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General | PencilGym.com - Part 2

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Free MMORPG - Grand Fantasia


Really interesting game to explore and pick up on the rapidly expanding “Free to Play MMORPG” Trend..!

Might as well check it out! Visit the site and take in the vibrant art world :)

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Yay! Sequel for one of the most loved PS3 Games is about to arrive!

Little Big Planet 2 has a planned release for the Fall this year!

Seems to be offering a much more robust Game Builder for players to mess around with, opening up even more opportunities for modding and level creation. Different camera angles, more awesome lighting effects, “smarter” objects? o:

I think games like LBP are genius. You build a game, advertise it as a game where “you create your game, the way you want it, anything and anyway you like it!”

“Don’t only get to play the game, you also get to build your own levels and also download and play other players’ creations!” “You guys have made over 2 million custom games and worlds! Much moreee than we could have imagined!”

It’s genius!

Why work to build “DLC” to keep a game alive? Make your consumers do your work for you! Take “Modern Warfare 2″ for example…they push out like.. DLC Map Packs “+5 additional levels” every few months..

with custom game builders like Little Big Planet, you are pretty much getting 5000 “additional levels” every few months, and the work is done by your consumers, not by you!

haha, awesome x] Build something and have the world continue the work for you..hehehe..advertise it as a “build and share your creations“..

Sure, those “user created worlds” are free to download and share, so there’s no fee and can’t be labeled as “DLC”. But then, i’m pretty sure there will mean increased and continued sale of the game software itself, which probably makes up for the “free add-ons”. The game also features other purchasable stuff, like custom avatars for your in-game character, which you do pay for.

Little Big Planet 2 Debut Trailer:

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Another Gamasutra feature article, this time talking about game developers moving overseas in search of new work opportunities, and they’ve put up a lil’ something about Singapore and the gaming industry!

Singapore’s quality of life is “just amazing. Everything is super-efficient — especially the public transport system which is very organized and very cheap, the food is incredible, and there’s just so much energy in the air.”

- Claude Langlais,
Ubisoft Singapore

Haha, really? x) I guess you don’t realize these kinda stuff growing up there all your life, ’til you’re away from it and you start reminiscing it :D

Singapore is starting to show up more often on the map for game development, i’m really looking forward to see how much it grows there and what it grows into over the next 5 or 7 years. I myself was lucky enough to have had a chance to visit and speak to LucasArts Singapore back in 2008…as well as EA Singapore where i had a short chat with the VP-of-something x]

Other new game studios that had popped up in Singapore include Ubisoft and TakeTwo Interactive.

Full writeup at Gamasutra - http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/28461/A_Global_Move_Worth_It.php

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Here’s another game with amazing art direction.

Yep, Limbo is an Indie Game too, developed for the Xbox Live Arcade platform only (unfortunately). I believe the game has won awards for it’s just-gorgeous art style…minimal yet still so powerful in conveying emotion in the viewer. Almost every part of the game, you can pause and it becomes a work of art, like a gallery showing.

The project began with 1 person’s basic sketches, which he made into a video (animatic), that captured the hearts of millions in an instant. Developers and publishers alike then opened up opportunities to develop it into what it is today. After 6 years of development, we have this beautiful piece of a game to appreciate.

This is just the reason why i have grown such a love for indie games. The art direction is usually what most Indiegames seem to focus on as a result of having limited resources/small man-power. Minimal, yet brilliant, simplistic nature of the games.

It drives home the fact that you don’t always necessarily need to make the next “Call of Duty Moden Warfare” or “Crysis” or “Unreal Gears of War” to win the hearts of gamers around the world.


Check out the videos!

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for peeps that havn’t heard of this game yet, i think it’s one of the best takes on keeping that retro-spirit in gaming, alive.

3D Dot Game Heroes, developed by Silicon Studios, coming out in a couple weeks (May 11, 2010) for the PS3 exclusively, features the “pixelated retro look” from the old days of gaming on our crappy low-resolution screens… picture the days of the GameBoy and it’s green & black lcd display.

now modernize that by throwing it into the realm of three-dimensions, and you get this gorgeous of a game. The soundtrack keeps in step with the retro vibe, an energetic loop-ish “MIDI” music, mixed in with some orchestra to bring it to the modern era.

some nitpickers already comparing it to Zelda games…but hey, it plays well and has one of the most distinct visuals in years of gaming.

check out more of the game! it’s beautiful.

