LED Throwies

23 02 2006

Developed by the Graffiti Research Lab a division of the Eyebeam R&D OpenLab, LED Throwies are an inexpensive way to add color to any ferromagnetic surface in your neighborhood. A Throwie consists of a lithium battery, a 10mm diffused LED and a rare-earth magnet taped together. Throw it up high and in quantity to impress your friends and city officials.

Multi- Touch Sensing

23 02 2006

While touch sensing is commonplace for single points of contact, multi-touch sensing enables a user to interact with a system with more than one finger at a time, as in chording and bi-manual operations. Such sensing devices are inherently also able to accommodate multiple users simultaneously, which is especially useful for larger interaction scenarios such as interactive walls and tabletops.


Apple Bump Tunes

22 02 2006

From Interconnected:
Apple’s PowerBook laptops now have a little accelerometer inside that’s used to protect the hard drive if you drop it (it notices the sudden speed increase and parks the drive heads). This guy has found a way to tap into the sudden motion sensor, and Timo was just round my house with his brand new PowerBook, so we spent a few minutes of looking at the stuff on that site (a window that rotates so it’s always the right way up). Then we saw there was a little tool that gives you the angle of the machine in three dimensions. Aha. (I love accelerometers.)

After a few more minutes, we had the tilt sensor controlling Timo’s music. You rock the machine backwards for the next track, and rock it forwards for the previous track. Then we realised that you rarely need “previous”–you just listen to music, and when a track comes on you don’t want to hear, you jog your laptop and it bumps on to the next song (and you don’t need to be in iTunes). Wicked. Tasty microembodiment.

Here’s the script: bumptunes.py. Download amstracker, put both files in the same directory, go to that directory in the Terminal and type:

./amstracker -u 0.1 -s | python bumptunes.py

That amstracker tool is absolutely fantastic, I can think of a thousand things I want to do with it: Bumps that are application-specific, that take into account context, length of bump, slower tilts. You could extract some very nuanced input, and do some very detailed things with the computer. Drawing, rapid-fire email filing (tilt right to delete, left to keep, like you’re driving through time through your mail inbox).

But Timo’s gone home and I’m using my older PowerBook sans bumptunes. I feel kind of indignant, like my laptop is wilfully ignoring me. It seems inert, a lump of metal deliberately cutting itself off from the rest of the universe. A deaf, dead machine.

80 jobs may go as embattled Atari slashes costs

20 02 2006

US-based publisher confirms plans to cut 20 per cent of workforce
Publisher Atari Inc has announced that it is set to cut its staff levels by 20 per cent in an attempt to control costs and meet its obligations to its creditors, in a move which could see up to 80 jobs being lost worldwide.
Described as “decisive action” by Atari CEO Bruno Bonnell, the layoffs will come in the wake of a number of weak quarterly financials, which led eventually to an announcement by the firm earlier this month that its credit line from HSBC had been cut off due to failure to meet certain financial obligations to the bank.
The publisher warned that it may be unable to continue as a going concern at that point, but suggested a number of remedies to the situation – among them the possibility of controlling costs by cutting jobs or selling development studios.
Now Atari has confirmed that it will be cutting 20 per cent of it workforce, which currently numbers around 400 worldwide – of whom roughly 250 are in the United States – but no information has been released about when the cuts will happen, or whether specific parts of the firm will be targeted.
As to the development studios, Atari is undoubtedly considering its options, but no official decision has been forthcoming regarding their fate. The publisher has already removed three studios from its books in the past twelve months, closing facilities in California (Santa Monica) and Massachusetts (Beverly) in early 2005, and selling off its majority share in Humongous Software to parent company Infogrames last Autumn.
Speaking about the planned job cuts, CEO Bruno Bonnell was upbeat, saying that: “Today’s decisive action will provide us with the flexibility necessary in a changing business environment.”
“Adjusting our cost structure is a significant first step,” he continued, “and demonstrates our commitment to restoring shareholder value.”

