Top 10 Video Games of All Time

clock September 19, 2016 14:16 by author EliciaT

Ranking the best video games of all time is incredibly difficult. To some, it doesn’t feel like the video game industry began that long ago. There has been some debate as to when the first video game was created. But, many argue that the first record of a video game was in 1958, when an American physicist named William Higinbotham created Tennis for Two. Of course, it wasn’t until the Pacman and Asteroid games of the 70s and 80s that video games, as we traditionally think of them, took off.

In that timespan, there have been some amazing and groundbreaking video games developed that deserve recognition. In this blog, we are ranking the top video games (only one from a franchise) of all time, based on several factors, such as: story, animation, characters and gamer popularity.

10. World of Warcraft

 

The multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft may be considered dated compared to games like Skyrim. However, it wasn’t the world’s most popular MMORPG game for no reason. Its creative use of questing and resting or player pauses, may have set the tone for future role-playing game successes.

9. BioShock

 

BioShock is a solid video game series. However, when it comes to which game is the best, we vote for the original BioShock. This is because of the creators’ strategic and artistic use of a detailed and dark atmosphere to help tell the intriguing story.

8. Halo: Reach

Choosing the best from the first-person shooter game franchise Halo, is a toss up. But, because of its adrenaline-inducing, finite time to save a planet and advanced multiplayer capabilities, Halo: Reach wins it. It also has more detailed graphics and scenes that make you feel more like part of the doomed planet.

7. Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 is a little over 20 years old, but it is still one of the best games to date. Of course the graphics aren’t much, compared to today’s standards. At the time, they had an unusual artistic 3D quality. The game had solid player capabilities and challenges, fun Easter eggs, and intuitive controls.

6. Final Fantasy X

 

Final Fantasy is another amazing video game franchise that has a string of successful titles. With so many to choose from, it is hard to select just one for this list. However, Final Fantasy X is on here for two main reasons: the cinematic storytelling and quality character design.

5. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Instead of giving gamers whatever features and customization that they want, Call of Duty 4 used constraints to enhance the overall game experience. The designers really stuck to the idea of submerging the player into the game world by using realistic body and facial animations and gritty, detailed settings.

4. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 is one of those games that has graphics, animation and a story so well-crafted that it gives you chills. Over 10 years old, it still holds up to the test of time with unique camera angles, and eerie, isolated village environments that make you genuinely feel like you are alone and fighting vicious zombies in a life-and-death battle.

3. Portal 2

 

When it feels like a ton of video games follow the same or similar model, Portal 2 is a breath of fresh air. It’s imaginative storyline that touches on artificial intelligence and its unique environment are what makes it a truly great game. There are not targets or enemies that you need to kill, but instead puzzles. Those features, combined with its solid graphics and animation make it one of the top.

2. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

There are few video games that can live up to Zelda. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first Zelda game to feature 3D graphics and it was even listed as a Guinness record highest rated game. The music and story, which intertwines time travel, a love story and a hero’s journey are a few other reasons that you could go on all day about its greatness.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

 

Skyrim, the role-playing game by Bethesda has great game design, plot devices, character features and animation but most importantly, it has a unique quality that not only makes players enjoy it the first time but the thousandth time that they play. This is probably because of it's seamlessly never-ending challenges and player mods. Mods can result in funny and breathtaking scenes within the game.

What video games would be on your top 10 list?



Why Motion Capture Isn’t The Best Bet for Your 3D Business

clock October 11, 2013 23:18 by author MattW

Facial Animation is one of the hardest things to do when dealing in 3D animation. Capturing the exact expression of a face and then translating that into a 3D program is very difficult. Many animators turn to a technology called Motion Capture to successfully animate the face, but it isn’t always necessary to do so. There is a better alternative, called Curve Controlled modeling which could be better for facial animators.

Why Isn’t Motion Capture Best Bet?

So basically the way motion capture works is by placing cameras and markers (in many cases)  around the subject, capturing the motion of the specific parts and then applying that movement to the 3D model piece by piece. This includes expensive software and equally expensive hardware. The cameras that are used can be very pricey, especially when you get up into the higher resolutions.

Motion capture also needs to happen in an environment conducive to collecting motion data, in other words, a studio. The lighting and space needs to be perfect in order for the motion capture to be as accurate as possible.

What is Curve Controlled Modeling?

Curve Controlled Modeling or CCM is a type of 3D animation that is completely software based, meaning that it doesn’t require the expensive hardware costs of motion capture. It uses software tool called a NURBs or Non-uniform rational B-spline curve to simulate the movement of muscles, making it ideal for facial animation.

Without getting into the complex equations that make it work, NURBs curves are equations that allow animation software programs to animate the muscles of a 3D object. Changing a part of the equation correlates to a specific movement around a control point (or more than one). This allows for astonishingly complex movements to be generated very quickly, which is something you will need in order to successfully animate the facial muscles. 

Why is it Better?

There is no denying that motion capture has its uses. In fact, it is one of the most used technologies in the animation industry. The biggest problem, at least for most animators, is that it requires expensive equipment to pull off, and also requires the right environment to get it right. That means that unless you have a huge budget or a corporation backing you, large scale motion capture is probably out of your price range.

With CCM, all you need is a software program, and the knowledge of how to use it. It is relatively easy to get both of these things, while it might be relatively hard to obtain the tools to correctly use motion capture.

