California Dreaming – 2

For one week in mid-May, Hollywood reluctantly steps aside to make way for a barrage of game developers, publishers, middleware providers, journalists, assorted fans, nerds and clingers-on. As one taxi driver excitedly told me (before charging $40 for a ten minute cab ride), E3 was the biggest event in the city’s calendar year. Even restaurant waiters stop blagging about their upcoming bit part in a “major sitcom” and instead namedrop tenuous links with game development studios. The games industry has taken firm hold of Tinsel Town and Oscar, no doubt, has his golden eye suspiciously trained on LA’s downtown Convention Centre.

Big announcements accompanied big displays at E3 in 2004. Perhaps the most significant of which was the PlayStation Portable (PSP), Sony’s first venture into handheld games territory, due for an Irish release early 2005. The PSP impressed with a screen size of 4.3 inches across, and a lithium-ion power cell battery expected to provide 10 hours of gameplay, eight hours of music, and 2.5 hours of movie watching. A queue as long as the Liffey wormed its way to the Sony booth,
where attendees could check out PSP demonstrations of four EA titles (NBA Street, Need for Speed Underground, NFL Street, and Tiger Woods PGS Tour) and view a Spider-Man 2 trailer.

“PSP will do well,” said Niall O’Hanrahan, PlayStation MD in Ireland. “Judging by the reaction of how it looks and feels everything has been very positive. Will there be competition from GBA? I don’t believe so because the two products are totally diverse. Game Boy is for kids – its big sellers are the likes of Pokemon and Uh-Gi-Oh! The software for PSP, and the movie aspect of it will ensure a much broader and older market. Content will be king, which is why the development community will be instrumental in its success.”

Havok has already lodged its foot in the PSP door, as the company will be porting and optimising its physics engine for the devise. “PSP is an incredibly exciting platform for Havok,” announced CTO Steven Collins. “It will be great to port to PSP, which has the power to leverage Havok’s collision detection and game dynamics products.” Currently residing somewhere toward the upper echelons of global gaming kudos, Havok were also in attendance to showcase their technology in some the show’s finest titles (such as Half-Life 2, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, Painkiller and Max Payne 2).

More impressive demos of Microsoft’s XNA (the graphics tool launched in March at San Jose’s Game Developers Conference) were flaunted before us. Scenes of an XNA-developed car crash were screened at the Xbox conference to a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience, before Muhammad Ali shuffled onto stage to promote the EA Sports Xbox Live line-up and everyone promptly forgot all about XNA.

Xbox 2 rumours ebbed about the Convention Centre like a dirty secret, but Microsoft was staying schtum. “Of course, we’re thinking about [Xbox 2], but we’re not talking about it,” said a rather irate Michel Cassius, head of Xbox Marketing in Europe. “The day we want to sell the next generation console we’ll talk about it, but for now we’re not talking about it.”

Michel was more than willing to talk about Xbox Live in Ireland, however. With the addition of new features soon to grace Live, including voicemail, old-school arcade games, and video mail, the console’s online prowess was a good cause for bragging. “The way in which ISP’s in Ireland have embraced Xbox Live is great. We’ve only had one Christmas on the service and by the end of this year we’re going to have all the services up and running. We’re also going to have the best game ever to play on Xbox Live [Halo 2]. We’re going to make a blast in Ireland.”

Nintendo, meanwhile, announced its DS device to critical acclaim. The duel-screened “DS” is in fact an acronym for “Developer’s System” and considering the healthy challenges it offers developers, this comes as no surprise. With touch and voice recognition abilities, wireless connection to other DS consoles at up to 100 feet, plus the presence of 2D and 3D rendering screens, this handheld presents a mighty opportunity for innovative development.

2004 was a year for Sony bashing, with Nintendo and Microsoft both launching attacks on the manufacturing giant. “Nintendo DS raises the bar before the PSP will even get started,” boasted Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime, executive VP of Sales and Marketing. “If you’re asking whether the PSP can catch GameBoy Advance, you should ask whether the PS2 can catch GameBoy Advance,” continued George Harrison, senior VP of Marketing. Meanwhile, Microsoft attacked Sony with a short “reality” TV show pitting the two companies together – the winner earning the right to create an RPG based on Donald Trump’s life.

Actually, this was funnier than it sounds although Sony’s Niall O’Hanrahan remained unimpressed. “Taking stabs at competitors is not part of what Sony is. We are trying to expand and develop a market, a consumer base, and promote gaming as part of mainstream entertainment,” he said.

Competitors within the Irish games community, on the other hand, showed the rest of the world an impressive display of solidarity when we all came together for a Sony meal hosted by Niall in Il Sole Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. Xbox Ireland (who had kindly treated the Irish E3 journos to some delicious grub in Spago, Beverley Hills, a couple of nights previously) sat alongside Sony. Retailers GamesStop, Smyth’s Toys and Xtra-vision, developers like Kapooki alongside middleware providers demonWare. After the meal, everyone crossed the road for pints. The night culminated in a mass drunken rendition of “You’ve Got The Music In You” with the former singer of the New Radicals, who we bumped into on the street.

image2

Soaking up the fun at the demonWare party was (l-r) Niall O’Hanrahan, MD Sony Computer Entertainment Ireland, and Sean Blanchfield, CTO
demonWare.

“My overall business in Ireland is (to) try and get the industry localised,” Niall later reflected. “If I can narrow my views down to a local level, ensuring business, product and marketing are local, then that’s what makes a global industry. I was encouraged and delighted to see the number of people [at the Sony meal] from the diverse parts of the industry – from retail, distribution, journalism, publishing, development, middleware. It was encouraging to see and be part of.”

The day after the Convention Centre closed its doors, demonWare hosted a shindig in an Irish pub in Santa Monica – an L.A. Lakers basketball game on the TV accompanied our festivities. As official middleware partners for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and despite being in business only one year, founders Dylan Collins and Sean Blanchfield have much to be proud of. What had they got up to at E3?

“We had a bunch of follow-on meetings from GDC with developers, and Microsoft and Sony, regarding their next generation stuff,” said Dylan. “We eschewed laptops, because it’s not easy demoing network technology, and instead explained to people what we do. They all understand it conceptually, and most only need ask a few specific details like ‘How much does it cost?’ and ‘Can we evaluate it?’ Developers generally don’t have an awareness of the middleware scene. Sure, they know Havok, but they have been around for five or six years. They don’t know the network guys because we’re not established brand names. In that respect, conferences like this are crucial.”

The reputation of Ireland’s middleware offering is growing fast, although our geographical location has caused the demonWare team to make short-term plans about a U.S. presence. “Our clients on the west coast of the States, for example, are not going to get real-time support because they’re eight hours behind, so we plan to set up an office in California by early 2005. We’ll be putting in place a couple of sales guys, one or two support engineers, and we’ll keep as much of the engineering division in Ireland as we can.”

Also attending demonWare’s beer-soaked bash was Maggie Daleo, Senior Market Advisor for Enterprise Ireland in California. Part of Enterprise Ireland’s global overseas incubator network, this Santa Monica based office assists Irish digital media companies in expanding their Californian networks. “Ireland has a huge potential, especially in middleware,” she said, adding that Hollywood’s fixation with Ireland, and Irish locations, makes her job that much easier. “I spent a day recently visiting Trinity College and DCU and the standards of technology are incredible. There are three prongs to our current strategy: the wireless industry, the gaming industry, and animation. I believe that the Irish games industry has strong growth potential.”

image3

demonWare bash in Santa Monica (l-r): Maggie Daleo, Enterprise Ireland, Santa Monica; Dylan Collins, CTO demonWare; Matt Powers, Senior Producer, EA; Neil McGreevy, BBC.

Throughout the short but tumultuous history of the United States the Irish have always made an impression and now we’re turning heads through game development. But despite our strong presence at this year’s Expo, more can still be done. On the E3 floorshow, there was a succession of countries displaying their gaming contents: Korea, Australia, Scotland, England, Sweden, but no Ireland. Our industry deserves more and governmental support is required pronto.

“Ireland needs to formulate its industry recognition and start flying the banner,” said Michael Griffin of Irish developers Kapooki, who was at E3 to shop a couple of pre-production concepts. “All of those national initiatives were funded by their respective governments. The Australians, for example, have acted as financial guarantors for developers. Korea has spent a significant amount of money promoting their industry in the West. These are countries recognising this sector and giving it a united platform and a polished look and feel.

“Moving forward, it’s crucial that there’s someone lobbying for our needs. I recall Dermot Ahern claiming that he’d have 30,000 jobs in the Irish games industry after a recent trip to Japan. If he wants to be the champion for the games industry, then more power to him!”

The sun set over the smoggy roof of Los Angeles and another E3 shuddered to a halt. The assorted games developers, publishers, fanatics and hacks, left Los Angeles, filled with optimism about the industry’s future; the city’s waiters returned to bragging about their acting bit part with Tom Selleck in 1993. Me, I flew back to Dublin thinking that if we’re impressing the global games industry in California, then we must be doing something very right back at home.

Author’s Bio: Pavel Barter is a Dublin based freelance journalist.

Ureka For Undergrad Research Support – 2

The SFI Undergraduate Research Experience and Knowledge Award (UREKA) programme supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the Foundation. The objective of the programme is to inspire undergrads to remain in research positions by encouraging researchers into inderdisciplinary collaboration with other third level institutions, commercial labs, research centres and ongoing projects.

There are two aspects to the SFI scheme of benefit to researchers – UREKA Supplements and UREKA sites.

For more information including a list of FAQs, visit content/content.asp?section_id=420&language_id=1

Iia Search Engine Workshop – 2

The speaker at this National College of Ireland event is Fergal O’Byrne, former Content Development Manager for eircom.net and founder of the internet marketing company, Interactive Return.

The event runs from 9.15am to 5.00pm on July 1st and the cost for IIA members is EUR195, and EUR250 for non-members.

There are a limited number of places available at the event so early registration is advised.

Register at:
events.asp?eventid=44events.asp?eventid=44

Tea/Coffee and Lunch will be served during the day.

Topics:

*Introduction to Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
*What SEM can do for your business
*Case studies of successful implementation of SME campaigns
*How to get high ranking in search engines for free
*Understanding the importance of Meta tags and site content
*How to implement a SEM Campaign – Step by Step
*What are the pitfalls to avoid
*How to maximize the return on your SEM investment
*Implementing Google Adwords, Overture and paid inclusion
*Real examples of online campaigns – successes and failures.

A full manual will be provided for each attendee.

Search Engine Strategies Workshop

Venue: National College of Ireland
Time: Registration 9.15am – 5.00pm
Cost: IIA members EUR195, Non members EUR250

Due to demand for places on the recent May workshop, the Irish Internet Association is hosting this workshop again on search engine strategies. The speaker is Fergal O’Byrne, former Content Development Manager for eircom.net and founder of the internet marketing company, Interactive Return.

There are a limited number of places available at the event so early registration is advised.

