Monday, 26 December 2011

CyberCity 3D updates building model repository

Time to revisit an urban modelling solution I covered a long time ago on this blog (in its first year in fact!) which is still around and has just had a very recent update/upgrade. This is CyberCity 3D which has, earlier this month, added multipatch footprints and shapefile buildings with roof features (according to their press release found here) on their Off-The-Shelf building library.

CyberCity 3D currently covers 48 major cities worth of 3D building data (mostly US-based according to the list on their site but also ones found elsewhere, such as Paris and Amsterdam, amongst others) with free partial samples of this information also available for download should you want to check them out before purchasing.

CyberCity 3D's website is well worth checking out on the whole, not just to read about the current press release outlined above forming the latest update of their service but also some of their other initiatives too (such as, for example, ArcGIS integration, their models being featured on Google Maps for mobile and others).

iCade, a gaming cabinet for the iPad

Seeing that this is the season for gifts (even if this post is somewhat belated to that now!) one very appealling accessory for iPad users into retro games is the iCade. Pictured below, the iCade is a custom-made arcade cabinet for your iPad which resembles a miniature of your usual arcade cab that you will remember from your youth. This comes with proper joystick controls, communicates with the iPad via Bluetooth and while you do have to put it together yourself it looks like an amazing way to play older games on your Apple tablet.

iCade supports both iPad 1 and 2 and is supported by Atari's Greatest Hits app (which has just about all old Atari classics you remember from the arcades) but also other developers too (a list of their games can be found here). Well worth looking into if you want to inject a bit of retrogaming interaction to your iPad gaming.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

CryEngine used in US Army simulation project

I have noticed that two new YouTube videos have been made available online demonstrating the work of RealTime Immersive's CryEngine-based development for a US Army simulation title called Dismounted Soldier Training System.

The videos can be seen above and are very impressive (the first is a in-engine cinematic collage while the second a tech demo). The title is tied to a cost of $57 million and is not at the moment to receive a public release but nonetheless remains, on the evidence of the videos above, an excellent showcase for the modding capabilities of the game engine that powers the Crysis games.

Developing Computer and Video games short course at Bournemouth University

Game development is today a multibillion-dollar industry; currently surpassing in income traditional entertainment ventures such as, most notably, the film one. Covering basic expertise of its three most prevalent aspects can be a great way to prepare yourself for a degree in this area, start working on a portfolio for an internship in a company or even applying these skills to your own startup project.

On this short course, taking place at Bournemouth University in early April 2012 and taught by the author of this blog, you will develop an in-depth knowledge of contemporary game development. Via a set of intensive lecture and tutorial sessions you will comprehensively cover the basics of the three main aspects of modern video game creation; 3D modelling and animation, level design and engine programming.

You will be taught in state-of-the-art, dedicated games development laboratory facilities at Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus, using industry-standard software such as Autodesk’s 3D Studio Max (used to create content for games such as the Assasin’s Creed series), Epic’s UnrealEd (used in games such as the Gears Of War series and Batman Arkham Asylum) and Unity (a very popular up-and-coming multiplatform indie engine capable of producing browser-based 3D games).

During the course you will be taken through the typical pipeline used in the development of a contemporary game; to begin with, you will be introduced to the industry-standard 3D modelling and animation software package in the field (3D Studio Max) and guided through the development of real-time-appropriate, low polygon, fit for purpose content which can be easily integrated in a game engine. This will include the highlighting of processes such as texturing, rigging and animation cycles. Additionally, you will be also introduced to two of the most popular current game engines (Unreal and Unity), with a detailed discussion of not only their different purpose, operations and rationales but also a beginner’s how-to guide on the creation of an interactive game on both of them. This specific part of the course will include coverage of a number of diverse areas, from good practice guidelines in first-person shooter level design, to Javascripting for games and import/export of content from one application to the other.

Finally, you will be expected to put all these skills together in a short project which can begin to form the basis of an interactive portfolio piece. Therefore, at the end of the course you will be in an optimal position to not only comprehend the aforementioned three main aspects of video game creation but also be prepared to put them in practice in a real-world project.

The course, delivered over 3 working days is intended for a wide range of individuals; for example, multimedia professionals can extend their current skillset towards game development; which also incorporates peripheral areas such as 3D content creation, mobile entertainment, interactive world generation and others, further education/college students can get a fascinating technical insight in the processes of game development while keen hobbyist gamers could further their understanding of the medium.

