Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Games Banner Evolution

Just a small bonus post. When coming up with the new banner design for the York Vision games page, I experimented a little to see if I came up with a style I liked. There are a few images that predate the ones shown here, but they've unfortunately gotten lost in the depths of the internet and office servers.

These two were my first designs. They don't really pay much attention to page width, and the characters on the side would end up stretching into the body of the page...

The waves were a bit too uniform, so I went for something more customised - a chain of 'nodes' and connecting lines intertwining with eachother. Amusingly, I got this idea from a Pokémon Card. The character now has a pattern of circles to be propped on, and to give them a bit a framing.

The basic finished design. I removed a layer of Nodes since it looked to cluttered, and changed the font. The font coloring was taken from Digi-Boy on the right, but they later became a fixed scheme on subsequent banners, and for headings in articles themselves.

The Finished design, set to fit the page dimensions of the newspaper, and at a resolution Adobe InDesign would like. The pattern of the Nodes had to be extended so it fit right across the page.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 208

The last of the articles I've written this year, and what will be my penultimate issue with York Vision.

This was to be another issue with a guest writer; but that entirely fell through - and very close to the dealine, leaving things in a bit of a hazardous state.

The main deal with this issue was the report on E3, but due to the sheer scale of content that took place during the Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft conferences (saying nothing of the conferences held by other publishers), there was no way I'd be able to cram in all the information I wanted to discuss; especially not on a single page. I will post the extended versions of the conference reports on here.

The Paper Mario article was a replacement for the AWOL entry from the guest writer; and honestly isn't anything outstanding. I found out here that the way Adobe InDesign deals with cutting out images is in no way Sprite-friendly. I had to take steps to make sure the edges of Mario and friends weren't prematurely sliced off.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 207

It's a miracle this article turned out how it did. Although I planned for the content in advance (A mixture of being able to do my own research at a gaming expo event, and holding another brainstorming session at The Spriters Resource Community), when it came to production week, I had fallen very ill. I dragged myself to the offices to get some of the work done - and succeeded - but it was with barely any of the formatting and style that I normally try to put into my work. Things looked pretty dire.

Fortunately, the Editor who ranked above me was able to work on the page in my absence, and saved it from being a complete train wreck. I was eventually able to get my shit sorted, and added the formatting finishing touches. You can tell that some of the layout features aren't in my usual style, but in a way it makes the page look even fresher. The background gradient turned out way too desaturated though.

While I do complain about my situation in York Vision, there were at least one or two people who cared enough to look out for me. I'm lucky.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 206

By this point I had settled into a rhythm with making pages for the paper. While the placement of the content varied from issue to issue, a lot of the basic templating carried over, making the construction of new pages a fairly speedy process.

Since the main draw of the issue was the Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver review, the Banner for the page was added to include a Pokéball, and featured a vector art of Rotom by Raylax. (The man has some skills, mad props to him).

The Pokémon review was nothing special. Compared to other publications (y'know, the ones people pay for and actually read), they had much more time and space to go into a fair bit more detail about the game than I did, which is probably the most crippling restriction with only having a single page to work with every issue. My main aim was to appeal to the people who haven't played the games - or maybe who only played the first generation of Pokémon installments - to give this new game a try. I never saw anyone with a Pokéwalker around after this got published; so I suppose I failed.

The Beat Hazard Vs. Audiosurf article was fun to write. The hardest part was fitting all the information on the page in an attractive way; especially with trying to cram screenshots of both games on there. What I ended up with wasn't haf bad, in my opinion.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 205

Now that I'd managed to get an entire page published on my own, it was time to step up my game. Issue 204 looked good (at least to me), but there were flaws. Although the page looked good on the screen, a lot of the images came out blurry and at a low resolution. The circuit board background was light enough to have the text above it readable, but it could still have done with tweaking.

I took these flaws on board, and corrected them with Issue 205. As a result, this one is probably my favourite in terms of layout. With the old format established by the previous Editor kicked to the curb, I was free to go for column articles, and features of varying lengths. The banner and background adapted to a different colour completely flawlessly. Changing the colours cheme was as easy as cake, and made the page look brand new each time.

This issue was to feature a guest writer, and has since been the only issue to do so. His original request was to do a review (Bioshock 2) which would have been an incredible help; I didn't have easy access to an Xbox 360 or a PS3 at the time, so he could appeal to an audience I could not. However, it turned out that he canceled on this idea at the last moment, and instead submitted AtmosFEAR. The article was fine (if wordy); but it left me in a hard-pressed position to come up with a review.

Therefore, the Ace Attourney Investigations review didn't arrive in best condition, and actually made print with a few bad typos still intact. It was all horribly embrassing.

The Co-Op gaming article was much better. The 5 games were thought up between me and the (mostly) lovely members of The Spriters Resource Community. Playing with a friend is quite possibly the greatest joy in gaming for me, and this article reflected that.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 204

This Issue is where I became the main Editor for the Games Page on the York Vision newspaper - at least partially because no one else was interested in doing the job. A bit of a hollow victory; but it meant that I now had full stylistic reign over the page; and I was completely set on changing the old ugly format that existed before.

The great thing to come out of this was that I now was having my photoshop and graphical design skills tested, along side my writing. Taking on a position with the newspaper is something that I am never going to regret - I've improved so many skills!

The order of the day was to come up with a design that was simple, modern, and clean; but also reflected the gaming aspect the page was about. I tried out a few test designs (Which, have since probably have gotten lost in the aether...); and settled on the 'node' design below. The way it was set up meant that I could change the colour scheme and the character on the right at will.

The texture at the bottom was taken from www.cgtextures.com, referred to me by an internet friend; and it's definitely helped me with various photoshoppery since.

I'm very happy with the articles in this one. Torchlight is a great game produced by a small, not very well-known company. While a lot of student gamers may be using Steam as a vehicle for playing PC games, not all of them might be aware of the hidden gems that it sells.

The interview with Tyvon Thomas is the first professional interview I've ever done, and it was a total thrill. Since then, his site has grown a lot! Head over to www.pixelxcore.net and check it out. Tell 'em GrooveMan sent you.

Article Catchup: York Vision Issue 202

It's been a while since I update here last, but I've definitely not stopped writing. I've finished an entire year working for the York Vision newspaper; and as such I've racked up a nice collection of articles.

Some of these articles I have saved .jpg copies of, so you can see the layouts of the pages too.

This issue, 208, is one of the earlier papers back when I wasn't the main editor for the games page. This meant that I had no say over the stylistic choices for the layout, which was... pretty bad.

The decision to do Style Boutique/Style Savvy as a review largely spawned from a dare imposed by a friend. After trying it out, I found it to be a really unique experience; so doing a review of something outside my gaming comfort zone sounded like something special. I'm happy with how the article itself turned out - even if the badly stretched images pretty much ruin the final piece.

The Gaming Cookbook  feature I've already posted here - this was the issue it was meant to be a part of. It's nothing special - and in retrospect, not as funny as I thought it was. Ho hum.

As a side note, I'd actually produced images for both of my articles to appear in this issue, but they weren't included in this version of the page. Before this issue went to print I was able to restructure the Style Boutique article to have better-fitting images and the image I took.