Monday, 31 December 2012

Epic Games' Tim Sweeney interview

To finish off 2012 here is a very interesting (and recent) interview from Epic Games' Tim Sweeney from the Gamasutra website. Tim discusses a number of things in this interview, ranging from the upcoming (and very eagerly awaited) Unreal 4 engine to more general technological issues (such as convergence).
Well worth a read for insights from one of the leading personalities of games technology today.  

VS Games 2013 Twitter account

VS Games 2013, the fifth outing of the International Conference on Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications hosted at Bournemouth University, UK between the 11th and the 13th of September 2013 has a Twitter account. This will be used as an additional channel of communication.
If you want to follow conference news and updates via this avenue please visit and add VS Games 2013 to your followers.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Article on Legend of Zelda's level design

For students (and educators) of game level design I can recommend the following article on the Gamasutra website (which was published earlier in the year and is part of their 2012 summary), "Learning From The Masters: Level Design In The Legend Of Zelda" by Mike Stout.
Well worth a read for a very informative study on the 1986 NES classic. The article can be found in full here.

VS Games 2013 conference and Elsevier's Computers and Graphics

Authors of selected technical articles for the VS Games 2013 conference (for which I have blogged before and has a submission deadline of the 25th of March) with a focus on computer graphics will be invited to submit extended versions of their works to be considered for publication in Elsevier's Computers and Graphics journal (the website of which can be found here).
For more information about VS Games 2013 please visit the conference of the website here.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Program Committee member for IADIS CGVCVIP 2013

I have recently been invited to be part of the Program Committee for the IADIS Computer Graphics, Visualization, Computer Vision and Image Processing (CGVCVIP) 2013 conference which takes place in Prague between the 22nd and 24th of July 2013.
The conference focuses in the areas of computer graphics, visualization, computer vision and image processing (and all relevant sub-fields) according to its official website which can be found here.

Make Something Unreal Live 2013 mentor companies

Picking up from my previous blog post about Make Something Unreal Live 2013, four game dev companies have been announced as mentors for the four finalist student teams (one of which is, as mentioned before in this blog, from Bournemouth University and the Games Technology course we have here).

The companies are Splash Damage, Ninja Theory, Lucid Games and Climax Studios. The Bournemouth University team is mentored by Climax Studios which is a game developer based in nearby Portsmouth.
More info about the mentors and Climax Studios can be found here and here.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Make Something Unreal Live 2013, Bournemouth University team in the 4 finalists

This has made it last week on many websites quite prominently and I am very glad to also now feature this in this blog too; a team consisting of second year Bournemouth University students (6 from the Games Technology degree and one from our Music and Audio Technology degree) has now made it to the final four for the Epic Games'/Wellcome Trust Make Something Unreal Live 2013 European competition.

The team is called Static Games (pictured above amongst the other student teams) and their game is titled Mendel's Farm (the theme of the competition this year, as set by Wellcome Trust, is Mendelian inheritance). All four finalist teams will now start working on their game (using the Unreal Development Kit), guided by mentorship from 4 UK game dev studios, with the goal being finishing this during the Gadget Show Live event in April 2013 (taking place at Birmingham's NEC). The winning team will receive a full commercial Unreal Engine 4 license.
This is great news (you can read more about it on countless site including the official Wellcome Trust one here), well done to our 7 students for their hard work and here's to hoping they will win this in April! 

Non-photorealistically rendered Double Dragon

One of the first games I ever had the chance to play has now had another installment, this time with updated cel-shaded graphics. This is Double Dragon Neon which very cleverly follows the 2D setup of the original 1980s game, albeit with updated non-photorealistic visuals and some additions to the gameplay to make it more appealling to today's gamers.
It's great to see such an iconic title coupled with stylised graphics of this type (see pic above), the game is already available on the Playstation Network and XBox Live Arcade.

Develop article on Bournemouth University's Games Tech course now online

The Develop magazine article on Bournemouth University's Games Technology course is now online in its entirety. This is under their Training Spotlight series and was published in the November 2012 print issue (I blogged about it a few days ago).

