Get into Gaming

Get into gaming is happening soon!

IT is an event taking place in Leeds on the 12th June this year.

The event should be a good place for me to chat to other likeminded individuals and get some feedback on my promotional material i.e. business cards.

Full detaisl of the event are here

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Daily Script

www.dailyscript.com 

Daily Script is a website that offers movie and tv scripts from famous and well-known productions.

I first came across it after having the talk with Susan Everett who said that to learn how to write scripts you need to read them. So I came over to this site which offers them for free online.

Another good site to find scripts on is the BBC Writers room that has scripts from the BBC productions.

One Game a Month

http://www.onegameamonth.com/

One Game a Month is a website that features the challenge of making a game every month. It currently has 5519 users and 3309 games. All the guidance you get is an optional theme for the game, no pressure, no commitment, just the pure want to produce the game in the space of a month.

I have yet to look into the specifics of the site, but they do have audio files of each months theme back-dated, so this could be a good place to get some ideas for my own version of the challenge.

The site also features various resources and advice sections that could come in handy.

Personal Statement

‘My passion lies within interactive media, anything that requires a sense of immersion and connection between a viewer and an artefact. The main focus of my studies and ambitions lies within a prominent area of the interactive industry, videogames. This medium is a truly immersive experience for the player, as they encounter lavish and exciting worlds, meet interesting characters and in some cases develop experiences that relate and reflect their reality. Within this medium I am a writer, a crafter of stories, in which my focus is on all aspects of immersion within the concept. In other words it’s not just a simple task of adding dialogue and in-game text. I enjoy the creativity of videogames in terms of developing a functioning narrative that will appeal and entice and in turn adds value and player-connectivity. To bring the concept to life, collaborative work is often key, in which I work with a group of creatives to develop and test a games immersive values. The experience gained from working as a collective has allowed me to understand more in-depth about the technical specifics of games design. This knowledge allows me to adapt new projects with the confidence that they are going to involve an efficient yet still creative workflow.’

The above is my positioning statement that I wrote for the yearbook. I found the task of writing it very difficult as I have consistently struggled with where I fit in the industry. I think the statement sums up where I am and where I would like to be.

I am glad that I have done it because I have been able to utilise it on my website and other places to detail what I am about and what I do as a creative.

Social Media Presence

Throughout the year I have been slowly making my online presence known. So far I have added twitter, linkedin, tumblr, vimeo and youtube to my online empire!

Although I have not been fully attentive to some of these sites. For instance I started on vimeo and youtube paying full attention to them but as I have started specialising I have slowly left these sites as I havent had anything to put on them. I may in the future however so it is still relevant to keep the login details.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ZoeLimbert

Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/pub/zoe-limbert/65/aa9/85a

Tumblr – http://zlimbert.tumblr.com/

In regards to my tumblr account, I set this up to link to my website, it offers a tumblr feed and one of the main pieces of advice was to include a blog on your website to charter current affairs.

AS part of my branding I have also got a logo and style of minimalist design that features across all my online media. The logo has been great for this as it offers consistency across all platforms. I just need to figure out how to incorporate it into my actual website!!

My next moves will be to find a media site or forum that specialises in written work!

GaMaYo

GaMaYo is a blog site that offers up a job page, general info about the industry around Yorkshire and a facebook group eclusive to published game makers. It is definately something I need to look into later down the line, that is once I have a link to a game that is live so that I can join the group.

GDD, Ipads as a format.

So, for the Game Republic event – competition and networking – I wanted a better way to show the GDD, instead of it being print based. At first my initial idea was to have it set up on a screen where you could see the GDD digitally. This was to engage the person a bit more and digital format tend to fit better alongside a video game as opposed to print. Mainly because print is perceived as more traditional and games are all about advancing technology.

After some deliberation I though it would be nice to have the GDD on an Ipad, this way the viewer can use the touch functionality to turn the pages creating a more immersive experience into the concept.

I am currently still testing the format and ability to do this, but my tests and experiments with InDesign so far are going well. It is easy to create a  document for Ipad use within the programme, so all I really need to do is transfer the content over to the indesign document. I also would like to add a background image that fits the theme of the game possibly uses the same or a similar texture to that of the game logo, just so the digital book looks more like a game info pack as opposed to a plain white background that makes the document look very formal and less interesting!

Who am I?

I am trying to figure out how I want to be perceived by other creatives and clients alike. So I have been looking back over my body of work from the past three years and also re-read my personal statement for the yearbook. From these it has become clear that I am into these areas:

  • creative writing
  • games design
  • conceptualization
  • idea creation

So after much playing with words I have decided to brand myself as:

Zoe Limbert: Creative Writer, Designer, Concept Developer.

With the idea of interactive media as an underlying theme so as not to become too specialised. Although this is mentioned within my about me statement, so it isn’t a secret!!

I’m glad I am finally content with a title for myself as this is something that I have been struggling with for a long time.

Under Construction

I am currently constructing my website using the hosting site Wix. IT is going well, as the site is easy to use and understand. I so far have been putting my research to the test and successfully made three of the pages of my site.

