The Mobile Games Forum 07

This event may be of interest to mobile companies and students interested in the area. It isn’t cheap to attend.

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Date: 23rd & 24th January 2007
Venue: The Waldorf Hilton, London
Contact: paul_osmond@osneymedia.co.uk
Overview: http://www.mobilegamesforum.co.uk/tracker.asp?magazineid=432

Not just another mobile games event – with over 180 delegates attending last year, this is the definitive marketplace for developers, publishers and operators.

Attend this event to hear industry leaders’ opinions on these important questions:
– How big an impact will convergence and the next generation consoles affect the mobile games market?
– How do you market games direct to the consumer through off-portal channels?
– Licenses are increasingly costly so how do you make your money back through the mobile?
– What makes a successful game title and how can you develop original IP through the mobile?
– Which billing models are attractive to the consumers and which give the greatest ROI?
– Should we continuously try to support all handsets or should there be more focus on native games?
– What are latest mobile games trends around the world?
– How do we minimise the ‘pain’ and cost of Quality Assurance?

Speaker line up includes: O2, 3 Germany, T-Mobile, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, SFR, Samsung, Infospace, Sun Microsystems, Glu Mobile and many more…

Mobile Games Forum

Date: 23rd & 24th January 2007

Venue: The Waldorf Hilton, London

Contact: paul_osmond@osneymedia.co.uk

Overview: http://www.mobilegamesforum.co.uk/tracker.asp?magazineid=432v

Accessibility Game Programming

DonationCoder.com Announces Deadline and Prizes for Accessibility Game Programming Competition

This may be of interest to some.
Aphra

*********

DonationCoder.com has announced the prize list (valued over $15,000), and two-Part deadline (Dec 22 and Dec 31) for their Accessibility Game Programming Competition. Prizes include tickets to the 2007 Game Developers Conference.

Games entered must be either audio-only, or controllable with a single button. Games may be playable online (Macromedia Flash, etc.) or downloadble for windows/mac/linux/etc. Authors retain all rights.

Full details on the contest website: http://agamecontest.donationcoder.com

Prize List
Classic and Giga Passes to the 2007 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco from March 5th-9th – CMP/GDC/IGDA

Two sets of the complete audio proceedings on cd for years 2004, 2005, and
2006 of the Game Developers Conference – CMP/GDC

Complete Game Programming Gems Series vols. 1 thru 6 – Charles River

Torque Game Engine and Torque Game Builder – GarageGames

SFX Kit Sound Effect Library – Sound-Ideas.com

Xtreme Bundle Sound Effect Library – SoundLabel

Gamestudio A6 Commercial – Conitec

Dark Game SDK – TheGameCreators

About DonationCoder.com
DonationCoder.com is an online community of developers and software connoisseurs.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
DonationCoder.com
(217) 531-0212
http://www.donationcoder.com
manager@donationcoder.com

Gdc 07

Location: San Francisco

Also GDC Mobile, Serious Games Summit, Casual Games Summit, Independent Games summit and much more

For more details see http://www.gdconf.com/conference/

Xmas Shinanigans

well actually the date has yet to be decided – 15th or the 22nd..

have your say on the forums and cast your vote..

and the venue has to be decided too..

see http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/forums/viewtopic.php?p=29198#29198

Women In Games Cfp 2007

Aesthetics in play: new platforms, new perspectives, new players

If you work in the games industry and would like to do a presentation at next year’s Women in Games or contribute in some other way but do not want to write an academic paper then contact Emma Westecott at enquiries@womeningames.com or in Ireland, Aphra Kerr.

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Over the past 3 years, The Women in Games conference has become the European forum for women working in and around the computer games industry. The event is characterised by its mix of women from industry, the academy and other sectors of society united in their passion for games. WIG 2007 is interested in continuing this tradition and broadening the dialogue on games to a wider context by seeking contributions from more traditional media disciplines, gender studies and the ICT sector.

Games combine visually led, screen-based arts with performance media to create a gaming experience. The art of gaming is one of action; it is about the player and their performance within the game context. Further than this it is of interest to deepen our exploration of what the unique characteristics of the game experience are in order to celebrate and expose new form, WIG is in a unique position to express a feminine perspective on these possibilities.

Working from the perspective that digital games are a modern expressive art form, increasingly culturally recognised as such, WIG 2007 invites a focus on game aesthetics, performance and play in the context of the following strands:

1. The Big Game
There are a handful of games that have broken out to become international bestsellers that appeal to all types of player and are commonly acknowledged to be mass market. We invite detailed analysis and readings of games in this category in order to better understand why and how these titles transcend existing markets.

2. Other Players
We all play in different ways and from different contexts, and yet the notion of mass market often caters to the lowest common denominator, chasing the tail of last year�s top sellers to justify huge development budgets. In our fractured post modern environment the possibility for cheaper product focussed at niche markets is growing. This strand seeks to explore a range of play contexts and styles in order to expose and celebrate other players.

3. Non-Games
The interrelationship between play and digital games cannot be taken as read; many game tasks are repetitive and tedious, more like work than play.
At the same time there is much digital play that takes place outside the game frame. This strand calls for submissions that explore the ways in which playfulness can open up possibilities for new form of experience.

4. The Performance of Play
It has been 20 years since Brenda Laurel�s initial research linking computers and theatre; further work has recently emerged celebrating performance aspects of game play within the context of digital game form. We invite contributions that explore what performance means in the game play context.

5. Situated Play/ers
We would be particularly interested in presentations or workshops that looked at games in the context of digital consumption more generally. Here we would welcome contributions from those interested in studying games in relation to broader issues around domestic leisure forms particularly those which are able to draw from or develop the work in feminist media studies and research from within the field of study of ICT uses and practices. We are also actively seeking to encourage wider considerations of embodiment and aesthetic practices in game play.

The problem of encouraging women into the ICT industries are manifold and any efforts to encourage a broader gender balance need to operate on a range of levels, from childhood upwards. It is vital to encourage girls and women to be confident and comfortable working with technology and to provide strong and visible role models for this and the next generation of game designers.

Key Dates:
20/11/06 Call for Abstracts released
26/01/07 Submission deadline
16/03/07 Notification

Types of submission:
Submissions can be made within the following categories: full paper, short paper, poster, panel or student forum. All submissions will be anonymously peer-reviewed by the Women in Games steering committee.

for full details on different types of submissions, formats and cover sheets see http://www.womeningames.com/

Other Important dates:
01/04/07 Speakers/Contributors Registration Deadline

15/04/07 Deadline for Open Registration

19-21/04/07 Women in Games 2007

Venue: University of Wales, Newport.

Ibm Cell Cpu Workshop

The following was sent to us by Steve C in Trinity.

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The Interaction, Simulation and Graphics Lab, School of Computer Science and Statistics, TCD, is delighted to announce, in collaboration with IBM Ireland and IBM T.J. Watson Research Centre, a workshop on the new Cell Broadband Engine (BE). The Cell BE, developed by IBM in collaboration with Sony and Toshiba, is a revolutionary new processor featuring multiple execution cores, directed towards distributed processing and multimedia applications. IBM has recently announced its first Cell BE based server product, the QS20 Bladeserver. Sony Computer Entertainment has chosen the Cell processor for its newly launched PlaystationR3 game console. The Cell BE Workshop will be comprised of two parts:

1. Public session, Nov 28th, 11:00 – 13:00: featuring keynote
presentations from Bruce D’Amora of IBM T.J. Watson, who will talk about “The Future of the Cell Broadband Engine and Visualisation” and Stephen Kennedy, Senior Engineer with Havok who will talk about “Havok Experiences with the Cell Processor”. These sessions are designed to present an overview of the Cell processor and highlight its use in particular in entertainment and media applications, and will be of interest to the general public and to organisations wishing to learn more about the power of the Cell BE processor.

2. Programming Workshop, Nov 28th/29th: a one and a half day hands-on
workshop introducing the key features of the Cell BE processor in a lab environment, directed by IBM staff, and using the last Cell BE development tools, which will be supplied in the lab. This workshop will be of interest to researchers and engineers looking to develop software exploiting the unique architecture of the Cell BE. Places are limited and registration is a requirement.

Dates and Venue: 28/29 November, TCD

For registration see http://isg.cs.tcd.ie/cellworkshop/

Ken Perlin Talk

“Interactive direction of virtual actors”

Professor Ken Perlin
Media Research Laboratory
Department of Computer Science
New York University

7:00pm Monday 20th November
Joly Theatre
Hamilton Building 4, Trinity College Dublin

For further details, please see the website at:
http://isg.cs.tcd.ie/cosulliv/KenPerlin.html

Presentation Abstract

The Interaction, Simulation and Graphics (ISG) Lab in Trinity College Dublin is delighted to announce a seminar by Prof. Ken Perlin of New York University. In his lecture “Interactive direction of virtual actors”, he will describe recent work on developing ways to direct virtual actors in a scene in real-time, conveying not just movement but also mood, personality and intentionality, with the same rapidity and ease with which one might informally sketch out ideas with a colleague on a white board. He will show recent results in this area, and discuss directions for future work.

Speaker Biography

Ken Perlin is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at New York University. He was founding director of the Media Research Laboratory and also directed the NYU Center for Advanced Technology from 1994-2004. His research interests include graphics, animation, user interfaces, science education and multimedia. In January 2004 he was the featured artist at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2002 he received the NYC Mayor’s award for excellence in Science and Technology and the Sokol award for outstanding Science faculty at NYU. In 1997 he won an Academy Award for Technical Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his noise and turbulence procedural texturing techniques, which are widely used in feature films and television. In 1991 he received a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. Prof. Perlin received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University in 1986, and a B.A. in theoretical mathematics from Harvard University in 1979. He was Head of Software Development at R/GREENBERG Associates in New York, NY from 1984 through 1987. Prior to that, from 1979 to 1984, he was the System Architect for computer generated animation at Mathematical Applications Group, Inc., Elmsford, NY, where the first feature film he worked on was TRON. He has served on the Board of Directors of the New York chapter of ACM/SIGGRAPH, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the New York Software Industry Association.

Nanotechnology Game Released.

A freely downloadable game call ‘NanoQuest’ has been developed by Cando Interactive, Fable Interactive and Claire Fitch in association with CRANN, a nanotech research centre in Trinity College Dublin and the Discover Science and Engineering Project.

The pilot game is aimed at 13-15 year olds and they can compete to win an iPOD nano between now and Christmas by uploading their highest score to the project website.

For more details, to download the game and see the highest scores see http://www.nanoquest.ie/home.html

To provide feedback to some of the developers see the forums at http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/forums/viewtopic.php?p=28816#28816

Well done to all concerned.

Darklight Podcasts

Some of the following podcasts from the Darklight festival in June 2006 will be of interest to people on this site.

*In conversation with Gavin Kelly of Piranha Bar, multi-award winning animation wizards Alan Smith & Adam Foulkes gave a talk at the Darklight Festival Salon 2006 in association with Screen Training Ireland. Recent credits for Smith & Foulkes include the title sequence for Thunderbirds, and an animated “film within a film” for Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

*3D Studio Max Workshop at Darklight 2006 with industry Veteran Michael Langmayer from Autodesk, focused on the advanced features available in 3D Studio Max 8 including character animation and creating Photorealistic rendering with Mental Ray.

*The Role of the Commissioner: Hosted by Maeve Connolly from the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, a panel of artistic commissioners and practitioners explored a variety of commissioning processes and practices within film, television, the visual arts and new media.

