Art Spiegelman

Critical Voices in association with Dunlaoghaire College of Art, Design

Art Spiegelman was born in 1948 and has been a cartoonist since he was ateenager. In 1992 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his creation of the two-volume classic comic book Maus published in 1986 and 1991. Maus has since been published in twenty different languages. In November of1992, Spiegelman became a contributing editor and artist for the New Yorker magazine and his work has appeared on many of the covers since then. Since the bombing of the World Trade Towers, Spiegelman has been working on a new project about the atrocity. Two months ago he resigned from the New Yorker in protest at the US media’s coverage of the war on terror.

Venue: Multimedia Centre, Curved St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Date: Thursday 30th October, 7p.m.

This event is free of charge, however seating is limited – to reserve a
place please email: mailto:criticalvoices@artscouncil.iecriticalvoices@artscouncil.ie

Gamedev.Ie Shindig

Event Date: 31st September 2003.

Title: Gamedev Oct. shindig

Time: 7pm til late

Location: We are moving location again this month because last month we outgrew our space which was great.

So this month we are meeting in Mahaffeys pub, which is at the junction of Pearse Street and Westland Row and has a lot of scaffolding up outside at the moment. Not far from Pearse Street Dart Station which is at the back of Trinity College, Dublin.

We are going to have one side all to ourselves and I will bring posters so new people should be able to find us. Look for our logo and name as it appears on the top of this website..

Feel free to drop in and say hello!

Reaching First Place – Sony In Ireland – 2

JMC: Sony made PlayStation a mainstream brand recognised across the world. How did Sony achieve this in Ireland since 1995?

NOH: Well it’s probably through a number of factors. .. we opened up an office in Ireland, which I think was one of the key factors in establishing Playstation in Ireland. To run a sales and marketing operation in Ireland, you have to have a presence. One of the things stemming from that (was) we were able to take our central European marketing plans and localise them and make them relevant to consumers within the Irish marketplace. So most importantly was the establishment of an (Irish) office and secondly the bringing of the whole marketing plans to a local level and changing them completely where it was relevant to do so.

In terms of building a brand, it was always going to be a huge challenge, coming into a market that was in huge decline with the decline of the SNES from Nintendo and the Mega Drive and Sega. Between that and the launch of Playstation there were a few other console launches such as the Atari Jaguar, 3Do from Panasonic, CD-i from Phillips. It was a difficult period to come into the marketplace.

JMC: In the early days when Sony was attempting to challenge the mighty Nintendo and Sega, what hardships did you come up against in opening up the marketplace?

NOH: If you look at various different consumer electronic companies, like Phillips and Panasonic, it was always going to be a difficult task to get the retail support, because ultimately building a big brand depends hugely on the retailer distribution to bring it to the consumers so the consumer has the ability to purchase it. So basically when we started in 1995 we started with a team of one, me.

So I pretty much had to do everything; from setting up the operation to setting up the physical warehousing and distribution, transport companies, physically keying in the product into the system, down to selling the product to the retailers and getting retailer support backed throughout the 32 counties of Ireland, putting the marketing plans together, appointing an agency, working with the agency, localising the plan. It was a huge task and a huge challenge, and I would have to say it was a risk as well coming into the business. I had to make the decision of do I go for this or do I stick with the company I was employed with at the time, but I think a lot of hard work and effort worked and I’ve no regrets about the decision.

Basically through time the team built up. By the time of the launch there was Sinead Lynch, who’s still with the company, and it was hard work basically six months on the road going to the retailers trying (to) win backup and support for them to stock the product at launch, and after. I think that one of the key factors for getting them on board was the fact that it was Sony; albeit Panasonic and Philips had failed, well certainly CD-I had failed and Panasonic was launching in around the same time, so it hadn’t really been a failure as such, but it was certainly encouraging to see the level of support from the electrical retailers knowing Sony, and the products that Sony produced, certainly helped gain the support at the retail level. Then it was really down to getting the support of the likes of the traditional video game outlets like Smyths toys and FutureZone, as it was then, which was to become EB and now Game. So even the retail environment has gone through a lot of change in the timeframe.

JMC: How did you get involved in Sony Ireland?

NOH: It’s interesting the way Sony Computer Entertainment approached the Irish market initially. They weren’t sure about opening up an operation in Ireland, (but there) were existing Sony companies already operating (here): Sony Electronics, Sony Music and Columbia Tristar. So basically what they decided to do was to appoint Columbia Tristar as the SCEE representative company in Ireland- it was a safe bet really because rather than physically establishing an entity it was an easy option to go into an existing operation.

The sales manager of Columbia Tristar at the time was an ex-colleague of mine who had worked in the same industry as me, the capital equipment industry. He rang me to say there was a position coming up so I went along to meet the relevant people both from SCE and Columbia Tristar, Andre Graham was the MD at the time. I had several meetings, they had several interviews, and they offered me a position. I had a think about it. I had a conversation with my wife. I was working in a completely different industry at the time, I’d never worked in the industry, didn’t really know an awful lot about it. So I did a bit of research about an industry that was in massive decline but ultimately I made the decision that I’d go for it.

JMC: What was Sony’s initial marketing plan for the Playstation when it launched, and how did this change as the console gained a foothold in the country?

NOH: It changed hugely. I’ll never forget our first campaign, which was SAPS – Society Against PlayStation. (We) basically ran an anti-Playstation campaign with some really good TV commercials using a bit of a geeky character who was the president of SAPS. It lent itself to a campaign because it was very campaignable. So we had this guy with the glasses and all the rest who had a strange salute sign-off and the tagline ‘Do Not Underestimate The Power Of Playstation’ and it was great.

The Christmas one was also great because he had this great song – it basically said parents don’t buy this for your kids, it’s a bagel toaster and called it all these things. This is not what they want, buy them a stick and he had this little song which went ‘its not too thin, its not too thick, its stick, stick, stick. It’s got some bark, it’s good for a lark, its stick, stick, stick.’ It was totally different and it stood out hugely and that was the initial launch period and after six months of that Playstation had really established itself. The TV creative was memorable, was discussed everywhere in marketing magazines, the main press, the business press, it was all over the place. We got a couple of actors and actresses who were the evangelists of SAPS and we put them on the streets and they were the real Holy Mary’s saying your kids will be demonised and corrupted by this device and we had a lot of fun with that in the early stages and it certainly was fresh at the time, but obviously that was a campaign that was purely to establish (the brand) and we had to move on from there.

So central marketing for Europe came up with a campaign that we felt was too advanced for our consumer at that time, so we embarked upon creating our own TV creative which is unusual for Ireland because of the cost of production. We used a young guy who is still on TV, Kevin O’Connell, in our commercial and at the time it was the right thing to do for the Irish marketplace. We developed a campaign which was culturally on top of the Irish market .. and that was the turning point where people stood up and took notice, appreciative of the face that SCE and PlayStation (were) very much a global brand but at the same time were very local.

In year 3 we then moved back to the central creative which was very strong and very different again and each year after that too, but all along the tagline for PlayStation was ‘Do Not Underestimate The Power Of PlayStation’ and I think that was a very strong line and worked really well.

image2

JMC: How long did it take SCEI to ‘make it’ in the Republic?

NOH: Well that depends on how you define ‘make it’. To establish itself, year 3 was probably the big year, and that was through a combination of marketing campaigns that we initiated on the ground.. ..We had a lot of work to do basically to educate the Irish public as to what video gaming was and what it was about and that it wasn’t just for teenage kids in their bedroom. So that was a challenge and .. in the first three years we did a lot of educating of the public with a lot of on the ground stuff like road shows and work in-store and I think that all paid off and the third and fourth years really were big years for Playstation in Ireland. In year four we sold 182,000 consoles which was quite phenomenal.

JMC: The Playstation has become a cultural icon for the under twenties. How has Sony achieved this?

NOH: Again I think its in the brand’s presentation, PlayStation was always targeted from day one at the 18-24 year old marketplace, and through various different research and our understanding of that youth market we positioned ourselves as being one of these ‘must have’ brands of the 90’s like Nike. That was always core to us, with lots of underground guerrilla marketing techniques focused around students, nightclubs, pubs. I think they grew up with PlayStation, going from school to third level with this brand as part and parcel of their whole existence and we worked very hard at that. Having established ourselves as being that cool, edgy new brand, (we) had that aspiration factor, and once you have that the early and mid teens and even younger will always aspire to be part of that. So it really is getting the opinion formers, the hardcore gamers and the influencers on board and then they’ll bring everyone else with them.

