Tuesday, 31 December 2013

NASA uses Oculus Rift and Kinect

For what is quite possibly the last blog post of 2013; the following video comes from NASA who demonstrate the use of a combination of the Oculus Rift and Kinect in order to control a robotic  arm.


The video is very short but the potential of this is great, it also shows how (relatively inexpensive) gaming technology is already used for prototypes for very serious, non-gaming applications.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Tower of Ascension, an Unreal engine powered mobile game

Tower of Ascension is another great showcase of what UDK can achieve on mobile devices. Running on iOS, the free to play action-RPG should cater for the type of market the now aborted Infinity Blade Dungeons would have done.

More information about the game can be found here.

Valve's answer to Oculus Rift?

There are rumours that Valve is gearing up its own answer to Oculus Rift, the popular VR headset which is already out in beta -or as it is called development kit- form (I have blogged about this particular device before). These are fuelled by the company adding sessions titled "What VR Could, Should, and Almost Certainly Will be within Two Years" and "Virtual Reality and Steam" for its upcoming January 2014 Steam Developer Days conference. More information about the conference here.

It remains to be seen what will happen with Valve (it could well be they end up collaborating with Oculus Rift); however one way or the other VR in gaming is to be a very interesting topic to follow in 2014 as there will very likely be many upcoming developments relating to more than just one company.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

New Sony Playstation Move?

News have been making the rounds about a new patent filed by Sony which sees an extension of the concept their Playstation Move controller was based on. Picture below, a touchpad can be seen on the device (which is not on the current version).

With PS4 now out it is very conceivable that Sony will be giving the controller an update too.

MOGA Ace Power, an iPhone/iPod game controller

Pictured below, MOGA Ace Power is a controller which wraps around your iPhone and/or iPod device, affording you with controls similar to that of a joypad. This tackles one of the biggest criticisms of iOS games though it does appear to be quite sizeable.

What is also important about the MOGA Ace Power controller is that it is part of the Apple MFI (which stands for Made for iPhone/iPod) program and thus officially sanctioned. 

More information about the device here.

No Man's Sky, a procedurally created game

Hello Games' No Man's Sky has been making the news for its unique approach to its world creation where everything in the upcoming exploration game has been created procedurally according to it developers, even down to a single atom.

This is worth looking at in the video above.

Resident Evil 4 and Doom mash-up

In what is one of the most peculiar mash-ups in a mod I have seen recently; it is now possible to play the original Doom game with Resident Evil's 4 characters driving the game. This is best explained by watching the vid below. The mod is (imaginatively) called Doom The Mercenaries.

It is fascinating to see people modding games released so long ago; this can also be downloaded here (you will need a copy of Doom).

Crytek to launch mobile CryEngine powered game

I have often blogged about UDK-powered games; with the Epic Games engine now being firmly behind a number of iOS titles. Crytek is attempting to catch up on that by launching, in 2014, a game called The Collectables which is created using their popular CryEngine engine tech.

The video above shows the game (and it does look fairly impressive), this is set to appear on both Android and iOS platforms, is free to play and is, hopefully, going to set a trend with other CryEngine-created mobile titles following suit.

Friday, 27 December 2013

CryEngine instructional video from Packt Publishing

Packt Publishing who have published a book I was the co-author on (see here) also do instructional videos, with a very recent one, from November 2013, being the CryEngine SDK Game Programming Essentials one.

With an emphasis on AI for the popular Crytek engine, the video can be purchased from here (this also includes more detail on the content and a short sample clip).

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Book review on the International Journal of Game-Based Learning

A book review I have authored is now published on the IGI International Journal of Game-Based Learning, on Issue 4 of Volume 3. This is on the Guide to Computer Simulations and Games, authored by Katrin Becker and J.R. Parke. The book was published by Wiley.

This review can be read in full here.

UDK iOS Game Development Beginners Guide on the official UDK website

A book I am the co-author on, released in 2012 is, I have just realised, featured on Epic Games' official Unreal engine website, alongside other resources under the Books and Guides part of the site.

