BA Games Design & Development

University Centre Grimsby, Nuns Corner, Grimsby, DN34 5BQ

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Why the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One were a year too early.

I’m going to start this with something that’s been a dawning realisation for some time now; both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One released a year too early. There are probably quite a few people who would disagree with this statement, least of all those who work for Sony. I can understand why of course, with the PlayStation 4 selling somewhere in the region of 7.5million units in its first seven months on sale. Employees of Microsoft might also disagree; probably not as vehemently, seeing as at last count they had only shipped 5million units into retail. But if you don’t work for them, I fail to see how you could disagree.

Driveclub was the first indicator that something wasn’t right. Sony’s big racing title for launch, their Forza competitor, pushed back weeks before the console’s launch to an indefinite time in the “Launch Window”. Seemingly that Launch Window now lasts for an entire year, as Driveclub is due to come out in October 2014. This wasn’t a third party developer who may have got their hands on the hardware quite late; this was one of Sony’s first party studios who had been involved in the gestation of the machine itself.

Now, if Driveclub had been an anomaly, a one off, then everything would have been fine. But then there was Watch_Dogs, the next big game to slip from the launch period. This could have been down to Ubisoft not wanting to launch another title against their own Assassin’s Creed franchise, it could have been down to something else, but it was pushed back six months and when it eventually came out, it didn’t live up to the visual promise of the original 2012 E3 announcement trailer. My thoughts are this: Ubisoft overestimated the power of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and the delay was due to making what they had originally designed for these two consoles fit into what was eventually delivered. To quote Digital Foundry on Eurogamer, “The most obvious conclusion is that Ubisoft - and it is not the only company to do this by any stretch - simply overestimated the raw power it would get from the new consoles…”When will I see you...again?

Looking further ahead, we’ve had a slew of games slip this year, some by a few months, others completely into 2015. The Evil Within, Batman: Arkham Knight, The Witcher 3, Mad Max, The Order: 1886, The Division, Dying Light, and Even Halo 5. More importantly is what we’ve actually had delivered into shops since the two machines came out.

I’m aware that when the 360 came out we got a few cross generation games with the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and even the Gamecube getting some of the games that launched with the Xbox 360 – King Kong, Gun, Hitman: Blood Money and Tomb Raider Legend and Anniversary being among them. But the big releases on the Xbox 360 were the exclusive titles (or in the cases of Call of Duty 2, Oblivion and Quake 4, only available on the equally powerful PC as well). Condemned, Call of Duty 2, Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo, PGR 3, Ridge Racer 6 and then after a few months Oblivion, Dead or Alive 4, Quake 4 and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.

What have we had this time? Killzone Shadowfall, Knack, Infamous Second Son, Dead Rising 3, Forza 5 and Ryse. Oh, and Fighter Within. You might want to include Resogun and Killer Instinct to that list as well. Aside from that, it’s been cross generational ports with a slightly better frame rate and resolution. Even the Xbox One’s shining light, Titanfall, has a more than decent Xbox 360 version. The list of exclusive titles for the two new machines is almost laughably poor. Killzone, pretty as it may be, feels inferior to both its predecessors on the PlayStation 3. Ryse, again very pretty to look at, is amazing in that they managed to make a single Roman’s conquest of ancient England into the dullest block/slash/execute/repeat game I think I’ve played. The single shining light from this whole morass is Dead Rising 3, but that next generation vision comes at a cost with a fairly low resolution and poor frame rate; something that will be fixed in the upcoming PC port.They call this Malibu Stacey's New Hat Syndrome...

Finally, we have these last generation up-rezzed ports. Tomb Raider Definitive Edition – oh, look, she’s got a new face! – then Rayman Legends and Injustice. Coming up we have versions of Metro 2033 and Last Light, but more tellingly, we have The Last of Us from Sony this month and some version of Halo reworking later this year, and it’s the port of The Last of Us that seems to me to be the biggest indicator that not all is well with development of games on the new machines. The game is barely a year old and I can’t for one moment believe that if Sony hadn’t had to delay Driveclub until October and The Order: 1886 until next year that we would be seeing this as some kind of tent pole release for the summer to shore up the paucity of exclusive software on the machine.

