Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Mobile iOS map and app for Skyrim

Bethesda's Skyrim is one of those games I sadly do not have time for these days because of the pure size of the virtual world involved and the time it takes to explore it; this is brilliantly demonstrated by the fact that there is now an application for the iPhone called Dragon Shout which is an interactive map for the full game environment.

Instead of using the standard map or some sort of pdf version of this very expansive world, Dragon Shout displays the full map on your iPhone but also goes beyond that by allowing you to set markers and journal entries for locations (for example marking where you dropped items etc.) but also sharing this information in a more social context with other users. Dragon Shout is a fantastic (and free!) example of the pervasiveness of modern role-playing computer games and is well worth tracking down if you are currently wading through Skyrim.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Contact lens with embedded display

University of Washington and Aalto University researchers have now developed a contact lens which can display (wirelessly of course) a single pixel image on an eye contact lens. Testing has also been carried out (though not with human subjects).

Furthemore, research is now carried out for a multi-pixel version of this as an extension of the current prototype though already the potential applications are limitless, particularly on ones with augmented reality connotations. While applications such as military usage for example are obvious, it would be fantastic to see this used in gaming as it could be used as a great enhancement of contemporary visualisation technology.

CryEngine to be used by CrystalCG

Crytek, the creators of the CryEngine which powers the Crysis game series, has now made an announcement on its collaboration, via a licensing deal, with Crystal CG. The latter is a Chinese company which focuses on visualization projects with their most notable/high-profile ones being the opening ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also work the upcoming 2012 London ones (such as the mascot work).

This another great example of a top-of-the-range game engine being used for serious applications and also another reminder of the huge potential of the CryEngine pipeline. You can read the full press release at Crytek's site here.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Doom 3 code now available

When a few days ago I posted about the Doom 3 code patent issues and about John Carmack rewriting parts of it I expected the code to be delayed weeks, if not months. Well apparently John has already completed work on that or all issues were resolved! The code, without actual game data, is now already uploaded online and can be downloaded by anyone.

I think the 2004 game is now also worth revisiting as I remember not really taking to it back when it first came out, meanwhile you can dowload the code from here.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Unity-powered Leisure Suit Larry 1 gets HD and multiplatform remake

I have posted about this before when the news first broke out but seeing that this is one of my favourite games ever and there is now more information (which I read at Eurogamer) about this it is definitely a topic worth revisiting. Sierra Online's evergreen Leisure Suit Larry 1 is getting an HD remake which will also be released on many platforms (Android, Gaikai, iOS, OnLive, PC, PlayStation Network, Mac, Steam, Xbox Live Arcade are already mooted). More importantly the publisher, Replay Games, has secured the help of the original creator Al Lowe (who designed all games up to the last proper LSL game, the seventh outing of the series) to revive this.

Other important news on this include that the developer (Adventure Mob) will actually be using the Unity engine for the development and also that Al/Replay Games are not ruling out new Larry games should these ones do well commercially (similar to the Secret Of Monkey Island remakes which spawned Telltale's Tales Of Monkey Island). On the top of that, screenshots and concept art from the game are now released and it looks fabulous, with an HD take on the very cool stylised, hand-drawn graphics LSL 7 had. Very much looking forward to this and of course any new Larry titles that may spawn on the back of it!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Round up of recent Unreal-powered iOS titles

As I am making progress with the UDK iOS book I am authoring, I am, at the same time, catching up with all new(ish) iOS games titles that are being released having been developed on the aforementioned Epic Games engine. For me this is a good way to see what can be achieved on the platform, while at the same time understanding the limitations and potential of Unreal itself for Apple's device.

Naturally enough there have been a number shooters created using UDK (and a few coming up too, see my previous post here about Desert Zombie: Last Stand which still isn't out yet). One of these is Warm Gun, a futuristic wild west first-person shooter. Released last month, the game showcases UDK incredibly well in terms of very detailed level-design (though the action itself is a bit clunky on the framerate front on my 3GS, maybe because of the hardware?).