Register at:
events.asp?eventid=44events.asp?eventid=44

Tea/Coffee and Lunch will be served during the day

Brief:

*Search Engine Strategies – high visibility on search engines is
essential to promote your products, services and company. This workshop will empower individuals to develop and implement their own
search engine strategy. It will focus on getting a good ranking for
free and how to use pay per click advertising to get a return on
investment.

*Introduction to Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
*What SEM can do for your business
*Case studies of successful implementation of SME campaigns
*How to get high ranking in search engines for free
*Understanding the importance of Meta tags and site content
*How to implement a SEM Campaign – Step by Step
*What are the pitfalls to avoid
*How to maximize the return on your SEM investment
*Implementing Google Adwords, Overture and paid inclusion
*Real examples of online campaigns – successes and failures.

A full manual will be provided for each attendee.

California Dreaming

For one week in mid-May, Hollywood reluctantly steps aside to make way for a barrage of game developers, publishers, middleware providers, journalists, assorted fans, nerds and clingers-on. As one taxi driver excitedly told me (before charging $40 for a ten minute cab ride), E3 was the biggest event in the city’s calendar year. Even restaurant waiters stop blagging about their upcoming bit part in a “major sitcom” and instead namedrop tenuous links with game development studios. The games industry has taken firm hold of Tinsel Town and Oscar, no doubt, has his golden eye suspiciously trained on LA’s downtown Convention Centre.

Big announcements accompanied big displays at E3 in 2004. Perhaps the most significant of which was the PlayStation Portable (PSP), Sony’s first venture into handheld games territory, due for an Irish release early 2005. The PSP impressed with a screen size of 4.3 inches across, and a lithium-ion power cell battery expected to provide 10 hours of gameplay, eight hours of music, and 2.5 hours of movie watching. A queue as long as the Liffey wormed its way to the Sony booth,
where attendees could check out PSP demonstrations of four EA titles (NBA Street, Need for Speed Underground, NFL Street, and Tiger Woods PGS Tour) and view a Spider-Man 2 trailer.

“PSP will do well,” said Niall O’Hanrahan, PlayStation MD in Ireland. “Judging by the reaction of how it looks and feels everything has been very positive. Will there be competition from GBA? I don’t believe so because the two products are totally diverse. Game Boy is for kids – its big sellers are the likes of Pokemon and Uh-Gi-Oh! The software for PSP, and the movie aspect of it will ensure a much broader and older market. Content will be king, which is why the development community will be instrumental in its success.”

Havok has already lodged its foot in the PSP door, as the company will be porting and optimising its physics engine for the devise. “PSP is an incredibly exciting platform for Havok,” announced CTO Steven Collins. “It will be great to port to PSP, which has the power to leverage Havok’s collision detection and game dynamics products.” Currently residing somewhere toward the upper echelons of global gaming kudos, Havok were also in attendance to showcase their technology in some the show’s finest titles (such as Half-Life 2, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, Painkiller and Max Payne 2).

More impressive demos of Microsoft’s XNA (the graphics tool launched in March at San Jose’s Game Developers Conference) were flaunted before us. Scenes of an XNA-developed car crash were screened at the Xbox conference to a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience, before Muhammad Ali shuffled onto stage to promote the EA Sports Xbox Live line-up and everyone promptly forgot all about XNA.

Xbox 2 rumours ebbed about the Convention Centre like a dirty secret, but Microsoft was staying schtum. “Of course, we’re thinking about [Xbox 2], but we’re not talking about it,” said a rather irate Michel Cassius, head of Xbox Marketing in Europe. “The day we want to sell the next generation console we’ll talk about it, but for now we’re not talking about it.”

Michel was more than willing to talk about Xbox Live in Ireland, however. With the addition of new features soon to grace Live, including voicemail, old-school arcade games, and video mail, the console’s online prowess was a good cause for bragging. “The way in which ISP’s in Ireland have embraced Xbox Live is great. We’ve only had one Christmas on the service and by the end of this year we’re going to have all the services up and running. We’re also going to have the best game ever to play on Xbox Live [Halo 2]. We’re going to make a blast in Ireland.”

Nintendo, meanwhile, announced its DS device to critical acclaim. The duel-screened “DS” is in fact an acronym for “Developer’s System” and considering the healthy challenges it offers developers, this comes as no surprise. With touch and voice recognition abilities, wireless connection to other DS consoles at up to 100 feet, plus the presence of 2D and 3D rendering screens, this handheld presents a mighty opportunity for innovative development.

2004 was a year for Sony bashing, with Nintendo and Microsoft both launching attacks on the manufacturing giant. “Nintendo DS raises the bar before the PSP will even get started,” boasted Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime, executive VP of Sales and Marketing. “If you’re asking whether the PSP can catch GameBoy Advance, you should ask whether the PS2 can catch GameBoy Advance,” continued George Harrison, senior VP of Marketing. Meanwhile, Microsoft attacked Sony with a short “reality” TV show pitting the two companies together – the winner earning the right to create an RPG based on Donald Trump’s life.

Actually, this was funnier than it sounds although Sony’s Niall O’Hanrahan remained unimpressed. “Taking stabs at competitors is not part of what Sony is. We are trying to expand and develop a market, a consumer base, and promote gaming as part of mainstream entertainment,” he said.

Competitors within the Irish games community, on the other hand, showed the rest of the world an impressive display of solidarity when we all came together for a Sony meal hosted by Niall in Il Sole Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. Xbox Ireland (who had kindly treated the Irish E3 journos to some delicious grub in Spago, Beverley Hills, a couple of nights previously) sat alongside Sony. Retailers GamesStop, Smyth’s Toys and Xtra-vision, developers like Kapooki alongside middleware providers demonWare. After the meal, everyone crossed the road for pints. The night culminated in a mass drunken rendition of “You’ve Got The Music In You” with the former singer of the New Radicals, who we bumped into on the street.

image2

Soaking up the fun at the demonWare party was (l-r) Niall O’Hanrahan, MD Sony Computer Entertainment Ireland, and Sean Blanchfield, CTO
demonWare.

“My overall business in Ireland is (to) try and get the industry localised,” Niall later reflected. “If I can narrow my views down to a local level, ensuring business, product and marketing are local, then that’s what makes a global industry. I was encouraged and delighted to see the number of people [at the Sony meal] from the diverse parts of the industry – from retail, distribution, journalism, publishing, development, middleware. It was encouraging to see and be part of.”

The day after the Convention Centre closed its doors, demonWare hosted a shindig in an Irish pub in Santa Monica – an L.A. Lakers basketball game on the TV accompanied our festivities. As official middleware partners for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and despite being in business only one year, founders Dylan Collins and Sean Blanchfield have much to be proud of. What had they got up to at E3?

“We had a bunch of follow-on meetings from GDC with developers, and Microsoft and Sony, regarding their next generation stuff,” said Dylan. “We eschewed laptops, because it’s not easy demoing network technology, and instead explained to people what we do. They all understand it conceptually, and most only need ask a few specific details like ‘How much does it cost?’ and ‘Can we evaluate it?’ Developers generally don’t have an awareness of the middleware scene. Sure, they know Havok, but they have been around for five or six years. They don’t know the network guys because we’re not established brand names. In that respect, conferences like this are crucial.”

The reputation of Ireland’s middleware offering is growing fast, although our geographical location has caused the demonWare team to make short-term plans about a U.S. presence. “Our clients on the west coast of the States, for example, are not going to get real-time support because they’re eight hours behind, so we plan to set up an office in California by early 2005. We’ll be putting in place a couple of sales guys, one or two support engineers, and we’ll keep as much of the engineering division in Ireland as we can.”

Also attending demonWare’s beer-soaked bash was Maggie Daleo, Senior Market Advisor for Enterprise Ireland in California. Part of Enterprise Ireland’s global overseas incubator network, this Santa Monica based office assists Irish digital media companies in expanding their Californian networks. “Ireland has a huge potential, especially in middleware,” she said, adding that Hollywood’s fixation with Ireland, and Irish locations, makes her job that much easier. “I spent a day recently visiting Trinity College and DCU and the standards of technology are incredible. There are three prongs to our current strategy: the wireless industry, the gaming industry, and animation. I believe that the Irish games industry has strong growth potential.”

image3

demonWare bash in Santa Monica (l-r): Maggie Daleo, Enterprise Ireland, Santa Monica; Dylan Collins, CTO demonWare; Matt Powers, Senior Producer, EA; Neil McGreevy, BBC.

Throughout the short but tumultuous history of the United States the Irish have always made an impression and now we’re turning heads through game development. But despite our strong presence at this year’s Expo, more can still be done. On the E3 floorshow, there was a succession of countries displaying their gaming contents: Korea, Australia, Scotland, England, Sweden, but no Ireland. Our industry deserves more and governmental support is required pronto.

“Ireland needs to formulate its industry recognition and start flying the banner,” said Michael Griffin of Irish developers Kapooki, who was at E3 to shop a couple of pre-production concepts. “All of those national initiatives were funded by their respective governments. The Australians, for example, have acted as financial guarantors for developers. Korea has spent a significant amount of money promoting their industry in the West. These are countries recognising this sector and giving it a united platform and a polished look and feel.

“Moving forward, it’s crucial that there’s someone lobbying for our needs. I recall Dermot Ahern claiming that he’d have 30,000 jobs in the Irish games industry after a recent trip to Japan. If he wants to be the champion for the games industry, then more power to him!”

The sun set over the smoggy roof of Los Angeles and another E3 shuddered to a halt. The assorted games developers, publishers, fanatics and hacks, left Los Angeles, filled with optimism about the industry’s future; the city’s waiters returned to bragging about their acting bit part with Tom Selleck in 1993. Me, I flew back to Dublin thinking that if we’re impressing the global games industry in California, then we must be doing something very right back at home.

Author’s Bio: Pavel Barter is a Dublin based freelance journalist.

Ureka For Undergrad Research Support

The SFI Undergraduate Research Experience and Knowledge Award (UREKA) programme supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the Foundation. The objective of the programme is to inspire undergrads to remain in research positions by encouraging researchers into inderdisciplinary collaboration with other third level institutions, commercial labs, research centres and ongoing projects.

There are two aspects to the SFI scheme of benefit to researchers – UREKA Supplements and UREKA sites.

For more information including a list of FAQs, visit content/content.asp?section_id=420&language_id=1

Iia Search Engine Workshop

The speaker at this National College of Ireland event is Fergal O’Byrne, former Content Development Manager for eircom.net and founder of the internet marketing company, Interactive Return.

The event runs from 9.15am to 5.00pm on July 1st and the cost for IIA members is EUR195, and EUR250 for non-members.

There are a limited number of places available at the event so early registration is advised.

Register at:
events.asp?eventid=44events.asp?eventid=44

Tea/Coffee and Lunch will be served during the day.

Topics:

*Introduction to Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
*What SEM can do for your business
*Case studies of successful implementation of SME campaigns
*How to get high ranking in search engines for free
*Understanding the importance of Meta tags and site content
*How to implement a SEM Campaign – Step by Step
*What are the pitfalls to avoid
*How to maximize the return on your SEM investment
*Implementing Google Adwords, Overture and paid inclusion
*Real examples of online campaigns – successes and failures.