JMC: When the PlayStation 2 was released what changed in your marketing strategy?

NOH: Well I suppose when we looked at PS2 we had to look at what differentiates it from PlayStation. Basically we decided that it was a completely different device offering so much more. PlayStation was for gaming and for gamers. PS2 we believe was much more so we were looking at a much broader market. It has DVD playback, (was) future ready for Internet connectivity, online gaming etc. Having looked at that we basically came up with an essence of the brand, which was that PS2 was in marketing terms an open gateway to a living future and out of that marketing speak came ‘The Third Place’.

JMC: Can you explain to me exactly where ‘The Third Place’ is?

NOH: A lot of people say what is ‘The Third Place’, where is ‘The Third Place’e, how do you get to ‘The Third Place’. It’s interesting because everyone has a different take on it, which is brilliant because that’s what it’s meant to be. It’s individual, it doesn’t exist, there is no place per se, it’s somewhere that exists within a person’s mind and different experiences will bring people to their own Third Place. It exists individually and different games and different PlayStation experiences will bring people to different places. So it’s a fun kind of nirvana between your work place and your home place you’ve got this space that you live in.

JMC: On to the games, how do you decide on what strategy to use when a new game from the Sony stable is released?

NOH: It’s something that’s constantly evolving but a lot of it stems from the development studio, which would have its idea for the game, which it’s passionate about so they’re the best people to speak to when deciding how to bring this game to market. We have a central product manager who manages the whole transition from the studio and the development cycle into developing all the various materials to bring the title to market.

Then on the ground you have local product managers who work alongside the central product manager and develop a marketing strategy for that particular title. It’s a combination of individuals who bring the title to market. Different games will have different things that you can do with them. We would have a look at the game and the type of content in the game and see where the core market is. If it’s the 18-24 year olds, if it is older, such as (for) a golf game, while a Disney game would be targeted a younger age group. Then you might have a Disney type game that would have gameplay that would be relevant for a much older age group even though it’s Disney, such as Kingdom Hearts which was a Squaresoft & Disney collaboration which was very much a Disney meets Final Fantasy even though it’s not a Disney Final Fantasy game. That’s bringing kids and late teens together in one environment and it worked very well. It really depends on the gameplay and the content, and if it’s a licence it depends on the licence. You can’t say there’s a directory of instructions to follow, it really is title to title.

JMC: Your most recent football title, This Is Football 2003 used an extensive beer mat campaign across the country to generate awareness. What made you decide to use this sort of advertising?

NOH: Well one of the things we constantly look at is alternative media. TV hits a lot of people in a short space of time but it’s expensive and we have limits to our budgets. So we constantly challenge our media agency, we have a separate agency specifically who looks after our media and media buying, to look for new opportunities and different opportunities to market our products. One of the things they came up with was beer-mats. However it wasn’t the first time we used beer mats.

We had a brand campaign using a computer distorted female, the strange headed woman called Fifi, and we had a lot of fun with that as well. We did the voiceover with an Irish accent, we also did the voiceover with a male voice, which was really weird, and we did one as Gaeilge which we ran on TG4. And we used beer mats for that. We are very much targeting an older age group, we’re not going after children and teens, like our competitiors, and beer mats are ideal for targeting people in pubs. We also use a lot of washroom advertising: behind toilet doors, urinals and cubicles.

JMC: The Playstation.ie website carries an extensive range of information for any PlayStation enthusiast. How effective have you found this, or do you put most of your focus on the micro-sites contained within it?

NOH: A combination of the two. We are one of the few countries where we have a dedicated web content manager whose sole purpose in life is to look after the website. We put a lot of emphasis on the website, update (it) daily and it’s got pretty high traffic. A lot of effort goes into the mini sites however we mightn’t necessary do all the work on them, relying on the central web team to do a lot of the editorial work for us. Certainly on the Irish specific content we do a lot of work. We build a lot of games and and we use a local agency to do that. In fact to promote the launch of the music game Frequency, our agency locally produced a game called Sequency which was a music based game. It’s still on the website and it’s good fun for instant gratification spending five or ten minutes creating your own tracks. Our central web team thought it was so good that they actually bought the rights to use it in Europe on all the individual European websites.

JMC: What is Sony’s outlook towards online gaming, and how will this be dealt with in Ireland?

NOH: In Ireland at the moment it’s non existent, and our approach to online gaming is wait and see. We’re in contact with the main operators about it, but until broadband penetration reaches a point, our hands are tied. We’ve launched elsewhere already but we’ll launch when it’s available. As for our outlook, it’s open. If a 3rd party publisher wants to launch a game on its own servers that’s fine. Our competitors insist on ownership of the servers and this has led to Electronic Arts signing all their online offerings exclusively to PS2.

JMC: Sony has had two great successes with peripherals: the boom microphone for SOCOM and more recently Eye Toy. Historically peripherals attached to games have been met with a lukewarm response, how has this changed with these two titles?

NOH: SOCOM can be played without the headset, but using it has opened up a new gaming experience for consumers (and) we’ve launched it at a competitive price point. We’ve had successes in the past with both the light gun and even the dance mat, and Time Crisis and The Jungle Book show this. The main thing about peripherals is that once they are priced competitively there will be take up, but if you price it out of the market it just won’t well. On the other hand, Eye Toy can’t be played without the peripheral but we’ve priced it as the same price as a normal software title so it’s reasonably priced as well as being great fun and I think our chart position shows this.

image3

JMC: Many of our readers on gamedevelopers.ie would like to know if Sony will take the lead in picking up Irish development teams?

NOH: If there are any Irish companies interested in developing for our range of consoles, we can be approached. We have been approached in the past, and have given funding, but also work on the basis of upfront payment and royalties. We do have a 3rd Party Liaison Group within the company for dealing with these companies. We can and have done publishing deals with Irish companies to sell, market and publish with these companies. If any companies are seriously interested in developing for a PlayStation console, I can be contacted directly about it.

JMC: Finally, what do you think needs to happen in Ireland to get the our development industry going?

NOH: It’s a difficult enough question as there are a huge number of Irish people working in various different development studios across the globe. Most of these people learned their trade outside of Ireland and stay out of Ireland. The economic environment in the country will simply dissuade people from coming back because it’s just too expensive. Enterprise Ireland needs to put more emphasis on the fact that the games industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. They need to put a cohesive plan together to draw in investment from both the publishing and development community.

A little more emphasis also needs to be put on games design in the education system in the IT’s and even at second level. It’s a large business like the movie business and needs to be recognised as such. Importantly it needs to be recognised as a viable career.

The chief of the IDA recently said the future of investment will go to traditional ‘old economy’ companies instead of new economy companies, which includes games companies, and statements like this are not very encouraging.

Author Bio: Jamie McCormick is the former editor of the Irish Games website IrishPlayer.com, as well as a freelance writer for a number of magazines and sites around the country. He is currently studying Marketing in Dublin Institute of Technology.

community/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=121Discuss this article in our forum

Reaching First Place – Sony In Ireland

JMC: Sony made PlayStation a mainstream brand recognised across the world. How did Sony achieve this in Ireland since 1995?

NOH: Well it’s probably through a number of factors. .. we opened up an office in Ireland, which I think was one of the key factors in establishing Playstation in Ireland. To run a sales and marketing operation in Ireland, you have to have a presence. One of the things stemming from that (was) we were able to take our central European marketing plans and localise them and make them relevant to consumers within the Irish marketplace. So most importantly was the establishment of an (Irish) office and secondly the bringing of the whole marketing plans to a local level and changing them completely where it was relevant to do so.

In terms of building a brand, it was always going to be a huge challenge, coming into a market that was in huge decline with the decline of the SNES from Nintendo and the Mega Drive and Sega. Between that and the launch of Playstation there were a few other console launches such as the Atari Jaguar, 3Do from Panasonic, CD-i from Phillips. It was a difficult period to come into the marketplace.

JMC: In the early days when Sony was attempting to challenge the mighty Nintendo and Sega, what hardships did you come up against in opening up the marketplace?

