Monday, 31 July 2017

Night Trap, 25th anniversary release

A game that for many sealed the fate of full motion video (FMV) games is now seeing a release as a 25th anniversary version according to the Eurogamer site (see here).


This is Night Trap (many gamers of a certain vintage age like myself will of course recognise the name immediately) and you will be able to play this on a PS4 or PC (via Steam).

Worth a cursory glance to see why FMV defined, for a while at least, an era of gaming in the 1990s. 

A game going on a music tour?

I thought this was a very different piece of news; according to the Develop article here, the soundtrack of the seminal Dear Esther game is now going on a live tour in the UK, with the music performed live but also the game itself participating in the performance.


The performances are from late fall this year till Feb 18 and well worth going to if you are a fan of this now classic game and soundtrack.

Unfortunately Fortunate Organisms game

If you're looking for a great casual game on Steam this summer I'd really recommend UFO (Unfortunately Fortunate Organisms) which is a game that has come out of a games jam competition here at Bournemouth University, by Rebourne Studios. 

The studio includes BU BSc Games Technology graduates (who by the way are working on their Rite of Life game currently, I believe I have blogged on this before).


The game can be found here and is excellent fun and very modestly priced too; I'd wholeheartedly suggest you give it a shot if you're on Steam.

Upcoming open days at Bournemouth University

We have three upcoming open days (21st and 28th of October plus 18th of November) at Bournemouth University (for our music and games degrees at the Faculty of Science and Technology and the Creative Technology Department but also generally for all other degrees too); for this (and booking on them) see here.


This is a great opportunity to visit us but also hear more on details about the variety of undergraduate courses we run here at the Department and University.

SIGGRAPH 17 poster online

The SIGGRAPH poster I am the co-author on; which I referred to in a prior blog post, is now online at the ACM Digital Library (the conference itself is currently ongoing at the time of writing this).


This includes a video showcasing the results, for this see here.

Monday, 17 July 2017

ICONS 2018 TPC

I have been invited to take part in the Technical Program Committee for the upcoming ICONS 2018 conference (which stands for International Conference on Systems), which is to take place in Greece in April 2018.


More information on the event on its official site here.

Cyberworlds 2017 short paper

I am the co-author on a short paper which was recently accepted for publication for the upcoming Cyberworlds 2017 conference in September. 

The paper is titled "OpenGL|D - A Multi-user Single State Architecture for Multiplayer Game Development".


More on the event on the official conference site here.

Edutainment 2017 award

Delighted to say that our publication at the recent Edutainment 2017 international conference, "An Investigation into Usability and First Time User Experiences within a Mobile Gaming Context" won the best short paper award.


This was a great result indeed; and the conference itself which we hosted here at Bournemouth University was also very productive and enjoyable.

Fully funded PhD position at Bournemouth University

Similarly to the previous post our Department tonight has another deadline for applications for a post, this time for a fully funded PhD studentship. The topic is in game narrative (and authoring tools for that) and the funding is for three years.


See here for more details.

Principal Academic post at Bournemouth University in Games Design and Development

As the deadline for this is tonight I would like to promote the opening we have in the Creative Technology Department, here at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Bournemouth University, for a Principal Academic in Games Design/Development.


More on the position and means to apply here.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Samsung Gear VR the winner of VR wars?

It appears that in the increasingly competitive VR market the Samsung Gear VR (based on Oculus Rift technology but adapted for Samsung phones which power it) did very, very well compared to other devices last year (2016).


According to this article here in MCV, which presents work from SuperData, the device shipped more units last year, substantially too, compared to the other usual suspects (please read the full article for numbers involved). 

I have personally really rated the Gear VR device and perhaps this piece of information does show the way forward for virtual reality in 2017 (and even past that) with all the characteristics attached to this specific piece of hardware such as, most notably, considerable cost-efficiency.

UE4 version 4.16 now out

As of last week the new version of Unreal Engine 4 is out, version 4.16.