The article can be found here.

Tax break for games industry details announced

This week the UK chancellor George Osborne confirmed (in his Autumn Statement) that the tax break for game developers in the UK will be at 25%. The finer details are yet to be published but this is news which could well create many new jobs in the domestic industry in the near future.
This piece of news of course received extensive coverage in specialist press like Edge magazine (see here) and Develop (see here).

Friday, 30 November 2012

Elsevier Entertainment Computing special issue for VS Games 2013

VS-Games 2013, the fifth outing of the International Conference on Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications will be hosted at Bournemouth University, UK between the 11th and the 13th of September 2013. With the conference organized in previous years at locations such as Coventry (UK), Braga (Portugal), Athens (Greece) and Genoa (Italy), it will take place, for 2013, at the state of the art Kimmeridge House building of Bournemouth University, situated at the main Talbot campus of the institution.

The authors of the best papers will be invited to write an extended version for inclusion in the Elsevier Entertainment Computing journal (subject to additional review, a recent addition to the conference's dissemination plans) and IGI Global's International Journal of Game-Based Learning. Further proceedings and other journal special issue details for the VS Games 2013 publications are being finalised and will be announced as soon as possible.

You can check out the conference here.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

ExPlay success for Bournemouth Uni student

A student who I teach on the BSc Games Technology at Bournemouth University was involved with the winning entry for the 2nd of November Bath ExPlay Game Jam competition. The competition was judged by Wellcome Trust and Aardman Digital with the winning game having a strong biomedical theme (Wellcome Trust's main focus). The game is called HIVe.
More information about the game can be found here on a Gamasutra article about the three top entries. Well done to John for getting involved with the creation of this game and winning the Game Jam competition!

The game can be downloaded from here (and if you just want to quickly check it out there's a YouTube clip here too).

Interview in Develop magazine

I was interviewed by Develop magazine a few weeks ago and the interview has now appeared in issue 133 (November, pictured below). This is on pages 70 and 71 under the Training Spotlight column and features as the emphasis of the article Bournemouth University and the Games Technology courses (BSc and MSc) we deliver here at the School of Design, Engineering and Computing.

To read the interview (and other Develop articles) please visit the magazine's site here for the digital edition.

Unity 4 now available for download

Unity 4 is now available for download. There are many updates to the engine such as (to list some of the more major ones alongside the many improvements of existing features) DirectX 11 support, a Linux deployment preview and Mecanim animation tools.
You can read a fuller list of what Unity 4 offers (here) and of course download it free of charge here.

New UDK update

Epic Games has now released an Unreal Development Kit (UDK) update for November 2012. This is as usual free to download (for link see below) and follows the latest release (which was in July). New features for the popular engine include (amongst others) iOS 6 support, Unreal Landscape for mobile devices and the Mobile Shader Analyser tool.

This can be downloaded from here.

Monday, 19 November 2012

BU Games Technology students shortlisted for Make Something Unreal Live 2013

Pleased to hear that a group of Bournemouth University students who are on the BSc Games Technology course I am teaching on has been shortlisted for the 12 finalist teams for the Make Something Unreal Live 2013 competition (for which I have blogged about before)

The team is called Static Games and their game idea is titled Mendel's Farm (the competition involves the Wellcome Trust charitable foundation and they have set the theme for this year's contest to be Mendelian inheritance).

Here's to hoping Static Games progresses further in the competition (for which the prize is a commercial Unreal 4 license). The press release outlining the finalist teams can be found here.