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Just read about this brand new support funding group called “Indie-fund“.

Started up by 7 of the industry’s most successful “Indies” (Independent developers), namely creators of “World of Goo” Ron Carmel & Kyle Gabler, “Braid”s Johnathan Blow (one of the most awesomely hand-painted games in my opinion of all time), Kellee Santiago from “Flower” (PS3), “Critter Crunch”s Nathan Vella, Matthew Wegner “Off-road Velociraptor Safari”, and Aaron Isaksen of “Armadillo Gold Rush”…the groups mission is to support fellow Indepedant Developers/”Indies” by

…helping indie developers get financially independent and stay financially independent.

Ron Carmel explained that indies going to publishers was a “system that never worked” because there was no “transparency” in the process. Also Indies that go to these publishers (ie. Activision/EA/Ubisoft) always mostly end up getting pushed around, hurting the original game design process, restricting the creative process, and these Indies get tied down by the publisher..publisher tells the Indies “what is better to do”.

With Indie Fund,

…A focus will be on flexible development.

The game development process requires experimentation and iteration, so the old methodology of coming up with big design documents ahead of time, with milestones attached that risk employee pay, ends up causing developers stress and ultimately risks game quality.

Under the Indie Fund model, the developer submits periodic builds to the fund along with a change list, so the game can be evaluated based on where it was last time it was evaluated, “not on where we think it should be”. This approach “respects the game design process as it should happen”.

Importantly, Indie Fund will not seek IP ownership. “We want the developer to own the IP and for the developer to be master of their own destiny.”

“We don’t want to tell you how to make your game.”

“If we provide funding for a game, then that’s a vote of confidence in the team that they have a vision and that they can execute it.”

If i know better than you what’s right for your game, then we probably shouldn’t be funding your game.”

- Leigh Alexander and
Simon Carless

GameDeveloperMagazine April 2010

Indie Fund is the bright light that many aspiring Indies will look to! Since the Fund only just launched, it is still a model in testing, and future funding for more games is still uncertain. They however, already plan to bring in bigger investors to support, if the funding model does prove successful.

This is great news for Indies. Especially today when “big houses” have been laying off so many people, regardless an industry veteran or not. Casual/Indie games have been booming, over Facebook, iPhone/iPad (mobile games), XBox Live Arcade, PSN, and other web platforms.

I am too personally, rooting for Indie Fund’s mission to be a success. I feel it’s a great time to break away from the developer/publisher model, let the hard work of indies pay off the way it should..encourage more people to explore Indie games as an option!

I would encourage anyone who’s interested in developing Indie games to check out Indie Fund further. :D

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ok so i just read this amazing article “Opinion: Be Wary Of The Innovation Bandwagon” (you guys should read it too!!) … and i thought i’d write down my thoughts about it, as i find every bit of that writeup very relevant to many aspects of my personal endeavors.

The writer basically says that you don’t necessarily need to come up with an entirely new ‘innovative idea’ for your game to be ‘successful’…and he talks about the 2 kinds of developers, “clean-slate” types and “reactive” types…

In a blog post from a few years ago, Warren Spector said there are some innovators who are the “clean slate” guys who come up with these borderline crazy yet ingenious new game concepts that nobody has ever heard of before. Not only can they come up with the ideas, but they’re also able execute on those ideas by creating a game that’s truly compelling.

But Spector said that he considers himself more of a “reactive” guy — he plays existing games, gets annoyed with their shortcomings, and comes up with his own game that fixes the problems that he identifies.

see video here

An example i can think of as “crazy yet ingenious new game concepts” would be the student-project-gone-professional “Portal”. What game can u think of?

…and i completely agree with the writer in regards to the innovation bandwagon.

I finally learnt what “type of developer” i can identify myself as..”reactive” (yesh, i consider myself a game developer already! wahaha) …if you read back at my rants from earlier (months/years), you will notice that i’ve done just about what a “reactive” person does. Play games, get annoyed, and improve upon those aspects. Only piece missing is actually executing, which i’m quite limited to as of now because of my education & my experience (i even made a post some months back to look for programmers to help me!).

