Category Archives: Lynne

Task 1 – Working as a freelancer

Within the games industry, there are several different types of freelance tasks that an individual can pursue based on what they are experienced or skilled in, and also what they enjoy. However, an individual working in freelance would be wise not to limit themselves to only one area of expertise, this is because other areas of work within freelance may  be available which offer more beneficial opportunities. You will often find that successful people in freelance are capable in multiple different areas of expertise that is required for the various tasks they will undertake. It will also be much easier to find work more quickly with skills in multiple areas.

For this particular task however, I will focus on 3D asset creation within the games industry, since this is what I have been studying in college for a couple of years, which allows me to better understand the terminology, industry standards, techniques, and requirements for this area of expertise.

Here is a website full of examples of the type of work required of someone looking to freelance as a 3D modeller:

https://www.peopleperhour.com/freelance-3d-modeling-jobs

Upon looking at this website, the type of tasks a skilled 3D modeller can undertake are quite varied, since 3D can be used in a wide variety of areas, inside and outside of game design. A few examples of the kind of work that a 3D modeller can undertake:

  • Designing characters for games (and possibly rigging them)
  • Designing other assets for games (objects environments etc)
  • Creating animations for games
  • 3D architectural work
  • 3D assets for films (CGI)
  • 3D assets for commercial use (logos, adverts etc)
  • Sculpting
  • CAD

Task 2: Produce a Case Study

For my case study, I will critically evaluate World of Warcraft, an MMORPG (Massive multiplayer online role playing game) by Blizzard Entertainment. This game has been out since 2004, and still has large player base despite its age, it has also had six separate expansions released for it over the years,  which is one of the reasons it is still successful today. This is a case study into how the game is marketed, advertised, and how it made its entry into the games industry.

Industry

Around the time World of Warcraft came out, it was one of the first MMORPG’s in the games industry. Back in 2004 this was a new genre in the gaming world, preceded only by a few previous titles such as Runescape (2001) and Everquest (1999). Both of these titles, although popular, were limited by the technology available in this time period. Due to the nature of an MMORPG being a large scale open world multiplayer game, these were so uncommon back in the early 2000’s due to a lack of hardware being able to run such an ambitious project. But since technology has been improving exponentially, when World of Warcraft was finally released in 2004, it was considered as a very large and aesthetically pleasing game that dominated the genre. This is likely down to 2 key factors. Firstly, Blizzard entertainment is a large company based in California with 13 years of game making experience prior to the game’s release. Secondly, the exponential improvement of hardware and its accessibility meant that blizzard could create a bigger, more ambitious title in terms of size, multiplayer capabilities, and graphics.

The game was distributed Via physical copies back when it was released.Productbox-wow-alliance

The game was then later made available to purchase digitally, for convenience and ease of access. However, you could still purchase physical copies with collector’s edition extras.

Based on some discussion online, although there are no exact figures available, it seems that the majority of people prefer the digital purchase: https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20745655957

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Audience and advertisement

At the time of the games release. Blizzard had a much smaller audience of gamers, this is because their previous titles Warcraft 3 (2002) and Starcraft (1998), although critically acclaimed, were both RTS (Real time strategy) games, the RTS genre was not as mainstream at this time since it was also a developing genre, meaning that blizzard had a small but dedicated group of fans. The fans that blizzard had gathered over the years however had a very strong connection with Blizzard’s universe and characters. This meant that they had a reason to be excited for World of Warcraft. However, Blizzard entertainment turned their attention to the mainstream in order to expand its audience. The way the game has been advertised over the years has been very widespread:

From TV spots with celebrities

To online banner adds

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To promotional events such as recruit a friend, encouraging players to introduce their friends into the World of Warcraft for rewards

An episode of South Park dedicated to the game

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World of Warcraft even had its own movie released in 2016, Directed by Duncan Jones, this film was an introduction into the Warcraft universe for many people who had never played or heard of it before.

Another way the game is advertised is through their cinematic trailers for each expansion, which are released on youtube and shown on TV, There have been seven of these cinematics created and played on Television and internet sources for over 10 years.

Blizzard have also created animated shorts to advertise and market their product, these usually revolve around a character, and tell a short story.

Over the years, the World of Warcraft became very popular through its addition of expansion packs and advertising strategies. In January 2014, Blizzard announced that more than 100 million accounts had been created over the game’s lifetime. This meant that they had a much more diverse audience, not only for World of Warcraft, but for their other ongoing titles such as Starcraft, Diablo, Heroes of the storm, Hearthstone, and Overwatch. These games all cover different genres such as MOBA (Multiplayer online battle arena) FPS (First person shooter) and RTS (Real time strategy).