Member of the International Program Committee for ECGBL 2013

I have been invited to be on the International Program Committee for ECGBL 2013 (7th European Conference on Game-Based Learning). The conference is to take place at Porto, Portugal between the 3rd and 4th of October 2013 with the deadline for initial abstracts currently set for the 14th of March 2013.
More information about the conference can be found on the official website here.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

VS Games 2013 conference Call For Papers

As I am one of the General chairs for this, here is the Call for Papers for VS Games 2013 conference;
"VS-Games 2013, the fifth outing of the International Conference on Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications will be hosted at Bournemouth University, UK between the 11th and the 13th of September 2013. With the conference organized in previous years at locations such as Coventry (UK), Braga (Portugal), Athens (Greece) and Genoa (Italy), it will take place, for 2013, at the state of the art Kimmeridge House building of Bournemouth University, situated at the main Talbot campus of the institution.

The development and deployment of games with a purpose beyond entertainment and with considerable connotations with more serious aims is an exciting area with immense academic but also commercial potential. This potential presents both immediate opportunities but also numerous significant challenges to the interested parties involved, as a result of the relatively recent emergence and popularity of the medium. The VS Games 2013 conference aims to address this variety of relevant contemporary challenges that the increasingly cross-disciplinary communities involved in serious games are currently facing. This will be achieved by, amongst other ways, the comprehensive dissemination of successful case studies and development practices, the sharing of theories, conceptual frameworks and methodologies and, finally, the discussion of evaluation approaches and their resulting studies.
For VS Games 2013 we are therefore seeking contributions from researchers, developers from the industry, practitioners and decision-makers which aim to advance the state of the art in all of the technologies related to serious games. The following listed topics are particularly encouraged, though it should be mentioned that they are not the only ones of interest to VS Games 2013 and that the list below is not exhaustive by any means:
• Game design
• Virtual environments
• Game-based learning methodologies
• Mixed and augmented reality
• Computer graphics
• Gamification
• Case studies/user studies for serious games and virtual worlds
• Mobile gaming
• Interactive storytelling
• Application areas
• AI for serious games
• Educational/learning theories and their application
• Visualization
• Pervasive gaming
• Human-computer interaction
• User modeling
• Alternate reality
• Simulation
• Platforms and tools
The following are the dates of submission for the different tracks of the VS Games 2013 conference:
• Full Papers (8 pages): 25th March 2013
• Short Papers (4 pages): 25th March 2013
• Poster Papers (2 pages): 25th March 2013
• Call for Workshops: 25th March 2013
Proceedings and journal special issues for the VS Games 2013 publications will be announced as soon as possible."
More info on the official conference website at

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

TIGA shortlists Bournemouth University/Games Technology course for award

TIGA, the trade association body for the UK games industry and its developers has its 2012 awards night at Bath on the 1st of November and, under its University category of those, Bournemouth University and the Games Technology course we run here at the School of Design, Engineering and Computing have been shortlisted.
I'll be there on the night (the awards ceremony is in fact part of the bigger Extended Play Festival event taking place in Bath over those few days) since it is a great celebration of the achievements of the domestic games industry over the last year.
More information and all the shortlists of nominees can be found on the official awards site here.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Digits, a device for hand motion recognition

A research project from Microsoft Research, Newcastle University and the University of Crete has been recently making headlines; it is a device called Digits which is basically a bracelet with infrared sensors and a ring of LEDs used to detect and then reconstruct the hand motions of the user wearing it in 3D.
The device isn't perfect (crossed fingers for example seem to be an issue) but seems to work overall really well and could not only complement some of Microsoft's own Kinect limitations but also used as a stand-alone contraption for a number of application areas requiring different types of hand interaction.

Hopefully this will make it to retail at some point as there is definitely plenty of potential in it.

Interview in Edge magazine

I was recently interviewed by Edge magazine and the story is now on their website. The story focuses predominantly on the Games Technology (and upcoming Games Programming we are preparing for validation early in the new year) degrees as well the recent Gamify Your PhD Wellcome Trust success of a student of mine (which I have already blogged about recently).

It's an interesting piece and can be found in full here.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

ENTER 2013 conference paper accepted

A paper for which I am the co-author for has been accepted for publication at the ENTER 2013 conference. The paper is titled "Engineering Augmented Tourism Experiences" and will be presented at the conference between the 22nd and 25th of January 2013 (which for this year takes place at Innsbruck, Austria).
The ENTER conference focuses on applying information and communication technologies to the areas of travel and tourism. According to the conference the proceedings are to be published by Springer, Wien - New York.

