Peripherals: Headphones

The headphones are a vital peripheral to gamer’s as they add the most immersion to video games. This is because they provide all around sound that accompanies the theme of the game and completes the desired atmosphere. It allows the player to unplug from the outside world and indulge in video games.

The headphones were first designed in 1880 to be used by telephone operators so that when there were lots of them in a large room they could hear what the person on the line was saying. It only covered one ear and had to be held there by the person. Adapting from this design in 1895 people started using headphones that were attached to a handle which would allow them to listen to the music of the local opera house, however, these were extremely expensive.

The modern design of the headphone was designed in 1910 by Nathaniel Baldwin. This design was used by the navy and led to its popularity. This design was further improved as it was adapted for future technology. A German company called Beyerdynamic created the first dynamic headphones known as the DT 48. At first, these headphones were not available for the public until years later and are still used today.

The latest improvement of the headphones was stereo. These were created by a man called John C.Koss. The technology of the stereo headphones had not improved much, however, it was the application that had improved. These were the first headphones that allowed people to listen to music.

The headphone and microphone are used all across the world for video games and have been improved into one device that allows the player to communicate with people online, and hear them through the headphones. This is very important in gaming as it is often done with your friends.


Game Mechanics: Reward System

The Reward system is a mechanic int eh game that encourages players to complete missions or objective. It does this by giving the player a reward such as an item which can help them through the game or a character upgrade. This also includes time trials, for example if the player reaches a certain position within the level in a minute then they will be rewarded.

‘Skyrim’ is a good example of game that does this. The player begins a quest and they are told what the will receive if the complete this, The rewards are different depending on the difficulty of the quest. For example an easy quest will only give a short amount of money to the player whereas a hard quest will give a large amount of money as well as new equipment for the player to use. The reward mechanic in this game is very important as it allows the players to reach a level of skill high enough to continue through the story and finish the game.

Another game that uses reward systems but in a different way is ‘Rocket League’ This game is based on the sport ‘football’, however now has other sports adapted to it, and the aim is to score the most goals. The reward for this is money. However this is not the only way in which it uses this mechanic as it also encourages players to improve their skill by performing a specific action such as a jump shot a certain number of times to unlock a reward. So that this mechanic is not overpowered within the game the rewards that are available are only cosmetics and only effect the players visually. They do not give any unfair advantages.

This mechanic could be used with the other mechanics and actually work hand in hand with them in the racing game. Since the aim of the race is to win and this is done so by gaining points, rewards can be giving to the player that add cosmetics to their vehicles. The way they would unlock these rewards would be by a time trial. What I mean by this is that if the player completed a lap in under a given time then they would unlock the reward. Other rewards can be based on this and can also be unlocked just by performing simple actions such as win 5 races or drift round a corner.


Peripherals: Keyboard

The keyboard is another essential peripheral for the computer as it allows users to record information in the form of texture without having to physical take notes.

Before the keyboard was invented it began with the typewriter. This was a device that put on ink on a piece of paper depending on what keys the person typed in. This was revolutionary technology that allowed people to quickly write letters despite their hand writing.

The first keyboard, also known as the teletype was created in the 1930’s. It was a combination of the typewrite technology with the telegraph. The typewrite technology would be used as the input and printing device. As well as this a machine called ‘keypunches’ were invented. Punches would be put into cards according to which keys were pressed on the teletype machine. After this they where brought over to a card-reader that would read them and collect data.

After the invention of the monitor it allowed the keyboard to develop even further. The keys that the person typed would now appear on the monitor instead of it being printed out on to paper. This was done using programming. By the late 70’s and early 80’s all computers now used the electronic keyboard however aspects of the original typewriter remained in the design for the keyboard. This aspect is ‘QWERTY’. this is the name given to the layout of the keys as the top row spells ‘Qwerty’. This is the most known layout for keyboards however in different countries such as america there are slight differences in the design such as the symbols being swapped. These designs remain today.

The keyboard caused over devices to be created specifically for video games such as controllers as the adapted the same idea of buttons that perform actions, but into specific remotes for gaming.

The keyboard is extremely important in computer games, obviously with more associated on the computer. The high amount of buttons means that multiple controls can be assigned to the keyboard that allow the player to easily maneuver the character and perform actions. It also means that shortcuts can be added which allow players to easily perform an action by simply pressing a key rather than having to press a combination. The creation of the keyboard has massively enhanced the technology of video games due to the fact that it allows players to have more control over the game. The keyboard is often paired with the mouse as the two peripherals work hand in hand to allow the player to efficiently control the game.

