Futureplay

FuturePlay – The International Academic Conference on the Future of Game Design and Technology

Union Building,
Michigan State University,
East Lansing,
Michigan,
USA

The schedule for FuturePlay is now packed with excellent content. We have a diverse collection of speakers, workshops, panels and academic papers being presented. Some highlights are featured below.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Ernest Adams – Emerging Issues in Game Design
  • Henry Jenkins III (MIT) & James Paul Gee (Wisconsin-Madison) – Why Video Games are Good for You.

    Speakers:

  • Chris Hecker (Maxis) – “Why You Should Have Paid Attention in Multi-Variable Calculus”
  • Greg Costikyan (Nokia Research Center) – “Imagining New GameStyles”
  • Brenda Bakker Harger (Carnegie Mellon University) – Fun to Play With: Using Improvisational Acting to Shatter Disciplinary Boundaries.

    Workshops:

  • Brenda Brathwaite & Jeb Havens (Cyberlore) – “You Want Me to Make a Game About WHAT??”
  • Marc LeBlanc and Andrew Leker (Mind Control) – “Game Tuning Workshop”
  • Virgile Delporte (Virtools) – “Rapid Game Prototyping”

    Research Papers:
    We have a full schedule of academic research papers being presented on games research http://www.futureplay.org/content.php?pageID=67. The discipline areas range from Artificial Intelligence & Adaptable Games to Game Code & Network Optimization and on to Game Design & Technology Case Studies.

    Panel Discussions:

  • Game Content, Ratings, Censorship and the First Amendment
  • Building Game Development Labs & Facilities in Academic Settings
  • Game Intellectual Property Law, Policy and Issues
  • Bridging the Gap Between Industry Development and Academic Research

    There are many other speakers, panels and papers featured in FuturePlay this year. Please feel free to view the full schedule at
    http://www.futureplay.org/schedule.php

    Proceedings:
    Accepted papers are being published in digital conference proceedings. These will be available in CD format and also for download after theconference.

    Accommodation:
    Details of hotels who are offering discounts to FuturePlay attendees are on the FuturePlay web site at
    http://www.futureplay.org/content.php?pageID=32

    Social Events:
    During the conference there will be a party at Club 131 under Harpers Pub, a wine and cheese event hosted by Ageia Technologies, Torque users gatherings, birds of a feather sessions and other informal gatherings.

    Registration cost is $250 USD, with discounts for students (100 places at half price), fully paid up IGDA members ($50 off full registrations), group bookings (10 for the price of 8)

  • Austin Game Conference

    The Austin Game Conference, the largest conference dedicated to online game development, has added a Games In Asia track to it’s conference program on October 28, 2005. Leading game developers from both Asia and North America will convene in Austin, Texas to discuss computer and video game design and business opportunities surrounding the growth of the video game market in Asia.

    Austin Game Conference attendees have a chance to learn design, user experience differences as well as the business climate and government regulation issues. Attendees also have the opportunity to network and connect with game executives from China, Korea and greater Asia who are attending the conference to explore new business and partnering opportunities.

    The Austin Game Conference consists of 9 tracks, 130 speakers and more than 2000 developers attending.

    Playstation 10 Party

    venue: industry hall, RDS, Dublin.

    time: from 8pm

    This is a ticketed event and is strictly over 18s..

    see the forums under events to try and win a ticket!!

    State Of Play Iii

    State of Play III: Social Revolutions is the third annual State of Play conference on the future of cyberspace convened by the Institute for Information Law & Policy at New York Law School, the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. This year, the focus is on social relationships in the metaverse and how to build vibrant, flourishing, creative places.

    The conference will be held on October 7–8, 2005 at New York Law School in TriBeCa, New York City.

    More info: http://www.nyls.edu/pages/2561.asp

    Creative Clusters 2005

    Where: Europa Hotel, Belfast, Northern Ireland

    When: Monday 24th – Wednesday 26th October 2005

    A networking event for creative industry development people. Featuring over sixty international speakers, presenting on a wide range of the latest policy issues, including:
    Heralding A New Era in the UK: Will Creative and Cultural Skills succeed?
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: How is China developing it’s creative and cultural industries?
    Up on the Hill: In the world’s largest economy how do you persuade the US power elite their way is not the only way?
    Storm in a Coffee Cup: How is tax law, a coffee producer and a shoe maker helping to boost Italian creativity?
    Latecomer with Potential: What’s the future for Germany’s creative sector?
    Revolution in the Head: Could the UK lead a cultural strategy for Europe?
    Delivering Skills for Creativity: How can we meet the increasing demand for creative skills and abilities?

    Delivering Skills for Creativity invites educators, policy-makers, creative entrepreneurs and producers to explore a challenge faced by the whole economy, with speakers including:
    Tom Bewick, CCSkills, UK
    Helen Wills, Creative Partnerships Merseyside, UK
    Laurence Solkin, City University, UK
    Andrew Erskine, BOP, UK
    Susan Jones, a-n The Artists Information Company, UK
    Richard Parkes, Prevista, UK
    Keynote Speakers: James Purnell, UK Minister for Creative Industries, Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, and Dr Chris Yapp, Microsoft’s Head of Public Sector Innovation, with more to come.

    Who’s speaking? http://www.creativeclusters.com/modules/eventsystem/?fct=listpresenters&eventid=5

    Who’s coming? http://www.creativeclusters.com/modules/eventsystem/?fct=listdelegates&eventid=5

    Already delegates from twenty countries have signed up, and our last two conference sold out! If you are responsible for developing the creative industries in your city, region or community, then you too should be at Creative Clusters 2005.

    To book, visit http://www.creativeclusters.com by 26th September before the prices go up!

    : The Creative Clusters Team
    : Creative Clusters Ltd
    : info@creativeclusters.com
    : www.creativeclusters.com

    Serious Games Summit – 2

    The Serious Games Summit is a unique, two-day event that provides:

    * Developer training and education specific to serious game creation
    * 40+ dynamic sessions, lectures and roundtables discussions
    * Showcase of next-generation serious games efforts
    * Opportunities to network and for customer-developer meetings

    For more, see www.seriousgamessummit.com/

    Dc Or Not Dc?

    DC Studios announced an April 2005 opening of their Dublin office then never showed up. What happened and are they still planning to operate and recruit within Ireland? Pavel Barter talks to DC CEO Mark Greenshields.

    DC Studios Dublin was scheduled to open its doors in April 2005. What’s up?
    Mark Greenshields: “DC was forced to expand in Glasgow due to the lateness of some commitments for Dublin. Also DC acquired the assets of VIS Entertainment and its State of Emergency brand which was being developed in Edinburgh. This meant that we had essentially expanded one studio and added another in the space of two months. It was impossible to start another new studio at the same time (not to mention the additional salary costs!) so we were forced to put Dublin on a temporary hold. I want to stress it is still very much in our plans but we can only do one thing well at a time so we would rather wait and do it correctly when we are ready.”

    Is it true you were working on a project for Hip Interactive? If so, how did their recent bankruptcy affect your business and what will happen to the project?
    MG: “We were and are working on Fear Factor Unleashed. It cost us a lot of money as you might imagine. We are continuing the development and are in discussions with a new distributor for the game. The game will be released.”

    How did the acquisition of SOE2 come about and what does it bring to DC Studios?
    MG: “It came about because VIS entered bankruptcy and we saw a brand that had a huge potential given the right team. We acquired the rights through the receivers and are on target for Sept 30 GMC. It brings a new team of quality people to add to our existing teams and also a brand that we control and a new optimized shooter engine.”

    Can you tell us a little bit about Fear: Factor Unleashed. Was there considerable liaison between your team and the makers of the show?
    MG: “Yes there was good liaison. The producers of the show were very supportive of the game and were very helpful with ideas and implementations. The game takes the show further to the sphere of things that could NEVER be risked on the show itself – hence the unleashed title. More will be revealed soon but the game is fun and will be successful (we hope!!)”

    Are you actively recruiting for the Dublin office or is the bulk of the team being imported from your Scottish operation?
    MG: “Currently we are not recruiting for Dublin at all as we are currently full due to Scotland. The future will change this.”

    What projects are now planned for DC Dublin?
    MG: “Nothing for today due to Scotland, but we will revisit when we plan to open as soon as we are ready.”

    Considering DC’s various changes since we last spoke at GDC in March, will operations in Dublin remain much the same or do you have fresh plans for the studio?
    MG: “I cannot say today but I see no reason for anything to be different. The reasons to open in Dublin remain the same so I cannot see it being grossly different.”

    Finally, can you put a date on the opening of DC Studios Dublin?
    MG: “Not yet. We don’t want to wait long as it was and remains central to our plans but DC has always been a believer in doing things properly so we would rather pause and get it right. As soon as we know we will tell you and your readers.”

    Dc Or Not Dc? – 2

    DC Studios announced an April 2005 opening of their Dublin office then never showed up. What happened and are they still planning to operate and recruit within Ireland? Pavel Barter talks to DC CEO Mark Greenshields.

    DC Studios Dublin was scheduled to open its doors in April 2005. What’s up?
    Mark Greenshields: “DC was forced to expand in Glasgow due to the lateness of some commitments for Dublin. Also DC acquired the assets of VIS Entertainment and its State of Emergency brand which was being developed in Edinburgh. This meant that we had essentially expanded one studio and added another in the space of two months. It was impossible to start another new studio at the same time (not to mention the additional salary costs!) so we were forced to put Dublin on a temporary hold. I want to stress it is still very much in our plans but we can only do one thing well at a time so we would rather wait and do it correctly when we are ready.”

    Is it true you were working on a project for Hip Interactive? If so, how did their recent bankruptcy affect your business and what will happen to the project?
    MG: “We were and are working on Fear Factor Unleashed. It cost us a lot of money as you might imagine. We are continuing the development and are in discussions with a new distributor for the game. The game will be released.”

    How did the acquisition of SOE2 come about and what does it bring to DC Studios?
    MG: “It came about because VIS entered bankruptcy and we saw a brand that had a huge potential given the right team. We acquired the rights through the receivers and are on target for Sept 30 GMC. It brings a new team of quality people to add to our existing teams and also a brand that we control and a new optimized shooter engine.”

    Can you tell us a little bit about Fear: Factor Unleashed. Was there considerable liaison between your team and the makers of the show?
    MG: “Yes there was good liaison. The producers of the show were very supportive of the game and were very helpful with ideas and implementations. The game takes the show further to the sphere of things that could NEVER be risked on the show itself – hence the unleashed title. More will be revealed soon but the game is fun and will be successful (we hope!!)”

    Are you actively recruiting for the Dublin office or is the bulk of the team being imported from your Scottish operation?
    MG: “Currently we are not recruiting for Dublin at all as we are currently full due to Scotland. The future will change this.”

    What projects are now planned for DC Dublin?
    MG: “Nothing for today due to Scotland, but we will revisit when we plan to open as soon as we are ready.”

    Considering DC’s various changes since we last spoke at GDC in March, will operations in Dublin remain much the same or do you have fresh plans for the studio?
    MG: “I cannot say today but I see no reason for anything to be different. The reasons to open in Dublin remain the same so I cannot see it being grossly different.”

    Finally, can you put a date on the opening of DC Studios Dublin?
    MG: “Not yet. We don’t want to wait long as it was and remains central to our plans but DC has always been a believer in doing things properly so we would rather pause and get it right. As soon as we know we will tell you and your readers.”

    Shindig – 3

    In honour of the return of Omen and Kyotokid to these shores there will be a small gathering of gamedevs and others in Dublin this coming Friday.

    Venue to be decided on the forums.

    Darklight Digital Festival Bulletin 2005

    Darklight festival brings the best in new digital art and cinema to Ireland.

    The 2005 NOKIA/DARKLIGHT POCKET MOVIE CHALLENGE

    Nokia Ireland and the Darklight Film Festival are delighted to announce the inaugural Nokia/ Darklight Pocket Movie Challenge.

    A great opportunity for both aspiring and established filmmakers!

