Quantic Ambitions

10 08 2007

This interview with Quantic Dreams passed us by in the run up to the Develop Conference, but it’s worth reading. They have plenty to say about games maturity as a medium:

Commented Cage: “Our industry is now ready to reach a more grown-up and wider audience. We will continue to produce games for teenagers, but not all people want to shoot and drive. It is now time for our media to reach maturity. We need to become more ambitious, more creative; we need to dare to explore new directions and to take risks. I am convinced that great rewards will be found following that route.”

It also has an interesting detail about their business model:

Having a mocap service is an interesting way to offset the long-term development business with a short-term contract one working for other companies. Was that the intention when you started offering motion capture to third parties?

GDF: The only way to reach the level of quality we were targeting with mocap and to produce the massive volumes of data required by our format for a reasonable cost was to own a system. It gave us time to work on R&D, try different solutions, and most of all, to integrate mocap in our pipeline properly, which very few studios in the world can do. Very quickly, the expertise we obtained interested other companies, and we started working for movies, commercials or games, which in turn contributed to our R&D by supporting our financial effort.

Half Life 2 PS3 Development in UK

20 06 2007

Shacknews has an assortment of news in an item about Half Life 2 Episode 2 and surrounding titles, which includes this:

Valve is handling development of the games on PC and Xbox 360, with EA UK’s Chertsey, Surrey office bringing the titles to PlayStation 3.


16 04 2007

Gamesindustry.biz has an intriguing tidbit on potential plans for the PS3 given the success of Folding@Home on the console:

“We are discussing various options with companies and exploring commercial applications,” said Sony’s chief technology officer, Masa Chatani.

“A start-up or a pharmaceutical company that lacks a super-computer could utilise this kind of infrastructure,” detailed Chatani.

While the Folding@home service is for research purposes, any commercial possibilities would need to offer a reward or incentive for PS3 users to take part. The report suggests free products could be a possibility.

Offering virtual items in exchange for commercially lucrative processor cycles would be devilish genius. Given the largely altruistic nature of distributed data processing so far though, I wonder about the politics of offering the service to a market.

Will people be able to pick and choose what they contribute GHz to, or will the nature of the data processed be completely opaque? While the objective cost of running something technically akin to Folding@Home is small, something about the idea of earning a reward in return for a donation of unknowable subjective cost makes me a little uneasy.

With total freedom, the service would naturally expedite a certain amount of unethical corporate behaviour. Would there be any form of check in terms of data transparency for users or Sony? Even if commercial data is shrouded from users but Sony demand a peek at it, I wonder how easy it would be for client companies to sneak stuff through. I suspect it would take the leaking of something truly incendiary to make it a problem that PSHome swag couldn’t offset.

Sheffield Hallam work with Sumo Digital on Rub-a-Dub

10 04 2007

Research done by scientists at Sheffield Hallam University has helped inform new PS3 game Super Rub-a-Dub by Sumo Digital.

The university’s Materials and Engineering Research Institute, lead by Professor Chris Care, developed a complex mathematical model designed to simulate the realistic behavior of materials which has since gone on to help the game’s rendering of a pool of water filled with virtual rubber ducks.

“Much of our work involves developing computer programmes which simulate the way different materials actually behave, enabling much greater understanding of their properties and providing detailed information to aid product development in a wide range of industry sectors,” explained Care in a report by scientific journal Scetna.

“Our Thinking Water technology is one such programme which offers a highly efficient means of simulating fluid flow. It’s a technology which has already been used in work with major companies such as BNFL and Rolls Royce, but we started to think about other ways in which it could have an impact and that’s when we hit upon the idea that it could bring something quite new to the games industry.

“As our use of algorithms in research became more efficient and games consoles were becoming increasingly more powerful, it became clear that there could be a mutually beneficial link-up, and that’s why we approached Sumo.”

Added Sumo’s chief operating officer Carl Cavers: “When the University first presented the technology to us we thought this is cool and we could see opportunities to use this in a video game. Our design team fleshed out a few ideas and a year later we have the result.”

GDC07: Sony outlines new online vision

8 03 2007

Phil Harrison’s GDC keynote explains plans for new PS3 Home online community network.
In his GDC keynote Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison has told the development community that software driven by user-communities, such as as its new virtual world Home, will “empower the next decade of growth in our industry all around the world”.

Sony will actively back this strategy with a number of its own applications. The primary one is Home, a free avatar-based 3D world that lets users congregate, meet friends, ‘own’ a private apartment and visit virtual shop-fronts.

Developed by London Studio, Home is a best of breed take on avatar-based environments like Second Life, but uses the PS3’s capabilities to deliver a world that fills the gap between the interface on the PlayStation XMB dashboard and games themselves.

Users can customise their avatar’s appearance, clothes and accessories – in time players will be able to pay for, or unlock via game achievements, the latter. The same goes for each user’s own virtual private apartment, which players can invite friends to, fill with furniture and even stream music and video from their Hard Drive to.

A ‘Hall of Fame’ also takes pride of place in the Home world – this lets users display new 3D trophies that are unlocked through in-game milestones in PS3 games.

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GDC07: Media Molecule Premier LittleBigPlanet for Sony

8 03 2007

At GDC today, Mark Healy and Alex Evans, part of the core team behind Sony’s new LittleBigPlanet, talked about how their company, Media Molecule, became such a prominent Sony partner. They also said why the company chose to go with the PS3…

ImageEvans and Healy likened the founding of Media Molecule to “falling into an abyss.”

But it’s been a pretty impressive fall so far. The small studio today revealed its first project, the unique-looking LittleBigPlanet, during Phil Harrison’s keynote at GDC this week. That’s pretty good placement on Sony’s upcoming game lineup.

Media Molecule started in January 2006 with the idea to make the “most ambitious, fun, off-its-head game that we could [think of]–and most importantly, to get someone else to pay for it,” Healy laughed.

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