Monday, 26 September 2011

Microsoft patents interchangeable smartphone

Microsoft has recently filed a patent for an interchangeable, modular smartphone which has a number of secondary devices that can be added/removed from it. As can be seen in the pic below the patent allows for the addition of keyboards, batteries and (most importantly) gamepads (to end up with a mobile device similar to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play).

This is an interesting move from Microsoft which perhaps illustrates that there is a strategic decision to place some emphasis in the mobile market, particularly in light of their Nokia partnering.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

An XBox 360 Kinect/controller fusion?

In an article found here at the Gamasutra website, two University students propose a concept and its prototype specs for something which at the moment is (to a large extent) missing from the commercial (console) games market, a controller that uses the best of both worlds in user interaction; i.e. motion sensing and the traditional and time-honoured controller, which many hardcore games and gamers alike cannot part for something more casually-oriented such as Microsoft's Kinect.

The proposal is very interesting (and depicted above) and definitely worth a read. Personally, I have had a Kinect sitting next to my XBox 360 for almost a couple of months now without it even leaving the box yet, it is very difficult to convince someone who plays games such as Gears Of War or Crysis to the everyday merits of motion sensing and it is refreshing to see proposals such as this one attempting to offer a new solution.

Urban Pad now exports to UDK

Urban Pad, one of the most most prominent contenders in the auto/semi-automatic urban modelling field, has now received its September update to version 3.0.9. While there are many interesting features on this, from the obligarory bug fixes to using templates as defaults to assist begineer users, the one that caught my attention is the streamlining of the ability to export to Epic's UDK (as an .fbx file). A test example of this is shown below.

If you want to try this out yourselves a short tutorial of this can be found here while the Urban Pad application itself can be downloaded as a trial version from here.

Urban Network Analysis, MIT's free urban planning application

MIT (and in particular the City Form Research Group) has recently released an application called Urban Network Analysis (UNA) which measures how the layout of a city impacts the life of the people in it. This is done by taking into consideration many parameters such as for example the volume of traffic and the number of a variety of services and resources available to the populace. Buildings themselves are also very important to the calculations taking place.

More importantly, the application is completely free and available for ArcGIS as an open-source plug-in. It is definitely recommended that urban planners/modellers (seeing that applications like CityEngine are now integrated in its pipeline this could be of significant interest to 3D virtual city creators too) check this out here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Unreal engine now for Mac OS, multi-display support also offered

Epic Games has now added the functionality to the UDK (Unreal Development Kit) to deploy games on Apple Mac operating systems. This is a natural move that has been in the pipeline following the iOS support that Epic Games has provided for the Unreal engine for a while now. It should be noted that this applies to actual UDK games, not the editor itself (which remains PC-only for the time being).

Other than this important update to expand the potential platform base of games that have been developed with UDK, the software has also received multi-display support functionality (showcased above) which looks very appealling, particularly in terms of moving with the times (see Nintendo's proposed Wii U).

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Source code for Doom Classic and Wolfenstein 3D Platinum now freely available

Aligned to an ethos of making source code available to the community which goes back a number of years, id Software has now made the source code of Wolfenstein 3D Platinum and Doom Classic freely available. These are both iPhone versions of the classic original games and it should be noted that the code made available is from the latest update the games have received.

These can be downloaded from here and here and could be very useful for prospective iOS programmers/game developers.

Monday, 12 September 2011

GameiT conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on the 13th of October

The EU funded project I/Bournemouth University have been a part of for the last 2 years called GameiT and with game-based learning pedagogy firmly as its focus is coming to a conclusion in October. As part of that we will be launching a handbook with recommendations/chapters from each individual partner on how to incorporate games in a classroom. This book will be launched at a mini-conference/event on October 13th 2011 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

There is the intention to establish the conference as a recurring tradition, where educators, researchers, game developers, politicians and other interested parties meet to follow the newest tendencies in the field, exchange ideas, establish networks and – hopefully – found new exciting projects. There are also a number of speakers from the general video games/game-based learning area invited for keynote speeches.

You can find out more details about the conference here, whereas information about the EU Leonardo Transfer of Innovation project that spawned it can be found here.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Unreal engine game development competition

A competition for students and hobbyists, powered by Epic Games' very popular Unreal Development Kit (UDK), is to take place on the 4th of November. This will be in the form of a 48-hour session with the proceeds (there is a an entry fee) going to charity. It should also be noted that Epic Games themselves are supporting this game jam.

If you are learning the tool, plan to use it for a future game and can put together a team consisting of 6 to 10 people this is well worth checking out. For more information about this competition which will take place at the University of Bedfordshire, including all assorted guidelines, please visit here.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Intel makes graphics performance tool available

Intel has recently made available for free (albeit to the Intel developer partner program members) a performance toolset for real-time graphics applications, called GPA (Graphics Performance Analyzers). The current version of this is 4.1. These analyzers operate by collecting data during the run-time of the application and then offering visualizations of this in terms of performance over not just the CPU but also the GPU.

This is a tool particularly useful for resource-heavy applications such as (most notably!) games and is well worth checking out. More information by Intel themselves here, including not just a technical specification/manual of the toolset but also how-to videos and examples plus case studies of current games and game engines using the software to great effect.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Flash and Unity convergence, Shadowgun demo

Unity has now released a very promising example of a fairly high-quality iOS/Android game (in terms of graphics) called Shadowgun and developed by Madfinger Games, running not only in a browser but also using Flash. This is the first time Unity has attempted something like this and what's even more impressive is the capability to support the usual advanced features of the engine such as physics, particle effects etc. despite running from a basic .swf Flash file.

The demo is incredibly impressive indeed, has caused quite a stir and the only criticism that could be levelled at it is the fact that it is purely a tech demo at this stage; there's no release date from Unity on this, at least not yet. More can be read about this here on the official Unity site, which is where you can also see the Shadowgun vid itself.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Invitation to submit article for special issue in Transactions in Edutainment

Following the publication of a paper I co-authored recently for the IEEE VS Games 2011 conference, titled “Elemental: An Insight into the Development and Evaluation of a Secondary Education Chemistry Game Using XNA” and found here on IEEE Xplore, the work has now been selected for potential publication in a special issue tentatively titled ‘Serious Games and Interactive Worlds’, on the Lecture Notes In Computer Science Transactions on Edutainment Springer journal. The article will be a significantly extended version of the original work presented in the conference.

This journal serves as a forum for stimulating and disseminating innovative research ideas, theories, emerging technologies, empirical investigations, state-of-the-art methods and tools in all different genres of edutainment, such as game-based learning and serious games, interactive storytelling, virtual learning environments, VR-based education and related fields. More information about the journal can be found here.

I will post an update in the coming months when the special issue is published.