Tom Clancy’s The Division Gameplay Footage

One of the games that doesn’t appear to be getting the attention it deserves in the buzz surrounding the impending release of next gen consoles is Tom Clancy’s The Division. Developed by Ubisoft and Massive, the players take up arms as members of an elite unit activated in the wake of a biological weapon unleashed on Black Friday. The gameplay looks engrossing, and the graphics are convincingly realistic. This isn’t a game about huge fireball explosions and overdoing gun play Hollywood-style. It looks gritty, with a no-nonsense esthetic that covers a vast urban landscape that displays a painstaking attention to minute detail.

This game has my attention.

3D World interview with 3D artist Alex Telford

This 3D World interview with Alex Telford has a few insights into what makes the man tick.

One item in particular seems worth the share:

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3D World: Could you share a technical secret on how you work?
Lose the undo key. Tweaking should be reserved for when you have finished the stage of the project you are working on, an extrude should take 1 second, not 10 minutes.

Try to work in passes, start by blocking, then refine the whole thing, refine it again and repeat until you are happy.

If you create amazing landing gear on a blocked out plane, when your supervisor comes he will see a blocked out plane that took hours to make. I say this because we never finish a project to perfection, it is simply taken away from us because of time.

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I guess I’ll stop my unfortunate habit of modelling photorealistic nose hairs on otherwise undefined blocks immediately.

The making of Halo’s “Spartan Ops” – lessons learned

More 3D World goodness about the making of Halo 4’s cinematics.

The artists that put together this video are incredibly talented. The lighting and photography is gorgeous. There is so much going on with this bit of CG. Of course, that appears to be one of the problems that the development team ran into. They put too much in, more than the eye can perceive on screen. This must have come with a commensurate cost in terms of budget and production time, something that the producers have to keep a very close eye on to avoid scope creep. It isn’t because a particular technology allows you to do more that you should.

Having said this, I am blown away by the piece. It is visually pleasing, and manages to create an emotional attachment with the characters in a short time span.

Turning the tables: Aaron Diaz’ Zelda as a a protagonist

Dresden Codak artist Aaron Diaz explores Zelda as Link in this stunning illustration inspired by Anita Sarkeesian’s Video Game Tropes vs Women.

I think this clearly illustrates that there is plenty of potential to create strong, engaging characters that can appeal both to men and women in games. Exploitation of the female form in games is a crutch, not a mark of talent. It may certainly drive sales in a certain demographic, but undoubtedly turns off many more players (a hint for dudes: it’s the other 50% of the human race.)

It’s time for the entertainment industry to move beyond trying to appeal to the inner teenage boy’s sex drive and start delivering stories and games that can stand on their own thanks to substance rather than T&A.

Equity Crowdfunding, highlights weird and wonderful nature of investment

Crowdfunding has by now emerged from obscurity and is garnering mainstream awareness as the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo begin to churn out record-setting projects that have gained the attention of major media outlets.

A new development I was completely unaware of until reading Frank Cifaldi’s article on Gamasutra is Equity Crowdfunding, a European service which appears to be gaining steam as a platform for Venture Capital (VC) investing in game development. When I first started using Kickstarter, I recall thinking that it would be great to have the ability to establish such a cooperation mechanism, as I really have no use for extra USB keys or a new fanboy mug. Cifaldi efficiently explores some of the pros and cons associated to the concept.

What I did find interesting, and wholly unrelated to the article’s game development aspect, are the issues relating to VC in North America. In order to take part in such investment, one needs to be registered as a “qualified investor“. Key criteria for a Canadian to be deemed as such are:

  1. an individual who, either alone or with a spouse, beneficially owns financial assets having an aggregate realizable value that before taxes, but net of any related liabilities, exceeds $1,000,000; or
  2. an individual whose net income before taxes exceeded $200,000 in each of the two most recent calendar years or whose net income before taxes combined with that of a spouse exceeded $300,000 in each of the two most recent calendar years and who, in either case, reasonably expects to exceed that net income level in the current calendar year; or
  3. an individual who, either alone or with a spouse, has net assets of at least $5,000,000; and
  4. a person, other than an individual or investment fund, that has net assets of at least $5,000,000 as shown on its most recently prepared financial statements.

Basically, one needs to be rolling in dough to be deemed capable of funding an activity with the hope of making money from it. This certainly reinforces the adage that it takes money to make money.

I guess I’m going to have to up my game at the lemonade stand this summer.

The Beautiful Design Direction in ‘The Last of Us’

The Beautiful Design Direction in ‘The Last of Us’.

This video from “The Last of Us” is a wonderful find by the Gaming Grad. Work like this highlights game development’s inexorable move towards an art form and demonstrates that one can find beauty even in the deepest of horror.