Tuesday, 28 December 2010

New Blender book Blender 2.5 Lighting And Rendering

For all the Blender enthusiasts amongst you there is now a new book focusing on the package's abilities towards rendering scenes with realistic lighting (using both interior and exterior lighting techniques) as well as providing guidelines to reconstructing impressive results by applying light rigs and shadow effects.

The book, called Blender 2.5 Lighting And Rendering written by Aaron W. Powell and published by Packt Publishing, also offers instructions on applying color effects and step-by-step guides with practical examples that help add dimensionality to your scenes. Well recommended for the numerous Blender users and also a stark reminder of just how far a, let's not forget, free application like Blender has come in rendering quality which approximates photorealism and matches output of other more commercial packages.

https://www.packtpub.com/blender-2-5-lighting-and-rendering/book

Monday, 27 December 2010

Publication accepted at VS Games 2011 conference

I have received confirmation that a publication I have co-authored has been accepted for publication at the upcoming VS-Games 11 conference (3rd IEEE International Conference in Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications), which will be organized with full support of National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) Athens, Greece, May 4-6 2011. The conference, which will take place on the NTUA campus, aims to meet the significant challenges of the cross-disciplinary community that work around these serious application areas by bringing the community together to share case studies of practice, to present virtual world infrastructure developments, as well as new frameworks, methodologies and theories, and to begin the process of developing shared cross-disciplinary outputs.

The publication has been accepted as a full paper and is titled "Elemental: An insight into the development and evaluation of a secondary education chemistry game using XNA". This article discusses the creation of an educational game intended for UK GCSE-level content, called Elemental. Elemental, developed using Microsoft’s XNA studio and deployed both on the PC and Xbox 360 platforms, addresses the periodic table of elements, a subject with extensions in chemistry, physics and engineering. Through the development process of the game but also the eventual pilot user study with 15 subjects (using a pre and post test method to measure learning using the medium and self-report questions), examples are given on how an educator can, without expert knowledge, utilize modern programming tools to create and test custom-made content for delivering part of a secondary education curriculum.

http://www.coventry.ac.uk/ec/~fotisl/VSGames2011/index.html

Friday, 24 December 2010

Unreal Development Kit mobile iOS tutorial

Now that the Unreal Development Kit is out for the iPhone operating system (please see recent post here) we have the first (at least to my knowledge) tutorial illustrating its usage. This is suitably from Epic Games themselves. The tutorial uses an isometric Jazz Jackrabbit setting, for those unfamiliar with the name of the game it is based on an original 1994 2D platformer which launched the Epic Games brand back in the day (and which I vaguely remember playing on my 386 PC!).

Remember, the iPhone Unreal Development Kit is free for hobbyist use and from the video above the potential looks incredible! No doubt there will be many more of these tutorials to come (from Epic Games but also individual users) but this is a great taster of what can be achieved on the iPhone platform with the UDK tool.

You can view the tutorial and download all assorted files needed here.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

New city-building game RamaCity

The Hamburg-based developer Bigpoint is now adding a new social game to their string of titles (Farmerama, ZooMumba and Ponyrama) called RamaCity. This game will be free and browser-based and launched in Spring 2011. During the game, the ambitious urban planner will be called upon to turn small towns and cities into expansive metropolises, tackling more than the typical challenges as he/she can also interact with the cities of other players in a variety of imaginative ways.

Always interested to see virtual cities represented in games in such a manner and moreso in RamaCity's case, as it tackles the visualization aspect of the urban models in a (slight, yet noticeable) cartoon-shaded representation.

More about the upcoming game here, looking forward to its release date.

International Journal Of Virtual Reality article

The latest issue of the open access, online journal International Journal Of Virtual Reality (IJVR) has published an article I co-authored with colleagues at Bournemouth University, titled Automating Terrain Texturing in Real-Time Using a Rule-Based Approach.

This publication proposes a novel approach to automatically colour and texture a given terrain mesh in real time. Through the use of weighting rules, a simple syntax allows for the generation of texture and colour values based on the elevation and angle of a given vertex. It is through this combination of elevation and angle that complex features such as ridges, hills and mountains can be described, with the mesh coloured and textured accordingly. The implementation of the approach is done entirely on the GPU using 2D lookup textures, delivering a great performance increase over typical approaches that pass colour and weighting information in the fragment shader. In fact, the rule set is abstracted enough to be used in conjunction with any colouring/texturing approach that uses weighting values to dictate which surfaces are depicted on the mesh.

You can check the article out here, published on Vol 9, Issue 4 (pp. 21-28) of the journal.

The Unreal Development Kit heading to the iPhone and iPad

While the jury's still out on the selling-like-hotcakes Infinity Blade (I have had it on my iPhone 3GS since the weekend and while the graphics are indeed sensational I am not too impressed by the game itself or indeed the lack of freedom/exploration on it, I thought the Epic Citadel demo promised far more than what this eventual title delivers...) rumours are emerging that the Unreal Development Kit will very soon make its appearance for the iPhone/iPad formats. This is reportedly a matter of days now!

The Wall Street Journal reports that the application, like the UDK (http://www.udk.com/), will be completely free to download and use for hobbyist purposes and offer a licensing/royalties model where developers using the engine commercially will have to pay a $99 licensing fee and 25% royalties to Epic Games after the first $5,000 in sales etc.

Eagerly awaiting this, if this is an app matching the quality of the UDK and at the same time easily accessible, it could definitely revolutionise iPhone/iPad game development and perhaps mobile gaming as a whole. As an educator as well, and someone teaching Unreal on several different units in Higher Education, this again is very exciting news.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Call for papers, IBIMA International Journal of Interactive Worlds (IJIW), "Non-Photorealistic Graphics in Games and Animation"

This is another reminder that along with a colleague from Bournemouth University, I will be the guest editor for an upcoming special issue of the IBIMA International Journal of Interactive Worlds (IJIW), titled Non-Photorealistic Graphics in Games and Animation.

After many years of computer graphics research striving for results which cannot be distinguished from reality, there is now, in parallel, an increasing amount of work focusing not on the approximation of the real world, but on the simulated depiction of more traditional human artwork styles. These styles come with a variety of implications such communicative, emotive and perceptual processing aspects that these approaches can convey, via the inherent abstractive forms and stylization they are associated with.