NOH: If you look at various different consumer electronic companies, like Phillips and Panasonic, it was always going to be a difficult task to get the retail support, because ultimately building a big brand depends hugely on the retailer distribution to bring it to the consumers so the consumer has the ability to purchase it. So basically when we started in 1995 we started with a team of one, me.

So I pretty much had to do everything; from setting up the operation to setting up the physical warehousing and distribution, transport companies, physically keying in the product into the system, down to selling the product to the retailers and getting retailer support backed throughout the 32 counties of Ireland, putting the marketing plans together, appointing an agency, working with the agency, localising the plan. It was a huge task and a huge challenge, and I would have to say it was a risk as well coming into the business. I had to make the decision of do I go for this or do I stick with the company I was employed with at the time, but I think a lot of hard work and effort worked and I’ve no regrets about the decision.

Basically through time the team built up. By the time of the launch there was Sinead Lynch, who’s still with the company, and it was hard work basically six months on the road going to the retailers trying (to) win backup and support for them to stock the product at launch, and after. I think that one of the key factors for getting them on board was the fact that it was Sony; albeit Panasonic and Philips had failed, well certainly CD-I had failed and Panasonic was launching in around the same time, so it hadn’t really been a failure as such, but it was certainly encouraging to see the level of support from the electrical retailers knowing Sony, and the products that Sony produced, certainly helped gain the support at the retail level. Then it was really down to getting the support of the likes of the traditional video game outlets like Smyths toys and FutureZone, as it was then, which was to become EB and now Game. So even the retail environment has gone through a lot of change in the timeframe.

JMC: How did you get involved in Sony Ireland?

NOH: It’s interesting the way Sony Computer Entertainment approached the Irish market initially. They weren’t sure about opening up an operation in Ireland, (but there) were existing Sony companies already operating (here): Sony Electronics, Sony Music and Columbia Tristar. So basically what they decided to do was to appoint Columbia Tristar as the SCEE representative company in Ireland- it was a safe bet really because rather than physically establishing an entity it was an easy option to go into an existing operation.

The sales manager of Columbia Tristar at the time was an ex-colleague of mine who had worked in the same industry as me, the capital equipment industry. He rang me to say there was a position coming up so I went along to meet the relevant people both from SCE and Columbia Tristar, Andre Graham was the MD at the time. I had several meetings, they had several interviews, and they offered me a position. I had a think about it. I had a conversation with my wife. I was working in a completely different industry at the time, I’d never worked in the industry, didn’t really know an awful lot about it. So I did a bit of research about an industry that was in massive decline but ultimately I made the decision that I’d go for it.

JMC: What was Sony’s initial marketing plan for the Playstation when it launched, and how did this change as the console gained a foothold in the country?

NOH: It changed hugely. I’ll never forget our first campaign, which was SAPS – Society Against PlayStation. (We) basically ran an anti-Playstation campaign with some really good TV commercials using a bit of a geeky character who was the president of SAPS. It lent itself to a campaign because it was very campaignable. So we had this guy with the glasses and all the rest who had a strange salute sign-off and the tagline ‘Do Not Underestimate The Power Of Playstation’ and it was great.

The Christmas one was also great because he had this great song – it basically said parents don’t buy this for your kids, it’s a bagel toaster and called it all these things. This is not what they want, buy them a stick and he had this little song which went ‘its not too thin, its not too thick, its stick, stick, stick. It’s got some bark, it’s good for a lark, its stick, stick, stick.’ It was totally different and it stood out hugely and that was the initial launch period and after six months of that Playstation had really established itself. The TV creative was memorable, was discussed everywhere in marketing magazines, the main press, the business press, it was all over the place. We got a couple of actors and actresses who were the evangelists of SAPS and we put them on the streets and they were the real Holy Mary’s saying your kids will be demonised and corrupted by this device and we had a lot of fun with that in the early stages and it certainly was fresh at the time, but obviously that was a campaign that was purely to establish (the brand) and we had to move on from there.

So central marketing for Europe came up with a campaign that we felt was too advanced for our consumer at that time, so we embarked upon creating our own TV creative which is unusual for Ireland because of the cost of production. We used a young guy who is still on TV, Kevin O’Connell, in our commercial and at the time it was the right thing to do for the Irish marketplace. We developed a campaign which was culturally on top of the Irish market .. and that was the turning point where people stood up and took notice, appreciative of the face that SCE and PlayStation (were) very much a global brand but at the same time were very local.

In year 3 we then moved back to the central creative which was very strong and very different again and each year after that too, but all along the tagline for PlayStation was ‘Do Not Underestimate The Power Of PlayStation’ and I think that was a very strong line and worked really well.

image2

JMC: How long did it take SCEI to ‘make it’ in the Republic?

NOH: Well that depends on how you define ‘make it’. To establish itself, year 3 was probably the big year, and that was through a combination of marketing campaigns that we initiated on the ground.. ..We had a lot of work to do basically to educate the Irish public as to what video gaming was and what it was about and that it wasn’t just for teenage kids in their bedroom. So that was a challenge and .. in the first three years we did a lot of educating of the public with a lot of on the ground stuff like road shows and work in-store and I think that all paid off and the third and fourth years really were big years for Playstation in Ireland. In year four we sold 182,000 consoles which was quite phenomenal.

JMC: The Playstation has become a cultural icon for the under twenties. How has Sony achieved this?

NOH: Again I think its in the brand’s presentation, PlayStation was always targeted from day one at the 18-24 year old marketplace, and through various different research and our understanding of that youth market we positioned ourselves as being one of these ‘must have’ brands of the 90’s like Nike. That was always core to us, with lots of underground guerrilla marketing techniques focused around students, nightclubs, pubs. I think they grew up with PlayStation, going from school to third level with this brand as part and parcel of their whole existence and we worked very hard at that. Having established ourselves as being that cool, edgy new brand, (we) had that aspiration factor, and once you have that the early and mid teens and even younger will always aspire to be part of that. So it really is getting the opinion formers, the hardcore gamers and the influencers on board and then they’ll bring everyone else with them.

JMC: When the PlayStation 2 was released what changed in your marketing strategy?

NOH: Well I suppose when we looked at PS2 we had to look at what differentiates it from PlayStation. Basically we decided that it was a completely different device offering so much more. PlayStation was for gaming and for gamers. PS2 we believe was much more so we were looking at a much broader market. It has DVD playback, (was) future ready for Internet connectivity, online gaming etc. Having looked at that we basically came up with an essence of the brand, which was that PS2 was in marketing terms an open gateway to a living future and out of that marketing speak came ‘The Third Place’.

JMC: Can you explain to me exactly where ‘The Third Place’ is?

NOH: A lot of people say what is ‘The Third Place’, where is ‘The Third Place’e, how do you get to ‘The Third Place’. It’s interesting because everyone has a different take on it, which is brilliant because that’s what it’s meant to be. It’s individual, it doesn’t exist, there is no place per se, it’s somewhere that exists within a person’s mind and different experiences will bring people to their own Third Place. It exists individually and different games and different PlayStation experiences will bring people to different places. So it’s a fun kind of nirvana between your work place and your home place you’ve got this space that you live in.

JMC: On to the games, how do you decide on what strategy to use when a new game from the Sony stable is released?

NOH: It’s something that’s constantly evolving but a lot of it stems from the development studio, which would have its idea for the game, which it’s passionate about so they’re the best people to speak to when deciding how to bring this game to market. We have a central product manager who manages the whole transition from the studio and the development cycle into developing all the various materials to bring the title to market.

Then on the ground you have local product managers who work alongside the central product manager and develop a marketing strategy for that particular title. It’s a combination of individuals who bring the title to market. Different games will have different things that you can do with them. We would have a look at the game and the type of content in the game and see where the core market is. If it’s the 18-24 year olds, if it is older, such as (for) a golf game, while a Disney game would be targeted a younger age group. Then you might have a Disney type game that would have gameplay that would be relevant for a much older age group even though it’s Disney, such as Kingdom Hearts which was a Squaresoft & Disney collaboration which was very much a Disney meets Final Fantasy even though it’s not a Disney Final Fantasy game. That’s bringing kids and late teens together in one environment and it worked very well. It really depends on the gameplay and the content, and if it’s a licence it depends on the licence. You can’t say there’s a directory of instructions to follow, it really is title to title.

