The ever improving gaming experience
The increasing technological growth of the 21st century has perhaps hit the gaming sector, whether this be console or PC, with the most force. Over the last few years we have seen a whole multitude of developments which enable today’s modern gamer access to some of the most realistic experiences available through the gaming-medium. The modern gamer now has the luxury of incredible dynamic CPU systems, vastly improved graphical capabilities as well as life-like physics’ engines on modern consoles that almost literally bring the gaming experience to real life.
Two strands in console gaming can be broadly delineated. There is firstly the computer gaming industry, PC gaming, as well as the console gaming industry, which consists of the various console that we have seen come and go over the years (Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo).
Computer gaming has recently seen massive advancements in technology which shows just how far it has comes from its infant days of 2d pong or pinball. Ever since the introduction of faster and more powerful computer systems, we have seen an exponential improvement in PC gaming potential. Graphically, the improvement noticed has been marked, with every year the introduction of ever sharper resolutions thanks to new high definition technology. Similarly, the physics engines on which PC games are based have taken a life of their own and now operate at dizzying levels of sophistication.
Furthermore, this proliferation of new gaming advancements has translated onto the console scene. From the early days of the Playstation’s inception, we now have the Playstation 3 which is compatible not only as a blu-ray DVD player but also offer cutting edge levels of precision which altogether enhance the consumer gaming experience. Hundreds of game titles are now formatted for the PS3 and the exploding interest from previously dormant markets (Asia) means that future interest is likewise bound to increase. The Playstation’s main rival in the console gaming industry, the Xbox 360, has similarly seen a staggering rate of success amongst a wide range of markets. Having faced doubts over its initial model, Microsoft adapted the sequel to its initial product, the Xbox, and made it HD compatible. Having tweaked some of the previously criticised characteristics of the Xbox (most notably variety of gaming options as well as control figurations), the 360 has been an undoubted hit and continues to sell well even in times of economic contraction. One way is to sell game consoles and packaged games to online trade sites like MusicMagpie, so when new technology hits the high street – you can claw back the initial cost outlay, because keeping up with the latest and greatest, and experiencing that new console feeling is a must.
Whilst this economic recession does indeed pose challenges gaming markets have not yet had to deal with, it remains to be seen whether the industry will grow at such a rate that it did during the previous decade. If the rate of technological growth remains how it is, however, then one has every reason to be hopeful.
It was a former Technology Director at CyberLife, who first dreamed up Creatures back in 1993. He spent a lot of time developing a suitable world for his Norns to live in – a world consisting of mystery and history.
“Making up worlds out of thin air doesn’t work, so build upon worlds that are already self-consistent – worlds that already exist deep inside our racial memories. Places of our dreams.” says the former director of technology.
So Albia is a world of the imagination, but not recent imagination. Drawn out of stories that have been told for thousands of years, it is a world by humans and perhaps by Norns. “However, when I was in the middle of designing Creatures I was talking about myths because I wanted Creatures to be a game like Warcraft,” commented the director. “Whereas I really just wanted to create a self-consistent and understandable world .”
Within every myth and every legend, there lies a truth. Somewhere out there, in a universe of Otherworlds, live all the monsters and mythical beasts that ever entered human imagination. The nature of these creatures and of the lands they occupy is perhaps not quite as men have imagined it, but they exist, nonetheless.
Happily, modern developments in Virtual Reality have given us direct contact with this Alter-universe of our minds, and sometimes, explorers have been sailing strange seas and slashing their way through mysterious jungles, intent on describing and recording what little is left of these doomed civilisations before they are lost forever. But perhaps recording is not enough. Perhaps we should try to redress the balance and save these products of human thought from extinction. For some of these poor creatures, there is not much time left.
Mixed-reality environments bring digital creatures to the bedroom floor!
Gameware Development has created ‘ZOOKS’, an online-community based software product with features that enable children to watch their creations come to life and compete on the bedroom floor, rather than just in a virtual environment or TV studio.
“Building and racing the Zooks enables children to discover the fundamental rules of physics and engineering – without realising they’re learning!” says the CEO of Gameware Development. “The software blends physics, artificial intelligence and 3D graphics, but is simple to use and has a child-friendly interface that is very easy”
By using web cameras to augment real-world backgrounds with 3D images of user created Zooks, the Zook software allows users to run contests at home . The software interfaces with the image from the camera, to give the on-screen appearance of a contest taking place in the room. Once the camera is set up, background objects can be defined, and the ‘Competition Creation Pack’ used to build assault courses- Also mousetraps, marble-runs, hurdles and other contraptions to challenge the Zooks can be build by the user.
“Zookers can also build virtual competition environments or ‘Zook-ilands’” says Jeremy. “Competitions between multiple Zooks in these environments can be recorded and played back in full 3D, with interactive camera controls including pan, tilt, zoom and cut.”
Gameware hopes Zooks will be a broadband product which will have global appeal. The CEO wants to see Zook gaming sites all over the world, each with a local community, look and feel.
“I see international Zook competition!” says Jeremy. “National teams of children will create a squad of Zooks to compete in international competitions, with a ‘constructors’ championship’ for competition builders. Different nations’ Zooks websites will hoste International competition heats , with the contests themselves being given local flavour.”
“We would encourage each country’s site to have regional leagues and national competitions and to produce leader boards. This would maintain ongoing interest and aid selection of the best Zookers to go forward to compete at an international level,” he added.
The entire ZOOKS content is user-generated, and individual trials and contests can be recorded and shared with millions of other users by uploading to the ZOOKS website. The sites will also feature a rating system allowing Zookers to rank one another’s creations.
“CBBC has pioneered the BAFTA nominated and 2006 ’Prix Jeunesse’ award winning UK site for the BAMZOOKi TV show that has attracted over 2 million downloads of the Zook kit in the UK alone, and we are confident that the enhanced features of Zooks will facilitate the transformation from UK TV show into global phenomenon,” says the CEO of Gamewar Development.