Friday, 15 March 2013

BA6, CS Work blog


I will start this one first on my review and analyse list because it is the only one I have any understanding off hand at because I played it when I was round my cousins house before it too ended up in the bin with the Hello Kitty trash and her hopes and dreams.
Spore was first initialised by Will Wright, the same guy that started the Sim franchise and also looks a lot like the murderer from No Country For Old Men. Such a comparison can be made because Will Wright loves murdering peoples free time and does so with little ‘tinker’ games. I find it also murders my patience but we will get onto that later.
A word about Sims to give us some depth; a life simulation game which allows the player to control whole heartedly a set of characters created and designed by them. They can also create their homes and pets and how many babies they can have and the like. If this wasn’t enough control you can also pick them up and drown them in a swimming pool by removing the ladder. A past time I felt great glee in delving into. Sims is a hugely popular game, which has spawned off many expansion packs, as is not surprising for the money hungry publisher EA who would never pass an opportunity to milk something until the blood started spurting out. 
In comparison, Spore is a life simulation game which allows the player to control whole heartedly a set of ‘creatures’ created and designed by them. Of course, creatures is the only real part this game diverged on and that is mostly just the packet it comes looking like in.
While these Sandbox type games allow for a great amount of creativity; if a person is not creative or artistic in any way the game falls flat on its face as it did with my younger cousin whose creatures all looked like the same fluffy pink mess as the last 50 odd beasties she ‘designed’.
I on the other hand had a bit more fun with it, but the premise of the game was overly boring and felt stretched to me.

The main thing I do not like about Spore is the evolutionary ‘process’ ones creatures go through, which, to someone like me who has sat and studied deeply the theory of evolution and what it entitles; Is utterly maddening. My such questions about evolution are whether evolution would be a continuous process of animals developing themselves slowly to better suit their environment, or if- the evolutionary process works in leaps and bounds; with animals suddenly jumping to something else in a more faster set process.
Spore on the other hand asks questions of ‘Do you want to staple another set of wings to this animal?’.
But the evolutionary stage is not the only process the player goes through. Oh no. There are actually five stages to trawl through, each with the same basic mechanic behind it.
Firstly the cell stage in which you pick if you want to be a herbivore creature or a predator. This again leaves out the opportunistic way animals really do act; omnivores (Like, oh I don’t know, homo sapiens???) are completely absent in my play throughs which I found overly confusing. You either befriend things (Because Rhinos and Hippos are so friendly apparently) or kill everything as a predator which is the only option worth playing. I have been told the herbivore option is exceptionally harder which only confuses me more as predators are the top of the food chain and you would expect them to have a harder life chasing down prey and ripping its face off for nutrients then say sitting in a field mulling over which dandy lion to chew on first with the occasional glancing look around at all your mates to be sure the coast is clear to take in your flowery sustenance. 

In these terms, the game is overly flat, uninspiring and boring to me beyond the creativity model which allows you to make whatever you want. But then, if that is what you want- picking up a pencil and paper seems like the better option from the start anyway. At least, that’s what a fool like me has been doing for all this time...
Anyway, on top the main review;
Spore has basic set of rules, like most video games in which the player has to eat or obtain items and not die from whatever other beastie is trying to consume them. In this, the game play is simple, and should be pleasing to younger children in that manner.
Players battle against the game and are especially pent against it as a herbivore as you try to avoid being either eaten, overrun or overtaken by warring ‘predator’ species. This again, is very basic and can be written off as being made as such to appeal to younger audiences.
The games look on a whole is cartoony, round and plushie looking. Everything is given a more or less simple aesthetic form, though, when a creature becomes very complex it does look overly cluttered. Though, personally I was much more artistically driven in my game play and so my creatures all looked like wonderful original spectacles, rather then humorous 200 legged blobs. It all depends on the players own creativity and artistic prowess. That said, the limitations are not exactly noticeable and one can even replicate real animals with exceeding ability.
I should think the original stop motion film style like the Herbs is somewhat similar to the Spore visual style. Being that Spore mechanics worked in the similar way to the puppeteering armatures. This may be coincidence however on their part. But for me, that tends to be what it reminds me of. 