This can be seen here, the book in question is the UDK iOS Game Development Beginners Guide from Packt Publishing.

You can purchase the book from here.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Microsoft Imagine Cup Pitch Video Challenge

Static Games, a start-up games dev studio put together by Bournemouth University BSc Games Technology undergraduate students, has achieved an Honourable Mention in the Microsoft Imagine Cup Pitch Video Challenge (under the Games category).

More information about this (and the competition) can be found here.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Jagex guest talk

Jagex, the Cambridge-based developer behind Runescape and Transformers Universe, is visiting Bournemouth University this coming week for a guest talk focusing on careers in games development.
You can find more information about this talk which is this coming Friday here and more about Jagex here.

Force of Habit in Develop magazine

Force of Habit (see previous post) has had another great achievement recently; they are featured in Develop magazine as one of Europe's most exciting games dev start-ups. You can access this feature in full here.
Great news for Ashley and Nick and well done to them for this distinction.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Force of Habit winners of TIGA Game Hack 2013

Force of Habit; a start-up which also has one BU graduate in it, who I have mentioned already in a post earlier this month (they won the Best New IP award at the TIGA Games Awards 2013), have now topped the TIGA Games Hack 2013 games jam competition which took place at Pinewood Studios a few days ago.
You can see more about this here on their website and even download the winning entry and play it (the game is called Timmy Bibble's Friendship Club).

John Carmack leaving id Software

John Carmack, the iconic games programmer behind titles such as Doom and Quake, has announced officially he is leaving id Software to concentrate on other activities. One of the main ones appears to be the VR headset Oculus Rift (he is the CTO for this). The end of an era but hopefully John will continue to innovate in games dev related areas.
You can read the Gamasutra article, containing quotes and the id Software press release here

Sunday, 24 November 2013

CDE doctorate training centre renewed by EPSRC

The Centre for Digital Entertainment (CDE) doctorate training centre, a joint venture the University of Bath and Bournemouth University, has been successful in a renewal grant by EPSRC.

This is fantastic news for both Universities and also everybody involved, supervisors (I am supervising a number of students on this scheme), students and industry alike.
 You can read more about CDE here and the renewal news here.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Static Games

I have blogged about Static Games before (relating to the Make Something Unreal 2013 Live competition). Static Games is now, post-MSUL 2013 Live, a company formed of Bournemouth University students from the Games Technology course.

You can check out their website here.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

ECGBL 2014 IPC member

I have been invited to be an international program committee member once more for the ECGBL 2014 conference. This is the 8th European Conference in Games Based Learning and will take place next year in Berlin, Germany between the 9th and 10th of October.
More information about the conference can be found here.

Force of Habit best new IP award at TIGA Awards 2013

Very proud to be able to mention that a start-up based in Bristol (Force of Habit) won the best new IP award (created over the last 12 months) at the recent TIGA Awards 2013 event which took place at Pinewood Studios in Slough. Ashley Gwinnell, who is a School of Design, Engineering and Computing Bournemouth University graduate, is part of the company and the award is related to the launch of their Toast Time game (about which I have blogged before).
More information about Force of Habit can be found here.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Oculus Rift/Razer Hydra/Emotiv EPOC prototype

It is great to see work like this put together with what is essentially relatively inexpensive devices such as the Rift, the Razer Hydra (a gaming controller) and the EPOC EEG. Chris Zaharia demonstrates in the video below the use of a combination of these three devices in different application areas (architecture, chemistry, military and surgery), showcasing the potential of affordable virtual reality development today.


Worth watching and Chris has also made this available on his site here.

Unity and Facebook

For Unity developers it is worth checking out this out here, which is now officially out of beta. This is the Unity SDK for Facebook which provides Unity games with the capability of having social features connected to the popular social networking site. This already appears to be used to good results in games such as Shadowgun: Deadzone.