A full manual will be provided for each attendee.

Pro Audio Images

Pro Audio Images is an audio production house based in Dublin. We primarily create audio for radio and TV advertising campaigns and represent voice talent worldwide, such as the famous Duke Nukem, characters from the Simpsons, and many more!

Working from an industry standard studio and utilising a vast sound effects library, we have been the creators of numerous radio and TV commericals, which in turn have made our clients house hold names. Pro Audio Images is a ‘one stop shop’ for all your audio needs.

Need to see more? Then please visit our website and have a listen to just some of what we can do at www.proaudioimages.com/

Thank you for taking the time to consider our studios for all your audio needs.
Lee Walsh
Creative Director
Pro Audio Images
7 Willans Rise
Ongar Green
Clonsilla
Dublin 15
Phone: 01 8270648/ 0877622486
Email: lee@proaudioimages.com
Web: www.proaudioimages.com

War Games Talk – 2

The talk began by looking back to war and strategy games in history. The Japanese had them, the Greeks and the Romans. From ‘Go’ to ‘Kriegspiel’ both the army and civilians have enjoyed war games across the centuries.

The computer itself of course developed rapidly as a result of WWII and the need to break codes and track missiles. The talk then reviewed the first games and their use of war as subject matter starting with SpaceWar and moving through an array of early arcade games with lurid posters and graphics.

By the 1980s war had become more than mere subject matter. Ed outlined how the US army bought the rights to Battlezone from Atari back in the 1980s although he was unsure if they ever actually used it to train soldiers. Moving on a couple of years and the army actually produced a version of Doom called Marine Doom which removed all unrealistic weapons from the game and introduced 4 man fire teams as the army would have in reality. Flight Simulator was used in a similar manner. By the 1990s it appears that training simulators were used widely in the US army and were seen as ‘new generation friendly’, i.e. the new recruits like them.

Of course things moved on somewhat when €44M in funding was given to a group of Hollywood executives, game designers and business men to establish a ‘think tank’ on future combat systems, subsequently named the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) at the University of Southern California. The army also spent $7.2M on producing America’s Army, a PC game available free for download, and clearly an effort aimed at producing a positive perception of the army and increasing recruitment. Apparently it has been very successful and it incorporates real image footage from actual battles. The culmination of this trend must be the development of ‘Full Spectrum Warrior’ at ICT, a game which will be both a training game for soldiers and available commercially sometime this year. I am sure the budget will make us all green with envy.

The focus of the talk was not so much a chronology of war games so much as an attempt to uncover the how the military is trying to build up a positive brand image and provide a sanitised view of modern warfare. We all know about the links between military spending and the origins of the computer and the internet but what Ed was trying to do was to unpack the implicit promotional messages of some military games. The propaganda word wasn’t used but it could have been. Indeed there are few female soldiers in these games, no friendly fire and as far as we could see no abuse of prisoners. This is war but not as soldiers know it.

The final part of the talk looked at some new commercial war games and home made and art games. From the utterly bizarre KUMA WAR which is a subscription based ‘reality games’ site where you can play short games based on recent news stories – yes capture Sadam, kill his sons, you get the picture – to Under Ash where you can fight as a Lebanese soldier against the Israeli army. The art games included Velvet Strike an anti-war group whose aim is to disrupt counter Strike sessions to September 12 where one cannot succeed in killing terrorists without killing civilians as well.

There were more examples than I can remember but if you want to find out more check out Ed’s funky website at www.edhalter.com/ The final discussion unfortunately seemed to miss Ed’s key point – the American military is creating war games to improve its brand image and to promote American foreign policy – I wonder will we see government health warnings on these around the world?

See:

1. Kuma War

2. America’s Army

3. Under Ash emessage.htm emessage.htm

4. Velvet Strike velvet-strike/www.opensorcery.net/velvet-strike/
And an article on them on Salon
tech/feature/2004/05/04/velvet_strike/index_np.htmltech/feature/2004/05/04/velvet_strike/index_np.html

5. News games and September 12

Also:
6. Institute for Creative Technologies at USC http://www.ict.usc.edu/ http://www.ict.usc.edu/

and especially

http://www.ict.usc.edu/disp.php?bd=proj_gameshttp://www.ict.usc.edu/disp.php?bd=proj_games

War Games Talk

The talk began by looking back to war and strategy games in history. The Japanese had them, the Greeks and the Romans. From ‘Go’ to ‘Kriegspiel’ both the army and civilians have enjoyed war games across the centuries.

The computer itself of course developed rapidly as a result of WWII and the need to break codes and track missiles. The talk then reviewed the first games and their use of war as subject matter starting with SpaceWar and moving through an array of early arcade games with lurid posters and graphics.

By the 1980s war had become more than mere subject matter. Ed outlined how the US army bought the rights to Battlezone from Atari back in the 1980s although he was unsure if they ever actually used it to train soldiers. Moving on a couple of years and the army actually produced a version of Doom called Marine Doom which removed all unrealistic weapons from the game and introduced 4 man fire teams as the army would have in reality. Flight Simulator was used in a similar manner. By the 1990s it appears that training simulators were used widely in the US army and were seen as ‘new generation friendly’, i.e. the new recruits like them.

Of course things moved on somewhat when €44M in funding was given to a group of Hollywood executives, game designers and business men to establish a ‘think tank’ on future combat systems, subsequently named the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) at the University of Southern California. The army also spent $7.2M on producing America’s Army, a PC game available free for download, and clearly an effort aimed at producing a positive perception of the army and increasing recruitment. Apparently it has been very successful and it incorporates real image footage from actual battles. The culmination of this trend must be the development of ‘Full Spectrum Warrior’ at ICT, a game which will be both a training game for soldiers and available commercially sometime this year. I am sure the budget will make us all green with envy.

The focus of the talk was not so much a chronology of war games so much as an attempt to uncover the how the military is trying to build up a positive brand image and provide a sanitised view of modern warfare. We all know about the links between military spending and the origins of the computer and the internet but what Ed was trying to do was to unpack the implicit promotional messages of some military games. The propaganda word wasn’t used but it could have been. Indeed there are few female soldiers in these games, no friendly fire and as far as we could see no abuse of prisoners. This is war but not as soldiers know it.

The final part of the talk looked at some new commercial war games and home made and art games. From the utterly bizarre KUMA WAR which is a subscription based ‘reality games’ site where you can play short games based on recent news stories – yes capture Sadam, kill his sons, you get the picture – to Under Ash where you can fight as a Lebanese soldier against the Israeli army. The art games included Velvet Strike an anti-war group whose aim is to disrupt counter Strike sessions to September 12 where one cannot succeed in killing terrorists without killing civilians as well.

There were more examples than I can remember but if you want to find out more check out Ed’s funky website at www.edhalter.com/ The final discussion unfortunately seemed to miss Ed’s key point – the American military is creating war games to improve its brand image and to promote American foreign policy – I wonder will we see government health warnings on these around the world?

See:

1. Kuma War

2. America’s Army

3. Under Ash emessage.htm emessage.htm

4. Velvet Strike velvet-strike/www.opensorcery.net/velvet-strike/
And an article on them on Salon
tech/feature/2004/05/04/velvet_strike/index_np.htmltech/feature/2004/05/04/velvet_strike/index_np.html

5. News games and September 12

Also:
6. Institute for Creative Technologies at USC http://www.ict.usc.edu/ http://www.ict.usc.edu/

and especially

http://www.ict.usc.edu/disp.php?bd=proj_gameshttp://www.ict.usc.edu/disp.php?bd=proj_games

Overview Of Games Industry In Ireland – 2

Over the last decade, Ireland has become one of the largest exporters of computer software in the world. However, the games software development sector has received little attention from industrial development agencies, academia and financiers until recently, despite the global games software industry market being worth an estimated €16bn in 2001 and being projected to grow by over 70% by 2007 [1].

This article outlines the current state of the software industry in Ireland before focusing on the games development sector and concluding with some considerations relating to the issues that will influence the future of the games industry in Ireland.

The Irish Software Industry

We begin by looking briefly at the Irish software industry. With a relatively small local economy, the software industry exports 94% of all software produced. Enterprise Ireland estimates that software-related exports account for just over €12 billion euro annually or 5% of all Irish exports. According to the Organisation for Economic and Co-Operation and Development (OECD) [2], in 2002 Ireland was the largest exporter of software products in the world with over 900 companies developing software in the following sectors: Digital Media/E-Learning (33%), Software tools/system software (26%), Banking and Finance (19%), Telecommunications (13%) and the Internet (9%).

image2

Of these companies 140 or 16% are foreign-owned, although they account for 90% of all software exports. Within the Irish software industry, the digital content sector (including e-Learning, wireless services and Digital Libraries) accounts for 280 companies and employs between 4000 and 4,500 people [4]. Globally, this sector is expected to be worth over €434bn annually by 2006, from an estimated value of €178bn in 2001.

A 2002 Forfás report on the digital content sector in Ireland identified the games industry as one of high-growth potential, although it noted its lack of development in Ireland to date [4]. In the UK, in contrast, over 6,000 people are directly employed in games software development in 270 software companies, with UK games having 15% of the global games market [1].

In the next section the current state of the Irish games industry will be examined.

The Games Industry in Ireland

Defining an industry is no straightforward task. Our definition refers to those companies that are involved in the development, distribution, publishing and localisation of content and software for the major games platforms. We are not concerned with hardware companies, companies employing only one person and companies for whom games is not the primary activity.

Of the almost 900 software companies operating in Ireland, it is estimated that only about 16 are involved full time in games development, employing about 300 people. These companies operate at various stages of the games value chain from content development to publishing, distribution, middleware (software programs that provide services to existing applications) and localisation. Indeed almost two thirds of the total number employed in this industry in Ireland are employed in localisation of software products developed outside Ireland and only 118 are involved in actual original content, software and middleware development.

Of the 16 companies operating fulltime 12 are Irish owned, two are American, one is French and one is Finnish. Again however almost two thirds of the workers are employed in the US and French owned companies which are engaged in localisation. The Irish companies on average employ less than 12 people. A further 30 people are involved in freelance game development and consulting, marketing and retail support in the Irish market.

Irish game companies develop games for a number of different platforms including personal computers, consoles (X-Box, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance) and mobile phones. Numerous factors can influence the decision as to which platform to develop for but in terms of global market size consoles and handhelds lead the way with 77% of the market while the personal computer (PC) market amounts to 23%. London’s Informa Media Group estimates that by 2006 Internet, Interactive TV and mobile phones will account for 27% of the global games industry revenue.

Table 1 lists the main development, publishing, middleware and localisation companies in the Republic of Ireland. In the North of Ireland CanDo Games are active in developing games for mobile, web and CD-ROM(

www.candomultimedia.com/).

pdfs/irish_games_companies.pdf

Click here for a comprehensive list of companies

Given the diversity of activities that these companies are involved in it is worth examining a small number in more detail. These five companies are comparatively mature in terms of this industry in Ireland and are actively operating in the global games market.