For a full list of updates, enhancements etc. please see the official Epic Games site here.

I'll single out just two here; support for the Nintendo Switch console and volumetric fog, both very welcome indeed. Worth installing/updating as soon as possible if you use the engine for projects and experimenting with.

ICTR 2018 IPC

I will be on the IPC for a conference which is in a similar area to ENTER (see blog post below), running for the first time in March next year (in Finland). This is ICTR 2018 (standing for International Conference on Tourism Research).


For more details, deadlines etc. for this ACPI organised conference see here.

PATTERNS 2018 IPC

Another conference I have been invited for in terms of its IPC is PATTERNS 2018. 

Taking place in Barcelona, Spain in February next year this is the tenth outing of the event. Its full name is Pervasive Patterns and Applications.


More on its official site here.

Reviewer for ACE 2017

As with several previous years I have been invited to review for the annual ACE 2017 conference (Advances in Computer Entertainment).



This year the 14th version of this conference takes place not very far from Bournemouth, it is in fact to be in London this December. 

More on the official conference site here.

ENTER 2018 IPC

Another IPC I have been invited to sit on recently is the one for the ENTER 2018 conference.


This year the conference takes place in Sweden in January 2018. More information on this can be found here.

ARTECH 2017 IPC

I have recently been invited to assist in the International Program Committee for the ARTECH 2017 conference.


This takes place in China this September. More information on the conference itself (it is its 8th outing) can be found on its official website here.

IFESS 2017 abstract accepted

An abstract, which will be presented as a poster, titled "Combining Functional Electrical Stimulation with Interactive Games to Improve Upper Limb Function in People with Chronic Stroke" (for which I am the co-author for) has now been accepted for the IFESS 2017 conference (which stands for International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society).


More on the conference itself, which takes place in London this July, here.

Edutainment 2017 short paper accepted

A short paper I am the co-author on has been accepted for publication for the Edutainment 2017 conference taking place here at Bournemouth University this summer.


This short paper is titled "An Investigation into Usability and First Time User Experiences within a Mobile Gaming Context". The conference's website can be found here.

SIGGRAPH 2017 poster accepted

A poster paper I am the co-author on has been accepted for SIGGRAPH 2017 which takes place this summer in Los Angeles, USA.


The poster paper is titled "Procedural Feature Generation for Volumetric Terrains". More on the SIGGRAPH event itself here on the official website of this seminal conference.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

State of Unreal talk from GDC

The best way to catch up with all things Unreal is to watch the very recent GDC Epic talk which is now also available on YouTube.


If you are using Unreal as a student, developer, educator or merely hobbyist this is a must in my opinion, the roughly 90 minutes it lasts is a great overview of where the popular engine is at the beginning of 2017.

ICGIP 2017 IPC

Another conference I have been invited on the International Program Committee for is ICGIP 2017 (International Conference on Graphic and Image Processing).


To take place in October in China, you can see more about the event here on its official website.

iGBL 2017 IPC

I have been invited to sit on the International Program Committee for iGBL, the Irish conference on Game-Based Learning (2017).


More information on the conference here, it is to take place in June this year.

Edutainment 2017 and four special issues in journals

Edutainment 2017 that I am involved with as a chair, taking place in the summer this year, has recently had a number of special issues confirmed; these will be for selected, significantly expanded and having undergone another review articles of the conference.


The journals are the following four, Springer's Multimedia Tools and Applications, Springer's Journal of Vizualization, Elsevier's Entertainment Computing (which I have been the guest editor for in the past for a special issue) and, finally, IGI's International Journal of Distance Education Technologies. 

More details here.

Book on level design

There are not many books on (game) level design and I thought it would be of interest to mention a recent (December 2016) release which is certainly worth looking at, that of Chris Totten's Level Design Processes and Experiences.


For anyone immersed in the discipline this is certainly a good read, you can find out more about this here.

Principal Academic in Games Development position at BU

An academic position is now open in the Department I am in, that of Creative Technology at Bournemouth University (at the Faculty of Science and Technology).