Another shooter title, this time of the third-person variety, with all the Gears of War characteristics that this entails (such as taking cover etc.) is EPOCH. Again set in a futuristic backdrop, with the player handling a killbot of some sort, this is a very impressive visual experience and probably the title I am playing most out of all presented in this post.

It's good to also see UDK used in other genres and not just shooters, with a prime example of that being Gyro13 - Steam Copter which is a helicopter game with strong emphasis on physics rather than battle. It's definitely a good idea for a game and it comes across very well though I have to say it's very unforgiving for beginners with the controls being very very tough to master.

Finally, I have also spent some time with Dark Meadow, which is hard to categorise in a genre as it carries many different elements, although it could potentially be classed as a first-person mystery game (it takes place in a run-down hospital and there is an elaborate story behind it).

The best way to describe it is as Infinity Blade (action sequences) mixed with the Epic Citadel demo (in terms of navigating through the environment) and old-fashioned adventure game elements. Unfortunately, this is not nearly as engaging as it sounds though I would definitely not fault it graphics-wise as it is very smooth, slick and incredibly detailed. Probably worth experiencing for that alone.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Framework leader for Bournemouth University Creative Technology degrees

I was recently asked to take on the responsibilites of the framework leader for the Creative Technology Bournemouth University degrees. The framework currently consists of five degrees, three undergraduate and two postgraduate ones, the BSc in Music And Audio Technology, the MSc in Digital Music And Audio Production, the BSc in Games Technology, the MSc in Computer Games Technology and the BSc in Media Technology.

Previously I was the course co-ordinator for the Games and Media degrees above as well as a Lecturer in Media Technology, which also recently changed to Senior Lecturer in Creative Technology.

You can find out more about the degrees themselves here at a very comprehensive website which also includes lots of additional information such as open day event dates etc.

Doom 3 release of source code delayed

The long awaited release of the Doom 3 code, a traditional id Software move (i.e. releasing the full source code of a game based on an older version of their engine once the new one -Rage's id Tech 5 on this occasion - has been released) is now delayed.

This is because it appears that the game uses a patented graphics technique called stencil shadowing that was co-written by John Carmack and Creative Labs (the technique was called Carmack's Release). Unfortunately it appears Creative Labs legally owns the full patent for this rather than John Carmack so he may have to rewrite certain parts of the Doom 3 code before it can become available (according to a Twitter post of his).

Thursday, 3 November 2011

"Using the Unreal Engine and Development Kit for Research Purposes" tutorial at ACE 2011 conference

This is a final reminder that in a few days time I will be delivering a half-day tutorial at the November Advances In Computer Entertainment (ACE) 2011 conference in Lisbon, Portugal. This is titled "Using the Unreal Engine and Development Kit for Research Purposes" and is to take place on the 8th of November.

There are two main objectives for this tutorial session. The first is to showcase the potential and also prior/existing use, via specific scientific literature examples, of the increasingly popular Unreal engine (and/or Unreal Development Kit, or UDK for short). The second is to expose the audience to some first fundamental lessons of using the engine and its editor.

These lessons could form the basis of using UDK in the future for research in a variery of directions, all under the computer entertainment/simulation/educational field. It is expected that, post-tutorial, the participants can walk away with both an understanding of how the engine is currently used in research but also tangible skills to put that to use in their respective areas.

You can find more about the conference that houses this tutorial and its rates here.

UDK receives October update

A new October version of UDK is now released by Epic Games with new features worth highlighting, such as for example Facebook integration available for iOS development. While other tools have also been updated (foliage ones for example) the Facebook additions are very welcome as it means that UDK iPhone games can interact with Facebook users (wall posts, friend lists etc.)

While I have never been one for Facebook games (or Facebook itself for that matter), it is important to see the mobile version of UDK integrating further with this social networking application, particularly considering its vast user base. A fuller list of the updates can be found on the official UDK site here.