Similarly to the mouse companies have designed keyboards specifically for video games as they have functions which benefit video games more than general use. For example with the ‘Razer’ keyboards they offer a mode called ‘game mode’ which allows players to use a range of key binds on a specific game.


3D and Perspective Drawing

For today’s lesson we learnt how to make drawings on paper look 3D. We did this by using shadows, shading, and dotted lines. We practiced using circles, the shadow would be a distorted version of it that appeared on one side of looking as if the light was coming from the other side.The shading would also give the same effect as it would be added on one side to show that the light is not hitting that part of the sphere. I found that the dotted lines gave the best illusion of the 3D shape.  It was also useful in cutting shapes out of the sphere, for example in physics books when it shows the layers of the earth. This was done using cured lines and also drawing what they would look like on the back side of the sphere. With these lines it was easy to draw the cut out from it. Another task that we did using the contour lines was to draw a random shape and make it look 3D.

After this was done we then moved on to perspective drawing using an horizon line and vanishing points. I felt like this was very beneficial to me in improving my drawing skills as it gave me a better understanding for how environments look. This task was done by drawing a straight line, known as the horizon line, then adding 2 vanishing points. I decided where I wanted the cube to be and drew straight lines from both of the vanishing points. This allowed me to draw a cube in the correct proportion.

Finally after I practiced this I then wanted to recreate a street as part of an environment. I used one vanishing point and created an ally in perspective. The aim was not to add detail but to add all the main features such as windows and doors in the correct proportion. Since my aim is to become an environment artist I felt like this was important in helping me to further my understanding of 3D environments.

Peripherals: Mouse

The computer mouse was first invented in 1964 by a man called Douglas Engelbart. The first mouse was extremely simple and was created using a wooden shell, a circuit board and two wheels. The is only allowed the mouse to move in two directions, forwards and backwards, and left and right. also known as the X and Y axis.The mouse got its name due to its simple appearance and resemblance to a mouse. The wheels would be attached to the circuit which which activate a signal depending on which wheel was turning, which in turn activated the circuit board and caused the cursor to move on the screen.

In the year 1972 Bill English improved the mouse design by creating what is known as the ‘Ball Mouse’. A ball was used instead of the two wheel as it increased the mouses range of movement as the wheels restricted it to only two axis’ and could only move on one of them at a time. The ball remained in contact with four wheels that represented the different axis’. When the ball rolled it caused certain wheels to rotate which caused the same effect as it did with the original design of the mouse however this time the cursor on the screen would move in multiple directions.

It wasn’t until 1980 when the design of the mouse was improved even further. The way in which it was improved was by removing the ball and wheel mechanism and instead using what is known as ‘optical’. The optical uses an LED and a light detector to detect movement against the surface. The reason that this design came around was because the ball of the previous design often became dirty and caused the mouse to stop working or give the hassle of needing to be removed and cleaned.

Today the optical mouse has completely replaced the ball mouse however different companies such as ‘Logitech’ and ‘Razer’ designs these very differently, this is due to video games. The mouse has been a vital part to the advancement of video games as it would be the main source of control for the user to operate with. For example with the early design of the mouse it could be used to control the paddle on pong as it only had t move up and down. With the advancement of video games the mouse has advanced as well as there are multiple different types of mice that are best suited for different types of games. What I mean by this is that some mice have more buttons than others, these are best suited for MMO’s and RPG’s, whereas shooters and casual games would only be played on a simple mouse as the user does not need many buttons to activate the controls. The size of the mouse also effects video games as it provides a certain amount of comfort for the people that play video games for hours on end. Mice can come in all different shapes and sizes, some have a larger rest the palm and others even having interchangeable parts to satisfy the players needs.



Game Mechanics: Points

This is one of the first mechanics that was designed for video games as it is what gives games purpose. The points a numbers that appear on the screen, commonly used in competitive games. At the end of the game which ever player has the highest amount of points wins.

The best example for this is one of the times when the point system was first ever used. The game is called ‘Pong’. Two players play a tennis like game and have to hit the ball into the other players side of the court. IF the player misses the ball and it goes behind them, the other player gains a point. The first to reach a certain score wins and this score is set before the game begins.

Another good example of this is sports games such as ‘FIFA’. Every time a team scores it adds one to the number on the top left of the screen. The number at the end of a time limit determines what happens next. For example if the player wins or losses than a specific screen will appear that congratulates them or takes them back to the main menu. Other than this the points can also be tied which causes the game to last longer as the players have to participate in extended time and then a penalty shoot.; The penalty shootout has another point system which determines a winner no matter what the previous points where. The points are based on how many goals have been scored and how many have been missed.