The research field itself is called non-photorealistic rendering (or NPR in short) and can today be observed in a number of application areas, including real-time computer and video games plus also animated feature films. Contemporary hardware has made possible recent mainstream gaming titles such as Sega’s MadWorld (for Nintendo’s Wii) and Ubisoft’s Prince Of Persia (for a variety of platforms), employing comic-book/sketched and cel-shaded rendering styles respectively. Equally, Disney’s upcoming feature length film Tangled simulates oil-painting techniques. Titles such as these demonstrate that there is considerable interest from developers, film-makers and public alike to explore the possibilities for alternative graphical representations that modern NPR techniques, because of their flexibility in different stylizations, can offer in the area of computer entertainment.

Only original research papers will be considered. Authors should limit initial submissions to no more than 30 double-spaced pages in 12-point font with appropriate margins, inclusive of all materials. A double-blind review will be conducted and papers will be returned to the authors, with explanatory notes for further action. Submissions will be screened to ensure coherence with the theme of the special volume and will be accepted for this theme throughout year 2010.

More information about the journal and the special issue itself can be found at http://www.ibimapublishing.com/journals/CFP/ijiw2.html.

Bournemouth University Research Proposal Review Service

I am now one of the reviewers for the internal Bournemouth University Research Proposal Review Service. This is a responsive, fast-turnaround (approximately four weeks) internal feedback service for research grants that attempts to ensure the provision of more specialised, expert feedback on any given funding proposal.

Alongside other BU academics with successfull research projects, who are also on this reviewing panel, the role of the internal reviewer is to supply timely suggestions for improvement which can greatly enhance the chances of success for a project bid.

More information on this Bournemouth University initiative at http://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/rprs (please note that this link and indeed the service itself is and will only be available to other BU academics).

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Centre For Digital Entertainment

As I'm involved (and have been since this October) on the supervisory of a doctoral student under this particular scheme (along with academics from the University of Bath) I thought it would now be a good idea to highlight the Centre For Digital Entertainment in this blog.

The CDE’s purpose is to train the next generation of leaders in the Film Visual Effects, Computer Games, Virtual Worlds and Animation industries and is (mostly) funded by EPSRC to effectively support 50 Doctorate in Engineering studentships. These will be partly based at Bournemouth University where I am located and also the aforementioned University of Bath. The EngD differs from a usual PhD as under this unique doctoral program researchers are placed directly in companies to work on real projects with academic supervision support.

For more information about the scheme (and all the companies involved) please check out the very comprehensive website here.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Using a game engine to create scenes from a known movie

3D game engines have been lending themselves to serious applications for a number of years now, be it architectural, training or even surgical ones. It's not very often however that they're linked to other forms of non-gaming entertainment. A shining example of this, which I came across recently while researching one of my lectures here at Bournemouth University, is a Terminator-themed mod created using the current version of the Unreal engine.

The alpha version of this (aptly called FPS Terminator) is now available here and it looks very impressive indeed, placing the player in a futuristic Skynet-controlled nightmarish setting inspired by the eponymous movie. It garnered praise from an unlikely source too, i.e. from Epic Games main man Cliff Blezsinski who tweeted his approval for the work the three-man team has put together.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Jane Jensen's Gray Matter released (in Germany)

One of my favourite game designers of all time, Jane Jensen, the writer behing the much missed Gabriel Knight and Phantasmagoria series has now at long last released a new adventure game called Gray Matter. Weirdly the game has only been released in Germany with a Europe release scheduled for February (not a great move, but let's disregard that for a minute!).

You can check out the trailer above, with fond memories of the Gabriel Knight titles (particularly the first two, I still vividly remember the story of the sequel with its Wagnerian opera finale) this is one of the few adventure games I am eagerly waiting for in 2011 (all that remains is whether I should get in on thew 360 or my PC!).

Update on the Playstation Phone

There have been developments on the persistent news that Sony is in preparation of a Playstation phone. Now, a video has appeared of the Sony Ericsson ZEUS-Z1 "PlayStation Phone" prototype on YouTube demonstrating just that.

You can check the vid above but the phone is demonstrated for a couple of minutes in a suspiciously clear video, including the game controls and the presence of a PlayStation controller icon amongst all the other applications on its screen. Sadly no actual game is shown on the display but this is still interesting news, possibly bringing us one step closer to a rival for the iPhone.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Ed Catmull interview

For those interested in the opinions of one of the figureheads of computer graphics research, I've just come across a fascinating interview of Ed Catmull at ACM Queue, current president of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios but also, according to many, the originator of key graphics techniques and algorithms such as anti-aliasing, subdivided surfaces ones and Z-buffering.

In this interview, conducted by Stanford computer graphics professor Pat Hanrahan, Catmull discusses many aspects of CG from his seminal PhD thesis to his journey through the years leading up to his Pixar appointment. Well worth a read, you can find the full interview here.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

TIGA event at House Of Commons

On Monday this week I attended a networking event that the TIGA association, representing the games development industry, organised at the House of Commons in London. Attended by many games industry representatives (as well as University ones) the networking lunch also featured MPs from the main two political parties in the UK.

The event was also covered by the press and a very interesting interview with Dr Richard Wilson, its president outlining TIGA's vision, now appears on the website of the EDGE magazine and can be found here.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

THQ develops a Star Wars augmented reality game

Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner is now released by THQ Wireless, developed by Vertigore for the iPhone platform. This Star Wars title has the honour (to my knowledge at least!) of being the first augmented reality Star Wars game. The concept, as can be seen in the video below, especially when combined with the right urban camera display view/angle can be very impressive.

Players are placed in the gunner's pod on the Millennium Falcon, shooting down TIE Fighters which are overlaid onto their current location, using, as expected for an AR app, a combination of camera and compass. The app is available on the iTunes store now.

Acquisition of PixelActive by Navteq

PixelActive, the California-based company which I have blogged about before, particularly in terms of their Cityscape 3D urban modelling application, has now been acquired by Navteq (also another company mentioned several times in this blog, similarly with a strong interest in 3D urban navigation).

With founding members of PixelActive staying in the company and the links between Navteq and Nokia the push towards 3D urban navigation to compliment/replace maps is apparent, hopefully the expertise of PixelActive will further accelerate this.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Member in International Program Committee of Graphics And Virtual Reality 2011 conference

I am now a member of the International Program Committee for this year's IASTED Graphics And Virtual Reality 2011 conference to take place in July, Cambridge, UK. Submission deadline is February the 22nd (2011).