JMC: Your most recent football title, This Is Football 2003 used an extensive beer mat campaign across the country to generate awareness. What made you decide to use this sort of advertising?

NOH: Well one of the things we constantly look at is alternative media. TV hits a lot of people in a short space of time but it’s expensive and we have limits to our budgets. So we constantly challenge our media agency, we have a separate agency specifically who looks after our media and media buying, to look for new opportunities and different opportunities to market our products. One of the things they came up with was beer-mats. However it wasn’t the first time we used beer mats.

We had a brand campaign using a computer distorted female, the strange headed woman called Fifi, and we had a lot of fun with that as well. We did the voiceover with an Irish accent, we also did the voiceover with a male voice, which was really weird, and we did one as Gaeilge which we ran on TG4. And we used beer mats for that. We are very much targeting an older age group, we’re not going after children and teens, like our competitiors, and beer mats are ideal for targeting people in pubs. We also use a lot of washroom advertising: behind toilet doors, urinals and cubicles.

JMC: The Playstation.ie website carries an extensive range of information for any PlayStation enthusiast. How effective have you found this, or do you put most of your focus on the micro-sites contained within it?

NOH: A combination of the two. We are one of the few countries where we have a dedicated web content manager whose sole purpose in life is to look after the website. We put a lot of emphasis on the website, update (it) daily and it’s got pretty high traffic. A lot of effort goes into the mini sites however we mightn’t necessary do all the work on them, relying on the central web team to do a lot of the editorial work for us. Certainly on the Irish specific content we do a lot of work. We build a lot of games and and we use a local agency to do that. In fact to promote the launch of the music game Frequency, our agency locally produced a game called Sequency which was a music based game. It’s still on the website and it’s good fun for instant gratification spending five or ten minutes creating your own tracks. Our central web team thought it was so good that they actually bought the rights to use it in Europe on all the individual European websites.

JMC: What is Sony’s outlook towards online gaming, and how will this be dealt with in Ireland?

NOH: In Ireland at the moment it’s non existent, and our approach to online gaming is wait and see. We’re in contact with the main operators about it, but until broadband penetration reaches a point, our hands are tied. We’ve launched elsewhere already but we’ll launch when it’s available. As for our outlook, it’s open. If a 3rd party publisher wants to launch a game on its own servers that’s fine. Our competitors insist on ownership of the servers and this has led to Electronic Arts signing all their online offerings exclusively to PS2.

JMC: Sony has had two great successes with peripherals: the boom microphone for SOCOM and more recently Eye Toy. Historically peripherals attached to games have been met with a lukewarm response, how has this changed with these two titles?

NOH: SOCOM can be played without the headset, but using it has opened up a new gaming experience for consumers (and) we’ve launched it at a competitive price point. We’ve had successes in the past with both the light gun and even the dance mat, and Time Crisis and The Jungle Book show this. The main thing about peripherals is that once they are priced competitively there will be take up, but if you price it out of the market it just won’t well. On the other hand, Eye Toy can’t be played without the peripheral but we’ve priced it as the same price as a normal software title so it’s reasonably priced as well as being great fun and I think our chart position shows this.

image3

JMC: Many of our readers on gamedevelopers.ie would like to know if Sony will take the lead in picking up Irish development teams?

NOH: If there are any Irish companies interested in developing for our range of consoles, we can be approached. We have been approached in the past, and have given funding, but also work on the basis of upfront payment and royalties. We do have a 3rd Party Liaison Group within the company for dealing with these companies. We can and have done publishing deals with Irish companies to sell, market and publish with these companies. If any companies are seriously interested in developing for a PlayStation console, I can be contacted directly about it.

JMC: Finally, what do you think needs to happen in Ireland to get the our development industry going?

NOH: It’s a difficult enough question as there are a huge number of Irish people working in various different development studios across the globe. Most of these people learned their trade outside of Ireland and stay out of Ireland. The economic environment in the country will simply dissuade people from coming back because it’s just too expensive. Enterprise Ireland needs to put more emphasis on the fact that the games industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. They need to put a cohesive plan together to draw in investment from both the publishing and development community.

A little more emphasis also needs to be put on games design in the education system in the IT’s and even at second level. It’s a large business like the movie business and needs to be recognised as such. Importantly it needs to be recognised as a viable career.

The chief of the IDA recently said the future of investment will go to traditional ‘old economy’ companies instead of new economy companies, which includes games companies, and statements like this are not very encouraging.

Author Bio: Jamie McCormick is the former editor of the Irish Games website IrishPlayer.com, as well as a freelance writer for a number of magazines and sites around the country. He is currently studying Marketing in Dublin Institute of Technology.

community/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=121Discuss this article in our forum

Multimedia Exhibition In Dcu, 7/8Th Nov.

NEXUS, The DCU School of Communications multimedia exhibition 2003 will take place in the Gallery in the Helix, DCU from 4pm on Thursday, 6th November, and remain open on Friday, 7th November and Saturday 8th November from 12 noon to 11pm, each day.

The exhibition will showcase multimedia productions from the
2003 masters in multimedia group, as well as projects undertaken by the
first graduates of the undergraduate multimedia programme, and a project from last year’s Masters exhibition which has been short listed for the EuroPrix award.

The 2003 exhibition is sponsored by Apple Computer, Eurotek, JVC and the School of Communications.

More information on the projects is available at http://www.multimedia.dcu.iehttp://www.multimedia.dcu.ie

Car parking is available close to the university entrance on Collins
Avenue. Directions to the Helix are clearly signposted in the car park.
The Gallery is on the second floor of the Helix.

Ni Telecoms Selected For Xbox Live – 2

Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland have been selected by Microsoft as broadband provider partners for Xbox Live as part of its Compatibility Programme, it has been announced this week. This worldwide programme helps to optimise user experiences by selecting broadband packages, offering a huge potential for both Northern Ireland companies.

"Xbox Live is a tangible example of what broadband can deliver for consumers. Xbox Live allows players to connect with each other globally in real-time at high-speed, which is, after all, what the Internet is all about," said Esat BT CEO Bill Murphy.

Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland will be joined by over 50 other broadband providers in North America, Japan and Europe developing connectivity packages and assisting in marketing initiatives.

Orla Sheridan, Home and Entertainments Division Sales Manager Ireland, Microsoft, said "We’re delighted to be partnering with Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland to provide Xbox Live customers on the island of Ireland with the ultimate gaming experience. Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland were chosen as Xbox Live partners because of the quality, reach and ease-of-use of their residential broadband services. Speed is of the essence in many of the Xbox Live games and this partnership will mean that Xbox Live users in Ireland will be able to compete against fellow gamers across the world at blistering speeds."

For more information on Xbox Live, visit:
en-IE/default.htm?culture=0www.xbox.com or default.aspwww.xboxemea.com

User name: partner
Password: xb0xr0ck$

For further information, contact Andrew McLindon/Frans van Cauwelaert WHPR,
Tel: (01) 669 0030
Email:
mailto:andrew.mclindon@ogilvy.comandrew.mclindon@ogilvy.com
mailto:frans.vancauwelaert@ogilvy.comfrans.vancauwelaert@ogilvy.com

Priscilla O’Regan, Communications Manager, Esat BT,
Tel: (01) 432 5162/086 633 5398
Email:mailto:Priscilla.o’regan@esat.comPriscilla.o’regan@esat.com

Xbox Public Relations
Nicola Watkins PR
Tel : (01) 6636587 / 087-2646858
Email:
mailto:nicolawatkins@eircom.netnicolawatkins@eircom.net

For more information on Esat BT, visit ie/www.esatbt.com

Ideas Generation Workshops – 2

As part of the Business Generation Seminars, this series of workshops include: setting up a business, understanding entrepeneurship, time frame for getting started, understanding the market place, indentifying real business potential, funding and start up assistance available in the Dublin region.

The workshops will be held in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Taylor’s Lane, Dublin 8 on October 18th and November 29th.

More details of seminars as they occur at:

seminars.htmseminars.htm

Ideas Generation Workshop – 2

As part of the Business Generation Seminars run by the Dublin City Enterprise Board, this series of workshops include: setting up a business, understanding entrepeneurship, time frame for getting started, understanding the market place, indentifying real business potential, funding and start up assistance available in the Dublin region.