Kapooki Games
Formed in 2000, Kapooki Games is a Dublin-based games development studio. The company’s products range from basic 2D java-based games developed for mobile phones to complete 3D Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) developed for the PC platform. The company is a registered Microsoft X-Box developer, and is currently working on a PC and console title for delivery in 2005.

Torc Interactive
Torc Interactive is a games development company based in Muff, Co. Donegal. Formed in 1999 by a small group of enthusiasts, Torc Interactive developed into a full-time business in 2002 with the assistance of Enterprise Ireland and now employs 13 people full-time. Their flagship product is a state-of-the-art graphics engine which will be marketed to international game development companies and educational institutions. The company is working with a number of third level colleges in Ireland who are developing game courses and will use Torc’s Instinct engine (see feature image)

Eirplay Games
Founded in 2000 by a former employee of Vivendi Universal Games in Ireland and the person behind the LUDO games course in Ballyfermot Senior College Eirplay Games develops original game content for mobile, PDAs and the internet. Eirplay won the game developer of the year award at the 02 Digital Media Awards this year for their 2003 range of Java games and they have built up an extensive network of distribution partners internationally for their games.

Havok
Havok was founded in 1998 by two former members of the computer science department at Trinity College Dublin. The company provides middleware for the personal computer and console platforms which enables game development companies to save both on production time and costs. The company’s flagship product is the Havok Games Dynamics SDK, a cross-platform physics engine targeted at professional games developers. This engine is considered to be the most advanced, feature-full and adaptable physics engine available to the commercial market and is used by international companies like Microsoft Game Studios, Valve, Ion Storm and Turbine. It is estimated that the engine powers over 100 modern game titles, making Havok a well known name in the global games industry.

Vivendi Universal Games Ireland
Vivendi Universal Games is one of the leading global developers and publishers of computer games, particularly for the PC market. It is part of French-based Vivendi Universal, one of the top seven global media companies in the world with interests in film, broadcasting and music as well as other non-media sectors. The Irish section of the company was established in 1995 and concentrates on the localisation of the company’s educational, game and home products for international markets.

Recent Developments

Interest in, and the promotion of, games development within Ireland is increasing. In September 03 Ballyfermot Senior College launched a two year course in games design and at least one Institute of Technology will launch a game course in 2004. Competitions such as the Nokia N-Gage Challenge and the Dare to be Digital Ireland helped to raise awareness and encourage non-professional developers to get involved in game design. Finally, in January 2004 an Irish chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) (http://www.igda.org/ireland/

www.igda.org/ireland/ ) was launched to advance game development as a craft and to assist networking and access to resources for game developers both locally and globally.

Of relevance to games companies in Ireland is the government investment of €130 million between 2001 and 2010 to develop the Liberties area of Dublin to create the Digital Hub [5]. Enterprise Ireland and the IDA are promoting this area as the Irish centre for digital media companies, including those involved in games development. It is the base for Media Lab Europe and a number of games companies have relocated there including Havok, TKO Software, Mistaril and Eirplay Games.

Future Issues

While these developments are welcome it is clear that to develop an Irish games industry of scale, depth and strength a number of issues need to be tackled. The two main issues faced by Irish companies are access to skills and access to funding.

The games industry is highly inter-disciplinary in nature drawing together skills from previously distinct disciplines including computer science, art and media design and business– see Figure 2. Sourcing people with the appropriate skills and experience is a prerequisite for games development companies if they wish to secure a publishing deal in the console and PC sectors.

image3

In 2003 an audit of the digital media skill supply in Irish colleges was conducted for FÁS and the Expert Group of Future Skills. While the final recommendations have yet to be published the study found that the supply of skills to the Irish games industry does not yet match the, albeit small, demand, and start-up games companies are forced into hiring staff from abroad, particularly the UK.

The study also found that no Irish university or IT provides the necessary skills for the development and optimisation of content for different game platforms, particularly consoles, and few colleges were seriously addressing the interdisciplinary and team-based nature of games development. These facts were compounded by the fact that there are few opportunities for post-secondary school students to obtain work experience and entry-level positions in the industry itself. Interestingly companies who specialised in localisation or tools development required a different skill set and had few problems recruiting appropriate labour locally.

The second critical issue is access to finance. A typical console or PC game development project takes between 18 and 24 months, requires a team of about 20 and a budget of up to €3m [1]. The most prevalent funding model in the industry is for a games company to receive a cash advance from a major international publisher. However publishers are increasingly reluctant to invest in start-up games companies given the lack of track record, the high costs and the relatively low percentage of games that make a profit. When it comes to other sources of private finance there is a distinct lack of knowledge about the industry and the risks and rewards associated with it.

Indeed, while it is slowly changing, knowledge of the games industry in public industrial development agencies is still somewhat limited. Countries like the UK, US, Canada and France have all recognised the particular difficulties faced by PC and console game developers in terms of accessing finance and all now offer some form of direct government assistance [4]. In the UK TIGA, the independent game developers association, has been lobbying for game development to be defined as R&D in order to benefit from tax credits. Given the introduction of a tax credit system in Ireland in the last finance bill there may be possibilities for the support of game development in this way.

Although a Forfás report in 2002 recommended State intervention in funding for digital media companies, to date no progress has been made in setting up a fund specifically for this sector. A report from Forfás released earlier this year recommends that the definition of R&D and innovation should be reviewed to include games content development and a directory of funding sources and case studies be developed specifically for Irish games companies. The same report noted the widespread lack of awareness of the industry, particularly in the financial and education sectors as well as in government. It recommends that initiatives be introduced to raise awareness but doesn’t suggest how this might be done.

At this stage there is broad agreement in the various government agencies (EI, IDA, Forfas) that the games and entertainment industries are in rapid expansion and that Ireland should be positioning itself to take advantage of this. While the IDA is pursuing its traditional role in attracting games companies from abroad, more work is needed to support indigenous start-up companies.

The core challenge remains, in our view, access to private and public funding and the development of robust business models in each industry segment. Addressing both funding and the development of appropriate interdisciplinary skills and knowledge will require the involvement of multiple stakeholders and a desire to tackle the legacy of entrenched boundaries, not only in government departments and agencies, but also in research and enterprise funding programmes and third level educational institutions. The will is there, what is needed is the way.

References

[1] Spectrum Strategy Consultants (2002). “From exuberant youth to sustainable maturity. Competitiveness analysis of the UK games software sector.”
[2] OECD Publications (2002), “OECD Information Technology Outlook 2002: ICTS and the Information Economy”.
[3] Article by Dr. Aphra Kerr “2003 Replay” published on January 12th 2004 on
[4] Forfás (2002). “A Strategy for the Digital Content Industry in Ireland”.
[5] Digital Media Development (2003). “The Digital Hub Strategy Document”.

Authors:

Mr Declan Delaney, Chartered Engineer
Department of Computer Science
National University of Ireland, Maynooth
mailto: decland@cs.may.ie

decland@cs.may.ie

Dr Aphra Kerr
STeM,
School of Communications,
Dublin City University
mailto: aphra.kerr@dcu.ie

aphra.kerr@dcu.ie

Seamus Gallagher
Department of Computer Science
National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

Overview Of Games Industry In Ireland

Over the last decade, Ireland has become one of the largest exporters of computer software in the world. However, the games software development sector has received little attention from industrial development agencies, academia and financiers until recently, despite the global games software industry market being worth an estimated €16bn in 2001 and being projected to grow by over 70% by 2007 [1].

This article outlines the current state of the software industry in Ireland before focusing on the games development sector and concluding with some considerations relating to the issues that will influence the future of the games industry in Ireland.

The Irish Software Industry

We begin by looking briefly at the Irish software industry. With a relatively small local economy, the software industry exports 94% of all software produced. Enterprise Ireland estimates that software-related exports account for just over €12 billion euro annually or 5% of all Irish exports. According to the Organisation for Economic and Co-Operation and Development (OECD) [2], in 2002 Ireland was the largest exporter of software products in the world with over 900 companies developing software in the following sectors: Digital Media/E-Learning (33%), Software tools/system software (26%), Banking and Finance (19%), Telecommunications (13%) and the Internet (9%).

image2

Of these companies 140 or 16% are foreign-owned, although they account for 90% of all software exports. Within the Irish software industry, the digital content sector (including e-Learning, wireless services and Digital Libraries) accounts for 280 companies and employs between 4000 and 4,500 people [4]. Globally, this sector is expected to be worth over €434bn annually by 2006, from an estimated value of €178bn in 2001.

A 2002 Forfás report on the digital content sector in Ireland identified the games industry as one of high-growth potential, although it noted its lack of development in Ireland to date [4]. In the UK, in contrast, over 6,000 people are directly employed in games software development in 270 software companies, with UK games having 15% of the global games market [1].

In the next section the current state of the Irish games industry will be examined.

The Games Industry in Ireland

Defining an industry is no straightforward task. Our definition refers to those companies that are involved in the development, distribution, publishing and localisation of content and software for the major games platforms. We are not concerned with hardware companies, companies employing only one person and companies for whom games is not the primary activity.

Of the almost 900 software companies operating in Ireland, it is estimated that only about 16 are involved full time in games development, employing about 300 people. These companies operate at various stages of the games value chain from content development to publishing, distribution, middleware (software programs that provide services to existing applications) and localisation. Indeed almost two thirds of the total number employed in this industry in Ireland are employed in localisation of software products developed outside Ireland and only 118 are involved in actual original content, software and middleware development.

Of the 16 companies operating fulltime 12 are Irish owned, two are American, one is French and one is Finnish. Again however almost two thirds of the workers are employed in the US and French owned companies which are engaged in localisation. The Irish companies on average employ less than 12 people. A further 30 people are involved in freelance game development and consulting, marketing and retail support in the Irish market.

Irish game companies develop games for a number of different platforms including personal computers, consoles (X-Box, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance) and mobile phones. Numerous factors can influence the decision as to which platform to develop for but in terms of global market size consoles and handhelds lead the way with 77% of the market while the personal computer (PC) market amounts to 23%. London’s Informa Media Group estimates that by 2006 Internet, Interactive TV and mobile phones will account for 27% of the global games industry revenue.

Table 1 lists the main development, publishing, middleware and localisation companies in the Republic of Ireland. In the North of Ireland CanDo Games are active in developing games for mobile, web and CD-ROM(

www.candomultimedia.com/).

pdfs/irish_games_companies.pdf

Click here for a comprehensive list of companies

Given the diversity of activities that these companies are involved in it is worth examining a small number in more detail. These five companies are comparatively mature in terms of this industry in Ireland and are actively operating in the global games market.

Kapooki Games
Formed in 2000, Kapooki Games is a Dublin-based games development studio. The company’s products range from basic 2D java-based games developed for mobile phones to complete 3D Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) developed for the PC platform. The company is a registered Microsoft X-Box developer, and is currently working on a PC and console title for delivery in 2005.