Here are a few images of the progress so far, sadly I cannot link the site yet as it isn’t ‘live’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you can see I have taken a very minimalistic approach that follows the same colour scheme as this blog. I decided to stay minimal as I think it makes the information given more easier to digest instead of the viewer being distracted by endless images and asymmetry. Although saying this I have used some asymmetrical sections to utilise the space I had to play with.

For the font I have used the font Neou that I acquired on dafont.com, I choose this one as it is the same font used on my Business cards and it is simple, clean and crisp.

I have been trying to keep the site minimal and clean but with sufficient information about myself.

I also utilised my personal statement for the yearbook on my About me page.

My only concern with doing this all myself is that it is taking a long time due to my inexperience with web design and efficiency. Although it is very interesting and a really nice achievement to say I did it myself.

My next step with it is to get my images uploaded and in the right place. I also need to consider taking some writing excerpts and placing them online. Possibly even record the use of the iPad for game republic and promote my knowledge of that aswell.

My domain is http://www.zoelimbert.com check me out when I’m live in the next couple of weeks!!

Business Cards and Logo Designs

As I am not very good with graphic design I have asked a friend to help out with the designs for my logo and business cards. The first port of call was creating a logo that I could use across all branding fronts.

logo designs logo ideasI began with these, there are some initial designs for the original yoyo and crayons that I produced then some for my amended logo, and brand.

These started as the letters ZOE fitted into the space. After some thought this design developed as you can see into being focussed on the initials ZL. It also incorporated a lighter shade of grey for the circle so that the text stands out from it.

Below is the final design for my logo.Sticking tot he theme of minimalism.

logoFrom this I have created a variation including colour that will be used for digital purposes. Whereas the grayscale version is designed for the printed business cards.

logo for web

From this I have developed a one-off business card aswell seen here:

business card planTop image is the front, bottom image is the back of the card.

This is a simple idea of a business card that I would like to have, I am going to pass this onto my graphic designer friend who will be in charge of refining the idea and design.

Ideally what I want is to have a two-tone scheme for the business card that is very minimal. This will then be screen printed down at Vernon Street in batch on some very nice card. The card I want is similar to watercolor paper in texture so it feels slightly bumpy in your hand, and is off white in colour.

I think these screen printed cards will be used for both game republic and the end of year show as they are a more personal approach to the business card, whereas in the future, when I don’t have access to the printing studio, I will probably go for online sites that offer business card printing.

 

Some interesting opportunities I have found and am pursuing

Lionhead studios Internships – http://lionhead.com/internships/

This site offers internships every now and again, nothing for myself at the moment but it is work a look out.

Crytek internships

These offer internships to people who have finished uni, so I shall be contacting them in the next couple of months.

Sumo Digital Job page

There are a few jobs open at Sumo currently. Definitely worth an email.

Red Kite Games

This studio has an open email that you can send your CV and covering letter to. So no job posting up on the site but still it might lead to something.

Volunteer cast and crew for The Narnia Experience

Found this one on Art jobs, it is an event to be held later this year, that is looking for a variety of individuals to take part in the show. I’m definitely applying for this even though it is a voluntary project. It does look like a good experience and something memorable and unique to be involved in.

Plan for Game republic

Myself, Jade and Freddie had a talk the other day about how to display our work for the game republic graduate showcase.

We decided that we would split the space between the three of us, with the main focus on the screen in the center of the table, which will have the levels on display. The wall space is split equally. We decided to have a banner running along the top to draw people to the stall. Below this there will be Freddies environment breakdowns, Jade’s character compilation and a brief text sheet that summarises the game from myself.

I will also be contributing some leaflets that double up as promotional material for the three of us. I briefly explained the initial idea for these in my FMP project but they have changed drastically since then. Instead of being about the actual game elements, they will solely focus on the three team members and feature each of our bios as well as a nice piece of artwork. Alongside this I will have the GDD on an Ipad.

I have been in talks with Jade who will be producing a leather-bound design portfolio that will feature character development work.

Writers Digest Article on websites.

Writer’s Digest Article: The anatomy of a writers website.

The link above will take you to a very nice article all about the ins and outs of a writers website. IT goes into detail about how relevant it is to the promotion of your work and why exactly you need to have a website in the industry.

The article features a list of essentials for a writers website, I have listed them below with a little bit of info and my view on each section.

  1. All about you – this section needs to highlight info about you on a personal and professional level.
  2. Contact Info – scream it loud and clear, in fact some of the sites that I am using as inspiration use social media icons on multiple pages as well as a separate contact page.
  3. A picture of you – this gives a person behind all the info – makes it easier for publishers and potential clients to relate to you.
  4. A press page – if you are selling a book a press page is a must.
  5. Testimonials – Testimonials offer credit to your work.
  6. Samples of your work – even clips and edits from longer pieces of work can offer an insight to clients at what your standard of work is. For this downloadable clips is best, instead of links to other sites. I reckon the best approach is using the online abode pdf reader.
  7. Buying – if your selling a book make sure there is a link to buy it on your website!
  8. Personality – make sure you let your personality show on your site.