Blizzcon

Since 2005, Blizzard have held a live event in the united states where thousands of people could attend. This is where blizzard would talk about new announcements, features, and expansions for their titles. Blizzcon also has unique merchandise,  and codes which can be exchanged for in game prizes. Celebrities and bands are usually invited to perform at Blizzcon also. Events such as costume contests and various panels where players can ask the developers questions are also a large event at Blizzcon. Overall, this is a key event which blizzard uses to communicate with its audience, as well as advertise new products to them.

Overall, blizzard’s audience has grown over the years due to its very mainstream and successful advertising techniques, but also due to the wide amount of game genre’s Blizzard covers with their various titles.

Textual Analysis

The World of Warcraft has always branded itself as a large fantasy product in order to appeal to a mass audience, since fantasy can interest a large amount of people due to the wide variety of possibilities within the genre. One way the Blizzard has chosen to present this universe is through its key characters, as well as its environments, the diversity in the color, atmosphere, and sound of each zone is often emphasised as a way to remind players of the sheer size of the Warcraft universe. These are usually represented through art as opposed to the in-game graphics however.

 

Notice how on the box art for every expansion, there is usually an important and threatening looking character in each image.

I think this is a key detail, since these are key characters that the fans will recognise, but new viewers may be curious about. Blizzard likes to present a new, large threat in each expansion for players to defeat, and this often seems to be a strategy they use to present their universe.

Audience Theory

 

Here are audience theories applied to the World of Warcraft’s audience, one important thing to note is that Blizzard quite often communicate with their audience through things such as social media:

https://www.facebook.com/WorldofWarcraft.eu/?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/Warcraft

Q&A sessions via livestreams and blizzcon

And forum posts regarding certain subjects within the game

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Passive (Hypodermic Needle Approach)

This audience theory suggests that the message of a media text is consumed without question and accept a dormant ideology on a certain subject. When it comes to the way Blizzard entertainment operate, I do not think this theory holds much value. Since the players have a very open avenue in which to communicate to blizzard game developers, this means that they are often criticised and challenged on some of their decisions and ideologies. Here are a few examples of player outrage and other various controversies when it comes to some of the decisions that blizzard have made.

https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20753795863?page=26

http://www.polygon.com/2016/3/28/11321138/overwatch-tracer-pose-removal

Overall I do not believe that this theory makes sense in the context of Blizzard entertainment, since players are always discussing, debating, and criticising some of blizzards actions through social media and forums. Praising the good ideas, but rejecting the bad ones. Since video games as a media text are much more interactive, this can often mean that the audience are much more involved and vocal about how they want the product to be, since a game that you don’t enjoy for whatever reason can create some frustrating scenarios.

Active (Decode and make rational decision)

I think that this theory works much better when discussing Blizzard entertainment and mostly the games industry in general. As the most interactive form of media, video games are often a much more involved activity. Though not as relaxed as something like television or reading, the audience can have all sorts of different emotions when playing video games. Players might be excited or satisfied when they find a new item they wanted, or defeating a boss that they have failed to beat numerous times over. However, this can also come with negative, this often means that players are much more attached to games (especially world of Warcraft) and this means that when things go wrong they can get frustrated or upset, either with a decision a developer makes, a difficult hurdle, or something that subtracts from their enjoyment of a game. Video games such as World of Warcraft also require you to think much more than other forms of media, since players will often debate things such as what abilities to use, what items to equip, or what strategies to deploy to defeat certain bosses. This has even lead to some players making complicated calculations to maximise their efficiency.

http://www.noxxic.com/wow/dps-rankings/

http://www.wowhead.com/forums&topic=29148/weapon-dps-calculation

 

Task 1 – Produce a Report

In order to create a successful game for my Zenna games project, I should be able to identify my audience as accurately as possible. A good place to start would be to find the appropriate age range that my product can aim for, this should help me get a better idea of the disposable income, spending habits, and interests of my audience. The information I gather should allow me to create a much more profitable and successful product by understanding the appropriate methods to market my product to this audience.

When I initially set out to create the product, I said that I think that it could appeal to the ages of 7-30, 7 being the lowest due to the age rating, as it would have mild violence, and 30 being the highest due to a growing interest in video games from the older generation as they grow in popularity. Although I believe that the largest chunk of the audience will be children and young teens.

Primary Research

I created a survey in an attempt gather as much data as possible regarding what people’s favourite games were, and how they found out about their favourite game so that I can better understand some of the methods these game companies use to market their product. Here are the results.

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Overall, this survey gave me some very mixed results from the 18 responses, however I found it surprising how the majority of people found out about their favourite game from youtube, and since the largest age range on the survey is 16-20, I certainly think this correlates with age. I think this demonstrates that there is large group of teenagers and young adults that you can reach through platforms such as youtube as internet video content increases in popularity. I think it might also suggest a decline in some traditional ways of finding out about games, such as going to a store and purchasing one that looks appealing or finding out through TV adverts. However, this might be due to the fact that 16-20 is the dominant age group on the survey, who have an easy way to learn about a product from the internet and make purchases digitally. People learning about games from their friends/family was also a large category, I think this has to do with the fact that alot of games are now multiplayer, and are often more enjoyable when played with friends.