Torc Interactive
Torc Interactive is a games development company based in Muff, Co. Donegal. Formed in 1999 by a small group of enthusiasts, Torc Interactive developed into a full-time business in 2002 with the assistance of Enterprise Ireland and now employs 13 people full-time. Their flagship product is a state-of-the-art graphics engine which will be marketed to international game development companies and educational institutions. The company is working with a number of third level colleges in Ireland who are developing game courses and will use Torc’s Instinct engine (see feature image)

Eirplay Games
Founded in 2000 by a former employee of Vivendi Universal Games in Ireland and the person behind the LUDO games course in Ballyfermot Senior College Eirplay Games develops original game content for mobile, PDAs and the internet. Eirplay won the game developer of the year award at the 02 Digital Media Awards this year for their 2003 range of Java games and they have built up an extensive network of distribution partners internationally for their games.

Havok
Havok was founded in 1998 by two former members of the computer science department at Trinity College Dublin. The company provides middleware for the personal computer and console platforms which enables game development companies to save both on production time and costs. The company’s flagship product is the Havok Games Dynamics SDK, a cross-platform physics engine targeted at professional games developers. This engine is considered to be the most advanced, feature-full and adaptable physics engine available to the commercial market and is used by international companies like Microsoft Game Studios, Valve, Ion Storm and Turbine. It is estimated that the engine powers over 100 modern game titles, making Havok a well known name in the global games industry.

Vivendi Universal Games Ireland
Vivendi Universal Games is one of the leading global developers and publishers of computer games, particularly for the PC market. It is part of French-based Vivendi Universal, one of the top seven global media companies in the world with interests in film, broadcasting and music as well as other non-media sectors. The Irish section of the company was established in 1995 and concentrates on the localisation of the company’s educational, game and home products for international markets.

Recent Developments

Interest in, and the promotion of, games development within Ireland is increasing. In September 03 Ballyfermot Senior College launched a two year course in games design and at least one Institute of Technology will launch a game course in 2004. Competitions such as the Nokia N-Gage Challenge and the Dare to be Digital Ireland helped to raise awareness and encourage non-professional developers to get involved in game design. Finally, in January 2004 an Irish chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) (http://www.igda.org/ireland/

www.igda.org/ireland/ ) was launched to advance game development as a craft and to assist networking and access to resources for game developers both locally and globally.

Of relevance to games companies in Ireland is the government investment of €130 million between 2001 and 2010 to develop the Liberties area of Dublin to create the Digital Hub [5]. Enterprise Ireland and the IDA are promoting this area as the Irish centre for digital media companies, including those involved in games development. It is the base for Media Lab Europe and a number of games companies have relocated there including Havok, TKO Software, Mistaril and Eirplay Games.

Future Issues

While these developments are welcome it is clear that to develop an Irish games industry of scale, depth and strength a number of issues need to be tackled. The two main issues faced by Irish companies are access to skills and access to funding.

The games industry is highly inter-disciplinary in nature drawing together skills from previously distinct disciplines including computer science, art and media design and business– see Figure 2. Sourcing people with the appropriate skills and experience is a prerequisite for games development companies if they wish to secure a publishing deal in the console and PC sectors.

image3

In 2003 an audit of the digital media skill supply in Irish colleges was conducted for FÁS and the Expert Group of Future Skills. While the final recommendations have yet to be published the study found that the supply of skills to the Irish games industry does not yet match the, albeit small, demand, and start-up games companies are forced into hiring staff from abroad, particularly the UK.

The study also found that no Irish university or IT provides the necessary skills for the development and optimisation of content for different game platforms, particularly consoles, and few colleges were seriously addressing the interdisciplinary and team-based nature of games development. These facts were compounded by the fact that there are few opportunities for post-secondary school students to obtain work experience and entry-level positions in the industry itself. Interestingly companies who specialised in localisation or tools development required a different skill set and had few problems recruiting appropriate labour locally.

The second critical issue is access to finance. A typical console or PC game development project takes between 18 and 24 months, requires a team of about 20 and a budget of up to €3m [1]. The most prevalent funding model in the industry is for a games company to receive a cash advance from a major international publisher. However publishers are increasingly reluctant to invest in start-up games companies given the lack of track record, the high costs and the relatively low percentage of games that make a profit. When it comes to other sources of private finance there is a distinct lack of knowledge about the industry and the risks and rewards associated with it.

Indeed, while it is slowly changing, knowledge of the games industry in public industrial development agencies is still somewhat limited. Countries like the UK, US, Canada and France have all recognised the particular difficulties faced by PC and console game developers in terms of accessing finance and all now offer some form of direct government assistance [4]. In the UK TIGA, the independent game developers association, has been lobbying for game development to be defined as R&D in order to benefit from tax credits. Given the introduction of a tax credit system in Ireland in the last finance bill there may be possibilities for the support of game development in this way.

Although a Forfás report in 2002 recommended State intervention in funding for digital media companies, to date no progress has been made in setting up a fund specifically for this sector. A report from Forfás released earlier this year recommends that the definition of R&D and innovation should be reviewed to include games content development and a directory of funding sources and case studies be developed specifically for Irish games companies. The same report noted the widespread lack of awareness of the industry, particularly in the financial and education sectors as well as in government. It recommends that initiatives be introduced to raise awareness but doesn’t suggest how this might be done.

At this stage there is broad agreement in the various government agencies (EI, IDA, Forfas) that the games and entertainment industries are in rapid expansion and that Ireland should be positioning itself to take advantage of this. While the IDA is pursuing its traditional role in attracting games companies from abroad, more work is needed to support indigenous start-up companies.

The core challenge remains, in our view, access to private and public funding and the development of robust business models in each industry segment. Addressing both funding and the development of appropriate interdisciplinary skills and knowledge will require the involvement of multiple stakeholders and a desire to tackle the legacy of entrenched boundaries, not only in government departments and agencies, but also in research and enterprise funding programmes and third level educational institutions. The will is there, what is needed is the way.

References

[1] Spectrum Strategy Consultants (2002). “From exuberant youth to sustainable maturity. Competitiveness analysis of the UK games software sector.”
[2] OECD Publications (2002), “OECD Information Technology Outlook 2002: ICTS and the Information Economy”.
[3] Article by Dr. Aphra Kerr “2003 Replay” published on January 12th 2004 on
[4] Forfás (2002). “A Strategy for the Digital Content Industry in Ireland”.
[5] Digital Media Development (2003). “The Digital Hub Strategy Document”.

Authors:

Mr Declan Delaney, Chartered Engineer
Department of Computer Science
National University of Ireland, Maynooth
mailto: decland@cs.may.ie

decland@cs.may.ie

Dr Aphra Kerr
STeM,
School of Communications,
Dublin City University
mailto: aphra.kerr@dcu.ie

aphra.kerr@dcu.ie

Seamus Gallagher
Department of Computer Science
National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

Awakenings ’04

Awakenings ’04 organised by the Irish chapter of the IGDA will take place between 9am – 5pm in the Northwest Institute of Further & Higher Education (NWIFHE) in Derry, Northern Ireland on Friday 15th October 2004.

Conference programme:
8.30am Registration and coffee in foyer.

9.00am Welcome and event overview: Chair Tony Kelly, Chapter co-ordinator, IGDA, Ireland

9.15am Introductory comments and talk: Jason Della Rocca, IGDA Program Manager.

10.00am Keynote speech: Graeme Devine, Ensemble.

11.00am Coffee break

11.30am Chris Van Der Kuyl, VIS entertainment ltd

12.30pm Lunch

2.00pm Markus Macki, Remedy.

3.00pm Robbie Hegarty, NWIFHE.

4.00pm Coffee Break

4.30pm Panel Discussion to include all speakers and open to the floor, chaired by Jason Della Rocca, Program Manager IGDA.

5.30pm Word from Sponsors

5.45pm Closing by Chair

6.00pm Finish

Conference website:
9am – 5pm in the Northwest Institute awakenings/index.htmawakenings

Shindig…

Well it has been a while since our birthday shindig what with GDC, E3 and IGDA Ireland events.

Again this month we are heading to Toners on Baggot Street because they will reserve tables for us downstairs.

Time: 7 pm onwards..

Directions: From Stephen’s Green North walk past the Shelbourne Hotel and towards Merrion Row/Baggot Street. Keep walking straight with Upper Merrion Street on your left and Ely Place on your right. Toners is a wine & black pub and will be on your right on a corner. If you reach Pembroke Street. on your right you have passed it and gone too far.

The shindig will be downstairs. To get there you can walk through the pub to the back where there is a stairs or walk around the side outside where there is another door. I will put up signs so you know where you are going..

Still unsure? The address is 139 Baggot Street Lower.

check your route here dublin/maps/p52s54.htmlhere

Don’t know what we look like?
Take a look in the forums for the pics from the birthday shindig community/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=219&perpage=50&pagenumber=2here

Edinburgh International Games Festival

Events:
8th-22nd August – Go Play Games- hands-on exhibits of contemporary computer and video games systems at the Royal Museum
12th -13th August – Trade Event -Highlighting the growing bond between video games and other entertainment industries such as music, literature, television and film, with discussion and debate.
11-14th August -Game screenings for public, trade and press

Bookings can be made through http://www.eigf.co.uk/www.eigf.co.uk

Eigf04 Trade Event

Events:
8th-22nd August – Go Play Games- hands-on exhibits of contemporary computer and video games systems at the Royal Museum
12th -13th August – Trade Event -Highlighting the growing bond between video games and other entertainment industries such as music, literature, television and film, with discussion and debate.
11-14th August -Game screenings for public, trade and press

Bookings can be made through http://www.eigf.co.uk/www.eigf.co.uk

Gdce 2004:Call For Papers – 2

This is the fourth year of the conference, which runs from 31st August to 3rd September 2004 at Earls Court, London. It attracted over 700 senior level delegates last year.

The topics this year include:
*Development tools
*Education
*Game Design
*Visual Arts
*Programming
*Production
*Business and legal
*Audio
*Mobile
*General interest

Proposers are asked to submit speaking proposals through the link below using the given the guidelines.

http://www.gdc-europe.co.uk/callforpapers.aspwww.gdc-europe.co.uk/callforpapers.asp

The deadline for all submissions is 3pm on Friday 28th May 2004.

Any papers supplied after this deadline will not be accepted. Papers are selected on merit alone by a panel of industry experts.

For further information visit:

http://www.gdc-europe.co.ukwww.gdc-europe.co.uk
www.ects.com

2-Day Dj Training Course – 2

When: 5th and 6th of June 2004 11am – 10pm.
Where: The Digital Hub, Thomas St., Dublin 2.

Modern Green presents: The DJ and Digital Music Academy

A two-day intensive DJ training course for anyone with a general interest or burning desire to learn more about the DJ craft and business.