More information about it can be found here.

Kinect-controlled concept car

Toyota recently showcased a Kinect-controlled concept car in a Japanese trade show. The car is called Smart Insect and is equipped with two Kinects placed on its roof, facing forwards and backwards respectively.
These are there to enable recognition of the car owner and to facilitate keyless entry as well as analyse movemements to open the gull-wing doors when he/she approach the vehicle. An interesting idea which shows the many application areas cost-effective gaming technology can be easily integrated with.

Make Something Unreal Live 2013

Make Something Unreal Live, a student development competition Epic Games is behind is making another appearance next year. This time Epic is partnering up with Wellcome Trust to provide the theme for the competition, which should "cleverly play on the theme of Mendelian inheritance, which spans concepts such as variation, mutation and other behaviours of the human genome" according to the press release.
The pitch deadline is for the 2nd of November and I am already encouraging students of mine here at Bournemouth University to participate (shortlisted teams will then work on a game, all of this leading up to the winning group receiving an Unreal Engine 4 license), especially seeing a past student of mine was a member of the winning team for the Gamify Your PhD Wellcome Trust competition (see older blogpost on this here). For entering the contest see official website here.

Reviewer for new CryEngine book

A few months ago I reviewed chapters for a CryENGINE instructional handbook, which I can report is now published by Packt Publishing. The book, authored by Sean Tracy and Paul Reindell and titled CryENGINE 3 Game Development; Beginners Guide, offers great tuition in Crytek's game engine and is worth having if you're looking for a comprehensive resource on this very powerful engine.
With the authors being actual Crytek employees (and with this being Sean Tracy's second Packt CryENGINE book) I can only but recommend this one, more information about it on its official Packt site here

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Beneath A Steel Sky sequel greenlit

I blogged about this a few days ago; the promised Beneath A Steel Sky sequel has been greenlit, despite the Broken Sword Kickstarter campaign falling short of the $1 million threshold (see here for more details) Revolution Software originally asked for.
The game is to be produced for PC, iOS and Android platforms though console ports are also mooted. Very importantly Dave Gibbons, the comic book artist responsible for the graphics on the original game, is also said to be onboard with this which surely makes this an even more anticipated release.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Sony patents biometrics idea

It has come to light that Sony patented, in recent months, an idea/invention with which they would be able to identify users using biometrics data. This is said to be based on a contraption which can include biometric "fingerprint sensors, hand sensors, face recognition systems, iris scanners retinal scanners, voice pattern analyzers and DNA analyzers", at least according to Sony. More can be read about this here on the patent filed.
Use of identification for gaming profiling can of course be quite a breakthrough as it would remove many limitations and introduce a number of new possibilities indeed, though to be honest this does sound very sci-fi (in a bad way) and quite significantly intrusive (for obvious reasons). Also, the legalities and security issues of Sony collecting and storing information such as this are other issues for consideration.

Still, despite all these major reservations, this is just a patent on development at this stage and it remains interesting nonetheless to see big players like Sony actively exploring the introduction of biometrics to their systems in the near future.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Borderlands 2 released, one of the most impressive non-photorealistic games around?

Borderlands 2 is now released and, as with the first game in the series (released in 2009), this also carries the torch of cel-shaded graphics in a major way. You can see the game in the pic below, the results look great of course (much better than the first game but then again this was released a number of years ago now) and the visual style lends itself incredibly well once more to the dark comic mood vibe the title is going for.
Borderlands 2 (built on Epic Game's Unreal engine it should be mentioned) is another example of a mainstream gaming title eschewing photorealism with truly great results.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

iPhone 5 announcement and real-time graphics capabilities

After many months of rumours the new iPhone 5 is launched and I am including below an excerpt of the video from Apple's recent event. The vid focuses on the graphics capabilities of the new device by showcasing EA's Real Racing 3 on the iPhone 5. The results are indeed impressive, approximating console quality visuals.

iPhone 5 is to have a four-inch screen which will be capable of handling resolution of 1136x640 and 326 pixels per inch plus a new A6 processor equipped with a CPU and GPU twice as fast as the A5 (on the current devices). Many of us are eagerly awaiting what developers can achieve on the new device and if the results above are any indication of what we can expect then mobile gaming will be inching, slowly, closer to graphics quality similar to your typical AAA current generation console game.