You can download the latest version of the SDK (dated 22/10 on this site) from here.

Springer edited book chapter chapter accepted

A chapter I am the co-author on titled "A State of the Art Survey in the Use of Video Games for Upper Limb Stroke Rehabilitation" has been been accepted for publication for the Springer book "Virtual and Augmented Reality in Healthcare".

You can find more information about this upcoming book publication here.

VS Games 2013 proceedings on IEEE Xplore

IEEE informs us that the problems with the pdf associations for the recent 5th VS Games 2013 conference proceedings on IEEE Xplore are now resolved. 

You can access the full proceedings (if you have access on IEEE Xplore) here. Full, short and poster papers as well as workshop papers are available on IEEE Xplore from September's conference.

Monday, 28 October 2013

17th century London in the CryEngine

Crytek recently, with the help of the British Library and GameCity, run a competition called Off the Map. Essentially for this University and college students were asked to use British Library maps for the creation of urban environments with the company's CryEngine.
The winning entry above has recreated London around the time of the Great Fire (1666) and is a very impressive reminder of what game engines can achieve in 2013 in the urban modelling area.

Al Lowe's game design documents

I was today looking for some actual game design documents made freely available from developers of commercial games in order to show these as examples of good practice to my students and realised that Al Lowe, the creator of popular and much loved adventure games series such as Leisure Suit Larry, has made several of his available on his official site.
These include ones for four LSL games, the one for Freddy Pharkas and Torin's Passage. These can be found here and are great examples of what should go in a game design document for story-led games.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

TIGA GameHack event

TIGA GameHack is an overnight game jam, taking place at Pinewood Studios, and also an event open to students too (and one which I have encouraged my students at BU to attend and compete in).
This is the second event of this type TIGA is organising and offers a great opportunity to experience developing a game in a setting like this amongst other very enthusiastic and talented people.
The event takes place on Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th of November and the official site of the TIGA 2013 GameHack can be found here.

Edge magazine article on move towards photorealistic art styles in games

Picking up from the previous posts and also all other posts where I highlight non-photorealistic games, I have just come across an interesting short article from Edge magazine which discusses, with contributions coming from industry pros, the gradual move from cartoon characters to more realistic ones in gaming.
It is definitely worth reading if you have an interest in non-photorealistic rendering (particularly within gaming), the article can be found here.

The Wolf Among Us game

The Wolf Among us is another game (created by Telltale Games) which impresses because of its approach to visuals (it essentially adopts a comic book approach) and hand-drawn art style. Without focusing too much on the back story of the game (which is very interesting in itself and is based on popular fantasy/fable characters being part of the real world) this is another game which showcases what can be achieved without the strict adherence on a photorealistic style. 
 You can read more about the game on its official site here.

FPS Creator Reloaded

It looks like that there will soon be a new tool for first person shooter game developers working with PCs; called FPS Creator Reloaded. Developed by a UK indie called The Game Creators it promises, according to the its website, to be "an open world game creator that's easy to use and produces very high quality results in all areas; such as superior art & animation, smooth gameplay and top class audio".
More information on the official site of FPS Creator Reloaded which can be found here.

SimCity in classrooms

It appears that SimCity, Maxis' very popular title, is now soon to be introduced into US classrooms with the purpose of teaching pupils about pollution, using the game's familiar city-building mechanics as the medium.
Titled SimCityEdu: Pollution Challenge!, it is very interesting to see a commercial title like this appear in a special version for educational purposes. Hopefully this is a trend which will see other adopters too.
More information about this special version of SimCity can be found here.

VS Games 2013 proceedings now on IEEE Xplore

The VS Games 2013 conference proceedings are now on IEEE Xplore in full. It appears there is a problem with the associations to pdfs there which IEEE is aware of  and working on resolving as soon as possible but these can, for now and with the aforementioned issue, be viewed here.
I will report back when the problem with the pdf linkage is resolved.