The IASTED International Conference on Graphics and Virtual Reality (GRVR 2011) will be an international forum for scientists and engineers to discuss the latest research and development in the fields of graphics and virtual reality. GRVR 2011 aims to act as a place to exchange information and knowledge among the top scholars and researchers of the world.

http://www.iasted.org/conferences/home-741.html

Monday, 15 November 2010

id Software confronts Epic Games in the mobile graphics battle

I've blogged several times about the port of the Unreal engine to the iPhone, including a recent post on Infinity Blade (the first game utilising the engine) just a few days ago. It seems however that Epic Games, the developers of the Unreal engine, have found a worthy rival as id Software (of Doom fame) have now announced a spin-off iPhone game, based on their upcoming Rage title which really pushes the limits on what can be done on the Apple device in terms of real-time graphics.

Titled Rage:Mutant Bash TV the game is hugely impressive (see video above) considering the limited hardware it runs on and moreover is supposed to be available this month. Finally, the legendary John Carmack himself is alleged to be involved in its development.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Guest editor for International Journal of Interactive Worlds special issue

This is another reminder that along with a colleague from Bournemouth University, I will be the guest editor for an upcoming special issue of the IBIMA International Journal of Interactive Worlds (IJIW), titled Non-Photorealistic Graphics in Games and Animation.

After many years of computer graphics research striving for results which cannot be distinguished from reality, there is now, in parallel, an increasing amount of work focusing not on the approximation of the real world, but on the simulated depiction of more traditional human artwork styles. These styles come with a variety of implications such communicative, emotive and perceptual processing aspects that these approaches can convey, via the inherent abstractive forms and stylization they are associated with.

The research field itself is called non-photorealistic rendering (or NPR in short) and can today be observed in a number of application areas, including real-time computer and video games plus also animated feature films. Contemporary hardware has made possible recent mainstream gaming titles such as Sega’s MadWorld (for Nintendo’s Wii) and Ubisoft’s Prince Of Persia (for a variety of platforms), employing comic-book/sketched and cel-shaded rendering styles respectively. Equally, Disney’s upcoming feature length film Tangled simulates oil-painting techniques. Titles such as these demonstrate that there is considerable interest from developers, film-makers and public alike to explore the possibilities for alternative graphical representations that modern NPR techniques, because of their flexibility in different stylizations, can offer in the area of computer entertainment.

Only original research papers will be considered. Authors should limit initial submissions to no more than 30 double-spaced pages in 12-point font with appropriate margins, inclusive of all materials. A double-blind review will be conducted and papers will be returned to the authors, with explanatory notes for further action. Submissions will be screened to ensure coherence with the theme of the special volume and will be accepted for this theme throughout year 2010.

More information about the journal and the special issue itself can be found at http://www.ibimapublishing.com/journals/CFP/ijiw2.html.

Program Committee member for IASTED HCI 2011

I am now a member of the International Program Committee for this year's IASTED HCI 2011 conference to take place in May, Washington DC, USA. Submission deadline is January the 10th (2011).

This year's IASTED International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (IASTED-HCI 2011) will be a major forum for international researchers and professionals to present their latest research, results, and ideas in all areas of human-computer interaction, covering a wide range of topics on the subject from virtual and augmented reality to mobile and ubiquitous computing issues. For more information on the conference check the link below.


http://www.iasted.org/conferences/home-747.html

Monday, 8 November 2010

Infinity Blade, first Unreal-driven iPhone game

Hot on the heels of the Epic Citadel tech demo which demonstrated the Unreal engine running in real-time with very impressive results on an iPhone 3GS/4, Epic has now unleashed a video of the first title they have developed with the engine called Infinity Blade (an RPG action game according to the trailer).

It looks hugely impressive (although I am somewhat miffed by the fact that it looks like this will only be available for version 4 of the iPhone) and the mouth-watering graphics seem to be stretching the Apple device to its very limits. No release date has been made available yet.

NES/Super NES reborn

I posted a while back about the Blaze Sega Mega Drive device, which, licensed from Sega, repackaged the classic 16-bit console with built-in games but also the capacity to play old MD games that you can pick up from eBay. Just noticed (courtesy of the excellent RetroGamer magazine) that the effort has been replicated, this time for the equally iconic NES/Super NES Nintendo consoles.

While this is NTSC-only (for now at least) and doesn't actually come with any cartridges it has the party trick of emulating two different consoles and, of course, is capable of playing all their game cartridges. Well worth investing, here's to hoping they also produce a PAL version soon! For those that can't wait you can buy one from here.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Bootcamp Unity demo

Quite possibly the most impressive game tech demo I have seen on a browser and one of the most potent examples of the Unity engine and what it can achieve, the Brazilian-based Aquiris Bootcamp demo is a third-person modern combat shooter that features both exterior and interior scenes.

The game forms part of the core demos gallery for the recent version of Unity (version 3) using new features exclusive to this release (such as deferred rendering and lightmapping) and is accessible at http://www.unity3d.com/gallery/live-demos (or you can take a peak at the video above). Great to see Unity catching up with the bigger-name engines out there in terms of visual quality!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Battle of the graphics giants

Recently the future of games graphics was debated in an interview by the famous games programmer Tim Sweeney of Epic Games (who is predicting the death of GPU, see older posts in this blog on this subject) and compiler expert and game developer Andrew Richards of Codeplay Software-fame. The discussion focused on the use of software renders on programmable architectures like Intel’s now seemingly-abandoned Larrabee over more fixed-function dedicated hardware approaches such as the ones pursued by AMD and Nvidia.

Tim Sweeney, claiming frustratation by the slow and almost stagnating progress of gaming graphics technology that in his opinion has lagged in the last 15 years, favoured the software rendered approach using powerful CPU cores (and not GPUs) while Richards on the other hand defended fixed-function hardware for power consumption reasons.

You can view the complete video of this very engaging debate (the vid above is just one part) which took place at the GDC event in San Francisco at SemiAccurate.com, a must for anyone with interest in graphics hardware, http://www.semiaccurate.com/2010/09/22/tim-sweeney-and-andrew-richards-talk-about-future-graphics/.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Editorial advisory board inclusion Open Virtual Reality Bentham

I have now been invited to join the editorial advisory board of the Bentham-published Open Virtual Reality journal, an invitation which I have accepted.

The Open Virtual Reality Journal is an Open Access online journal which publishes research articles, reviews, and letters/short communications in all areas of Virtual Reality (VR). The multidisciplinary coverage includes research in Virtual Environments (VE), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR).