*Morph-a-Thon at Darklight! (ipod version)
Download and watch the excellent video created by young animators at the Darklight Morph-a-Thon
workshop in June!

**Podcast of Darklight Salon 2006 discussion with groundbreaking contemporary British artists Al & Al hosted by Mark Cullen SOON TO FOLLOW!

All are available to listen to at http://darklightfestival.blogspot.com

Ernest Adams Workshops

Part of the week of games related events in Dublin and the CGames conf., Ernest Adams will give one of his well-received workshops on Games Design in Dublin.

For more details and to register contact the organisers via http://www.comp.dit.ie/cgames/program.html 

Saturday 25th November, 2006

09:00 – 10:00 Registration
10:00 – 12:30 Ernest Adams 1 day workshop on games design (Extra fee)
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 16:00 Ernest Adams 1 day workshop on games design (Extra fee)

Cgames Ceili

Following the industry panel and a day of tiring game related presentations CGames are inviting folks to let their hair down at a ceile at the Bull and Castle, which used to be called the Castle Inn, beside Christchurch.

Open to all and free of charge.

Dave Perry Talent Lab

The David Perry Talent-lab event will take place on Thursday 30th November, 2006 at Queen’s University.

Registration is via Cinemagic at http://www.cinemagic.org.uk/events_talent_lab.htm

Dean Valentine

Hi,
my name is Dean Valentine and I’m a professional composer. I’m looking to collaborate on a Game concept/pitch providing an original score, all offers considered.

About me:
Since 2000 I’ve composed music for a number of 26 part & 52 part animation & Live action series plus short films & documentaries for production companies around Europe/States/Asia. In March 2006 I set up my new studio including:
Mac G5 quadcores/Protools system / Dynaudio monitors and a 200Ghz Orchestral & Choral sample library.

Aswell as TV & Film work, I am currently working on a few big Orchestral & Choral action cues and themes for a game concept at the moment, I would love to talk with anyone interested in an original score for their Project.

Dave Perry Update

Dave Perry – founder and CEO of gamesconsultants.com and formerly President of Shiny Entertainment is coming to Belfast in November. His companies have produced the Matrix games and classics like Earthworm Jim. And he is originally from Northern Ireland!

Dave will deliver a keynote address at the university on Wednesday 29 November in which he will explore the past, present and future of the interactive entertainment industry.

David will also give a ‘Talent Lab’ class on thurs the 30th of November to highlight key issues and industry developments and help young people break into the video game business. The class will take place at Queens University and costs £25. For more info and to register go to
http://www.cinemagic.org.uk/events_talent_lab.htm

For further information on these two events contact Stephen McGowan on 0044 28 9097 2573 or at s.mcgowan [at] qub.ac.uk

The Problems With Game Development Education In Ireland

Introduction

There has been much activity in the games development education sector in Ireland, both north and south of the border, in the past few years. And recently, with some of the first degree-level courses starting into their second and third years, there has been much discussion on these forums and elsewhere of the pros and cons of the various types and duration of courses, their quality, content, method of instruction – even their names, and whether they are accurate as a description of the course content or qualification or merely a cynical marketing exercise to halt the falling numbers of traditional Computer Science applicants. There are now approximately fifteen courses at third level on the island of Ireland, and a few more at second level, claiming to teach game development.

The purpose of this article is to attempt an overview of the current state of affairs, to identify the issues that games development education in Ireland is facing, both now and in the future from an industry perspective, and to, hopefully, start a dialogue with the various educational institutions involved.

Education at whatever level is a means to an end. From a student’s perspective it is a means to prepare oneself to enter the workforce armed with the relevant knowledge and prerequisites. From an employer’s perspective it is a means to source talented, knowledgeable and, to some extent, experienced, employees who will grow their company’s ability and capacity to compete in a highly competitive global marketplace. In an ideal world, the courses and tuition provided by the various colleges and universities exist to serve the needs of the industry and the economy at large.

These days, second and third level colleges are competing with each other both for research funding and for students, and at a time when the numbers of students opting to take Maths and Science-heavy courses is falling each year, this competition is constantly increasing. (The more cynical among us may be forgiven for thinking that this explains the abundance of games development courses springing up over the past three or four years. Currently, there are fifteen games-related courses on offer both north and south off the border, with another three coming on stream over the next year or so.) Some colleges have opted to offer games-related modules alongside their more traditional courses, while others have opted to build new courses from the ground up. Both are valid approaches if – and only if – the content of those courses is relevant.

So whether students and educators like it or not, one thing is clear – the industry employers set the agenda. If educators want their students to leave college or university with decent prospects of employment in the industry, they will have to engage with industry to ensure that the course curricula are both current and comprehensive enough to fulfil industry needs. If graduates want to enter the industry, they will have to measure up to employer’s expectations. It is in a student’s best long term interests to ensure that the courses they enrol in offer them the best chances of a thorough, well-rounded education.

Qualifications

As a member of the IGDA active in Ireland, and as potential employers of some of these graduates, it is in my and my colleagues’ interests to help make that happen. However, no industry speaks with one voice – not even the International Game Developers Association with its 10,000+ members claims to speak for the whole industry. What we, as employers and members of the industry, do speak for, is the interests of our various companies and by extension, the majority of our members. I should add that over the three years of its existence, the steering committee of the Irish chapter has had members of Havok, Vivendi Universal, Microsoft Games Studios, Demonware, Meedja, DIME, Upstart, Torc Interactive (now Instinct Technology), Nephin Games, TKO Software/Popcap and Kapooki sit on the committee and contribute in one form or another to these discussions and many others. We liaise with state and semi-state bodies on both sides of the border, VCs and shareholders, universities and colleges at second and third level in Ireland and the UK, Skillset and TIGA in the UK, industry colleagues worldwide, and on an almost daily basis we talk with, advise and interview aspiring game developers. We also help organise and run the annual Dare to be Digital game development competition for third level students, as well as participate in the Skillset Game Development initiative as well as IGDA’s own Education Curriculum Framework Special Interest Group. As such, we have seen and experienced many of the issues raised in this article at first-hand.

The Problems

So with that said, let’s look now at some of the criticisms being levelled at these courses, and see what solutions are on offer.

Perhaps the single biggest criticism levelled at the current crop of courses in Ireland is the apparent re-badging of traditional media and computer science courses to include the word ‘games’ somewhere in the title, while failing to adapt the content and instruction offered to deal with real-world issues the games industry, and by extension the course graduates, face on a day-to-day basis.

Perhaps some form of industry accreditation scheme, similar to the Skillset accreditation scheme initiated last year in the UK, should be set up by IGDA Ireland to evaluate the current crop of courses. Of the forty graduate and post-graduate games development courses being offered in the UK currently, only four courses were awarded accreditation at the end of the first year by the panel which was made of industry personnel, including Sir Ian Livingstone, Creative Director from Eidos who chaired the panel and Richard Leinfellner, Executive VP of Outsourcing from EA, who is also the head judge for Dare to be Digital.

Colleges and universities should not market traditional Computer Science courses as games development courses, unless they are tailoring their offering appropriately. They should not badge general media, audio, art and animation courses as games development courses, without taking into account the peculiarities of real time interaction. Nor should they design their game development curriculum around their existing course content & lecturers, e.g. teaching lots of networking and databases on a games dev course because that’s what their particular college has always taught and their networking lecturer knows the area inside and out. All that’s well and good but colleges should tailor the content to suit the course, not the other way around.

One college in Ireland used to teach a lot of hardcore or pure AI, and when it came time to have their new games course validated it was pointed out to them by two of the three external validators (both of whom had games industry experience) that there was a huge amount of irrelevant material on the course, that AI in games is as much about artificial stupidity as it is about artificial intelligence as, generally speaking, doing good AI is relatively easy, but dumbing it down enough to make it fun for the player is actually pretty hard – and of course doing it in real time is even harder still. They didn’t alter that part of the course as much as they should have and now, a few years into the degree, some of their more savvy students are complaining about the material.

Lack of industry consultation in designing course content

Colleges looking to start teaching games development should get local industry input into the curriculum. The industry is not a massive one in Ireland, I admit (see more on this below), but there are more than enough people with industry experience who would be only too happy to review or help design your curriculum to ensure its relevance. Contacting some of the bigger companies abroad is good too, but unless you are educating your students solely for emigration, I would strongly advise some local industry participation.

If you get stuck, you can contact IGDA Ireland and we’ll gladly help. We have already consulted both formally and informally on at least four of the courses being offered, and the all three of the new courses coming on-stream.
The Curriculum Framework from the IGDA Education Committee is a conceptual guide for designing game-related educational programs, and is available free of charge from the IGDA website. This is not a single, detailed curriculum, but a modular framework outlining at a high level the core topics and practical skills required to make and study games. Although games and game development is still a relatively young area of study, the range of topics is already vast and no single curriculum could hope to cover them all.
The IGDA Curriculum Framework covers six main areas:

  • Critical Game Studies
  • Game Design
  • Game Programming
  • Audio Visual Design & Production
  • Game Production
  • The Business of Games

As the framework document itself says:

“As a practical document, the Framework is designed to assist educators and students on a variety of levels – from the creation of individual courses to the development of full degree programs, within a single department or across several. It is also a guide for students creating individualized courses of study at institutions without game-related majors.”

As the framework makes clear, there is no one way to design a games development course, no ‘silver bullet’. The framework offers itself as a menu from which the various institutions can select and adapt appropriate aspects of the framework to their particular educational needs and institutional contexts.
Game developer, Steve Rabin, has written an excellent book based on the IGDA’s framework, entitled, Introduction to Game Development (Charles River Media, 2005). The book follows the Framework’s structure and each chapter is authored by developers with real world experience and knowledge. At nearly a thousand pages, it’s a mammoth tome packed with practical insight and advice for anyone setting up and running a games-related course.
The IGDA’s Curriculum Framework is not a catch-all solution, and is no substitute for local industry expertise, but it does provide a pretty comprehensive overview to the breadth of games development topics all the same.

Lack of industry-experienced lecturers delivering the courses

Colleges should get industry experienced lecturers to teach courses or invite industry figures to give talks and workshops.

Of the current crop of courses on offer at time of writing (September ’06) no degree or master’s level games development course in Ireland is presented by industry experienced personnel. One college is currently advertising for lecturers with experience, and one of the new courses due to come on-stream in the next twelve to eighteen months will have some of its modules presented by a former games developer, but that’s it.

At least, invite industry speakers to provide guest lectures and workshops. Again, IGDA Ireland can help match you with appropriate speakers, both from local and international developers.

At the very least, try to ensure that your lecturers delivering these courses appreciate, if not have an actual interest in, the games themselves. Two lecturers, partly responsible for delivering what I currently think is one of the better courses in the country, told me they have no interest in games whatsoever, and one of them actually has an active dislike for the area, considering them a waste of time! I’ve often wondered what it would be like to sit in on one of their classes, wondered what kind of education I would be receiving.

The film courses set up a few years ago in the UK had it as a requirement that they be taught by industry-experienced personnel, who were contractually obligated to keep up with developments in their area.

Failing to change course content to keep pace with industry

Keep the course content relevant. Modify the curriculum regularly, at least every two years, or face being left behind teaching redundant material. It is not enough to review the IGDA’s Curriculum Framework, nor is it enough to liaise with developer’s at the courses inception and then never look at it again. New developments in business, technology, art, audio and production arise every few months in the games industry, and courses have no choice but to keep pace if they wish to remain competitive.