    You are invited to submit your films to the new and innovative Nokia/ Darklight Pocket Movie challenge.

    Films of all genres, including animation, documentary, drama, and comedy are welcomed, with the only constraint being that the films must be under five minutes long and suitable for the small screens of mobile phones.

    Filmmakers with all levels of experience are welcome!

    Finalist entries will be showcased on the latest Nokia mobile phones at the Darklight Festival event 2005 at The Digital Hub, Ireland, and the winner will be announced at a special awards ceremony during the festival party.

    The competition will feature a student and a professional category with first prizes of €1,000 and €3,000 awarded respectively. Each of the category finalists will receive an exclusive mobile distribution deal with the Wildlight Channel (www.wildlight.tv).

    The finalist films will also be available for the public to view on the Nokia website.

    Enquiries should be sent to: competition@darklight-filmfestival.com

    Closing date: Friday 30th September 2005

    For information on: how to enter, formats accepted, full competition Terms and Conditions and guidelines go to: www.darklight-filmfestival.com and www.nokia.ie
    For entry form go to: www.darklight-filmfestival.com

    Please check site for Updates: http://www.darklight-filmfestival.com
    You are subscribed to the Darklight maillist.
    You have been sent this email because we hope this information is of interest.
    To unsubscribe, E-mail to:

    For general information email contact (at)darklight-filmfestival.com

    In association with Sink Digital Media www.sink.ie E:info@sink.ie
    Copyright © Darklight Film Festival Ltd. 2005

    Darklight Digital Festival

    This year’s Darklight festival of film, animation, interactive media etc. will take place in Dublin’s digital hub on Thomas street from the 17th-21st November.

    More info: http://www.darklight-filmfestival.com/pages/about.htm

    Darklight Digital Festival Bulletin 2005 – 2

    Darklight festival brings the best in new digital art and cinema to Ireland.

    The 2005 NOKIA/DARKLIGHT POCKET MOVIE CHALLENGE

    Nokia Ireland and the Darklight Film Festival are delighted to announce the inaugural Nokia/ Darklight Pocket Movie Challenge.

    A great opportunity for both aspiring and established filmmakers!

    You are invited to submit your films to the new and innovative Nokia/ Darklight Pocket Movie challenge.

    Films of all genres, including animation, documentary, drama, and comedy are welcomed, with the only constraint being that the films must be under five minutes long and suitable for the small screens of mobile phones.

    Filmmakers with all levels of experience are welcome!

    Finalist entries will be showcased on the latest Nokia mobile phones at the Darklight Festival event 2005 at The Digital Hub, Ireland, and the winner will be announced at a special awards ceremony during the festival party.

    The competition will feature a student and a professional category with first prizes of €1,000 and €3,000 awarded respectively. Each of the category finalists will receive an exclusive mobile distribution deal with the Wildlight Channel (www.wildlight.tv).

    The finalist films will also be available for the public to view on the Nokia website.

    Enquiries should be sent to: competition@darklight-filmfestival.com

    Closing date: Friday 30th September 2005

    For information on: how to enter, formats accepted, full competition Terms and Conditions and guidelines go to: www.darklight-filmfestival.com and www.nokia.ie
    For entry form go to: www.darklight-filmfestival.com

    Please check site for Updates: http://www.darklight-filmfestival.com
    You are subscribed to the Darklight maillist.
    You have been sent this email because we hope this information is of interest.
    To unsubscribe, E-mail to:

    For general information email contact (at)darklight-filmfestival.com

    In association with Sink Digital Media www.sink.ie E:info@sink.ie
    Copyright © Darklight Film Festival Ltd. 2005

    Pooka Games & The Gaa Game

    It all started back in 1998 when two blokes; one teaching game design at what was then the ‘Ludo’ course run by Senior College Ballyfermot and the other an occasional student, decided to start a game development company. It was a different time back then, the doyens of contemporary Irish games development were still just nascent twinkles and it seemed to us the ideal time to start our own little enterprise. So it was that David Hennigan and Noel Corrigan, over many a late night discussion, decided to form Pooka Games.

    Like I said, it seemed like a good idea. At the time the Celtic tiger was roaring, all kinds of crazy people were setting up companies and attracting ludicrous investment capital, why not us? We knew the industry, past and present, we were part of a community of talented people who wanted to develop games in Ireland and we had the vision; a sense of what games were going to become and a tonne of ideas that would take the world by storm.

    Although we were confident in our knowledge of games we were aware of an equally
    large gap in our knowledge of actually setting up and running a profit making business. The obvious solution it seemed was to contact the local enterprise agency. It was a good idea, there was a wealth of information on the fundamentals of running a business, and better yet, we got our own mentor; to advise and assist us budding entrepreneurs. It became obvious very quickly that for all our technical knowledge of games development we were lacking in a broad range of skills. Confident that success was always just around the corner and that the many people who enthusiastically supported us would chip in where necessary, Dave and I plunged into the corporate world with gusto and learned some harsh lessons.

    After just a few weeks of research we realised that games, especially the kind we wanted to make, were very expensive. When engine licensing, media production and all of the costs a legitimate business had to bear were factored in, a seven figure sum suddenly appeared at the end of our first balance sheet. Considering that at the time our combined net assets were barely enough for a day trip to Bray, this was something of an obstacle. Sure, we could have started small, made a few Flash games, tried our hand at web design and as it turned out we took on a few projects on to make ends meet but our vision seemed ever more distant. We soldiered on nonetheless.

    On the advice of our mentor we began work on a business plan; this involved detailed research and analysis of games development, accurate costing of software and equipment, personnel requirements, property leasing costs and so much more. It was a long list and every shred of useful information was hard come by. The situation is somewhat different now with more information about the industry available to the public, but we found then that specific information about typical sales figures, profit
    margins and budgets were held by a range of marketing and consultancy companies and sold at a premium rate.

    This process lasted over three years with constant revisions necessary as the market changed and we realised what investors were looking for. To our credit we had created a very efficient, low cost games development company. The problem was it existed only on paper. The hard work was convincing investors that this was a viable opportunity. Over the course of three years I lost track of the venture capitalists, prospective publishers and service providers we met but it seemed that we were asking too much. As one bellicose Australian put it ‘I see the vision but I don’t see the hurt’. (The ‘hurt’ in case you are wondering is what you are prepared to put on the line and the only thing that matters is money.)

    It would have ended there and maybe it should have, but a bright idea came our way; Gaelic Football. To be honest our interest in developing a game based on Gaelic sports was somewhat mercenary. We knew our own untested ideas would never get funding but with the G.A.A franchise we were part of Ireland’s greatest brand. We put the word out that we were interested in pursuing the license and people started contacting us. A senior figure in the G.A.A. phoned Dave and arranged a meeting (we were so impressed we even wore suits). He told us there would be support for any Irish company to produce a licensed game. Buoyed up by this turn of events we attended a ‘First Tuesday’ meeting and made our pitch to potential investors, business cards were exchanged, meetings arranged.

    Our sense of impending success was palpable when Electronic Arts approached us in early 2001. They gave us projected sales figures, met with us on several occasions and put us in touch with experienced producers attached to EA sports. With all this going for us how could investors not jump at the chance? Very easily it turns out. The sales and profit analysis did not appeal and there were doubts about the popularity of the title in a non-Irish marketplace. We had slashed our budget, developed another source of revenue for ‘Pooka Games’ and attended every possible forum involving potential investors, but no one ever committed. That’s not to say we ever got a definite ‘No’ from them, just sickly sweet praise for the idea and enthusiasm for our future. Sometimes it seemed as if they enjoyed dangling the carrot in front of us only to not return our calls and disregard our emails.

    By this stage it was midway through 2002 and another development company was competing for the G.A.A. endorsement. They were based in Australia and already had a track record developing AFL games for the PS2. By then we had had enough. We offered to assist with development of the product for a 2004 release but after some confusion with non-disclosure agreements our contact with the relevant parties petered off. The truth is we were pretty much disillusioned with the whole process. I was recovering from an illness and Dave was working full time.

    Looking back, we should have signed off officially but once we were out of the picture as a major player, phone calls and emails were not returned, meetings were cancelled and so Pooka Games just fizzled out. I would be the first to admit that we were too ambitious but we learned from it and there was plenty of fun and moments of high drama to keep it interesting. It is unlikely that myself or Dave will try to resurrect the Pookster, although we both still share the belief that we could bring the next generation in games to the next generation consoles. The ideas and the vision are still there but so too is a hard won knowledge about the realities of working in the games industry.

    Pooka Games & The Gaa Game – 2

    It all started back in 1998 when two blokes; one teaching game design at what was then the ‘Ludo’ course run by Senior College Ballyfermot and the other an occasional student, decided to start a game development company. It was a different time back then, the doyens of contemporary Irish games development were still just nascent twinkles and it seemed to us the ideal time to start our own little enterprise. So it was that David Hennigan and Noel Corrigan, over many a late night discussion, decided to form Pooka Games.

    Like I said, it seemed like a good idea. At the time the Celtic tiger was roaring, all kinds of crazy people were setting up companies and attracting ludicrous investment capital, why not us? We knew the industry, past and present, we were part of a community of talented people who wanted to develop games in Ireland and we had the vision; a sense of what games were going to become and a tonne of ideas that would take the world by storm.

    Although we were confident in our knowledge of games we were aware of an equally
    large gap in our knowledge of actually setting up and running a profit making business. The obvious solution it seemed was to contact the local enterprise agency. It was a good idea, there was a wealth of information on the fundamentals of running a business, and better yet, we got our own mentor; to advise and assist us budding entrepreneurs. It became obvious very quickly that for all our technical knowledge of games development we were lacking in a broad range of skills. Confident that success was always just around the corner and that the many people who enthusiastically supported us would chip in where necessary, Dave and I plunged into the corporate world with gusto and learned some harsh lessons.

    After just a few weeks of research we realised that games, especially the kind we wanted to make, were very expensive. When engine licensing, media production and all of the costs a legitimate business had to bear were factored in, a seven figure sum suddenly appeared at the end of our first balance sheet. Considering that at the time our combined net assets were barely enough for a day trip to Bray, this was something of an obstacle. Sure, we could have started small, made a few Flash games, tried our hand at web design and as it turned out we took on a few projects on to make ends meet but our vision seemed ever more distant. We soldiered on nonetheless.

    On the advice of our mentor we began work on a business plan; this involved detailed research and analysis of games development, accurate costing of software and equipment, personnel requirements, property leasing costs and so much more. It was a long list and every shred of useful information was hard come by. The situation is somewhat different now with more information about the industry available to the public, but we found then that specific information about typical sales figures, profit
    margins and budgets were held by a range of marketing and consultancy companies and sold at a premium rate.

    This process lasted over three years with constant revisions necessary as the market changed and we realised what investors were looking for. To our credit we had created a very efficient, low cost games development company. The problem was it existed only on paper. The hard work was convincing investors that this was a viable opportunity. Over the course of three years I lost track of the venture capitalists, prospective publishers and service providers we met but it seemed that we were asking too much. As one bellicose Australian put it ‘I see the vision but I don’t see the hurt’. (The ‘hurt’ in case you are wondering is what you are prepared to put on the line and the only thing that matters is money.)

    It would have ended there and maybe it should have, but a bright idea came our way; Gaelic Football. To be honest our interest in developing a game based on Gaelic sports was somewhat mercenary. We knew our own untested ideas would never get funding but with the G.A.A franchise we were part of Ireland’s greatest brand. We put the word out that we were interested in pursuing the license and people started contacting us. A senior figure in the G.A.A. phoned Dave and arranged a meeting (we were so impressed we even wore suits). He told us there would be support for any Irish company to produce a licensed game. Buoyed up by this turn of events we attended a ‘First Tuesday’ meeting and made our pitch to potential investors, business cards were exchanged, meetings arranged.