The course will cover the following aspects of the professional DJ industry:
* Vinyl/ CD mixing
* Beat matching and syncing
* Scratching and turntable techniques
* Radio broadcasting
* Technical set up and digital equipment
* New digital formats for the modern DJ
* CD production
* Music and artist promotion and marketing
* Digital studio sampling/production
* Introduction to music software

Speakers and tutors include some of Ireland’s finest DJs:
JOHHNY MOY – ARVEENE – AL GIBBS – TU-KI – DJ SCOPE

For details, contact:
Modern Green Digital Music Academy
01 8363366
086 8266030
mailto:ddma@moderngreen.comddma@moderngreen.com
ddma.htmlwww.moderngreen.com/ddma.html

or contact The Digital Hub
Digital Hub Development Agency
10 – 13 Thomas Street
The Digital Hub
Dublin 8

T:01 4806200
F: 01 4806201
e:mailto:exhibit@thedigitalhub.comexhibit@thedigitalhub.com

2-Day Dj Training Course

When: 5th and 6th of June 2004 11am – 10pm.
Where: The Digital Hub, Thomas St., Dublin 2.

Modern Green presents: The DJ and Digital Music Academy

A two-day intensive DJ training course for anyone with a general interest or burning desire to learn more about the DJ craft and business.

The course will cover the following aspects of the professional DJ industry:
* Vinyl/ CD mixing
* Beat matching and syncing
* Scratching and turntable techniques
* Radio broadcasting
* Technical set up and digital equipment
* New digital formats for the modern DJ
* CD production
* Music and artist promotion and marketing
* Digital studio sampling/production
* Introduction to music software

Speakers and tutors include some of Ireland’s finest DJs:
JOHHNY MOY – ARVEENE – AL GIBBS – TU-KI – DJ SCOPE

For details, contact:
Modern Green Digital Music Academy
01 8363366
086 8266030
mailto:ddma@moderngreen.comddma@moderngreen.com
ddma.htmlwww.moderngreen.com/ddma.html

or contact The Digital Hub
Digital Hub Development Agency
10 – 13 Thomas Street
The Digital Hub
Dublin 8

T:01 4806200
F: 01 4806201
e:mailto:exhibit@thedigitalhub.comexhibit@thedigitalhub.com

Investnet Event

In association with Vodafone, Nokia and HP, Investnet presents a half day seminar:

Mobilising the Enterprise – Deploying mobility solutions: maintaining the competitive advantage

Time: Wednesday, May 19th 8.30am-2pm.
Location: The Westbury Hotel, off Grafton Street, Dublin 2.
Registration: Euro 60 +VAT

To Register for this event please contact David Neville at dneville@firsttuesday.ie

Presentations from:
*Vodafone – Chris Handley and Barry Gray www.vodafone.ie
Remote email solutions
*HP Consulting and Integration Services – Chris Coggrave, Practice Principal for Enterprise Mobility EMEA www.hp.com
Geography is history: understanding the business value of mobility
www.Veridian.com (representing Nokia)
*Rococo Software – Karl McCabe, CTO www.rococosoft.ie
Saving money with mobile solutions
*Wasp Technologies – Richard Baird, Sales Director – www.wasptech.com
Intellibrand – A wireless success storey
*Outtrak – Brian Fogerty, Sales Director www.outtrak.com
Point of delivery – Case study

Topics include:
*How to provide Return on Investment (ROI) information to aid deployment of Mobility Solutions
*Understanding how companies maintain a competitive edge with constantly changing technology
*Industry experts talk about how to harness the technology available and review the costs of ownership.

If you would like to present at or sponsor this or future Investnet events, please contact David Neville dneville@firsttuesday.ie.
mailto:dneville@firsttuesday.iedneville@firsttuesday.ie

Gdce 2004:Call For Papers

This is the fourth year of the conference, which runs from 31st August to 3rd September 2004 at Earls Court, London. It attracted over 700 senior level delegates last year.

The topics this year include:
*Development tools
*Education
*Game Design
*Visual Arts
*Programming
*Production
*Business and legal
*Audio
*Mobile
*General interest

Proposers are asked to submit speaking proposals through the link below using the given the guidelines.

http://www.gdc-europe.co.uk/callforpapers.aspwww.gdc-europe.co.uk/callforpapers.asp

The deadline for all submissions is 3pm on Friday 28th May 2004.

Any papers supplied after this deadline will not be accepted. Papers are selected on merit alone by a panel of industry experts.

For further information visit:

http://www.gdc-europe.co.ukwww.gdc-europe.co.uk
www.ects.com

Bsc In Computer Science At Ucc – 2

The computer science department in University College Cork (U.C.C.) offers a full-time 4-year BSc in Computer Science. Peter, who works in UCC provided us with this summary. <br /><br />The first year of the course is mainly focused on introducing the student to computers both software and hardware. The remaining 3 years allow the student to have a lot of choice over the subjects they pick.<br /><br />Programming languages which are covered include Java and C and both the UNIX and Windows 2000 operating systems are used. Also, for multimedia applications MAC OS is used and taught. Java is the primary language which is used within the department, as it is one of the most popular programming languages at the moment.<br /><br />Some of most interesting subjects which can be taken are subjects in the fourth year of the course such as Artificial Intelligence and Computer Graphics. In the A.I. course the student is introduced to concepts such as declarative and procedural knowledge, genetic algorithms, fuzzy logic, artificial neural networks and search strategies to mention but a few. Most concepts being backed up with working programming examples coded in Java. While in the Computer Graphics course students are present with a basic introductory to Opengl and modern graphics techniques.<br /><br />Graduates from the course have good employment opportunities, while many go on to do post graduate studies in the field of ConstraintsA.I, NetworkingMultimedia and real-time programming. <br /><br />The computer science department has spawned numerous research groups and to date at least one student has gone on to work in the games industry for one of the leading game development houses in the U.K.<br /><br />Essentials:<br />Western Rd, Cork City, Ireland.<br /><br />Duration: 4 years<br /><br />Course Strengths:<br />Multimedia, Computer Graphics, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Programming C, Programming Java. Popular multimedia packages taught in formal modules. <br /><br />Course Weaknesses:<br />Course is not as mathematical as other courses. C++ is not formally taught however packages are available.<br /><br />More Info: <br /><LINK><ADDRESS>http://www.cs.ucc.ie</ADDRESS><LTEXT>www.cs.ucc.ie</LTEXT></LINK>

Bsc In Computer Science At Ucc

The computer science department in University College Cork (U.C.C.) offers a full-time 4-year BSc in Computer Science. Peter, who works in UCC provided us with this summary. <br /><br />The first year of the course is mainly focused on introducing the student to computers both software and hardware. The remaining 3 years allow the student to have a lot of choice over the subjects they pick.<br /><br />Programming languages which are covered include Java and C and both the UNIX and Windows 2000 operating systems are used. Also, for multimedia applications MAC OS is used and taught. Java is the primary language which is used within the department, as it is one of the most popular programming languages at the moment.<br /><br />Some of most interesting subjects which can be taken are subjects in the fourth year of the course such as Artificial Intelligence and Computer Graphics. In the A.I. course the student is introduced to concepts such as declarative and procedural knowledge, genetic algorithms, fuzzy logic, artificial neural networks and search strategies to mention but a few. Most concepts being backed up with working programming examples coded in Java. While in the Computer Graphics course students are present with a basic introductory to Opengl and modern graphics techniques.<br /><br />Graduates from the course have good employment opportunities, while many go on to do post graduate studies in the field of ConstraintsA.I, NetworkingMultimedia and real-time programming. <br /><br />The computer science department has spawned numerous research groups and to date at least one student has gone on to work in the games industry for one of the leading game development houses in the U.K.<br /><br />Essentials:<br />Western Rd, Cork City, Ireland.<br /><br />Duration: 4 years<br /><br />Course Strengths:<br />Multimedia, Computer Graphics, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Programming C, Programming Java. Popular multimedia packages taught in formal modules. <br /><br />Course Weaknesses:<br />Course is not as mathematical as other courses. C++ is not formally taught however packages are available.<br /><br />More Info: <br /><LINK><ADDRESS>http://www.cs.ucc.ie</ADDRESS><LTEXT>www.cs.ucc.ie</LTEXT></LINK>

Introducing The Team Behind Red Ruckus – 2

What are your backgrounds and how did you become a member of the Red Ruckus team?

Brian: My first education was an economics course in Ballyfermot, so I have a basic business understanding. Then I went to an animation course in Ballyfermot and then I got into Dún Laoghaire and I’ve been there 4 years doing animation. Angus, James and I went to the first Dare to be Digital event in The Digital Hub …
Andy: … and a friend of Brian was in our course and she said that they were looking for people.

How long did it take to get the team together?

Andy: Months (laughs). But once we knew they were looking for people, we got together pretty quickly.
James: I am also into animation in Dún Laoghaire. I actually joined the team later than Angus and Brian; I didn’t go to the first few meetings in The Digital Hub. There was actually somebody else on the team, but he dropped out … and I filled in. I’ve been on the team for about a month.
Angus: I am in animation as well and before that I did some fine art … and I am a founding member of Red Ruckus.
Shane: I’ve been studying Computer Applications in DCU for the last four years. I will hopefully graduate in a couple of weeks. I joined the team together with Andy.
Andy: I’ve been hanging around with Shane for four years and we heard that the lads were looking for … expert programmers and we jumped at the opportunity to go on a holiday in Abertay – well, not a holiday (laughs). Everyone who likes computers obviously likes games, plays games and you always think that you could make one. So now we’ll see how easy or how difficult it is … how possible it is.

image2
From left to right: Shane Culliton, James Murphy, Brian Murray, Andy Rohan and Angus Lynn (Photograph by Julian Kücklich)

Could you briefly describe the application process?

Brian: First you have to fill out an online application form, outlining your idea. Then you go for an interview … and then you win, obviously.
Shane: We did a Powerpoint presentation…
Brian: …and we did a lot of research. We’re used to doing that, because we have to make short films during the year.
James: Concept art.
Brian: In DLIADT, when you hand in your film, you have to hand in separate folders with your research, your concept art, etc. That was an advantage.
Andy: When we went to the interview, the lads had done up folders with artwork and everything in it. We were the only group that had anything like that. Pictures, characters …
Brian: … and a couple of 3D Max models.

Shane and Andy, what was your role during this early stage of the project?

Andy: We had to do some research, because we had never done a game before. We’re making the game for the Xbox … so, we had to go and find out ourselves and teach ourselves how to do it.
Shane: We did some tutorials on the web, tried to find out what kind of languages we would be using.

Did you find a lot of information on that?

Shane: Not really. In order to get the Xbox Development Kit you have to be a registered developer, so it was pretty difficult to get that information.
Andy: We had a look at some DirectX tutorials, however, just to get a grounding.
Brian: We broke the presentation up in two parts: we started off with the creative stuff, the concept art, and then Shane and Andy took over when it got to the programming. Because we don’t have a clue about programming.

Why did you decide to develop the game for the Xbox?

Brian: We knew it was going to be for a console, because of the controls, etc.
Shane: Then it was a tossup between the Xbox and the PlayStation. And we just found more information on the Xbox. And it should be easier to upload stuff on the Xbox, because it’s basically just like a PC …
James: … and we already own a few Xboxes.
Brian: Also, there’s hundreds and hundreds of games coming out for the PlayStation and lower-title games just get smothered by AAA-titles. There’s less competition on the Xbox and people have more time to focus on one game.

So, the business aspect seems to be pretty important?

