Bitcoin

Bitcoin is an online system which allows online payments to be made which doesn’t need to have a trusted authority to act as a third-party within the transaction. For example when people want to make a payment to an eBay seller they would use PayPal. The user would make the payment through PayPal which would be sent to the seller in order for them to receive payment for the purchase, in which they would usually add a fee for doing the transaction if you are a business. What makes bitcoin unique is that it is decentralized meaning that nobody controls the bitcoin network and instead uses specialist software to verify the transactions.

People are able to send bitcoin anywhere in the world without any authorisation or confirmation from a bank giving people freedom with money without limitations. Another benefit of bitcoin is that it can cut a transaction from 3 working days to within a few minutes which gives business a quicker platform to work from. Bitcoin is able to avoid inflation, with physical money banks are printing money depending on what they need for example to pay off debts while bitcoin prints a certain amount of coins per day which means the more people who get involved with Bitcoin the higher the value of the coin will be meaning that it is a good investment if the users increase over time. It has been said according to bitscan.com that over 31 million transactions as of 10/02/2014 have happened using bitcoin meaning that is still increasingly popular since it first came out in 2008.

The negative of bitcoin is the limited amount of places that you can spend it with roughly around 150 online retailers in the UK which accept bitcoin. It has potential to become the go to method of transaction for e-commerce but it has not, in which some individuals is now beginning to feel it has been overhyped. Another negative of the bitcoin service has been when people began to back out of using it after the founding member of bitcoin and CEO of BitInstant exchange was arrested on chargers for laundering money. This in turn meant that big companies such as Apple removed the payment method from their app store. Bitcoin also has the disadvantage of lack of buyer protection meaning that if a company does not provide the customer with the product after a bitcoin payment, then the customer will be unable to ask for a refund or to reverse the transaction due to bitcoin being pretty much ungoverned. There are companies which act as the middle man to prevent this but then this also takes away from the beauty of bitcoin being what it is.

One incident which used the bitcoin was Mt.Gox, a company which was based in Japan and was a bitcoin exchange. The company declared ended traded and filed for bankruptcy, and then when the company was being liquidated it became apparent that 850,000 bitcoins were missing with only 200,000 being found. It is believed this was due to many factors such as theft or poor management of the company. Another instance in which an individual had loss money due to Bitcoin was the BitcoinTalk user Allinvain who was one of the first individuals to suffer a major loss of which was 25,000 bitcoins that were taken from his wallet after hackers managed to get onto his computer.

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3d Models within different industries

Entertainment

3d modelling is widely used in the film industry in things such as Computer generated effects or miniature effects as if they were to make the actual thing rather than model it then it would be too expensive and consume too much time to physically build. Scene such as explosions with modelled buildings would take days to make in comparison to large buildings which would take years to make only for a single scene.

Cloverfield (2008) uses a mixture of live action and Computer generated effects. The head was built as a 3d model and textured for the film and is shown for several seconds. Using a mixture of both live action and CG effects, Cloverfield was able to create a realistic scene in which the statue of liberty’s head rolls into the road.

Another example of models being used in film is with the film Independence Day (1996). The entire city was modeled and tilted for the explosion scene which again created a realistic environment without the audience breaking flow as the models blended in so well with actual footage shot for the film. This would have been very difficult to actually make so modelling this allowed for quickly generated realistic scenes.

Architecture

Investments have been made into architecture so that businesses can bring their visions to life by using software such as 3dsmax to generate buildings and interiors and use rendering software such as Maxwell and Marmoset Toolbag to create realistic lighting and composition so that it would be difficult to tell what’s real and what is not. By creating realistic renders, the businesses would be able to get a feel for the building before investing large amounts of money into something they wouldn’t be able to see for months. It also helps the architect create the building in the businesses vision so they will be satisfied with the end result by giving them a realistic representation of the building.