TIGA awards 2013 nomination for Bournemouth University

Bournemouth University has been shortlisted for "Educational institute that is producing strong graduates to work in the games industry", i.e. the Best Educational Institution Category at the upcoming TIGA awards. We were also shortlisted last year (for a different category).
I will be attending the event in November at Pinewood Studios and (hopefully!) report back with any good news from the ceremony.

More information about the event can be found here.              

AICA 2014 International Program Committee Member

I have been invited to join the IPC for the Fourth International Workshop on the Application of Intelligent Context-Awareness (AICA 2014) taking place at Birmingham City University, Millennium Point, Birmingham, UK, 2-4 July (2014).

More information about the workshop, which is part of the CISIS 2014 conference, can be found here.

CISIS 2014 International Program Committee member

I have been invited to be an IPC member for the CISIS 2014 conference (on the Multimedia Systems and Virtual Reality track of this). The conference takes place between July 2nd and July 4th (2014) at Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK.
This is the 8th International Conference on Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems and more info can be found on the official site here.

One more Unreal 4 video

In anticipation of Unreal engine version 4 it is always exciting to see another tech video for it, particularly if it contains explanatory commentary (this time on VFX creation for the recent Infiltrator tech demo).

The video can be seen below and is indeed very impressive in terms of what UE4 can be seen to achieve.
The video has a Part 1 heading in its title so hopefully Epic Games will soon make a second part of this available.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Minecraft, the Ordnance Survey and an in-game map of Britain

This has made the news recently and is worth checking out as it is easily one of the best "serious" uses of the Minecraft game phenomenon.

Ordnance Survey has used their data to recreate, in-game, over 220,000 square kilometres of mainland Great Britain and also surrounding islands, all done by an intern in the company. This was by using more than 22 billion blocks to put this all together.
You can read more about the process here, and, more importantly, also download this and use it (you will need to have Minecraft installed).

Murasaki Baby PS Vita game

It's always great to see a game with non-photorealistic graphics, particularly if it also flies in the face on what is conventional gaming too. Murasaki Baby by Italian studio Ovosonico. Part of Sony's recent Gamescom presentation the game is a great example of hand drawn art combined with a novel gameplay mechanic.
The game is to come out on Sony's PS Vita and is well worth checking out in the video above.

Toast Time game from Force of Habit

It's great to see a former BU student doing well; this is Ashley Gwinnell who is involved with the Bristol-based Force of Habit start-up. They have recently released a title for Android phones called Toast Time.

The game can be purchased here. Versions for other platforms are also in the works.

VS Games 2014 location and website announced

The first web page of the VS Games 2014 website is now up and running. As announced during VS Games 2013 in Bournemouth UK, the next outing of the conference will take place in Valetta, Malta between the 9th and the 12th of September 2014.

More information can be found here, with the CFP set for November.

Awards at VS Games 2013

VS Games 2013 has drawn to a close; 3 awards were handed out during the conference to the best papers for 3 different categories. These were the following;
1) Best Full Paper Award; Barata, G., Gama, S., Jorge, J. and Gonçalves, D. "Engaging Engineering Students with Gamification"
2) Best Short Paper Award; Kremer, D., Schlieder, C., Feulner, B. and Ohl, U. "Spatial Choices in an Educational Geogame"
3) Best IEEE Member Award; Paraskevopoulos, I. and Tsekleves, E. "Use of Gaming Sensors and Customised ExerGames for Parkinson’s Disease Rehabilitation: A proposed Virtual Reality Framework"
All of the prizes for these awards were kindly donated by Springer.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

I Am Street Fighter documentary made available by Capcom

Capcom themselves have uploaded an official documentary on the Street Fighter series (focusing on the dedicated fandom for the iconic fighting games). Well worth watching if you're interested in both the game but also its evolution from the very first title of the series to the (still-very-popular) cel-shaded modern version.
 The video is over 70 minutes long.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Emotiv Insight, a new EEG device

I have had a couple of EPOC EEG devices from Emotiv for a while now and it is interesting to see they have a new proposed device on Kickstarter called Insight.

