BAF Game, Part 2

Faceware Technologies – David Bennett

Overview: Bennett describes the work of Faceware, his career and work on several hollywood blockbusters.

Relevance: Personally this talk wasnt really my kind of thing, it was interesting to find out this side of the industry and how Faceware was working with the games industry. In general it was a pretty trivial talk for me.

Valve – Christine Phelan

Overview: Phelan talks about career from university to her current position at Valve.

Key notes:

  • critical thinking is key, know other disciplines
  • for the showreel: make it self-explanatory, relevant to chosen industry, short and to the point and compare to professional work
  • “any experience is good as long as it is relevant”
  • keep it simple
  • look at: gamasutra.com, gamedevmap.com and glassdoor.com

Relevance: Overall this talk was very informative and offered up some good info about the industry. Similar to Zawada’s talk Phelan compared the difference in companies and dev teams, stating that you need to research any company you apply to find out their work ethics and studio environment. This can be seen when she compared the structure at LucasArts to Valve. LucasArts  from her experience was a top-down structure, where the people at the top handled the creative processes and decisions. Whereas Valve has a more organic structure, which has no set managers or producers, everyone decides where to best spend their time and on which projects they would like to work. Valve sounds like a dream to me!  Also Phelan had some good pointers on portfolios and showreels, which she had learnt from her experiences.

Amanita Design – Jaromir Plachy and Peter Stehlik

Overview: This was a much more visual talk than the rest, the two developers gave a demo of their new game Botanicula.The game is the creative child of artist Plachy and is a point and click game.

I really enjoyed this talk, I felt that it was interesting to listen to the artist behind the concept talking about his choices, limitations and style. Here is my report on the game demo and talk.

Botanicula is a point and click game that takes place in a single tree. The player takes control of a set of 5 protagonists who need to work together and separately to restore health to the tree which has been infested with parasites.

A key point that stuck out about Botanicula is the colour palette and visual style of the game. It features washed out colours on a simple design, this works well with the point and click game, as it is easy to manipulate the characters and utilise the visuals to understand the gameplay. The game itself looks very playful and in some ways comical and lighthearted. For instance in the third level you visit a town in which the task is to visit the 17 houses and find chickens by solving various puzzles. The whole design process has taken 3 years to completion.Plachy also stated that the design was based on inspiration from traditional artists, surrealism, poetry, authors and grotesque movies – all over the place really. One important thing was Plachy’s approach to the level design as at first he focused on the aesthetics and at a later date figured out the puzzles.

TT Games – David Brown, Philip Gray and Bill Martin.

Overview: A look at TT Games the masterminds behind the LEGO movie tie-in games. The talk detailed the challenges the team faced whilst changing between silent cut scenes and scripted cut scenes.

Key Notes:

  • the cut scenes need to be concise and clear
  • the storyboards for the Lego games were loose, quick drawings that were easy to change if needed
  • “non of it is about nice drawings, just getting the point across”
  • on the latest projects they have started doing pre-vis in Maya, this is so that they hit problems as they go – this is more efficient.

I found this talk interesting but I don’t think any specifics were that relevant to myself.

Bioware – Neil Thompson

“Games are a medium, computers are just an expensive brush” – sums up the whole talk. This was a very informative talk that was very similar to the Bethesda Studios talk. It mainly was about finding inspiration from a range of sources and why this is important.

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