Here are some architectural examples which are 3d models;1 2 3 4 6

Illustration

3D models allow people to create beautiful fantasy scenes which are so well designed they create a sense of realism. They can also be used to show an illustrators vision by taking sketches and making them into photo-realistic renders to give the audience a feel for their vision.

Some examples of this are;

7 8 9

Advertising and marketing

Similar to architecture, a large amount of money is invested within advertising and marketing so by using 3d models rather than tangible objects it allows the model to be altered if needs be and able to create results suited for the advert. For example if Ford wanted to advertise a sports car and wanted it to flip off a ramp then it would be better to do this using models and animation. The reasons for this are so that money isn’t invested in a car which is at high risk of damage. It would also mean paying out for someone who is professionally qualified to do the stunt which would be expensive and inconvenient. Another reason would be that it may take longer to film real footage of the stunt than it would be to create it within Maya and 3dsmax. Another reason a company may want to use a model to advertise their product as they may not have the physical product ready yet.

Some examples of models used in advertising and marketing are;

10

Science

3d models can be used in science to show simulation of possible events such as star eruptions or to show chemical compounds. This can be really useful when trying to explain something to someone who may not have a clear understanding of the subject at hand so by having a clear demonstration then it can help with the understanding of how the subject functions. Having these as 3d models also allows for the subject to now become interactive.

Some examples of this within the field of science are;

EULA

End User License Agreement is a license used for software which is a legally binding contract between the manufacturer/author and the user who is purchasing/using the application. The EULA explains how the software can and can’t be used and any other restrictions that may be in place. This document is not always the same and depending on the agreement will depend on how you agree to the terms. For example agreeing to a game on steam you will have to scroll through the agreement and check the box that you agree with the terms in order for you to start the download. Another example is the possibility of having to email back the agreement that you have signed in order to clarify that you agree to the terms within the document. EULA’s are readable once you have downloaded the software so if you do not agree to them and you have purchased the software then you are left basically to ‘take it or leave it’ as a EULA is not negotiable.

Here are some examples of EULA’s

EULA3 EULA2 EULA1

What is gamification?

Gamification is the idea of applying game mechanics and techniques within a non-game setting in order to engage people within the subject matter to achieve a goal. An example of this is using gamification within education to gives students a fun way to learn a new subject in order to achieve better grades and a better understanding of the subject through the use of game mechanics such as points and achievements. Although the term gamification was coined in 2003, it is something that has been around since 1896 and is still growing today.

An early example of gamification to date is the use within the frequent flyer programs (FFP) which rewarded customers for reusing their airlines and traveling with them, the amount of points given would vary on the amount the customer would use the card and dependant on the distance that they travelled. Other benefits of using the card was to use it for other goods and services the company provided such as travel upgrades.

Here is an infographic I had found which shows the history of gamification, I thought it would be best to just use this example as it is thorough and most the points I would have made and more in a more concise and artistic way.

A-Brief-History-of-Gamification-Infographic-1000x4526

The research company Gartner predicts that by 2015, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay, or Amazon, and more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.

Looking at this quote, I feel as if many of our current services offer various gamified elements for example shopping at Tesco has become gamified with the thrill of going into the store, selecting items over £1 because you know that £1 is 1 point on your loyalty card. Then you wait at home for a letter in the post telling you how many points you have earned and you feel as if you have made an achievement and gained a reward for completing your ‘quest’. Another example of gamification in the modern world is the use of advertising on energy drink cans. I have purchased a can of Monster and it said that if I use the code on the tag on the can I could have a chance to unlock additional content within Call of duty for the Xbox 360. This mean that by making the purchase, I had a chance of unlocking additional content. This really made me as a player engage because I like to play games which involve chance and purchasing that can was just like purchasing a lottery ticket although I had a chance to win something within the game. Gamification is becoming such a large part in our lives to help us learn better, experience more and engage with the parts of our lives that we may consider boring or difficult. Gamification allows us to add elements to get others engaged with what we are aiming for, this is why it works effectively within business and it gets everyone playing and working effectively for the same goal.

