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!