The workshops will be held in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Taylor’s Lane, Dublin 8.

More details of seminars as they occur at:
seminars.htmseminars.htm

Ideas Generation Workshop

As part of the Business Generation Seminars run by the Dublin City Enterprise Board, this series of workshops include: setting up a business, understanding entrepeneurship, time frame for getting started, understanding the market place, indentifying real business potential, funding and start up assistance available in the Dublin region.

The workshops will be held in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Taylor’s Lane, Dublin 8.

More details of seminars as they occur at:

seminars.htmseminars.htm

Ni Telecoms Selected For Xbox Live

Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland have been selected by Microsoft as broadband provider partners for Xbox Live as part of its Compatibility Programme, it has been announced this week. This worldwide programme helps to optimise user experiences by selecting broadband packages, offering a huge potential for both Northern Ireland companies.

"Xbox Live is a tangible example of what broadband can deliver for consumers. Xbox Live allows players to connect with each other globally in real-time at high-speed, which is, after all, what the Internet is all about," said Esat BT CEO Bill Murphy.

Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland will be joined by over 50 other broadband providers in North America, Japan and Europe developing connectivity packages and assisting in marketing initiatives.

Orla Sheridan, Home and Entertainments Division Sales Manager Ireland, Microsoft, said "We’re delighted to be partnering with Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland to provide Xbox Live customers on the island of Ireland with the ultimate gaming experience. Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland were chosen as Xbox Live partners because of the quality, reach and ease-of-use of their residential broadband services. Speed is of the essence in many of the Xbox Live games and this partnership will mean that Xbox Live users in Ireland will be able to compete against fellow gamers across the world at blistering speeds."

For more information on Xbox Live, visit:
en-IE/default.htm?culture=0www.xbox.com or default.aspwww.xboxemea.com

User name: partner
Password: xb0xr0ck$

For further information, contact Andrew McLindon/Frans van Cauwelaert WHPR,
Tel: (01) 669 0030
Email:
mailto:andrew.mclindon@ogilvy.comandrew.mclindon@ogilvy.com
mailto:frans.vancauwelaert@ogilvy.comfrans.vancauwelaert@ogilvy.com

Priscilla O’Regan, Communications Manager, Esat BT,
Tel: (01) 432 5162/086 633 5398
Email:mailto:Priscilla.o’regan@esat.comPriscilla.o’regan@esat.com

Xbox Public Relations
Nicola Watkins PR
Tel : (01) 6636587 / 087-2646858
Email:
mailto:nicolawatkins@eircom.netnicolawatkins@eircom.net

For more information on Esat BT, visit ie/www.esatbt.com

Ideas Generation Workshops

As part of the Business Generation Seminars, this series of workshops include: setting up a business, understanding entrepeneurship, time frame for getting started, understanding the market place, indentifying real business potential, funding and start up assistance available in the Dublin region.

The workshops will be held in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Taylor’s Lane, Dublin 8 on October 18th and November 29th.

More details of seminars as they occur at:

seminars.htmseminars.htm

White Smoke From Torc – 2

AK – When will the engine be released to market?

DG The engine is just coming out of it’s R&D phase, starting with a blank page mid Sept last year – and these screenshots are the first public airing of the engine. A fully unified real-time per-pixel lighting and shadowing engine targeted at PC and Xbox. The core is up and running, and even more pleasing than the asethetics it’s capable of producing, is its performance -it runs well even on mediocre DX8 cards. There’s quite a lot of work to tie in around the edges, but we’re aiming at GDC next year for its launch.

Obviously in it’s current form it’s being represented as screenshots, so the focus tends to be on the graphical side, but we’ve some other unique features in the engine, most notably the way entities are being handled that means that not only is it powerful, but relatively easy to use as well (partly driven by our close association with some colleges).

AK What colleges are you working with at present?

DG The technical colleges in Derry and Letterkenny as well as Ballyfermot as of now – but our plan is to take it far and wide.

AK Have you shown the work at any shows or conferences to date?

DG In its current early form, we’ve only been showing it to a few key individuals, but it did make a semi-public well received appearance at the recent GPDC in Liverpool.

AK What are your plans for the immediate future?

DG Our main focus right now is in finding a publisher. We’ve a few game concepts at various stages of development that we’re looking to pitch around November. Early responses have been very encouraging, and we’re in the process of forming our strategy to leverage the best deal for us.

Note:
1. Catch some of the Torc people at the shindigs…another reason to have them on Fridays!

2. We will be adding further screenshots from Torc to the Gallery in the Community section of gamedevelopers.ie

Further Information www.torcinteractive.com/

Iia And Invest Ni Net Visionary Awards – 2

To nominate: nominations.htmlwww.netvisionary.ie/nominations

About the Awards
The 5th Annual Irish Internet Association Net Visionary Awards will take place on the 26th of November 2003 in the Clontarf Castle. The IIA are delighted to welcome Invest NI as headline sponsor for the awards for 2003.

Over the last five years the awards have become the most respected Internet awards, honouring individuals for their contribution to the Irish Internet Industry. Nominated by colleagues, clients, and peers, short listed by IIA member companies and judged by the IIA board of directors, these awards are truly the most prestigious awards on the Industry calendar.

This year a number of additional awards have been added. You do not need to be an IIA member to nominate and there is no cost of entry. The overall Net Visionary Award will be selected from all of the nominations received.

For more information:

Visit Invest NI at:index.htm

Nomination Procedure
Step 1: Nomination
To nominate someone for an award click on the link below and select the appropriate category. You will need to fill in your details and the nominees contact details and submit up to 50 words as to why you feel they should be short-listed. Closing date for nominations is the 24th of October 2003. There is no cost associated with making a nomination.
nominations.htmlnominations.html

Step 2: Shortlist
On the 28th of October, a representative from each IIA member organisation will vote to create a shortlist. There is one vote per category. The deadline for voting is the 7th of November 2003 and full shortlist details will be announced on the 11th of November 2003.

Step 3: The Judging
The board of the IIA will then vote to select the winners and full details will be announced at a black tie awards ceremony in Clontarf Castle on the 26th of November 2003. To ensure your place at these awards book online at the link below. Please note there are limited tables available due to venue size.
Online booking:events.asp?eventid=32events

Event Details
Date: 26th November 2003
Venue: Clontarf Castle, Dublin 3
Time: 6.45pm
Format: Black-Tie Gala Dinner & Awards

Stay in the Clontarf Castle for 49 euro per person sharing including breakfast – book directly with hotel and state you are attending the event to avail of the special rate.
Booking Details
* Cost: EUR150.00 per place. Tables are sold with 12 places at a cost of EUR1,800.00.

* Early booking is recommended as due to venue size seats are limited to 300 and booking is expected to close in advance of event.

* If booking online payment must be made by credit card to complete
booking process. If booking table please enter 12 for number of places required.

Online booking:events.asp?eventid=32www.iia.ie/events

* If you would like to book and pay by cheque please email: mailto:events@iia.ie events@iia.ie with invoicing details. Please note this is not a 30 day invoice – payment is required immediately.
.
Event Sponsors
We would like to thank all our sponsors for their support of this event.

Headline Sponsor: Invest NI

Media Partner: Thomas Crosbie Media

Category Sponsors: Overture, Realex Payments, Macromedia, IEDR, Ennis
Information Age Services, Nokia, ireland.com.

CONTACT INFORMATION: I I A

Irene Gahan, CEO
E-mail:mailto:irene@iia.iemailto:irene@iia.ie

Sinead Murnane, Operations Manager
E-mail:mailto:sinead.murnane@iia.iemailto:sinead.murnane@iia.ie

Emma Smith, Content Editor Email:mailto:emma.smith@iia.iemailto:emma.smith@iia.ie

For membership enquiries email:mailto:membership@iia.iemailto:membership@iia.ie
For account enquiries email: mailto:accounts@iia.iemailto:accounts@iia.ie

Irish Internet Association
43-44 Temple Bar
Dublin 2
T: 01 6707 621
F: 01 6707 623
W:
E: mailto:info@iia.iemailto:info@iia.ie

Iia And Invest Ireland Net Visionary Award

Nominations have now opened for the 2003 Net Visionary Awards. You
are now invited to nominate individuals for their contribution to the Irish Internet Industry.