Visual decision making

This week was our one to one with tutors and after a conversation with Paul we managed to highlight a few areas that have been possibly overlooked or just not considered enough. I have made the decision to go back to basics and address the importance of good visual decision making.

‘Another body of web user experience research shows that website users are powerfully influenced by aesthetics, and that positive perceptions of order, beauty, novelty, and creativity increase the user’s confidence in a site’s trustworthiness and usability.’

This statement only backs up the importance of making the correct visual decisions otherwise it will affect the users perception of your work, either it be a website or a game. This does not mean that visuals should come before making work function, but visuals should enhance what functionality your product has because there’s lots of evidence that beauty enhances usability.

I thought I would address this matter by looking at how people critique art as the process would be the same as when choosing out designs, creating sketches and helping in my development of a project.

  1. Technical Skill

How good is the technique? Is the style suited for the target audience e.g. Cel shading, Realistic?

In art there is a lot of experimentation in which the results do not achieve the goals desired for example Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” used an experimental technique when mixing the pigment and plaster and because of this the artwork began decomposing. It takes a lot of practise for the skill to meet what your dream results but as you grow so will your art so that you will be able to achieve the results you want with study and practice.

I feel technical skill when designing games is important as we follow a design process and each stage of this has to be correctly applied meeting with good skill in order to produce effective results. This is why we should not ignore drawing or other important parts of the process but challenge it and in time the end result will be worth it. Reflecting over my work, I have felt like my technical skill is still in need of development but I know this, and I feel that with every passing year this is continuing to improve. I do not feel as if I compromise as often anymore, although sometimes it is present I try my best to apply the skill and expand on what I know to avoid this in the future. An example of this is my work within UE4, I feel as if Blueprints has been a struggle for me although I did pick up some skills within it, it is not where I would like it to be. I have intensions of tackling this issue during summer so that when addressed with the dilemma again I will be able to tackle it with less issues.

  1. Composition

Composition is when we look at how elements interact with each other. For example does the colour, shape and texture work together or do we need to make changes for it to do so. Did the artist just throw this together or did he do his research and made educated changes? Does the result appear awkward, if so, why?

We have to remember that not everything is perfect and as humans we notice these things but fail to notice why or if it had been done intentionally. I feel composition can be researched and applied effectively, and no matter the result of this as long as you have points to back up your decisions rather than making uneducated choices then your work will have its own stability. In games design, we must make decisions on things in things such as the development stages of our projects and if we cannot get the composition right then there is little point in developing this into a final product otherwise it will fall through for many reasons, for example it may not meet the target audiences needs or fit the brief completely as you are compromising decision making.

In reflection to my composition, I feel this is the thing that I have compromised the most as I feel I have researched only generally and have not considered things such as if the colours are working correctly or if I am using the correct text and images for my project. A clear example of this has been within my ongoing gamification project. Yes, I did research into this in regards as the app itself and its target audience but I did a fragment of research in regards to the visual side of it and because of this it has made the app look visually poor. Due to this being a project I have intension of completing over summer I have every intension of approaching the issue and having a complete do over in regards to the visual side of things and consider things such as correct fonts, effective colour pallets and a better interface. With all these together, plus the recent adaptions to the project such as having it appear more realistic by having an animated hand using the app. I feel as if it will bring the gamification project to its peak and will be able to distinguish itself as an application rather than an animation.

  1. Content

In art it is important that we have a feel for the message that the artist is trying to convey to us as the audience. It is important that we can see how well the artist transfers this message to us and how effective they have been at doing so. For example if we were looking at biblical art showing Hell then we would expect harsh colours as Hell is portrayed as the worst place to be. We would expect Heaven to be perfect with light colours and perfect in every way possible.

As a game designer we would also want to convey a particular message to our audience, this could be about the pains of war to things such as the struggle of managing our own farms. Game designers have the opportunity to show games in fully immersive 3d and even more so with equipment such as the Oculus rift now readily becoming available we can show our content in a more dynamic environment. In comparison to other media, we have more ways to express ourselves than ever before and to not use this as a way to bring home our message to the audience would be one of the worst decisions that we could make.

