Archive for the ‘News’ Category

AutoDesk-Maya

Apr 28

Top 3 3D Modelling and Animation Software

3D modelling and animation software programs combine the use of numbers and colours to create an amazing visual concept. You can bring your typical 3D model to life using an array of tools to enhance lighting, textures, backgrounds or add additional angles. Your stationary 3d model can be transformed into a rotating model, which can be viewed from a variety of angles, including the ability to zoom in and out to truly assess the effectiveness of certain features. There are many different 3d modelling and animation software packages on the market, some requiring paid subscriptions while others are free. Of those several packages on the market however, there are three options that really offer a superior level of performance.

AutoDesk Maya

This is without a doubt the most comprehensive 3d modelling and software package. It offers the most extensive range of material and texture features including the ability to alter soft body dynamics, hair, skin and muscles. It really stands out for its superior animation features as it offers the ability to edit motion trails and track footage motions as well as other key features such as key frame animation, layering and pose blending. The GeoDex Voxel binding feature allows you to create top quality models very quickly. It is one of the most user friendly software packages too, and it is very easy to use. It can be run on all modern operating systems including Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista as well as MAC OS X. Because it is so comprehensive, you do have to really dedicate yourself to learning in order to really benefit from its full scale of features.

AutoDesk 3DS Max

It might seem unfair to list two AutoDesk products in our top 3, but to leave out AutoDesk 3DS Max would be a travesty. This professional 3d modelling and animation software package has been around for quite some time and offers an excellent array of features. While it doesn’t offer quite the comprehensive list of advanced animation features in comparison with Maya, it is still a very powerful piece of software, and it is ideal if you need to develop content rapidly. It too is supported by all popular operating systems. The Perspective Match features makes editing backgrounds a dream as you can simply upload your background image and fit your model to suit. The ability to upgrade easily to newer versions allows a professional to consistently avail of the most advanced features in 3d modelling. The 2014 version also now supports the use of 2D vector graphics too.

Cinema 4D

Maxon’s premium 3D modelling and animation software really can do just about anything a creative professional could desire from such a software program. It is specifically popular in the movie world where it has been used in the production of some huge movies in recent years including Spiderman 3 and War of the Worlds. That said, architects, engineers and product builders can find it just as beneficial. It has undergone consistent upgrades over the years and now can rightfully claim an equal standard of that of the two aforementioned AutoDesk products. It offers a completely customisable layout to allow for superior ease of use. It can alter bodily dynamics including hair and offer an animation toolbar for easy key frame management. It can render a pretty impressive 32 bits per pixel too. The latest version – Cinema 4D Studio R12 – even offers a visualisation library and a great picture viewer with RAM playback.

There are some great options out there in terms of 3D modelling and animation software, however these three really do serve as the cream of the crop.

unreal-conference

Apr 10

Epic Games offers an insight into the latest Unreal Engine tools and technologies

Epic Games is staging a set of Unreal developer sessions right here in the UK to inform developers about the latest Unreal Engine tools and techniques.

Epic recently announced (at GDC) that the Unreal Engine 4 will be available under a new subscription service which gives developers access to the full engine, tools and C++ source code.

Anyone with an active subscription has been invited by the game maker to the Unreal Developer Day on April 17th, in Stafford. Developers can attend one of two half-day sessions designed for ‘ground floor’ members of the new UE4 ecosystem.

Throughout this event, Epic’s engineering, design and support team members will be onsite to provide insight into the toolset and technologies.

This exciting event takes place on Thursday, April 17th at the Epic Games Centre, Ruxton Technology Centre, Staffordshire University, ST18 0AD, UK. The tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis so get signed up quick.

Registration is for one session only and visitors are required to bring their registration ticket on the day or they might be denied entry.

You can register for the event and get more information here >>

Apr 01

Amazon’s latest game controller for an Android device

Amazon is one of the biggest players in the field of online marketplaces, but it seems that this title is not enough. Rumors on the Internet say that Amazon is currently looking to make its entrance into the field of gaming, as some leaked photos show a prototype of what seems to be an Amazon-branded game controller.Despite the fact that there are no official statements regarding this product so far, closely inspecting the leaked photos allows us to make a pretty clear idea of what to expect from the upcoming Amazon game controller.