Networking Workshop

Today we had a networking session that had a focus on the upcoming Game Republic networking event. The session featured how to make networking work for you and it had a practically led approach where we were encouraged to stand up and talk about ourselves in front of each other.

I feel like the session was helpful as I have been worrying about Game Republic and some pointers from the session really made sense; even though some of them were obvious, I’m actually shocked I didn’t think of them myself!

Here are my notes:

To get the most out of a networking event be SMART – specific, measurable,achievable, realistic, time bound.

A key-note it to always go to an event prepared. read up on the companies that will be there so that you don’t waste the opportunity of meeting the individual or company in person by asking them something you could find out on their website!

Do not openly criticise someone, as you never know who you may be working with in the future. By staying friendly with everybody, you have more options to make lasting relationships to people.

Go to an event with a few or one target that you definitely must talk to. This could be someone who you admire or otherwise simply would like a chat from. If you aim to talk to them, and achieve it you will leave the event feeling better that you didn’t waste the opportunity.

Think about the question that you want to ask the exhibitors. Plan them so that they sound professional and well thought out.

After the event, follow-up leads in days rather than weeks and keep the connections active.

 

Art Mirrors Life, Edge Article.

Found in Edge 252, April 2013, Page 18.

The Game of Life. An article exploring the reasons behind why indie developers seem to be finding creative inspiration in their personal experiences.

The article begins with an introduction to David S Gallant’s game I Get This Call Every Day. A game in which the player takes on the role of a call center assistant tasked with a snarky customer who wants to change their address.

The article confronts the idea of play and why the majority of gamers believe that a game needs to be simply fun. It states that

“Games ability to inspire empathy should make them a prime target for autobiographical scenarios…but […] the majority of players expect all games to be ‘fun’ in a rather narrow, frivolous sense.”

This shows a sense of obscurity within the games industry that subjugate’s and out rules an area that has been starkly neglected or simply not considered…yet!

Following on from my research for my dissertation, one point was clear within all games and their respective players: A player needs to feel connected to the concept of the game. They need to feel involved and a sense of understanding and focus, because this is what keeps them immersed. From looking at the comments that Gallant’s makes within this article, it has become clear that games are respective of reality to a high degree, and if we cannot explore these important albeit personal issues within the medium of games as an art form then that reflects a big gap in the industry.

The article also mentions the work of Anna Anthropy, the creator of Dys4ia, an explorative game that shares her experiences of gender reassignment. It expresses emotional and physical complexities but it does not simply tell a story, it lets the player interact and gain an understanding of Anthropy’s experience.

If anything I believe that this is what makes video games such an important medium, and I do think that they should be utilised more for issues that are often left on the backseat. Saying this Anthropy gives a good quote to summarise:

“There’ll be a day when they realise people are more interested in meaningful human stories than military-fantasies for game-literate manbros….It won’t be a victory; that’s not the goal. The goal is to empower everyone to be able to tell their stories without depending on a big publisher to fund them.”

I like this quote. It is all about taking the power and focus off of the money that comes from games and shifting it to the narratives and personality that can be inscribed into a games existence. Ultimately it is about sharing stories, which again ties into my dissertation!

As a professional hoping to get into the industry, finding this article has not only opening my eyes but it has also made me feel more content knowing that there are professionals out their that are focused on the same goals as me. It is nice to know that there are industry professionals that believe that if money rules the gaming world all it will produce are re-representations of the same thing over and over again.

I know that trying to overthrow the power of money will never ever work and challenging it at its root won’t either but as Mahatma Ghandi once said:

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Rightly I would much rather be content in the work that I produce than conform to the orders of people controlled by money.

Writing a CV

It has come to the time where I need to sit down and begin writing my professional CV. Due to the nature of my work I am going to focus on a writers CV as that is what I do! Plus if I say writing I have the most projects and experience within this area so win, win!

To help me out I did a little google search to find some advice on the subject matter. Specifically I wanted to know what to include on the CV and how to do it professionally as a writer would.

I found this little gem on Band2Write.com: http://www.bang2write.com/2012/02/putting-together-writers-cvresume.html

It offers up info on what to put on your CV and why. So for instance a good section to have is the projects section, as even if the projects didn’t take off or get published, if you did work on it, it still exists and can display valuable information of your ability to write, either specifically or in my case quite versatile when it comes to genre!

 

Professional websites

A web presence is a very important factor in getting noticed in the creative industries. IT also offers up additional info for prospective clients and collaborators whom can easily network with you online. I guess in a way a website acts as a hub for all other social media areas that you are involved in.

I have been doing some research into what I could get out of a website, while I start planning my design for my own venture into web design. I am however in a tough place as I would like to balance a variety of creative fields on my website. Not only writing, but games design and visual work aswell. So my reasearch has been into various professionals that specialise and offer other fields aswell.

