Virtual Landscapes 1
The Embryonic Era (1980-1989)
de Umran Ali
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Virtual Landscapes: The Embryonic Era (1980-1989)
The magical essence of natural landscapes since the dawn of man have been a source of intrigue, wonder and inspiration in art, philosophy and literature. With each new era in civilisation, new methods of creative expression have been used by artists, designers and writers to capture the rich natural landscapes, and with the 21st century and the emergence of new interactive technologies, this innate desire is being expressed through the digital domain.
From the giant mushroom forests of Morrowind, the Archipelago islands of Zelda: Wind Waker, to the tropical underground caves of Phantasy Star Online, Virtual landscapes have enthralled, captured and engaged player imaginations for over 30 years. Virtual Landscapes is a three part series attempting to, for the first time, visually illustrate, share and critically reflect upon the unique, virtual natural landscapes within Computer & Video Games.
Virtual Landscapes: The Embryonic Era visually illustrates the emergence and rapid evolution of the virtual natural landscapes in computer & video games from 1980 to 1989. From the pixel based, block form environments of Forbidden Forest, the strange lands of Golvellius, the eerie 'ant-farm' landscapes of Ghouls'n Ghosts and finally to shifting interactive lands of Populous, Virtual Landscapes presents these virtual spaces for the first time, in stunning unseen digitally enhanced. high resolution and panoramic forms.
I currently work as Director of Creative Media for the School of Media, Music, & Performance at the University of Salford. I’m based in University MediaCity Campus(and it’s amazing). For a number of years I worked as the Programme Leader for the flagship B.Sc Computer & Video Games programme, a practice based degree which involved all aspects of the design & production of games, I taught at the University from 2004 then lead the CVG programme team from 2006-2011, and recently moved up to the position of Director of Creative Media. My real passion(work is great don’t get me wrong!) is games, design, production, innovation around the processes of the design & construction of games, specifically natural landscapes. I’m fascinated about Virtual landscapes, the form and how the design has changed over the last 30 years. My research (Ph.D.) is focused around both the historical development of Natural Virtual Environments (NVE’s) and proposing new tools, techniques and guidelines for future