Failure to liaise with industry to offer work placements

Students should be encouraged to get summer jobs or work placements in industry, even if the college doesn’t offer them as part of the main course. Contact local games developers and see if they are interested in offering short and medium placements to students.

Every college offering games development should put at least one team into Dare to be Digital every year – it’s an amazing opportunity for students to get some experience of real world games development alongside industry mentors, as well as providing an opportunity for networking with local and international developers. Outside of actual work in the industry, there is no better way than Dare to be Digital for aspiring games developers to get a feel for games development as a profession.

Too many short (e.g. certificate and diploma) courses

A controversial one, this, but we have to face facts. Certificate and diploma courses of one to two years duration offering experience of all aspects of game development (production, business, art, audio, design and programming) are only useful for those who are re-training after a spell in industry or who have already completed a degree or post-grad qualification. While they can provide a useful overview of the various disciplines, there is just not sufficient time on these courses to offer insight past the superficial into any of the topics they offer.

This view has nothing to do with the quality of instruction offered by the host institution, subject to the prior stated caveat regarding industry experienced tutors and lecturers. Quite simply no one is going to offer you a job in one of those disciplines if that is your only qualification and/or experience of the industry. This is not only a personal opinion, but the opinion of every developer (read: employer) I have spoken to on this subject, both here and abroad. The industry committee responsible for the Skillset review and accreditation process in the UK refused to look at any of these courses for those reasons.

Failure to include team-based projects throughout the course duration

All colleges should make their games development course work project and team-based so that graduating students have a substantial portfolio to draw on to illustrate their capabilities, and have experience of working in and with teams.

In one sense, games development education is closer to Arts education than Science education, in that, students course work should ideally be portfolio-based than purely knowledge-based.

Too many courses simply do not offer enough practical projects to their students, and worse – many of the projects they do offer are by individuals, rather than by teams. In the real world, your students will rarely if ever be doing projects on their own. Like film, successful games development is the result of a huge effort by a dedicated team, and one of the problems employers have with graduate employees is how long it takes them to integrate into existing teams. Again, the annual Dare to be Digital competition (sponsored and organised in Ireland by the Digital Hub, Belfast City Council, NESTA and IGDA Ireland) can be of enormous benefit to wannabe games developers.

The Industry in Ireland

Many might argue that the games industry in Ireland is quite small, and they would be right. But even a cursory survey of the game development landscape here shows that at twenty two companies, not only is it the biggest it has ever been, but it is growing at a rate of 5 or 6% a year. Consider that three or four years ago the following companies did not exist: Nephin Games, Selatra, Gmedia, Vyro Games, DIME, Frantic Games, BitRabbit, Gamelocalisation.net. Many of these companies have formed global partnerships and have growing international reputations. Needless to say, if the Irish industry is to flourish, these and similar companies will need a frequent influx of talented graduates over the coming years.

So what exactly is the industry looking for from its potential graduate applicants?

Below I present, in no particular order, a number of qualities that are desirable in a candidate for a job in the games industry. There’s nothing here that is specific to the industry in Ireland, nor is there anything specific to a given functional area, i.e. programming, art, business, etc.

  • Knowledge of development & production in a real world environment
  • Be specialists (or aspiring specialists) to some degree in their chosen field – programming, art, audio, design, production or business
  • A flexible and professional attitude
  • Has some passion for the industry
  • Has an ability to integrate into an existing development team in a fast-paced environment
  • A portfolio of examples
  • A general knowledge of industry – the issues & opportunities
  • A realistic expectations of salary & benefits

Conversely, the opposite of this list is exactly what the industry doesn’t want in its new employees. With the possible exception of passion, I would argue that it should be possible to find all of these attributes in a good, well rounded games development course. If I was an aspiring game developer looking for a solid, well-rounded games development education, these are what I would be looking out for in a course.

So with all of that in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to finish off this article by trying to come up with a set of criteria against which to review the current and future crop of games development courses, to provide some sort of measuring stick for students and aspiring developers. It is by no means definitive, and not every course would have to tick every box, but it is a start.

Here it is:

  • Has industry consultation at inception – incl. both consultation of the IGDA Curriculum Framework, as well as local industry input
  • Has ongoing local industry consultation
  • Has industry-experienced lecturers and/or regular, frequent visits by games developers
  • Willing to review and change course content to keep pace with industry
    Has up to date hardware & software
  • Provides opportunities for lots of team-based projects – either by making their courses project-based, or by encouraging IGDA or independent game development clubs and/or actively encouraging and supporting Dare to be Digital participation
  • Encourages and actively supports participation in competitions like Dare to be Digital

Where possible, colleges should also offer industry work placements, visits to local game studios, etc. Students should also review the IGDA Curriculum Framework, and will then be in a position themselves to better assess course content and its relevance to them. If in doubt, consult a local games developer or post a query on the Education forums at www.gamedevelopers.ie.

Summary

It should be pointed out that Ireland is not alone in the difficulties we are having with games development education. Many industry commentators in the UK, US and Canada have voiced similar concerns. Recent articles in industry magazines (Develop in the UK; Game Developer magazine in the US) this year have highlighted the growing industry disenchantment with many of the courses on offer.

This article is not intended as a college or games development course bashing rant, but instead, aimed to present an overview of the good, the bad and the ugly of what is currently out there. It takes time for new courses to settle down, for lecturers to get their heads around all of the material, some of it very new to them, and figure out how best to introduce it into the curriculum. I know from talking to many industry colleagues that I am not alone in wishing I was able to recommend many of the Irish games development courses to aspiring students rather than encourage them to go to the UK and attend one of the more established courses there. It is in all of our interests for this to happen sooner, rather than later.

More info

  • IGDA site – http://www.igda.org ]
    • Breaking In – http://www.igda.org/breakingin/ & http://www.igda.org/Forums/forumdisplay.php?forumid=44
    • Education forums – http://www.igda.org/Forums/forumdisplay.php?&forumid=43
    • Curriculum Framework – http://www.igda.org/academia/curriculum_framework.php
  • Skillset – http://www.skillset.org/games/
  • Games Career Guide – http://www.gamecareerguide.com
  • Tom Sloper’s ‘How to Choose a School’ article – http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/258/how_to_choose_a_school.php ]
  • Game dev courses in Ireland – http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/courses/
  • Game dev courses worldwide – http://www.gamecareerguide.com/schools/
  • Games Career Guide from Game Developer mag – https://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/store.php?item_id=564&category=7&book=
  • Get into Games annual supplement free with Edge magazine (usually October issue)
  • Dare to be Digital competition – http://www.daretobedigital.co.uk/

Author’s Bio.

Tony Kelly is an Executive Producer with Nephin Games in Galway, and has held similar positions in the games industry with Intel and Instinct Technology (formerly Torc Interactive), developing both serious and commercial games. He founded and is current chapter co-ordinator of IGDA Ireland, and is a contributor to the IGDA’s Production, Mobile and Education SIGs where he is currently helping draft the new version of the Curriculum Framework. He is a judge and mentor in both the Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland heats of the annual Dare to be Digital competition. He has consulted on games development curricula for a number of the Irish games development courses, and has previously helped assess and validate some of the other courses. Eventually he plans to leave the world of commercial games production behind and teach games development at third level.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to author a response (of any length) to this feature please contact aphra [at] gamedevelopers [dot] ie

Cinemagic Film/Animation Fest

The 17th Cinemagic World Screen Festival takes place in Northern Ireland from the 17th November- 3rd December. Packed full of premiere screenings, masterclasses and educational packages there is something for everyone.

As usual there will be animation related events. For more see http://www.cinemagic.org.uk/events_special_events.htm or call 02890 311900 for more info.

Cfp- Philosophy Of Computer Games

Just received the following call for papers which may be of interest to some.

*****

CALL FOR PAPERS

“The Philosophy of Computer Games”

An Interdisciplinary Conference

http://www.fps.no/gameconference.html
http://www.fps.no/cfp.html

We hereby invite scholars in any field who take a professional interest in the phenomenon of computer games to submit abstracts to the conference “The Philosophy of Computer Games”, to be held in Modena/Reggio Emilia, Italy, on January 25-27, 2007.

The purpose of the conference is to investigate how current research on computer games calls for clarification of philosophical issues. Computer games constitute a major cultural and economic force in contemporary society, and make up a part of everyday life for a rapidly increasing number of people. This phenomenon calls for collective research by a range of disciplines and traditions. In line with this purpose, the conference is interdisciplinary, drawing together researchers from such diverse fields as philosophy, computer game theory, semiotics, aesthetics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and education.

Your abstract should be between 150 and 300 words. Please specify which of the following aspects of gaming constitutes the primary focus for your submission. (1) “Computer Game Entities”, devoted to metaphysical issues related to the virtual nature of computer game objects and events. (2) “Player Experience”, which deals with the subjective standpoint of the player, ranging from issues about identity to issues concerning perceptual experience. (3) “The Ethics of Computer Games”, devoted to moral, economic, and political issues that relate to the production, design, marketing, and public consumption of games.

Deadline for submission is October 16, 2006. Send your abstract to gameregistration@fps.no

Notification of accepted abstracts will be sent out by November 1, 2006.

Espen Aarseth
(Center for Computer Games Research at the IT-University of Copenhagen)

Olav Asheim
(Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo)

Patrick Coppock
(Department of Social, Cognitive and Quantitative Science at the University of Modena/Reggio Emilia)

The conference is a collaboration between the following institutions:

Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo, Norway

Department of Social, Cognitive and Quantitative Science at the University of Modena/Reggio Emilia, Italy

Center for Computer Games Research at the IT-University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Philosophical Project Centre (FPS), Oslo, Norway

Call – Digital Hub Projections

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

PROJECTED WEEKENDS:

From November 2006 until March 2007, The Digital Hub will run a series of outdoor projections from their premises in Dublin 8. The projections will run for the entire weekend and each weekend a new piece will be shown. This is an open ended call and work of any subject and discipline will be considered.

FOR FURTHER DETAILS PLEASE CONTACT ELAINE ON 01-4806200

LOG ON TO http://www.thedigitalhub.com/enterprise_research/showcasing.php

OR E-MAIL exhibit@thedigitalhub.com

Idate Workshop On Games Industry

5th International Video Games Forum –
New dynamics in the video game industry

Dates: 14-16 November, 2006
Venue, Montpelier, France.

SEE URL http://www.digiworldsummit.com/pages/?all=journee&id=1&idl=22

For the fifth consecutive year, IDATE, in partnership with the City of Montpellier, is organizing the International Video Game Forum. The advent of a new internet era is shaping the challenges that lie ahead for the video game industry, bringing with it new forms of massively multiplayer games and community management, digital content transmission and distribution over fixed and mobile platforms, the online potential of serious games and, finally, in-game advertising.

The goal of this forum is to discuss the outstanding events that have marked the industry in recent months, and the challenges that lay ahead.

Programme

8:30
Welcome

8:45
Introductory remarks by IDATE

Laurent MICHAUD Head of Video Games & Interactive Entertainment Division
IDATE

9:00
Introduction by the President of the SELL

Philippe SAUZE Vice Président & Directeur Général France & Benelux
Electronic Arts France

9:15
Keynote – The Chinese video game market

Yu LI Vice president Shanda

9:45
Roundtable – Massively multiplayer games: the new virtual economy Three outstanding elements marked the massively multiplayer video games universe in 2005. First, confirmation of the stunning success of
Blizzard Entertainment/VUG’s World of Warcraft (6.6 million subscribers). Second was casual gaming’s increasing forays into new content and genres – e.g. Dofus (Ankama) – and, third, the sector’s
changing business models, as illustrated by Trackmania Nations (Nadeo/Focus Home Interactive), Entropia Universe (MindArk) and Second Life (Linden Lab).