    Our sense of impending success was palpable when Electronic Arts approached us in early 2001. They gave us projected sales figures, met with us on several occasions and put us in touch with experienced producers attached to EA sports. With all this going for us how could investors not jump at the chance? Very easily it turns out. The sales and profit analysis did not appeal and there were doubts about the popularity of the title in a non-Irish marketplace. We had slashed our budget, developed another source of revenue for ‘Pooka Games’ and attended every possible forum involving potential investors, but no one ever committed. That’s not to say we ever got a definite ‘No’ from them, just sickly sweet praise for the idea and enthusiasm for our future. Sometimes it seemed as if they enjoyed dangling the carrot in front of us only to not return our calls and disregard our emails.

    By this stage it was midway through 2002 and another development company was competing for the G.A.A. endorsement. They were based in Australia and already had a track record developing AFL games for the PS2. By then we had had enough. We offered to assist with development of the product for a 2004 release but after some confusion with non-disclosure agreements our contact with the relevant parties petered off. The truth is we were pretty much disillusioned with the whole process. I was recovering from an illness and Dave was working full time.

    Looking back, we should have signed off officially but once we were out of the picture as a major player, phone calls and emails were not returned, meetings were cancelled and so Pooka Games just fizzled out. I would be the first to admit that we were too ambitious but we learned from it and there was plenty of fun and moments of high drama to keep it interesting. It is unlikely that myself or Dave will try to resurrect the Pookster, although we both still share the belief that we could bring the next generation in games to the next generation consoles. The ideas and the vision are still there but so too is a hard won knowledge about the realities of working in the games industry.

    Women In Games 05 – 2

    I am just back from my first Women in Games Conference which took place this year at the University of Abertay, Dundee. It is quite an experience to be at a games conference where the audience is predominately female, although not exclusively, and you were not being sold things at every opportunity. It was a nice and informal event attended by maybe 80 people and on the final day by a large contingent of local students.

    The conference took place in the new Hannah McClure student centre, a tiered theatre which holds around 100 people and was quite literally only opened a few days earlier. Outside teams from Dare and the incubation centre, Emryonix demonstrated their ideas and games.

    There was a mixture of industry and academic speakers over the two and a half days. Ernest Adams, plus hat, opened the conference is his usual style mixing astute insights with amusing anecdotes. This was followed by Susanne Laughton, European Marketing manager for EA and the SIMs. It seems they have spent quite a lot of time developing alternative marketing channels and methods for the SIMs, including inserting SIM wedding announcements into newspapers in Sweden and sponsoring SIM actors to live in shop windows in Rome. These were followed by a number of academic presentations on game marketing, gender representation in games and gender differences on computer courses in the US. The final panel of the day involved four students from the IT University in Copenhagen reporting on their research projects involving women gamers, professional female athletes and games and a professional female game clan.

    The second day opened with a keynote by Melissa Federoff who explored usability testing and software iteration at Microsoft Game Studios in Seattle. Having worked at Lucas Arts before Microsoft Melissa has a lot of experience in conducting focus groups and usability testing and provided practical tips which even those without a lot of resources might consider. The second keynote was followed by a number of academic papers before Aleks Krotoski chaired a panel of marketing heavyweights including Faye O’Donaghue from Ubisoft, Susanne Laughton from EA and Robin McShaffry from Mary-Margaret.com recruiting. If nothing else this panel showed that having women in game companies does not mean that things will change overnight and we learnt that marketing budgets are decided by sales. A final surprise was that EA considers its marketing budgets to be modest!

    The third keynote was given by Constance Steinkuehler from the University of Wisconsin who explored gender and MMOGs, the subject of her recent PhD thesis. In her talk Constance explored how male and female players construct gender through language and through avatar behaviour as well as the habit for players to genderbend.

    The final day started with a practical session aimed at people who want to get into the industry. Robin McShaffry from Mary-Margaret.com and other industry veterans offered tips on CVs, interviews and preparing a demo. Later Jackie McKenzie introduced the Dare to be Digital competition and Caroline Anderson from Northern Ireland gave an excellent presentation on her experience of taking part in Dare. As usual, the demos from Dare were innovative, quirky and surprising. Just to keep the Irish theme going I followed with my own keynote and this was followed by a final panel involving a mix of industry and academic speakers, males and females. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay to hear it all as I was already running late for my train.

    Overall my experience of Women in Games was extremely positive and stimulating. The focus was more on gender and diversity than on women per se and there was an attempt by all to speak in terms which everyone could understand which made for a genuine attempt by academics and industry to communicate. Many were heading straight off to Edinburgh for their games festival while the Dare teams headed off to put the final touches to their projects for the deadline next Wed. Best of luck to them all but especially to SilverTongue and to Team Doom!

    Women In Games 05

    I am just back from my first Women in Games Conference which took place this year at the University of Abertay, Dundee. It is quite an experience to be at a games conference where the audience is predominately female, although not exclusively, and you were not being sold things at every opportunity. It was a nice and informal event attended by maybe 80 people and on the final day by a large contingent of local students.

    The conference took place in the new Hannah McClure student centre, a tiered theatre which holds around 100 people and was quite literally only opened a few days earlier. Outside teams from Dare and the incubation centre, Emryonix demonstrated their ideas and games.

    There was a mixture of industry and academic speakers over the two and a half days. Ernest Adams, plus hat, opened the conference is his usual style mixing astute insights with amusing anecdotes. This was followed by Susanne Laughton, European Marketing manager for EA and the SIMs. It seems they have spent quite a lot of time developing alternative marketing channels and methods for the SIMs, including inserting SIM wedding announcements into newspapers in Sweden and sponsoring SIM actors to live in shop windows in Rome. These were followed by a number of academic presentations on game marketing, gender representation in games and gender differences on computer courses in the US. The final panel of the day involved four students from the IT University in Copenhagen reporting on their research projects involving women gamers, professional female athletes and games and a professional female game clan.

    The second day opened with a keynote by Melissa Federoff who explored usability testing and software iteration at Microsoft Game Studios in Seattle. Having worked at Lucas Arts before Microsoft Melissa has a lot of experience in conducting focus groups and usability testing and provided practical tips which even those without a lot of resources might consider. The second keynote was followed by a number of academic papers before Aleks Krotoski chaired a panel of marketing heavyweights including Faye O’Donaghue from Ubisoft, Susanne Laughton from EA and Robin McShaffry from Mary-Margaret.com recruiting. If nothing else this panel showed that having women in game companies does not mean that things will change overnight and we learnt that marketing budgets are decided by sales. A final surprise was that EA considers its marketing budgets to be modest!

    The third keynote was given by Constance Steinkuehler from the University of Wisconsin who explored gender and MMOGs, the subject of her recent PhD thesis. In her talk Constance explored how male and female players construct gender through language and through avatar behaviour as well as the habit for players to genderbend.

    The final day started with a practical session aimed at people who want to get into the industry. Robin McShaffry from Mary-Margaret.com and other industry veterans offered tips on CVs, interviews and preparing a demo. Later Jackie McKenzie introduced the Dare to be Digital competition and Caroline Anderson from Northern Ireland gave an excellent presentation on her experience of taking part in Dare. As usual, the demos from Dare were innovative, quirky and surprising. Just to keep the Irish theme going I followed with my own keynote and this was followed by a final panel involving a mix of industry and academic speakers, males and females. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay to hear it all as I was already running late for my train.

    Overall my experience of Women in Games was extremely positive and stimulating. The focus was more on gender and diversity than on women per se and there was an attempt by all to speak in terms which everyone could understand which made for a genuine attempt by academics and industry to communicate. Many were heading straight off to Edinburgh for their games festival while the Dare teams headed off to put the final touches to their projects for the deadline next Wed. Best of luck to them all but especially to SilverTongue and to Team Doom!

    Starcave Expands

    Starcave, a game development company based in Galway, have recently hired new staff and taken on some interns. Gd.ie got in contact to ask them what was going on and who the new staff are?

    Niamh Breslin has taken up the role of Business Manager, specialising in PR and Marketing activities. She has previously worked for Localisation and Testing companies both here and in Asia for a number of years. StarCave have also hired Feargal Plant, a 3D artist who has previously worked with Rare, and Eoghan Quigley, a 3D animator who has joined from Blitz games. The company also have 8 interns working for them.

    According to Keith Killilea, CEO StarCave “StarCave Studios has entered its 2nd year of full time game development operations. We are attracting the best of Irish game development talent who have industry experience and have been working abroad. StarCave is also half way through its Internship program with incredible success to date. Two teams were formed to create 2 casual game demos, which will be shown off at the official StarCave Studios Press Launch & Birthday party event in August. The quality of the work is outstanding, considering the time constraints and non-experience in games development. Our Internship educational program is based around the Torque Game Engine”.

    Niamh’s first task will be to launch ‘Camelot Galway –City of the Tribes’, a budget range computer game/adventure tour on Wednesday 10th August, 2005, at 7pm in Screen 7 of the Eye Cinema, Wellpark Retail Park, Galway. Tickets are limited but if you wish to attend please contact Niamh. Full details below.

    The launch will be held in conjunction with the 1st birthday celebrations of StarCave & the official launch of the company as an independent computer games developer based in the Galway Technology Centre in Mervue.

    A press release for Starcave indicated that the game will be sold online and in local retailing outlets.

    StarCave currently has 3 satellite teams in the USA, Brazil & Australia, with 3 budget range games due to be released in 2005 & all will be shown at this event. StarCave is privately funded & is Irish owned.

    StarCave also recently acquired the Reality 3D engine and will shortly begin development of a “AAA” title called ‘The 14 Tribes’ for PC & Microsoft XBox 360.

    For further info contact:
    Niamh Breslin,
    PR & Marketing Manager,
    StarCave Studios,
    Unit 10, Galway Technology Centre, Mervue Business Park, Galway
    Tel: (091)745583/(087) 9301550
    Email: niamh@starcave.com
    Website: http://www.starcave.com

    Starcave Expands – 2

    Starcave, a game development company based in Galway, have recently hired new staff and taken on some interns. Gd.ie got in contact to ask them what was going on and who the new staff are?

    Niamh Breslin has taken up the role of Business Manager, specialising in PR and Marketing activities. She has previously worked for Localisation and Testing companies both here and in Asia for a number of years. StarCave have also hired Feargal Plant, a 3D artist who has previously worked with Rare, and Eoghan Quigley, a 3D animator who has joined from Blitz games. The company also have 8 interns working for them.

    According to Keith Killilea, CEO StarCave “StarCave Studios has entered its 2nd year of full time game development operations. We are attracting the best of Irish game development talent who have industry experience and have been working abroad. StarCave is also half way through its Internship program with incredible success to date. Two teams were formed to create 2 casual game demos, which will be shown off at the official StarCave Studios Press Launch & Birthday party event in August. The quality of the work is outstanding, considering the time constraints and non-experience in games development. Our Internship educational program is based around the Torque Game Engine”.

    Niamh’s first task will be to launch ‘Camelot Galway –City of the Tribes’, a budget range computer game/adventure tour on Wednesday 10th August, 2005, at 7pm in Screen 7 of the Eye Cinema, Wellpark Retail Park, Galway. Tickets are limited but if you wish to attend please contact Niamh. Full details below.

    The launch will be held in conjunction with the 1st birthday celebrations of StarCave & the official launch of the company as an independent computer games developer based in the Galway Technology Centre in Mervue.

    A press release for Starcave indicated that the game will be sold online and in local retailing outlets.

    StarCave currently has 3 satellite teams in the USA, Brazil & Australia, with 3 budget range games due to be released in 2005 & all will be shown at this event. StarCave is privately funded & is Irish owned.

    StarCave also recently acquired the Reality 3D engine and will shortly begin development of a “AAA” title called ‘The 14 Tribes’ for PC & Microsoft XBox 360.

    For further info contact:
    Niamh Breslin,
    PR & Marketing Manager,
    StarCave Studios,
    Unit 10, Galway Technology Centre, Mervue Business Park, Galway
    Tel: (091)745583/(087) 9301550
    Email: niamh@starcave.com
    Website: http://www.starcave.com

    Igda Ireland & Eurographics 05

    Observant readers will have noticed that Eurographics is being held in Trinity College Dublin this year. The IGDA Ireland chapter is sponsoring an industry games session on Wed. 31st August, 2-4pm, 2005.