The journal appeals to a wide audience and encourages original research contributions in application areas such as defence, medicine, education and training, natural and cultural heritage, science & engineering, manufacturing, entertainment, visualisation and the arts.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

PSP phone emerges?

I've blogged about this before and speculation and rumours have been going on for a long time but it appears we may be closer to a Playstation phone. Yesterday photos of a Sony PlayStation mobile phone were for the first time plastered all over Internet news sites (see below).

This new phone is rumoured to have a 1GHZ processor, 1GB of storage and a microSD card slot as well as a touchscreen and a slide-out game pad. The OS is rumoured to be Android Gingerbread. Will this actually eventuate and also is it too late for Sony to take Apple on? We should know very soon.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Project Live3D

Project Live3D, an incredibly interesting project created by a team at Washington Universisty, is a web-based application that allows users to update the geometry and textures in Google Earth and then see what the world looks like. This would mean that an actual, 'in the moment', 3D model would be presented. As a result, users are encouraged to take one of the many outdoor webcam images and embed them in three-dimensional space, thusly constructing a scene with up-to-date images/textures (see video below).

The Live3D app can also, in addition to the above, calibrate camera images and then infer the camera's location and orientation. Developed by Austin Abrams, a doctoral student in computer science at the University, along with faculty advisor Robert Pless and former graduate student Nathan Jacobs and undergraduate Jessica Graham, this is well worth checking out at the link below as it is an interesting take in bringing Google Maps to life.

ArchMOD, using Crysis for architectural modelling

A piece of news from the Digital Urban blog, the ArchMOD project is an architectural visualization mod for the CryEngine 2 engine, based a non-game modification for Crysis aimed for use in Archviz and by a target audience of architects. Further aims include the simplification of interaction with the engine and the editor when building an interactive scene, model or even game level.

The strength of this exercise is based on what the developer of ArchMOD considers the advantage of CryEngine in this area; the fact that it can render pictures similary to what renderers like Vray, Maxwell and Artlanti can, but is far more WYSIWYG. Check out the website here and also witness the excellent and very impressive results of this in the video above.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Duke Nukem 3D gets the Unreal treatment

Epic Games' Unreal Development Kit (a free download) is being used to build a remake of 3D Realms’ 1996 title, Duke Nukem 3D, a landmark game of its time. Initiated by hobbyist Frederick Schreiber who now has the licence to use Duke’s character and foes in the update, the game, given the working title Duke Nukem Next Gen, is being built with a similar standard of tech as the upcoming, and of course fully commercial, Duke Nukem Forever project.

Schreiber has stated that he is looking for qualified individuals for the project as the intention is to complete this is a team project and make it available for free. Check out the video above for an example of the visual update possible!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Bloodhound project

Visiting Intel UK last week I was exposed to the Bloodhound Project, whose primary objective is to inspire the next generation of prospective engineers to pursue careers in science, technology and maths. This is done by demonstrating how they can achieve a 1,000 mph land speed record.

The education programme of the project is dedicated to bringing the project into the UK’s classrooms while the demo car itself is currently in final build phase of the programme and will be rolled out at the end of 2011 with an initial run in the UK. The car will then be reviewed and packaged for shipping to South Africa, aiming for the final 1,000 mph run in 2012.

Partners include EPSRC and Intel (amongst others) and the initiative can be checked out here. I also saw a simulator of the Bloodhound vehicle in use which was indeed incredibly impressive!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Special journal issue in Non-Photorealistic Graphics in Games and Animation

I've posted about this before a few months ago but it is worth noting that along with a colleague from Bournemouth University, I will be the guest editor for an upcoming special issue of the IBIMA International Journal of Interactive Worlds (IJIW), titled Non-Photorealistic Graphics in Games and Animation.

After many years of computer graphics research striving for results which cannot be distinguished from reality, there is now, in parallel, an increasing amount of work focusing not on the approximation of the real world, but on the simulated depiction of more traditional human artwork styles. These styles come with a variety of implications such communicative, emotive and perceptual processing aspects that these approaches can convey, via the inherent abstractive forms and stylization they are associated with.

The research field itself is called non-photorealistic rendering (or NPR in short) and can today be observed in a number of application areas, including real-time computer and video games plus also animated feature films. Contemporary hardware has made possible recent mainstream gaming titles such as Sega’s MadWorld (for Nintendo’s Wii) and Ubisoft’s Prince Of Persia (for a variety of platforms), employing comic-book/sketched and cel-shaded rendering styles respectively. Equally, Disney’s upcoming feature length film Tangled simulates oil-painting techniques. Titles such as these demonstrate that there is considerable interest from developers, film-makers and public alike to explore the possibilities for alternative graphical representations that modern NPR techniques, because of their flexibility in different stylizations, can offer in the area of computer entertainment.

Only original research papers will be considered. Authors should limit initial submissions to no more than 30 double-spaced pages in 12-point font with appropriate margins, inclusive of all materials (i.e., references, figures, tables and appendices).

A double-blind review will be conducted and papers will be returned to the authors, with explanatory notes for further action. Submissions will be screened to ensure coherence with the theme of the special volume.

Submissions will be accepted for this theme throughout year 2010.

More information about the journal and the special issue itself can be found at http://www.ibimapublishing.com/journals/CFP/ijiw2.html.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Panasonic Jungle, new mobile gaming device

Panasonic has, rather unexpectedly, announced a new mobile gaming device that will mostly target MMO players. Titled the Panasonic Jungle and pictured below, the only title announced so far for the system is “Battlestar Galactica Online,” a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game (allowing hundreds of people to play with or against each other simultaneously). The game is browser-based which leaves many questions open (why not use a netbook for example and go for this?).

Panasonic has famously produced the 3DO game console in the past which was an enormous flop and it remains to be seen whether this fares any better. The online gaming targetting is interesting enough as a concept but the competition is already fierce in that area. Pricing has also yet to be confirmed.

INFER project at Bournemouth University

Bournemouth University is, since the launch of the project in September 2010, leading the computational INtelligence platform For Evolving and Robust predictive systems (INFER). The project is a European Union-funded initiative (under the Marie Curie People scheme) involving researchers and organizations in three countries (UK, Germany and Poland) launched to develop automated systems that help companies react and adjust to changes in market, behavior, or operational conditions.