Moderator: Alain LE DIBERDERE – CLVE, Luc BOURCIER Directeur Général Codemasters, Xavier CARRILLO CEO Digital Legends Entertainment, Florent CASTELNERAC Directeur Nadéo, Alain LE DIBERDERE Président CLVE, Ghislaine LE RHUN Directeur de l’Unité d’Affaires Jeux, Division Contenus Groupe France Télécom.

10:45
Coffee break

11:15
Speaker – Consoles & digital content distribution.

Presentation of a game distributed via Microsoft’s Live Arcade Sébastien DEGUY Président Fondateur Allegorithmic

11:25
Roundtable – Consoles & digital content distribution

Equipping home consoles with the ability to connect to the web is a foregone conclusion, with handhelds now following in their footsteps. While digital content distribution over these devices currently concerns video games in the main, the platforms are gradually embracing other
digital entertainment content as well, namely music, movies, video and podcasting.

Moderator: Fred HASSON – TIGA
Guillaume DE FONDAUMIERE Chief Operating Officer, Quantic Dream Thibaut DE ROBIEN Directeur Marketing Metaboli, Fred HASSON CEO TIGA, Cédric LAGARRIGUE Président Focus Home Interactive, François RUAULT Directeur de la Division Grand Public Microsoft.

12:15
Keynote – Presentation of India’s video game market

Tapaas CHAKRAVARTI CEO DQ Entertainment

13:00
Lunch

14:30
Speaker – Video games and the advertising market

Joshua GRAFF Business Development Manager Massive Inc.

14:40
Roundtable – Advertisers setting their sights on gamers Embedding ads in video games can represent a considerable source of income for publishers, and a way for brands to target an audience that is gradually moving away from traditional media. Microsoft’s takeover of the start-up Massive Inc. is revealing of the hopes being invested in this market segment.

Moderator: Emmanuel FORSANS, AFJV
Abrial DA COSTA Directeur Commercial Elektrogames, Emmanuel FORSANS Directeur AFJV, Joshua GRAFF Business Development Manager Massive Inc. Bruno KAUFMANN Responsable des Nouveaux Médias KR Media,
Cyril VERMEIL Directeur Marketing Stratégique Monde Ubisoft.

15:30
Speaker – Serious Game: growth outlet or a sector unto itself? The state of serious games. Stéphane DE BUTTET Chargé de Mission Multimédia / SeriousGame /
e-Learning Rhône Alpes Numérique

15:40
Roundtable – Serious Game: growth relay or sector unto itself?

The technological innovations being dreamed up and rolled out by video
game developers and research labs are finding themselves transported to
other sectors, including the military, healthcare, education, training…
Is the serious game becoming a market unto itself?

Moderator: Frédéric WEIL – Capital Game
Sébastien BECK Directeur Exécutif Daesign,
Philip BELHASSEN Directeur Commercial Stonetrip, Stéphane DE BUTTET Chargé de Mission Multimédia / SeriousGame /
e-Learning Rhône Alpes Numérique,
Olivier PERROT Directeur Exécutif 3DVF,
Luc ROBERT Chief Technical Officer, Co Founder Realviz Frédéric WEIL Directeur Capital Games.

16:30
Coffee break

17:00
Demonstration – New gaming formats
Casual game distribution using new services

Benoit MECHINEAU Directeur Marketing Europe Boonty

17:15
Speakers -New gaming formats
New gameplay, new platforms and the raise of casual online gaming, brings new gaming format.

Colas OVERKOTT CEO Visiware
Louis-Marie ROQUES CEO Eversim

17:35
Roundtable – New gaming formats
In a bid to attract occasional gamers, the video game offer is changing, both in terms of gameplay and of pricing and business models. After several generations of gaming devices, and with the progress being made on telecom networks, the content itself is now making strides and
helping develop new gaming formats. Moderator: Malte BEHRMANN – GAME Malte BEHRMANN Managing Director Politic GAME Stèphane LABRUNIE SVP Sales & Marketing Europe I-play Jérôme LE FEUVRE Responsable Marketing Jeux, Orange Groupe France Télécom Colas OVERKOTT CEO Visiware Gilles RAYMOND CEO & President In-Fusio

18:30
Conclusion

Philippe SAUZE Vice Président & Directeur Général France & Benelux
Electronic Arts France

19:00
Opening day reception
With the support of InvestInItaly

Head of Video Games & Interactive Entertainment Division Laurent Michaud l.michaud@idate.org
+33 (0) 467 144 439

General Organisation

Xavier Veyrat
x.veyrat@idate.org
+33 (0) 467 144 455

Upstart Update

We have been in touch with our friends in Upstart to find out more about the news that they have been ‘bought out.’ More details on this soon.

Microsoft Conf. On Game Dev. In Computer Science – Cfp

Call for Papers – Microsoft Academic Days on Game Development in Computer Science Education

February 22 – 25, 2007
Venue: Aboard the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

The Microsoft Academic Days on Game Development in Computer Science Education is seeking high quality unpublished original work on the use of Game Development in Computer Science Education.

Submission Deadline: November 5, 2006

Although game development has existed in Computer Science programs for well over a decade, there has been a recent surge of interest in applying game development to a full range of Computer Science courses in colleges and universities nationwide. The purpose of this conference is to share the experiences of faculty involved in the creation and management of Computer Science classes using game development with the wider audience of Computer Science faculty.

Topics should be explicitly related to the use of game development in Computer Science Education, including but not limited to:
*Game development classes in the Computer Science major.
*The use of game development projects in traditional Computer Science classes.
*Games as capstone projects.
*Interdisciplinary collaboration with non-CS disciplines.
*Game development concentrations and majors.
*Laboratory and infrastructure requirements for game development classes.
*The effect of game development classes on the Computer Science student.
*Engaging middle school and high school students in game development.

Contributions will be reviewed on the basis of technical quality, relevance to the topic, significance, and clarity.

Submission Guidelines

Authors are requested to submit their papers electronically via the web at the conference web site at http://microsoft.redwhale.com.

First time users to this portal should click on New to Proposal Reviewing System? to create an account. Submissions will be accepted beginning October 5, 2006; all papers must be submitted no later than midnight PACIFIC TIME on November 5, 2006. Papers must not exceed five pages and must comply with the official ACM proceedings format using one of the templates provided at:

http://www.acm.org/sigs/pubs/proceed/template.html

Authors should consult the conference web site for additional formatting and submission details. One author of each accepted paper will be expected to present the work at the conference. Microsoft will cover this author’s round trip economy air travel to Orlando, Florida plus relevant hotel and cruise cabin expenses. Simultaneous submission of the same (or essentially the same material) to another conference with published proceedings is not permitted.

Submission Process

Proposals will be accepted in electronic form only at http://microsoft.redwhale.com. Proposals submitted to Microsoft will not be returned. Microsoft cannot assume responsibility for the confidentiality of information in submitted proposals. Therefore, proposals should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive.

Proceedings

Proceedings will be published in a conference DVD set shortly following the conclusion of the conference. Selected papers will be invited to a Special Issue of Journal of Game Development.

Important Dates

October 5, 2006: Submission engine available
November 5, 2006: Submission deadline, midnight
November 25, 2006: Notification of acceptance
January 20, 2007: Camera-ready copy due

Program Committee
Ian Parberry (chair), University of North Texas (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX)
Tiffany Barnes, UNC Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
Steve Feiner, Columbia University (New York, NY)
Lisa Gjedde, Danish University of Education (Tuborgvej, Denmark)
Ken Perlin, New York University (New York, NY)
Andrew Phelps, Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
Yusuf Pisan, University of Technology (Sydney, Australia)
T.L. Taylor, IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
Ursula Wolz, The College of New Jersey (Ewing, NJ)
Michael Young, North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)
Mike Zyda, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

Steering Committee
Kent Foster (chair), Microsoft (Redmond, WA)
Jessica Bayliss, Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
Tiffany Barnes, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Brad Jensen, Microsoft (Dallas, TX)
Krishna Kumar, Microsoft (Chicago, IL)
John Nordlinger, Microsoft Research (Redmond, WA)
Colleen Wheeler McCreary, Electronic Arts (Redwood Shores, CA)

Splinter Cell

This is a chance to show off your skills at Splinter Cell Double Agent.

Tourno will be running at the XBOX Live Gaming Centre in Dublin on November 3rd.

You need teams of three or we could have a gd.ie team.

The grand prize is a trip to the Ubisoft Development Studio in Montreal on November 13th to meet the producers of Assasin’s Creed.

IT-T Conf, Carlow, Update

From October 25-26 the 6th IT&T Conference will be held in the Institute of Technology, Carlow.

This is promising to be an interesting mix of industry, academic and student work and on Wed. the 25th there is a workshop on “The Future of Games Development in Ireland” involving Steven Collins, Havoc and TCD; Tony Kelly, Nephin Games & President of IGDA; Aidan Keogh, Logitech; Will Golby, PopCap Games International; Sean Blanchfield, DemonWare; Ross Palmer, IT Carlow and Aphra Kerr, Maynooth University.

Prior to this workshop Tony Kelly will be giving a keynote.

Other sessions involve presentations on commercialisation, current unviersity research on games and entertainment technology, speech and language technology, IT security, wireless and software innovations.

Full fee is €320 for all session and workshops while the student fee is €180. You can also attend just one day workshops for €100.

More info at www.ittconference.com/booking.html

Digra 07, Tokyo, Cfp

Following successful conferences in Utrecht and Vancouver this year DIGRA goes to Japan. Edited version of the call for papers below.

*The Third Digital Games Research Association International Conference
(DiGRA 2007) “Situated Play”*

Second Circular and Call for Papers

1. Date and Venue

The conference is planned to take place from September 24th to 28th. This will be immediately after the Tokyo Game Show 2007, which is currently scheduled from September 21st to 23rd (There is still a small chance that these dates might change).

The conference venue is expected to be the University of Tokyo’s Hongo Campus in Tokyo, Japan.

2. Conference Theme: Situated Play

Games are everywhere. On subways, we see people playing Tetris with cell-phones. On the street and in restaurants, kids play with GameBoys and other portable devices. At home, we gather around the console or collaborate with a family member to take out a monster in a multiplayer game. In our offices, we spend stolen moments playing PC games. Our elderly are whiling away free hours playing online games. Games are everywhere, and becoming more deeply embedded in the fabric of our everyday lives.

As digital games penetrate our life and society, they are increasingly difficult to ignore. Games have created huge industries in some countries, while still others note this success and clamor to build industries of their own. The idea of games as mere entertainment is beginning to fade: the potential of games is now being recognized as they are becoming progressively more employed for education, job training, physical exercise, rehabilitation, psychotherapy and more.

Games, therefore, deserve serious attention.

Yet, we have a problem. A digital game is an extremely complex aesthetic, social and technological phenomenon. Games are not isolated entities that one can effectively study in vitro. Games are situated in culture and society. To truly understand the phenomenon of digital games, it is not enough to merely study the games themselves or short-term impacts as described by laboratory experiments — these are only part of the story. Their context begins when the games are marketed and circulated, and they reach the hands of players. Context continues to build as potential players satisfy certain prerequisites: resources to obtain a console or a PC, time and motivations to play games, and skills to enjoy sometimes very complex digital games. We need to understand not just narratological and ludological aspects of the games, but also the industrial and economic contexts that produce them, and the socio-cultural backgrounds that produce game players and
generate gameplay. In short, to understand games, we need to investigate them from a multitude of different perspectives.