    The IGDA/industry session will include two talks and a panel discussion

    Talk #1:
    Overview of Java Mobile Graphics Technology
    Peter Lynch (Eirplay Games)

    Talk #2:
    Realtime Graphics for Games: An Overview of the Instinct Engine
    Chris Gregan (Torc Interactive)

    Panel:
    Graphics vs. Gameplay? Why We Play Games

    Moderated by Aphra Kerr (Gamedevelopers.ie)

    Panellists: Tony Kelly (Torc Interactive/IGDA Ireland), Ian Hannigan (Nephin Games), Hamish Carr (UCD), Mike McNeill (UoU) + TBD

    Other game related sessions (not sponsored by IGDA/GD) include talks from Steve Collins from Havok, as well as sessions from Sony on COLLADA, ATI on Overview of the Xbox360 GPU and a panel on Next Generation Game Technology.

    More info: http://isg.cs.tcd.ie/eg2005/

    Futureplay 05,

    FuturePlay 2005, the International Academic Conference on the Future
    of Game Design and Technology, takes place October 13-15, 2005 in
    East Lansing, MI in the US on the campus of Michigan State University. (Looks like a good opportunity for artistic, experimental and student projects.Deadlines for papers and posters, end of July, Deadline for game submissions Sept 9th.- Aphra)

    The games exhibition showcases peer-reviewed competition of games in three categories: Future (experimental) Games, Serious Games, and Student Games.

    Game submission deadline is September 9th, 2005.

    GAME SUBMISSION DETAILS:
    http://www.futureplay.org/content.php?pageID=64

    The Future Play conference focuses on three main themes. The first
    theme, future game development, addresses academic research and
    emerging industry trends in the area of game technology and game
    design. The second theme, future game impacts and applications,
    includes academic research and emerging industry trends focused on designing games for learning, for gender, for serious purposes, and to impact society. Finally, the third theme, future game talent, is designed to provide a number of industry and academic perspectives on the knowledge, skills, and attitude it takes to excel in the games industry.

    Future Play addresses these issues through exciting and thought-
    provoking keynotes from leaders in academia and industry, peer-
    reviewed paper sessions, panel
    sessions (including academic and
    industry discussions), workshops (including design, technology, and
    career workshops), and exhibitions of posters, games, and the latest
    game technologies and supports from industry-leading vendors.

    The deadline for FuturePlay 2005 academic papers and posters is July 31st, 2005.

    ACADEMIC PAPER SUBMISSION DETAILS:
    http://www.futureplay.org/content.php?pageID=62

    ACADEMIC POSTER SUBMISSION DETAILS
    http://www.futureplay.org/content.php?pageID=65

    Details on FuturePlay are available at http://www.futureplay.org/

    Igda Ireland & Eurographics 05 – 2

    Observant readers will have noticed that Eurographics is being held in Trinity College Dublin this year. The IGDA Ireland chapter is sponsoring an industry games session on Wed. 31st August, 2-4pm, 2005.

    The IGDA/industry session will include two talks and a panel discussion

    Talk #1:
    Overview of Java Mobile Graphics Technology
    Peter Lynch (Eirplay Games)

    Talk #2:
    Realtime Graphics for Games: An Overview of the Instinct Engine
    Chris Gregan (Torc Interactive)

    Panel:
    Graphics vs. Gameplay? Why We Play Games

    Moderated by Aphra Kerr (Gamedevelopers.ie)

    Panellists: Tony Kelly (Torc Interactive/IGDA Ireland), Ian Hannigan (Nephin Games), Hamish Carr (UCD), Mike McNeill (UoU) + TBD

    Other game related sessions (not sponsored by IGDA/GD) include talks from Steve Collins from Havok, as well as sessions from Sony on COLLADA, ATI on Overview of the Xbox360 GPU and a panel on Next Generation Game Technology.

    More info: http://isg.cs.tcd.ie/eg2005/

    Futureplay 05, – 2

    FuturePlay 2005, the International Academic Conference on the Future
    of Game Design and Technology, takes place October 13-15, 2005 in
    East Lansing, MI in the US on the campus of Michigan State University. (Looks like a good opportunity for artistic, experimental and student projects.Deadlines for papers and posters, end of July, Deadline for game submissions Sept 9th.- Aphra)

    The games exhibition showcases peer-reviewed competition of games in three categories: Future (experimental) Games, Serious Games, and Student Games.

    Game submission deadline is September 9th, 2005.

    GAME SUBMISSION DETAILS:
    http://www.futureplay.org/content.php?pageID=64

    The Future Play conference focuses on three main themes. The first
    theme, future game development, addresses academic research and
    emerging industry trends in the area of game technology and game
    design. The second theme, future game impacts and applications,
    includes academic research and emerging industry trends focused on designing games for learning, for gender, for serious purposes, and to impact society. Finally, the third theme, future game talent, is designed to provide a number of industry and academic perspectives on the knowledge, skills, and attitude it takes to excel in the games industry.

    Future Play addresses these issues through exciting and thought-
    provoking keynotes from leaders in academia and industry, peer-
    reviewed paper sessions, panel
    sessions (including academic and
    industry discussions), workshops (including design, technology, and
    career workshops), and exhibitions of posters, games, and the latest
    game technologies and supports from industry-leading vendors.

    The deadline for FuturePlay 2005 academic papers and posters is July 31st, 2005.

    ACADEMIC PAPER SUBMISSION DETAILS:
    http://www.futureplay.org/content.php?pageID=62

    ACADEMIC POSTER SUBMISSION DETAILS
    http://www.futureplay.org/content.php?pageID=65

    Details on FuturePlay are available at http://www.futureplay.org/

    Women In Games

    The Women in Games 2005 Conference will highlight the most recent, groundbreaking work in this field of computer game research and development to both academic and industrial worlds.

    Attended by the giants of the games industry, and giving an insight into a vast emerging market, this is event that you cannot afford to miss!

    The Conference will take place on 8th, 9th and 10th August 2005, at the University of Abertay, Dundee. A full pass, including lunch each day and the Conference dinner, costs just £150. Students and the unwaged may apply for a one-day pass for Wednesday 10 August, at a special price of just £40.

    Book now on www.womeningames.com to secure your place!

    Key speakers confirmed

    Some of the most respected names in the industry will take centre stage at the conference. Keynote speakers include Ernest Adams (UK), an independent games designer, teacher, founder of IGDA, and author; Melissa Federoff (US), a Microsoft Games Usability Engineer; Constance A. Steinkuehler (US), a MMORPG researcher and game columnist; and Aphra Kerr (Northern Ireland), a game researcher at the Centre for Media Research, University of Ulster.

    Programmed for success

    The three days of the conference will include papers on a wide range of issues related to women in games, as well as question and panel sessions, networking opportunities, and presentations from some of the up-and-coming student stars of the future. A conference dinner will be held on Tuesday 9 August 2005.

    Highlights of the programme include:

    Marketing games to a broader audience, a panel chaired by Aleks Krotoski, which will invite discussion on using fresh marketing approaches to encourage female consumers to engage with interactive entertainment, and how the positions of games marketing will change in the future.

    Computer games, play, and the politics of difference, a paper by Professor James Woudhuysen, which will review the naturalistic and consumerist approaches that now dominate commentaries on women and computer games, and propose an alternative outlook.

    Thinking past Pink: Critical considerations of women and gaming, a panel chaired by Tina Taylor of the IT University of Copenhagen. The panel will provide several rich micro-accounts about women who do play, and discuss how we might better understand the intersection of gender and computer games through their stories.

    For full programme details, visit the website: www.womeningames.com

    Student Forum

    Win an iPod Shuffle! Registration for the student forum includes entry to the conference prize draw.

    As part of the conference, student delegates will have unprecedented access to a panel of industry veterans, who will discuss CVs, interview tips, presenting a demo, and hot games hiring topics. Those attending will also have the opportunity to put their CV forward for discussion and comment from the panel.

    The Student Forum will also give the inside track on Dare to be Digital, a unique international student games competition based at the University of Abertay Dundee. Project Manager Jackie McKenzie will give an overview of the past five years of DARE, including a profile of some of the prototypes created.

    About Women in Games 2005

    Women in Games seeks new opportunities and professional development for women working in and researching into games and the games industry.

    The aims of the organisation are to:

    Analyse the role of women in the videogame industry,
    Discuss the future of games that appeal to female gamers,
    Provide an opportunity for women in the videogame industry to network,
    Provide an opportunity to present and discuss the latest videogame research.
    The conference, now in its second year, is a unique opportunity for delegates to explore this growing market, and hear new research into ways of getting women into games – as both developers and players.

    Contact Women in Games 2005 by email at enquiries@womeningames.com

    Women In Games – 2

    The Women in Games 2005 Conference will highlight the most recent, groundbreaking work in this field of computer game research and development to both academic and industrial worlds.

    Attended by the giants of the games industry, and giving an insight into a vast emerging market, this is event that you cannot afford to miss!

    The Conference will take place on 8th, 9th and 10th August 2005, at the University of Abertay, Dundee. A full pass, including lunch each day and the Conference dinner, costs just £150. Students and the unwaged may apply for a one-day pass for Wednesday 10 August, at a special price of just £40.

    Book now on www.womeningames.com to secure your place!

    Key speakers confirmed

    Some of the most respected names in the industry will take centre stage at the conference. Keynote speakers include Ernest Adams (UK), an independent games designer, teacher, founder of IGDA, and author; Melissa Federoff (US), a Microsoft Games Usability Engineer; Constance A. Steinkuehler (US), a MMORPG researcher and game columnist; and Aphra Kerr (Northern Ireland), a game researcher at the Centre for Media Research, University of Ulster.

    Programmed for success

    The three days of the conference will include papers on a wide range of issues related to women in games, as well as question and panel sessions, networking opportunities, and presentations from some of the up-and-coming student stars of the future. A conference dinner will be held on Tuesday 9 August 2005.

    Highlights of the programme include:

    Marketing games to a broader audience, a panel chaired by Aleks Krotoski, which will invite discussion on using fresh marketing approaches to encourage female consumers to engage with interactive entertainment, and how the positions of games marketing will change in the future.

    Computer games, play, and the politics of difference, a paper by Professor James Woudhuysen, which will review the naturalistic and consumerist approaches that now dominate commentaries on women and computer games, and propose an alternative outlook.

    Thinking past Pink: Critical considerations of women and gaming, a panel chaired by Tina Taylor of the IT University of Copenhagen. The panel will provide several rich micro-accounts about women who do play, and discuss how we might better understand the intersection of gender and computer games through their stories.

    For full programme details, visit the website: www.womeningames.com

    Student Forum

    Win an iPod Shuffle! Registration for the student forum includes entry to the conference prize draw.

    As part of the conference, student delegates will have unprecedented access to a panel of industry veterans, who will discuss CVs, interview tips, presenting a demo, and hot games hiring topics. Those attending will also have the opportunity to put their CV forward for discussion and comment from the panel.

    The Student Forum will also give the inside track on Dare to be Digital, a unique international student games competition based at the University of Abertay Dundee. Project Manager Jackie McKenzie will give an overview of the past five years of DARE, including a profile of some of the prototypes created.

    About Women in Games 2005

    Women in Games seeks new opportunities and professional development for women working in and researching into games and the games industry.

    The aims of the organisation are to:

    Analyse the role of women in the videogame industry,
    Discuss the future of games that appeal to female gamers,
    Provide an opportunity for women in the videogame industry to network,
    Provide an opportunity to present and discuss the latest videogame research.
    The conference, now in its second year, is a unique opportunity for delegates to explore this growing market, and hear new research into ways of getting women into games – as both developers and players.