I will also be involved with the project myself, which is based on a number of secondments across the three partners, with a visit abroad towards the later stages of the prototype development. For more information about the INFER project please visit here.

Google Goggles now on iPhone

Google has announced that Google Goggle, its flagship mobile visual search service, is now available for the iPhone. This operates by tapping on the camera button to search using Goggles with the app analyzing the image and highlighting the objects it recognizes. This can then initiate further searches on those objects.

Google representatives state that the technology works best for landmarks (making it an ideal feature for a navigation application), logos and the covers of books, DVDs and games.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Bournemouth University short course on games development

Earlier this month I ran a short course on games development for a Danish further educaton college here at Bournemouth University. The tuition over the week was modelled after a professional short course which forms part of the School’s existing portfolio of similar courses which is focusing on the opportunity to provide expert knowledge in specialist subjects. The Danish students, aged 17-22, attended lectures and lab sessions in diverse topics on the chosen subject matter.

During the course I challenged small groups to create their own professional-quality, first person shooter (FPS) 3D game level using the industry-standard Unreal Editor, as developed by Epic Games and used in titles such as Unreal Tournament and Gears Of War.

Read more about this on the Bournemouth University website story (here).

Friday, 1 October 2010

SIGGRAPH Asia 2010 paper accepted

A paper I have co-authored with a PhD student and a colleague here at Bournemouth University has been accepted at SIGGRAPH Asia 2010. The prestigious conference takes place this year in December (between the 15th and the 18th) in Seoul, Korea. The paper itself is titled "Feature-Based Probability Blending".

This is the third edition of SIGGRAPH Asia, following its debut in Singapore in 2008 and a successful show in Japan in 2009. Having staged SIGGRAPH in North America for 37 years, the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) presented SIGGRAPH Asia to bring digital innovations from around the globe to the region, while tapping into its vibrant and emerging digital media landscape. Over four days, the computer graphics and interactive techniques communities in Korea and the world over will be able to discuss and view the best innovation, ideas and inventions.

http://www.siggraph.org/asia2010/

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Location based games in UK railway stations

Quno, a web-based rail search and booking service due to launch later this year has announced that they will be providing mobile location-based games at key train stations in the UK including London Waterloo, Paddington, Liverpool Street, Euston and also ones based out of London such as Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly.

In order for the players to participate they will need an iPhone or Android device with the Quno client application installed plus also physical presence at the train station. The games will be, at this stage at least, fairly simple such as thinking up a quick rhyme or landmark photo challenges.

Really eager to check this out as I have seen projects like this in the past which looked incredibly appealling but never really took off, this could not only provide some basic entertainment in train stations but also pave the way for more complex multiplayer location-based (or otherwise) mobile games in public areas (playing Street Fighter on an iPhone with another train passenger while the game is projected on a large screen display in Waterloo anyone?).

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Change The Equation initiative

It has been announced that Activision Blizzard, one of the biggest gaming publishers, has joined the cross-industry educational intiative called Change The Equation which intends on promoting literacy in areas such as science, technology, engineering and maths. This is also known as STEM or STEM subjects.

This is an interesting development since the Change The Equation organisation is non-profit and also includes company from other wide-ranging sectors such as Time Warner Cable, Kodak, Intel and Xerox. Activision Blizzard obviously intends to concentrate on student interest in science and technology by using games and its own individual background. In a time where STEM subject areas are much needed, this is a very welcome move and it would be great if more large developers/publishers from the gaming field decide to also support this initiative.

Rise Of The Robots, worst game of all time?

I have recently revisited a game which I found particularly tiresome (yet very visually engaging at the time) when it first came out, as I will probably include a few lines about the 'worst' games of all time in one of my upcoming lectures at Bournemouth University this year.

I am referring to Rise Of The Robots, a game that was hyped as the new multi-platform fighting/beat 'em up sensation when released in the mid 90s, with claims such as high-detail 3D graphics, intelligent tactical opponents and even music from Queen's Brian May. Unfortunately, when released, critics and gamers alike found out that all of these claims were an overzealous marketing exercise.

Originally played this on my 386 PC and now on my new Blaze MegaDrive it is obvious why Rise Of The Robots went down in history as an appallingly bad game; even if you overlook the aforementioned flaws the game is practically unplayable (faring badly in comparison to contemporaries such as the Street Fighting games and Mortal Kombat) as it is so slow in response and with incredibly limited moves. Probably unthinkable to imagine that anybody could spend more than half an hour on Rise Of The Robots, it has managed to, nonetheless, make gaming history for all the wrong reasons so it may well be interesting to play it in order to avoid creating something similar!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Providing freedom of exploration with mobile navigation

PhD researcher Simon Robinson from Swansea University, UK and his colleagues have developed an interesting alternative solution to turn-by-turn navigation on mobile devices, enabling better exploration of cities. This comes in the form of a novel app that provides the user feedback on the general direction to take to reach a geographical target while at the same time leaving the precise route open to choice. The phone simply vibrates when it is pointing towards the target.

The prototype system was tested in a study with 24 volunteers, who were asked to traverse to a destination which was 1.5 kilometres away. Using the system, all reached the goal.

Read more about this work here.

PGCert completion

I have now, in my capacity as a lecturer at Bournemouth University, completed a PGCert in Research Degree Supervision. This programme provides a developmental journey which integrates a number of dimensions and reflects the changing nature of doctoral study. Participants are expected to be research active and have a level of research competence and awareness. Learning and assessment takes consideration of the students own specialist discipline and allows for the integration of theory to practice.

Consisting of two different units (and therefore assignments) my coursework, in the form of ~4000-word journal articles, focused on how the PhD code of practice affects completion rates and the supervision of professional doctorates in the UK.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Publication in the International Journal of Virtual Reality

I have been informed today that a publication I have co-authored, accepted at the 5th International Conference on Digital Media and Digital Content Management (DMDCM 2010) and seen in a previous post from this month will now also be included in a journal special issue. The publication is titled "Automating Terrain Texturing in Real-Time Using a Rule-Based Approach" and the journal itself is the International Journal of Virtual Reality.

The IJVR (published quarterly) is a multimedia publication dedicated to the cooperative development and application of diverse technologies associated with virtual reality. It is designed to disseminate relevant new information to professionals in all aspects of the field using the latest in publishing technology. All submissions related to virtual reality are welcome.

Limbo, another non-photorealistic game?