To make the case even more complex, while games are ubiquitous, they are geographically diverse, and game play is local. Games are produced and consumed differently in Japan and in North America. Online games have different meanings and functions in Korea and in Europe. When we look at the situatedness of games, we see greater cultural diversity in games, even beyond the superficiality of geo-political boundaries into myriad sub-cultures that might find unifying interests across traditional cultural lines. Gameplay is messy. Yet we must strive to understand it, even if that means pulling together many small pieces of the overall puzzle together in the hope that the whole might reveal itself over time.

3. Call for Full Papers

Papers and panel proposals are invited for the third Digital Games Research Association International Conference (DiGRA 2007) in Tokyo. The theme of this conference is “Situated Play.” Its goal is to shed light on various kinds of situatedness of games. In particular, the conference aims to create a bridge between professionally and geographically diverse scholars and practitioners. We therefore welcome panel proposals and papers that tackle various facets regarding the situatedness of digital games and attempt to combine a range of approaches in innovative ways.

The deadline for papers and panel proposals is midnight (Apia time), February 14, 2007.

The selection will be based on full papers and panel proposals. The time allotted to one paper is 30 minutes, and the submitted papers should be between 2500 to 6000 words and an abstract must be attached.

A panel session will have two hours, and a panel proposal should be up to 800 words in addition to all the full papers in the panel. Authors and organizers of panels will be requested to specify a relevant thematic focus (see below) and their relevant disciplinary backgrounds. Submission will be accepted by an online review system. Practical details of submission will be announced on the conference website in January.

Based on the abstracts and the specified disciplinary backgrounds, the Review Committee Chair Douglas Thomas will assign papers and panel proposals to a Review Committee member, who will assign three or more reviewers to the paper. Based on the double-blind evaluation of the reviewers and taking the relevance of the papers to the conference theme into consideration, the Program Committee will select approximately 50 papers.

In addition to full papers, there will be lightening sessions, student round tables, and poster sessions. A call for papers for these kinds of sessions will be announced later. The deadline of submissions for these sessions is planned to be in May. Further details of the conference will be announced on the conference website (http://www.gamesconference.org) as the preparation proceeds. For inquiries, contact Kenji Ito at
kenjiito67 [at] gmail.com.

4. Thematic Foci

Thematic foci are meant to be used to help organize sessions and tracks. They are mainly for the convenience of conference attendees, and is certainly not meant to be overly prescriptive.

– Player-Focus: Sociology and economy of MMORPGs, sociological approaches to games, gender and gaming, player engagement, player co-production, cross-cultural issues, etc. Relevant disciplines include: sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, gender studies, history, economics, and psychology.

– Content Focus: Theory and practice of game design, game storytelling, game graphics, etc. Relevant disciplines include: literature, film studies, art studies, and game design theory.

– Learning/Education Focus: Teaching and curriculum development in game programs, serious games, games at school, learning and games. Relevant disciplines include: education and psychology.

– Technology focus: Game programming, AI, computer graphics, computer hardware. Relevant discipline include: Computer science and electronic engineering.

– Business Focus: Economics-based studies of game industry, business models, sociology of game production, copyright and legal issues, national policy of game production and training,independent/amateur designers, etc. Relevant disciplines include: business and management, economics, sociology, history, law, and political sciences.

– Interdisciplinary: Any studies to cross these themes or innovative attempts that do not fit in any other theme areas.

Maya 8 & Ati Demo Dublin

Agenda:

> 2.00pm Doors open

> 2.45pm Show reels & customer profiles

> 3.00pm The latest news & update announcements

> 3.30pm Maya 8 new features & workflow overview:
Maya Application Specialist Nick Jovic will demonstrate the exciting new features within the 64-bit release of Maya 8. Including the Transfer Polygon Attributes, the enhancements to Soft Modification and UV creation, the Geometry Caching and performance optimisation

> 4.30pm ATI Technology Update by Richard Huddy

> 4.50pm 3ds Max New features overview:
3ds Max Application Specialist Jamie Gwilliam will show the exciting new features within the 64-bit release of 3ds Max 9. Focusing on Mental Ray, Pro
Booleans, point cache 2, proxy creation, performance optimisations,x-ref
enhancements and layered animation.
>
> 5.30pm Guest Speaker
>
> 5.30pm Summary & close with drinks reception & networking
>
> 6.30pm Ends
>
>
> Places can be booked by emailing lee.griffin@eurotek.ie

Venue: The Morgan Hotel
Temple Bar
Dublin 2

Sense Of Play Symposium London 06

 

The London games festival fringe is proud to announce Sense of Play 06, a one-day symposium that takes a long hard look at game design, and the role of the game designer. Looking beyond the current generation, the event aims to promote lively debate on the nature of game design and what it means to different people – both inside and outside the industry.

Sense of Play 06 is co-sponsored by the University College for the Creative Arts and features Patrick O’Luanaigh (nDreams, ex creative director Eidos/Sci), Charles Cecil (Revolution), and Rob Cooper (Interactive Drama & Entertainment, BBC) as well as range of games industry and academic experts.

Focusing on the creative and cultural dimensions, Sense of Play 06 explores the role of the game designer in an industry that many believe to be in something of a state of flux. Given that game designers are considered to be key to the medium’s creative future, how can we best equip emerging talent to square up to the considerable challenges they face as the industry evolves?

The symposium will be rounded off with a showcase of exciting new work from recent graduates of the MA Digital Games Design programme at UCCA Farnham,
joined by fellow postgraduates from other universities offering Masters level game design related courses.

Patrick O’Luanaigh will follow on from his Leipzig Games Convention talk with a look at how we can improve the quality of storytelling in games. According to Patrick, “Game design is a key area for the future of the industry. As graphics, audio, physics simulation and animation move closer to true realism, it’s game design which will increasingly set titles apart.

Sense of Play will be an exciting and important part of the games festival, as we’ll be exploring what it means to be a games designer, looking at where interactive storytelling is going, and how the industry is trying new ways to create deeper levels of emotion and immersion.”

Charles Cecil of Revolution Software, recently honoured as a ‘Development Legend’ by industry magazine Develop, tempers the celebration of future possibilities with a level-headed investigation of what’s holding things back, exploring the so called ‘content crisis’ within the games development and publishing communities and suggesting how game designers are vital in securing the industry’s creative and cultural sustainability.

Rob Cooper broadens the debate by looking at various projects within and beyond the broadcast communities, destined to bring interactivity and gameplay to areas which have previously been the bastion of traditional, ‘delivered’ dramatic form. BBC’s Head of Interactive Drama & Entertainment Sophie Walpole comments “The BBC is constantly pushing the boundaries of interactive storytelling and narrative, looking for new ways to tell stories, to surprise and entertain our audiences on new platforms. Sense of Play is an exciting new date in the calendar which we look forward to participating in.”

Sense of Play takes place on Friday 6th October 2006

Symposium 9.30am – 5.30pm at Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE

Showcase 6.00pm – 9.00pm at 01zero-one, Hopkins Street, London W1F 0HS

Entry is free but places limited. Register online at www.senseofplay.com (or email registration@senseofplay.com with full contact details)

All information: www.senseofplay.com
Contact: Toby Barnes, info@pixel-lab.co.uk or Jon Weinbren via info@senseofplay.com

Flight Simulation And Aviation Show 2006

PC Pilots Ireland – Flight Simulator Show

Sunday 1st October 2006

Red Cow Hotel, Naas Road, Dublin.

10am – 5pm

Entrance fee: €5.00 per person. Family €10.00

Full details are available on www.pcpilotsireland.com

Contact: Terry McGee (PC Pilots Ireland)

Email: tmcg@iol.ie. Ph: (H) 01 8405 105 (M) 087 257 0020 (Mon-Fri 9am – 6pm)

PC Pilots Ireland Flight Simulator Show

Interesting press release this one – the combined computer flight simulator and aviation show at the Red Cow Inn. For hobbyists, pilots and anyone with an interest in planes I presume. And you can play the latest in the ’25 year’ phenomenon which is Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. Only €5!

Aphra

*********

Ireland’s only combined Computer Flight Simulator and Aviation show

The PC Pilots of Ireland will host Ireland’s only combined Computer Flight Simulator and Aviation Show on Sunday, 1st October 2006 in the Red Cow Hotel, Naas Road, Dublin, from 10am to 5 pm.

The purpose of the event is to promote Computer Flight Simulation as a hobby in the context of the wider aviation interest. The show will feature exhibits from the computer flight simulator communities in Ireland, UK, Holland, France, Germany, Canada, and Aviation groups in Ireland.

Show visitors will have the opportunity to fly Microsoft’s newest addition to the 25-year “Flight Simulator” franchise “Flight Simulator X” before it hits the shops in Ireland on 13th October; watch demonstrations of flying on the internet using live virtual Air Traffic Control, and fly in a home built cockpit. Presentations from flight simulator, aviation groups and screenings of Aviation Cockpit DVDs will take place in a seated ‘Presentation Theatre’

Visitors will get the opportunity to win copies of Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Microsoft Keyboards and Mice, and Combat Flight Simulation software by entering a free draw on the day.

Visitors will be able fly a range of aircraft such as a Cessna 152, a Learjet, a DC3, or a Boeing 747 on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 in the PC Pilots Ireland home built cockpit.

Demonstrations of On-Line Flights, where Flight Simulator Pilots will have live virtual Air Traffic Controllers guiding them while flying on the Internet. The virtual Irish Air Traffic Controllers will be controlling aircraft flying into Ireland from the UK, Mainland Europe and the USA.

Experience the FRASCA Training Simulator. A light aircraft training simulator from the UK.

Take a seat in the ‘Cyberseat’. This seat moves with the movements of Flight Simulator and Falcon 4.

Members of the PC Pilots Ireland will have their PCs running Flight Simulator on various setups from a simple PC and Joystick to Multi-Monitors, flight controls and software.

Advice will be available on Flight Simulator equipment and accessories including a specially designed “Pilots Seat”, suitable home computers, graphics cards, joysticks, control yokes, rudder pedals, etc.

Software will be on sale for use on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 (Aircraft, Scenery, Utilities), plus Joysticks, Throttles, Flight Control Yokes, Rudder Pedals, Cockpit Modules, Graphics Cards.

Share your interest in computer Flight Simulation by joining the ‘PC Pilots Ireland’ and receive our magazine ‘PC Flight’.

Enthusiasts will be able to order purpose built PC on the day from Alpine Systems, who specialise in building PCs for Flight Simulator, Office, or Home use.

Flight Simulators Ltd will have a selection of Elite Consoles and Control Yokes for the PC Pilot.

For those who are looking for a different approach to flying, the National Microlight Association of Ireland will introduce you to flying a Microlight.

Want to share your interest in aviation with other enthusiasts? Talk to the ‘Aviation Society of Ireland’.

The ‘Model Aeronautics Council of Ireland’ will introduce to flying remote-controlled model aircraft.

The ‘Historical Aviation Society of Ireland’ will have information on Ireland’s aviation history.

If you’re looking for a dedicated Irish aviation magazine, ‘Flying In Ireland’ is Ireland’s new aviation magazine. You can subscribe or just get the latest issue.