    Contact Women in Games 2005 by email at enquiries@womeningames.com

    A Glimpse Into The Future At Wired’S Nextfest

    Wired magazine is the most popular technology magazine in the U.S. circulating almost one million hard-copy issues every month and read by millions more online. In 2004 the magazine ventured into uncharted territory by convening its first ever NextFest festival in San Francisco. The objective was to mimic the old-fashioned World Fairs where innovators exhibited and traded some of the ideas that would shape the future and the way people live their lives.

    The first Nextfest was a roaring success, visited by 25,000 people over the course of a single weekend and the 2005 event was planned as an even more ambitious occasion. The venue changed to the massive Navy Pier centre in Chicago and more exhibitors in a greater number of categories were invited. This time, over thirty thousand people visited over the weekend to experience future technologies from industries as diverse as health, exploration and, of course, entertainment.

    The “Playground”, or entertainment pavillion accomodated nearly 20 different exhibits from the digital entertainment sector. Everything from humanoid robots to human pacman were included but the dominant theme seemed to be the search for new ways to interact with games and the digital world in general. Of course, new interfaces can be taken to impractical extremes, but that’s exactly what NextFest is about; pushing the envelope of new technologies. Here are some of the gaming highlights from the festival.

    Gamerunner
    One way to change the way we interact with the games we play is to simply develop a new controller. Gamerunner takes first person shooters and gives them a whole new level of immersion.

    Basically, it’s a treadmill with handlebars. The deck of the treadmill is sloped to provide resistance and the handlebars, which turn just like a bike, have triggers attached to which the player can assign actions.

    Load up your favourite FPS and you simply walk or run on the treadmill to propel yourself along in the game. The handlebars do the turning. Suddenly hours of playing Half-Life 2 becomes as demanding on the body as on the nerves, but one thing’s for sure, it’ll keep gamers fit. This author felt he’d gone a few rounds in the ring after ten minutes of Quake on the Gamerunner.

    It’s the stuff of schoolyard conversations, in fact, most of us probably thought of this exact device when we were about ten. But hats off to the developers because it works like a dream.
    image2

    Virsual: The Digital Rocking Horse
    To develop a game controller for an existing game is one thing, but to take an existing toy, turn it into a controller, and develop an entirely original game for your new platform is another thing entirely.

    Virsual is a thing of great beauty. A small, clean, cute looking rocking horse, like a futuristic toy from a Spielberg movie. And alone, it is just that, a beautiful toy. But connected via RF to the Virsual game, it becomes a game controller and a means to explore a virtual world. The faster the player rocks on the horse the faster they move through the game, as the head turns – so does the in game action.

    The beauty of the Virsual’s design is undisputable and attracted many to the exhibit at NextFest. But the fun didn’t stop there as the visual style, graphical quality and playability of the Virsual game were captivating. All credit to the Australian design team who in conversation admitted to achieving all this with only two full time staff!
    image3

    Blowaway: The Winds of Therslow
    In among the interface innovators was Irish contribution “Blowaway: The Winds of Therslow”. Some gd.ie readers may remember this project from the birthday party last April. Blowaway is aimed at the younger audiences, and topples the myth that games discourage teamwork.

    The objective of the game is to steer a hot air balloon across the four islands of Therslow while collecting lost Sunbeams. The players must work as a team using only their breath to carry the ballon along the correct course. Each player blows into a custom built sensor in order to play.

    This author is loathe to exaggerate the projects success due to his own involvement but this was the first time the game has really been exposed to lots (and I mean lots!) of children and reaction was really positive with some kids taking up residence at the exhibit for more than a couple of hours.

    Kick Ass Kung Fu
    There were many projects on display that utilized Eye-Toy style image tracking to allow players immerse themselves in a game environment using a webcam. But none surpassed the scale and quality of Kick Ass Kung Fu, developed by Finnish outfit Animaatiokone Industries.

    The player takes weapon of choice and stands on a playing mat positioned between two large screens. The game detects the players presence and starts up. Realtime image tracking and video keying puts the player into a kung-fu beat-‘em up game. The two screens allow the player to work through 360 degrees and exagerrated physics put Crouching Tiger style moves within the reach of most of us.

    This game really has to be seen to be believed. It is an incredible amount of fun, a real physical challenge, and technologically, is on the cutting edge of image tracking which is an area being explored by most of the major software and hardware developers in gaming today.

    Among the best of the rest was Brainball, the now famous game where you have to “Relax to Win” using a measurement of your brain activity pitched against that of your opponent.

    I haven’t touched on most of the Playground exhibits and have completely ignored the assortment of flying cars, petrol-powered dolphins, 360 degree cinema screens and unmanned military aircraft that were on display. Links are provided below for further information.

    NextFest will get bigger again next year and will move to the East coast and New York City. Anyone in the area is strongly advised to grab a ticket for a whole lot of fun with the technologies of the future.

    Featured Links:
    Wired NextFest – http://www.nextfest.net/
    Gamerunner – http://www.gamerunner.com/
    Virsual – http://www.virsual.com/
    Kick Ass Kung Fu – http://www.kickasskungfu.net/
    Blowaway – http://www.blowaway.org/

    Other great exhibits:
    Skycar – http://www.moller.com/skycar/
    Brainball – http://smart.tii.se/smart/projects/brainball/index_en.html
    Playmotion – http://www.playmotion.com/
    Innespace Dolphin Vehicle – http://www.innespace.com/

    Author Bio:
    John Lynch teaches on the games course in Ballyfermot Senior College in Dublin and was one of the team behind the design and development of ‘Blowaway’ (despite his modesty above!). John was also one of the initial designers behind gd.ie. Contact him via the forums where his nickname is Johnnyslim.

    A Glimpse Into The Future At Wired’S Nextfest – 2

    Wired magazine is the most popular technology magazine in the U.S. circulating almost one million hard-copy issues every month and read by millions more online. In 2004 the magazine ventured into uncharted territory by convening its first ever NextFest festival in San Francisco. The objective was to mimic the old-fashioned World Fairs where innovators exhibited and traded some of the ideas that would shape the future and the way people live their lives.

    The first Nextfest was a roaring success, visited by 25,000 people over the course of a single weekend and the 2005 event was planned as an even more ambitious occasion. The venue changed to the massive Navy Pier centre in Chicago and more exhibitors in a greater number of categories were invited. This time, over thirty thousand people visited over the weekend to experience future technologies from industries as diverse as health, exploration and, of course, entertainment.

    The “Playground”, or entertainment pavillion accomodated nearly 20 different exhibits from the digital entertainment sector. Everything from humanoid robots to human pacman were included but the dominant theme seemed to be the search for new ways to interact with games and the digital world in general. Of course, new interfaces can be taken to impractical extremes, but that’s exactly what NextFest is about; pushing the envelope of new technologies. Here are some of the gaming highlights from the festival.

    Gamerunner
    One way to change the way we interact with the games we play is to simply develop a new controller. Gamerunner takes first person shooters and gives them a whole new level of immersion.

    Basically, it’s a treadmill with handlebars. The deck of the treadmill is sloped to provide resistance and the handlebars, which turn just like a bike, have triggers attached to which the player can assign actions.

    Load up your favourite FPS and you simply walk or run on the treadmill to propel yourself along in the game. The handlebars do the turning. Suddenly hours of playing Half-Life 2 becomes as demanding on the body as on the nerves, but one thing’s for sure, it’ll keep gamers fit. This author felt he’d gone a few rounds in the ring after ten minutes of Quake on the Gamerunner.

    It’s the stuff of schoolyard conversations, in fact, most of us probably thought of this exact device when we were about ten. But hats off to the developers because it works like a dream.
    image2

    Virsual: The Digital Rocking Horse
    To develop a game controller for an existing game is one thing, but to take an existing toy, turn it into a controller, and develop an entirely original game for your new platform is another thing entirely.

    Virsual is a thing of great beauty. A small, clean, cute looking rocking horse, like a futuristic toy from a Spielberg movie. And alone, it is just that, a beautiful toy. But connected via RF to the Virsual game, it becomes a game controller and a means to explore a virtual world. The faster the player rocks on the horse the faster they move through the game, as the head turns – so does the in game action.

    The beauty of the Virsual’s design is undisputable and attracted many to the exhibit at NextFest. But the fun didn’t stop there as the visual style, graphical quality and playability of the Virsual game were captivating. All credit to the Australian design team who in conversation admitted to achieving all this with only two full time staff!
    image3

    Blowaway: The Winds of Therslow
    In among the interface innovators was Irish contribution “Blowaway: The Winds of Therslow”. Some gd.ie readers may remember this project from the birthday party last April. Blowaway is aimed at the younger audiences, and topples the myth that games discourage teamwork.

    The objective of the game is to steer a hot air balloon across the four islands of Therslow while collecting lost Sunbeams. The players must work as a team using only their breath to carry the ballon along the correct course. Each player blows into a custom built sensor in order to play.

    This author is loathe to exaggerate the projects success due to his own involvement but this was the first time the game has really been exposed to lots (and I mean lots!) of children and reaction was really positive with some kids taking up residence at the exhibit for more than a couple of hours.

    Kick Ass Kung Fu
    There were many projects on display that utilized Eye-Toy style image tracking to allow players immerse themselves in a game environment using a webcam. But none surpassed the scale and quality of Kick Ass Kung Fu, developed by Finnish outfit Animaatiokone Industries.

    The player takes weapon of choice and stands on a playing mat positioned between two large screens. The game detects the players presence and starts up. Realtime image tracking and video keying puts the player into a kung-fu beat-‘em up game. The two screens allow the player to work through 360 degrees and exagerrated physics put Crouching Tiger style moves within the reach of most of us.

    This game really has to be seen to be believed. It is an incredible amount of fun, a real physical challenge, and technologically, is on the cutting edge of image tracking which is an area being explored by most of the major software and hardware developers in gaming today.

    Among the best of the rest was Brainball, the now famous game where you have to “Relax to Win” using a measurement of your brain activity pitched against that of your opponent.

    I haven’t touched on most of the Playground exhibits and have completely ignored the assortment of flying cars, petrol-powered dolphins, 360 degree cinema screens and unmanned military aircraft that were on display. Links are provided below for further information.

    NextFest will get bigger again next year and will move to the East coast and New York City. Anyone in the area is strongly advised to grab a ticket for a whole lot of fun with the technologies of the future.

    Featured Links:
    Wired NextFest – http://www.nextfest.net/
    Gamerunner – http://www.gamerunner.com/
    Virsual – http://www.virsual.com/
    Kick Ass Kung Fu – http://www.kickasskungfu.net/
    Blowaway – http://www.blowaway.org/

    Other great exhibits:
    Skycar – http://www.moller.com/skycar/
    Brainball – http://smart.tii.se/smart/projects/brainball/index_en.html
    Playmotion – http://www.playmotion.com/
    Innespace Dolphin Vehicle – http://www.innespace.com/

    Author Bio:
    John Lynch teaches on the games course in Ballyfermot Senior College in Dublin and was one of the team behind the design and development of ‘Blowaway’ (despite his modesty above!). John was also one of the initial designers behind gd.ie. Contact him via the forums where his nickname is Johnnyslim.

    Igda Student Scholarships

    University students will have the opportunity to visit the Game Developers Conference Europe, courtesy of the International Game Developers Association.

    Those selected by the IGDA would be able to attend all sessions, roundtables, panels, and keynotes at the GDC Europe. The conference runs from Tuesday, August 30th through Thursday, September 1st at London’s Le Meridien Hotel.

    “The annual Student Scholarship program provides students with a peek into the game creation process,” says Jason Della Rocca, executive director of IGDA. “It’s one exciting way the IGDA supports aspiring game creators.”

    Interested students must meet the sponsorship’s qualifications, which include full-time enrollment at a university and membership of the IGDA. 10 applicants will be selected. The “scholarship” is actually a Classic Pass to the conference, and provides access to all sessions, roundtables and keynotes. Selected students will be responsible for all expenses (travel, lodging, etc.), although breakfast and lunch will be provided at the conference. The membership application is currently available online.

    Closing date for applications is July 20th

    see http://www.igda.org/scholarships/

    Igda Student Scholarships – 2

    University students will have the opportunity to visit the Game Developers Conference Europe, courtesy of the International Game Developers Association.