Perry resigns as head of Shiny Entertainment

20 02 2006

Following the news that Atari intends to sell off its internal development studios, Shiny Entertainment founder Dave Perry has resigned from his position as head of the company.
Speaking to the Orange County Register, Perry said he took the decision to resign because he wants to focus on finding the ideal buyer for Shiny.
‘Atari can go ahead and sell Shiny but I think I can help too because I’m on the board of a lot of things. I can bring a lot of parties to the table and I can do that faster if I hit the streets myself,’ Perry said.
‘If I’m an employee of Atari, then I’d be stepping all over them. This way, I’m representing a buyer. I can act swiftly and get buyers on the table. I pitched Shiny last time and got $47 million.’
Perry added that he intends to go back to Shiny once the right buyer has been found, stating: ‘To be clear, I cannot sell the company but I can get publishers excited about the company enough to get a bidding war going on.’
Perry said prospective buyers have already shown ‘a lot of interest’ in purchasing Shiny, which is based in Newport Beach and employs 56 people. The studio is best known for producing Enter the Matrix, Path of Neo and the Earthworm Jim series. There are currently three confirmed new titles in development, including a new Earthworm Jim title. “

OCR announces new interactive media qualification

15 02 2006

OCR announces new interactive media qualification :

UK educational awarding body OCR has announced the launch of a new nationally recognised qualification in interactive media, designed to provide the required skills for employment in digital media and gaming.
The OCR iMedia qualification has been specifically created to meet the needs of students and young professionals seeking a career in the interactive entertainment and digital media industries, offering a broad range of skills and competencies with an extensive list of optional modules for students who wish to specialise in a particular area.
Developed with extensive industry consultation, iMedia is delivered at two levels, ideally crafted for secondary school students looking for an entry into the games industry, and those wishing to formalise their vocational experience or pursue a career change.
Level 2 modules include digital animation, sound and video, game design, web authoring and 2D game engines, and the more advanced qualification level includes additional components focusing on 3D game design, 3D game engines and a range of video and sound editing modules.
Mary Bennett, OCR’s assistant director of vocational assessment, commented: ‘The world of creative interactive media is fast-moving and requires a work force that is up-to-date and can respond quickly to change, growth and innovation. OCR iMedia has been designed to provide learners of all abilities with the opportunity to have their skills formally accredited so that they can shine in the workplace, or make the first steps on their journey to a non-traditional career.’
The iMedia qualification will be available through thousands of educational centres across the country, and further information on the course structure, design and availability can be found by visiting the newly launched iMedia micro-site.

Codemasters Announce Deering Appointment

3 02 2006

Former SCEE Chairman and CEO joins UK developer/publisher;
Benchmark Capital Europe increase stake…

Codemasters continued transformation took another twist today with confirmation that Chris Deering has joined the company’s Board of Management as non-executive Chairman.

Having recently stepped down as President of Sony Europe Consumer Electronics Division, as well as Chairman and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), Deering is widely recognised as one of gaming’s leading figures and the man who unleashed the Playstation upon Europe.

Chris Deering, Codemasters’ new Chairman says: “Over the past 20 years, I have been impressed with Codemasters’ excellence in game development and skilful marketing in the PlayStation market and overall gaming space. The company’s heritage and the reputation it carries makes this a thoroughly exciting prospect and I look forward to contributing to its future success.”

In addition Codemasters has confirmed that Benchmark Capital Europe has increased its investment in the UK developer/publisher, from the 40% which it acquired in April 2005 to a 70% total shareholding.

Commenting on the agreement Ynon Kreiz, General Partner at Benchmark Capital Europe, said: “Since our initial investment last year, Codemasters has demonstrated that it can become a major force in a very competitive and dynamic industry. The additional investment and the appointment of industry icon Chris Deering as Chairman further strengthens our commitment to making Codemasters a global leader in the video games market. We look forward to continue building the company and benefiting from our successful partnership with Codemasters founders, the Darling family.”