So, what does all this mean? To me, it simply means that the consoles, from a gamer’s point of view, were released a year too early. The games simply weren’t ready, and they still aren’t, and the release schedule for them both is being propped up by a stream of slightly higher resolution ports from the last generation. Nothing so far, bar Dead Rising 3 – which as already stated, was hampered by the lack of power in the Xbox One – has screamed next generation to me. The best I can say about these games - Infamous, Ryse, Forza 5, Killzone, Knack - is that they look pretty, but then again so do games on my middling PC. Still, over 7 million people have gone out and bought a PlayStation 4 and around 5 million have bought an Xbox One. It seems that a lot of people were ready for a next generation console experience; the only people that weren’t, were the people who were supposed to be giving us these experiences.

Filed under xbox one Sony Playstation 4 Next Gen Consoles console games industry games industry opinion e3 2014 pre e3 PS4 Debate submission

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The Stanley Parable creator William Hugh coming to University Centre Grimsby

Nobody knows quite what William Pugh is… Some say that he co-founded Galactic Cafe and made The Stanley Parable… However the only thing people do know for sure is that he co-founded Galactic Cafe and made The Stanley Parable. Born in Halifax he currently works in Halifax. Using the supreme power of the internet he collaborated with folks from all across the world to bring to life his first inappropriately successful game in 2013.

We are very lucky to have William coming to talk to our Level 3 and BA Students about all things Game Design, Source and what happens if your games is brilliant!

An afternoon well spent!

Filed under the stanley parable william pugh university centre grimsby BA games design

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A fantastic new concept art piece by BA Games Design and Development first year student Alex Johnson. Stunning work from University Centre Grimsby

A fantastic new concept art piece by BA Games Design and Development first year student Alex Johnson. Stunning work from University Centre Grimsby

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Global Game Jam 2014

Once again the keen game developers and designers studying BA Games Design & Development at the University Centre Grimsby and BTEC Games Design & Development at the Grimsby Institute of FHE have packed their laptops, cables and computers and shipped over to Hull College for the Global Game Jam 2014.

Over 40 dedicated students have taken up the challenge of creating a game on 48 hours based around a globally set central theme. 

As soon as the theme is announced, the eager designers form groups, teams, brainstorm ideas and then cluster around their computers bashing out graphics and code.

Its collaborative, fun and simply brilliant! And all under the watchful eye of University Centre Grimsby, Hull College, Sony, Microsoft, Jagex, Platform and Boss Alien. The next generation of games, game designers, developers and programmers are here and working on their products - with some major success already!

The next 48 hours are going to be full of surprises! Good luck to ALL Global Game Jammers all over the world!

Filed under global game jam ggjhull gamejam game jam ggj2014 University centre grimsby ba games design and development games design grimsby btec games design and development

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Studying Games Design and Development at University Centre Grimsby

The University Centre Grimsby, home of the BA Games Design & Development degree, has opened another video games development lab with amazing top spec computers - and the students are loving it!

We all know that the games industry is a tough nut to crack! Statistics suggest that while the UK games industry is one of the best in the world - the competition for the top jobs is getting intense. An undergraduate degree in video games design and development is one way of ensuring that you have the specialised knowledge, experience and expertise required by today’s games industry.

The Grimsby Institute and the University Centre Grimsby is at the forefront of video games education in the UK. Not only is it the home of the £23 million University Centre building (and the soon to be opened £20 million Arts College) but also where the nationally recognised BA Games Design and Development degree is delivered.The recent investment in another computer games development lab further enhances the degree programme. The students already enjoy 24/7 access to the computer labs, expert tuition from industry recognised tutors and industry advocates, top spec computer equipment, consoles and hardware and a full green screen studio and motion capture studio.

The University Centre Grimsby has one of the best games development facilities and degree programmes in the country and with tuition fees held at an amazing £5995, newly fitted hall of residence 5 minutes walk away and amazing small group sizes (average ten students to one games staff member), you really are getting more tuition and facilities for your money. 

If you want to study a degree in Games Design and Development, and you want to make finished and publishable games with like-minded games students then contact the University Centre Grimsby via infocent@grimsby.ac.uk or 0800 315002

Click here for video of BA Games Design and Development student Joey Ireland talking about the new facilities

Filed under University Centre Grimsby BA Games Design BA Games Design and Development Grimsby games courses Games courses uk video games degrees UK Games Design degrees uk top 10 games design degrees uk

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What’s so ‘Next-Gen’ about Next-Gen?