Brian: The marketability of our game was actually a very important aspect. The jury wanted to see what kind of demographic the game was targeted at.

Who is your target audience?

Brian: Originally, 8- to 35-yr.-olds, but I’d say it’s actually a bit older than 8. Kind of like Ico: stylized, but in an artistic way. And we would like to bring in elements from Deus Ex and DX: Invisible War – the way you can either do the missions by stealth or brute force.
James: In Red Ruckus, you could either burst in the door as a gorilla, or climb up on the roof and go through an air vent.

Let’s talk about the game now. Could you briefly outline the concept?

Brian: Angus came up with the idea originally. Stylistically, the game is like a 1950s B-movie. It’s set on a college campus and the game casts you as Charles, a lab assistant, whose professor does experiments on him. The professor is an undercover spy from Russia who wants to create super-humans to help Russia to dominate the world. The experiment goes wrong, of course, and Charles is turned into a monkey. The professor realizes that his research is flawed, so he has to ‘borrow’ from the other professors on the campus, and Charles has to help him, because he wants to become human again.
Andy: You start off as a spider monkey and the further you advance in the game, you move up the evolutionary tree. You’ll be able to turn into a gorilla or something, and depending on what you think is best, you could either approach a problem as this spider monkey who is very nimble or you can change into a big gorilla and use your power. There’ll be positives and negatives for each species. There will be loads of different monkeys when the game is finished.

Did the game have a characteristic visual style from the beginning?

Angus: We wanted to make it look like a 1950s B-movie, which is probably something that will appeal to older gamers, whereas the monkey aspect will rather appeal to younger gamers.
James: We focused more on the storyline and the sense of humour.

Did you do a lot of research?

James: We watched a lot of B-movies – the dodgy flying saucers and the cheesy robot designs.
Brian: Dr Strangelove was another important source of inspiration. We also looked at tin toys and 1950s advertising and art. We were interested in the kind of design that they thought looked futuristic at that time.

Is Red Ruckus similar to the games you enjoy playing yourselves?

Andy: Hopefully, it will be a game that we all enjoy playing. Otherwise there’s no point in doing it. You want to be proud of what you achieve in the end.
James: It is the kind of game I would play anyway, because I like games with replay value like Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War. I also like RPGs, in which you can choose which way you play the game. Platform games like Jak and Dexter and Ratchet & Clank and stealth games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid were also an important influence.
Angus: We also want Red Ruckus to have the kind of freedom you have in games like Grand Theft Auto. You can either just explore the environment or follow the plot.

What do you think convinced the jury about your game?

Brian: I think it was important that we gelled as a team. It was important to show them that we could work together. And I think we’re pretty much at ease with each other and we don’t take criticism personally. Obviously, you are going to work better when you’re working with people you like.
Andy: And of course it is a great idea for a game. It’s original and it’s different.
Brian: We had a lot of visual material, like characters and a comic-strip storyboard for the first level.

That sounds like quite a lot of work…

Brian: In man-hours or in monkey-hours? (laughs) Actually, the majority of the artwork was done very late. But we had agreed on a visual style early on, so it looked very coherent when we put it all together. We also printed out three copies of the art book and six copies of the level design to hand out.

Were you able to use any of the skills you acquired in college in the design process?

Andy: We didn’t learn anything about games in our course.
Shane: Knowing languages like C++ was useful, though. We’ve been taught to learn a language quickly, which is useful as well.
Brian:We studied 3D animation in DLIADT, so we were familiar with 3D Max.
James: You learn to do all kinds of different kinds of animation … Flash and 3D Max as well as hand-drawn animation.
Brian: We focused on 3D Max, because we knew we wanted to work in the games industry. I wouldn’t want to make a career out of Flash animation.

What kinds of tools and what kind of game engine are you going to use?

Andy: We had to put down on the application form what kind of software we would be using … so, we put down an Xbox development kit. We are going to use Microsoft Visual Studio as well.
Shane: We still haven’t looked at the pros and cons of writing your own game engine vs. using an existing one. We’ll look into that and decide then.
Brian: We only have ten weeks, though.
Andy: But we hope that we can do some research before that.

Ten weeks development time seems awfully short…

Brian: Yes, but it’s kind of a luxury to be able to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. In college, we usually have 5 or 6 projects at the same time. It’s going to be fun.
Shane: It is a great opportunity to be able to make your own computer game.

Did the marketability of the game influence the game design at all?

James: We toned down some of the jokes that weren’t really suitable for younger audiences …
Brian: … and we kept the visual style less stylized than we had planned originally, because it is supposed to appeal to young players as well.

What did you learn about game design so far?

Andy: It definitely was a steep learning curve for us (the programmers), because we didn’t have any idea how to make a game.
Shane: We also learned something from the interview, because the members of the jury were actually people who knew what they were talking about. For example, they told us that developing one level rather than three was more realistic given the short timeframe. And they gave us a lot of positive feedback…

What will be the main challenges you’ll be facing when you go to Abertay?

Shane: Getting something going at all… (laughs)
Brian:I think the main challenge is to combine the 3D Max models and the animation cycles with the programming. Once we figure that out, we should be fine.
Shane: I also think the integration between the code and the artwork could be the main obstacle.

Is there a little bit of a cultural divide between the artists and the programmers?

Andy: Hopefully not. But it’s such a great opportunity that we have to make the most of it. We’re all going to have to learn pretty quickly and that is for our own good.
Shane: I think the idea that we have is good enough to win the competition.

Thank you very much and good luck in Abertay.

More info: www.daretobedigital.ie

Author’s Bio: Julian Kücklich is a PhD student in DCU’s School of Communications. Personal Blog: http://particlestream.motime.com/http://particlestream.motime.com/

Introducing The Team Behind Red Ruckus

What are your backgrounds and how did you become a member of the Red Ruckus team?

Brian: My first education was an economics course in Ballyfermot, so I have a basic business understanding. Then I went to an animation course in Ballyfermot and then I got into Dún Laoghaire and I’ve been there 4 years doing animation. Angus, James and I went to the first Dare to be Digital event in The Digital Hub …
Andy: … and a friend of Brian was in our course and she said that they were looking for people.

How long did it take to get the team together?

Andy: Months (laughs). But once we knew they were looking for people, we got together pretty quickly.
James: I am also into animation in Dún Laoghaire. I actually joined the team later than Angus and Brian; I didn’t go to the first few meetings in The Digital Hub. There was actually somebody else on the team, but he dropped out … and I filled in. I’ve been on the team for about a month.
Angus: I am in animation as well and before that I did some fine art … and I am a founding member of Red Ruckus.
Shane: I’ve been studying Computer Applications in DCU for the last four years. I will hopefully graduate in a couple of weeks. I joined the team together with Andy.
Andy: I’ve been hanging around with Shane for four years and we heard that the lads were looking for … expert programmers and we jumped at the opportunity to go on a holiday in Abertay – well, not a holiday (laughs). Everyone who likes computers obviously likes games, plays games and you always think that you could make one. So now we’ll see how easy or how difficult it is … how possible it is.

image2
From left to right: Shane Culliton, James Murphy, Brian Murray, Andy Rohan and Angus Lynn (Photograph by Julian Kücklich)

Could you briefly describe the application process?

Brian: First you have to fill out an online application form, outlining your idea. Then you go for an interview … and then you win, obviously.
Shane: We did a Powerpoint presentation…
Brian: …and we did a lot of research. We’re used to doing that, because we have to make short films during the year.
James: Concept art.
Brian: In DLIADT, when you hand in your film, you have to hand in separate folders with your research, your concept art, etc. That was an advantage.
Andy: When we went to the interview, the lads had done up folders with artwork and everything in it. We were the only group that had anything like that. Pictures, characters …
Brian: … and a couple of 3D Max models.

Shane and Andy, what was your role during this early stage of the project?

Andy: We had to do some research, because we had never done a game before. We’re making the game for the Xbox … so, we had to go and find out ourselves and teach ourselves how to do it.
Shane: We did some tutorials on the web, tried to find out what kind of languages we would be using.

Did you find a lot of information on that?

Shane: Not really. In order to get the Xbox Development Kit you have to be a registered developer, so it was pretty difficult to get that information.
Andy: We had a look at some DirectX tutorials, however, just to get a grounding.
Brian: We broke the presentation up in two parts: we started off with the creative stuff, the concept art, and then Shane and Andy took over when it got to the programming. Because we don’t have a clue about programming.

Why did you decide to develop the game for the Xbox?

Brian: We knew it was going to be for a console, because of the controls, etc.
Shane: Then it was a tossup between the Xbox and the PlayStation. And we just found more information on the Xbox. And it should be easier to upload stuff on the Xbox, because it’s basically just like a PC …
James: … and we already own a few Xboxes.
Brian: Also, there’s hundreds and hundreds of games coming out for the PlayStation and lower-title games just get smothered by AAA-titles. There’s less competition on the Xbox and people have more time to focus on one game.

So, the business aspect seems to be pretty important?

Brian: The marketability of our game was actually a very important aspect. The jury wanted to see what kind of demographic the game was targeted at.

Who is your target audience?

Brian: Originally, 8- to 35-yr.-olds, but I’d say it’s actually a bit older than 8. Kind of like Ico: stylized, but in an artistic way. And we would like to bring in elements from Deus Ex and DX: Invisible War – the way you can either do the missions by stealth or brute force.
James: In Red Ruckus, you could either burst in the door as a gorilla, or climb up on the roof and go through an air vent.

Let’s talk about the game now. Could you briefly outline the concept?

Brian: Angus came up with the idea originally. Stylistically, the game is like a 1950s B-movie. It’s set on a college campus and the game casts you as Charles, a lab assistant, whose professor does experiments on him. The professor is an undercover spy from Russia who wants to create super-humans to help Russia to dominate the world. The experiment goes wrong, of course, and Charles is turned into a monkey. The professor realizes that his research is flawed, so he has to ‘borrow’ from the other professors on the campus, and Charles has to help him, because he wants to become human again.
Andy: You start off as a spider monkey and the further you advance in the game, you move up the evolutionary tree. You’ll be able to turn into a gorilla or something, and depending on what you think is best, you could either approach a problem as this spider monkey who is very nimble or you can change into a big gorilla and use your power. There’ll be positives and negatives for each species. There will be loads of different monkeys when the game is finished.

Did the game have a characteristic visual style from the beginning?

Angus: We wanted to make it look like a 1950s B-movie, which is probably something that will appeal to older gamers, whereas the monkey aspect will rather appeal to younger gamers.
James: We focused more on the storyline and the sense of humour.

Did you do a lot of research?

James: We watched a lot of B-movies – the dodgy flying saucers and the cheesy robot designs.
Brian: Dr Strangelove was another important source of inspiration. We also looked at tin toys and 1950s advertising and art. We were interested in the kind of design that they thought looked futuristic at that time.

Is Red Ruckus similar to the games you enjoy playing yourselves?

