FireSprite and The Playroom

December 10th, 2013 in News

Following on from the announcement that I worked on Xbox Fitness, which was a launch title on Xbox One, I can also now proudly reveal that I have also worked on an launch title for PS4. In fact, The Playroom, which is pre-installed on every PS4.

The Playroom itself has been announced since E3, and recently had this great demo on the Jimmy Fallon show:

However, FireSprite have only recently made themselves public, which is why I haven’t been able to post anything on this until now. It’s been a really exciting 10 months working at FireSprite, and there are some real legends of the games industry there doing amazing work. Look out for more information on other projects in the coming year!

Announcing… Xbox Fitness

September 30th, 2013 in News

As is often the way with video game development, you can’t talk about something you’ve worked on until it’s very close to the end of development. Since going freelance 18 months ago I’ve worked on quite a few titles, and today can announce the first of those: Xbox Fitness.

It’s a launch-window title for Xbox One, and uses the new Kinect sensor to great effect. I did 6 months design work on the game for Sumo Digital back in 2012, and can’t wait to see what the game has evolved into since.

An update to Single Joystick

January 29th, 2013 in News

A few weeks ago I posted about a new concept for creating a joystick on touch screen devices, and the response was really good so I’ve continued working on it. The video below covers the main points (and also has me talking on it), and I’ve updated the original article and also posted a quick update here on AltDevBlogADay as well.

Hopefully this will start showing up in games soon!

A new kind of joystick…

January 15th, 2013 in News

If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen me mention working on a prototype control system for touch screens. A few weeks ago I set myself a challenge: see if it’s possible to combine two virtual joysticks, used in most touch based first and third person shooters, into a single joystick. And still be controllable. Here’s a very early stage video (a bit jittery due to my capture method):

It’s been a nice little side project to work on, and I’ve written up my progress so far. As usual, it’s both on this site here, and here on AltDevBlogADay too.

Social Media Cafe

December 18th, 2012 in News

I’m doing a talk tonight at Social Media Cafe, simply titled “Video Games: What Happens Next?”. I’m going to briefly discuss how we’ve got to where we are, and where technology may take us in the future. There’ll be other speakers too and it should be available online afterwards.

Blender Render

October 26th, 2012 in News

I’ve been using Blender 3D on and off for about a year now, albeit mostly off. I first used it quite a few years ago – I think the first version I tried properly was 2.35a. At the time it showed promise but, at that point, felt very alien to my 3DS Max. Maya had also felt like a big change in direction when I tried that initially, and I knew that with a bit of perseverance and understanding of the workflow I could probably get my head around Blender too.

Skip forward to about a year ago, when Blender underwent a huge UI change with the release of 2.57. Since then I’ve dabbled more and, while there’s still a few things to get my head around, I’m finding that I’m becoming more and more confident and adept with it.

One of the more recent additions has been the cycles renderer. This is a big step, as it enables realistic lighting to be rendered out of the box and fully supports a multitude of shaders and operations allowing for very complex materials to be created. The node editor is fast and easy to use and, best of all, you can have a live 3D window constantly previewing your changes.

The above image was created by me, using free textures from cgtextures and some hand created bump and specular maps. In all, I’ve probably tinkered for about three hours while learning the system. I’ll carry on experimenting for sure, but for anyone looking to create realistic renders I think Blender is now a very competitive product. Have a look at these images on google to see what it can do. To me it’s standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the big boys now, without costing a penny.

Simplicity wins again

September 10th, 2012 in News

At the risk of turning this into a ‘why I love Valve‘ blog, here’s another great thing that they’ve just gone and done. Unlike the Mann Vs Machine Team Fortress 2 trailer from a few weeks ago this time it’s a piece of design from their about-to-be-released Steam ‘Big Picture’ mode. As with all great designs, you look at it and instantly wonder why someone hasn’t done it before: it looks so obvious, and it looks like such a massive improvement over current virtual keyboards on consoles.

(Thanks Kotaku for this screenshot.)

D-Box… the 3rd dimension?

August 27th, 2012 in News, Thoughts

I hadn’t heard of D-Box until recently, when it came up as a seating option at our local cinema when we were booking tickets for The Expendables 2. Being fairly geeky and willing to try everything at least once, we paid the extra money and went for it. We watched the above video before going, so had a rough idea what to expect – something of a cross between a simulator ride and a rumble pad from a console controller.

Initial feelings during the trailers were mixed: very comfy chair, much nicer than the standard Odeon seats, and plenty of legroom. But miles away from each other – not only did it make sharing the popcorn trickier but also those little whispers to one another.

Then the film started. Having watched the video above we had a rough idea what to expect, and having worked on consoles for over ten years I’ve got experience of how to control rumble motors so I was expecting something like that, but on a bigger scale. We were under no illusions that The Expendables 2 was going to be an all out action-fest, but the opening 10 minutes is nothing short of continuous gunfights, explosions, zip-wires and aeroplanes. A better demonstration piece for the D-Box chair couldn’t have been made: it was truly an additional dimension to get you involved with the film. I think everyone sat in one was laughing loudly at how it felt, but this was purely happiness at the fact that it did work, and did indeed make the action feel more immersive. In fact,┬áin my opinion it was far more enjoyable, and far more pleasant, than watching a film in 3D. Mixed with IMAX this could be exactly what cinemas have been aiming for: an experience that you really can’t get at home without spending thousands of pounds.

It’ll be interesting to see how this develops going forward. D-Box offer a gaming chair as well, though I’d like to know how loud the mechanisms are when not disguised by the audio systems and specialist flooring provided by a cinema. I’d be very intrigued to experiment with one, and see what sort of effects you can get out of it, and how responsive it really is.

It’s certainly tailored towards a specific style of film, but if you get the chance to see an action movie in one then I highly recommend you give it a go. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that an action film at the cinema isn’t going to feel as immersive now unless I’m sat in one of these chairs, and that’s not something I’d ever say about 3D…