Design

At a first glance, the Amazon controller looks like a blend between multiple controllers already in existence. In terms of design, the Amazon controller is fairly similar to a renowned Android game controller, the MOGA Pro, which seems to be inspired by the Xbox controllers in term of button layout. However, there is one noticeable difference between the Xbox controllers, the MOGA Pro and Amazon controllers – the last ones are bulkier in aspect and come with a few extra buttons. It is exactly those extra buttons that give us some valuable hints on what the Amazon controller will be capable of.

Features

So the Amazon controller has the classical 4-way directional key, the ABXY action buttons and two analog sticks – nothing impressive so far; until you notice the additional buttons, that is.

In the center of the controller you will see three buttons which should be quite familiar if you’ve ever used a smartphone: back, home and menu. This is the first and most obvious indicator that Amazon’s game controller will have something to do with Android, as these buttons are the same buttons you normally find on pretty much any android-powered device out there, and while the first tendency is to conclude that the Amazon controller will be just another game controller for Android smartphones and tablets, there are a few additional buttons that contradict this theory.

Located on the bottom edge of the controller, the 3 playback controls are easily accessible and will allow you to quickly control the media that will be playing, which will most probably be streamed from the Amazons Instant Video service. This pretty much rules out the hypothesis that the Amazon game controller will be just a simple Android controller, and makes it more probable that it will be connected to something else, which will also be running Android.

Another button that might confirm the fact that the Amazon game controller is not just a simple controller is the Amazon GameCircle button, located right under the three Android-specific controls. Present as an in-game feature so far, the Amazon GameCircle now gets its own physical button, thus providing easier access to saved games, leaderboards achievements in a vast majority of games from the Amazon Appstore.

Conclusion

So, let’s draw a line and sum it all up: we have a controller with all the classical buttons found on console controllers, with a few extras, which indicate that it will also have multimedia capabilities and will be somehow connected to Android. There are quite a few rumors and theories floating around, the most commons being that Amazon is also secretly working on a standalone gaming console or, most probably, that it will incorporate its features into the new set-top box that will be released in the near future.

While in the lack of any official information both theories are just as plausible, the latter one seems a bit more probable. Still, at this point it is all just hypothesis and speculation, so all it is left is to wait for the release of the said set-top box and see which theory is confirmed. Stay tuned!

candy-crush

Jan 21

Five Fun and Addictive Online Games for Killing Time

Most people these days spend the majority of their time online on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter when they are not busy researching topics for schoolwork or doing business for their jobs. But when social media gets tired, people also love visiting the many websites that have fun, interactive games they can play to kill time and relax the mind.

Looking for a great way to get away from it all right at your desk and feel like a kid again? Then continue reading because below is a list of five of the most fun online games that you can enjoy when you simply wish to kill some time.

Candy Crush

Candy Crush made it big in 2013 as more and more people got turned onto it through Facebook, where they could compete against one another to see who could pass the most levels most quickly and where they could also help each other by sending along extra lives and moves. This puzzle game becomes increasingly challenging as you make your way from one level to the next, but unless you purchase more lives, you are given a limit of only five lives at a time to get through as many levels as you can. This is a good thing, though, as it will prevent you from wasting an entire day attempting to get through this game.

Bejeweled Blitz

Bejeweled Blitz is yet another hugely popular game that Facebook users have become addicted to. The goal is to match the jewels as quickly as possible within one minute’s time in order to score the highest points possible. Scores reset weekly and you can play against your Facebook friends to see who the best is.

Begone

Looking for an exciting first person shooter game that is intense and allows you to play with others right on the Internet? Begone, which is appropriate for those aged 13 and older because it is quite graphic, involves a shootout between teams and is fast-paced so you never get bored. Also, while you can play with others, you also have the option of playing on your own.

Slingo

Looking for a great online game that is a combination of exciting slots and classic Bingo? Then Slingo is your best bet. This game has been around for many years, so those who have been playing it online for a long time will certainly remember it and will notice the upgrades that have been made to the interface since it was first released. This game is fun for people of all ages and will certainly help you pass the time.