I have friends that knows me not to complete games (not finishing/playing all the way through) and this is probably the reason…on my end, i just play the game to explore and see what the game has done and is about, why people recommend it, why the love it, why they don’t like it, and take notes! x]

A good place to find games would be Steam, there’s tons of demos available there, and demos are pretty much all you need. oh and there is the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) community as well (although i don’t have an xbox).

My favorite piece to take home from his writeup is the notion that

Most great games aren’t based on brand new, ground-breaking ideas. More typically, great games come from someone who has skillfully identified where existing ideas need improvement or further attention, and can execute on those observations.

I think he should have added something about sequels in that regard…everyone knows that the idea of a sequel to anything (game/movie/tv show) usually ends up on the two extremes as ultimate failure or epically successful, and i’m pretty sure these people making the sequels must have done some kind of  research on their originals feedback.

Game creators should still absolutely take risks and pursue innovation.

Now that is what i call Art.

Some day, reaaal soon, i’m gonna execute my ideas…stand on the edge of the cliff and risk plunging into the waters far down below!
Look out world, i’m coming to get ya! :D

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new trailer for The Last Airbender movie, and finally, we get to see more stuff x]
i see an Appa in too! :D

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Ever wondered why a new Game costs $60? “Game are so expensive! 10 games would already be $600 at least before tax! My pockets!

Here’s an excellent video to explain why, and breaks down where each of your precious dollars go.

Those thinking of your careers, this video will help you get an idea what each discipline gets .. ;D

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recently been reading up some resources for animal fur for an animal texture project im working on, and i came across skunks, and now..i’ve found a new love for these commonly despised creatures.

they are adorable.

at least the domesticated skunks are.

it seems to be getting more common for humans to adopt skunks as pets, and it appears that if raised from young under human care, they become really affectionate pets…aside from being just gorgeous with their fluffy black-and-white fur patterns! Skunk-experts are saying that Skunks are a lot like having a cat as a pet!

Pet skunks don’t spray, because they have been…fixed.. hence they don’t have that awful odor that everyone associates these poor animals to.

i wants one!! :D

Please watch these videos for the greater cause! More luff for these outcasts x]

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Crytek studios is at it again, after showing off another outstanding CryEngine 3 Tech Demo at GDC, they’ve also left us with a brilliant game trailer..giving us a glimpse of the game’s post-apocalyptic New York city.

I for one absolutely love this trailer, it definitely holds true to Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli’s cinematic game approach…using a very dramatic sequence, coupled with a heart-warming soundtrack, it builds a powerful emotional response in us as we watch it. In the mere 1 minute, we already get attached to the soldier character the short cinematic focuses on, it’s beautiful. The “common trailer” would be to show how bad-ass your new game is going to be, with action packed sequences and guns blazing, but very very few games take on this cinematic-emotional approach..Crysis 2 being one of these (other games that have done it is Bioshock 2, Final Fantasy series).

Crysis 2 is looking fantastic needless to say. It’s ranked #1 on the GT Game Rank (i’m assuming #1 hyped-for) out of over 9000 other games, that shows alot lol. The new game is a depart from the original game’s lush tropical island environment, and now takes place in an urban landscape, New York City. The game is being built on the new CryEngine 3, which is “optimized” for consoles (booo.. dumbed-down engine from the original pc-power-oriented CryEngine). It still looks awesome, but i feel there’s something lacking/missing when i saw the tech-demo D: there’s just no same “oomph” i get from back when they demoed the first CryEngine. The only “new tech” i really digg is the new dynamic texture blending feature…something i’ve never seen before in any other game (maybe it’s been done before, but not in any of the games i’ve had the chance to explore).

Anyhows, enjoyyyyyyyyy the beautiful Crysis 2 trailer! I believe the trailer is all in-game real-time footage, not pre-rendered cinematic, which shows off just how powerful crytek’s game engine is…

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really motivating video, showing us the awesome studio of Epic Games, people responsible for the leading industry game engine “Unreal Engine”, also responsible for the award-winning “Gears of War” games.

the video has Cliff Bleszinski (aka “Cliffy B”) giving some basic information regarding the studio, as well as ways to get into the industry x]

gosh.. i’d give anything to work with Epic Games, just look at their facilities and offices! -dreams-
especially look at Cliffy B’s office…! tht’s pimp!

