Friday, 31 December 2010

My Top 5 Games of 2010

So, 2010 is drawing to a close, and what an awesome year it has been! Not only have there been loads of awesome games, but I also got to go to TGS (Tokyo Game Show) this year, so all round I'd say 2010 has been pretty good. Now the official Game of the Year was announced at the VGAs, and that was Red Dead Redemption, but I thought I'd take the time to talk a bit about my personal top 5 games of 2010 (in no particular order).


Castlevania Lord of Shadows
This game is absolutely outstanding, and if I had to choose my game of the year, it'd probably be this. Firstly, the storytelling throughout the game was brilliant, and the voice cast only enhanced this further; and the ending was really unexpected. Secondly the combat in this game felt really weighted, which is something that I think some Hack and Slashes lack, and the combos/moves you could unlock were just awesome. Finally, need I say anything else really? Awesome storytelling, great gameplay, it's a winner.

Fable III
I think the fact that I played through Fable III twice in the space of about 3 days is a pretty clear indication that I enjoyed this game. I especially enjoyed playing co-op with TwoSixNine, and seeing how differently our characters developed throughout the story (I went down the path of evil); I also liked the way that those developments were saved as statues along the "Road to Rule". Admittedly the game wasn't perfect, and we had to restart the entire game once when we glitched inside Reavers Mansion, but surprisingly these glitches didn't bother me in the slightest and didn't detract from the enjoyment of the game at all.

Halo Reach
The campaign in this game may have been a bit short, but there was so much going on, and so much variation from mission to mission that you really don't notice it. Again the addition of co-op makes the campaign that much more enjoyable (my team: TwoSixNine, Fumetsu Natsu and Saigon). The new armour abilities are a nice addition, and they really mix things up when playing multiplayer.

Heavy Rain
I decided to overlook the massive plot hole in this game, and commend it for what it really is. It was almost nostalgic playing this game, because it reminded me of the days when I used to play Broken Sword. Admittedly Heavy Rain isn't exactly a point and click game, but the detective aspects and the involvement in the narrative really brought back memories. I liked the way that you played as different characters throughout the story, because it provided some really interesting ideas when trying to work out how the story was going to play out, and I also liked the way that the game could have multiple endings.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit
I was originally going to put this in the additional mentions, and not as one of my "Top Games of 2010" but then I realised quite how much it surprised me, and how much enjoyment I got out of it. After playing GT5 till I couldn't handle boredom any longer, it was really refreshing to play an arcadey racing game that didn't take itself seriously. Multiplayer is definitely where this game shines though; when you play with a full party of 8 people (4 cops and 4 racers) and you are driving at top speed trying to avoid oncoming cars, treacherous spike strips and inconvenient road blocks whilst being chased by the cops, the adrenaline really kicks in.

Additional Mentions
As I said at the start of this post, there have been loads of amazing games this year, and naturally not all of them can fit into a "Top 5", but I just thought I would list a few other games that I really enjoyed this year.


Assassins Creed Brotherhood
Admittedly I would much rather have had AC3 with another new character from Desmond's ancestry, however this game was still really enjoyable. It started off a bit slowly, and the repetitive missions made a slight return, however when you get about 4 chapters into the game, it really starts to pick up. The addition of the brotherhood was a nice feature, especially when you have a full team of assassins that all jump in to help you out. Multiplayer was also a nice addition that actually works really well, when you can actually get into a game; I would probably have played it a bit longer had the matchmaking been a bit better.

Monster Hunter Portable 3rd
I played Monster Hunter Tri this year, but out of the two, I felt Portable 3rd was the one to mention. Given that Tri took out a fair few weapons, it was nice to see them return in Portable 3rd. I think this game is definitely a lot easier than Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, given that I haven't had any real trouble fighting any of the monsters yet, which is a shame in some respects given that I liked the challenge, but perhaps it will get harder nearer the end, especially when I come to fight Black Tigrex.

Crackdown 2
This game may not be for everyone, but I had endless amounts of fun playing this. I think it makes all the difference when you have an awesome group of people to play co-op with (TwoSixNine, Dr McMystery and Agent T) and when you combine that with a game that is so crazy in its own respect, you have the formula for a hilarious co-op experience. The game is most enjoyable when your armour skills are maxed out, and you're all running around throwing cars and trucks at each other while jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
This is definitely one of the best games on the PSP to date, and the inclusion of a Monster Hunter cameo was a nice bonus. My only gripe with this game was how it was so broken up. I completely understand that the game was designed as a hand-held game, so the way that missions were broken up was to lend itself to portable play, but I did find that it detached you from the story a bit. Despite that I thoroughly enjoyed the game, and the art style cut-scenes were awesome.

3D Dot Game Heroes
I haven't actually got round to completing this game yet, but I felt it deserved a mention not just because it's an awesome game so far, but because it was also a big influence in one of the group projects I did last term (we made an RTS with a 3D Dot Game Heroes visual style).

So that's it, that's my top 5 games for 2010, and a few additional mentions. Tune in tomorrow when I talk about my most anticipated games for 2011.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Self Promotion 03

This is going to be my last "self promotion" related post, so I figure I may as well summarise everything I haven't mentioned up to this point.

