Friday, 23 December 2011

My Personal Gaming History

My gaming history huh? Well as far back as I can remember, the first game I recall playing was a game on the Gameboy that I can’t remember the title of. It was a space shooter and was one of the hardest games at the time on the Gameboy. A few games I do remember playing though since the around the time I was playing that was Super Mario Land, Lode Runner, Motocross Maniacs, Tetris, Double Dragon and Dragon Ball Z, all on the same Cartridge.

Motocross Maniacs

I think one of the main reasons I couldn’t remember the space shooter game was because all the games were jumbled onto a single cartridge illegally. It may seem like I’m stereotyping here, but almost all of my Chinese friends in the past had parents that bought them these kinds of cartridges, it wasn’t strange at all with us lot. My parents didn’t know anything about what’s legal and illegal in video games, and still doesn’t.

They were seen as just toys back then and nothing more. My parents would buy us a few more of those many games in one game bay games even after my mum found our first gaming console in a car boot sale, the master system II. However a lot of the games on those cartridges were rip-offs of existing games, or were the same game as another on the cartridge, just under a different name. I remember there being one game with 4 different names on the cartridge once…

One such game I remember playing was a game called ‘Crayon Shin Chan 4’ It was an epic game back in the day when I was still Gameboying my life away, and stumbled upon a game called ‘Super Mario Land 4’ on the same cartridge…

I wasn’t sure which game was ripped off of which at the time, but after playing through the Mario game, it just didn’t feel anything like Mario, and there was so much wrong with it… The music just didn’t sound right, and why the hell was Mario giant in ‘mushroom power’ mode then turns tiny when he collects the wings power up? Shouldn’t he be small only when he gets hurt? Why is he throwing msuhrooms instead of fireballs? >_>. 

Anyways moving on, I think it was during my Gameboy days that really brought me into enjoying all sorts of genres. There is no genre I absolutely hate, as long as the game plays well and that I enjoy the theme of it. I really started to get into video gaming when my family and cousins were introduced to multiplayer gaming. I remember the times I would spend countless hours on games such as ‘Battle Squadron’ and ‘Pit Fighter’ on the Amiga, ‘Road Rash’ and ‘World Soccer’ on the Master System.

Fun, simple, classic co-op game
As my family owned the Master System and didn’t have a SNES until a little later, I was brought up playing multiplayer games like Blitz Ball, Super Smash TV, World Games, California Games, Mortal Kombat, Double Dragon and the others that I had mentioned earlier. Though some of the games we had to take in turns, we still considered that multiplayer as we kept track of our own scores and had a great laugh watching each other succeed or fail miserably at the events in the games. 

Since our cousins had the SNES, we weren’t exposed to games such as Mario All Stars, Killer Instinct, Donkey Kong Country II and III, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Firepower 2000, etc. as much until a little later. We would also go onto a Mega Drive playing classics such as Streets of Rage and Golden axe, Alien Storm and random wrestling games, but I feel I’ve probably gone a little overboard with my earliest gaming days (which doesn’t surprise me as I was majorly influenced by multiplayer couch gaming during this time).

I don’t have a single favourite genre, though the ones I like the most are Fighting, Beat’em ups, FPS , RTS and RPGs, Bullet Hells and Rhythm games…genre.. :p.

Elvis from Perfect Dark!
I started getting into competitive gaming when (once again dating back to my early days of) when my brothers and I would play Street Fighter Alpha 2, Mortal Kombat , Soul Calibur, Perfect Dark etc. When Super Smash Bros came out for the N64, I was obsessed and played it for most of my free time. It got the point where I was too good at the game and no one enjoyed playing it with me as much anymore. I took a break from the game and it wasn’t until when Super Smash bros Melee came out I started to take the fighting game genre very seriously, along with my very good friend Brendan Turner, who would continue playing no matter how many times he lost ^^. 

During college was when it really got big for me and branched out into competitive games, starting with Halo 2 and Guilty Gear X2 #Reload. We had a blast playing games in person, with everyone in the coffee house. Even though people would stress out and claim people would “screen hack” them, we all had a good laugh and wasn’t so serious and hostile (which is something that I don’t see often in online play when someone rages…). 

I’m sure there are many people who would rage in person and maybe try to punch you in the face for shooting them in the face on a game, but I’ve never had that problem. I’ve come to really enjoy offline multiplayer much more so than 1 player online gaming. I find that there are not enough games that support online split screen play. Though games such as Call of Duty have started doing that, I feel that it is a very important thing to include and would make online gaming much more ‘sociable’ and having to speak through a stupid headset.

I’ve stopped playing competitively halfway through my college years as something else that was much more important came into my life. From there on, I moved onto casual gaming.