This can be found here, has an early April deadline and is for a Principal Academic in Games Development.

VS Games 2017 IPC

I have been added to the International Program Committee for VS Games 2017, which takes place in Athens this September (the conference has in the past taken place here at Bournemouth in 2013 but also Athens too, back in 2011).


More on this here.

Extension of deadlines for Edutainment 2017

Edutainment 2017 which takes place here in Bournemouth now has an extended set of deadlines (for submissions).


Full papers are now in on the 19th of March; this is worth checking out here in full. 

UE4 4.15

4.15 of Unreal is now out (properly and not as a test version). You can read the (full) headlines of new features and enhancements here though for me at least it is the texture streaming enhancements that stand out from the rest.


I am sure 4.15 will be refined over the next couple of months but till then this first iteration of 4.15 is a very welcome addition for people using Epic's engine.

CIE article

An article I am the co-author on has recently been published on ACM's Computers In Entertainment journal.


More on the article, which is titled Transition Contour Synthesis with Dynamic Patch Transitions, here.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Starbreeze's StarVR device

It is easy sometimes to forget that virtual reality can be applied (potentially in a very successful manner) to many other areas and not just games; though it is great testament to games development as a field that consumer end devices like the Oculus Rift and the Vive are being advanced from it. 

So, in 2016 there were developments towards this; and an example of that is the IMAX and Starbreeze partnership which has the latter's StarVR headset (pictured below) at the heart of it (see Engadget article here for more details on this development).


More on Starbreeze and the StarVR device itself with its enhanced field of view here. It will be fascinating to see what application areas like motion pictures/film/VFX do with virtual reality in 2017, as opposed to the trajectory the medium will take with computer and console games.

Owlchemy Labs' mixed reality approach

Owlchemy Labs has recently showcased work which, whilst terming it mixed reality, is essentially their approach towards answering the growing need of showing what an immersive VR experience feels like for the player/user to greater audiences. It's easy to envisage so many uses and applications areas for this as the medium is becoming more and more popular.


This is quite interesting to see in action (see pic above) and you can get a good overview of what the approach offers and how it works here and here on the official site of Owlchemy Labs.

Ninja Theory's DEXED

A VR game which came out in the latter part of 2016 which I can definitely recommend is DEXED, from Cambridge-based developer Ninja Theory.


This works both on the Vive and the Oculus Rift (and Touch, which I blogged about recently) and other than a great VR game is also strong evidence of just how inspirational game jams can be as this game was in fact the product of an in-house game jam idea. The game is also built on Epic Games' UE4, more on this here.
Crytek, another major game engine player next to Epic and Unity also finishes 2016 with a new version of their offering in this area, CryEngine. This is version 5.3.


The official site here lists all the additions you need to know about; I can highlight the beta addition of Schematyc which is essentially CryEngine's take on Blueprints (for the UE4 afficionados amongst you).

Though this one is actually a beta feature at the moment it is an important enhancement to the engine in my view, given the access the Blueprints approach offers on UE4.

Unity and the end of 2016

I mentioned Unreal 4.14 (and its new features) in a blog post yesterday but Unity too leaves 2016 and enters the new year with a significant amount of developments (as an engine/piece of software that is). 


Currently this is on version 5.6 (which is beta) and contains features that many Unity developers would find very convenient such as -and this is just one example- support for Google's Daydream View (which is a device I blogged about yesterday). 

For the many (other) improvements and additions one could refer to the official blog post here that covers these comprehensively.

EGX Rezzed and Unreal

For the first post of the new year, EGX Rezzed is an indie games expo event that takes place in London during spring time, and one we visited with the undergraduate Games courses here at Bournemouth University last year.


This year, the event takes place between the 30th of March to the 1st of April in London again and will have it appears a dedicated Unreal dev area; showcasing Epic's growing interest in smaller developers, an area traditionally monopolized by Unity. 

More info on this here at the official Unreal blog.