Arthur Parsons is the game director at TT Games, he came to the University to discuss working with IP’s. Arthur has experience working on many different IP’s, more recently he has worked on the Lego games which have proved popular with hardcore gamers, casual gamers, non-fans and fans of the IP alike.

He began by talking about the main words usually used to describe a licensed game such as they are rushed, disappointing, lazy and sometimes cash in’s. He advised us that while we on licensed products we should also involve the key shareholders, have a greater understanding of the IP and know how to use it. He also mentioned that while developing you should always think as a fan of the IP would think. If you love the brand then the developing process will be alot smoother which will result in a better end product.Working closely with IP holders can ensure the best representation of the IP in game.
Today’s lecture featured 2 of the team from evolution studios, they came to the university to discuss the industry and what roles are within the industry. The members of the team included one project manager (David Bramhall) and one game designer (William Maiden). The talk consisted of an in depth discussion about roles in the industry, specifically game designer was mentioned.

I learned from the talk that to be a successful game designer :
  • Good communication skills, if you can’t formulate and explain your ideas thoroughly enough then fellow developers will not be able to understand your idea.
  • Be able to take criticism, if your idea was fantastic you still need to ask yourself if the game is right for consumers and will it make a profit.
  • To be a better game designer you need a broad range of knowledge and skills across software, as well having a history playing games and having the ability to understand why they were successful.
  • You need to confident in your ability to present your game to publishers, as these will have the final say on whether your game is realised or not.
The talk covered specific tasks in each field, as a prospective game designer I focused on those rolls:
  • Level Designers will first begin on paper to fine tweak ideas, they will then greybox a level to get a feel of the scale and the gameflow. This will then be tested to see if it is functional as a level, this will then be passed onto the designers, environments artists etc to build up the world in the level.
  • A System Designer will work on the game system, this includes the overall structure of the level and mechanics. They will also take charge of the documentation and will be the ones who pitch ideas and should have the ability to create quick prototypes.
  • Scripters and AI Designers work on getting the level to work as it should, such as adding spawn points, pickups and trigger boxes.
  • Lead Designer has control of the situation, they will speak to the entire team to get a clear vision of what is going on.
PS3 (Reviewed)/ Xbox 360/ Pc

The multiplayer portion of this title is one of the strongest in the series, with a robust set of modes and a huge collection of items to unlock, the player has a wealth of gameplay on their hands.

The online portion has variations of base capture, capture the flag, team deathmatch and deathmatch. The standout mode here is wolfpack, wolfpack is a co-op mode that features 4 players attacking various assigned targets. The more kills and the more creative the kills are the longer the session will last, as players need a certain amount of points to progress to the next wave. It is sort of similar to a wave based game that you might see in a first person shooter. I found this to be one of the most engaging online experiences I have had in a long time, however I have found that quite alot of players you will join up with have no real idea how to play the game and fight for kills. This can really hamper the experience and disable progression, my advice would be to try and find 3 other individuals, get on mics and start a private session.

The online portions features a large roster and each character has their own items they can unlock, these can include outfits and weapons. These are mostly visual and don't really effect the stats, which is probably for the better due to balancing issues. The unlockables added alot to the game for me, being able to customize your favourite character adds a nice personal touch to the gameplay. 

The online mode also features regular events which offer special modes, unlocks and sales on said unlocks. The event I participated in lasted around a week and featured an overall goal for the player base to conquer  The playerbase goals really do pull the community together, which is terrific.

Graphically the game is impressive, the lighting is fantastic and animations are some of the best I have seen in a video game and it does actually tie into the main story, instead of playing as the assassins you play as the templer's in training. There are also files and videos that you can unlock which expand upon the universe, this was one of my favourite features due to my keen interest in the story.

Overall the multiplayer portion is a worthy addition to the series, in some ways it surpasses the main game as I found that to be a tad underwhelming. 

Nick Rathbone is the senior games designer at Codemasters, he has also worked as a graduate designer for Climax Action. Nick has worked on a huge variety of racing games and has also worked on one of my favourite Silent Hill games, which is something I admire Nick Rathbone for.

Nick has a specialist skillset which comprises of gameplay design, player interaction, game mechanics and much more. Nick has been in the industry for over four years and has mostly worked on AAA titles, his work with racing games is something I am rather fond of, as Grid is also one of my favorite titles.

Nick’s main topics in the lecture today where focused around getting into the industry and the tools you will need to get there such as a portfolio and a CV. Nick talked about agencies and how they will benefit you in the industry, he spoke about how agencies are not always the best option. They can however garner you more than one role within the industry. Nick also spoke about how to create a portfolio that was both compelling and accessible, he went over the type of content that potential employers would want to see. This was rather useful in deciding what to put on my own portfolio, he highlighted the idea of a showreel and how important it could be in getting you the job you want.
As I was absent from this particular lecture I decided to do some research on Matt Folkard. Matt is the director at Plastic Martians (The website was offline at time of writing so the information I have gathered is limited.