Bingo

Everyone loves a good game of Bingo, but it is even more fun when you can play it online. Some sites even allow you to gamble with play money or real money during every Bingo game that you play, upping the stakes and making the game that much more exciting. Check out these top 10 Bingo tips to stay on top of the many opportunities to take advantage of this simple yet surprisingly fun game online.

tomb-raider

Jan 10

How 2013 was a pretty good year for video gaming women

Now that 2013 is finally over, it’s time to analyze a particular trend we’ve seen a lot in the last 12 months. Believe it or not, last year was pretty great for women in video games. They had leading roles and they managed to make their presence felt without looking too provocative. Don’t get this the wrong way; men are still ruling the industry, but to some extent it’s great that some developers paid more attention to a woman’s role as well in a video game.

Tom Raider was successful because it was led by a female

That’s right! Tom Raider might have had great mechanics, design, and visuals, but we have to admit that it attained success because it was operated by a female character-player. It was definitely a refreshing move and it brought an air of freshness to the whole gaming experience. Previous versions of the game were additionally based on a female character – namely Lara Croft – but this time the makers really managed to focus on other characteristics too, not just on the sexuality of the character-player.

Although the young Lara Croft we’re used to is definitely an appealing virtual female, her looks and general appearance haven’t overshadowed the most important aspects of the video game. She’s not getting any special treatments in the game and she’s not afraid to get stabbed or shot just to attain her goals.

Game developers have finally realized that female characters in video games can be sexy without looking too provocative. That’s exactly what the makers of Tom Raider did; they created a good-looking Lara Croft whose one tough character, but she doesn’t have to look too naked just to draw some attention.

“The Last of Us” “BioShock Infinite” and “Beyond”

We’ve grouped “The Last of Us” with “BioShock Infinite” because they use women the same way into the game. Some have catalogued these two as the best of 2013, and to some extent that’s true. Both Elizabeth and Ellie have a special connection to the male character as they’re successfully waiting to be rescued.

“BioShock Infinite” and “The Last of Us” are being led by male character-players and the way women are integrated into the gameplay converts them into assets and not liabilities males have to constantly keep safe. In BioShock, Elizabeth is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, so you don’t have to worry that her life is constantly in danger. As a matter of fact, at some point she will help you take down the bad guys.

In The Last of Us, you’ll be surprised to see how tough Ellie can be. She’s directly involved in the combat and she’s capable of taking down the bad guys by herself, without additional help. In spite of the fact that the women in these two games have to be rescued, they’re well-rounded characters able to fight back.

Beyond is a game you either hate or love. It is one of the most disruptive video games of the year that focuses its gameplay on a woman, played by real-life actress Ellen Page. Story-driven by an extremely intriguing plot, beyond centers on Jodie Holmes, and it’s up to you to decide if she lives or dies.

Some other notable games centered on the presence of female characters were Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Call of Duty: Ghosts. Their role was not that notable, but at least they were present and they didn’t have a provocative purpose in the games, which was surprisingly interesting. At last game developers have started to use female characters for different purposes in video games, and from what we’ve seen so far 2013 was definitely a great year for women in the virtual environment.

next-gen-consoles

Jan 06

New Year, New Console

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year (or are just not interested in console gaming) then you’re probably aware of the ongoing console war between Xbox and PlayStation, with the  release of the Xbox One and PS4 going head to head in the run up to Christmas!  But if you’ve only recently purchased a PS3 or have spent all your hard-earned cash on console games, you might not be able to afford the latest next-gen console for yourself or your kids for Christmas.

Trade it in

Just as you can buy pre-owned consoles and games, you can also trade in or sell your games and consoles, which will give your cash flow a boost and let you buy the newest games or even invest in a new Xbox One or PS4.  There are a number of ways to trade in or sell your gaming kit – here are some of the most popular:

Online – auction sites and other websites where you can trade in your games and consoles for cash are a great place to start On the high street – shops such as Game will give you cash or points for pre-owned games or you can swap them for money off new titles Classified ads – probably the most time consuming way to sell your games or consoles, but if you have a stash and time to spare, you could write a classified ad in your local paper or online to sell your items

 

The Latest Technology

Technology is evolving at a pace that’s often hard to keep up with – after all, that’s how the manufacturers make their money! Whilst you don’t have to keep pace with changing technology, when it comes to games consoles, you’ll quickly find your old games are obsolete, particularly if you spend a lot of time playing online with friends.  Buying a new, next-gen console for the New Year is a great way to ensure you don’t get left out when it comes to gaming online.  There are sure to be games lying around that you don’t play anymore, and you can make extra money by selling these to fund the purchase of a new console (or accessories, if you already have a console).

