Saturday, 9 June 2012

Sim gaming, education and a new Sim City

There has been some healthy discussion of late in BE on what gaming can bring to education in all these professional disciplines. One of the threads of discussion as always centres around simulations of various sorts and at what point they become game-like, and if we should push them that way or not.
One of the examples we discuss is the mighty Sim City and what it can teach us about the complexities of cities, solving problems with many requirements all with financial and social constraints. I like the idea of a simulation being sufficiently engaging to encourage its use by students - thus more exposure to the learning the sim has to offer - perhaps gaming's strength of greater student engagement is helpful here.

Anyhow, it is E3 time and the next iteration of Sim City get some more trailer-time well ahead of its release. We get to see a more entertaining interface and some complex sim coding all with multiplayer now which will be intriguing.

This second vid is the E3 gameplay trailer, I am not sure what we are seeing when the buildings are plonked down by the player - maybe that is like subsidy, government investing in construction...

Plus, check out the other vids on the youtube channel looking at the Glass Box Game Engine (plus here). Here we get to see the real SIM parts in action, with agents and resources and so forth all behaving according to the rules setup for each. The 4 vids start here, nice to see the sim-ligic being explained:

Friday, 8 June 2012

Unreal Engine 4

The joy of E3 now reveals to us some of the wonders of Unreal Engine 4. First up the cinematic video that shows off the grunt of the engine to drive this many pixels/polys overflowing with texture, lighting and particle effects. The quality for a real-time engine is superb, better than many fully rendered animations can muster.

Here is a more technical walk-through of many of the features that will be available in the engine. I love the way it handles things like the eye adaptation to the room darkening and lighting up, seems simple but all these layers add to the realism and immersion. Like CryEngine the UE can now just play straight from the editor which is a great improvement. Having step-through kismet editing I would think will be a substantial boon when it comes to coding up behaviours and it is so nicely graphical which is great for beginners. The lighting is getting so so good now, with all the bounced levels and colour, reflection, translucency, sub-surface scattering, ambient occlusion and particle integration.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Arty bits big and small

There are so many talented humans out there and it seems that many of them end up with their fine work on Colossal. The site features principally physical art and design, though digital techniques play their role for many artists and creators. There are far too many fascinating pieces to show off, but here are a few that really talk to me somehow, they are clever, complicated and inspirational.

[Dice Sculptures by Tony Cragg via Colossal]

[Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramee via Colossal]

[Incredible Peacocks Constructed from Beauty Supplies via Colossal]

[Aqueous Electro: New Underwater Ink Photos by Mark Mawson via Colossal]

[Alphabet Topography via Colossal]


So that was all about one scale, at the other extreme how about this design by German architect Ole Scheeren (OMA) for a 77 story tower (is it art as well) in Bangkok, Thailand. While the design is fascinating and in a strange way appeals to me, I really like these two images created for it. The first has some excellend vertigo going on and the second is a lovely representation of a flow of occupancy/activity (complete with elephant). The last image shows more of how the tower design 'works' but there is much more info over on Dezeen as always.

[MahaNakhon Tower by OMA via Dezeen]

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Since the family has taken to Civilization V for its gaming in the last few weeks, I thought a quick post was in order with the Civ5 expansion almost here Gods and Kings. I cant recall why I didnt have a go of Civ5 when it came out, maybe I just hadnt explored nearly enough of Civ4. But having now played a little Civ5 it is simply gorgeous to behold. The graphics, sound, animation, interface and overall feel are very refined and a joy to take in while struggling with international politics.

The mechanics of resources, units and relations with the other players are all improved over previous versions and the introduction of things like the City States is a real boost. While I havent had the time to finish any whole games, that need for 'one more turn' that is firmly embedded in my memory from the early days of Civ is still there. I think the video/trailers do a good job of showing off the game, but here are a few shots from my current game that show how pretty it all is - I love those fluffy white clouds for the undiscovered map areas. All up, this game is an upgrade to the absolute classic that is the Civ series!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Kaleidoscope of recent 3D DeviantArt

We have been looking at ePortfolio options here at UNSW over the last little bit, so I keep popping back to the online portfolios of choice out here on the interweb. DeviantArt is definitely one of them with a vast array of commercial artists and hobbyists as well. I thought it might be nice to just pick out a few people's cool work over the last month, the wealth of talent on display is something to behold. These are all from the 3D categories showing off the abstract, human, beastly and environmental with high and low poly sculpting and texturing in evidence everywhere. If you visit the site, many of the people explain some of their processes, even just seeing the array of software in use is interesting.

[The Divisions of Pleasure by deignis via their DeviantArt Profile]

[red Sonja Sculpt by OmrZrn via their DeviantArt Profile]

[Hocu by kouotsu via their DeviantArt Profile]

[Starfish by pascalblanche via their DeviantArt Profile]

[Orc by PabelBilly via their DeviantArt Profile]

[Liquidform5 by bauki via their DeviantArt Profile]

[Space Girl by sculptn (bansky concept) via their DeviantArt Profile]

[GRFS_09 by ced66 via their DeviantArt Profile]

[Spring Forest by Klontak via their DeviantArt Profile]

[Show by KeremGo via their DeviantArt Profile]

Monday, 4 June 2012

SIGGRAPH2012 Tech Preview

At the start of August we will be treated to this years SIGGRAPH event which will, as always, showcase some spectacular digital wizardry. The Technical Preview video they have released is proof in point, with some fascinating stuff that reveals some of the smarts that 3D models can now incorporate. The systems are getting better at predicting, assisting, simulating, generating and combining than ever before.

Lets also recap on the equivalent video from SIGGRAPH ASIA late in 2011.

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Just after I was at Sydney CeBIT and all the wonderful touch technology that was on display there, I found out about Leap. Here we have a small sensor we could be using to interact with our computers using a whole raft of gestures with our fingers. The preview videos look really engaging, the way it can 'see' all your fingertips allowing control as well as creation using what looks like very natural motion.

Of course, will have to see if this is actually nice to use for extended periods, but hopefully we can play with it soon and at only $70USD an easy thing to explore. Minority Report, Iron Man and other such screen interfaces get another step closer for us...