The final example I’m going to talk about is Counter strike. Counter strike uses this mechanic in multiple ways. The first is a score similar to the one used in ‘FIFA’ however this score goes up to either 15 or 16, depending on if they match has been won or is a draw. The score system is also based on the number of round. What i mean by this is that one of the two teams must win a round and in total their are 30 rounds. So the score can finish at being tied 15-15 or one team can win be reaching 16. Another way in which this game uses this mechanic is by allowing the players to gain points which causes them to achieve a rank.The rank indicates the skill level of the player and determines who they will be put into a game with. Finally the last way that this is used is by having a leader board. Every time the player gains a kill a point is added on to the leader board and their position on it changes.

When using this mechanic in my own game I feel like it could be used in the same scenario as I used the lottery mechanic. The race that people have entered would give the players a certain amount of points depending on what position they were in at the end of the lap.


Game Mechanics: Lottery

The Lottery mechanic is used in games when a group of players gamble against each other for the chance of winning a prize. The players can participate in these events using in game money or possible by using real life money. This can cause many problems as addiction can occur and also the age factor comes into play as players must 18 to enter into gambling. The lottery mechanic appears in most games in all different ways. For example it could be a literal lottery where the player can use gambling machines or games designed with the sole purpose of gambling.

The first example of a video game that uses the lottery mechanic is ‘Fallout New Vegas’. Since the video game is set within Vegas there are obviously casinos that the players can enter and interact with the different gambling tables. These include Roulette and Pontoon. The player bets on this games using the in game currency which he has spent time earning. The mechanic works as realistic as possible allowing the player to use the same responses as they would in real life.

Another good example of how this mechanic has been used is in World Of Warcraft. There are multiple ways in which this mechanic has been used in this game. The first is that when a group of player participate in what is known as a ‘raid’ at the end of it there are a certain number of drops such as equipment and food which the players can obtain. However to obtain these each player must press ‘roll’ which obviously rolls a dice. Which ever player has the highest roll wins the equipment. Another way in which this mechanic is used is not as a official mechanic but rather one the player have utilized int heir own way. There is a command called ‘roll’ which allow players to roll a random number between 1 and 10000. Players compete against each other b y betting with in game money, whoever rolls the highest number wins the money.

If I was to use this mechanic in a game of my own i feel like there are multiple ways in which i could do this. The first would be in a racing game. Players would use the in game currency to enter the race and whoever wins the race would win all of the money from the people that entered. Another way in which this could be used in a game is as a reward system in single players games where players use a scratch card for the chance to win a prize.


Game Mechanics: Cascading Information

Cascading Information means when text is slowly fed to the player telling them vital information. If all the information is given to the player at once it is most likely that they will have forgotten most of it within an hour or two. If the information is slowly given to the player it allows them to take it in and act on it before moving on to the next information. A good example of this is when games offer a tutorial level that teach the player the controls. The next information only appears for the player once they have completed the previous part.

When you first play ‘Overwatch ‘it comes up a text box allowing the player to choose if they want to do the tutorial or not.  The tutorial starts off like any other, showing the player how to move. After this it then continues to give more information to the player such as how to use their weapon, how to switch weapon, how to use the abilities, and finally how to use the ultimate abilities. After all this information has been given to the player they can continue the tutorial by practicing in the ‘Practice range’. The gun range allows them to pick any character and practice using the weapons on targets.

‘Portal’ also utilizes the cascading information mechanic but this time instead of having a tutorial level it incorporates the required information into the story. As the character first wakes up it gives information on the screen telling the player how to move. As they progress further into the level it then shows them how to use the portal gun, but only once they actually pick it up.

I feel like this is a vital mechanic for a video game as the player would not know what they are doing without this or would be overloaded with information and cause the player to not want to play the game. If I was to incorporate this mechanic into a game it would be in the same way that ‘Portal’ has. I would give the player information that allows them to play as they progress through the first level and the story is being told. The player is only told how to perform a certain maneuver when they have to use that maneuver.


Environment Artist: Clinton Crumpler

Clinton Crumpler is an environment artist from Suffolk, Virginia that has a Masters Degree in Fine Art in Interactive and Game Design, as well as a Bachelors in Fine Art Animation. He received this qualifications at Longwood University, which is located in Farmville. Virginia. Clinton has worked for major games companies such as Bethesda, best known for ‘Fallout’ and ‘Skyrim’, as well as Microsoft. He currently teaches games design at Masters level at CG Master Academy.