Experiment participants needed

One of the PhD students I am co-supervising is currently running an experiment in Bournemouth (see invite below) using mobile phone technology. You do need to be located nearby (or visiting over the next couple of weeks) as the experiment will be taking place in the centre of the town.

If you are interested in participating and please read the invite and email Zory.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Wellcome Trust Gamify your PhD competition, BU DEC student involved with winning entry

Wellcome Trust recently ran a Gamify Your PhD competition, which focused on the gamification of research thesis ideas from biomedical sciences or medical humanities. The winning entry is a game called Dysbiosis which according to Wellcome Trust "places the gamer within the gastrointestinal tract, shooting down harmful bacteria in an addictive immunological battle for digestive health."
One of the developers involved in producing this game is Ashley Gwinnell (as part of the Force of Habit team), a student who I taught here at Bournemouth University (and also subject of another recent blogpost as he finished fourth in a recent Ardvark Swift competition called Search for a Star which was a UK games programming contest for all intents and purposes).

You can check out the game in the vid above (plus it can be also downloaded in full from here).

Beneath A Steel Sky sequel?

I have blogged already about Revolution Software's Broken Sword Kickstarter campaign; it appears now that they are throwing another enticing bit of information in the mix, should the amount of support reach $1m they are then prepared to use the extra funds for the preparation of a Beneath A Steel Sky sequel.
Beneath A Steel Sky is of course one of the seminal adventure games (with excellent hand-painted graphics and a very intriguing futuristic back story) first released by Revolution Software in 1994. A sequel for this has been long awaited and it would be fantastic if this was achieved on top of a new Broken Sword game (which is now a certainty looking at the Kickstarter page, there are 6 days to go, around $563K has been raised with the original goal being $400K).

More information on the official Broken Sword Kickstarter page here.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Reviewer for ACE 2012 conference

I have recently acted as a paper reviewer for the ACE 2012 international conference (Advances In Computer Entertainment). The conference takes place between the 3rd and the 5th of November 2012 in Nepal and is one of the leading scientific and academic forums for the dissemination of state-of-the-art research, namely in the field of entertainment computing. This is the first year the conference has Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) proceedings (and there are also special issues in two journals planned).
For more information about ACE 2012 you can check out the official website here.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Wikipad, an Android gaming tablet

Wikipad is a new upcoming Android gaming tablet with a Tegra 3 T30 1.4 GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 1280x800 resolution plus two cameras thrown into the mix (pictured below). Obviously, as can be seen in the picture, the 10.1" tablet differentiates itself from other hardware by having a console-quality controller attached (so the intended target audience for this is quite obvious).
Whether this really is a genuine gap in the market that needs to be filled is another question of course, still, the Wikipad remains a very intriguing proposition (and who else thinks this looks like a giant Sega Game Gear?). 

TIGA press release on GCSE results

Since GCSE grade results came out yesterday in the UK (amidst the usual annual fanfare and newspaper headlines and coverage), TIGA (the trade association body for UK game developers) has released a press release on this, with another quote from myself in my capacity as a Bournemouth University academic and educator (similarly to the previously blogged one about A-level results). The press release focuses specifically on how the results (and of course current/future GCSE trends in general) relate to the domestic games development industry and presents TIGA's position on these matters.
The press release can be found in full here is well worth reading.

