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!
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):
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.
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.
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.)
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, in 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…
August 23rd, 2012 in News
From a British standpoint the Olympics were a roaring success, and the general mood of everyone seems to have been lifted as we watched athletes from across the world compete. I’ve always been a long standing fan of the Paralympics, the courage, determination and sheer skill of the people who compete in it is always inspiring.
The above image is taken from the advert channel 4 have been running recently, and if you haven’t seen the full 90 second version then I highly recommend it. Embedding isn’t enabled on it for some reason, but it’s here on youtube.
In what can only be described as a shock, news has hit today that Sony Liverpool is being closed. While its output hasn’t been huge of late they were rumoured to be heavily involved in PS Vita projects and, as witnessed from the posting of the Psygnosis logo around the internet, they have retained a lot of their original identity and goodwill.
Industry forums are very sympathetic as always, but it is yet another huge blow for videogame development in the North-West of England: once regarded as the jewel in the crown of the industry in this country. It’s nice to see companies around the globe offering their services and extending help if they can, but it brings back the fact that if you’re determined to develop AAA games then you have to be able to move. A fair few of the team from Bizarre Creations don’t live in the UK anymore, and some of the ones that stayed in the UK have moved away from Merseyside. It’s great if you can do it, but many of us can’t at the drop of a hat.
The industry as a whole is changing very fast: faster than we can keep up. Taking two years or more to develop a game really isn’t a great business model anymore – the costs are simply too high for the risk of no return. We have to find ways to improve productivity, to make it faster to make content so we can focus on making the games or we risk losing more big studios.
I hope that something will rise from the ashes from Sony Liverpool, there are many developers here and it would be a shame if Liverpool lost another chunk of its creative talent pool. Maybe this is the opportunity someone has been waiting for, to start a new studio to take on the world?