Secondary Research

 

Here is some significant data regarding the age of internet users as of 2014: https://www.statista.com/statistics/272365/age-distribution-of-internet-users-worldwide/

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And here is some information regarding the age of youtube users: http://digiday.com/media/demographics-youtube-5-charts/

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This information suggests that 25-34 is the largest range of internet users. I think the internet would be the best way to market my product based on the information presented to me from my primary and secondary research, since most users seem to be young and 25-34 may allow me to reach parents as well as gamers. I believe a good step would be to put youtube advertisements on relevant content, in order to reach the target audience that may be interested in the product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I like about video games

In my opinion, the value of a game is found mostly in the amount of hours you can invest into it while enjoying yourself for the entire duration. In this day and age, there are alot of games that are completely free that can provide hundreds of hours of enjoyment. I don’t personally see an appeal in paying an amount of money for a short single player experience that I might not play again after I have completed it. I like games with a strong sense of progression and difficult challenges, I also like games with alot of detail and an enjoyable soundtrack to set the mood. The bigger the better.

Graphic Narrative Evaluation

Intro

My Pitch presentation can be found here: graphic-narrative-presentation

The following is an evaluation of my graphic narrative based on my game idea: The Living Realms.

The idea behind this graphic narrative was to take the elemental creatures that you often find in a generic fantasy setting, and make them the main characters of the graphic narrative. The aim was to pitch a cartoony, vibrant and colourful idea for a graphic novel with fire, water, earth, and air all clashing in spectacular graphic battles as you get to know the various characters and elements in the universe alongside playing the game.

Creation process

The entirety of the graphic narrative was created within Adobe Photoshop using the pen, pencil, and brush tool, along with a few effects and gradients. Here is an example of one of my characters and the creation process behind him.

This is one of the basic shapes I created using the pencil tool

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I then duplicated these shapes to create a shell for my character that started to resemble some sort of body

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I then used the brush tool with diffuse and a lowered opacity , the fill tool, and Gaussian blur. I also positioned the layers accordingly to make the individual plates resemble some sort of armour or outer shell for my character, here is the final result.

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However, this is not the only method I used to create my characters, another method I used was to create them in Cinema 4D first for the animation task, and then trace around them in Photoshop to recreate them in a cartoony way that better suits the art style of the graphic narrative.

Cinema 4d Character

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Graphic narrative character

cartoon-golem

 

I think that both of these production techniques worked well as they created the cartoony-looking characters I wanted without either of them looking too out of place either with the other characters or the environment.The actual production process was not too challenging as Photoshop was my main means of production, which I am quite familiar with, I was also able to work on the project from home, which helped me to manage my time much better, and allowed me to continue working while ill, which certainly produced a better result. I managed to create a product that I am satisfied with a several days to spare, so I think that I managed my time well.

Overall I think that the production process went well, although if I had dedicated more time to learning the software even further and advancing my skills, I could have created an even better product. For example, one of the things I struggled with the most while creating the narrative were the environments , more specifically the water city that I created, I am satisfied with the characters I have created, but I feel like I should have dedicated more time into creating more visually appealing backgrounds.

Pitch Presentation

When it came the pitch, I wanted to make the earth, air, water, and fire concept clear to the client as well as the characteristics that each element personified, since I don’t really have any named characters. I also wanted to make my intentions clear; the graphic novel was intended to be a narrative alongside a game release. The idea was to create a novel that helps establish the games universe and characters so that the game itself can be more focused on the mechanics and gameplay, while the novel can help add more story and depth to the games fantasy and universe. When the time came to actually pitch my idea, my powerpoint file was corrupted on Google drive, so my presentation was delayed, I did not think to back up the file since I had never lost a powerpoint document before, although I may have been able to save time and effort if I had a backup plan. I also think this error worked in my favour too though, since the extra time allowed me to make a better, more in depth powerpoint that was much better than the first.

I explained to the audience that I wanted to use this graphic narrative as a bonus feature of purchasing the proposed game. I think this is a viable commercial strategy as it is common practice in a modern games industry to add some bonus content to a product for an extra amount of money. Collectors edition products usually contain little extras such as statues, figures, posters, soundtracks, books or novels, and behind the scenes content.

Overall I think that the presentation was well received. A few of my peers told me that it made sense and I managed to hold their attention without rambling on for too long, and everybody that gave me peer review seemed to understand the concept well. While I feel like I did a good job of conveying the concept, characteristics, and story to the audience, I think that my presentation lacked some depth as I forgot a few details like market research and expanding on my choice of target audience, I could have also elaborated on my inspirations for this product. This would have allowed me to further project my ambition and goals when it came to the novel I was trying to create, so even if my concept is understood and well received, my goals when it comes to marketing and creating a profitable product were not, since they were not made clear.