Sunday, 25 March 2012

Bournemouth University Open Days

As I am teaching on the BSc Games Technology and MSc Computer Games Technology degrees here at Bournemouth University, I thought I'd post our new open days dates which are now confirmed. These are the following;

Friday 15 JuneUndergraduate Open Day
Saturday 16 JuneUndergraduate Open Day
Saturday 20 OctoberUndergraduate Open Day
Saturday 27 OctoberUndergraduate Open Day
Saturday 10 NovemberUndergraduate Open Day

By all means feel free to register for one and come down (you can do this here) and visit us if you have any interest in the two degrees mentioned above, it would be great to have a chat, present the courses (and past student work) to you and also give you the opportunity to visit our campus and specialist facilities.

Tax relief for the games industry in the UK

The recent budget announcement has had some news which were welcomed by the UK games development community; for the first time the industry in this country will be obtaining a tax relief, similar to the one countries such as Canada have had for years. Specific figures have been mentioned though that aside the details are still very hazy (and this will be ironed out in the course of the next few months and then implemented in April 2013 as I understand).

Bournemouth University is an educational member of one of the trade association bodies which have been pushing for this for years, TIGA, as we run games development degrees here and it is a positive move for educators such as myself to see the domestic industry (which has traditionally had incredible creative talent attached to it for decades now) recognised and supported in a stronger manner.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Dragon's Lair with Kinect controls

In an unexpected move, the XBox 360 is to have an XBLA release of the classic Dragon's Lair game, quite possibly the first cel-shaded game which not only allows the traditional controller input but now also Kinect interaction. This is quite ironic as Dragon's Lair has been often criticised (quite rightly in many ways) as a game where the player has hugely minimal engagement with the action.

Now, instead of pressing on the (one) button to wield a sword or left/right to swing from a rope Kinect will open new possibilities to the player acting out these movements, breathing, in a surprising way, life in an old classic (the game was released in 1983). Personally I can't wait to see how this one plays out.

International Program Committee member for IASTED PLD 2012

I have now been invited to be a member of the international program committee for the Second IASTED International Conference on Portable Lifestyle Devices taking place at Honolulu, USA in August 2012 (with a May 1st deadline for papers).

The conference, as the official website states (found here) is an international forum for researchers and practitioners interested in the advances in and applications of portable lifestyle devices. It is an opportunity to present and observe the latest research, results and ideas in these areas.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Last Express receives mobile port

The Last Express, a seminal point and click adventure game with a great blend of rotoscoping and line drawn graphics from the late 90s for which I have blogged before (see post here), is now set to receive a mobile port, albeit for iOS devices.

Its creator Jordan Mechner has confirmed this and while the launch date is still vague (it is set for sometime this year), this is a great classic game with non-photorealistic graphics which is finally getting an update on modern devices and hopefully the recognition it eluded from when it was first released.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

BBC Radio Shropshire Breakfast Show interview

A recent article at the Wall Street Journal called When Gaming Is Good for You has created a lot of headlines recently, digging up the old argument of positive (and conversely negative effects of video gaming). As a result of this, I have been invited to discuss this article and also general issue in a short live interview with BBC Radio Shropshire on Monday the 19th of March.

You can listen in (I believe I will be on around 8:20 or so) here.

Sony's Vita AR technology demonstrated at GDC

One of the most impressive and promising things I have seen in GDC conference reports so far is this (see video below) report of Sony's R&D demo of augmented reality technology with the Playstation Vita. The tech (called Magnet) uses the in-built camera on the mobile console and then overlays virtual objects (in a markerless way, though Vita can of course do AR with markers too), creating some very cool conditions that can be exploited for very imaginative and new gameplay setups.

There are more demo videos of this doing the rounds on YouTube which are also well worth checking out. Whether this translates well to any engaging and successful titles remains to be seen but AR is a concept that has remained relatively unused in gaming so far and perhaps the Playstation Vita, coupled with Sony's R&D, could change that in the near future.

NeoGeo X handheld to be released

Blaze, a company which has under license created a variety of Sega Megadrive-related hardware in the recent past has now announced that later this year will be releasing a product called NeoGeo X, essentially a handheld version of the iconic SNK console. NeoGeo X is to have 20 built-in titles, SD card expansion capabilities, a 3.5" LCD screen, A/V output, internal stereo speakers and a headphone socket amongst other features.

As somebody who always craved after the original Neo Geo (which was plagued by affordability problems at the time and still commands a hefty price on eBay) I welcome this news as it means that this classic piece of hardware can, albeit belatedly, get a wider audience, this time in a mobile form.

New Infinity Blade game this year

Arguably the most important game technology-wise for the iOS is now set to receive a third part, after Infinity Blade 1 and 2 Infinity Blade Dungeons is the new outing in the series (which is to be launched later this year by Epic Games).

Using Epic Games' Unreal engine the game (evident from the vid above) is set to push real-time mobile graphics boundaries even further. The story is set as a prologue to the other two games. It is also interesting to hear Epic Games is trying to use the increased iPad 3 specs for even more impressive results (though the title will be available on other iOS devices). Looking forward to this one as every IB update is a great milestone of how far visualisation technology has/can been pushed for mobile games the last few years.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Jet Set Radio to receive a remake

One of the most popular non-photorealistically rendered games ever, Sega's Jet Set Radio, which came out in 2000 on the Sega Dreamcast, is set to soon receive an HD remake. The game is recognised widely as one of the earliest pioneers of cel-shading in real-time computer games and it is a treat to see it about to be released with upgraded visuals.

This is set to arrive on the XBLA, PSN but also PC platforms.

Valve to release a 'Steam Box' with biometrics sensors

It is GDC week and I predict I will be doing a few posts in this blog about some of the most important developments at this seminal games conference. One rumoured one (which hopefully will get confirmed) is Valve releasing a 'Steam Box', essentially a console standard that can be made available to a variety of manufacturers.

What's more intriguing about this however (to me at least) is the fact that the box is to have biometric sensors, most likely in the controllers used, with pulse rate and galvanic skin response receiving mentions (Valve has been making waves about this for a while now). If this development does materialise it would open up immense possibilities for usability data collection, let's hope the rumours are not unfounded.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sumioni Demon Arts, mobile non-photorealistic game based on sumi-e style

Sumioni Demon Arts is a new platform game based on traditional Asian ink painting (sumi-e) which is soon to be released for the Playstation Vita by XSEED. Not only is the game using sumi-e styled visuals (which look very impressive in the video below), something which is quite rare as most non-photorealistic real-time games tend to go for "safer" choices such as cel-shading, but the action itself is inspired by painting in this distinctive style (in fact Sumioni actually translates to ink demon). Painting paths and using brush strokes for special moves are commonplace in the game, making it a very different and cool experience, especially compared to your average platformer.

It is great to see Sumioni Demon Arts trying something different with a non-photorealistic style which is often ignored by real-time applications (and, as a result of this, games too). Hopefully this will inspire more developers to explore sumi-e stylization for their games, or indeed other less-used NPR styles.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Member of the editorial board for the IBIMA published International Journal of Interactive Worlds (IJIW)

I have now been invited and have become a member of the editorial board for the IBIMA published International Journal of Interactive Worlds (IJIW). The aim of the International Journal of Interactive Worlds (IJIW) is to disseminate research conducted in the area of Interactive Worlds and its related domains.

The journal will also organise regular special issues, as well as accept state of the art reports and communications. The journal is published in cooperation with the Interactive Worlds Applied Research Group (Coventry University, UK) and Serious Games Institute, UK. The official website of the publication can be found here.