Broken Sword 5 on Kickstarter

I've blogged about an upcoming Broken Sword announcement before and here it is; in a surprise move Broken Sword 5 (titled a Serpent's Curse) will be a Kickstarter-funded project. The game will be an all new original adventure by Charles Cecil, the original creator of the series and more importantly (particularly for one of the best hand-drawn games of all times) will have 2D graphics, thus going back to its roots.
A great announcement for all adventure game fans but also people with an interest in and appreciation of quality hand-drawn, non-photorealistic, real-time graphics. The Kickstarter campaign has already managed to collect more than a quarter of the amount needed (with almost a month to go) so hopefully this will soon hit our screens.

More information on its official Kickstarter page here.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

TIGA student service

I have recently received word that TIGA, the trade association body for game developers in the UK which Bournemouth University is also a part of as an institution on the back of the BSc Games Technology degree offered at the School of Design, Engineering and Computing, will offer individual student memberships for the first time at some point during the next month.

This will include an email address for life,  magazine discounts, the facility to add plus update a portfolio and CV on the TIGA website, access to a TIGA careers guide and TIGA reports and fortnightly web chats with a TIGA member or studio. I would suggest checking back at the official TIGA site here next month; this is definitely a service I will recommend to my students when the next academic year begins and anybody else currently studying in HE for a related subject should definitely consider this as well.

Crytek's new CryEngine showcase

In preparation for the Crysis 3 release, Crytek has released a tech trailer (show in the video below) which demonstrates in-game footage showcasing new techniques used. The setting, as can be seen from the video, is urban ruins overrun by vegetation (one could say a mix of themes from the first two Crysis games).

The new techniques mentioned above are; real-time volumetric cloud shadows, pixel accurate displacement mapping, tessellated vegetation, composite 3D lens flares and FX, procedural HDR flares and shapes, 3rd generation real-time global illumination, dynamic water volume caustics, real-time volumetric fog shadows, real-time area lights, unlimited particle FX lighting, integrated cloth and vegetation simulation, plus the piece de resistance ... "top secret" tessellated toad tech! The vid is worth checking out as it is very impressive indeed and can only but heighten anticipation for the new Crysis game (and corresponding engine tech).

Unity to support Windows Phone 8

A piece of news emerging from the Unite 12 conference, a Unity specific conference, is the fact that the popular game engine (currently numbering version 4) will now offer support for Windows Phone 8, amongst all the other platforms currently supported.

While no date for this is reported yet it is a welcome piece of news for mobile developers but also for Unity users too; the engine has always touted itself as particularly multi-platform and this is yet more evidence of that statement.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Competition for UDK iOS book

I am pleased to announce I can offer three free eBooks of the upcoming book on UDK iOS development (see image below) I have co-authored for Packt Publishing (see my recent post about this here) to readers of this blog who can answer the following Unreal-related question; what is the name of the tech demo which showcased the Unreal engine for the iOS platform for the first time?

The deadline for emailing this in is the 31st of August and I will then be picking the first three emails (please send your emails at, the senders of which will receive an electronic copy of the book. You should find this book very useful if you're interested in the Unreal engine and iOS games development so here's a chance to have a copy of it for free.

You can see more details about the book here.

TIGA press release on A-level results

TIGA, the trade association body for game developers in the UK, released a press release yesterday on the 2012 A-level results (a UK University entry qualification) which can be found here. This is a worthwhile read as it highlights the increase of people undertaking maths and physics for these (an essential part of your skillset if you plan on doing a games programming degree for example).

The press release also includes numerous quotes from a number of academics from UK Universities (including myself).

Monday, 13 August 2012

UDK iOS Game Development Beginner's Guide book

An instructional textbook I have co-authored (which I have blogged about before) is now set for a late August release by Packt Publishing. The book is titled UDK iOS Game Development Beginner's Guide book and focuses on the use of Epic Games' Unreal Development Kit for the creation of games on Apple's mobile devices. An image of the cover can be seen below.