‘PC Pilot’ magazine is a UK dedicated Flight Simulation magazine, covering Civil and Combat Flight Simulators. You will be able to subscribe or buy the latest issue.

For those interested in building their own cockpit, Canadian company ‘Flightdeck Solutions’ provide panels and components and Dutch company ‘Sea Gull’ produce high quality instruments for such projects.

Entrance fee: €5.00 per person. Family €10.00

Full details are available on our website www.pcpilotsireland.com

Contact: Terry McGee (PC Pilots Ireland)

Email: tmcg@iol.ie. Ph: (H) 01 8405 105 (M) 087 257 0020 (Mon-Fri 9am – 6pm)

Cgames – News And Call For Papers, 2006

CGAMES 2006 Dublin

The 9th INTERNATIONAL COMPUTER GAMES CONFERENCE on the theme: AI, Mobile, Educational and Serious Games

 

22nd -24th November 2006, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland

CGAMES 2006 is organised by the University of Wolverhampton, UK, in association with the Dublin Institute of Technology and the IEEE Computer Society. Please visit the main website for more information: http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/gamecentre/cgmain.html

This conference brings together an international community of experts to discuss the state-of-the-art, new research results, perspectives of future developments, and innovative applications relevant to games development and related areas. For further information, please read on or go to http://www.comp.dit.ie/cgames/

On behalf of our conference sponsors and the conference organizing committee, we hope that you will plan to join us in Dublin, Ireland in November 2006.

Qasim Mehdi (General Conference Chair) q.h.mehdi@wlv.ac.uk

Norman Gough (General Programme Chair) n.gough@wlv.ac.uk

Stephane Natkin (International Programme Committee Chair) natkin@cnam.fr

Fred Mtenzi (local Conference Chair) _fred.mtenzi@comp.dit.ie_

Bryan Duggan and Hugh McAtamney (Local Conference Organisers)

Bryan.duggan@comp.dit.ie 

Hugh.Mcattmney@comp.dit.ie

For more information and enquires, please contact the conference administrator:Ms Tarvinder Kaur T.Kaur2@wlv.ac.uk

 

*CALL FOR PAPERS*

You are invited to submit a paper on any topic related to computer games design, development and education, and particularly papers covering the
se of AI for modelling and programming “believable characters”, mobile games, multiplayer on-line, educational and serious games.

We strongly encourage the submission of papers related to the design and the experiments of original type of games, in particular in the fields of serious games, ubiquitous, mobile, cross media platforms and massively multiplayer on line games, Sound and Music Systems.

*TECHNICAL PROGRAMME*

The conference will cover, but is not restricted to, the following topics.

1. Tools and systems for Games and Virtual Reality

2. AI Tools

3. Mobile and Multi-user Games

4. Games Design

5. Intelligent agents and Game bots

6. Learning and Adaptation in Games

7. Graphics & Visualisation

8. Social/humanities aspects of games

9. Games and Homeland Security

10. Serious Games

11. Interactive Robots and Toys ? New Track

12. Aesthetic approaches to game design ? NEW TRACK

13. Sound Design and Music Systems for computer games- New TRACK

*Special Sessions:* Proposals for organizing special sessions should be sent to any one of the programme chairs.

******************************************************************

*IMPORTANT DATES*

First call for papers 13th June 2006.

Deadline for paper submission 20th September 2006

Notification of Paper Acceptance 13th October 2006

Final Paper Submission and registration 27th October 2006

Papers received after this deadline will not appear in the Proceedings

BEST PAPER AWARDS

The best papers will receive an Award and are refereed for possible inclusion in the International Journal of Intelligent Games & Simulation.

Students are encouraged to attend at a reduced registration fee. They may show a poster and/or demos of their work to the companies present at the conference.

Companies wishing to hire exhibition space for marketing/recruitment purposes are invited to contact the organisers.

Registration and payment in advance is required for all authors.

Games Production Masterclass, Belfast.

Top games developers, publishers and producers will be in Belfast on Monday 9th October as part of a week-long series of IDEASFACTORY masterclasses in association with Belfast City Council. They’ll be discussing the latest developments in the world of consoles, mobiles and PCs.

This masterclass is suitable for anyone with an artistic or technical background who is interested in making their way in games production. The panellists are:

PAUL MCLAUGHLIN

Paul McLaughlin is head of art for Lionhead Studios in the UK.

He’s ultimately responsible for the visual ambition of the studio’s projects, sitting on the senior Management and executive committees. He formulates visual policy and helps to steer the direction of the company.

Before moving to Lionhead in Guilford, Paul worked at Bullfrog Productions on strategy games such as Populus and Theme Park

In the late eighties he worked at Emerald Software in Waterford on various games for the Amiga including Treasure Trap & Phantom Fighter.

Paul’s worked on over 15 published titles and many (character forming if failed) prototypes. Currently he is Art director on a major new concept which is destined to be one of Lionhead’s key intellectual properties over coming years.

RISA COHEN

Risa Cohen is Adjunct professor for 3D & Videogames production at the University of Paris.

She also works as a senior producer and consultant at Film Finances Inc., evaluating and monitoring games projects.

Born and raised in New York City, Risa started her career in entertainment as a Playwright and Producer. After finishing art school, she moved to Paris and began working in multimedia and videogames.

Risa has worked for Kalisto, Infogrames, Exmachina Image and Disney. She has worked in collaboration with Square, Namco, NEC, Microprose, Universal studios, Warner Bros, Moulinsart and ABC television.

Her credits include: Dark Earth, Loons: fight for fame, Martian Alert, Martian Revenge, Lucky Luke: on the Dolton trail, Smurf Adventure, Loony Tunes racing, Adventures of Tintin, Dead to Rights; Piglets BIG Game, and Alias.

She has won awards including Best voice recording 2000, Dark Earth and Piglets BIG Game in 2002 and Best kids game, PS2 Magazine USA in 2003. She is an authority in Europe on 3D animation and 3D special fx.

JOHN BROOMHALL

John Broomhall is an independent Audio Director & Consultant with twelve years experience in videogames.

He has held senior management roles with major videogame publishers and has over sixty published titles to his credit.

As an accomplished musician and composer with ten years’ work in recording behind him, John originally joined MicroProse in ’92 to write game scores.

His career, which also includes working as a game producer, encompasses many hit titles such as the hugely successful X-COM series, Superman, American Idol/Pop Idol, Guinness World Records and the BAFTA-winning Football Manager 2005 as well as many others.

He sits on the BAFTA Games Committee and the Skillset Games Skills Forum, Edinburgh International Entertainment Festival steering committee and the MusicWorks advisory board. He writes a monthly column for well-known industry magazine, Develop.

His company, Broomhall Projects Ltd was set up to provide professional services to the videogame, music and publishing businesses.

GINA JACKSON

Gina Jackson is Head of Business Development for New Media at Eidos, publishers of Tomb Raider, Hitman and Commandos.

She is responsible for global business development strategy for Eidos’ mobile games and the online distribution of PC games.

Gina Jackson and her team manage relationships with a worldwide network of distributors, mobile carriers and technology providers.

She has been part of the games industry since 1991, initially at two independent developers before joining publisher Ocean Software where she worked as a producer on Break Point and True Pinball among others.

In 2000 she joined Nokia where she helped initiate some of the first mobile games, sourcing mobile games for embedding into Nokia handsets or distribution through Nokia’s content services.

Gina returned to work at a developer, Kuju, as a Business Development Manager where she signed three titles to three different publishers including a first party to Nintendo and the first title signed to Konami Europe.

If you’re interested in attending this session scheduled for 2 – 5pm on Monday 9th October, at the Waterfront Hall’s Green Room, then email ideasfactoryni@channel4.co.uk outlining why you believe that you’d personally benefit from this experience. Include a 300 word review of a game that grabs you for good or bad!

Email: ideasfactoryni@channel4.co.uk
Web: http://northernireland.ideasfactory.com/belfastmasterclass/

World Cyber Games Ireland Lan

The World Cyber Games are coming to Ireland for the first time in September 2006. The World Cyber Games is the world’s first ‘Cyber Games Festival’ designed to build a healthy cyber culture. The best gamers from around the world will gather in different cities to share the excitment and fun of the games tournament.

Since 2000 more than 70 countries have participated in Grand Finals in 5 countries across the world. This years Grand Final takes place in Monza Italy from 18th – 22nd October 2006.

The Irish Heats to send participants to Monza will take place from 23rd – 24th September 2006 at The Digital Hub.

To register please visit http://www.room101.org

Computer Flight Simulator And Aviation Show

Ireland s only combined Computer Flight Simulator and Aviation show will be held on
Sunday 1st October 2006
Red Cow Hotel, Naas Road, Dublin.
10.00am to 5.00pm

This is Ireland’s second combined Computer Flight Simulator and Aviation Show which will have exhibitors from the Irish, UK and European Flight Simulation community and exhibitors from the Irish Aviation community.

The purpose of the event is to promote Computer Flight Simulation as a hobby in the context of the wider aviation interest.

Aviation fans will have the opportunity to fly the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator (FSX), watch demonstrations of flying on the Internet with live virtual Air Traffic Control (who will be at the show), and fly in our home built cockpit. You can see and try, various PC Pilots Ireland member’s computer setups for using Microsoft Flight Simulator.

There will be presentations from Flight Simulator and Aviation groups and screenings of Aviation Videos in the seated Presentation Theatre.

Visitors will be able to enter a free draw to win copies of Microsoft Flight Simulator, and other PC Flight Simulation software.

Microsoft Flight Simulator will be on sale, along with additional software (Aircraft and Scenery) for use on Microsoft Flight Simulator, plus Joysticks, Throttles, Flight Control Yokes, Rudder Pedals.

Alpine Systems specialise in building PCs to suit your needs, be it for Flight Simulator, Office, or Home.
Experts will be available to give advice on suitable home computers, graphics cards, joysticks, control yokes, rudder pedals, etc.

Aviation Clubs & Societies

Want to share your interest in aviation with other enthusiasts? Talk to the Aviation Society of Ireland at the PC Pilots Flight Simulator Show.
The National Aero Club of Ireland (formally the Irish Aviation Council) is the aviation umbrella organisation in Ireland will be in attendance.
If you’re looking for a dedicated Irish aviation magazine, ‘Flying In Ireland’ is Ireland’s only dedicated aviation magazine.

PC Pilots Ireland

Information will be available ‘PC Pilots Ireland’ and their magazine ‘PC Flight’.

Entrance fee is ?5.00

For a full list of exhibitors log onto www.pcpilotsireland.com

IT&T Conference

The 6th annual IT&T Conference is being held in the Institute of Technology, Carlow on October 25-26.

A new addition to this year’s conference are technology workshops. One of the workshops is entitled “The Future of Games Development in Ireland” and will feature a moderated panel discussion on the topic, with some of the leading names in gaming in Ireland, including Steven Collins, Havoc and TCD; Tony Kelly, Nephin Games & President of IGDA; Aidan Keogh, Logitech; Will Golby, PopCap Games International; Sean Blanchfield, DemonWare & Ross Palmer, IT Carlow.

The conference will also feature technical sessions on Games and Entertainment Technology and poster sessions.

Further details are available on the conference website www.ittconference.com where a call for posters is currently open.

Computer Games For Disabled Or Underrepresented People

Games development is perhaps one of the least explored areas of accessible design. A new aesthetics theme at the upcoming 9th International Computer Games Conference to take place in Dublin from 22nd to 24th November 2006, will provide an opportunity for contributors to address a broad range of questions in the emerging area of accessible computer games design.

