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, a must for anyone with interest in graphics hardware,

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

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.