When considering my project work, I feel as if this is something that I have managed to do rather well as I have always made sure that the application meets the requirements of its audience and thus being portrayed in the correct way. I have tried to make my projects engaging although I do know improvements can and will be made in the near future I am satisfied with how I have dealt with the content side of things. Although, I do feel like my considerations with the composition may have affected my content side of things, I do feel as if my overall message or idea of my projects have managed to come through.

Glossary of terms

Term Explanation
Brand Guideline Document This is a document which gives restrictions to what someone can do with the brand but also gives way for where creativity can be applied. This means restrictions on sizing, logo changes, fonts etc.
Plagiarism This is when someone uses either an image or some text without correctly referencing the original source, thus making the individual to be committing plagiarism.
Pipeline A pipeline is a structure in which a company can work in order to achieve the best results. For example an art team could be a part of a big pipeline working alongside others to create a game.
Gamification This is when you take game mechanics and apply them in non-game settings for example gamification is used within education to make learning more fun.
Avatar An avatar is a digital representation of a person that you have made. People often make avatars based on their personality or how they actually look.
Copyright Copyright is when your work is legally protected for a particular number of years so that other individuals can’t use it without asking permission, crediting you and sometimes even having to pay a fee for using it.
Catharsis Catharsis is similar to venting, it is letting go and having relief from emotions which are sometimes repressed in an individual. Greek translation of ‘Katharsis’ means “Purification”
Grinding This is when a person continuously does something to achieve a goal for example people on Runescape may grind killing monsters to achieve the max level in the quickest time possible to achieve a skill cape.
Immersion Immersion is being deeply mentally involved within something for example when you find yourself deeply involved in a book.
Indie Game An indie game is a game made by a small company or an individual.
Intellectual Property Intellectual Property is pretty much anything an individual makes although an idea isn’t intellectual property
Level A level is a section of the game which is distinguished by a start and end point. A level could be an area, a chapter or even a skill.
Mechanic This is something which alters the game, such as an interaction. This breaks down into three different types of mechanics; Actions, constraints and conditions.
MMORPG This stands for massively multiplayer online role playing game. E.g World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Everquest.
Milestone A milestone is a checkpoint that an individual can achieve; this could be a level milestone or even a milestone in a quest. It helps break up big achievements with smaller goals.
Narrative Narrative is the story which is given to a game. There are many different types of narrative.
Publisher This is someone who sells the game to the general public. There are three types of publishers; mega-publishers, portfolio publishers and single franchise publishers. The one you use will depend on how you want your game to sell.
Sandbox Play Sandbox play is basically when the world can be played as the player chooses. The computer can make small decisions but mainly this comes down to the player.
Risk This is when something may be difficult and can cause the player to experience some kind of loss for example if the quest is lost then the player must start the quest again.
Reward This is something that is given to the play for completing an event or for achieving a goal.
User Interface The user interface is what the player interacts with.
Unique Selling Point The unique selling point are points which make your game different and unique when comparing against a similar game.
AAA games This is a high budget game which has had a lot of promotion.
Casual Game A casual game is something that can be played passively and typically appear on mobile and tablet devices.
Cinematic This is a scene which is a movie is inserted to break up the game and give the game narrative.
Cut Scene This is similar to a cinematic but is made from a software suit such as 3dsmax and have allowed to insert real characters rather than a separate film.
Iterative This is something that can be repeated on loop yet has small changes. For example play testing
Incremental This is something that is repeated on loop yet contains a variable resulting in changed each time. E.g. code. Another example is making small changes in a play test you can change the game slightly and see the different results.
Patent A patent is a document which says you are the one who has created your invention and gives you protection encase you need to take legal action.