The overarching theme will aim to provoke lively debate on the question: How can the aesthetics of game design lead to the making of inclusive games and for gaming experiences coloured with play, beauty, engagement and interaction?

In the context of computer games, much attention is paid to the visual and auditory elements of design that make a game fun, intriguing, challenging, educational, or whatever designers and users intend, most often from a seeing world perspective. This exciting new theme encourages designers, practitioners, researchers, and others with an active interest, to share perspectives on game design that overstep the boundaries of traditional approaches in designing for people who are blind or partially sighted, as well as for others with special (dis)abilities. This session will offer participants a unique opportunity to specifically examine possibilities for creating accessible games for visually impaired gamers in a cross-disciplinary setting.

The event is enveloped in an aesthetic theme to address the important questions emerging about how to make the most out of opportunities to design in a really inclusive way. For example:

What can sighted designers learn from designing games for blind people or for people with other special sensory abilities or difficulties?

Can design of video-games be made accessible or should design of computer games be totally reinvented for blind or disabled people?

What can we learn from examples of design for disabled people?

Examples of design of computer games for disabled or underrepresented people.

How can an awareness of aesthetic issues open up new avenues for computer games design?

What is the role of aesthetics in the design of accessible computer games?

The session is equally open to contributions on the aesthetics of games design and accessible games design that take an analytic or a more speculative approach. Contributions will be accepted based on originality and relevance to the theme and can be based around work in progress (deadline is 20th September 2006).

For more information please visit the conference website http://www.comp.dit.ie/cgames/index.html or contact Sal Fiore salfiore@wlv.ac.uk or Qasim Mehdi q.h.mehdi@wlv.ac.uk

Computer Science And Illusion Talk

“Computer Science and Illusion: A Computational View of the Interpretation and Manipulation of Images”

A presentation by Prof. Andrew Blake, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research Cambridge.

7:30pm Wednesday 6th September
Ernst Walton Theatre
Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin

Please visit: http://isg.cs.tcd.ie/ for more details.

Presentation Abstract

The Interaction, Simulation and Graphics (ISG) Lab in Trinity College Dublin, in association with Microsoft Ireland, are delighted to announce a seminar by Prof. Andrew Blake of Microsoft Research in Cambridge. Prof. Blakes’s lecture, “Computer Science and Illusion”, will explore some connections between visual perception, geometry, and computer processing of images. It will touch on: perspective in drawings and how a computer can understand it; analysis of perspective in certain paintings; perspective and stereo vision; colour illusions and Edwin Land. Finally there will be demonstrations of how the understanding of visual perspective, colour and texture has helped to produce more powerful tools for manipulating images by computer.

Speaker Biography

Andrew Blake is a Senior Researcher in the Machine Learning and Perception Group (MLP), where his main research focus is computer vision. Andrew graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1977 with a BA in Mathematics and Electrical Sciences. After a year as a Kennedy Scholar at MIT and two years in the defence electronics industry, he studied for a doctorate at the University of Edinburgh, which was awarded in 1983.

Andrew ran the Visual Dynamics Research Group as faculty of the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford from 1987-1999. He became a Professor in 1996, and was a Royal Society Senior Research Fellow from 1998-1999. Andrew then joined Microsoft Research Cambridge as Senior Researcher in the Vision Group within MLP, though he continues as visiting Professor of Engineering with the University of Oxford. Andrew was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005. In 2006 the Royal Academy of Engineering awarded him its Silver Medal. Andrew has published several books including “Visual Reconstruction” with A. Zisserman (MIT press), “Active Vision” with Alan Yuille (MIT Press) and “Active Contours” with Michael Isard (Springer-Verlag).

Relying On Instinct

An interview with Mike Gamble.

What was your background prior to joining Torc?

I was in the [UK] Ministry of Defence for ten years. The latter part of that – 1988 to 1990 – was spent on early, fledgling PC work. I always had an interest in gaming, but that was where I started to gain technical expertise. I then moved to the toy industry to spend five years as a games engineer for Tonka and Hasbro. These were physical (not interactive) games – titles such as Monopoly and Risk.

1995: I moved to the interactive industry. Firstly as a producer with a small Brighton company called Epic – nothing to do with the Unreal guys – and from there to Sega, firstly as producer; later as a senior producer, working on Saturn and PC stuff.

Late 1996, I joined Microsoft as a European evangelist for Direct X – the only European employee of the Direct X group. I also came up with Windows gaming initiatives and was involved in some of the early work on Xbox, informing European media and European industry on the concept of a Microsoft-produced console.

In 2001, I took the role of Business Development Director at Mathengine. At that point, Mathengine had been successfully re-launched. Karma – the new physics SDK – had built up quite a decent customer list, including Lionhead, Sony, Argonaut, and Epic – the real Epic this time! All top drawer customers. Discussions started with Criterion about becoming their physics solution.

Prior to that, I left to join THQ as Business Development Director with a remit to source products with a European emphasis. What constitutes ‘European emphasis’? One good example would be Broken Sword 3 which had no presence in America at all, whereas Europe was very keen to have it.

After about six months at THQ, I took on the role of European product development, which at that point had one producer and was a very low key affair. I was responsible for MotoGP series, Juiced, Broken Sword 3, and signed Stalker. After three years at THQ there was a large reorganisation and the European group was struck back, so I moved on. After undertaking some contract work for Microsoft, the opportunity with Torc arrived. I spent some time over there [in Donegal], met the guys, thought they had some good technology, was offered the opportunity to join them and I did.

image1

What attracted you to this tech?

The technology is built extremely well. Torc was originally set up because its developers wanted to build a game, only they couldn’t build one without a decent toolkit so they decided to create one themselves. The result – a very high quality toolset, combined with an extremely pragmatic approach.

Instinct Studio doesn’t provide everything – it’s an excellent toolset, a top class renderer – but it doesn’t provide physics, AI or networking. Instead, it takes the best of breed of other middleware products – Agere, AI.implant, etc. – and ensures that the customer can buy those products and integrate them in a very modular fashion. All the functionality is exposed to the Instinct toolset. It plugs in very cleanly.

Has middleware become an expanding industry unto itself, one which is likely to gain further prominence in the future?

Middleware has had a bit of a rocky road, to be honest. Criterion’s Renderware established middleware as a perfectly legitimate means of games development, particularly amongst next gen games. Also, middleware is a particularly economically viable way of working. It’s ridiculous that companies should rebuild technology per project.

However, the whole middleware concept was dealt an enormous blow when Electronic Arts acquired Criterion. Suddenly, the tools provider that provided for an enormous number of companies worldwide was owned by their competitor. Other publishers became wary of using Renderware because that would be putting money into EA’s pocket. Publishers became wary of middleware companies, just in case they were going to be bought by a rival. In the two or three years since, that situation has begun to ease and there is a new wave of middleware coming to market, of which Instinct Studio is one element. This revival will push middleware into fully legitimate games development.

image2

Are there further potential areas of innovation in middleware?

New network-enabled consoles have opened up what was traditionally a PC model into a much wider audience. Networking middleware is important and ubiquitous. We are witnessing an evolution, as much as a revolution, of middleware. Companies like National Motion employ next gen solutions in the way they approach animation and physics, and the way they apply AI, in order to achieve realistic results.

There is constant innovation within middleware groups and teams worldwide. To some extent, Instinct’s approach to the toolset is very next gen insofar as it is allowing real-time running of the code, real-time running of the game, and real-time editing of the game. You can play through a level and adjust properties like physical objects and AI, real-time, without the need to drop out, recompile, go back in. Instinct puts control back into the more creative side of the developer. Clearly the programmer still has an enormous part to play, but a designer or creative director can change something within the level there and then. That amount of control typifies a next-generation middleware solution.

For the end user, the gamer, what will the Instinct Engine offer?

There’s nothing that a gamer will be able to point to and say ‘this was made with middleware’. The quality of the engine and the studio is top quality, so it’s more Unreal than it is Renderware. It’s more cutting edge in terms of quality of rendering, lighting, effects, etc. – and truly takes advantage of the next gen platforms. From a consumer point of view, hopefully they will just see a quality title. If you put two games side by side, hopefully a gamer identify the one made from Instinct Studio.

image3

When does Instinct launch?

The Beta programme launches this month at the Developer’s Conference in Brighton [July 11-13]. We hope to sign up half a dozen developers for Beta. They will use the engine on genuine real-world products, gaining a reduced license fee and a much higher level of support because they will report back issues and bugs. That allows us to take Instinct from Beta through to the full final version. We are planning on commercial release for GDC 2007.

Are a few developers sniffing around already?

We are busy sorting out the meetings at the moment, and we have one live evaluation. Fingers crossed. Post-show, hopefully we will have a few announcements to make.

Your career to date has been somewhat nomadic. What are your long-term plans?

I plan on staying with Torc as long as possible. The hope is that it becomes a successful commercial company, and the product sells commercially. Of course, when that happens to a middleware company it usually gets bought by somebody else! Who can predict what will happen? All going well, I’ll stay with Torc.

What’s your opinion of the indigenous games industry in Ireland?

There is a lot of talent and there’s no reason why Ireland shouldn’t have a stronger games development presence, other than the fact that independent games development is difficult for everyone at the moment. In the UK, there has been an enormous amount of shrinkage, but Ireland does have advantages. There’s a lower cost of development and the Irish government offer incentives that makes it attractive for companies setting up.

Ireland already has quite a vibrant mobile market, so it will only take one or two successful studios and Ireland will be on the map. Microsoft do all their localisation in Dublin – that is obviously a recognition that the skills are there. Games development just seems to be slower to pick up on it, probably because the skilled Irish developers have left to the States and UK!

For more information: https://web.archive.org/web/20031206181024/http://www.torcinteractive.com/News.asp

Develop Conference – Volunteers Needed

The Develop Conference is quickly approaching and I find that I am short a few volunteers. If you would like to volunteer to be a helper it doesnt pay but you get a free pass to the conference. We do expect you to work however, its pretty easy work (sitting in classrooms all day).:-}

PS Oh you get a free tshirt and lunch every day!!”

Those interested should contact: Susan Marshall at susan ‘at’ tandemevents.co.uk

More info on the conference here: http://www.developconference.com/

Student Assistants Wanted

If you fancy working at the GC Developer Conference this August in Leipzig there is a call out for helpers. The deadline is today!! More details below.

GC Developer Conference (GCDC)
(21 – 23 August 2006)

GCDC announces its first top speakers

As Europe’s leading developer conference, this year’s GCDC is bigger and more international. From 21 to 23 August 2006, hundreds of conference delegates and speakers are expected from Germany and abroad.

Speakers at the conference will include David Freeman (CEO of the Freeman Group), Don L. Daglow (President at Stormfront Studios Inc.), David Smith (Managing Director of Interactive Selection), Christopher Schmitz (Executive Producer of CDV Software), Sean Kauppinen (Director of Kohnke Communications), Graham Hopper (Senior Vice President Buena Games Worldwide) as well as Sven Liebich (Art Director at Phenomic Game Developer) and Jeff Hilbert (President at Digital Development Management).

Key subject areas will be development, business and science, each introduced by a special international keynote address. In addition, programming will be an important “next-generation topic”.

22 June is the final date for notification of additional topics (Call for Papers), as well as the deadline for interested students who would like to provide support services to the conferences at the GCDC (Call for Student Assistants). It will unfortunately be impossible to give consideration to submissions received any later than this date.