Insight (the device on the right, EPOC is on the left) has less sensors than its predecessor (5 EEG sensors and 2 reference sensors) but does not (unlike EPOC) require saline solution for conductivity.

More information on what the device can do can be found on its Kickstarter site here.

What is worth noting is that with more than two weeks to go the campaign has already returned many times over the original goal, always a good sign of a piece of technology which has captured imaginations. 

Dysbiosis game

A while back (see blog post here) I posted news on a game called Dysbiosis which came out of the Wellcome Trust Gamify Your PhD competition (with Ashley Gwinnell, a graduate of Bournemouth University involved in its making).
The game has received further funding since and has been polished, it can be seen (trailer) here or played in a web browser here.

It is a great example indeed of a public engagement game for the fields the aforementioned funding body supports and, with some imagination, a strong showcase of what can be done via the use of gaming for other scientific areas too.

Project Anarchy from Havok

Keen to compete with other engines such as Unreal (particularly in its UDK guise) and Unity, Havok has offered a development toolset called Project Anarchy earlier this summer. With this (potentially game-changing?) move Havok offers a suite of tools which can be used to generate and deploy games on the iOS and Android  platforms and, according to their initial press release here, "without commercial restrictions on company size or revenue".
It is important to note that, similarly to UDK and Unity, Project Anarchy is free to download and can be found here. Well worth checking out if you are seeking an alternative to the engines mentioned above.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

TIGA press release on A-level results

TIGA, the trade association body for game developers in the UK, recently put out a press release to coincide with this year's A-level results. I was also asked (in my capacity as an academic at Bournemouth University, where we are also members of TIGA) to provide a quote for this.
The press release can be found in full here.

VS Games 2013 social dinner venue announced

The scheduled VS Games 13 conference dinner will take place on Thursday the 12th of September at the West Beach restaurant in Bournemouth. The restaurant is located very close to the seafront and off the pier and is in a great location, i.e. very close the centre of the town yet only a few feet away from the beach. Hopefully the (very) unpredictable British weather will not let us down on this occasion!

More information about this can be found on the official conference website here.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

VS Games 2013 programme now available

The VS Games 2013 full programme (including the workshop mentioned in a post earlier this month) is now available for all of its three days and can be found here. A .pdf version of this can also be downloaded from here.
While the submission call is closed and has been for a while, the conference is still open for participation and attendees can still register in time for the event in September.

July version of UDK out

UDK's latest build is also released this month (July). After a reasonably lengthy wait (the last build was from February) the next free version of Epic Games' Unreal engine is now available.
Looking at the update notes here this appears to be more about bug fixing rather than adding new features which of course prompts the question on a UDK based on Unreal 4 possibly made available soon (or whether there will really be many more UDK versions/updates based on Unreal 3?).
In any case it is worth installing this for all the Unreal aficionados, it can be found here.

Unity 4.2 now out

Version 4.2 of Unity is now released. All of the additions and updates can be found here on the official Unity website (I won't focus on these in this blog post) however what is really worth highlighting is that the free version of Unity now also supports porting to Windows Phone 8, Windows Store apps and BlackBerry 10.
This is in addition to existing mobile platforms (like iOS and Android) and this move will definitely be very welcome by the mobile development community.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Extended version of Mobile HCI paper chosen for Journal of Mobile HCI special issue

An extended version of the Mobile HCI workshop paper (see recent post below) I am one of the co-authors for has now been invited for submission in a special issue of  the Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction. This special issue will contain the best papers from this year’s Mobile HCI 2013 workshops. 
More information about this journal can be found here.