Outsource This is when you hire someone from outside of a company to help you within your project for example IT Staff can be outsourced which would save money rather than have someone In house.
Platformer This is a game in which a player gets around the environment usually on platforms at random positions on the screen.
Playtest This is testing a game during different parts of a games development to help iron out any bugs or issues that a player may encounter while playing the game.
Trademark A trademark is a sign, symbol, word or words which are legally registered to distinguish your goods and services from other businesses. The trademark has to be distinctive and help explain what goods you are trying to sell or the service you are wanting to provide.
Agon This means Contest/Competition
Alea This means Chance
Mimicry This means Role playing
Ilinix This means Vertigo (Dizzyness, Spinning)
Ludus Controlled play – Games with rules, manuals and limits
Paidea Spontaneous play – Improvised, Childhood essence
Flow When skill meets challenge this can invoke flow depending on if that skill and challenge is right for you as a user. Everyone needs different things to reach flow.
Ludology The study of games and gaming in particular to video games
Play Engaging in an activity which is seen as fun
Player This is the individual who participates in play
Repertoire This is something that someone knows and commonly performs
Reward Schedule The reward schedule is a delivery mechanism in which the player will receive a reward during a particular point in its timeline. E.g. a player is rewarded at the end of a quest.
Alpha Map This allows you to create a ‘cut out’ effect using black and white channels.
Normal Map This allows you to create bump information on a model.
Roughness Map Allows you to make a model appear either shiny or rough.
Physical Based Rendering This uses a range of maps to create industry standard textures (Albedo, Roughness, Ambient Occlusion and Normal Maps)
Ambient Occlusion Map This map generates soft shadowing and can be stored as a texture.
Active Layer This is the layer that you are currently.
Anti-Aliasing This smooths any jaggered lines or smoothens roughness
Contrast The difference in luminance or colour which helps when trying to distinguish
Bevels This is something that appears in many software suites and allows you, for example, edit a poly in which it creates a slope on a surface or an edge.
Burn Tool The burn tool allows you to darken particular areas on an image, comes in useful when trying to make tileable textures
Brand This is a logo, symbol, name, saying, images or even colours which help distinguish a particular company.
Polygon A flat plain made up of three edges or more
Triangle This is a polygon made up of three sides or edges
Quad This is a polygon made up of four sides or edges
N-Gon This is a polygon made up of five sides or edges and should be avoided as it effects rendering time
Optimization This is the act of making something fully functional and work as effectively as possible to create the best experience or to get something working as best as it can.
LOD Models This stands for level of detail, not all models will use a LOD process but it is good for those models which have a very high polycount which you don’t want a lot of detail seen at a distance.
UV Map This is the process of making a 3d model into a 2d surface for you to manipulate usually for textures.
Texture This is an image which usually has been altered to go onto a 3d model.
Texture Resolution This is how big or small the texture is (256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096)
Light Map This gives the light information such as the brightness of surfaces to the model. This is all pre-computed and static so that it doesn’t have to be dynamic which would put a lot of pressure on the engine.
Shaders This is a bit of software which runs on a graphics card to help the graphics card device how an object should be drawn.
Rigging This helps determine the characters skeleton structure so that motion can be added to create an animation and give it life.
Skinning This is the process of attaching the character mesh to the skeletal parts
GUI Graphical User Interface – A visual way of interacting using icons and menus.
Scripting This is writing a piece of software in a particular language, in some instances helps with the functionality of a game
Archetype A very typical example or an original which has been imitated. Also something that is recurrent e.g. mythological archetypes of good and evil.
Bug An error or a flaw in a computer program which causes the software/hardware to act in a unpredictable way.
Development This is the act of process, developing means that you are currently in the middle stage of creating something. ‘It’s under development’
Targa Truevision TGA often known as TARGA. This is a raster graphics file format. Known also as .TGA
JPEG Known as .JPEG or .JPG, this is a compression file format used for images.
MP3 Known as MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 but ends in a .MP3 file format, this is an compression file format used for audio.
Stakeholder This is a person who has some connection to an organisation either that be an interest, concern or sometimes helps with the finances of the business.