Friday, November 26, 2010

End of the Line for Cradle

The Games Development Course I have been doing for the last two years has now come to an end. Cradle, my major games project I have been planning and producing for the last year was finally handed over for the end of year graduation exhibition, and I am now awaiting my results. A great, numbing weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and I feel as though I had been putting so much time, so much thinking and so much effort into this project that I almost forgot who I was for a little while. With the pressures of Uni gone, it's good to be able to breath again and concentrate on me, my relationships with friends and family. Despite this, part of me is still saddened to be leaving. I have met some great people, and made some valued friends in these last two years, not to mention the invaluable knowledge I will take away with me thanks to the teachers who taught me all I ever wanted and set out to know. Without those teachers and the support of my friends and family there is no way my skills would have evolved to the point at which they are now, and I want to thank all of them for that because my artistic abilities are really what my life is about.

Cradle was a great learning experience. I think the biggest thing I learned though was how much time and hard work goes into making a game, and what is realistically achievable  within a given time span. When I was first given the assignment I had some really big ideas. I was going to create the best Horror Survival game out there, with heaps of hideous creatures lurking in numerous dark and dangerous levels, with only a few weapons/tools to defend yourself as the player. Well. Let me tell you, the final game ended up being about 10% of my overall plan. Soon enough I was cutting back more and more on levels, characters, weapons and gameplay ideas. I worked day and night and still there were just not enough hours in the day to give me the time I needed to do all the things I had hoped to do with this project. To really get everything done that I had written up in Cradle's 50 page game design document I would have needed a small team and even then I'd probably be struggling to get it all done in that small time gap of six months. I hated cutting away my characters, such as the Mauler, an infected mutant dog with a bite much worse then its bark. Those ideas and concepts were my babies, but I needed to do what needed to be done in order to actually get this assignment in on time and looking half decent.

I pleased to say that I did win an award on the night of our graduation for Cradle being the Most Outstanding Major Project. This award was something I had set my sights on from the beginning. In fact it was possibly my biggest motivation at first but it soon came to be that I was no longer making this game for myself, I was doing it for the teachers and the people who believed in me, because I didn't want to disappoint them.

Well enough keeping you in suspense, here are some screen shots from the game itself. This particular level was based inside a large waste processing plant where the player was required to turn on power to the main pumps in order to progress to the next level via an over flow outlet.  The player would come up against deadly enemies which had been infected and mutated by the alien virus, and the only hope the player had of surviving these fiends was to play a hide and seek game with them, avoiding the creatures at all cost.

Another thing I have realized after doing this course is how much my heart belongs in games. I'm not sure why I didn't see it years ago. Working as a games artist I'm able to design my own characters, my own worlds and then bring them to life in a virtual, interactive environment. I have also realized how closely related 2D and 3D art work is, both helping to develop skills in the other.

So what now that I have finished Uni? There is so much I want to do. Well first up I want to get the updates happening more frequently on my blog. And I'm pleased to say it's straight into full time work for me now, doing what I love. I feel extremely lucky. I'm now working for a really great games company called Fraktalvoid, along with another talented class mate of mine who was also picked up for his excellent art skills. Besides that, I've started doing some more drawing, training up hard with plans for a graphic novel in mind next year. Who knows, maybe I'll turn Cradle into a comic book series. At some point, hopefully sooner rather then later I want to release some tutorials on my blog regarding drawing and 3D modeling, and maybe even some tutorials on other areas of game development that I am competent in. I'm also planning on entering Dominance War next year, it's a long shot, but I'm going to have a go. If nothing else, Dominance War will help me build up my folio with my latest and highest quality of work. And there is so much more I want to do. Best of all though, it's just really great to be able to go home at night and leave work at work. And now I have my weekends back as well. So I'll definitely have some time to make up with friends, family, and most importantly my beautiful partner Scarlett who has been a great support to me throughout this entire journey.

Alas I enter a new chapter of my life, excited at the thought of what the future may bring.
Take care everyone.
- Clayton

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