One of my favorite pieces of work from Clinton is his project called ‘Bears Den’ which was created for the video games ‘Broken’. This piece of work shows of a maintenance tunnel filled with all different types of equipment and rubbish. One of the very first things that I notice about this project is his way of indicating whereabouts the tunnel is located within the world without blatantly saying it. He does this by having signs that hang from the ceiling showing what is in this direction of the tunnel. This may not seem to give away the location however the writing is in Russian which does give us the location.

Since the location of the map is set within a tunnel the lighting is a key part of this map. To make it as realistic as possible Clinton uses stand lamps which look like they are only temporary and there will work is happening. As well as this lights can also be seen in the walls of the tunnel with thick cables hanging, connecting them all together. It is clear that Clinton has thought this through about how these lights would actually be powered as small generators can be seen spread out across the map.

For portfolio purposes Clinton has compiled a file of all the objects he created for this project including the walls and the generators in an organised row so that it can easily be viewed.

Another project that Clinton has created called ‘King Wash’ shows off a building that acts as a laundromat set in the year 1990. This project shows off more of his interior skill rather than exterior however he still had added exterior objects and textures such a parking lot which is wet with visible puddles and street lamps which can be seen in the background.

This project contains a high amount of detail such as information boards that explain how to use the laundry machines, as well as price guides. As for the textures Clinton uses very plain colours such as white and grey to show that this is a cheap building, however also shows the realistic aspects by having an extractor pipe in chrome and an air conditioner unit on the walls of the building.

As for the lighting florescent tubes have been used on the ceiling which mimic the real life aspects of emitting low amounts on light and casting shadows in places the lights can not reach.

To show that the laundromat has been used before and does not appear new Clinton also adds puddles from some of the machines which have overflowed as well as signs saying that they are out of use.

Similar to his other projects Clinton has again shown some of the work he used before he created the final piece. In this case it is a display of the most used textures from this project and the weathering on them.

All artwork credit goes to artist: Clinton Crumpler


Environment Artist: Tim Spanjer

Tim Spanjer is a 3D environment artist that has worked for small 3D companies and done a lot of freelance work. His background is not actually 3D environments as he studied Fine Arts as his degree at the university of Georgia in Athens. In the early years of his career he worked for small games companies creating games such as ‘Ace of Angels’ and ‘Starfury’. He currently works creating IOS applications for mobile phones as part of a company called ‘TRICK 3D’. He spends a lot of time perfecting his work and adding as much detail as he can. One of my favorite pieces of work that he has created  is called ‘City Street’ which is set within an ally leading off from a street within a city.

Tim strips his work down into multiple layers that show the unrendered clay sculptures allowing us to see the actual detail of the map without lighting and shadows. The artist tries to add immersion to the street by adding objects that you would typically find their, such as dumpsters, rubbish, a fire escape and wall lighting.

When adding textures hes tries to make the environment look as realistic as possible. For example in his model called ‘Middle Eastern Hut’ he adds detailed textures to the wall that show the individual grains that create the surface of the texture which in turn add depth to it making it feel more 3D. He also adds depth to his work using shadows. On the over hang of the roof a shadow is added so  show the realism of the model and how it would be effected by lighting. This is also done on the bricks as the one which are indented slightly more than the others are seen to be darker.

In another of Tim’s projects called ‘Space Port’ it is clear that his aim is to create a futuristic looking environment instead of a realistic environment that does not require textures that look real. For the futuristic aspect Tim tries to add sharp angles and maintain the use of as few colours as possible. Since the room that he created is a hanger he shows this by making the room extremely large with a curved roof. As well as this he adds a futuristic looking shield door which also acts as a window leading out into space. Lots of detail can be seen in this project such as pipes that feed into the walls acting as parts which keep this space craft moving and power cables that allow the lights to work.

To ensure that this environment was recognized as a hanger Tim creating vehicles which would be spread out across the environment appearing to be ‘docked’ in. The design of the ships was unlike any space of air vehicle of the modern world as it was oddly shaped and maintained the same theme as the rest of the vehicles. Using lots of angles and a simple colour scheme, however even without the textures it is clear that these ships are meant to show futurism because of the reasons I have already explained.

For the textures Tim mainly uses grey as this is considered a very futuristic colour as it gives that clean advanced look. But to take the futurism further he also adds lights which give a blue tint into the room, something which would not be seen in a modern environment. Like his previous work Tim also displayed this model  using no textures at all.

All artwork credit goes to artist: Rim Spanjer