    Those selected by the IGDA would be able to attend all sessions, roundtables, panels, and keynotes at the GDC Europe. The conference runs from Tuesday, August 30th through Thursday, September 1st at London’s Le Meridien Hotel.

    “The annual Student Scholarship program provides students with a peek into the game creation process,” says Jason Della Rocca, executive director of IGDA. “It’s one exciting way the IGDA supports aspiring game creators.”

    Interested students must meet the sponsorship’s qualifications, which include full-time enrollment at a university and membership of the IGDA. 10 applicants will be selected. The “scholarship” is actually a Classic Pass to the conference, and provides access to all sessions, roundtables and keynotes. Selected students will be responsible for all expenses (travel, lodging, etc.), although breakfast and lunch will be provided at the conference. The membership application is currently available online.

    Closing date for applications is July 20th

    see http://www.igda.org/scholarships/

    Igda Scholarships For Gdce

    If you would like to attend GDCE(31st to September 1st, 2005) for free and are a student then you need to submit an application before July 20th.

    You submit your scholarship application at the IGDA web site and you are advised to read the complete list of rules and scholarship details before applying.

    The IGDA will award 10 university/college students admission to the 2005 Game
    Developers Conference Europe, which is being held in London. Scholarship recipients will gain access to conference seminars, panel discussions and potential job opportunities.

    http://www.igda.org/scholarships/

    Igda Scholarships For Gdce – 2

    If you would like to attend GDCE(31st to September 1st, 2005) for free and are a student then you need to submit an application before July 20th.

    You submit your scholarship application at the IGDA web site and you are advised to read the complete list of rules and scholarship details before applying.

    The IGDA will award 10 university/college students admission to the 2005 Game
    Developers Conference Europe, which is being held in London. Scholarship recipients will gain access to conference seminars, panel discussions and potential job opportunities.

    http://www.igda.org/scholarships/

    Design And Technology Workshop 2005

    A call has been issued for papers for a two day workshop on game design, technology and culture, forthcoming at Liverpool John Moores University, 8-9 November, 2005.

    This is a joint academic industry conference and the deadline for full paper submission is the 31st August, 05. Full details below.

    ********

    The Third Annual International Conference in Computer Game Design and Technology

    A two-day event of lectures, tutorials and exhibitions on Computer Games Research and Development

    Venue : Liverpool Mariott Hotel, Queen Square, Liverpool, L1 1RH, UK

    Call for Papers

    Programme co-Chairs

    Madjid Merabti – Liverpool John Moores University

    Newton Lee – ACM Disney

    Abdennour El Rhalibi – Liverpool John Moores University

    Researchers in game design and technology will have the opportunity to present their work in these sessions. The subjects and areas of interest cover, but are not limited to:

    1. Game Artificial Intelligence (pathfinding, learning, agents, …)

    2. Real Time Physics and Animation

    3. 3D Modelling Graphics/Animation Techniques

    4. Game Character Emotion and Social Interaction

    5. Tools development for Game Engineering and middleware

    6. Mobile Gaming.

    7. Advanced/Innovative Interaction Design

    8. Ambient Intelligence for Entertainment

    9. Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality

    10. Art, Design and Media

    11. Cultural and Media Studies on Computer Games

    12. Education, Training, and Edutainment Technologies

    13. Human Factors of Games

    14. Interaction design

    15. Interactive Digital Storytelling

    16. Media Theory

    17. Networking (technical and social) in computer Entertainment Applications

    18. New Genres, New Standards

    19. Security (technical and social)

    20. Social Computing and Presence

    21. Sound and Music

    Authors are invited to submit full or short papers for presentation at the conference. Full papers (no more than 10 camera-ready pages in the IEEE format detailed on the IEEE web site). Short papers are an opportunity to present preliminary or interim results and are limited to 5 camera-ready pages in length.

    Papers will be peer reviewed by at least 3 independent reviewers, will published in the conference proceedings and the best paper will be recommended for publishing in the ACM Computer in Entertainment Journal.

    Best Presentation award – The best paper presentation will be awarded the 2005 computer best-seller book recently published by Berkshire Publishing: HCI Encyclopaedia in 2 volumes.

    Timeline of Important Dates for authors

    Paper Submission: 30 August 2005

    Notification of Acceptance: 21 September 2005

    Camera-ready Papers due: 15 October 2005

    Registration by Authors due: 15 October 2005

    Please submit your paper via email in PDF or Word format.

    More info:

    Conference Home.
    http://www.cms.livjm.ac.uk/gdtw/GDTW2005/default.htm

    CFP
    http://www.cms.livjm.ac.uk/gdtw/GDTW2005/CFP.htm

    Gdc Europe

    For those who can’t afford or didn’t have the time to make GDC this year it may be worth checking out the European event. The 5th Annual GDC Europe will take place from the 30 August to 1 September, 2005 event in London, UK.

    Industry veteran and Sony executive Phil Harrison and Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi will deliver keynote addresses on 31 August and 1
    September respectively.

    IGDA members receive a 10% discount on conference pass pricing. Early registration rates expires 3 August. IGDA membership will be verified.

    Register and more info at:
    http://www.gdceurope.com/

    Design And Technology Workshop 2005 – 2

    A call has been issued for papers for a two day workshop on game design, technology and culture, forthcoming at Liverpool John Moores University, 8-9 November, 2005.

    This is a joint academic industry conference and the deadline for full paper submission is the 31st August, 05. Full details below.

    ********

    The Third Annual International Conference in Computer Game Design and Technology

    A two-day event of lectures, tutorials and exhibitions on Computer Games Research and Development

    Venue : Liverpool Mariott Hotel, Queen Square, Liverpool, L1 1RH, UK

    Call for Papers

    Programme co-Chairs

    Madjid Merabti – Liverpool John Moores University

    Newton Lee – ACM Disney

    Abdennour El Rhalibi – Liverpool John Moores University

    Researchers in game design and technology will have the opportunity to present their work in these sessions. The subjects and areas of interest cover, but are not limited to:

    1. Game Artificial Intelligence (pathfinding, learning, agents, …)

    2. Real Time Physics and Animation

    3. 3D Modelling Graphics/Animation Techniques

    4. Game Character Emotion and Social Interaction

    5. Tools development for Game Engineering and middleware

    6. Mobile Gaming.

    7. Advanced/Innovative Interaction Design

    8. Ambient Intelligence for Entertainment

    9. Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality

    10. Art, Design and Media

    11. Cultural and Media Studies on Computer Games

    12. Education, Training, and Edutainment Technologies

    13. Human Factors of Games

    14. Interaction design

    15. Interactive Digital Storytelling

    16. Media Theory

    17. Networking (technical and social) in computer Entertainment Applications

    18. New Genres, New Standards

    19. Security (technical and social)

    20. Social Computing and Presence

    21. Sound and Music

    Authors are invited to submit full or short papers for presentation at the conference. Full papers (no more than 10 camera-ready pages in the IEEE format detailed on the IEEE web site). Short papers are an opportunity to present preliminary or interim results and are limited to 5 camera-ready pages in length.

    Papers will be peer reviewed by at least 3 independent reviewers, will published in the conference proceedings and the best paper will be recommended for publishing in the ACM Computer in Entertainment Journal.

    Best Presentation award – The best paper presentation will be awarded the 2005 computer best-seller book recently published by Berkshire Publishing: HCI Encyclopaedia in 2 volumes.

    Timeline of Important Dates for authors

    Paper Submission: 30 August 2005

    Notification of Acceptance: 21 September 2005

    Camera-ready Papers due: 15 October 2005

    Registration by Authors due: 15 October 2005

    Please submit your paper via email in PDF or Word format.

    More info:

    Conference Home.
    http://www.cms.livjm.ac.uk/gdtw/GDTW2005/default.htm

    CFP
    http://www.cms.livjm.ac.uk/gdtw/GDTW2005/CFP.htm

    Gdc Europe – 2

    For those who can’t afford or didn’t have the time to make GDC this year it may be worth checking out the European event. The 5th Annual GDC Europe will take place from the 30 August to 1 September, 2005 event in London, UK.

    Industry veteran and Sony executive Phil Harrison and Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi will deliver keynote addresses on 31 August and 1
    September respectively.

    IGDA members receive a 10% discount on conference pass pricing. Early registration rates expires 3 August. IGDA membership will be verified.

    Register and more info at:
    http://www.gdceurope.com/

    Another Generation At E3

    What’s coming?
    Monday started the week off with a bang; Sony Computer Entertainment’s pre-E3 press conference was always expected to reveal the new PlayStation console, what was delivered just wasn’t expected. Graphics, planned specifications, and claimed performance for the PS3 overshadowed Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Nintendo’s Revolution, as the talk-of-the-show for the remainder of the week. Although deep scepticism clouded many minds, it was mostly of those who had not seen the PS3 footage.

    At the event, Sony showed in-game videos of near modern film CGI, apparently recorded from PS3-like architecture. Two were highlighted as running in real time, one of which was a version of EA’s ‘Fight Night’, where the impact of a punch on one boxer’s face showed ripples through his face, as well as showing detailed facial expressions, such as fear and rage.

    Other eyebrow raisers were ‘Eyedentify’ – using Eyetoy to put the player into the game; ‘MotorStorm’ – crazy car and bike race through a mud filled track; ‘Formula 1’, and ‘The Getaway’ (screen test) – both just looking stunning, F1 with the addition of stunning crashes, and ‘KillZone’ – with such an amount of detail, cries of ‘render’ and ‘fake’ can still be heard on internet forums. Although later in the week there was somewhat impressive 360 games running on the show floor, and behind close doors,
    the 360 is at this point outclassed by the PS3.

    On the matter of the PS3 videos, while also referring to the running Xbox 360 games at E3 (on development kits), Michel Cassius, Senior Director Xbox Platform & Marketing in Europe said, “it’s not about fancy technical demos that we could have done years ago, we can do that, we can (do) technical demos. That’s no problem. We can do nice videos – anybody can do that”, adding that “Not everyone can have games, real stuff, happening”.

    But it wasn’t just at the cores of the consoles where the PS3 topped the 360, it boasts connectivity to seven wireless controllers out-of-the-box using Bluetooth to 360’s four, and support for up to two high definition televisions to 360’s one (but how many people have even one HDTV?).

    Behind closed doors at the EA stand, the company was again showing some of the most mind-denting next generation games, at least graphically speaking. This time is was Xbox 360 titles, besides a ‘Need for Speed’ game, all were sports titles. The next generation part? From the blades of grass in the Tiger Woods game, to the detail of stadiums, clothing, players’ faces, and in some cases the detail of the audience.

    image2

    Nintendo released their own unexpected surprise, saying that their entire back catalogue would be made available for download on their sleek Revolution console, the prototype shown was not much larger then three CD cases, however the lack of specifications posed the question were Nintendo really in the ‘next generation’ race.

    This generation
    Whatever about the next generation, ‘Black’ was one of the games that showed there is still much life in the current systems. The PS2 and Xbox first person shooter, by the now EA-owned developer Criterion, looks set to translate their Burnout formula to the shooter genre. It is set for release in February 2006.

    Besides the Revolution, and their minuscule redesigned GBA, Nintendo looks to have a repeat of the Pokémon craze on their hands with Nintendog for their handheld DS system. In all practicalities it’s an advance version of Tamagotchi where the player looks after their virtual pet, and just another use for the DS’s touch screen (petting virtual dogs).

    The Movies, Lionhead’s slightly the Sims-look-alike simulator, is turning out to be quite complex. From hiring actors, dealing with their problems (weight, relationships, addictions), building studio lots, to actually making a film, and saving it. Having a hit or not, depends on originality, profits, current events and popular culture of the day – the in-game timeline goes from the 1920s to the present year.

    Irish Presence
    The Irish presence was for the most part contained in the private meeting rooms of the Kentia hall, hidden away under the main South Hall. Havok had their own rooms, while Enterprise Ireland housed DemonWare, Nephin Games, and Starcave Studios. DemonWare replaced their GDC limo with an open-top bus rambling around the outskirts of the LA Conference Centre.