On the writing front I have found these examples:

http://www.courtneyawalsh.com/about.html

  •   This si the site of a professional writer whom offers fictional and journalism writing.
  • The site itself is very focussed on the writing and professional appearance of itself. This does put me off a bit I think I would prefer to express my personality through my website a bit more instead of it just saying I am a writer!
  • Good things about this site are the inclusion of the blog and contact info which is important for the public to see what you are up to on a more daily basis – this is also why I need to link in my twitter account and get a more personal presence on there.

http://www.isabelallende.com/

  • This is site utilises the minimalistic approach to web design
  • It has separate sections for each of the authors specialist areas.
  • A note to make is that on her contacts page she has a section of text that states what she doesn’t do. This offers the viewer the knowledge of parts of the industry and remedial tasks that she does not have time for. I don’t need one of these immediately but if the time were to come that I do have to limit my time this section would be useful.

http://www.rachael-king.com/

  • This site offers a more detailed look in which it has a scrapbook feel to it.
  • I think the design makes it seem personal but it also distracts from the actual work.
  • The scrapbook feel also is a nice way to display the conceptualization of an idea, which is a key part to my work.

On a  game design front:

http://www.jamiemartindesign.co.uk/

  • This site is sleek like the artists designs. – it reflects his art style and work.
  • It is very well-connected aswell

http://janemcgonigal.com/

  • features a simple three column design
  • it is very busy, full of info and events that the designer is part of
  • her book has a link where you can download it from amazon – definitely important for any future written work I do.

What I have learnt:

  1. I need to show my personality through my website
  2. It needs to be well-connected to my online presence
  3. For written work, it is good to have an example available for download
  4. Writing exercises are also useful, possibly just on the tumblr feed though.
  5. Having various sections of a website isn’t a bad thing but it can take a long time to put together, as it features a lot of content.

Game Republic Student Showcase

Game Republic Student Showcase is a competition and networking event supported by various game companies that are part of the Game Republic group. The student showcase is a chance for graduates to display their current work to a band of games companies some of which will judge the competition.

This year the event is to be held at our college Leeds college of Art on the 30th May. So far I do not have all the details of the event but a few companies have been outlined to be coming so I will definitely be researching them. I also need to get myself in order for business cards, and other promotional material for the networking event.

For the competition our team, consisting of myself, Freddie and Jade will be competing in all categories barring the ‘game technology’ one. It is a great opportunity for our work to get seen, get feedback, advice and general contact info for the future!

Susan Everett talk.

Susan Everett, artists talk. 25 April 2013.

  • Multi-disciplinary, writer, director, novelist, scriptwriter.
  • Along side creative work, she also teaches and has acted as a script editor.
  • Competitions allowed her to get noticed and pick up an agent for her illustration work. 
  • Big part of becoming successful in your field is to know and understand your field.
  • Started screenwriting on an MA, realised that she had found a field that allowed her to create stories that also have visuals.
  • Short story competition allowed her to find a writing agent quickly, due to positive press.
  • Script editing helped with understanding how to work with other writers.
  • In film and tv, you are brought in as a writer but often you dont know how long the project will last. Sometimes, projects get dropped without reason.
  • Find what it is that keeps you personally going because you put your heart and soul into a script or character then someone will destroy it or change things completely.
  • Use visual work, i.e. short films that you work on to showcase your work.
  • Research is important. She has researched the courts for police thriller’s. The more info you can find out, the better you write. Contact people wh know about the subject of your writing. Power of research is that you find something you don’t expect.

Script editing – aids the writer through the whole process, offers advice and sometimes makes changes.

The BIBLE exists within TV and film as well for franchises. Doctor Who for instance will have a bible that contains all characters past scenes etc. Any new writer working on it will have the bible to cross reference. Then a more experienced writer will check that the new writer is following a similar format to previous work.

JOBS WITHIN TV:

  • -Story liner
  • -Editor

Short Film – Mother, Mine.

Feature film went through 5 drafts, Short film went through 6 drafts.

  • Started as a short story, but it lacked definition.
  • Found a playwright competition, entered that and the play got made.
  • The director of the play, liked the idea of a daughter sending tapes out to their mother.
  • She got an offer from a production company for the script.
  • It fell through and sat waiting.
  • She only went back to it when she was offered to make any original film by her for the film council.

What drives stories is making the characters want different things at different times.

In short films you can have scenes that leave it up to the audience to interpret. In feature the audience leaves feeling like they have fully understood it.

As a writer you have to be aware that you take ownership of a script and then a director will take it away and create a different vision of it.

AGENTS AND FREELANCING:

  • You need both an agent and to be able to network alone. 
  • Agents know what is going on in the business, they can tailor the script into the right hands, companies etc.
  • An agent can’t assure you will get work.
  • Treat agents as a network opportunity, they will have a massive list of clients and companies.

To get better at writing scripts, read them:

BBC writers room

http://www.dailyscript.com/

What to do:

  • ENTER EVERY COMPETITION YOU CAN.
  • develop your characters to the extreme.
  • lots of thinking, and making notes before your commit to writing.
  • have iterations of characters.
  • work out your strengths.
  • make sure I understand format, as this is really important.
  • a verdict will be made on a script by the 10th page.

Branding

I have been considering what I would like to be known as within my creative field. As so far I have been under the alias of Yoyos and Crayons, a name that came as a nikname a long time ago. I do like this alias but as an individual professional, and especially within the field of writing I have found that most other professionals use their name as their brand. On further inspection this is down to the name being very personal and subconsciously it adds trust between the two parties. By knowing someones name you feel like you know them more closely than you most likely do.