Another game that has caught my attention because of its stylised visuals is Limbo. Released by the independent developer Playdead Studios (based in Denmark), as downloadable content only, the game has caused quite a stir as, despite using a traditional 2D platform gameplay, it utilises unique black-and-white graphics and film grain effects to achieve a unique atmosphere.

This is a great example of how non-photorealism, combined with basic game mechanics, can create a huge impact even in the simplest of settings. Well worth checking out if you have access to the XBox Live Arcade where the game can be found.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Publication accepted at the 5th International Conference on Digital Media and Digital Content Management

A publication I have co-authored has been accepted at the 5th International Conference on Digital Media and Digital Content Management ((DMDCM 2010). It is titled "Automating Terrain Texturing in Real-Time Using a Rule-Based Approach".

The 5th International Conference on Digital Media and Digital Content Management (DMDCM’2010, originally called DMAMH) will be organized by the VR Committee, China Society of Image and Graphics. It will take place at Chongqing, China between the 18th and the 20th of December. The goal of the conference is to provide a forum for researchers in digital media, digital content, museum and multimedia community to describe recent advances, to exchange up-to-date technical knowledge and experiences, and to debate their views on future research and developments. Keynote speeches will be delivered by world-renowned experts in the field.

Friday, 3 September 2010

CityEngine and National Geographic Megacities

For the recent National Geographic Asia's "Megacities" episode Worlds Away Productions was tasked with creating a 3D model of the city of Kaohsiung in Taiwan. This was achieved using an application I have blogged about many times before, Procedural's CityEngine.

As can be seen in the vid above, the results are impressive in terms of not only quality but also size/scale. The team has pointed out post-project that the CityEngine lent itself greatly to the tight production schedule (they had 4 weeks to complete the project) which involved the generation of 385 square kilometers.

Unreal engine on the iPhone makes an appearance

I have blogged about this before but now there is a fully interactive demo app to go with this so this is definitely worth mentioning again! Epic Games have made an interactive demo that anybody could download from the iTunes store, called Epic Citadel, showcasing exactly how the Unreal engine (version 3) could operate when ported on the Apple's device. This operates at the moment on iPhone 3GS, 4 and the iPad.


The results are very very impressive and miles away fron anything else seen on the iPhone in terms of both gaming but also 3D virtual world walkthroughs. If you have Apple's device I would definitely download this demo app to experience the shape of things to come in the world of mobile graphics, if not you can check out the fan-made vid above which showcases Epic Citadel in action (there's already tons of them on YouTube which shows the excitement around this release). Eagerly awaiting for the full Unreal game port now or maybe even something like Gears Of War!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Virtual Brisbane 3D model

From the Digital Urban blog, Virtual Brisbane is an interactive 3D model of Brisbane’s CBD and inner-five kilometres. Additionally, it is a fully spatially-accurate model, which has been built with the usage of aerial laser scans and imagery in order to give a photorealistic result and one that will gradually expand to cover the rest of the city.

The results are particularly impressive (as seen in the vid above) but what is more important and worth of special mention is the fact that the model runs within a real-time system fully capable of viewing GIS information through the popular (for everybody using packages such as Arc GIS) .shp file format. This, in turn, allows any other additional spatial dataset to be visualised and/or queried within the model. Finally, the Brisbane City Council have, to their immense credit, made this available for public consultation which can be of great benefit (and many application areas too) and definitely needs commending.

You check out virtual Brisbane here.

City Story, a 3D urban game on the iPhone

I am always interested in seeing 3D urban/city models on a mobile device, so here's a new and great effort. City Story is a free iPhone game similar to the classic Sim City where one can create an imaginary city with all the assorted features expected (such as businesses, parks, road systems and others). It also has Facebook interface adding a social element to the app.

Well worth checking out on your iPhone (or indeed iPad), it is available from the iTunes store here.

Creating 3D maps of buildings with backpacks

An interesting new project from UC Berkeley researchers produces a new backpack full with cameras and laser scanners that can enable its user (/wearer) to automatically produce a 3D map of any interior building by walking through it.

The prototype consists of equipped six laser scanners and four cameras that, respectively, map a building's interior and take photographs. These are then mapped onto the 3D model produced from the scans to generate the eventual, final model. While current production costs for the backpack are around $250,000, its creators claim the final design cost can be brought down to $20,000 and could, potentially, revolutionize automation in 3D interior model production for a number of application areas (architectural, gaming, military etc.).

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Book chapter publication accepted

A book chapter publication I have co-authored with one of my former students at Bournemouth University has been accepted for publication at the soon-to-be-published Handbook of Research on Practices and Outcomes in Virtual Worlds and Environments, as edited by Harrison Yang and Steve Yuen. The publisher is IGI Global.

This handbook will include a variety of contexts and cover anthropological, psychological, pedagogical, sociological, and so forth approaches from both empirical and theoretical works on virtual worlds and environments.

It will serve, when published in late 2010/early 2011, as a research reference, a pedagogical/informational guide and a primary source in the area of virtual enviroments.

The target audience includes educators, e-business managers, trainers, administrators, and researchers working in the area of e-learning or distance learning in various disciplines, for example education, corporate training, instructional technology, computer science, library information science, information technology, workforce development, and undergraduate/graduate students in various e-commerce, e-learning, and other related programs.

The article, titled "Addiction in World Of Warcraft; A Virtual Ethnography Study", presents an investigation in determining whether players are addicted, or show signs of addiction, to the Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft. Criteria to ascertain addiction in World of Warcraft players were developed based on well-documented theories in the area. A questionnaire was used in order to obtain data for analysis.

This was distributed to a population of World of Warcraft players by use of advertisement on guild websites and on the official game forum. The results of the questionnaire show that 11.86% (n=21) of respondents matched the developed criteria of addiction in World of Warcraft. These respondents are considered to be addicted or are at “High Risk” of being addicted. This figure is confirmed by other studies of addiction levels in MMORPGs undertaken by existing research.

More info about the book itself here.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

More news from QuakeCon; id releases Wolfenstein games source code

Following from yesterday's post about the iPhone version of Rage and megatexturing here's some more great news from id's QuakeCon 2010; id Software has released the GPL-licensed source code for two previous titles, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (released in 2001) and Return To Castle Wolfenstein (released in 2003, and still getting some airtime on my original XBox!).