Andy: Hopefully, it will be a game that we all enjoy playing. Otherwise there’s no point in doing it. You want to be proud of what you achieve in the end.
James: It is the kind of game I would play anyway, because I like games with replay value like Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War. I also like RPGs, in which you can choose which way you play the game. Platform games like Jak and Dexter and Ratchet & Clank and stealth games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid were also an important influence.
Angus: We also want Red Ruckus to have the kind of freedom you have in games like Grand Theft Auto. You can either just explore the environment or follow the plot.

What do you think convinced the jury about your game?

Brian: I think it was important that we gelled as a team. It was important to show them that we could work together. And I think we’re pretty much at ease with each other and we don’t take criticism personally. Obviously, you are going to work better when you’re working with people you like.
Andy: And of course it is a great idea for a game. It’s original and it’s different.
Brian: We had a lot of visual material, like characters and a comic-strip storyboard for the first level.

That sounds like quite a lot of work…

Brian: In man-hours or in monkey-hours? (laughs) Actually, the majority of the artwork was done very late. But we had agreed on a visual style early on, so it looked very coherent when we put it all together. We also printed out three copies of the art book and six copies of the level design to hand out.

Were you able to use any of the skills you acquired in college in the design process?

Andy: We didn’t learn anything about games in our course.
Shane: Knowing languages like C++ was useful, though. We’ve been taught to learn a language quickly, which is useful as well.
Brian:We studied 3D animation in DLIADT, so we were familiar with 3D Max.
James: You learn to do all kinds of different kinds of animation … Flash and 3D Max as well as hand-drawn animation.
Brian: We focused on 3D Max, because we knew we wanted to work in the games industry. I wouldn’t want to make a career out of Flash animation.

What kinds of tools and what kind of game engine are you going to use?

Andy: We had to put down on the application form what kind of software we would be using … so, we put down an Xbox development kit. We are going to use Microsoft Visual Studio as well.
Shane: We still haven’t looked at the pros and cons of writing your own game engine vs. using an existing one. We’ll look into that and decide then.
Brian: We only have ten weeks, though.
Andy: But we hope that we can do some research before that.

Ten weeks development time seems awfully short…

Brian: Yes, but it’s kind of a luxury to be able to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. In college, we usually have 5 or 6 projects at the same time. It’s going to be fun.
Shane: It is a great opportunity to be able to make your own computer game.

Did the marketability of the game influence the game design at all?

James: We toned down some of the jokes that weren’t really suitable for younger audiences …
Brian: … and we kept the visual style less stylized than we had planned originally, because it is supposed to appeal to young players as well.

What did you learn about game design so far?

Andy: It definitely was a steep learning curve for us (the programmers), because we didn’t have any idea how to make a game.
Shane: We also learned something from the interview, because the members of the jury were actually people who knew what they were talking about. For example, they told us that developing one level rather than three was more realistic given the short timeframe. And they gave us a lot of positive feedback…

What will be the main challenges you’ll be facing when you go to Abertay?

Shane: Getting something going at all… (laughs)
Brian:I think the main challenge is to combine the 3D Max models and the animation cycles with the programming. Once we figure that out, we should be fine.
Shane: I also think the integration between the code and the artwork could be the main obstacle.

Is there a little bit of a cultural divide between the artists and the programmers?

Andy: Hopefully not. But it’s such a great opportunity that we have to make the most of it. We’re all going to have to learn pretty quickly and that is for our own good.
Shane: I think the idea that we have is good enough to win the competition.

Thank you very much and good luck in Abertay.

More info: www.daretobedigital.ie

Author’s Bio: Julian Kücklich is a PhD student in DCU’s School of Communications. Personal Blog: http://particlestream.motime.com/http://particlestream.motime.com/

Fun, Anyone? – 2

Zeno took the floor first and gave a fairly general overview of where Sony are in terms of hardware penetration in different European countries and numbers of platforms per household. In terms of absolute numbers no-one will be surprised to hear that the UK heads the field, followed by France and Spain. In terms of per capita installation, Ireland heads the table with 27 % of households.

There was some discussion as to why this might be and Niall O’Hanrahan, of SCEE in Ireland noted that the development in the Irish economy, rising levels of disposable income and the high proportion of young people in the population were significant factors. Similar factors have influenced the rapid growth in Sony installations in Spain.

What might be taken from the first part of the presentation was that the PS2 is only about half way through its lifecycle and you should consider developing for it, as about 80 percent of the games on that platform are third party. The second thing one might take away from the session is that Sony are increasingly interested in expanding the market to recruit new consumers. This means that they are increasingly looking for game concepts, which might attract new types of consumers; like Eye Toy did in the last year.

Mark James then took the floor and outlined the three stages that a company goes through in order to become an accredited developer and the elements that they look for in any game concept. ‘Suitability’ and ‘Innovation’ ranked high in the discussions and it would have been good to raise some questions as to what is meant by innovation, as we have done on the forums here on gamedevelopers.ie.

At first glance the two terms might appear contradictory but ‘suitability’ was used in relation to the platform and the market, while innovation was used in relation to features, gameplay and game structure. Don’t forget to include information on your team ‘heritage’, that is the skills and experience of your team.

It was quite some time before we got to the meat of the presentation, so to speak, or at least the bit on the PSP. Mark introduced the new UMD technology, which will be the disk that the PSP will use but will be also introduced as a more general purpose storage device. The UMD will be somewhat smaller than a mini-disc and hold 1.8 GB if my notes are correct – I guess that would be my entire publishing record to date taken care of.

The PSP itself will be fuly 3D and have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Emulators have been circulated to about 150 game studios since last November and Mark and co. are reviewing game concepts for it as we speak. However he did warn the audience that they are not looking for GBA ports, but rather ‘innovation in platform strengths.’

There were a number of questions asked which the speakers could not comment upon. Indeed the answers will possibly be revealed next week at E3 and the timing of this event may have been unfortunate from that perspective.

Michael Griffen from Kapooki chaired the evening and reminded us to keep the 25th of June free for the next IGDA event, which will probably take place in Derry.

Later in a local hostelry we discussed why airplanes don’t let you use GBAs but will let you use laptop computers during flights. Again no answers…

Fun, Anyone?

Zeno took the floor first and gave a fairly general overview of where Sony are in terms of hardware penetration in different European countries and numbers of platforms per household. In terms of absolute numbers no-one will be surprised to hear that the UK heads the field, followed by France and Spain. In terms of per capita installation, Ireland heads the table with 27 % of households.

There was some discussion as to why this might be and Niall O’Hanrahan, of SCEE in Ireland noted that the development in the Irish economy, rising levels of disposable income and the high proportion of young people in the population were significant factors. Similar factors have influenced the rapid growth in Sony installations in Spain.

What might be taken from the first part of the presentation was that the PS2 is only about half way through its lifecycle and you should consider developing for it, as about 80 percent of the games on that platform are third party. The second thing one might take away from the session is that Sony are increasingly interested in expanding the market to recruit new consumers. This means that they are increasingly looking for game concepts, which might attract new types of consumers; like Eye Toy did in the last year.

Mark James then took the floor and outlined the three stages that a company goes through in order to become an accredited developer and the elements that they look for in any game concept. ‘Suitability’ and ‘Innovation’ ranked high in the discussions and it would have been good to raise some questions as to what is meant by innovation, as we have done on the forums here on gamedevelopers.ie.

At first glance the two terms might appear contradictory but ‘suitability’ was used in relation to the platform and the market, while innovation was used in relation to features, gameplay and game structure. Don’t forget to include information on your team ‘heritage’, that is the skills and experience of your team.

It was quite some time before we got to the meat of the presentation, so to speak, or at least the bit on the PSP. Mark introduced the new UMD technology, which will be the disk that the PSP will use but will be also introduced as a more general purpose storage device. The UMD will be somewhat smaller than a mini-disc and hold 1.8 GB if my notes are correct – I guess that would be my entire publishing record to date taken care of.

The PSP itself will be fuly 3D and have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Emulators have been circulated to about 150 game studios since last November and Mark and co. are reviewing game concepts for it as we speak. However he did warn the audience that they are not looking for GBA ports, but rather ‘innovation in platform strengths.’

There were a number of questions asked which the speakers could not comment upon. Indeed the answers will possibly be revealed next week at E3 and the timing of this event may have been unfortunate from that perspective.

Michael Griffen from Kapooki chaired the evening and reminded us to keep the 25th of June free for the next IGDA event, which will probably take place in Derry.

Later in a local hostelry we discussed why airplanes don’t let you use GBAs but will let you use laptop computers during flights. Again no answers…

Microsoft Games Challenge

Held over three weekends on Saturday 8th, 15th and 22nd, the organisers require 64 players to register and play Halo and Project Gothem Racing 2 on Xbox in a knockout tournament.

The first 32 players will play on May 8th, and another 32 on May 15th. The final takes place on May 22nd. The best 4 in each game face off in the final.

A prize of a Limited Edition Crystal Xbox and 3G Voucher willl be presented to the overall winner of the competition.

The free event will take place at the 3G Store, Henry St., Dublin from 10am until 6.

For further information:
ireland/games/mgc.aspireland/games/mgc.asp

To register:
ireland/games/register.aspireland/games/register.asp

Microsoft Games Challenge – 5

Held over three weekends on Saturday 8th, 15th and 22nd, the organisers require 64 players to register and play Halo and Project Gothem Racing 2 on Xbox in a knockout tournament.

The first 32 players will play on May 8th, and another 32 on May 15th. The final takes place on May 22nd. The best 4 in each game face off in the final.

A prize of a Limited Edition Crystal Xbox and 3G Voucher willl be presented to the overall winner of the competition.

The free event will take place at the 3G Store, Henry St., Dublin from 10am until 6.

For further information:
ireland/games/mgc.aspireland/games/mgc.asp

To register:
ireland/games/register.aspireland/games/register.asp

Microsoft Games Challenge Final

Venue: 3G Store, Henry St., Dublin from 10am until 6.

The first 32 players will play on May 8th, and another 32 on May 15th. The final takes place on May 22nd. The best 4 in each game face off in the final.

A prize of a Limited Edition Crystal Xbox and 3G Voucher willl be presented to the overall winner of the competition.

For further information:
ireland/games/mgc.aspireland/games/mgc.asp

To register:
ireland/games/register.aspireland/games/register.asp

Microsoft Games Challenge – 4

Venue: 3G Store, Henry St., Dublin from 10am until 6.

The first 32 players will play on May 8th, and another 32 on May 15th. The final takes place on May 22nd. The best 4 in each game face off in the final.

A prize of a Limited Edition Crystal Xbox and 3G Voucher willl be presented to the overall winner of the competition.

For further information:
ireland/games/mgc.aspireland/games/mgc.asp

To register:
ireland/games/register.aspireland/games/register.asp

Microsoft Games Challenge – 3

Venue: 3G Store, Henry St., Dublin from 10am until 6.

The first 32 players will play on May 8th, and another 32 on May 15th. The final takes place on May 22nd. The best 4 in each game face off in the final.

A prize of a Limited Edition Crystal Xbox and 3G Voucher willl be presented to the overall winner of the competition.

For further information:
ireland/games/mgc.aspireland/games/mgc.asp

To register:
ireland/games/register.aspireland/games/register.asp