a start it riffs on (which is a kind way of putting it) a fantastic forebear. Let’s be honest: geoDefense steals its entire art style from Geometry Wars. Which, in one way, is good: if you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

The first levels, all in the easy setting, are brilliant. Loads of fun and very compulsive. That’s when it’s good. After that it’s very, VERY hard and that’s when it’s bad. From Medium level 2 the game is a broken mess of decisions which take the game from being a compulsive classic to being a very unkind partner. Caution, it says as you load it up, meltdown imminent. And that’s very true. In one respect that’s useful; I’ve been using it as an example of best and worst practise in one fell swoop with my students… But it’s so close to being deleted because it’s so frustrating it’s untrue.

Still, just one more go, eh?

Other apps I’m loving; iFractal, Classics, iFooty, Artisan, Topple, Rolando, Dr Awesome, Spawn, Randompos and my favourite app of all: Backgrounds. Hardly a surprise Apple had its billionth app downloaded over the weekend. Good job it wasn’t that app though…

Edge 200.

Lol what?

Actually stop, scratch that. I’m a big Edge fan so I come to praise it as much as their most recent action has frustrated me. I’ve read Edge since issue 1, 200 or so months ago, and until recently had them all stacked neatly in a corner of the house until we had to downsize a little. 200 issues is no mean feat so congratulations are due to editors past and present and the publication house: Future magazines. They don’t always do it right but Edge has to be the thing I am most fond of from their stable (although I do also pick up the odd issue of Commy Arts and 3d World).

But, for their 200th issue, they are printing the magazine with a choice of covers. And, you can guess the punchline, there are 200 copies of 200 covers to view and (shudder) collect, if you are so inclined.

Which would cost just a shade under a grand.

I used to work with someone who moaned about many things, not least of the fact that if Edge did two covers it was unfair because you had to buy both to be a completist. I’d LOVE to have seen his face when he heard of the 200 cover thing.

Anyway: 200 covers doesn’t bother me per se: I’m not going to collect them all but hope they do a special magazine collecting them all in the future maybe. What bothers me is the sheer lack of imagination and interest they have put into the project over and above the managing of the scale of it all. Yes we all have our favourite darlings and yeah there are games I’m surprised to see omitted. Yet a good number of the covers are dull as dishwater and show nothing over and above the ability to resize and crop a publicity image. A shame, in many ways. 100 covers drawn by industry programmers and 100 drawn by industry artists would have been a far more interesting project I believe, a search sourced collection of publisher submitted money shots slapped on a cover with no consideration towards eyeflow, layout or design seems a waste of the time and effort the rest of the process must have taken.

I am, however, looking forward to seeing the mag in a big way though. Congratulations Edge. You and I may not have seen eye to eye always but you’re still the only magazine I read on a monthly basis, 14 or so years since inception, and my world would be a less interesting place without your comments and stories.

 

One of the 170 or so covers I hope to avoid.
One of the 170 or so covers I hope to avoid.

 

One of the twenty or so covers I hope to track down.
One of the twenty or so covers I hope to track down.

Hmmm 20 x 200 divided by 200 x 200 x number of newsagents vs number of people after the good covers… I’m guessing that the odds are not good, but we’ll see what thursday brings.

Summing up…

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Without wanting to sound maudlin this sort of sums up living/coping with autism. Spent a lovely time with son boy drawing pictures of Rayman (Rayman 3 being a current favourite of his and mine when it first came out) but taking the pictures was a step too far and he ended up banging his head on the table (because that’s what Frida does, he told me).

That said seeing him draw was delightful and the pictures make me smile, but it’s s strange thing of balance, is trying to work out what to do and say to encourage onwards and not push too far… But maybe it did feel like pigeon steps forward.

Anyhow: Rayman 3… Crossing generations, abilities, all that 🙂 Was a well designed, beautifully presented game. One day a Rayman 4 Ubisoft? Hmmm? How about it? And no, Rabbids don’t count, although they are ace too.

Bit of a creative evening all round in fact: son drew, daughter wrote a story (and played the grow games online – and if you haven’t played Grow cube, RPG et al then you should, they’re loads of fun), wifey created a groovy level on Little Big Planet and I did this and other stuff (primarily updating the www.kercal.co.uk website a little with some more to come once I get the chance to re-encode the video files)… Yay for playing about and having free evenings and all that.

Currently listening to: Monkey soundtrack. Currently playing: Grow Cube. Currently watching: 24, Lost, Gallactica.