As I stated a while back, I have been holding off on actually sending any applications given that up until recently, I didn't have a portfolio to show any potential employers, and as a result, I have just been compiling a long list of company's that offer jobs that may well be relevant to someone in my situation. Now I know that might not be the best way to go about things, given that some people may think "what if you add a job to your list, and then when you get round to applying, it isn't available any more?", and this is very true, but at least I am building up a 'map' of relevant places that I can apply to; either way, it's how I'm doing things, and that's that.


One of the most recent jobs I added to the list was that of a graduate programmer at Black Rock Studios. Their requirements are someone with "strong C++ skills", "a 2:1 or above in a Computer Science related subject" and of course, "enthusiasm in the games industry". Well I can definitely tick off the last one, that's for sure! As for the other two, well the second one I will obviously have to wait until I graduate, but that suits me fine. As for the first requirement, well that's a maybe; the thing I hate about looking at job applications that say "strong C++ skills" is that I don't have anything to go by when 'rating' my skills. What exactly does "strong C++ skills" really mean? I mean I have a good grasp of the language, and can program to what I believe to be a competent level, but is that enough? I guess the only way to find out is to try, which is what I will do, when the time is right. I guess it doesn't help that my natural instinct is to always assume I don't know "enough". But I will remain determined and I will believe in myself and my abilities!

Aside from that, the other thing I have recently completed was some research for one of my tutors who works in the games industry. He emailed the class over the Christmas holiday with the opportunity to do a "days work" for him in the form of market research. So naturally I jumped at the opportunity, and it seems only a couple of other people did as well, so god knows what the rest of the class was doing! But that is irrelevant, because I chose to do it, and as a result that is something else I can now put on my CV!

Finally the other thing I did to ensure I am up to date on any jobs that might be relevant to me, is sign up to the job-related news letter on, so I receive updates that detail job opportunities that get posted on their site. And seeing as I receive emails on my phone, I can get job updates no matter where I am!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

My Website is Live!

This post is a little late, given that I completed my site back at the beginning of December, but I only recently got round to actually posting about it, so apologies on my part. However that aside, my website is now officially up, and can be found at (or for the coursework version of my site).

You may notice, if you read my website development post, that the final site looks slightly different to that of the template I chose; that is because once I had completed the whole site, I showed it to a few people and they all seemed to agree that the 'paint splat' that appeared behind the main window looked a bit "tacky" or "unprofessional", so I opted for a much cleaner, sleeker looking option that still featured the colour changing background for different sections, but instead it was done using blocks of colour to create a 'barcode' effect of sorts.

Now that my site is up, I will continue to update it as and when I complete more projects so as to build up my portfolio. In the meantime, at least I can contact companies from now on confident that when they ask to see my portfolio, I will at least have something to show them that I am proud of.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

Mock Interview


As part of the Professional Practice module, I was required to partake in a mock interview to help gear me up for the real thing. The original interview was supposed to take place last week in front of three different tutors, and the whole thing was supposed to be filmed so that we could look back on it in the hope that it would give us some insight into how to improve.

Anyway, that was the plan, however I woke up on the day of the mock interview only to find about 18 inches of snow outside my house! And in typical British fashion, the train stations (yes plural!) near me closed, and there was definitely no way I was getting a bus to London, so I emailed my tutors to give them the "low down", and they told me to rearrange it for this week. Admittedly having to rearrange it meant I would only be able to have my interview with one of the three tutors, and it wasn't going to be filmed, but it would still prove to be beneficial.

So before the actual interview, we were asked to chose from one of three fictional job opportunities; the job opportunities themselves were taken from genuine company websites, so at least the mock interview would seem that much more real. Out of the three opportunities I chose to 'apply' for a programming role at Rebelion, so I did my research into the company and its history so I would be ready for any questions thrown my way.

During the interview, my tutor made notes relating to my responses to said questions, so that I could use it to learn how to improve when I actually come to have a real interview.

To summarise, my main weakness was that I didn't explain things in depth. For example when asked to talk about projects I do outside university, I mentioned a good example, but I didn't go too in depth; I explained the overall project, and my role within said project, but apparently it would have been better if I'd gone a bit more in depth, and given the potential employer a real understanding of exactly what I did. I guess I was just worried of talking for too long, so I tried to keep my explanations short, but at least I know now.

That aside, everything else seemed fine; I was told that I had good knowledge of future developments, and the direction in which the industry is going, I also seemed to display a good knowledge of the company, and any time I was asked to give examples relating to the questions asked, apparently the examples I gave were good, and varied. So all in all I felt the experience was extremely useful, it helped me to see my strengths and weaknesses, and in turn will enable me to ensure I don't make the same mistakes when I come face to face with a real interview opportunity.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Website Development

As part of my self promotion attempts, I have begun developing my own website. The website will serve as an online portfolio that I can then show to potential employers.

I began by designing a couple of different templates in varying different colours. The first of which ended up being a bit too small to function as a practical website; I think I got a bit too carried away with the whole graphic design side of things. But I did like a few things about it, so decided to transfer them to my second design.



In my second design I decided to expand on the way that my logo cut out the side of the page, but this time I opted to use the full logo as opposed to just the 'A', this way it would allow me to maintain the essence of the first design, but have a much larger page to display any information that would be present on my site. And again, I made a few different colour variations. I also added different colour buttons for the different sections of the website. I also decided to colour coordinate the background colour of the website to represent each main section; one for home, profile, portfolio and contact pages.





With the designs complete, the next step was to develop the actual website using Flash. So check back soon for an update on when the site goes live!