    Thursday night saw Sony Computer Entertainment Ireland hosting their ‘Irish Dinner’ at a restaurant on Sunset Boulevard for the second year running. The event moved from last year’s packed (cramped) one-long-table affair, to just across and down the strip to a more spacious venue for an even greater crowd, again a mixture of competitors, publishers, developers, middleware providers, retailers, distributors, and journalists – from Microsoft, and EA, to Gamestop, Smyths, Xtra-vision, to the Star and the Evening Herald.

    Havok, as well as having over 50 games on the show floor using their technology including ‘Age of Empires III’, ‘Perfect Dark Zero’, ‘Destroy all Humans’, and ‘Rainbow Six: Lockdown’, the middleware company confirmed their support for the PS3, stating they will optimize their products for the new console. In a release at the start of E3, Jeff Yates of Havok said, “We realize that game developers are facing an enormous challenge to keep up with player expectations, while trying to manage the transition to next generation multi-core game platforms. Havok products reduce the risk and costs game developers are facing, by offering production-tested, cross-platform solutions that free up the creative talents of game developers, while taking advantage of the unique power of new game systems”.

    Nephin Games’ Alan Duggan told us that for them GDC was about publishers and distributors, while E3 had a lot more to do with licensing of brands, “some distribution partners, but primarily the focus has been on brand owners”. “We’ve had a brilliant week”. “We’re combining two hot topics at the moment, which is mobile gaming and mobile marketing”, Duggan said, the mixture is “putting us in a sweet spot at the moment”. On their future games, “With out giving too much away”, after their recent Kickboxing game more fighting games are lined up, along with a racing game.

    Keith Killilea of the Galway-based Star Cave Studios was – as he was at GDC – busy with publisher meetings, “We’ve pretty much talked to every publisher,” Killilea said, sounding somewhat exhausted – it was Friday and the first warning to leave the conference centre had sounded over the intercom. Star Cave recently acquired three indie studios, Staridia in Brazil, Cellien in the US, and Single Cell in Australia, all three of the studios were at E3 with Starcave. The company has kept most of the staff, and currently have two first person shooters in development, ‘Illumina’ and ‘Terra: Formations’ both using the Torque game engine. Formations will feature RTS elements.

    With 12 employees currently on the payroll, they plan to expand to 20/25 in the next few months. “Most of the new crew coming on board will be going to Galway” explained Killilea, “there’s a lot of Irish guys and girls abroad” who want to move back to Ireland. “A year ago Star Cave Studios was only a dream”, he said, while on the subject of games development in Ireland he ambitiously states, “We’re going to be no. 1”.

    On the Irish games industry and government support, Killilea said that Enterprise Ireland “are doing some great things, but we still need for the government to allow Enterprise Ireland to help us out more”.

    Star Cave’s flagship game is titled ‘the 14 Tribes’ and is based on the mythical Ireland of the folklore character Cuchulainn. As an action-adventure game for PC and Xbox, it should include leprechauns in some form or another, “it’s not based in Galway, but it includes the 14 tribes of Galway”.

    Closing time at 4pm on Friday hits in a strange way. A mixture of sadness as they start to role the carpet off the floor, relief that the madness is over for another year, the dread of going headlong into LA rush-hour traffic (even for those who weren’t driving), and the anticipation of a year’s release of games, and at least one console launch. If E3 2004 was ‘the year of the sequels’then E3 2005 was ‘the year of the next generation consoles.’

    Author’s Bio: Cian Ginty is the editor of the Irish computer games website Games Toaster [http://gamestoaster.com/ ], and former editor of Gamire.com. He can be contacted at cian.ginty@gamestoaster.com

    Another Generation At E3 – 2

    What’s coming?
    Monday started the week off with a bang; Sony Computer Entertainment’s pre-E3 press conference was always expected to reveal the new PlayStation console, what was delivered just wasn’t expected. Graphics, planned specifications, and claimed performance for the PS3 overshadowed Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Nintendo’s Revolution, as the talk-of-the-show for the remainder of the week. Although deep scepticism clouded many minds, it was mostly of those who had not seen the PS3 footage.

    At the event, Sony showed in-game videos of near modern film CGI, apparently recorded from PS3-like architecture. Two were highlighted as running in real time, one of which was a version of EA’s ‘Fight Night’, where the impact of a punch on one boxer’s face showed ripples through his face, as well as showing detailed facial expressions, such as fear and rage.

    Other eyebrow raisers were ‘Eyedentify’ – using Eyetoy to put the player into the game; ‘MotorStorm’ – crazy car and bike race through a mud filled track; ‘Formula 1’, and ‘The Getaway’ (screen test) – both just looking stunning, F1 with the addition of stunning crashes, and ‘KillZone’ – with such an amount of detail, cries of ‘render’ and ‘fake’ can still be heard on internet forums. Although later in the week there was somewhat impressive 360 games running on the show floor, and behind close doors,
    the 360 is at this point outclassed by the PS3.

    On the matter of the PS3 videos, while also referring to the running Xbox 360 games at E3 (on development kits), Michel Cassius, Senior Director Xbox Platform & Marketing in Europe said, “it’s not about fancy technical demos that we could have done years ago, we can do that, we can (do) technical demos. That’s no problem. We can do nice videos – anybody can do that”, adding that “Not everyone can have games, real stuff, happening”.

    But it wasn’t just at the cores of the consoles where the PS3 topped the 360, it boasts connectivity to seven wireless controllers out-of-the-box using Bluetooth to 360’s four, and support for up to two high definition televisions to 360’s one (but how many people have even one HDTV?).

    Behind closed doors at the EA stand, the company was again showing some of the most mind-denting next generation games, at least graphically speaking. This time is was Xbox 360 titles, besides a ‘Need for Speed’ game, all were sports titles. The next generation part? From the blades of grass in the Tiger Woods game, to the detail of stadiums, clothing, players’ faces, and in some cases the detail of the audience.

    image2

    Nintendo released their own unexpected surprise, saying that their entire back catalogue would be made available for download on their sleek Revolution console, the prototype shown was not much larger then three CD cases, however the lack of specifications posed the question were Nintendo really in the ‘next generation’ race.

    This generation
    Whatever about the next generation, ‘Black’ was one of the games that showed there is still much life in the current systems. The PS2 and Xbox first person shooter, by the now EA-owned developer Criterion, looks set to translate their Burnout formula to the shooter genre. It is set for release in February 2006.

    Besides the Revolution, and their minuscule redesigned GBA, Nintendo looks to have a repeat of the Pokémon craze on their hands with Nintendog for their handheld DS system. In all practicalities it’s an advance version of Tamagotchi where the player looks after their virtual pet, and just another use for the DS’s touch screen (petting virtual dogs).

    The Movies, Lionhead’s slightly the Sims-look-alike simulator, is turning out to be quite complex. From hiring actors, dealing with their problems (weight, relationships, addictions), building studio lots, to actually making a film, and saving it. Having a hit or not, depends on originality, profits, current events and popular culture of the day – the in-game timeline goes from the 1920s to the present year.

    Irish Presence
    The Irish presence was for the most part contained in the private meeting rooms of the Kentia hall, hidden away under the main South Hall. Havok had their own rooms, while Enterprise Ireland housed DemonWare, Nephin Games, and Starcave Studios. DemonWare replaced their GDC limo with an open-top bus rambling around the outskirts of the LA Conference Centre.

    Thursday night saw Sony Computer Entertainment Ireland hosting their ‘Irish Dinner’ at a restaurant on Sunset Boulevard for the second year running. The event moved from last year’s packed (cramped) one-long-table affair, to just across and down the strip to a more spacious venue for an even greater crowd, again a mixture of competitors, publishers, developers, middleware providers, retailers, distributors, and journalists – from Microsoft, and EA, to Gamestop, Smyths, Xtra-vision, to the Star and the Evening Herald.

    Havok, as well as having over 50 games on the show floor using their technology including ‘Age of Empires III’, ‘Perfect Dark Zero’, ‘Destroy all Humans’, and ‘Rainbow Six: Lockdown’, the middleware company confirmed their support for the PS3, stating they will optimize their products for the new console. In a release at the start of E3, Jeff Yates of Havok said, “We realize that game developers are facing an enormous challenge to keep up with player expectations, while trying to manage the transition to next generation multi-core game platforms. Havok products reduce the risk and costs game developers are facing, by offering production-tested, cross-platform solutions that free up the creative talents of game developers, while taking advantage of the unique power of new game systems”.

    Nephin Games’ Alan Duggan told us that for them GDC was about publishers and distributors, while E3 had a lot more to do with licensing of brands, “some distribution partners, but primarily the focus has been on brand owners”. “We’ve had a brilliant week”. “We’re combining two hot topics at the moment, which is mobile gaming and mobile marketing”, Duggan said, the mixture is “putting us in a sweet spot at the moment”. On their future games, “With out giving too much away”, after their recent Kickboxing game more fighting games are lined up, along with a racing game.

    Keith Killilea of the Galway-based Star Cave Studios was – as he was at GDC – busy with publisher meetings, “We’ve pretty much talked to every publisher,” Killilea said, sounding somewhat exhausted – it was Friday and the first warning to leave the conference centre had sounded over the intercom. Star Cave recently acquired three indie studios, Staridia in Brazil, Cellien in the US, and Single Cell in Australia, all three of the studios were at E3 with Starcave. The company has kept most of the staff, and currently have two first person shooters in development, ‘Illumina’ and ‘Terra: Formations’ both using the Torque game engine. Formations will feature RTS elements.

    With 12 employees currently on the payroll, they plan to expand to 20/25 in the next few months. “Most of the new crew coming on board will be going to Galway” explained Killilea, “there’s a lot of Irish guys and girls abroad” who want to move back to Ireland. “A year ago Star Cave Studios was only a dream”, he said, while on the subject of games development in Ireland he ambitiously states, “We’re going to be no. 1”.

    On the Irish games industry and government support, Killilea said that Enterprise Ireland “are doing some great things, but we still need for the government to allow Enterprise Ireland to help us out more”.

    Star Cave’s flagship game is titled ‘the 14 Tribes’ and is based on the mythical Ireland of the folklore character Cuchulainn. As an action-adventure game for PC and Xbox, it should include leprechauns in some form or another, “it’s not based in Galway, but it includes the 14 tribes of Galway”.

    Closing time at 4pm on Friday hits in a strange way. A mixture of sadness as they start to role the carpet off the floor, relief that the madness is over for another year, the dread of going headlong into LA rush-hour traffic (even for those who weren’t driving), and the anticipation of a year’s release of games, and at least one console launch. If E3 2004 was ‘the year of the sequels’then E3 2005 was ‘the year of the next generation consoles.’

    Author’s Bio: Cian Ginty is the editor of the Irish computer games website Games Toaster [http://gamestoaster.com/ ], and former editor of Gamire.com. He can be contacted at cian.ginty@gamestoaster.com

    Blowaway Heads To The Windy City

    If you bought Wired magazine this month and was flicking through their supplement on the Wired magazine ‘NextFest’ event you will a picture of the Irish table top game ‘Blowaway’, familiar to some as one of the projects presented at gd.ie’s second birthday.

    ‘Blowaway’ was a DCU final year multimedia project which represented Ireland at EuroPrix in Vienna last year and this year was invited to attend Wired magazine’s NextFest in Chicago.

    Well gd.ie has just learned that the team behind ‘Blowaway’ have secured funding and are heading off to represent DCU and Ireland in Chicago from the 24-26th of June.

    We look forward to hearing how they get on.

    More info: www.nextfest.net

    Blowaway Heads To The Windy City – 2

    If you bought Wired magazine this month and was flicking through their supplement on the Wired magazine ‘NextFest’ event you will a picture of the Irish table top game ‘Blowaway’, familiar to some as one of the projects presented at gd.ie’s second birthday.

