Monday, 24 March 2014

GDC 2014 - Well That Excalated Quickly

So last Tuesday Elliott told me GDC was coming up and it was going to be streaming the next day. I didn't think much, GDCs before have been pretty standard, new games, refreshed hardware and nothing particularly special. Around the labs everyone has been saying oh yea UE4 will take another few months to be public... Weren't they wrong.

So first Unreal 4 was unveiled as a subscription based service and I found out that it's going to support Linux and have a Linux-based editor! Well that's awesome. As a long time Linux experimenter I have always wanted to try and use Linux but the support for games just isn't there. I'm also an avid Steam OS supporter and I've been personally looking for Linux support not only for the games but also for the creation of the games. Up until now Leadwerks has been one of the few options for that and they've only just got there themselves so I'm pretty excited by Unreal 4. After finding out that it was actually out and that you could download and use it Elliott got straight on that and for $19/month it looks amazing! However from the frame rate it was clear that it's a massive step forward techwise, with SteamBoxes coming at the end of this year I really want to start developing for them and the choice between Unreal 4 and Leadwerks is tough. Leadwerks provides a lower required spec but also doesn't give the power and optimisation of Unreal 4. Decisions...

Head over to Develop for an interesting article about Linux based game development.

Alongside the exciting UE4 announcement Next-Gen CryEngine was announced as a subscription based service for $10 a month. Rather than an entirely new editor and an entirely new program this CryEngine is pretty much the same but its the CryEngine that some of the Crytek Studios have been using for the past few months/years which has PBR and other next gen goodies. Unity 5 was announced with the same next gen awesomeness but also with some really nice extras like a pretty sweet sound editor and a pretty intuitive UI editor. This however is $75/month bare minimum which makes it less and less appealing. The lack of royalties is a nice thing but its definately something to research.

Probably the thing that excited me the most however was... Oculus Dev Kit 2.

Oculus DK2 is soo exciting and considering it will be shipped in July it is perfect timing for my final year of Uni. After spending the past 6 months thinking about trying to work on Oculus for my final year I have some very exciting things happening in my brain at the moment, especially because I have pre-ordered my very own. I hope that after the Easter I will have an elevator pitch ready for this FMP idea, I'm trying to get some things down on paper and trust me its exciting and awesome...

Saturday, 15 March 2014


I have always been interested in a fairly large array of subjects and whether or not I was good at them didn't dissuade me from being interested. That being said I don't think I have ever considered myself "academic", I was recently described as "more academic" and this really made me think. I don't think of this as a bad thing but more as unexpected but perhaps quite true. I do however feel that I need to change something about what I am doing to learn more and get more creative, interesting work done; this academic aspect to me has been coming out more than ever recently. I have become transfixed with something and this fixation seems to have made me think more academically in a hope this will allow me to achieve my goals. Lets try and find the interesting Kiwii from time gone by.

I have been going through the motions to create environments and I feel like this is perhaps the wrong way to go about things. My focus has never wavered but I feel that the way that I have been applying that focus recently hasn't been helpful and hasn't been productive or creative. I seem to be creating meshes, unwrapping them, texturing them, placing them in engine, and repeat. I haven't been an artist for the past few weeks I have been a construction line worker, and this has really taken its toll on my imagination and creativity. I am really enjoying the group project and how things are coming together and I'm really excited for what the dockyard could look like but there is something which isn't quite right. Without a really strong direction of what I want the dockyard to look like I feel like I am just creating assets which will go in the environment, which is great practice, but I don't feel that I am learning anything from it other than the continual push/pull of time management. Both projects seem to be really big and the end of them seems distant, but neither is. My goal was to have 3 compositionally solid renders of the dockyard and a short flythrough finished by the time I come back for the Summer Term and that's when the Group Project is being handed in for Uni's deadlines. Here's a quick look at how things are progressing with the dock yard. (The images below the renders are the reference for what I want to eventually achieve - Here's the Pintrest board)

As you can see I haven't managed to do a great deal in the past month. This is something I need to address and I'm going to do everything I can to work this out. I may end up going back to the drawing board and trying to create a concept to unify the ideas in my mind so that I can work out what I need to make. I have created an animation for our group project which I am becoming more proud of, there will hopefully be a video of it by the end of the week on the group project blog over at

To address my creative-block/excess academic-ness I think I am going to try and focus more on smaller more achievable experiments instead of larger testaments of my current abilities.

I'm going on an adventure to recover Kiwii.

Elements of Game Technology: Sound

Sound is a vital part of our experiences with media, it is where media started from with radio. Sound within interactive media is if anything more important than it is within film. The immersion can be easily broken if sound does not fit or if it is implemented poorly. Sound is such a key part to conveying emotion and atmosphere that games have used it from the very early ages to adjust the player's mentality to be receptive to what they are being presented with.

If its the simple, cheer-y and fast paced sound of Tetris or the melodic, calm and classical epic grandeur of Morrowind it is key to realise how important music is to creating the correct environment.

Personally I found that the most effective soundtrack was that of the Quake series, perhaps the artists being some of my favourite artists helped with that but Nine Inch Nails and Front Line Assembly did a great job in creating an atmosphere of getting things done! The speed and intensity of the game was perfectly accented by the speed and intensity of the music. What I personally enjoyed the most was where Sonic Mayhem and Front Line Assembly worked together to make a variation of musical styles which cover the the different play styles of different maps. Here is a compilation of the tracks.

After the sound tracks comes the foley and voice acting which is something that is still being vitally tweaked by modern games. This video documenting the making of "The Last of Us" is really good at showing how sound is being implemented and how acting, not just voice acting, has become a vital aspect to games. The section on sound starts at 47 minutes through.