Demanding Time

It seems that kids today always want the latest and greatest toys, and many mums and dads struggle to keep up with demand – particularly at Christmas.  There are always new gadgets and toys around that seem to cost the earth, but there’s no point in worrying how you’re going to afford to buy the kids a new gaming console when you could raise some extra money by selling things you no longer use!  You’re not just limited to selling games online – you can also sell DVDs, CDs and books on many sites such as MusicMagpie and this is a great way to raise some extra cash to buy them what they really want this Christmas.

Next-gen Consoles

Whether to opt for an Xbox One or a PS4 is a personal decision – some people like both, whilst others are loyal to one camp rather than another.  Many feel that the PS4 console is more attractive than the rather bulky Xbox One, but again it’s a personal choice – in the run-up to Christmas, it looks like the PS4 has become the UK’s fastest selling console, with 250,000 sold in just 48 hours!  But quite often the decision will come down to which games are available that you want to play. Some games will be an Xbox One or PS4 exclusive, whilst others will be available on both consoles, so it’s important to look at games releases before purchasing your new console.

Purchase Pre-owned

Whilst there won’t be many next-gen consoles available pre-owned at the moment, this could change after Christmas, when many people will sell unwanted gifts online.  So it could be a good idea to wait until the New Year if you’re purchasing a console for yourself.  This way you could pick up a pre-owned console at a discounted price and some pre-owned games too, making substantial savings.  It’s important to always read the listing properly when purchasing pre-owned games or consoles, so you know exactly what condition the item is in before you buy.  Many pre-owned consoles from major retailers will come with a 6 month warranty (some even boast a 1 year warranty), so it’s really not that much different to buying new!

So give yourself or the kids something to look forward to in the New Year with the latest games consoles – whether you buy pre-owned or sell existing consoles and games to raise money for your purchase, you can look forward to many hours of entertainment and some of the hottest new releases around in 2014!

Nov 09

Randomness and Video Game Design

Randomness in games is a recipe for disaster. There are some games like snakes and ladders in which everything is random. The roll of the dice is random, the placement of both the snakes an ladders are random and the winner is random. The game requires no skill and has a level playing field. This is one of the reasons it is a great family game, as a child of four playing for the first time has just as much chance of winning as their experience father, who has played many times. However, if you are creating a game for those over the age of six then randomness should be kept to a minimum.

In most cases, games need set rules and laws to govern play. These rules allow players to learn and get better at the game. If you think of tennis for example, the rules are set and anyone can play. However, only those willing to put the effort in truly excel. If randomness is introduced players would not seek to become professionals as they could never truly control the game. In some cases, such as XCOM the randomness is introduced at the very beginning in the placement of the enemy aliens. This randomness works well as it changes the game from memorizing where the aliens are, to a more strategic game where the act of playing requires skill.

Games like the original Mario and Sonic games required the user to play the levels and memorise the layout in order to achieve the best outcome. Whilst fun, it left little playability after the levels had been completed. More recently, games have introduced additional elements to extend playability such as three different star achievements which are achieved when certain criteria is met. This feature does extend the game but only by a factor of three.

One such random occurrence in modern games is the infamous winged blue shell in Mario Kart. The blue shell is a power up given to the last place player and pretty much instantly, takes out the player in first place. The game itself is fantastic and has spawned a slew of clones but one thing that does stop it from being a fully playable game is the blue shell. I know it is part of a range of balancing measures to keep the game fun for all players but it ultimately punishes good players and those who have attempted to master the game. When you see gamers play Mario Kart at a competitive level you will notice that a tactic has emerged where played actively try NOT to be in first place and that by sitting in the middle of the pack is the best strategy when competing.

