Most of you probably haven’t heard of Skylanders, but it’s a children’s video game (that’s fun for adults too, myself included) that combines classic plastic toy marketing with virtual content. They’re preparing a new version called “Skylanders Giants”, and there has been a slow trickle of information coming out about it in preparation. Wired’s Andy Robertson has some kids in love with the game, like myself, and created a small infographic showing how the current figures will interact with the new figures, in hopes of explaining things to his kids.
They had been planning how to spend their pocket money and wanted to make the best decisions over which figures to buy now and which they should wait for new versions of in Skylanders Giants. Their “research” has involved regular visits to the Skylanders Giants Amazon pages in various countries to search for details.
Drawing on news from the launch event and press releases, we ended up drawing a few Venn diagrams and constructing the following tables to help make sense of what was coming up in the new game.
I always look at these systems and think there’s no possible way they’ll ever go mainstream, but looking at this amazing conglomeration of kit bringing the new Battlefield 3 game to life is truly jawdropping.
Centred on the worlds first, portable omni-directional treadmill designed by Swedish company MSE Weibull the simulator lets you control the movements of a Battlefield 3 character with your own body. Other key technology employed includes: 12 paintball markers that allow the player, in real time, to feel the enemy gunfire experienced in the game; a wireless gun system; ambient LED lighting; and an Xbox Kinect camera hack.
No idea how much something like this cost, but something tells me there’s a lot of bubblegum and duct tape holding this one together. Nonetheless, it is awesome.
CGSociety has a great article on the art & direction of Valve’s Portal 2, and gets into some of the programmatic issues they had to deal with in the engine. Making it run on everything from PC’s to XBox360′s presented some technical challenges, but nothing compared to the difficulties inherent in light-bending physics.
If that portal can see its paired portal, the engine is suddenly drawing the world three times over. If you add to that the two-player co-op, which can have four portals simultaneously, plus reflective water surfaces and split-screen rendering, the engine can very quickly be drawing the world up to sixteen times per frame.
This required the Valve Software team to do more graphical optimization that any game they’ve created previously, including finding methods for creating ‘world imposters’ which baked portions of the scene into rough model geometry that can could selectively turn on in graphically intense scenes.
OnLive is really scoring big at E3 this week, demonstrating their wares to show off some truly impressive gaming. One demonstration in particular really shows of what could be the future of gaming: Accessing “the cloud” for massive resources to view on your iPad.
OnLive even has a bluetooth controller they’ll make available, which should bring a more console-like experience for iPad users instead of having to use the touchscreen. Imagine pairing this with up with your HDTV via HDMI using the bluetooth controller, and you begin get a real sense of how truly awesome this could be.
Take Two’s new game “L.A. Noire” showcases some great facial animations and character motion done through some new technology from MotionScan, and in a new article on the Wall Street Journal they have some details and an example video of how it works.
MotionScan uses an elaborate camera rig, which places 32 high-definition cameras on the ground, ceiling and at eye-level of the actor being filmed, to capture and create a 3-D model of the performer’s face, and eventually his whole body, to use in computer-generated films and videogames.
“Instead of just editing a movie, the director would be able to reconstruct the scene in any way they want,” he says. “You could change the lighting, change the angle of the camerawork, and basically design the film to your specifications, but still be able to feature a realistic performance from the actor.”
Jim Blackhurst has a nice writeup on his blog about working with large SQL-based data in Processing and OpenGL for creation of big point clouds and heatmaps.
I’ve been using Processing to create tools that render the heatmaps, but while the logical structure of program is fairly simple, there are significant challenges in working with large datasets. The primary challenge is loading the data into memory. The data is all held in a SQL database, and while I could connect to the DB directly using processing, the DB is optimised for data-in operations, not data-out, so you don’t want to be pulling the data out too often. Instead, I dump the raw spatial data (X,Y,Z coordinates) into a CSV file, one record per row. I usually create heatmaps from datasets in excess of 1 million rows, and most of them are between 5 – 20 million rows (I have one that is 22 million rows!). A CSV file containing 10 million rows of spatial data is about 364MiB in size (the 22.3m row CSV is 802MiB!). In order to create the data structures in memory to hold sets this large, I have to work in 64bit mode to get over the Windows 32bit memory restrictions.
The dataset is a collection of 11.3 Million Player deaths from the game “Just Cause 2″, hopefully showing the most dangerous areas of the game. The project is still in-development and he hopes to transition to the new Deus Ex game for his next effort.
The latest commercial for Halo: Reach “Deliver Hope” shows some fantastic VFX and CG work alongside Live Action, and is the focus of a new interview available on the Chaos Group’s website.
Halo: Reach “Deliver Hope” is an emotional live-action trailer with stunning effects and awesome animation, recently acknowledged with VES Award for outstanding visual effects. Can you share more from ‘the kitchen’ of the project?
Are you trying to taste what I’m cooking here? With a commercial production this large you pretty much have to raid the pantry. That includes using grandma’s fine china plates. The main course for this commercial was Maya and Houdini. Grilling was done by Nuke and Flame. Then for desert Artists had the choice between 3 Renderers to use on Halo. Renderman, Mantra, or V-Ray.
Watch the commercial below, then read the entire interview.
The CG_GL engine, available here, has got some nice new features like portals (similar to the “Portal” game), bokeh rendering, and PhysX support, to go with all the old features like scattering, particles, volumetric fog, and more. While you may not want to actually use it for a game, it’s a great educational tool on how to implement these effects in your own projects.
CG_GL engine is OpenGL API-based open source engine for creating and managing effects. The newest version of the engine adds features like movable and scalable portals (like in the “Portal” game) working with NVidia PhysX, improved bokeh depth of field, more realistic fog, particles, fake raytrace using cube maps and many improvements. It now works both on Windows and Linux. There is also simple game created using the engine.
If you’ve seen the trailer for Activision’s new “NASCAR: The Game 2011″, then you saw Craft Animation’s Craft Director Studio toolset in action as they drove 40 NASCAR cars around the track with an XBox controller to plot the animation tracks prior to rendering.
“Not only did CDS make animating as fun as actually playing the game, the tools themselves provide a very high level of control which adds even more realism and quality to our end product,” says Mi Technical Director, Gareth Thatcher. “We were able to create shots from day one, immediately experiencing time and cost savings.”
Combined with 3dsMax and Maya, Mi used the 4-Wheel Extended tool to simulate the cars at over 190mph to get the realistic actions and physics they needed for the action-packed trailer.
The latest chapter of the Test Drive Unlimited franchise raises the bar on automotive realism, thanks to new models created with help from Luxology’s Modo.
“Each car we modeled for TDU2 was a challenge because we only had 30,000 vertices to model the interior and exterior of the entire car,” said Jonathan Marole, lead car artist at Eden Games. “Thankfully, with modo, we are able to easily model very detailed cars due to the software’s advanced optimization techniques.”
While other divisions at Eden Games use a wide variety of software, the Car Modeling division uses modo almost exclusivly thanks to it’s speed and flexibility.
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