    ‘Blowaway’ was a DCU final year multimedia project which represented Ireland at EuroPrix in Vienna last year and this year was invited to attend Wired magazine’s NextFest in Chicago.

    Well gd.ie has just learned that the team behind ‘Blowaway’ have secured funding and are heading off to represent DCU and Ireland in Chicago from the 24-26th of June.

    We look forward to hearing how they get on.

    More info: www.nextfest.net

    Ba (Hons) In Multimedia, Cit

    BA (Hons) in Multimedia, Cork Institute of Technology.

    This course encourages the development of individual skills and interests through the creation of exciting and innovative digital media products for delivery on the Web, TV, CD or DVD. This 4 year course incorporates aspects relevant to game design and development throughout its programme but also addresses the creation, design, management and distribution of a broad range of digital products and services and the technologies that underpin them. It teaches the principles and practices of media design and production including: graphic visualisation, digital imaging, video, audio, animation, computer programming and authoring, digital technologies and computer systems development.

    Years 3 and 4 of the course include a game specific component which provides students with a strong theoretical context for developing games related projects in their final years.

    Due to it’s multidisciplinary nature this course draws on the expertise of a wide range of disciplines involving staff from the Departments of Computing, Business, Social Studies, and Engineering as well as the Crawford College of Art & Design and Cork School of Music.

    The BA (Hons.) in Multimedia course is also delivered in Germany under a franchise agreement with Fachhochschule Darmstadt providing excellent opportunities for students to exchange and collaborate on a European level.

    Star Cave

    Star Cave
    Keith Killilea
    n/a
    Galway Technology Centre, Mervue Business Park, Galway City
    Update : June 2005

    Star Cave Studios Ltd., is a multi-platform computer games developer for PC / Mac / Linux / Mobile & Consoles. StarCave HQ is based in Galway city & we have development teams world-wide including Staridia (Brazil), Cellien (USA) & Single Cell (Australia).

    StarCave is currently in a number of budget price range & full price range of PC / Console games with at least 3 big releases in 2005 & our major release of 2006 is the first “AAA” PC / Console game.

    StarCave is a new games company offically opened our doors in June 2004. StarCave also held the first Galway Games Conference in 2004 while still less than 6 months old & has made many important alliances in Ireland & world-wide of game developers / publishers.

    StarCave supports the continued development of the Irish Games Industry & we try to help with what we can with it.

    Star Cave Studios is an Irish owned and Independent games studio of “A”, “AA” & “AAA” titles.

    www.starcave.com
    www.staridia.com

    Ba (Hons) In Multimedia, Cit – 2

    BA (Hons) in Multimedia, Cork Institute of Technology.

    This course encourages the development of individual skills and interests through the creation of exciting and innovative digital media products for delivery on the Web, TV, CD or DVD. This 4 year course incorporates aspects relevant to game design and development throughout its programme but also addresses the creation, design, management and distribution of a broad range of digital products and services and the technologies that underpin them. It teaches the principles and practices of media design and production including: graphic visualisation, digital imaging, video, audio, animation, computer programming and authoring, digital technologies and computer systems development.

    Years 3 and 4 of the course include a game specific component which provides students with a strong theoretical context for developing games related projects in their final years.

    Due to it’s multidisciplinary nature this course draws on the expertise of a wide range of disciplines involving staff from the Departments of Computing, Business, Social Studies, and Engineering as well as the Crawford College of Art & Design and Cork School of Music.

    The BA (Hons.) in Multimedia course is also delivered in Germany under a franchise agreement with Fachhochschule Darmstadt providing excellent opportunities for students to exchange and collaborate on a European level.

    Exhibit 8: New Frontiers In Gaming

    At the moment the Digital Hub in Dublin is hosting ‘Exhibit 8: New Frontiers in Gaming’ an exhibition that explores the creative and innovative potential of digital technology and features commercial games products and experiments coming from the worlds of research and art.

    The idea behind this exhibition is to look at recent developments in hardware and interfaces which pose new challenges and offer new opportunities to game designers and developers.

    Exhibit8 is open to the public and is free of charge.

    Time: Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.30pm
    Date: 5th May – 3rd June 2005
    Venue: The Digital Exchange, Crane Street, The Digital Hub, Dublin 8

    For further information visit: www.thedigitalhub.com/experience
    Phone: 01-4806200

    Exhibit 8: New Frontiers In Gaming – 2

    At the moment the Digital Hub in Dublin is hosting ‘Exhibit 8: New Frontiers in Gaming’ an exhibition that explores the creative and innovative potential of digital technology and features commercial games products and experiments coming from the worlds of research and art.

    The idea behind this exhibition is to look at recent developments in hardware and interfaces which pose new challenges and offer new opportunities to game designers and developers.

    Exhibit8 is open to the public and is free of charge.

    Time: Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.30pm
    Date: 5th May – 3rd June 2005
    Venue: The Digital Exchange, Crane Street, The Digital Hub, Dublin 8

    For further information visit: www.thedigitalhub.com/experience
    Phone: 01-4806200

    Exhibit 8: New Frontiers In Gaming – 3

    At the moment the Digital Hub in Dublin is hosting ‘Exhibit 8: New Frontiers in Gaming’ an exhibition that explores the creative and innovative potential of digital technology and features commercial games products and experiments coming from the worlds of research and art.

    The idea behind this exhibition is to look at recent developments in hardware and interfaces which pose new challenges and offer new opportunities to game designers and developers.

    Exhibit8 is open to the public and is free of charge.

    Time: Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.30pm
    Date: 5th May – 3rd June 2005
    Venue: The Digital Exchange, Crane Street, The Digital Hub, Dublin 8

    For further information visit: www.thedigitalhub.com/experience
    Phone: 01-4806200

    Exhibit 8: New Frontiers In Gaming – 4

    At the moment the Digital Hub in Dublin is hosting ‘Exhibit 8: New Frontiers in Gaming’ an exhibition that explores the creative and innovative potential of digital technology and features commercial games products and experiments coming from the worlds of research and art.

    The idea behind this exhibition is to look at recent developments in hardware and interfaces which pose new challenges and offer new opportunities to game designers and developers.

    Exhibit8 is open to the public and is free of charge.

    Time: Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.30pm
    Date: 5th May – 3rd June 2005
    Venue: The Digital Exchange, Crane Street, The Digital Hub, Dublin 8

    For further information visit: www.thedigitalhub.com/experience
    Phone: 01-4806200

    Talk Digital: Learning Through Gaming

    A public seminar chaired by Ian Campbell; Editor, Silicon Republic

    Panel: Ann Fitzgibbon; TCD Centre for Research in IT in
    Education (CRITE)
    Tony Kelly; Irish Games Developers Association (IGDA)
    Stephen Heppell; Learn3K, National College of Ireland

    Time: 4pm-5.30pm
    Date: Wednesday 18th May 2005
    Venue:
    The Learning Studio,
    10-13 Thomas St,
    The Digital Hub,
    Dublin 8

    Admission is free and open to the public
    To register for this event please visit:
    www.thedigitalhub.com/experience
    Talk Digital is part of ‘Experience The Digital Hub’

    Talk Digital: Learning Through Gaming – 2

    A public seminar chaired by Ian Campbell; Editor, Silicon Republic

    Panel: Ann Fitzgibbon; TCD Centre for Research in IT in
    Education (CRITE)
    Tony Kelly; Irish Games Developers Association (IGDA)
    Stephen Heppell; Learn3K, National College of Ireland

    Time: 4pm-5.30pm
    Date: Wednesday 18th May 2005
    Venue:
    The Learning Studio,
    10-13 Thomas St,
    The Digital Hub,
    Dublin 8

    Admission is free and open to the public
    To register for this event please visit:
    www.thedigitalhub.com/experience
    Talk Digital is part of ‘Experience The Digital Hub’

    Talk Digital On Mobile Games

    Irish wireless games developers face twin challenges from large publishers and cheaply produced games emerging from Asia, a talk digital seminar on mobile gaming business models was told. The publishers control many of the licences that are crucial for a wireless game to stand out and sell in a crowded market.

    “Bigger publishers are moving into the market and licencing branded games, making if more difficult for small games developers to get a foothold in the business,” Michael Rogers, Creative Director of Selatra, told an audience at the Digital Hub on 11th May 2005. Electronic Arts is among the large publishers showing increased interest in the wireless games market, which is expected to be worth $4bn in 2006. The company has plans to set up a wireless studio.

    Irish developers have to keep a tight reign on production costs and develop for proven mass markets. A top five selling game in Europe can expect to make €500,000 after deductions such as royalty payments. However, as in the PC and console games markets, only the top 10 percent of wireless games make money and they must subsidise the bottom 90% of titles.

    “Margins are tight because publishers aren’t paying much to develop games,” said Will Golby, Managing Director of TKO Software. “We have to develop for the mass market. We won’t invest in a 3G game yet because it’s not the mass market.”

    Rogers, of Selatra, had similar concerns over 3D wireless games. “3D is a risk because of higher development costs and the small number of handsets that are 3D enabled.”

    The number of potential outlets for wireless games is booming, but as with games titles themselves, only premium outlets are likely to make a return.

    “The market in Europe is fragmented,” said Rogers. “Hundreds of operators or portals are selling games. But it is hard to get into the big sellers, such as Vodafone Live, which accounts for 40% of the European wireless games market.

    “In the early days of the industry, you could just send out an unknown game for download and it had a chance of success. Today it is hard to have a successful game unless you have a strong licence or marketing strategy, e.g. a movie tie-in or a branded game.”

    Recognised brands that are suited to the small screen of a mobile phone make for premium titles, argued Golby. Tetris is the world’s best selling wireless game, with over 12 million downloads. Developer Jambat paid $170 million to Hawaiian based company Blue Lava for a 15 year use of the licence.

    Author’s Bio: Anthony Cawley is a full time researcher working at the Centre for Society, Technology and Media (STeM) at Dublin City University.

    Talk Digital On Mobile Games – 2

    Irish wireless games developers face twin challenges from large publishers and cheaply produced games emerging from Asia, a talk digital seminar on mobile gaming business models was told. The publishers control many of the licences that are crucial for a wireless game to stand out and sell in a crowded market.

    “Bigger publishers are moving into the market and licencing branded games, making if more difficult for small games developers to get a foothold in the business,” Michael Rogers, Creative Director of Selatra, told an audience at the Digital Hub on 11th May 2005. Electronic Arts is among the large publishers showing increased interest in the wireless games market, which is expected to be worth $4bn in 2006. The company has plans to set up a wireless studio.

    Irish developers have to keep a tight reign on production costs and develop for proven mass markets. A top five selling game in Europe can expect to make €500,000 after deductions such as royalty payments. However, as in the PC and console games markets, only the top 10 percent of wireless games make money and they must subsidise the bottom 90% of titles.

    “Margins are tight because publishers aren’t paying much to develop games,” said Will Golby, Managing Director of TKO Software. “We have to develop for the mass market. We won’t invest in a 3G game yet because it’s not the mass market.”

    Rogers, of Selatra, had similar concerns over 3D wireless games. “3D is a risk because of higher development costs and the small number of handsets that are 3D enabled.”

    The number of potential outlets for wireless games is booming, but as with games titles themselves, only premium outlets are likely to make a return.

    “The market in Europe is fragmented,” said Rogers. “Hundreds of operators or portals are selling games. But it is hard to get into the big sellers, such as Vodafone Live, which accounts for 40% of the European wireless games market.

    “In the early days of the industry, you could just send out an unknown game for download and it had a chance of success. Today it is hard to have a successful game unless you have a strong licence or marketing strategy, e.g. a movie tie-in or a branded game.”

    Recognised brands that are suited to the small screen of a mobile phone make for premium titles, argued Golby. Tetris is the world’s best selling wireless game, with over 12 million downloads. Developer Jambat paid $170 million to Hawaiian based company Blue Lava for a 15 year use of the licence.

    Author’s Bio: Anthony Cawley is a full time researcher working at the Centre for Society, Technology and Media (STeM) at Dublin City University.

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