Dekko is a new company that is trying to create an operating system (OS) for augmented reality (AR) glasses and other devices. Importantly, they don’t seem to be working on hardware and are focused on software; similar to Microsoft’s approach with Windows. Gamasutra has a good introduction to Dekko and their plans. They seem to understand the current limits of AR and are directly addressing them:
By the time the technology is released, the aim is to provide the OS with the capability to map surrounding rooms, streets and wherever else you choose to go in full 3D, and use this information to potentially reconstruct surroundings to suit each particular app.
“If a physical marker/image is needed to use the app, no one will use it twice,” explains Miesnieks. “Dekko works anywhere that your camera can see something.”
“The content needs to be truly in the world, not floating on the screen,” he continues. “Dekko’s 3D tracking and reconstruction allows game content to truly be part of the 3D world with occlusion & collisions between digital content and real structures.”
In Canada, there are some efforts to improve the world of AR. In Edmonton there is a company focused on modifying the Moverio (Andriod-based wearable tech) to be used for a training device. Being Edmonton-based they are looking into ways the AR can be used for companies working in the tar sands. Similarly, Vuzix has the same plan to go after industrial training – neither company is looking into gaming.
While we wait for this AR tech to become more accessible, the CBC has a good rundown on what’s going on in Canada when it comes to AR companies.
Thanks to Dave! Who is working a neat AR game (more on that in a couple months).
I’m still looking at fashion and games (previously) and have gained even more apperciation for the art of fashion and the concepts around style.
Without further ado, here’s a hodgepodge of fashion and games stuff:
Console to Closet is a website that catalogs the blending of fashion and video games into stylish and wearable outfits. Pictured is the outfit inspired by Legion from Mass Effect.
There are some fashion elements in video games that make no sense whatsoever like female body armour. Recently, there was a post on TOR.com on the ridiculous design of protective breast plating in games (and other media). Here’s a snippet from the piece which is worth a read.
But that’s not all! Let’s say you even fall onto your boob-conscious armor. The divet separating each breast will dig into your chest, doing you injury. It might even break your breastbone. With a strong enough blow to the chest, it could fracture your sternum entirely, destroying your heart and lungs, instantly killing you. It is literally a death trap—you are wearing armor that acts as a perpetual spear directed at some of your most vulnerable body parts. It’s just not smart.
Creating large game environments takes a large amount of time no matter how one goes about creating it. I’m quite interested in procedural generation to decrease production time and provide an easy way to add variety to environments. The upcoming game Sir, You Are Being Hunted is being designed using procedural generation of the English countryside.
Despite the fact that you get landscapes by pressing a button it’s such a large undertaking to make procedural generated spaces. The effort is direct more to code and bug fixies instead of other aspects of design. To get an idea of this, the Sir team wrote about procedurally generating the countryside.
One of the more complex regions are the village cells. These have detailed scripts to generate the layout of houses, roads and gardens. First, roads are drawn into the terrain splatmap extending out at different angles from the village centre. Then a series of functions line the roads with houses and other buildings. Finally there is a chance for houses to have a range of garden types behind them, these gardens are themselves populated by various scenery elements and other features. Villages provide a much more complex environment for exploration and combat, and may include lootable containers with valuable resources. They are also more likely to harbour enemies.
At BLDBLOG there is a piece on how their procedural countryside design is made with the added bonus of comparing it to an ongoing project in reality (at the end of the article). The countryside is being created digitally and physically.
There is another approach though, and that is modular design using kits.
Bethesda makes games set in expansive places like Fallout 3 and Skyrim. In fact, Skyrim is so large that I felt the need to make a post about it. The use of in-house art kits allow designers to create such vast lands to explore.
In a very in-dpeth post about modular design two designers from Bethesda (based off their GDC 2013 presentation) discuss their approach. I really appreciate how they connect what they are doing digitally with a physical comparison:
Kits aren’t a new idea. They aren’t unique to Bethesda or to the types of games we make. Consider the board game Carcassone. Unlike Monopoly or Scrabble, the board changes every time you play Carcassone. The tiles are arranged so that roads meet roads, rivers meet rivers, and so on, creating an effectively randomized yet visually cohesive whole. It’s easy to see the grid when looking at a Carcassone table, and how this system of art works together to make a unique play field.
Their post outlines how to rethink some aspects of the design process to better use time and other resources. They have stages of designing, testing, and iterating that are all worth looking into if you want to use modular design.
Throughout their post they mention the pros and cons of modular design from multiple perspectives. Some artists may find it scary (or just wrong) as an approach and level designers may find it to be limiting. I think that the most important take is the following:
Looking again towards the benefits of working modular, one of the big bonuses (especially from a production viewpoint) is that a modular approach helps if your team has a low ratio of artists to designers. Remember the ten people responsible for the dungeon content in Skyrim? Eight of them are the level designers, and only two represent the entirety of our full-time kit art team. They generated seven kits, which the level design team used to create well over 400 cells, or unique loaded interiors, of dungeon content. And those dungeons were built in about two and a half years, from start to finish.
At the end of the day is it better to use modular or procedural? There is no clear answer and in many cases they can be related to one another (just think that procedural needs modular pieces). It comes down to the skills on your team and what kind of game you’re building.
I finished Bioshock Infinite last weekend and have been thinking about it since. The game is incredibly well put together; the world and the story are both impressive. Just like the first Bioshock, Infinite shows what’s possible in narrative when it comes to the current world of games.
Obviously this post is filled with spoilers, so continue only if you’ve already played the game.