So, after some though I decided to stick to my name, nice and simple.

These are some domain names I played around with:

limbert.com – which turned out to be dating website!

zlimbert.com – as seen in my tumblr name, this is a nice variation.

zoelimbert.com – this is the one I choose as I felt that it looks the nicest. It is easy to remember and it was available!

Advice on Writing

I have a rather useful list of quotes from famous writers detailing insights and tips which they believe makes you a better writer.

All of the quotes revolve around writing but what i find most interesting and useful is that they focus on not just the writing itself but the process of writing. Some offer advice about how to stay organised with notes while others state realties of draft-making; some even highlight the remedial tasks of simply setting aside a day for writing which then becomes your routine.

Here are a few insights that I found useful:

  • PDJames – “Don’t just plan to write – write.” The importance of breaking the first hurdle and actually ‘putting pen to paper is daunting but simple planning will not help you to develop your own style. I can definitely relate to this point, and I have found using some writing techniques has helped me to simply sit down and write without prior thinking, scenes from a hat is definitely good for this.
  • Zadie Smith – “Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.” This speaks for itself.
  • Kurt Vonnegut: On finding a subject… This quote focusses on the ability to put you own emotions into your writing. Vonnegut says that by finding a subject that you are passionate about, you can then expand on the actuality of the fiction with your own concerns.
  • Bill Wasik: On the importance of having an outline. Main point is don’t stray from your outline, which as I am now venturing into the longer more detailed narratives, this is relevant to myself. I have found on my FMP that I do stick to my outline but I did float about a bit with the actual outline. It’s nice to think that the outline is perfect before you continue on but I did float about a lot with FMP narrative, so I think I need to focus my agenda a tad more in future.
  • Another point highlighted was that writing is a profession so you should give yourself a minimum word count everyday and stick to it. I think I am on my way to this as I have started my weekly word count with the scenes from a hat task. I guess writing everyday will be something that develops over time.

The list can be found here: 25 Insights on Becoming a Better Writer by Jocelyn K. Glei

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.

BAF Game, Part 1

So it turned out that BAF game was really good this year, it had a wide range of speakers with a diverse topic range. For myself personally I think that it was very useful but some of the content was aimed at a younger audience that was interested in the games industry but possibly not practicing it. These sections for myself were simply reiterating knowledge that I have already discovered, but the positive is that professionals in the industry follow a similar process to what I am doing.

BAF Game festival took place over two days, the first being Tuesday 13th November 2012. Following are my notes on several speakers at the event.

Oddworld Inhabitants – Stewart Gilray

General info: described how JAW(Just Add Water), were resurrecting the Oddworld brand. How they needed to bring the game into the digital sales world and present technology.

Key relevance for me: The main part that came out of this talk was the idea that games are moving into a more digital world. Gilray predicted that the industry will eventually move fully into the digital sales region and only triple A games will stay as retail. How this will affect the future games industry is yet to be certified but for myself I guess that I need to be aware of this possible shift and tailor my skills around it.

CD Projekt Red – Tomek Zawada, lead animator.

General: A comparative look between the film industry and the games industry, specifically looking at an animators role. The talk was very informative and gave a lot of advice on which industry suits which type of animator, but I feel that it was quite vague information and so I didn’t actually get that much out of it.

Key relevance to me: One thing that does stick in my mind from Zawada is that he pointed out that one of the most important things is to find a company that suits your style of work. To outline this he described the difference between the type of animation work you would get working on a FPS to a RPG. For instance on a FPs the animation are restricted to be realistic renditions of combat whereas on an RPG that has a more fantasy role, you will find probably more creatures like orcs, ogres etc that need to be animated. Also the defining difference between these are that an RPG features a lot more character based animations, mannerisms etc as the RPG often has an open-world environment. I know this advice doesn’t directly apply to my line of practice but it is something to consider. How would my workflow be affected by differing companies and/or genres?

Overall Zawada was flying the RPG flag, as he was quite biased to the film industry and other genres in the games world. His reason for this choice was due to his experience in the industry and he was favouring RPG’s as he described them as being more creative and less restrictive. Another key note was that Zawada states that you don’t need to work in a specific department to have roles in it. He mentioned that as an animator he has some connection to the story of a game as the characters mannerisms effect the narrative.

Nyamyam – Jennifer Schneidereit and Philip Tossell.

General: This talk focused on Nyamyam as an independent developer dedicated to creating beautifully crafted games. The two talkers went into detail about how they decided to set up their own indie company as a self-funded project to allow themselves to create self-expressive games. Tengami was the featured game from Nyamyam, which in total will have 2 and half years from start to completion.

Key notes:

  • Tengami is a an adventure game where the pc is a character in a pop up book.
  • Japanese aesthetics were a personal choice, but they embraced this and decided to stick to a traditional style.
  • colour semiotics were extremely important.

Relevance to me: The main thing that has come out of this talk is the fact that the indie game scene allows for self-expression. Both talkers spoke about how the move from the bigger games companies to the indie dev team had allowed them to become more in control of the game’s development and how it would play. I think for my aspirations this is something that I need to consider as currently I have control over my brief and can be self-expressive, but if I moved into the industry would I be ok designing someones elses idea?

Sony Entertainment – Joel Smith

General: Smith goes through the process of creating Wonderbook: Book of Spells, with insight into the collaboration with JK Rowling and how to achieve creative goals.

Key notes:

  • The teams creative goals were: to be authentic, to achieve a magical book i.e. it comes to life, a full experience between the player/character and that everything on-screen comes from the book.
  • bringing the book to life theme fitted the player centralised gameplay.
  • the main design feature was that the environments were realistic but they all had a slightly distorted nature.
  • maintain the design throughout the game, the spell soundsheets contained the colour palettes aswell.

Relevance: Smith ended the speech with what he considered the key parts of conceptualising a game:

  1. Research
  2. Establish visual style as early as possible and stick to it
  3. Communicate style
  4. Always keep original goals in mind

Bethesda Game Studios – Lucas Hardi

General: Hardi talked about how to create visual style within a game. He went through a few general pointers that all artists should abide by, like finding inspiration from the outside world, looking towards other medias instead of just games for inspiration and utilising what these other mediums have to offer.

Key notes:

  • style helps to create immersion
  • gameplay ans art style need to coexist

In term of inspiration:

  • film and photography are good for cinematography and replicating the real world
  • 3D animation is good to take note of rendering issues
  • Illustration allows you to understand composition and the players viewpoints, alongside understanding the playable space

Relevance to me: I feel like I didn’t take much away from this talk as it was simply looking at where an artist should find inspiration which I have continually practiced since I was taught it during A Level. I guess it reiterated some base values of art style for me which was useful for my practice.

Games Designer Job info

To get an insight into the average salary in the games industry currently I have done an extensive search over the internet to try to find some useful information.

What I finally found was the game careers guide websites annual salary survey results from 2012. The survey is very thorough and gives details of annual wage based on how many years spent in the industry, average wage for each gender, percentage of any benefits and added income. So, some things that I have found, for an entry-level game designer the annual wage is $60, 240 in Canada and $38, 281 in Europe with an overall average of $50, 375. The survey also has a section focusing on layoffs in the industry, which is on the decline. Also it features a section at the end that has direct comments from the survey, these are split into good and bad points made by current industry workers. Some of the comments are really informative, as they offer up a personal anonymous view of the industry and the lifestyle that it creates.

The survey can be viewed here.

Ofcourse the above info is useful to some degree but for my personal future plans I don’t see myself moving abroad straight after finishing this degree so what is the current salary in the UK like? On creativepool.co.uk it states that the salary ranges from £19000 to £55000 anually, the top end of this being a lead designer.

Ok so I have found some useful info on how much money is on offer in the game designer route, but getting into that route is going to be tricky. Most advice sites such as skillset, creativepool and blitz all state that industry experience is essential alongside a developed portfolio that includes completed games and examples of design documents. So, logic states that I need to find either an internship or apprenticeship and crack on with my practical development in uni.

Creative Skillset Website

Creative Skillset website offers up general info, skills, training, industry accredited courses, news, and career advice for a variety of creative industries. Why it is useful to me is that it has a vast amount of info on the Games Industry.

It has an archive of media that offers up useful help and guidance to anyone looking to find a career in the Games industry, it also has a blog that gives up to date news on the progression of the industry.

One of the other things that is useful is that it gives info on industry accredited courses, which although I am near the completion of the Ba here it is always useful looking at a Masters course.

Another interesting find off of this site is this little image:

This shows a percentage of where the games industry is centered in the UK. Yorkshire and the Humber 3% not bad considering I know that gamerepublic which is just for Yorkshire/Northern England has over 30 companies. So the UK isn’t looking bad for game development teams at the moment.

The site also offers up a lengthy job description of Game Designer which I can cross reference with the one I found on Blitz Academy to get a cohesive outlook on what I need to do etc.

It also offers info on how to find a job within Games and where you fit in the bigger picture. So generally this site is a good point of reference for me. As it goes into a lot of detail and explains things clearly as well.

Leeds Writers Circle

Leeds Writers Circle is a local organisation that meets up regularly around every 2 weeks on a Monday evening to showcase local writers work and general creative criticism.

A few good things that they offer are:

  • feedback on work
  • professional manuscript evenings
  • story competitions
  • workshops with professional writers

To join the circle it is a subscription fee of just £12 for the year, and then just £2 for any session/meeting. To be fair this ain’t bad, if I was to go to one session a month over the 12 months it would be costing £3 a session….pretty good. I guess I need to head over to one and see if it worth the time and money.

The group meets at the Carraigeworks which also is the home to a few other leeds societies. These include:

  • Leeds Art Centre
  • Leeds Amateur Operatic Society
  • Leeds Art Theatre

It would be interesting to find out if there are any crossover between these societies, as this could offer up some good creative feedback, or even opportunities.

The services that the Leeds Writers Circle offers is relevant to my ongoing interest in narrative, it would offer up a source of feedback for any writing work that I do and it would be good to see how broad a knowledge and feedback I would get from the other attendees.

How to kick-start your career in university.

Found this on the Guardian’s career blog. It has some useful info on how to start-up your career whilst you are still at university.

One thing that has appeared from this site is that any student who is looking to go straight into work after they graduate, they need to be applying as soon as possible. In some cases they even recommend applying in October for the following year. This of course depends on the type of company you are applying to. If it is a company that is offering a big scheme in which they will need more staff over the course f a long period or with a specific start date in the future then you need to apply early. If the position that you are applying for is a one-off job in which the company is replacing someone who has left or they are looking for more staff in general. Then in this case they will probably want someone who can start asap.

Another interesting pointer is that you don’t always need to think that you are going out to get a job straight after you graduate. It is an appealing thought but it is not necessarily the correct thought process. Some people prefer to go with the flow, grasp at any opportunities that arise and see what happens. I think this is definitely my approach to things. Even though it would be nice to have the security of a job at the end of this course, it isn’t necessary I can always work part-time and continue developing my portfolio as I go, and taking any opportunities that arise or even entering competitions etc.

A good thing that has come out of this blog post and something that I am doing right according to it, is staying up to date with my chosen area. I literally live out of the EDGE journal and online site, plus I use my google reader account purely for game/industry related feeds that I check as a morning procrastination session before I begin working.

Some other useful info that i should follow-up:

  • get on linkedin
  • follow the followers on twitter, find people who post useful info and if you post useful info yourself,a follower of you may be a potential employer.

Internships in the Creative Industries

Got pointed in the direction of a careers blog on the Gaurdian website that offers up a few useful posts. One of those being the subject of my current post – What graduates need to know about internships in the creative industries.

LINK: http://careers.guardian.co.uk/careers-blog/internships-work-experience-creative-industries

Key points:

  • outline of what an internship is
  • paid/unpaid internships
  • Bectu’s creative toolkit

“Internships should be enjoyable, particularly if you decide to follow a career for reasons of enjoyment and a genuine desire to work in the arts.”

Overall the blog post gives useful information on the subject of internships.

What are the differences between paid and unpaid internships?

  • Both unpaid and paid internships have advantages and disadvantages. Unpaid internships should be no longer than 4 weeks, with sufficient training from the employer. There should also be flexible hours and cover for travel expenses. It is an opportunity designed to give the participant valuable experience in duties that are relevant and that they are happy to undertake.
  • Paid internships on the other hand, generally are 4 weeks or more, and they involve specific working hours, or specific working duties. The participant should be paid minimum wage at least.

Some useful resources from the blog are:

  • Prospects is a website that has a section that focusses on the different types of work experience. These include internships, work experience, vacation work, part-time and casual work, work shadowing and volunteering.
  • Pay and Work Rights Helpline this offers info on national minimum wage laws.
  • National Minimum Wage this site tells you if you are entitled to minimum wage.

Hints and Tips section:

The main thing that has come out of this hints section is that you need to be careful when looking for an internship. Be claer on what you want the internship for and what you are going to get out of it. Find out as much info as you can about the industry position you want to get.

 

Blitz Academy

Blitz Academy is a careers guidance website tailored to the video games industry. It offers up advice, information and support on the industry within a wide range of specialist areas. This is one of its defining features as it offers information on a varying range of the specialist areas within video games; ranging from Art to Management, this website has in depth info on all the types of job roles imaginable in the industry. This is interesting for me as it will give me a better understanding of where I would fit within a games dev team.

Some of the services that Blitz Academy provide are:

  • Information on how to get your desired job
  • Careers advice
  • Information on game related courses
  • Open days for said courses
  • insights to resourceful books, websites, industry news, game dev sites and journals.

Simply for the information that i will receive from this I think that I need to spend a day simply looking over all the info collated on blitz Academy and figure out exactly how to get into the industry.

Creative Networks

Last night I attended the Creative Networks event held at Leeds College of Art. The guest speaker of the event was David Shrigley, a British Visual Artist, most recognised for his humourous cartoons.

Originally I was only going to the event as I have always been an admirer of his work, but it turned out that it was actually really useful to hear another artist talk about their practice. It sort of makes you try to contextualise yourself. So I spend the entire hour annoying the people around me by scribbling notes down as fast as I could. Note to self: next time take a dictaphone to record it!

One of the key things that came across was the fact that Shrigley always saw himself as a visual artist, he always has and always will do his drawings. Something that he mentioned was that this process of doodling has always been with him, even before art school and everything like that. He always did these drawings from a very young age, and to him attending art college was a way to contextualise his work.

He describes his work as a process rather than a concept. It is a response to his life, and he doesn’t necessarily disregard the context of it, but to produce it art in the first instant this isn’t his intention. I find this quite interesting as my methodology of work almost always stems out of a conceptual context, and even though as an artist I do self-indulge I need that context to understand my work. Which I guess may be the differences between artist and designer possibly?

“if people ask you to do something, they assume you can do it”- Shrigley

The above quote I found to be quite interesting. The context of it is that if you are approached as an artist and a client wants you to do something that you have never done before, i.e. Shrigley is a cartoonist, and he gets asked to write a script for a play, the client believes that you can do it. Shrigley’s view of this is that if this happens you should always accept. I believe this applies to my practice in the sense that I’m not really that defined as an artist apart from the general feel of my work is narrative based. Which Shrigley also says that it isn’t a bad thing to be undefined, all the way through the talk he never actually labeled himself as one particular title. He mentioned that others would label him as a cartoonist but he never said he was one thing, he is simply a visual artist. I can relate to this, as I said before, I am not necessarily one thing, I do a variety of different things to build up and communicate a story. So does this mean that I am a conceptual artist?

Something that was very interesting to me was when he was discussing his cartoons. He explained that he was interested in the relationship between language and image. What I found intriguing is that his language that accompanies the image often informs the viewer of what they already know. This intensifies the meaning of the image, because he isn’t leaving it up to the viewer to guess at what it is communicating. This interests me in terms of my level of communication especially in terms of narration as it makes me consider how much control you have over the message you are communicating.

BBC – Writers Room

The BBC Writers Room is set up to give advice, opportunities and current affairs to writers that specialise within film, tv and theatre.

For myself it offers a lot of useful information. The website has a very good advice section that is split into 10 sections. The sections range from: developing an idea, with authentic characters to creating a conclusion that readers will appreciate. Pretty much all of the sections are relevant to my current studies in some way or another. Some have more use than others especially one in particular, Form and Format which goes into detail about how to write a script that is concise, knows what it is and what it aims to invoke in readers/viewers. For me this section could prove handy as I do tend to get a little lost when writing.

Another good area of the website is the opportunities section which displays all the current competitions that the BBC are involved in. A quick glance over some of the briefs and I am rather intimidated, the BBC is a big organisation with a lot of high-flying partnerships; for example one of the current briefs is for Sky Arts Future Fund. I am definitely going to look into some of these competitions briefs even if they are totally irrelevant to my practice within video games narrative. It would be interesting to respond to a brief that has a more focused direction for instance one of the current opportunities is for a script on human rights. Applying myself to a brief like this would probably allow me to focus more on conveying a message instead of a narrative that is purely fiction and has little relevance to the real world/issues.

Interviews with writers can also be found in a section of the website, so if ever I am need of some inspiring information, this is the place to go. Another good thing is that it has a script library from BBC programmes. This could potentially be really useful to see how these scripts are constructed and laid out.

Overall this is good website to get familiar with, I have started following them on twitter and already they have begun promoting several opportunities etc. So definitely a good move! I just need to keep an eye out for any interesting opportunities.

Promoting Designs

I am currently looking into joining a merchandise site, like Society6 and Threadless. In which I should be able to attune my visual designs plus hopefully get some promotion out of it as well as some money!!

Generally from the offset the sites aren’t exactly tempting in terms of the money side of things, it is around about 10% average of the earnings that the designer gets. Although this isn’t that rewarding unless you make an amazing design and sell loads. There are still some benefits in joining a site like this. One being the subtle fact that you are designing for an audience, it is a commercial site that requires a professional and competition attitude. I think this is something I need to begin doing as it will allow me to attune design for a specific audience. Another key positive is that some of these sites feature competition briefs like Threadless, where you are asked to design something that fits within a theme etc. To be fair even if my design isn’t chosen it would be good to get some experience in competitions. Plus some general promotion!

Press Start To Play WGGB Event

Whilst doing some research into the WGGB I found a rather interesting opportunity. Press Start To Play is a talk that is taking place in Liverpool on Monday 22nd October. It features two video game writers describing what it is like to work within the current industry. Gaining access to this event would be a great opportunity to get primary research for my dissertation and my current independent practice brief, plus networking.

I have inquired about this opportunity as on the event site it states it is free, and getting up to Liverpool shouldn’t be a problem. The only issue is that the WGGB is a members association in which you pay a subscription to join. I am currently not a member and am unaware as to whether you need to be a member to attend this event. I have sent an email to the contact given on the event info page asking if it would be OK for myself to attend, but have yet to receive a reply. Hopefully within the next week I will get an email giving it the go ahead!!

Writers Guild

The Writers Guild of Great Britain is an organisation/union that offers support and advice to professional writers. If I was going to pursue this aspect of my professional work it would be worthwhile looking into investing into a subscription.

The benefits from the subscription include:

-contract vetting

-support from trade union

-pension scheme

-register name and credits on Find a Writer listing

– free magazine

 

One of the more beneficial parts of joining this would be the contacts that it would create. The WGGB is part of an international writers guild that allows contact to a much broader scope in terms of the contacts you could make.

Another key area is the notification of events and even discounted tickets etc. The site offers up a wide variety of event information, that may or may not be of some interest. In fact there is currently a rather interesting event on the site, it is called Press To Play. This is a lecture/meeting as part of WGGB Merseyside, which feature two key speakers explaining how the video game writer works in the current industry. A lot of other events seem to be discounted for members of the guild.

The subscription fee for joining is equal to 1.2% of earnings from writing. This doesn’t seem like a lot to say all the benefits you get.

Really the relevance of this association depends on which way my professional practice goes over the next month, but if I do persist with the writing side, then this is a must.