Fighting games has always been something I’ve been really into and I really enjoyed the visual and style of the 2D fighters. When they started going into 2.5D (3D models in a 2D styled fighting game) it just really didn’t look right. To me it really took away the charm of the 2D sprites and the little detail and how over top it could go and still look ‘right’ like in Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, King of Fighters, etc. An example would be the latest Street Fighter games such as Street Fighter IV. They, in my opinion, look rubbish =\.

 However I’ve been really surprised about how Marvel vs. Capcom 3 turned out. The way Capcom stylised that game really appealed to me for a 2.5D fighter.
Though I’m not a big fan of the looks of the 2.5D games, I do love the looks of 3D fighters, especially Soul Calibur genres with the 8 way run mechanics.

Although I go on about how much I love couch gaming, I also really enjoy single player type games. The Legend of Zelda games, Final Fantasy IV through to X, The Last Remnant, Resident Evil genres, Assassin’s Creed, etc. all have given me a great experience on single player games, as did many others but these are what comes into my mind at this time :p.

There is no genre I 'hate'. I tend to give all sorts of games a try and not judge them on things like reviews as they can be a load of crap. Though it may help many people into buying games and what not, I find the best way to see if you like it or not is to actually play them game yourself. I once looked at a review for Devil May Cry 2.
Devil May Cry 2
People were bashing on how rubbish it was and saying how it’s nothing like DMC1, etc. Though it might not be like DMC1 as much as people would have liked it to be, I REALLY REALLY enjoyed DMC2. If I was to listen to the reviews that everyone has been saying I would have never had the experience that I did with the game, and wouldn’t be up there in my personal gaming classics (and no I’m not saying this stuff because I’m a fanboy to Devil May Cry, seriously :p.) I think it’s like someone telling you that sushi is gross and you should never eat it. It’s all down to you yourself personally.
I’ve had many friends who’ve told me that they wouldn’t buy a game because it had bad reviews. Though these days you can look on youtube how the game looks, I would still recommend playing the game first before judging it.

Diddy Kong Racing
So yeah, I don’t hate genres because of what it is. If that was the case I would be hating on games like Mario Kart, Wipeout, Diddy Kong Racing, Burnout, Need for Speed, etc. because I’m not really into games such as Gran Turismo, F1 racing, Colin Mcrae, etc.

Right I’ll, stop there because I’ve probably nattered on about that a bit too much…

Recently I’ve been diving into PC gaming since I’ve now got a computer that can run games to a good standard. Though I’m not a stranger to the mouse and keyboard for gaming (I’ve played RTS games on the PC such as Starcraft, Age of Empires, Dawn of war, etc.) Playing genres such as FPS and RPGs feel very different. It personally feels fresh playing it on a different control scheme. 
I find it really fun when playing games on a different type of control, such as using Beatmania’s turntable and Donkey Konga’s Bongos and Guitar Hero’s Guitars and Point Blank’s Light guns (dual wielded! ^_~)just really give it that more depth and can enjoy the games that much more.
I’ve been playing Killzone 3 recently and was worried about using the New control scheme it had with the gun and Playstation move controller. Though it was really awkward to use at first, I soon got used to the controls and was really surprised with how effective it was for the game. 
Even though I am most comfortable with the traditional gaming pads, I would really like to see more games that utilise new controller types like that as an optional setting and not force it as the only way to play the game.

                                      A much more appropriate control scheme I think.
                                      This can actually also be played with a PS2 pad!

So yeah, there many games that I’ve played, if not all of them that has influenced me greatly. I’ve yet to talk about certain games and game genres to a deeper degree, but I will talk about them in other upcoming posts :). Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A History of Computer Games: Part 3 - 2000s

The millennium and onwards. The days of the Playstation 2, Game Cube and Xbox and the end of my golden age of couch gaming.

In the year 2000 Sony's Playstation 2 would emerge, competing with Sega's Dreamcast and effectively knocking out one of it's rivals . Following on a year later would be Nintendo's Game Cube. It was there first disc based console and was seen by many gamers as a children's console with the games produced for it. The Game Cube is also one of my most memorable consoles for multiplayer mainly for one single game; Super Smash Bros Melee. :)

In 2002 Microsoft joined the console business with the release of their Xbox. This was Microsoft's first console and was generally well received with it's technical specs. Microsoft sold the console at a loss to get grasp within the market. Shortly after the release of the Xbox, Bungie would give birth to one of the most popular FPS franchise of all time; Halo.

And so this was about the time when I would hear many slandering between the fan boys of consoles (which gave me a giant headache).
As time went on during the 2000s, there would be an increase of violent games garnered towards a mature audience.