John Carmack also suggested during his keynote address at the event that id will look at making the Doom 3 source code available as well (something people have been clamouring for for years now, I know I've been mentioning it in my lectures for at least a couple of years now). Great news for aspiring games programmers as previous id engines (the company has a great tradition of making them available, once out of date, to the public) have been used for many great mods over the years, particularly the Quake ones.

Friday, 13 August 2010

John Carmack showcases megatexture technique on an iPhone game

At Quakecon 2010 last night John Carmack presented an iPhone version of upcoming and long-awaited FPS Rage. Carmack, as a big advocate of mobile graphics and gaming, focused on a new graphics technique where the low-poly interior of the level was applied with a new feature he worked on, called the megatexture.

Megatexture technology is, according to Carmack, the process of designing a very large, often multi-gigabyte texture of very high detail. This is then spread across all of the game’s geometry with low video memory utilised. The demo level also showcased radiosity illumination (check the vid above) which makes it even more impressive. Can't wait to see how far id can stretch the confines of mobile graphics with this one personally, as the title has been in development for years and the company (and of course Carmack himself!) have a reputation for introducing state-of-the-art real-time graphics methods.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Sony Ericsson to be producing a Playstation phone?

Sony Ericsson is according to new rumours planning to launch an Android-based gaming phone which could quite possibly be using the coveted PlayStation brand. While rumours similar to this one have persisted for ages (literally years!) the timing now appears to be ripe, as there is also strong support and interest from Google themselves as the developers of Android to get involved in the gaming market (corroborated by some other recent Google moves).

The rumours mention a touchscreen with a slide-out joypad section with physical buttons and a touchpad, all powered by a 1GHz Snapdragon processor. More information, if this turns out to be true of course, will be released in the fall. Should be a very important development in mobile gaming and probably the only one able to take on iPhone's dominion in the area should it transpire.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Microsoft's StreetSlide, an improvement on Google's Street View?

Microsoft's StreetSlide is an improvement proposed by Microsoft researchers on the now very popular panorama-based Google Street View and Bing StreetSide (the latter being another Microsoft creation). While these two applications offer a great solution for egocentric, photorealistic navigation, they are obstructed by limited perspective and also motion which is anything but smooth.

Proposed in a SIGGRAPH 2010 paper, StreetSlide attempts to resolve these problems by allowing the user to slide along the facades looking for POIs and zoom back into a 'classic' StreetSide-type view at any time. The user can also flip the viewpoint to see the other side of the street or even turn corners onto new streets, as can be seen in the video above.

The creators of StreetSlide highlight the impact the application can make, particularly on a mobile device as it can broaden out the visual sense to cover a two-block radius. An iPhone version has already been created. Other improvements include space at the bottom of the screen for additional info, ranging from advertising to social networking information. Initial evaluation also suggests (N=20) that users can find a variety of places on unfamiliar streets 17 seconds faster on average using Street Slide, as opposed to Google's Street View.

GameiT EU project publicity roundup

The GameiT EU project that I am a partner in in my capacity as a lecturer at Bournemouth University (funded under the Leonardo Transfer of Innovation scheme) has its second meeting fast approaching. The meeting will take place in Stavanger, Norway between the 12th and 15th of September. I am looking forward to it as I've never visited Norway before.


Meanwhile, courtesy of the NettOp Norwegian partners of the project that are hosting the project, here are a few publicity web links that GameiT has received mentions in;

ECGBL 2010 conference publication accepted

A conference publication that I am the second author for, titled "Understanding the Game; An Examination of Ludoliteracy" has been accepted by the 4th European Conference on Games Based Learning.

Taking place at Copenhagen Denmark between October the 21st and 22nd, the Conference will address elements of both theory and practice of aspects of Serious Games and will attempt to offer an opportunity for academics, consultants and practitioners involved in this field to meet and exchange ideas. The programme for the event will include an extensive range of peer-reviewed papers, including keynote presentations from leaders in the field.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Unreal Engine 3 cinematography camera system

Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 has been made compatible with a camera system which allows for the exploration of a created level as a movie director. Titled the Gamecaster GCS3, the system is akin to a professional video camera used by videographers in film production, operating however with/within Unreal (see video below to witness the system in action).

The GCS3 is now available to licensees of Unreal Engine 3 and the Unreal Development Kit with the engine customised to integrate better with this novel camera system. It's most impressive feat is the fact that it can instantly assist in the recording and playback of a cinematic scene within UnrealEd while at the same time "blending" with Unreal Matinee. A great solution which, looking at the impressive visualizations Unreal 3 is capable of, could untie the hands of many cinematographers that want to experiment with a game engine. Well worth checking out!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

PhD thesis successfully defended at City University London

Today I successfully defended my PhD thesis which I submitted almost a couple of months ago at City University London. It is the culmination of a five year effort which started in October 2005 and this blog has been, to an extent, part of this endeavour. The thesis, titled "Evaluating Non-Photorealistic Rendering for 3D Urban Models in the Context of Mobile Navigation" (full abstract on a prior post) received a lot of positive comments from the examination panel as well as a no-corrections recommendation to the School.

Amongst other people, I'd like to thank my supervisor for her guidance plus also my family and various colleagues at both City and Bournemouth University (where I am currently employed as a lecturer) for their support. I see the considerable efforts I put in this PhD not as the end to a journey but more the firing pistol shot to, hopefully, a fully-realised research career!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Grand Theft Auto urban timelapse

City timelapses are a very effective and impressive piece of visual imagery, often used in movies to highlight urban or city locations. It's not often that I see city timelapses for 3D urban models however, particularly real-time ones, and one of the best ones I've ever come across is in the following video.

Created by Rockstar themselves, the company behind the Grand Theft Auto game series, the impressive vid displays timelapses of Liberty City at a variety of locations and is well worth checking out. Maybe this will spur more game companies to create in-engine timelapses of their own 3D city models?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Guest editor at the IJIW journal for a special issue on non-photorealism

Along with a colleague from Bournemouth University, I will be the guest editor for an upcoming special issue of the IBIMA International Journal of Interactive Worlds (IJIW), titled Non-Photorealistic Graphics in Games and Animation.

After many years of computer graphics research striving for results which cannot be distinguished from reality, there is now, in parallel, an increasing amount of work focusing not on the approximation of the real world, but on the simulated depiction of more traditional human artwork styles. These styles come with a variety of implications such communicative, emotive and perceptual processing aspects that these approaches can convey, via the inherent abstractive forms and stylization they are associated with.