Epic Games Studio Tour Part 1 & 2:

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reading more.. and there was this part of a writeup in my game magazine (GameDeveloper) that i simply feel has finally put alot of my thoughts into one good piece of writing.

Read on:

There are songs that are kind of catchy. Others you just can’t get out of your head. And then, ever so rarely, there are those songs which are so memorable, you could swear you had heard them before. Song taste is highly personal–different people react to different songs in different ways– but the breakout hits are the ones that resonate on this level with a large number of people.

Creating a breakout hit is no easy task, in part because the songwriter’s instincts can often be wrong. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith was reportedly surprised that “St. John” from Permanent Vacation was met by collective yawns from concert-goers. He thought he knew what made a hit–the song had an interesting riff, topical lyrics, was meaty to play live–but somehow just didn’t reach the fans. Today, the song is a footnote in the band’s music catalog.

All creative fields are like this. Sometimes films and books just catch fire from nothing. Sometimes, sure-handed directors stumble. Pop radio is full of songs like “The Macarena” and “I’m Too Sexy,” all done by bands that later proved to be one-hit wonders unable to repeat their success. This is true of games as well.

- Damion Schubert

It’s not easy making games. Not easy making “that game that sold billions of dollars in revenue”. Only 1 game gets that recognition…out of a whole barrage of hundreds of other titles developed and released under the same hardship and labor.

Even then, if you did successfully launch that “One-hit-wonder” game that has everyone talking about, everyone itching to squeeze that few minutes out of lunch break just to play your game… repeating this success in a sequel or follow up game will be no easy task.

I’m sure this ‘concept’ applies to all other fields of work aside from the Entertainment fields (ie. real estate, automotive, etc).

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didn’t i blog about this before some where… i personally believe very strictly in the micro transaction business model for games. There’s always been a new idea for how to make money off the game you work so hard to develop and put onto store shelves… the more accepted “episodic release” being one of the better favored “new successful distribution” method. Games like NCSoft’s Guild Wars for example was one of the early pioneers of ‘episodic release’ business model… customers buy the game, and get to enjoy the full content of the game for free, until, there’s a new “episode” or expansion, you pay for the expansion, and it’s the customer’s choice if he/she wants the additional content. Valve’s Halflife 2 Episodes are also a great example of this business model.

But that model seems to be… failing. It’s hard work to keep steady with a “6 month” develop-and-release cycle, especially if each new episode has to be as good, or even better, than the previous one (usually it has to be better otherwise why would fans continue to keep up with the game).

So introduce Micro Transactions. The general idea of it alone sounds so much more appealing already to any shopper. You pretty much buy the game free, play all you want, but, when you’re in-game with your character and friends, you start to realize you’re lacking something. So you continue on into the in-game shop, and purchase a new item or boost or armor or etc..for a measly fee of usually something around 2 or 3 real-life dollars. Every time you want something more, or a new kind of boost or upgrade or a new expansion chapter, you head back into that virtual store, and make another 3 or 5 real-life dollar purchase to get an in-game item. Developers are constantly updating and adding new content, usually very simple and quick content, bringing them into these virtual stores within that game, and everyone loves new stuff, so the masses will naturally horde in to grab that new item for 3 dollars a pop.

Alright so what about the iPhone??

well, now Apple has available this type of transaction for game/app developers that wish to make use of. It’s proven that this kind of distribution and business solution helps control piracy, and also increases the title’s distribution rate. Afterall, game is free, why won’t a person grab it? And the moment they do start playing it, that’s where the hook is…and they latch on, and they start micro-transactions, buying mini-game items for “just 1 buck” for the rest of their lives playing this game. Developers add something new and enticing into this virtual shop, and bam, the person goes to spend more money on the game.