Conclusion

Curve Controlled Modeling is not simple to grasp but it IS simple to use once you start. CCM is also much cheaper since it is a software-only solution. It will allow even the most modest animator to pull off facial animation without spending thousands of dollars on expensive camera and sensor equipment. With the complex and feature rich software that is available on the market for CCM animation, you’ll be able to animate complex facial muscles without spending an arm and a leg and without setting up a studio.




What is Motion Capture?

clock October 11, 2013 23:16 by author MattW

3D Animation is one of the fastest growing niches of software development. One of the areas that is most interesting inside that niche is motion capture. Motion capture is one of the best ways to translate living and moving objects into 3D projects. The question is what is it really; what is it used for; and what are some examples of its uses. That will be our quest in this article.

First Off What is Motion Capture?

To put it simply, motion capture is the act or process of recording a moving object. The object can be anything from your mom doing dishes to a rock rolling down a hillside. Sensors and cameras catch the motion of the real world object and then translate that movement on to a digital oriented object. So, for example, if you were capturing a rock rolling down a hill, the movement of that rock would be translated into the computer and projected on to a similar digital object, like a rock on a hillside.

To get more technical, at least for a minute, motion capture takes snapshots at a certain rate of the real world motion. This is done by using sensors attached to the object (in many cases), and by pointing precision cameras at the object as it moves. The rate at which the motion is captured determines the accuracy of the digital transformation. The data that comes out of the cameras and sensors is then fed into a computer running 3D animation software, which coordinates the real world movement with the digital object.

What is it Good For?

So motion capture has many uses, and in many ways the technology is still evolving. As cameras get better at capturing small movements, motion capture technology also gets better. Motion capture is used in many places that you see animations such as movies (particularly 3D movies), television shows, and more entertainment-style uses. It is also used in universities and laboratories to study human movement for medical purposes and user interface study.

Examples of its Uses

So the most obvious use of motion capture is in moves. Films like Happy Feet (which portrayed a group of penguins) and Cars(which was a story about cars) both used motion capture to assist in the animation of the movie elements.

Other, more obscure, uses of motion capture exist. As we mentioned above, it is used in medicine to study the effects of motion on the human body. It is also used to study the way humans interact with both digital and real world user interfaces. The data collected from both of these uses is used to better medical equipment in the former, and to improve how we use machines and digital interfaces in the latter.

Motion capture is also used in virtual reality and augmented reality. Both of these fields have uses outside of the university. Virtual reality uses it for gaming, and augmented reality uses it to overlay information on the real world.

Conclusion

In an upcoming piece, we’ll talk about the disadvantages of using motion capture in certain 3D animated situations. Until then, the best thing to know about it is that it is widely used, especially by moviemakers. You should also know that the technology is still advancing. Devices like Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect use similar technologies to advance gaming and fitness, as well as controlling user interface. Like most technology, it isn’t over until it’s over.



Gaming: 3D Facial Animation and Your Favorite Games

clock September 13, 2013 15:47 by author JerohO

With the rising popularity of multi-player games in the gaming community, the need to create characters that stand out from the multitude of characters available on gaming platforms such as World of Warcraft, Everquest etc. has never been greater and although gamers can now customize personal characters on some of these game platforms, limitations still exist. These limitations which include; poor graphic quality, limited customization options, and poor facial animations have led gamers to petition developers to either improve customization options or allow the use of third party software to create appropriate models.

The Godfather franchise took the first step of allowing players load animations of their facial features to its “mobface” platform for file conversion and integrating uploaded images on your favourite character. This bold step is sure to cause...or has caused a ripple effect in the game developer community for a majority of games now provide gamers with the option of creating 3D models of your favourite weapons, vehicles and facial expressions for use in your favourite games.

 

 

This ripple effect is been felt by both private gamers and independent (indie) game developers who create games for either mobile operating systems--iOS, Android etc.--or computing/gaming platforms such as Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony PlayStation, and Windows to name a few. Taking the Xbox XNA builders platform as an example, indie developers can now model 3D characters--both animate and inanimate--import these characters to XNA for developing their unique games.

 

For facial animation, the difficulties are much due to the need to create advanced models with realistic facial expressions for each character depending on how unique they have to be. This animating process and techniques incorporate advanced CAD modelling procedures such as character rigging, mapping, working with polygons etc. which the average indie developer has neither the knowledge to accomplish nor the funds to hire a professional graphic designer to handle. The popular Toy Story characters took a team of graphic designers and an 8 hour per facial feature rendering time to accomplish. Therefore, the solution to this conundrum lies in acquiring 3D character animation software tools with very mild learning curve that can produce high definition models at record time.

 

3D CAD Systems for Gamers and Indie Developers

 Zbrush: This is a digital sculpting tool that combines 3D modeling techniques--texturing, painting, rigging etc.--to develop animated characters for use in games and other industries. With the Zbrush, you can develop high-definition models and export them in diverse file formats for use in game building platforms. Zbrush is an advanced CAD software which means that it would be quite difficult to use by both professionals and amateurs.

 

 

Natural Front: This software simplifies the difficult process of facial animation by eliminating the need or advanced riggings, motion capture, and polygon/lighting techniques that take hours to render. Natural Front focuses on developing photo-realistic 3D facial animations/expressions that can be exported in different formats onto gaming platforms. The learning curve associated with this software is very mild and it provides separate tools for both professional animators/graphic designers and amateurs interested in modelling character features.

 Combining these software applications and game customization platforms or game builders will definitely give you the time and budget flexibility ever indie game developer desires.



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