Online play became a big part of gaming as it added a much more unique experience with multiplayer. The Dreamcast was considered the pioneer for online play on consoles. Every other console after would enable online play in some shape or form. Online play for the current gen consoles would allow large scale multiplayer games and would greatly add to a better multiplayer experience to game genres such as FPS.(Though there is always lag issues that people would be complaining about.)
MMOs became very popular and many MMOs would be made as the internet became much more accessible. World of Warcraft is only one MMO that I see many people lose their souls to and there are hundreds of MMOs out there such as Guild Wars, Final Fantasy XI, etc.

Moving onto the current gen of our time. The Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 would emerge from the depths first in 2005 followed by Nintendo's Wii in 2006 and finally in Sony's Playstation 3 in 2007. Each console created with online features such as DLC (downloadable content) heavily in mind. The PS3 and 360 are heavily focused with HD graphics and online play whereas Nintendo's Wii would rejoin the console war with innovative game play featuring motion sensored controllers. The graphics were said to be not much of an improvement from the Game Cube according to Nintendo themselves. Many gamers were alienated and was put off by the new style of gameplay. Nonetheless, the Wii shot up overtaking the rivals in sales.

Sony and Microsoft generally kept the gameplay traditional with the control pads (although with some elements of motion sensor in the Dual Shock 3 and Six Axis). However up until recently have started to push to other areas such as Sony's Playstation Move motion controller and Microsoft's Kinect. With 3D technology advancing, the consoles are starting to integrate it within gameplay. This could lead to gamers becoming much more active in and could change the stereotype that is put upon gamers (even if it is another silly one :P)

Many companies in the industry (around 75%) are making a loss in profit. It takes considerably much longer and pricier to make a single game and it just isn't enough. Most companies go into debt and many suddenly go into liquidation. The pirates of games are also effecting the industry, and it seems the way things are going now, will be a very long time before game companies can try new things and create new games. Sequels are being made as they are (generally) seen as a safe way of gaining profit. With the gaming industry in a very tight situation with money and it seems it will stay this way for a while.

'Professionals' in training :D
My fellow game artists and I will most likely be graduated into it and it will be an extremely tough industry to get into. Even so, this will not stop me and many others on my course from bettering ourselves in every way as creative, professional artists and steeling ourselves for the rough, chaotic and dark industry ahead of us.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A History of Computer Games: Part 2 - 1980s - 1990s

The days of the old school arcade games. This was considered the golden age of video games. Arcade cabinets would sell thousands of cabinets, earning billions of dollars. Home consoles with rapidly increasing in technology with innovative games.

Games could be made by anyone as a hobby at the time and groups would gather to create much more ambitious games. PC games would follow soon after.
Many consoles in the 1980s would emerge into the scene. This included consoles such as:
The Commodore Vic 20 and 64
Sinclair ZX80/ZX81/ZX Spectrum
Atari 8-bit group
BBC Micro
Acorn Electron
Amstrad CPC
MSX series

The competition between the many consoles pushed the market further.
Another video game crash would soon follow towards the end of 1983 with several companies going bust. The crash of 1983 would be even worse than that of the crash in 1977. Causes of the crash could be that of poorly designed games from the game companies. Many would consider

During the 1980s, many innovative games would materialise, defining game genres of the future games such as The Legend of Zelda becoming an iconic game within the world of video games as one of the pioneers of the action adventure game genre as Resident Evil (and it's extremely cheesy and bad dialogue) is to the horror genre.

During 1983 and 1995, the 3rd generation of consoles would emerge into the homes of gamers.

Nintendo Entertainment System
Nice original name
Nintendo would give birth to one of the most recognisable consoles and character to even this day, The NES and Mario. Super Mario Bros which was bundled with the 8-bit NES would be an immediate hit and Nintendo would dominate Japan and North America. Because the NES would not be as successful in the rest of the world, this gave other consoles such as Sega's Master System and chance in other countries such as Europe, Australia and Brazil.

Sega Master System
Game pads replaced joy sticks and keyboards as the standard controllers and would continue to do so even until the present day.

In 1989 the Gameboy would be born and start the trend of hand held gaming. The Gamegear would also emerge and rival the Gameboy. Handheld consoles have stayed popular even up to the present day.


During the 1990s the graphics of games would improve at an impressive rate, shaping genres of the games we know today. Video games and consoles would turn into a big contender in the entertainment industry. Game companies would have a larger budget and would collaborate with other parts of the entertainment industry such as the music industry and film industry. This era was a very important time for video game history as almost all games nowadays are heavily influenced with the music and film industry.

Because it was much more affordable for gaming companies, many trends would continue and would advance tremendously in technology such as hand held gaming, leading onto innovative hand held consoles such as the DS with the touch screen and the PSP with it's multi functions and superb graphics for a hand held.

