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!