As mentioned on the official website of the book (which can be found here and where pre-orders can also be made) the book's contents can be best summarised (albeit very briefly) as; "You will begin learning the fundamentals of the Unreal Engine before creating a third-person shooter game in UDK. After the game is created you will learn what can be done with any project to optimize your game for the iOS platform and discover special considerations that need to be made. Finally, you’ll publish your game on the App Store for the world to see and play along, with details on different costs associated with publishing."

The book will be available as a print book, an e-book or a bundle which will include both of the aforementioned versions (pricing details are available on the official Packt website listed above).

Sunday, 12 August 2012

EU Leonardo GameWise project

An EU-funded Leonardo Transfer of Innovation application I have been involved with has been successful, with the project to begin in September 2012 and finish in September 2014. The project is called GameWise and has received an EU funding (as part of the Lifelong Learning programme) of 250,000 Euros in total.

Led by CV2 in Denmark and with a variety of partners involved (one being Bournemouth University of course) from other countries such as Spain, Norway and the Netherlands, the project is set to focus on the creation of new jobs in Europe by the transfer and adaptation of a model for closer cooperation between VET institutions and the surrounding world of work. As soon as there is an official website for the project (which will be in the next few weeks) I will post another update for this.

Two Wiley CAVW journal articles shared as open access

I have the last few weeks blogged about two recently published Wiley Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds journal articles which I have co-authored. These two articles have now been made open access via the OnlineOpen feature offered by this publisher. It essentially means that these articles are now permanently accessible (for free) to the wider public.

One is titled "Feature-based probabilistic texture blending with feature variations for terrains" (part of the CASA 2012 special issue) and can be found here and the other is called "Painterly rendering techniques: a state-of-the-art review of current approaches" (a survey article) and can be found here.

Games Programming degree at Bournemouth University

In addition to the Games Technology BSc that we have been running since 2009 at the School of Design, Engineering and Computing, it is expected that as of October 2013 we will also be running, in addition to the aforementioned programme, another games development degree titled Games Programming.

As the name suggests this is a more specialist programming degree than Games Technology (which covers all parts of the games development pipeline) and we are currently going through the process of designing the degree. As initial approval for this has been granted by the University more information (such as the specific units that will be taught) can be found here.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Source 2 a fast-approaching reality?

It appears that Valve's Source engine (version 2) is a fast-approaching reality. The company's movie making tool called Source Filmmaker has numerous references to the new version of the engine, albeit in its script files. For a company with a masterful grasp of marketing (see for example how Portal 2 was plugged in the first game of the series by updating it) this is (probably!) no mere coincidence at all.

It is alleged that Filmmaker and Source 2 were developed at the same time which means the release of the latter is closer than we think. As this is one of the main contenders in the game engine arena, this release is definitely very much anticipated.

Oculus Rift now a reality

As described in a previous blogpost covering John Carmack's display of a VR headset with Doom 3: BFG running for it, the prototype device now has a name and more importantly a Kickstarter campaign behind it. Oculus Rift has, at the time of me writing this, well over 5 times the original amount asked for pledged and also the considerable backing of industry giants such as Carmack, Cliff Bleszinski, Mike Abrash and others.

Key points of the device include affordability and also plans of integration with both the Unreal engine and Unity. It's great to see this almost a reality after the very recent Carmack prototype display and hopefully it can be a success in the near future as it could usher in many new great possibilities for gaming (see for example an article in Edge magazine about possible games with the device here).

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Bournemouth University Clearing 2012

Those in the UK will know fully well what the clearing process is for domestic Universities and what it entails; Bournemouth University already has its site for this up and running, it can be found here. This contains instructions and of course all the BU the courses participating in the process.

The Games Technology BSc course which I teach on is also going through clearing with available vacancies. If this is of interest to you then clearing helplines open (as mentioned on the website) on Thursday the 16th of August 2012, which is of course the day that A-Level results are announced in the UK.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Ouya, an Android-powered console

Ouya is a new experiment that has been proposing, via the ever-popular Kickstarter, a console which is powered by the Android OS. The benefits of this of course are obvious and multiple (a mobile app model for the TV, open source mentality etc.). According to the company behind this (Boxer8), the console is alleged to be costing $99 and in terms of specs will carry an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor supporting 1080p HD output (via HDMI), 1GB of RAM plus 8GB on-board flash storage.