It has also been noted that Codemasters CEO, Rod Cousens, has acquired a 1.5% stakes in the company. Having joined the company in May 2005 after emerging from the ashes of Acclaim Entertainment, Cousens is responsible for formulating additional business divisions including Codemasters Online Gaming and Codemasters Mobile.

Rod Cousens, Codemasters’ Chief Executive Officer, comments: “Codemasters has launched dominant titles, such as Brian Lara International Cricket, which became a summer best seller, and has already expanded its interests in gaming markets with success in the MMO and mobile sectors.

“We are very excited about the company’s current momentum and delighted to welcome Chris, a pioneer in the gaming industry. He is worldly, understands global markets and has made PlayStation a major entertainment brand. His combination of intellect, business savvy, understanding of technology, and breadth of experience will be hugely valuable as Codemasters continues its strategy of portfolio and international growth.”

How far should non compete causes go?

2 02 2006

According to Next Generation EA and Ubisoft Canada are in a legal battle over the recruitment of new talent.

EA Montreal GM Alain Tascan has sent a letter to Ubisoft Montreal boss Martin Tremblay which criticizes the company for requiring employees to sign non-compete clauses.
The non-compete clause restricts former Ubisoft members from working in other game-industry related positions for one year after their departure. The letter was sent just after EA hired a former Ubisoft artist.

In the fall of 2003, Ubisoft took EA to court in Quebec for hiring four Splinter Cell team members less than a year after leaving their former company.

EA has never sought legal action against Ubisoft for its aggressive solicitation and hiring of people who work at EA Montreal,’ Tascan wrote. ‘As long as our former employees respect their obligations of confidentiality, EA does not intend to prevent them from exercising their talents elsewhere.
Unfortunately, Ubisoft does not share EA�s commitment to employee freedom. The noncompetition clauses that Ubisoft requires all its employees to sign prevent fair competition and hinder the free circulation of talent. This policy effectively impedes the growth of our industry in Quebec.”

In the past, Ubisoft has maintained that the clause is meant to protect trade secrets, and has claimed non-compete clauses are an industry standard in Canada, although EA has challenged that statement, claiming that “Ubisoft is one of the few companies in the Quebec game industry that forces its employees to sign non-compete clauses.”

Non compete clauses are often used in the UK to stop not only talent from moving from studio to studio, but from companies developing new products from new talent.

What does this mean for the argument to move the industry to a more ‘Hollywood studio’ model where the industry is full of freelancers, when they are restricted from working? If we look at Hollywood’s employment contracts there are non-compete clauses. But there isn’t the inherent technology knowledge and skill development. Technology is pretty much a standard in the industry.

read more at Next Gen

Games are seen as key part of modern culture by the BBC

2 02 2006

Games could become a regular feature on BBC programme

The executive producer of BBC 2’s The Culture Show has spoken to
“I would stand by the view that, for many people – who might be young and might not be gallery goers or great fans of opera – in important and valid ways, a videogame is culture. I think we should be as open-minded as that.”

Morgan went on to discuss the way in which videogames have developed over the last three decades, stating: “What’s been achieved in this area over my lifetime is completely revolutionary.”

“Today they’ve come on light years, [offering] completely different experiences that are miles more vivid, is my sense of it. I think the most exciting question is, where will it be in 20 years’ time? I can’t begin to imagine – it’ll be my children’s generation who are shaping it.”

When asked if videogames could become a regular feature on The Culture Show, Morgan replied: “I think they ought to be. I believe that gaming is a cultural activity, a part of the way people live, express themselves, enjoy themselves and relate to one another.”

“Culture is a bigger, and more interesting category than just ‘the arts’… I believe that gaming is a valid, lively part of British culture today, so yes, a programme that aspires to capture cultural Britain today should be covering areas that you cover, and that your readers get interested and turned on by.”
The next edition of The Culture Show will be broadcast on BBC 2 at 7pm GMT this evening, and repeated at 11.20pm. To vote in the Great British Design Quest, visit the BBC website.

Go to GamesIndustry.biz to read the full article