Contact for speakers etc:
Frank Sliwka, Project Manager
Phone: +49 (0) 341 – 678 8288
E-mail:f.sliwka@leipziger-messe.de

Dylan Collins Nomination

Dylan Collins, from Demonware, has been nominated as a finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition. Full details are in today’s Irish Times on page 17 under Business news.

And did you know that Dylan was a DJ in his spare time?

Cgames 06 Cfp

CGames 2006, which will be held in DIT, Dublin this coming Nov. has just issued a call for papers. The themes of this year’s conference are: AI, Mobile, Educational and Serious Games.

**********************************

Call For Papers

You are invited to submit a paper on any topic related to computer games design, development and education, and particularly papers covering the use of AI for modelling and programming “believable characters”, mobile games, multiplayer on-line, educational and serious games.

They strongly encourage the submission of papers related to the design and the experiments of original type of games, in particular in the fields of serious games, ubiquitous, mobile, cross media platforms and massively multiplayer on line games.

Technical Program

The conference will cover, but is not restricted to, the following topics.

1. Tools and systems for Games and Virtual Reality
* Games platforms, games engines, middleware, sound
* Interfaces and controllers, speech, motion capture

2. AI Tools
* Neural networks, genetic algorithms, case-based reasoning, fuzzy systems
* Markov processes, search algorithms, rule-based AI, finite-state machines
* Fuzzy systems (FuFSM), adaptive Markov models

3. Mobile and Multiuser Games
* MUDs; MMORPGs; mobile communications, games for mobile phones
* Programming web games in Java, net technology, scaling game content.

4. Games Design
* Games genres, creative aspects, art and * Animation, 3dsmax, Maya, Silicon Graphics, Renderman etc;
* Interactive Story Telling, scripting languages, voice interaction

5. Intelligent agents and Gamebots
* Believable characters, models, agent architecture, memory, game bots
* Group behaviour, anytime algorithms, JACK, JADE

6. Learning and Adaptation in Games
* Reinforcement learning, machine learning, case-based systems, BDI

7. Graphics & Visualisation
* Graphics cards, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality
* Collision detection
* Contact resolution, closest point algorithms, 3D scalability
* Level-of-detail rendering, image-based rendering, photo realism
* Textures, illumination and reflections, bump mapping, anti-aliasing
* Physics simulation, NURBS, skeletal animation, facial animation
* Rendering skins, talking heads, particle systems

8. Social/humanities aspects of games
* Gender issues, violence, usability, pervasive gaming

9. Games and Homeland Security
* Defence applications; Crime scene investigation; Simulation of crowd scenes
* Transport systems; AI techniques for improving security

10. Serious Games
* Education for Games Design, Development and Applications
* Teaching games programming, languages, .NET, C++, C# etc
* OpenGL, DirectX, learning & teaching aids, technology-supported learning
* Games for education and training

11. Aesthetic approaches to game design – NEW TRACK!
* Aesthetic approaches to game design and development

Aesthetics – ranging broadly from concerns regarding the formal structures and audiovisual attributes of game technologies to the epistemological and cultural aspects of gaming and game design – form the basis when designing for experiences coloured with play, beauty, engagement and interaction.

In the context of computer games, much attention is paid to the visual and auditory elements of design that make a game fun, intriguing, challenging, educational, or whatever designers and users intend, most often from a seeing world perspective.

This session offers participants the opportunity to examine the potential for analytic and aesthetic approaches to design to contribute to the effective creation of accessible games for visually impaired gamers. Participants are invited to address questions such as; what can sighted designers learn from designing games for blind people? How can an awareness of aesthetic issues open up new avenues for computer games design? What is the role of aesthetics in the design of accessible computer games? Analytic and more speculative discussions are equally welcomed.

Special Sessions: Proposals for organising special sessions should be sent to any one of the programme chairs.

Paper Submissions

In Word or Adobe pdf only. Submit electronically through this link.
CGAMES published format (similar to IEEE style), 2 columns at least 10 pt font. Including abstract, keywords, background, development, diagrams, results, conclusions, references, author photo and short biography.

Extended papers and state-of the art reviews: 8 pages.

Regular papers: 5 pages.

Short research student papers on work in progress: 3-4 pages. 1-page posters.

The final paper must be submitted in pdf format for inclusion in the Proceedings. File sizes of images should be kept small using compression (e.g. jpeg). All papers will be subject to peer review.

Final decision on paper length will be made by referees.

Important Dates

First call for papers 13th June 2006.

Deadline for paper submission 20th September 2006

Notification of Paper Acceptance 13h October 2006

Final Paper Submission and registration 27th October 2006

Papers received after this deadline will not appear in the Proceedings

The conference is organised by the University of Wolverhampton, UK, in association with the Dublin Institute of Technology and the IEEE Computer Society.

For further information, please read on or go to: http://www.comp.dit.ie/cgames/

For more information and enquires, please contact the conference administrator: Ms Tarvinder Kaur T.Kaur2@wlv.ac.uk

The conference fee is €450. This fee includes the conference registration, breaks, reception, conference dinner and a CD of the Proceedings.

There is a reduced rate for students.

Darklight Animation Masterclass

Darklight is collaborating with Screen Training Ireland this year to present a Masterclass with animation wizards Smith and Foulkes.

Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith recent credits include the title sequence for Thunderbirds, and an animated *film within a film* for Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

They have also directed several sketches for the BBC’s animated comedy show Monkey Dust. For their work in television commercials they have won the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Lions, the Grandy at the 2005 ANDYS and the ITV award for best commercial. See www.nexusproductions.com

Course Profile:

The Masterclass will concentrate on Smith and Foulkes approach to animation direction in their work with Nexus Productions.

This master class has been designed to meet the needs of those interested in the motion graphics/ animation /music promos / advertising industries. Smith and Foulkes will explore the practical and creative aspects in producing their award winning
commercial campaigns. They will also talk about their work on feature length motion pictures and music promos. This will be followed by a Q&A session.

Date: 22nd June 2006
Duration: 1/2 Day
Venue: Filmbase, Templebar, Dublin.
Cost: E25

Application Procedure: Please apply online at www.screentrainingireland.ie by the 14th of June 2006.

Participant Profile:

This Masterclass is aimed at motion graphic artists and animation directors.

Alan Smith will be talking to Gavin Kelly of Piranha Bar in the Darklight Salon at Film Base for a round table discussion on Friday the 23rd in the afternoon, all are welcome. Time TBC.

Book Launch

Official launch of ‘The Business and Culture of digital games’ in the Irish Film Institute bookshop, Temple Bar Dublin at 7pm on the 15th of June – i.e. next Thurs. The book will be launched by Prof. Paschal Preston of DCU and introduced by Dr. Sean O’Riain from NUIM.

This is an invitation only event cause the space is small but if you would like to attend please contact us via events@gamedevelopers.ie

the book itself will be available at a 20% discount on the night and some refreshments (as always) will be provided.

Develop Conf & Expo 2006

The Develop Conference & Expo is taking place at the Hilton Brighton Metropole which is centrally located on the seafront just a few minutes from the train station.

Brighton Metropole
Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2FU

The Brighton Metropole offers a discounted rate for Develop Conference attendees and exhibitors. To take advantage of this discounted rate and for all hotel reservations contact: Expotel at +44 (0)20 7372 2001 or at www.expotel.com/develop06
The Conference will be open to attend as follow:

Mobile Develop Conference 11 July 10:00-18:00

Develop Conference 12 July 10:00-18:00
Develop Conference 13 July 10:00-17:30

GamesEdu Conference 14 July 10:00-18:00

For more see: http://www.developconference.com/

Game Career Guide 2006

If you are involved in games education then you should be interested in know that Game Developer magazine is in the process of preparing Game Developer’s Fall 2006 Game Career Guide, a special issue of the magazine directed at prospective and current university students. Deadline is June the 6th.

Any college/university that has set up game-related courses may submit their updated information via email, the deadline for entry is June 6, and the listing is free.

If you are interested send an email with following information:

School Name:
Location (city/state or equiv.):
Game-Related Programs offered:
Degrees/Certification:
Tuition:
Accredited (Yes/No):
Financial aid (Yes/No):
Length of program:
Student/Faculty Ratio:
Phone Number:
URL:
Email Contact:

Here’s an example of a listing:
School Name: Game School X
Location (city/state or equiv.): San Francisco, CA
Game-Related Programs offered: Game Design, 3D Animation, Interactive Design
Degrees/Certification: BFA, MFA
Tuition: $26,000 (Undergrad), $15,000 (Grad)
Accredited (Yes/No): Yes
Financial aid (Yes/No): No
Length of program: 3-4 years
Student/Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Phone Number: 415.123.4567
URL: www.gameschoolx.com
Email Contact: jasper@gameschoolx.com

All submissions must be sent via email to careerguide@gdmag.com

If those submitting would like pictures of their school to be considered for inclusion in the Guide, please send them along with their email, making sure they are large enough for print publication (lower resolution images may be discarded).

Darklight Festival 2006

Darklight this year is focussing on animation but will involve the usual mix of films, workshops and works from local and international artists.

Watch out for the Irish première of Jan van kmajer’s Lunacy, a workshop and screening from Ben Fry of Processing.org, a public interview with Electronic Arts Intermix John Thompson and selection of EAI catalogue including the late video artist Nam June Paik.

and because they know how to party there is an awards ceremony & festival wrap up BBQ in the IFI on Sunday 25th June where special awards will be presented to categories sponsored by IFTN (Irish Film & TV Network),Nokia, The Laptop Shop & Channel 4 Films.

DARKLIGHT FESTIVAL : 22-25th JUNE 2006 :::

FILMS : ANIMATION : EXHIBITIONS : MUSIC : WORKSHOPS : SEMINARS : PUBLIC INTERVIEWS

::: THURSDAY 22 : SUNDAY 25 JUNE 2006:::

::: TEMPLE BAR : DUBLIN 2 :IRELAND :::

::: IFI (IRISH FILM INSTITUTE) :: FILMBASE :: ST MICHAEL &JOHNSCHURCH ::

:::www.darklight-filmfestival.com :::

Full programme and booking information are available on our website www.darklight.ie.

Festival office telephone: + 353 1 6709017

Ludo Is Ten Years Old

Hard to believe but the LUDO course in Ballyfermot College of Further Education is ten years old and this year students on the course will showcase their final work experience project as part of the wider Ballyfermot College of Further Education open day which will take place on the 1st of June between 2 and 8 pm in the Irish Film Institute (IFI).

This year there were 31 LUDO students who have just been through a ten day intensive work experience programme which saw them assigned team roles and set to work on developing assets, scripting and modelling a third person shooter demo using FPS Creator, by the Games Creators, the team responsible for Dark Basic, and 3D Studio Max.

The game itself is set in the Ballyfermot campus so X-students should get a laugh running around the realistically modelled corridors and the canteen chasing flying robots! It is all pretty good considering the course is only one year and students with good enough grades can go on to do another two years to get a Higher National Diploma in Computer Game Design – the course some of the team members on this year’s Irish Dare team have followed.

On the open day itself a short animated introduction to the game will be projected alongside the other Ballyfermot work on the main screen in the IFI at 2, 4 and 6.30 pm and then people will be invited to go upstairs and try out the game for themselves. Students and staff will be on hand to discuss their work.

Find the IFI – http://www.irishfilm.ie/location.asp

Ballyfermot College of Further Education – http://www.scb.ie/

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