Friday, 23 December 2011

OnLive cloud gaming now on Android mobile devices

I have posted in the past about OnLive; a cloud gaming solution that has made quite a few headlines recently for its impressive ability to offer a new business model for gaming title access. During this past month OnLive has finally made it to mobile covering Android devices (for now anyway, hopefully iOS too soon, I have to say that at the moment there is nothing on this on the iTunes Store other than a viewing application so watch this space if you are an Apple device owner).

This particular blog post has been sparked off by the even more recent announcement/update by OnLive which made possible the use of Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY's Playstation controls to be added; rather than the wireless OnLive controller (or basic touch controls for selected titles only), this means that I really should find the time to test this out now.

Desert Zombie: Last Stand on iOS, created using the Unreal engine

Similarly to the post below, here is another Unreal-created game released this month; Desert Zombie: Last Stand. I have posted about this one before (while it was still in its production stage) and it really is a fine example of how UDK/the Unreal engine can be used to create a third-person shooter game (in the vein of Gears Of War) for the iOS.

Again then, this is well worth checking out in order to gauge the capabilities of Epic Games' engine for the iPhone/iPad. It is also worth visiting the game's official website as it has a section titled Developer Diaries (found here) which takes you through different stages of the production pipeline, from concept art to motion capture sessions.

It is fascinating to see the amount of effort put in in different parts of the production for a mobile gaming title today; effort which a short while ago would/could only be justified for your AAA super-commercial retail console/desktop gaming release.

Batman Arkham City Lockdown, another Unreal-powered iOS title

As I am continuing work on my UDK for iOS book I am simultaneously checking out as many Unreal-powered iPhone/iPad games as I can. One of the latest titles fitting this bill is Batman Arkham City Lockdown which was released a few days ago for Apple devices. Other than being developed with Epic Games' engine this also has many other gameplay similarities with Infinity Blade 1 and 2 as it is too very duel-oriented.

Well worth checking out if you're into the Infinity Blade titles and a great example of UDK's current potential for iOS game development.

Unity Flash plug-in now available in beta form

After the inevitable publicity it generated (which I also covered in this blog) the Unity game engine Adobe Flash Player export/plug-in tool is now available for everybody to test out. This is via a public beta of version 3.5 made available yesterday with an integrated for the first time add-on of the eagerly awaited Flash functionality.

In addition to this Unity is obviously keen to get the community to start working on the tool as soon as possible, as it simultaneously announced a Unity Flash competition with a cash prize of $20,000, more on this and the tool itself here.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Muscle-controlled gameplaying

Advancer Technologies has put together an input prototype which can enable a player to use individual muscle groups for interaction with any given game. Named USB Biofeedback Game Controller, the device operates with the use of electromyographic data for varying muscles and is very adequately demonstrated in the video below whilst being used to drive the classic Super Mario Bros 3 game.

This does look impressive and could have many applications from patient rehabilitation to simply different modalities (in an age where everyone seems to be intent on exploring them). Advancer Technologies have in fact put together a how-to guide of creating the USB Biofeedback Game Controller, this can be found here.

Article on game design teaching at Gamasutra

The excellent Gamasutra website recently had a very interesting article titled Teaching Game Design: The Problems by Lewis Pulsipher, which essentially argues that teaching game design is very different to teaching games production, the latter being a practice a lot of educators follow.

While there is of course an opposing argument to this (which comes to the fore in the comments section after the article where a debate takes place on this very issue), the point Pulsipher is making is very good and worth reflecting on for all of us in games development education.

The article can be found here.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Unreal-powered FPS shooter to use NVIDIA's Tegra 3 on Android

NVIDIA's recent announcement of its new Tegra 3 chip (in November) is now followed up by a game on the Android platform utilising it called DaVinci THD. The game (as can be seen in the vid below) is a first-person shooter through and through and has been developed using the Unreal engine (version 3/UDK).

While there's no release date announced yet, the results are stunning, which leaves me (and other mobile graphics developers/researchers/afficionados) wanting for two things; a) the addition of Android port functionality to the free UDK available (maybe 2012 is the year for this?) and b) Tegra 3 itself which appears to be very strong on lighting results (as seen again on the video above).

Infinity Blade 2 out

One of the most important mobile games ever has now received its sequel, a few days ago Infinity Blade 2 was released for iOS. I've just found the time and am now downloading it so I can have a blast myself, reviews however can be found across the Internet and they seem fairly positive, not just on the visual side of things (which let's face was always a given seeing that this is the sequel to a game that pushed graphical boundaries for mobile as never seen before!) but on gameplay/story too (which many, including myself, judged as very one-dimensional for the first outing of the series).

You can see more of Infinity Blade 2 on the launch trailer above.