To nominate:nominations.htmlwww.netvisionary.ie/nominations

For more details visit our News section:news/news/

White Smoke From Torc

AK – When will the engine be released to market?

DG The engine is just coming out of it’s R&D phase, starting with a blank page mid Sept last year – and these screenshots are the first public airing of the engine. A fully unified real-time per-pixel lighting and shadowing engine targeted at PC and Xbox. The core is up and running, and even more pleasing than the asethetics it’s capable of producing, is its performance -it runs well even on mediocre DX8 cards. There’s quite a lot of work to tie in around the edges, but we’re aiming at GDC next year for its launch.

Obviously in it’s current form it’s being represented as screenshots, so the focus tends to be on the graphical side, but we’ve some other unique features in the engine, most notably the way entities are being handled that means that not only is it powerful, but relatively easy to use as well (partly driven by our close association with some colleges).

AK What colleges are you working with at present?

DG The technical colleges in Derry and Letterkenny as well as Ballyfermot as of now – but our plan is to take it far and wide.

AK Have you shown the work at any shows or conferences to date?

DG In its current early form, we’ve only been showing it to a few key individuals, but it did make a semi-public well received appearance at the recent GPDC in Liverpool.

AK What are your plans for the immediate future?

DG Our main focus right now is in finding a publisher. We’ve a few game concepts at various stages of development that we’re looking to pitch around November. Early responses have been very encouraging, and we’re in the process of forming our strategy to leverage the best deal for us.

Note:
1. Catch some of the Torc people at the shindigs…another reason to have them on Fridays!

2. We will be adding further screenshots from Torc to the Gallery in the Community section of gamedevelopers.ie

Further Information www.torcinteractive.com/

Iia And Invest Ni Net Visionary Awards

To nominate: nominations.htmlwww.netvisionary.ie/nominations

About the Awards
The 5th Annual Irish Internet Association Net Visionary Awards will take place on the 26th of November 2003 in the Clontarf Castle. The IIA are delighted to welcome Invest NI as headline sponsor for the awards for 2003.

Over the last five years the awards have become the most respected Internet awards, honouring individuals for their contribution to the Irish Internet Industry. Nominated by colleagues, clients, and peers, short listed by IIA member companies and judged by the IIA board of directors, these awards are truly the most prestigious awards on the Industry calendar.

This year a number of additional awards have been added. You do not need to be an IIA member to nominate and there is no cost of entry. The overall Net Visionary Award will be selected from all of the nominations received.

For more information:

Visit Invest NI at:index.htm

Nomination Procedure
Step 1: Nomination
To nominate someone for an award click on the link below and select the appropriate category. You will need to fill in your details and the nominees contact details and submit up to 50 words as to why you feel they should be short-listed. Closing date for nominations is the 24th of October 2003. There is no cost associated with making a nomination.
nominations.htmlnominations.html

Step 2: Shortlist
On the 28th of October, a representative from each IIA member organisation will vote to create a shortlist. There is one vote per category. The deadline for voting is the 7th of November 2003 and full shortlist details will be announced on the 11th of November 2003.

Step 3: The Judging
The board of the IIA will then vote to select the winners and full details will be announced at a black tie awards ceremony in Clontarf Castle on the 26th of November 2003. To ensure your place at these awards book online at the link below. Please note there are limited tables available due to venue size.
Online booking:events.asp?eventid=32events

Event Details
Date: 26th November 2003
Venue: Clontarf Castle, Dublin 3
Time: 6.45pm
Format: Black-Tie Gala Dinner & Awards

Stay in the Clontarf Castle for 49 euro per person sharing including breakfast – book directly with hotel and state you are attending the event to avail of the special rate.
Booking Details
* Cost: EUR150.00 per place. Tables are sold with 12 places at a cost of EUR1,800.00.

* Early booking is recommended as due to venue size seats are limited to 300 and booking is expected to close in advance of event.

* If booking online payment must be made by credit card to complete
booking process. If booking table please enter 12 for number of places required.

Online booking:events.asp?eventid=32www.iia.ie/events

* If you would like to book and pay by cheque please email: mailto:events@iia.ie events@iia.ie with invoicing details. Please note this is not a 30 day invoice – payment is required immediately.
.
Event Sponsors
We would like to thank all our sponsors for their support of this event.

Headline Sponsor: Invest NI

Media Partner: Thomas Crosbie Media

Category Sponsors: Overture, Realex Payments, Macromedia, IEDR, Ennis
Information Age Services, Nokia, ireland.com.

CONTACT INFORMATION: I I A

Irene Gahan, CEO
E-mail:mailto:irene@iia.iemailto:irene@iia.ie

Sinead Murnane, Operations Manager
E-mail:mailto:sinead.murnane@iia.iemailto:sinead.murnane@iia.ie

Emma Smith, Content Editor Email:mailto:emma.smith@iia.iemailto:emma.smith@iia.ie

For membership enquiries email:mailto:membership@iia.iemailto:membership@iia.ie
For account enquiries email: mailto:accounts@iia.iemailto:accounts@iia.ie

Irish Internet Association
43-44 Temple Bar
Dublin 2
T: 01 6707 621
F: 01 6707 623
W:
E: mailto:info@iia.iemailto:info@iia.ie

Exhibit 4: Play At The Digital Hub – 3

The following information is taken from the advance publicity currently being circulated by the Hub.

‘The theme of Exhibit4 is Play and will examine how video games are increasingly becoming educational and artistic tools. Exhibitors will include the finalists of the Nokia N-Gage Challenge, a talent search to find innovative ideas for mobile games, and Dennis McNulty, who has created music using a Nintendo Gameboy.

Exhibit4 also features exhibitions on the Linux kit for PlayStation 2, which allows PlayStation 2 users to program their machines and create their own games; an interactive game character production booth; and a Website and game detailing the history, culture and future of video games. Game players will also be able to play three new games for the Sony PlayStation 2 at Exhibit4 – Formula One 2003, Jak 2 Renegade, and Eye Toy Play.

Exhibit4 is the latest in a series of exhibitions held in conjunction with Diageo Ireland through the Liberties Learning Initiative that have examined the creative potential of digital technology.’

While the exhibition is running the Talk Digital Series will include talks by the creators of the various works. These talks also take place in the The Digital Hub Project Office from 6.00pm to 8.00pm. Dates and speakers will be announced at

In addition the Hub are planning a one-day symposium on Games, details and dates to be announced but gamedevelopers.ie might have some involvement.

The opening is Tues the 14th of Oct. and invitations to the opening can be obtained from Nicky Grogan at the Digital Hub mailto: ngogan@thedigitalhub.comngogan@thedigitalhub.com
or
mailto: exhibit@thedigitalhub.com exhibit@thedigitalhub.com

Exhibit 4: Play At The Digital Hub – 2

Exhibit4:Play

The opening of the latest exhibition in the Digital Hub will take place on Tues the 14th of Oct. at 6.30 pm.

Venue: The Digital Hub Project Office, 10 – 13 Thomas Street, Dublin.

Exhibit4 will showcase Games, the Games sector and games related projects. Catch the finalists of the N-Gage challenge presented as working prototypes, art projects and commerical projects.

More details as we get them…

For invitations contact Nicky Gogan, The Digital Hub Project Office, 10-13 Thomas St., The Digital Hub, Dublin 8

Email: mailto: exhibit@thedigitalhub.com exhibit@thedigitalhub.com

Exhibit 4: Play At The Digital Hub

The following information is taken from the advance publicity currently being circulated by the Hub.

‘The theme of Exhibit4 is Play and will examine how video games are increasingly becoming educational and artistic tools. Exhibitors will include the finalists of the Nokia N-Gage Challenge, a talent search to find innovative ideas for mobile games, and Dennis McNulty, who has created music using a Nintendo Gameboy.

Exhibit4 also features exhibitions on the Linux kit for PlayStation 2, which allows PlayStation 2 users to program their machines and create their own games; an interactive game character production booth; and a Website and game detailing the history, culture and future of video games. Game players will also be able to play three new games for the Sony PlayStation 2 at Exhibit4 – Formula One 2003, Jak 2 Renegade, and Eye Toy Play.