VS Games workshop

VS Games 2013 will have a co-located workshop, titled SLACTIONS workshop on Technology Challenges of Virtual Worlds in Education & Training towards widespread adoption. The workshop is established in cooperation with the Slactions 2013 conference on virtual worlds.
Selected papers submitted to this workshop will be invited to present at Slactions 2013 in November. Furthermore, the best papers from the workshop will be invited to submit extended versions to the upcoming January 2015 special issue of the Journal of Educational Technology and Society (impact factor 2011: 1.011), “Overcoming the technological hurdles facing virtual worlds in education: the road to widespread deployment.”
More information about the workshop can be found here.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Mobile HCI workshop paper accepted

A paper I am the co-author on has recently been accepted to the upcoming Mobile HCI workshop, Designing Mobile Augmented Reality. The paper is titled "Proposing a design framework for smartphone AR browsers used in unfamiliar urban tourism destinations". Mobile HCI, this year, will be taking place in Munich, Germany and this will be during the 27th and 30th of August.
 For more information about the conference (and the aforementioned workshop) please visit here.

CGI 2013 short paper accepted and published

At the recent CGI 2013 conference I was the co-author of a short paper titled "Automatic Terrain Texturing with Dynamic Patch Transitions" which was presented by myself during the conference. The conference, which is now a long-standing academic event in the area of computer graphics, took place in Hannover, Germany this year between the 11th and the 14th of June.

For more information about CGI 2013 see here.

Edge magazine article on BU and Games courses online

Similarly to last year Edge magazine has an article on the Bournemouth University Games courses; I was interviewed for this. This article originally appeared in their Get Into Games special issue (issue 255, July 2013) and is now also available online.

The article can be found in full here.

Third keynote for VS Games 2013

The third keynote speaker for the VS Games 2013 conference is Dr Christopher Peters,  Associate Professor of HCI and Computer Graphics at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. The title of the talk is the following; "Computational Modelling of Artificial Behaviour: A Perceptual Approach".

Christopher Peters is an Associate Professor at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden in the High Performance Computing and Visualization Department, where he is a member of the VIC (Visualisation-Interaction-Collaboration) Studio. His research interests include the investigation of interrelationships between computational visual attention, affect, memory, theory of mind and gaze control models for real-time animation, perception of, and multimodal interaction with humanoid characters, groups and crowds. He has published over 75 papers on related themes and is a co-founder of the AFFINE (Affective Interaction in Natural Environments) events that have taken place at various venues, including ACM ICMI and ACM Multimedia.
For abstract info of the talk please visit here.

IEEE Xplore proceedings for VS Games 2013

The conference VS Games 2013, taking place at Bournemouth University between 11th and 13th September will have full IEEE proceedings; all papers will be included, post event, in the IEEE Xplore digital repository. This will include full papers, short papers and also poster publications. This is a result of VS Games 2013 achieving Technical Co-Sponsorship by the IEEE Computer Society (for the 4th time in its five year history as an event).
More information about the conference here.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

GAS 2013 workshop paper accepted

A workshop paper I am the co-author on has been accepted at the 3rd GAS 2013; this is the International Workshop on Games and Software Engineering (which is co-located with ICSE 2013). The workshop takes place in May in San Francisco, USA. The title of the paper is "Distributed DeepThought: Synchronising complex network multi-player games in a scalable and flexible manner".
More information about GAS 2013 here.

CASA 2013 conference paper accepted

A publication I am the co-author on has been accepted for the CASA 2013 conference, taking place in May in Istanbul Turkey. This is the 26th outing of the International Conference on Computer Animation and Social Agents. The paper is titled "Animating Painterly Strokes Embedded in 3D Space" and will be presented under the short paper track.
More information on the official conference website here.

GeoHCI 2013 workshop paper published

A publication I am one of the co-authors on has been presented and published at this year's GeoHCI (Geographic Human Computer Interaction) 2013 workshop, which is co-located with the still ongoing ACM CHI 2013 conference, taking place at Paris, France. This is titled "Towards meaningful augmentation of the cityscape: new challenges for mobile GeoHCI" and can be found in full here.
GeoHCI 2013's site can be found here.