I’m excited ’cause i’ve always dreamt to develop a game, which utilizes heavily this micro transaction model..and with the iPhone now capable of it, it’s another motivator for me to push on with my personal iPhone project. :)

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i finally purchased a new monitor.

it’s not just any monitor, it’s the perfect choice for me, personally.

given i did read about the problems customers were having, i believed it was just a problem particular to that single unit they had recieved…and i believed right :D

the unit i recieved, is jaw-dropping gorgeous.

colors pop, compared to my dell 2005wfp 20inch IPS monitor. i believed that my good ol’ 2005wfp monitor was already amazing with regards to colors, viewing angles.

not! not until i got my hands on this bad boy!

it’s. amazing.

and im very very nit-picky about my “big purchases”, and this was one of it.

prior to getting this u2410 model, i had bought a dell 2408wfp (read/researched hype and rave reviews for the 2408) but i had troubles with it, viewing problems, extreme color shifting, making text and any work with the screen just uneasy and uncomfortable for me. i sent it back, waited a while (couple weeks how coincidental!) and picked up a sale/offer for this beautiful U2410 model.


Here’s the “down-to-earth” review of this monitor you people have been emailing me to do! Forget CNET and other big sites that are rumored to be biased based off the money they are paid to put good word in for the product.

*Note! I’m no color/monitor geek professional. This U2410 is review is based off Out-Of-the-Box + eyeball/manual calibration (no 3rd party hardware color calibrators).

Aesthetics: woo, dam. does this bad boy look sexy. comparing it to the now-smaller-lesser sibling monitor dell 2005wfp, this u2410 looks absolute professional, and classy. the matte black “square block” of a stand, the nice thick matte silver neck, and the 4 sharp corners of the panel, along with touch-sensitive OSD buttons, and a single non-distracting blue led power button, this baby is beautiful. Compare it with the HP2475 and the NECs (wuxis) (other competitors in this monitor range), the U2410 has absolute class.

The Searing Sun: this screen came out of the box with Brightness 50 Contrast 50. Waaaay tooo bright for me, it caused me to frown and squint (and squeal). I have it set to Brightness 8  Contrast 45 now.

Colors of the Rainbow & Beyond: this screen came factory calibrated. it shipped with a factory color calibration report sheet (with a reported Avg. Delta E graph with everything under 2.1, which is rather excellent). Also, away from the ‘science’ of color, what i saw, was immediately a new world of color comparing with my old boy 2005wfp model. The colors on this U2410 pop. It’s not over saturated, not ‘sunburned’, or whateva other terms you coined in your past experiences with monitors.

the U2410 is stated as a 12-bit color monitor, an upgrade for the standard 8-bit and/or 10-bit average consumer monitor out in the market. It’s rated to have a color range past 1billion colors, not the typical “12.something million colors”.

So everything together, the color experience is absolute amazing.

Sure, i had to do some manual color tweaks, adjusting the display through the u2410′s on-screen menu options…but the controls are alot more detailed than what was available on the dell 2005wfp model. Depending on the Preset Mode you’re running, the options available to tweak will vary. But it’s still a fairly generous depth of color precision controls you can get.

The Black Blacks: Given this is an IPS monitor, with cathode lighting, i wasnt expecting the U2410 to shine at this area. and i was right. Some might be disappointed with the black levels, it certainly is not as deep as my ol’ 2005wfp model, neither is it as deep and black as the dell 2408wfp i had sent back. But it’s still really black-black. It has a black level reading of “2.0ish” for the scientific readers. :) (‘pro plasma’ screens have blacks levels as deep as 0.01, smaller the value the better black.)

The Whiter Whites: Whites are great. I had to adjust the gamma and contrast setting initially to get the white to be the white i was comfortable with (eyeballing again! no hardware color calibration here!). I was aided with the renown Lagom LCD Monitor color calibration screen tests website. (http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/)

Viewing All Angles: This is an IPS screen, viewing angles are spot on greatness. :D Comparing my viewing experience with the Dell 2408wfp (which is a PVA panel), that 2408 model and this u2410 difference was like night vs day. It was astounding to me at just how great the viewing angle on this u2410 is.

Gaming in the Fast Lane: I’ve played every game i’ve been playing recently on this U2410. Call of Duty 5, Killzone, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Counter Strike, Company of Heroes, Supreme Commander, Grand Theft Auto 4, Crysis. (Yes, notice the cross-platform titles in this list haha, that’s because i have hooked up my playstation 3 to the U2410 as well as my PC, i’ll be commenting shortly about the U2410 connections inputs.)
And this screen is excellent for every game in any genre. Drop-dead gorgeous! AND IN FULL 1080P HD! (yes, im coming from playing my ps3 on Composite video on my ol’ 2005wfp monitor).