Exhibit4 is the latest in a series of exhibitions held in conjunction with Diageo Ireland through the Liberties Learning Initiative that have examined the creative potential of digital technology.’

While the exhibition is running the Talk Digital Series will include talks by the creators of the various works. These talks also take place in the The Digital Hub Project Office from 6.00pm to 8.00pm. Dates and speakers will be announced at

In addition the Hub are planning a one-day symposium on Games, details and dates to be announced but gamedevelopers.ie might have some involvement.

The opening is Tues the 14th of Oct. and invitations to the opening can be obtained from Nicky Grogan at the Digital Hub mailto: ngogan@thedigitalhub.comngogan@thedigitalhub.com
or
mailto: exhibit@thedigitalhub.com exhibit@thedigitalhub.com

Robocode 2004: Let The Games Begin ! – 2

Due to the phenomenal success of the 2003 inaugural Tipperary Institute 1st Year ICT Programming Competition the ICT Department have decided to organise a inter-college and university challenge.

The competition is targeted at 1st year programming students. It is intended as an opportunity for fresher years to demonstrate their programming abilities and advance their knowledge of GUI programming, API usage and Artificial Intelligence.

Full details can be found @

http://ict.tippinst.ie/~pbourke/robocode/index.htmlhttp://ict.tippinst.ie/~pbourke/robocode/index.html

Robocode 2004: Let The Games Begin !

Due to the phenomenal success of the 2003 inaugural Tipperary Institute 1st Year ICT Programming Competition the ICT Department have decided to organise a inter-college and university challenge.

The competition is targeted at 1st year programming students. It is intended as an opportunity for fresher years to demonstrate their programming abilities and advance their knowledge of GUI programming, API usage and Artificial Intelligence.

Full details can be found @

http://ict.tippinst.ie/~pbourke/robocode/index.htmlhttp://ict.tippinst.ie/~pbourke/robocode/index.html

Siggraph In San Diego, 2003.

SIGGRAPH is the worlds premier annual conference for computer graphics and interactive techniques and this year was held in San Diego at the end of July. It brings together researchers, practitioners, developers, industry big-wigs, artists, and anyone else involved in graphics and related fields such as gaming, film, and animation. SIGGRAPH is somewhat unique in that it goes far beyond the rather staid nature of many academic conferences and enthusiastically embraces all aspects of the field. So, in addition to highly technical presentations of leading-edge research work, we also get the guys from Pixar talking about how they achieved the amazing effects in the forthcoming Finding Nemo film; game developers discussing the motivations behind their newest titles; an Electronic Theater night showing selected computer-animated short films; and numerous other diversions.

Arriving in San Diego I quickly realised that the biggest problem for a SIGGRAPH virgin like myself is caused by the sheer scale of the thing. Over 10,000 people usually turn up and any conference centre wishing to host it has to be able to provide over 1 million square feet of exhibition space. A quick look at the program shows that at any one time there are at least 10 things going on and for the conscientious attendee this leads to agonising choices and a timetabling problem of horrific proportions. Shall I go to a paper session about character animation? Or a course on real-time shading? Or will I go and visit the exhibition hall to see demos of nVidia’s newest graphics accelerators? Or join the Web Graphics series of discussions? Or just say “sod it” and go and lie on the beach?

The conference is divided into a number of different types of activities. The heart of SIGGRAPH is the paper sessions. For almost 30 years now, researchers have been presenting the newest computer graphics techniques in this forum. The selection process is extremely rigorous. This year there were 424 submissions and 81 were accepted. Successful researchers get to present their work in front of an audience of well over a thousand people. If you can imagine giving a talk in the Point Theatre then you are beginning to get the idea. Papers this year covered topics such as texture synthesis, animation of smoke and explosions, human animation, algorithms for GPUs, motion capture and shape from data. Carol O’Sullivan of Trinity College’s Image Synthesis Group presented a paper as part of a session on “Perception and Manipulation” which is, as far as I know, the first SIGGRAPH paper ever from Ireland.

In addition to the paper sessions we also get a series of courses which are of half-day or full-day duration. These are given by experts in their field and aim to bring people quickly up-to-speed on a given area of research. There were numerous courses to choose from this year. A highlight was the one on Dynamics by David Baraff and colleagues. Baraff practically invented the idea of driving 3D graphics using physics simulation. He now works for Pixar and hence was able to illustrate his talks with examples of how these concepts were applied in films such as Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo. His colleague Andrew Witkin later presented a paper called “Untangling Cloth” which dealt with solutions to cloth animation problems they ran into when working on the Boo character in Monsters Inc.

When one’s brain reaches information overload it is easy to switch over to some of the other SIGGRAPH attractions. The Exhibition Hall is a showcase for the industry to parade their latest wares and everyone involved in graphics gets in on the act. So we had Discreet showing off 3DS Max 6, nVidia with their new range of graphics cards, and a bewildering array of hardware products from haptic input devices to VR equipment and 3D scanners. More stimulating fare was to be found in the Emerging Technologies room. Here participants were able to try out exotic new technologies and quiz their creators. Want to see a chroma-keying system that segments humans from video in real time using thermal information? Or a projector that uses a wall of fog as a screen? Or an interface that translates human body movements into 3D paintings? If you get bored with all this then there is always the Electronic Art Gallery, the Guerilla Studio, or the Computer Animation Festival.

Overall themes are difficult to identify from such a wide-ranging programme but there’s no doubt that programmable graphics hardware continues to have a huge impact. The introduction of programmable graphics cards (commonly known as GPUs) have allowed developers to implement algorithms that run lightning-fast on the graphics processor and make possible complex shading, shadowing and texturing in real time. The latest generation of First Person Shooter games have started to exploit this with glee and at SIGGRAPH, researchers demonstrated more spectacular things possible with this technology, now and in the future. Peter Pike-Sloan of Microsoft Research presented pioneering work on carrying out lighting calculations on GPUs that take advantage of pre-computed radiance and deliver stunning real-time rendering of glossy objects with effects such as dynamic self-shadowing and inter-reflection. Other researchers talked about how to implement techniques such as collision detection and texture synthesis in this way, and there was also a heavy emphasis on the emerging languages for programming the graphics hardware – such as nVidia’s CG language and the new OpenGL Shading Language which is part of the OpenGL 2.0 standard.

Almost everything at SIGGRAPH is of potential interest to game developers and several special sessions specifically addressed this audience. In “Behind The Game: Deconstructing the Successes of 2002”, the developers of Neverwinter Nights, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus, and Splinter Cell, talked about the approaches, motivations and methodologies behind the production of these hits. Early in the week a fascinating course on Game Art was delivered. This dealt with the increasing use of game mods such as those supplied with Half-Life and Unreal as a means of building interactive 3D worlds which are intended as art pieces rather than as games. The most controversial of these is “911 Survivor” which aims to simulate the experience of victims trapped in the Twin Towers. On a related theme, Velvet Strike allows the user to download anti-war graffiti tags which can then be sprayed onto the walls of online Counter-Strike worlds.

The item with the biggest “Wow!” factor at SIGGRAPH, for this attendee at least, was the High Dynamic Range Display, which was exhibited in Emerging Technologies. Modern graphics hardware and software have a very limited selection of colours and, more importantly, brightness values at its disposal. The range of visible light in the real world is vastly higher than this and our visual system has elaborate means of coping with this (e.g. squinting when we leave a dark cinema on a bright day). High dynamic range graphics have been knocking around in the research world for a few years now. The idea here is that we capture real world lighting (in its full range) and use this to render objects on the screen. Up until now the results still have to squashed into the RGB range that the monitor is capable of displaying. However, the High Dynamic Range Display System developed by Sunnybrook Technologies is capable of coping with a massive dynamic range comparable to that existing in the real world. Or to put it simply, the bright bits are way brighter and the dark bits blacker than black. Images that are rendered with captured high-dynamic range lighting look truly amazing on this display and come significantly close to the manufacturer’s vision of creating digital display systems that can “present images that are visually indistinguishable to the real setting they portray”. I want one, now.

SIGGRAPH is a fantastic conference that more than lives up to its billing as the greatest graphics show on earth. I recommend anyone with an interest in graphics, gaming or related technologies to try and make the trip. And in a message to my employers – I didn’t really bunk off and go to the beach. Honestly.