The development of games within the 1980s and 1990s were a very important time for the gaming industry. The success of arcade cabinets ultimately led to the popularity of having a console at home, effectively bringing the arcade experience and more at home. It really helped shape many game genres and the birth of many iconic games would influence games for a very long and still does to this very day. Getting involved with other industries was a very important move as it really improves the quality of the game and makes games that much better.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A History of Computer Games: Part 1 - 1950s - 1970s

Before the time when video games and and the game industry didn't milk the shit out of consumers with DLC and rehashes, existed a time where video games were nothing more than fun with a few bright lines and shapes on a black screen.

During the 1950s, games such as OXO, a tic-tac-toe game and Tennis for Two, a two player tennis game were created. 'OXO' was created by Alexander S Douglas and is often deemed the first video game invented but was created for a computer that was unique to Cambridge called the EDSAC and as a result, did not spread far at all.
'Tennis for Two' was created by William Higinbotham and is a two player game of tennis (hence the name) with both players using a box shape controller. It was dismantled in 1959 but would be suceeded by 'Pong' later on in the years to.

In 1961 Spacewar! was made by a group of student at MIT for a new computer during that time. This game was later made into a coin operated arcade machine in the 1970s and influenced many other games later to come such as Galaxy Game.

In 1966, plans were being made by Ralph Baer and Bill Harrison on what would allegedly become the first console. They were involved with projects such as creating a light gun and so it must have been pretty ground breaking for its time to be able to simulate shooting a gun at home without using the real thing! Three years later, the first console ever was being shown to manufacturers.

In the 1972, Atari was formed and Pong machines was later created by them. The success of Pong was jumped on by many imitators and the amount of different Pong machines made was ridiculous

Here is a video that gives a good idea of how many were created :p.

In the same year the Magnavox Odyssey was a console that used cartridges. The cartridges were used with circuit jumpers and enabled different kind of games to be played using the same system. Coloured plastic sheets could be overlayed onto the TV screen to 'allow colour' to your game.

In 1977 there was a huge video game crash as Pong machine manufacturers and consoles were being sold at a loss and greatly affected the video game industry of it's time. Only Atari and Magnavox remained in the scene. It wasn't until 1978 when Space Invaders by Taito invaded the the industry's gap and secured the way for the golden age of old school gaming. Taito's Space Invaders was later licensed by Atari and boosted it's sales considerably, recovering from the earlier losses of the crash of 1977. With the success of the Atari 2600, video games once again found themselves within the homes of the consumers.

Looking back, video games have come a long way and has evolved at an amazing rate. With all the advancements and innovative designs being made with software and hardware, I'm excited to see what surprises the industry have in store for us in the future.
Although, I hope it doesn't involve using shitty remotes that don't work as well as they're supposed to... ^_~

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A little about me


I'm Sam and I'm a first year student of De Montfort university's 'Game Art' course. I came to Leicester in hopes of joining the Game Art course, however I was recommended to take the Art Foundation course first.

The Foundation course was particularly interesting with the workshops that they offered to the students such as the metal workshops, ceramic workshops, plaster workshops and glass blowing workshops.
Although I enjoyed my time on the course, I felt that the course didn't really prepare students aspiring to the game art courses as I felt the some lecturers had very limited knowledge on the subject and was very biased towards their own ideas.

I've always been very interested in video game worlds and have always been side tracked from the main objectives and stories on the game, often trying to get out of the boundaries of the game world or revisiting various parts of the game. Because of it's infinite possibilities of what can be on the other side, it's one of the reasons that really gets me inspired with environmental art and such.

I am very interested in different cultures and and history, often leading to many unintended hours of researching into ancient history and what not. I love the diversity between them all and would love to create pieces from what I am able to refine and learn from this course.

Music is something I also really enjoy. I hear a lot of people saying that video game music is sad and is not real music, however I find it can be just as great or more so than non game music. I can't listen to lyrics no matter how hard I try and so I end up loving music not for the words and morals of the song, but rather on how music makes you feel through just sound and the mood it can put you through, painting a picture in your head. When I read up lyrics for a song I find it can anchor my mind and thoughts and generally make me listen to that piece in one way. This can also be the same for listening to music for a game I've played, bringing back memories of certain parts of the games.

I love travelling and exploring the cultures of other countries. Comparing the different cultures really shows you the diversity in the world. I love the feeling when travelling to a place that I have never been before and having that feeling of being alienated and having the excitement of exploration.

I aim to get into the games industry as an artist. I'm very open with what kind of artist I would like to be such as a character artist, environmental artist, 3D artist, etc. I love all forms of how I was completely immersed into the game world through the arts and dream of giving that feeling to others.

I plan on joining in and organising many portraits and life drawing sessions as I feel it is very important to build on anatomy skills and such. I'm currently partaking life drawing sessions with some 3rd and 2nd year students who are great friends and give great advice would love many fellow first years to join in and have fun!