The research field itself is called non-photorealistic rendering (or NPR in short) and can today be observed in a number of application areas, including real-time computer and video games plus also animated feature films. Contemporary hardware has made possible recent mainstream gaming titles such as Sega’s MadWorld (for Nintendo’s Wii) and Ubisoft’s Prince Of Persia (for a variety of platforms), employing comic-book/sketched and cel-shaded rendering styles respectively. Equally, Disney’s upcoming feature length film Tangled simulates oil-painting techniques. Titles such as these demonstrate that there is considerable interest from developers, film-makers and public alike to explore the possibilities for alternative graphical representations that modern NPR techniques, because of their flexibility in different stylizations, can offer in the area of computer entertainment.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

Evaluation methods for NPR algorithms and techniques
Interactivity studies for NPR in games
Algorithm design techniques and methodologies for real-time NPR
Expressive character animation and physics for games
GPU hardware acceleration for NPR
Composition, layout and visual balance for NPR games approaches
Real-time temporal and spatial coherence of non-photorealistic techniques
Simulation and style transfer of natural media human artistic styles to games and animation
Adaption of effects such as motion blur, lighting and depth of field
State-of-the-art, survey and position papers on the approaches of non-photorealism in games and animation

Only original research papers will be considered. Authors should limit initial submissions to no more than 30 double-spaced pages in 12-point font with appropriate margins, inclusive of all materials (i.e., references, figures, tables and appendices).

A double-blind review will be conducted and papers will be returned to the authors, with explanatory notes for further action. Submissions will be screened to ensure coherence with the theme of the special volume.

Submissions will be accepted for this theme throughout year 2010.

More information about the journal and the special issue itself can be found at http://www.ibimapublishing.com/journals/CFP/ijiw2.html.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Arc GIS and CityEngine interoperability

I have used Arc GIS in the past to generate 3D urban areas from GIS .shp data and while the cartographic strengths of this leading package were apparent, it left a lot to be desired in terms of 3D modelling and manipulation, particularly when compared to a specialist package like 3D Studio Max.

An interesting new development however sees Procedural (the CityEngine developer), ESRI (the Arc GIS developer) and NVIDIA teaming upto set up a pipeline for the creation, analysis and visualization of 3D cities from 2D Arc GIS data. The video above demonstrates CityEngine usage for a model of the city of Rotterdam. This is a fairly important piece of news for researchers recreating 3D virtual cities from accurate geographical data, as the potential of putting together a pipeline with the leading packages in the field could be incredible.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Tobii eye-tracking glasses

An exciting new piece of equipment is are Tobii eye-tracking glasses which enable accurate, low-cost, mobile eye tracking studies in environments such as, for example, real-world shopping. Using these researchers can measure actual consumer responses during, say, a shopping run.


Focus can now be places on points of purchase where decisions are made. This of course is accompanied with the appropriate software for analysing this data and presenting it to audiences, academic or otherwise.


While I do not conduct research in shopping behaviour, it would be fascinating to see this equipment used in navigational experiments to collect information on decision-making. Moreover, new devices such as the iPad could also be eye-tracked using the Mobii glasses which creates further possibilities. Evidence of this exist on YouTube (see video above) plus also for other "mobile" conditions such as driving etc.

http://www.tobii.com/market_research_usability/products_services/eye_tracking_hardware/tobii_glasses_eye_tracker.aspx

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Elsevier Computers And Graphics Special Issue in Non-Photorealistic Rendering

A special issue for the Elsevier journal Computers And Graphics with a deadline of the 16th of August brings together extended versions of research papers accepted to the ACM 8th Symposium on Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering (NPAR), held between the 7th and 10th June 2010 in Annecy, France. NPAR researchers develop expressive rendering and visualization techniques to enhance aesthetics or visually communicate ideas and information.


Topics include:

• Style and colour transfer
• Novel vector graphics constructs
• Abstraction and Stylization of images and video
• Media simulation
• Interactive brush and canvas models
• Stippling and sampling
• Painterly rendering

While unfortunately this call is open only to authors of accepted research papers at NPAR 2010, it should still be of great interest to all researchers in the area when published in early spring 2011.

http://www.elsevier.com/framework_products/promis_misc/specialissue_cag_npar.pdf

iPad and gaming survey

While I am still pondering on whether I should acquire an iPad in September, a recent survey of iPad owners, as conducted by Resolve Market Research (and found in full here) appears to suggest that the device is emerging as a force to be reckoned with in handheld gaming. Appartently a reported 28% of the survey participants claim that one of their main uses for the iPad is gaming. Additionally, 23% preferred, between the iPad, smartphones and portable gaming devices, the former as the "the most enjoyable for playing games."

Most important however is the answer to the question regarding what mobile device respondents had no interest in purchasing after purchasing an iPad. A very impressive 38% percent answered portable gaming device. The survey is definitely worth a read as despite some iffy initial reviews, the iPad appears to be taking off in many entertainment-related application areas.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

CityEngine used for Toyota Prius ad

While not a very big fan of the car itself, it is very impressive to watch a recent ad of Toyota Prius as the 3D urban models in it have been created with CityEngine, the popular urban modelling application (with a bit of side help from Autodesk's Softimage XSI too).

What's more, the urban model is rendered in a semi-stylised form rather than a photorealistic one which makes this ad all the more interesting if you're into non-photorealistically rendered graphics. Created by a production company called Capture MM, the street network of the city was the first part of the model to be created. Placed in the center of this, a part of the street network formed the slogan of the clip (watch the end of the video clip above to see this). All of streets seen were created using CityEngine, in that way defining the building blocks for the buildings and subsequent 3D geometry.

Using Google Earth to emulate Iron Man

Did you fancy emulating Iron Man flying through the skies after watching the recent Marvel movie at the cinema? Well, while a full-blown emulation would probably require a hefty sum of funds there is an alternative. People at the recent 2010 Kinnernet camp (check it out here) presented a very nifty Iron Man flying simulator with Google Earth as the basis of it.

The components included a small crane, a hang glider harness, UAV wings, a large propeller, Virtual Reality goggles, a FPV Ground Station, a WiiMote, a GlovePIE, the Google Earth Flight Simulator and of course a participant. It should be noted that the Wii Remote was used to control the Google Earth Flight Simulator, which of course was being shown to subject via the VR goggles. As you can see from the video above the emulation is very impressive indeed and with Google Earth at the heart of it it can provide for a fairly realistic experience.

http://www.feng-gui.com/research/IronManSim/index.htm