The 8th generation of consoles have now been available for 6-8 weeks or so.Its the time of a new battleground in gaming retail; the ‘my unit sales are bigger than your unit sales’ figures has been tossed and turned through the world of media. Complex and expensive advertising; packages and deals; launch titles and posturing. It all happened quickly and efficiently with the slick marketing prowess of a well-oiled marketing machine.image

But now the dust is settling from the console storm surge - we need to ask a simple question. Indeed, it is THE question but is also difficult to answer  because - with the best will in the world - no one really had exact information required before and during the launch. 

I have played several games on both the Xbox One and the PS4 and the WiiU and when I tell people this I get the same question - wow - so what does next-gen look like?

I pondered this and found myself thinking what actually constituted a next-gen experience.

In truth, we are all still blinded by the technical descriptions of consoles and how this equates to actual next-generation gaming. We run through the the checklist of DDR3 this and AMD Jaguar that.They have multi-core CPU something-or-others, lots of super fast RAM for… well.. faster RAM related tasks and things and of course a slew of other expensive sounding technical items - all contained in a micro-monolith. 

Ask eager games developers and they expound the virtues of a simpler, brighter, easier, ‘what it should have been all along’ development experience and (to quote Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars) the next-gen console’s “UNLIMITED POWER”.

It is next-gen because it can do more of [insert a raft of gibberish sounding descriptions]. No. No it isn’t because next-gen is not a benchmark that has been defined yet.

Look at the current games on the Xbox360 or PS3 (also hiss and spit at their blatant old-gen gaming experience graphics!) Last Of Us is a technical marvel on (hiss and spit) PS3 hardware. Halo 4 is comparably amazing to Halo 3 on the Xbox 360 (hiss and guffaws at the old tech struggling!) So if we are to accept that 8 years of time has passed between consoles - and that 8 years in technical development is a very long time to up the anti on games technology -  then we must know that next-gen MUST be defined by the user experience and that this is driven by defined ‘next-gen’ qualities…unfortunately, the experience so far is… well… not next-gen.

I expect my experience of next-gen games to be slick - in fact, uber slick. In fact - better than old gen slick! With multiple tangible things I can see that shout “I am next-gen” at me. Ryse has a pretty and detailed view of Rome (that can not be explored), 6 hours of repetitive game-play in similar looking locations where I fight the same 5 barbarians over and over, using the same moves over and over. Lots of rendered flora and oodles of lighting (lighting seems to be a next-gen tipping point), oh and dust particles… you got to have the dust particles… and… well, I am pretty sure dust is a next-gen thing. Is it? Ryse - best dust in a game - that should be a BAFTA award. Dead Rising 3 is next-gen by virtue of its… quantity of enemies and their individuality. Never before has a zombie game given you so many individual zombies to kill. Its GTA meets Resident Evil with… erm… next-gen.. lighting (lighting again, that’s that lighting benchmark again!). But.. LOOK at the amount of zombies… never mind the distinctly old gen looking graphics. Wait. Wait a minute - its 1080p in 60fps… or is that 720p in 60fps… or does anyone really notice the HD and frame rate. They do? Well next-gen has that covered… or does it. Killzone on the PS4… is ALL about the lighting! Next-gen lighting and dust - and, well it looks like Killzone. Hmnn.

What about if we define next-gen by stating that as a benchmark the games absolutely MUST look better than the predecessors and MUST offer something new and unique to the experience. These are MUSTS! So far (its early days I know) NONE of the power-house consoles have this covered save one. The WiiU.

Form factor - small. Controls - offers new UX. Graphics - HD over the Wii and more capable.

Side by side Xbox One and PS4 owners LAUGH at the little WiiU with its cutesy MARIO games and its Zeldas and lack of titles and… wait…

What do you mean the games look better on the WiiU than on the Wii? How dare you imply that Super Mario 3D World stands a chance against Ryse, or Dead Rising 3, or Forza 5 or Killzone…

You see, for me next-gen is about the gaming experience being…upgraded. The games must look better than on previous iterations of the console, the experience must be slicker and shout “I am next gen” (remember, I said this before!). So far - every single game I have played on the WiiU does this. No other game runs as updated, as slick and as next-gen as Super Mario 3D world… and so what is next-gen? Well, its not a load of technical babble about hardware benchmarks than means nothing. It IS when you see a directly comparable product that offers new modes of play, HD graphics that look better than before and all via a small, slick bit of hardware that doesn’t need to shout about its CPU.

You want next-gen. Play Super Mario 3D world on a WiiU. 

Filed under next-gen PS4 Debate xbox one nintendo wiiu define next-gen