The device has attracted both support (OnLive for example has recently announced it will ship with Ouya) and a variety of criticisms (from the limitations of the hardware specification to the business model attached to this) but this still remains a hugely interesting development and one which is worth following over the next few months (especially seeing it has already picked up over $6 million of pledges in Kickstarter).

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Jet Set Radio also for iOS devices

I blogged a few months ago about the remake of one of the most classic cel-shaded games of all time; Sega's inimitable Jet Set Radio. It appears now that apart from the PC et al platforms that the game is to be released on, Jet Set Radio is also to be concurrently released on iOS and Android driven mobile devices too.

This is great news as it is always interesting to see real-time non-photorealistic graphics on mobile devices, particularly if they drive an all-time classic game such as this one.

Lili, another upcoming UE3 iOS game

BitMonster Games, a team comprising of ex Epic Games people, has announced a new iOS game created with the Unreal engine (current version 3 of course) called Lili. Lili appears to be an adventure/RPG title and while the game does not appear to have a release date (yet), the trailer below (seen below) looks very impressive.

More info about the game, which appears to be another string in the bow of AAA titles using UE3 for the Apple mobile devices can be found here.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Bournemouth University student finishes 4th in games programming competition

Ashley Gwinnell, a student of mine from Computing in the School of Design, Engineering and Computing (at Bournemouth University) came fourth out of 150 applicants in the Search for a Star competition. Organised by Aardvark Swift, a UK-based games development recruitment agency, the games programming competition aims to highlight the UK's finest programming talent. It had applicants from 50 Universities from across the country and was decided over three rounds.

The first round was an initial programming test. The top 25 students from the programming test progressed into the second round, which was a week-long demo debug and feature creation round. The top five students from round two were then invited to Aardvark Swift's Head Office to attend an industry panel interview. The interview panel consisted of industry experts from Headstrong Games, Relentless Software, Rockstar Leeds and Aardvark Swift. Ashley had an hour-long interview with the panel and was asked a range of technical and non-technical questions. The aim of the interview was to give the students an experience of the interview process they can expect in the games industry.

More info on the competition here.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Unity 4 released

Earlier last month Unity 4 was released; the latest version of the successful game engine created by Unity Technologies. The main difference appears to be the fact that the engine is now also better suited for AAA, larger studio development other than just indie work which has traditionally been the case.

New features include Mecanim, an in-built animation suite, full support of Microsoft DirectX 11, the first commercial (non-beta) release of the popular Flash export functionality, Linux support and many others. Great to see the popular engine forging ahead in what is now a very tough competitive environment (with UDK and CryEngine for example also making a bid for some of the market Unity originally catered for).

Serious Games for Healthcare book edited chapter contribution

A chapter I have authored appears in the edited "Serious Games for Healthcare: Applications and Implications" book by IGI, edited by Sylvester Arnab (Coventry University, UK), Ian Dunwell (Coventry University, UK) and Kurt Debattista (University of Warwick, UK).

My chapter is titled; "First-Person Shooter Game Engines and Healthcare: An Examination of the Current State of the Art and Future Potential". The abstract is as follows; "First-person shooter (FPS) games have evolved from humble beginnings to what is currently considered the interactive entertainment genre most associated with state-of-the-art developments in gaming, particularly those of a technological and graphical nature. This chapter outlines and discusses past efforts, current usage of contemporary tools, and, finally, the significant suggested potential of first-person shooter gaming engines in the area of health, irrespective of whether these are targeted towards healthcare professional training, patient rehabilitation, or even raising awareness on key issues (to name but a few contemporary and/or suggested remits of the medium)."

More information about this recently released book can be found here.