As far as sounds go; there is a very limited vocal library for the creatures, but one can actually write a music score for certain sections of the game. This is a nice feature but more or less and tinker around property and adds no real changes or advantages to the game play. One can do the same sort of music making with a few pots and pans and spoons- not having to fork out money for a system like this.

This game is not something I personally find great glee in, being that it is targeted for younger ages I should think. Such immaturity, though amuses me with games like Pokemon- does not translate over to games of this type of substance or theme.
Creativity for me starts with pen and paper, not with a program like this. So those aspects are lost with me again. But for a child who does not want to learn how to draw or be original or as creative as possible- then this game is just the bees knees.
I tend to find on the internet that the majority of people playing it are 8-14 year old boys of a introverted nature. Which is great for them.

After looking up Will Wrights Ted talk, I feel the game has a lot more to offer, though at the moment is still somewhat confined still. The way he concludes that Spore is a toy or, more, a tool to use to make designs and artistic effects. While I agree more of this sort of complex designing tools should be made, I still don’t think Spore is the epoch of this concept. Developing it further into new, more scientific areas would probably be interesting however. But, I doubt EA as a company would delve far out of their comfort zone.
Either way, if you are pleased by somewhat repetitive system of creating elaborately coloured creatures like a child putting marker pens all over their dog then this game is ideal. But I felt it should of had better timing and systems in place that allow for more options than just stick extra legs here and there. 

LA Noire.
The first thing I wanted to note about LA Noire is how it reminded me of the older Animatrix Detective Story. It was a one off short film with a very stylistic approach, made by a small company that wanted to get involved with the Animatrix project. It is a grim, grimy looking theme and the general atmosphere of the characters, the mystery, the puzzlement of the characters intentions and motives are all wonderfully brought out in the same depth as this game LA Noire. While I have never played it personally, watching walkthroughs and hearing friends comments makes such a comparison very vivid to me and the Animatrix is one of my more heartfelt fancies.

Moving on from the overall style, I noted on how accurate the portrayal of the location and look of the environment was. It seemed perfectly described by the colour and look while having its own theme as described above. I once did a study at school (though for textile dress sense- Fashion) and I remembered many things that reappeared in the game to my amusement as I watched in on youtube. Though, saying that, the game doesn’t really take fasion or anything like that into account. The audience is clearly for male genre who will not (like me) notice the lovely dress sense used. Though, girls could equally wish to play it I am sure.
In general the game is not that different to the search and quest logics of many other games; Skyrim being the one I most valued and know best of. Though, it is not overtly linked to that chain of event link up system to be found in Elder Scrolls or GTA sort of choice journeys. A lot of the game play revolves around how much you believe others, rather than just accepting it and running off to find three items for them. Though, that in itself has limitations of it’s own. 


In terms of sound, while the visuals are great for its time; the sound again kind of lets it down in places. Gawky noises (every game has them it seems) which are looped a little too often to cut down in budget appear and while, of course the cars, machinery and the like is all tuned perfectly (One can assume- I am no car expert but they sound good enough or at least better then the Simpsons hit and run) the audio of other natural aspects (Voice, wind, background statics) are all a little... Iffy. Just my own opinion though.
Overall, while this game doesn’t overtly tickle my fancy, it provided better entertainment to its structure then Spore in my opinion. Being that Spore was like a gawky paint tool system and LAN was more of a actual game with a target to aim for rather then mindlessly making cutesy little monsters until boredom strikes. LAN works out more like a story book where you choose your own path and I am more fond of that idea. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Some Other Work

Some More things I have been doing for clients and some friends...

 Killer whales are cool. For Client.
 A clients Pony boy.
 My friend Taz's Fursona 'Doomy'.
A dragon that lives on 100% pure sugar and is very good at playing video games.
My friend Jac's Fursona 'Elra'.
A Falcat (Falcon Cat) who dimension jumps to whatever work she likes.

I recently have been selling my sketch books and so I will be scanning them in before I send them off to my clients.

Each sketch book has around 40-50 pages of drawings (ink and pencil sketches like the above)  and costs me £8 from the offset. I sell it for around $200-$350 depending on what the client wants inside (water colours are extra for example).

This is a good way for me to make cash and it is very fun and easy to do!

More added later~

Monday, 4 March 2013

Some inside work

I am doing a lot of commissions and work for people. This is some of it. Names of companies and clients will be fuzzed or cut off from pictures to allow for their privacy :)