Inputs galore: Yes, you certainly get everything you put your money down for. The U2410 has an entire barrage of inputs/outputs. It has 2 x DVI, Component, Composite, HDMI, Display Port, Speaker in/out for the Dell Sound Bar, 8-in-1 Card Reader, 4 x USB ports.
I have hooked up my Playstation 3, PC, laptop, and cable tv, all to this single screen. All i have to do is push the Input button on the U2410 to select a video source, and wee! I’m contemplating purchasing a nintendo Wii some time soon, and it’s gonna go up on this same monitor :D

The final experience: At the end of the day, i’m way more satisfied than i had been psyching myself to be! I had read alot of complaint about the U2410, common troubles like dead pixels, color tinting in the screen’s corners, and screen graininess (?)…all of which i’ve seemed to have completely avoided! This U2410 is yet another absolute awesomeness buy i’ve made, and i will forever recommend this screen to my friends and relatives. (if you can bring yourself to it’s price, i dropped down $500usd for this, and that was after a discount/sale of over a hundred bucks! but it’s certainly the best bang for your buck for a monitor of this sature!) I can say with confidence this U2410 is clearly the ultimate next step up from the dell 2005wfp!

It’s not often i shop for and buy a new monitor, the last time i did was in 2005, that’s a 4 year gap, and $400-500 in such a long time, i’m certain that’s really conservative already. And plus, i know well in heart that this U2410 is going to take me through another 5 years or more! woohoo! what’s not to like!

Yes, let it be made known, there is no perfect monitor out on the market, there is no “the One monitor”…every monitor to date has it’s own flaws, and when it comes down to the money, the Dell U2410 hits the very sweetest spot. The next competitor up to this behemoth would be Apple’s LED Cinema Display, retailing for $900 USD. Almost twice the cost of a single U2410. Further up the tier into the professional monitor zone, you can start looking at the NEC monitors, which start at $1200 USD and go up to $10,000USD! (all 24 inchers too)

Review Requests: Please email me your thoughts and questions and requests! Want me to “test” or write about another aspect of this monitor? Or leave a comment below too! :D

U2410 Pictures and Video:

I’ve made a video with my point-and-shoot camera of this screen “in life”, readers interested can easily check it out at youtube.com. (link will be added shortly)

meanwhile, indulge yourselves in the pictures i’ve taken of this sexy beast too! :D

If you like, i have made available the “Full Color Screen” test pictures i used in the following pictures, for download if you like. They are 1920×1200 resolution big, and just view in something you can set to ‘full screen’, good choice would be the standard Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, and going into Slide Show Mode (pressing F11).

Download here: Full Color Screen Test Pictures
Added: Wallpaper shown in photos here (Hi-Res 1920×1200 wallpaper)
Added: Youtube Video of the Dell U2410 24 inch Monitor

*Note: The Fuzziness/Graininess in the following pictures are not in/from the monitor! It’s from my point-and-shoot camera…crappy $200 consumer budget camera :/ Also bear in mind that this camera has White Balance, and i’ve not been successful with tweaking it to the right tone, so these pictures are not “true to your eye” compared to in real life.. i made them to give readers a feel and idea of what this screen is like in a home. (clik the images for full size!)

Full Black Test Screen (i need to retake the picture in a completely darkened room!)

Full Black Test Screen (i need to retake the picture in a completely darkened room!)

Blue Test Screen

Full Blue Test Screen

Black To White Gradient Test Screen

Black To White Gradient Test Screen

Full Green Test Screen

Full Green Test Screen

Full Red Test Screen

Full Red Test Screen

Full White Test Screen

Full White Test Screen

View Angle Test: Front

View Angle Test: Front

View Angle Test: Side Right

View Angle Test: Side Right

View Angle Test: Side Left

View Angle Test: Side Left

View Angle Test: Bottom

View Angle Test: Bottom

View Angle Test: Above

View Angle Test: Above

How helpful was my review? Did you like it? What else would you like to see with regards to this monitor? Leave a comment please! Hope this write up helps those that are having a tough time deciding what monitor to put down their money on!

Thanks all for reading! 450 reads and counting!(as of 10/15/2009) :D
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