I don’t think I have explained myself fully here but the moral of the story is that if you intend your game to last, and tempt players to really invest time and effort in your game, then keep randomness to the absolute minimum. It will just turn players off and pigeon hole your game with many others in the ‘good fun for five minutes’ bracket and lose players who will follow and promote your game. Obviously, some exceptions to the rule exist but trust me; my logic is sound.

Related articles Get ready to waste your life: ‘Super Mario Bros.’ is now playable on your Web browser Designer: Elements of Replayability Indie Showcase: FTL (Faster Than Light) Algorithms to play randomized game Get on board

Nov 04

The Evolution of Graphics in Video Games

In the wake of the release of GTA5 we have all been transported into a world of extreme, cutting edge video game graphics. Sharp, clear and as real as you can get. You only need to watch the trailer for Call Of Duty Ghosts and you will see it with your own eyes. However, many of us will remember the days when our video games were pixelated, fuzzy and slow – but that was the beauty of them wasn’t it?

As with everything, fashion, music and art, the current gaming graphics will evolve ad it won’t be long before they are outdated. We will start off by moaning about them and eventually, in 30 years, we will enjoy them once more for their ‘vintage’ appeal. Part of the issue with modern gaming graphics is that they are built to look real. Let’s face it, Space Invaders or PacMan were definitely not based upon realistic graphics; part of the reason they have kept their appeal for longer. Mobile app games and instant play casino games are some of the few gaming technologies that continue to display these type of simple graphics, albeit more stylized. At the end of the day, games that rely on the latest technology for their graphics are not going to retain their looks for as long as those that poses a blend between stylish graphics and the latest technology.

Tomb Raider is a great example of this. The ultimate 1990’s adventure game was built between artistic graphics and the latest technology. It looks retro due to its pixelated presence and let’s face it Lara Croft never moved in a realistic way. However this game was created using cutting edge technology. This is one game that has stood the test of time through the clever use of graphics and design.

Heading back either further, to the birth of a generation, the 1980’s really was the moment that shaped the face of video game graphics. This was the era when graphics definitely took a backseat to the gameplay. Maybe this was to test the water or it was simply because the primitive computers could only handle so much. Either way, it was far either for developers to create a simply strategy game than it was to create an RPG full of twist and turns. This was the age when the PC was considered a machine for work purposes rather than the entertainment hubs that they have become.

Any game that grew out of the 80’s was caught in a battle between artistic brilliance and the constraints of the consoles. The Commodore 64, released in 1982 was one of the most powerful systems of the decade, but it still couldn’t cope with high level, wire frame graphics. Games designed for the Commodore 64 could always be recognised due to their brightly coloured graphics, and simple translucent characters. Although it was a powerful arcade console, the games were still simple in their approach compared to the capabilities of modern day consoles.

In short, video game graphics have moved as the technology has. Creative development and freedom is now one of the most important aspects to games, but they will soon be as dated as their predecessors. As they are so realistic, they may not fare as well in our fast paced world as some of the 30 year games we know and love.

Related articles The Relentless Improvement of Video Game Graphics Tech Review: Apps recreate early video games 10 Great Video Games with Unique Graphic Styles The Totally True History of Video Game Graphics Assignment 15
game-development-guide

Oct 30

Ultimate Online Guide to Video Game Design [Infographic]

The path to video game developer success is long and fraught with danger. It might be easy to have and idea but how do you take make that idea a reality. More than that, how do you make game design and development your life?

Developing video games requires knowledge of many different disciplines. Whilst you might be able to outsource certain aspects of the game build, such as game asset design and music composition, your first few games will require you to envisage, creatively direct, project manage and deliver all by yourself. Sadly, game creation is more than just having a game idea, coding the mechanics and then slapping on some lovely graphics… The modern day indie developer needs to manage the marketing and patiently test the final creation in order to secure some commercial success.

Outside of the game design and development process you may want to think about joining a game development team or established studio in order to gain valuable experience in the industry.

With SO many questions floating around, including those questions that you don’t know to ask yet, wouldn’t it be nice if some kind person or website put together a handy list of resources in an easy to read infographic that would act as an ultimate guide to lead you through the ferocious land of game development…

Thanks to the helpful people over at ‘Online Game Design Schools’ you now have such a document.

Behold, Click here to read The Ultimate Online Guide to Video Game Design

 

 

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