Matt has also worked at various studios in various programmer roles, some include Ditto Studios and Futurecorp. He primarily works as an online games developer and has been in the industry for over 14 years. Matt Folkard's skills primary skillset includes flash development, general IT development and general games development.
Beverly Bright is a Freelance Art Consultant who came to the University to discuss outsourcing.  She discussed the costs and reasons for outsourcing and how these have changed as consoles and PC's have progressed.  i

Beverly also highlighted the strengths and weaknesses in outsourcing, such as fewer communication opportunities. She also explained that as projects grow larger the amount of outsourcing will increase, this can incur a lot of extra time for management team which can hinder projects.

Beverly spoke about some key issues with both UK and overseas outsourcing, as this was a subject I was fairly new to I found this informative when thinking about a freelancing role as a career.
Nick Davies is the founder of Lucid Games who previously worked at Bizarre Creations. His credits include 007:Bloodstone, The Club and others. Nick's lecture was based around the entire design process, what it takes for a game to go from the ideas stages until the final product. 

As a producer Nick focuses on project management and scheduling, he also handles hiring and relations such as publisher and external. Nick explained that the bigger a company gets then the more focused roles get, this however limits the role.

Nick Davies then went on to talk about the process of pitching a game and the different ways of doing so, highlighting that the best way is visual, which usually consists of a prototype or video.

Nick also covered topics on IP retention, how you can go about getting your game signed and budgeting costs. He then talked about development costs, this was very useful towards gaining a better understanding of a game is made, the in depth breakdown of the costs on 007 was very useful insight into how larger games are made.

The highlight of the talk for me was the pro's and con's of developing at a smaller studio versus a larger studio. As I was curious about which type of studio I would be suited for, this really helped my knowledge on the subject and has probably lead me towards an indie role as opposed to a large team.

Guest Lecture : Mark Craig
Today's guest lecturer was Mark Craig who is the programming director at Lucid Games, he was also previously the lead programmer at Bizarre. The main focus of the lecture was aimed at programmers who wish to develop for mobile devices, this was helpful as I have an interest in developing games for Android.

The lecturer discussed the pro's and con's of developing for mobile devices such as iOS and Android, Mark suggested that iOS was easier to develop for due to the fragmentation found in Android devices. Mark also touched upon payment models for releasing titles, and ideal team sizing.

 Mark then followed with an in depth discussion of programming tips for all devices, the idea of middle ware to speed the development process up and the best way of approaching a programming interview.

He then gave some general interview tips such as researching the company beforehand and asking questions during the interview. He also suggested that the best way to get a job in the industry is to have a good CV which always includes a demo of your work.
TERA is an Action-MMORPG originally created by Bluehole Studios, it's published in Europe by Gameforge. Unlike alot of MMORPGs TERA has action based combat which requires the player to aim their skills using the reticule, players cannot "Tab-Target" like in World of Warcraft. It has impressive graphics with fantastic lighting, however due to the game being created using the Unreal Engine it has some optimization issues. The game features a number of different races, each carrying their own look for items and animations for skills. 

TERA has a level cap of 60 and most of your time leveling is spent killing monsters, this can become tedious but there is enough variety in the enemies to keep you playing if you enjoy the combat enough. Up to level 60 you will find story quests, these are usually arcs that play out in each new area as you progress. Story quests usually contain the most XP and the most rewarding quest items, however this game contains something a little different, namely BAM (Big ass monster) quests. These require a group of 5 to take down a small number of powerful boss monsters, these offer much higher rewards. Post 60 you will start on gaining reputation using reputation quests, as you gain reputation you receive rewards and discounts in each area.

Quite a variety of dungeons are contained with the game as you level, each with a different theme and layout. I had alot of fun in the dungeons, they offer great gear for your character but also offer a greater challenge to test your skills. If you manage to find a decent party then the dungeons can be the some of the most fun you have in the game, as well as the most rewarding. As for gear in general there is a huge amount to collect. It can be bought, earned or crafted and with gear remodeling you can always look how you want to look, without sacrificing on your stats.

The game has both PvE and PvP servers, in a recent patch battlegrounds where introduced. These are level 60 battles between 16 players, sadly they are not available for lower levels which can sometimes be frustrating when leveling alt's. Several days a week there is a special event called the Nexus, which is a wave based assault in a zone aimed at level 59 or above. Once groups have completed the Nexus they can proceed onwards to a raid.

The game doesn't have much in the way of guild content, there is still only 1 raid to date. However, there is a huge focus on politics, guilds can run for vanarchy (president) in the different regions. The guilds who win vanarchy then need to gain points to keep shops open and other services open in the area. The worrying side of this type of game play is the chance of turning fun into work, as the player base will complain when the shops are not open.

There is no guild housing, which is a bit of shame as there is such a focus on the guild side of things. Guilds can wage war on each other, this technique can also be used to take land from other guilds. I'd recommend applying to a guild as soon as you are able as this will make dungeoning and BAM hunting a non-issue.

Overall I would recommend this game to anyone who is looking for an MMO that isn't the usual tab-target affair, however the smaller player base and repetitive end game content may not be favourable to some.