————————————————————————————

Author Bio: Hugh McCabe is a lecturer at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown. He is a founding member of the Graphics and Gaming Research Group. See the resources section of this website for more information on projects in that group in 2D, AI and audio at:
resources/research/resources/research/

Links:

SIGGRAPH:http://www.siggraph.orghttp://www.siggraph.org
Graphics and Gaming Group at ITB: learningandinnovation/ggg/index.htmlwww.itb.ie/learningandinnovation
ISG, Trinity College: http://isg.cs.tcd.iehttp://isg.cs.tcd.ie
Pixar:
Peter-Pike Sloan: http://research.microsoft.com/~ppsloan/http://research.microsoft.com/~ppsloan/
cg language: object/cg.htmlobject/cg.html
OpenGL shading language: http://www.opengl.org/developers/documentation/oglsl/www.opengl.org
911 Survivor:
Velvet Strike: velvet-strike/velvet-strike/
High Dynamic Range Displays:

Siggraph In San Diego, 2003. – 2

SIGGRAPH is the worlds premier annual conference for computer graphics and interactive techniques and this year was held in San Diego at the end of July. It brings together researchers, practitioners, developers, industry big-wigs, artists, and anyone else involved in graphics and related fields such as gaming, film, and animation. SIGGRAPH is somewhat unique in that it goes far beyond the rather staid nature of many academic conferences and enthusiastically embraces all aspects of the field. So, in addition to highly technical presentations of leading-edge research work, we also get the guys from Pixar talking about how they achieved the amazing effects in the forthcoming Finding Nemo film; game developers discussing the motivations behind their newest titles; an Electronic Theater night showing selected computer-animated short films; and numerous other diversions.

Arriving in San Diego I quickly realised that the biggest problem for a SIGGRAPH virgin like myself is caused by the sheer scale of the thing. Over 10,000 people usually turn up and any conference centre wishing to host it has to be able to provide over 1 million square feet of exhibition space. A quick look at the program shows that at any one time there are at least 10 things going on and for the conscientious attendee this leads to agonising choices and a timetabling problem of horrific proportions. Shall I go to a paper session about character animation? Or a course on real-time shading? Or will I go and visit the exhibition hall to see demos of nVidia’s newest graphics accelerators? Or join the Web Graphics series of discussions? Or just say “sod it” and go and lie on the beach?

The conference is divided into a number of different types of activities. The heart of SIGGRAPH is the paper sessions. For almost 30 years now, researchers have been presenting the newest computer graphics techniques in this forum. The selection process is extremely rigorous. This year there were 424 submissions and 81 were accepted. Successful researchers get to present their work in front of an audience of well over a thousand people. If you can imagine giving a talk in the Point Theatre then you are beginning to get the idea. Papers this year covered topics such as texture synthesis, animation of smoke and explosions, human animation, algorithms for GPUs, motion capture and shape from data. Carol O’Sullivan of Trinity College’s Image Synthesis Group presented a paper as part of a session on “Perception and Manipulation” which is, as far as I know, the first SIGGRAPH paper ever from Ireland.

In addition to the paper sessions we also get a series of courses which are of half-day or full-day duration. These are given by experts in their field and aim to bring people quickly up-to-speed on a given area of research. There were numerous courses to choose from this year. A highlight was the one on Dynamics by David Baraff and colleagues. Baraff practically invented the idea of driving 3D graphics using physics simulation. He now works for Pixar and hence was able to illustrate his talks with examples of how these concepts were applied in films such as Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo. His colleague Andrew Witkin later presented a paper called “Untangling Cloth” which dealt with solutions to cloth animation problems they ran into when working on the Boo character in Monsters Inc.

When one’s brain reaches information overload it is easy to switch over to some of the other SIGGRAPH attractions. The Exhibition Hall is a showcase for the industry to parade their latest wares and everyone involved in graphics gets in on the act. So we had Discreet showing off 3DS Max 6, nVidia with their new range of graphics cards, and a bewildering array of hardware products from haptic input devices to VR equipment and 3D scanners. More stimulating fare was to be found in the Emerging Technologies room. Here participants were able to try out exotic new technologies and quiz their creators. Want to see a chroma-keying system that segments humans from video in real time using thermal information? Or a projector that uses a wall of fog as a screen? Or an interface that translates human body movements into 3D paintings? If you get bored with all this then there is always the Electronic Art Gallery, the Guerilla Studio, or the Computer Animation Festival.

Overall themes are difficult to identify from such a wide-ranging programme but there’s no doubt that programmable graphics hardware continues to have a huge impact. The introduction of programmable graphics cards (commonly known as GPUs) have allowed developers to implement algorithms that run lightning-fast on the graphics processor and make possible complex shading, shadowing and texturing in real time. The latest generation of First Person Shooter games have started to exploit this with glee and at SIGGRAPH, researchers demonstrated more spectacular things possible with this technology, now and in the future. Peter Pike-Sloan of Microsoft Research presented pioneering work on carrying out lighting calculations on GPUs that take advantage of pre-computed radiance and deliver stunning real-time rendering of glossy objects with effects such as dynamic self-shadowing and inter-reflection. Other researchers talked about how to implement techniques such as collision detection and texture synthesis in this way, and there was also a heavy emphasis on the emerging languages for programming the graphics hardware – such as nVidia’s CG language and the new OpenGL Shading Language which is part of the OpenGL 2.0 standard.

Almost everything at SIGGRAPH is of potential interest to game developers and several special sessions specifically addressed this audience. In “Behind The Game: Deconstructing the Successes of 2002”, the developers of Neverwinter Nights, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus, and Splinter Cell, talked about the approaches, motivations and methodologies behind the production of these hits. Early in the week a fascinating course on Game Art was delivered. This dealt with the increasing use of game mods such as those supplied with Half-Life and Unreal as a means of building interactive 3D worlds which are intended as art pieces rather than as games. The most controversial of these is “911 Survivor” which aims to simulate the experience of victims trapped in the Twin Towers. On a related theme, Velvet Strike allows the user to download anti-war graffiti tags which can then be sprayed onto the walls of online Counter-Strike worlds.

The item with the biggest “Wow!” factor at SIGGRAPH, for this attendee at least, was the High Dynamic Range Display, which was exhibited in Emerging Technologies. Modern graphics hardware and software have a very limited selection of colours and, more importantly, brightness values at its disposal. The range of visible light in the real world is vastly higher than this and our visual system has elaborate means of coping with this (e.g. squinting when we leave a dark cinema on a bright day). High dynamic range graphics have been knocking around in the research world for a few years now. The idea here is that we capture real world lighting (in its full range) and use this to render objects on the screen. Up until now the results still have to squashed into the RGB range that the monitor is capable of displaying. However, the High Dynamic Range Display System developed by Sunnybrook Technologies is capable of coping with a massive dynamic range comparable to that existing in the real world. Or to put it simply, the bright bits are way brighter and the dark bits blacker than black. Images that are rendered with captured high-dynamic range lighting look truly amazing on this display and come significantly close to the manufacturer’s vision of creating digital display systems that can “present images that are visually indistinguishable to the real setting they portray”. I want one, now.

SIGGRAPH is a fantastic conference that more than lives up to its billing as the greatest graphics show on earth. I recommend anyone with an interest in graphics, gaming or related technologies to try and make the trip. And in a message to my employers – I didn’t really bunk off and go to the beach. Honestly.

————————————————————————————

Author Bio: Hugh McCabe is a lecturer at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown. He is a founding member of the Graphics and Gaming Research Group. See the resources section of this website for more information on projects in that group in 2D, AI and audio at:
resources/research/resources/research/

Links:

SIGGRAPH:http://www.siggraph.orghttp://www.siggraph.org
Graphics and Gaming Group at ITB: learningandinnovation/ggg/index.htmlwww.itb.ie/learningandinnovation
ISG, Trinity College: http://isg.cs.tcd.iehttp://isg.cs.tcd.ie
Pixar:
Peter-Pike Sloan: http://research.microsoft.com/~ppsloan/http://research.microsoft.com/~ppsloan/
cg language: object/cg.htmlobject/cg.html
OpenGL shading language: http://www.opengl.org/developers/documentation/oglsl/www.opengl.org
911 Survivor:
Velvet Strike: velvet-strike/velvet-strike/
High Dynamic Range Displays: