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Archive for January, 2015

3D Games and Virtual Reality

January 31, 2015 Leave a comment

Over the past year I’ve been concentrating mainly on improving my skills in HTML5 / Javascript games, and all of the games I’ve made during this time have been 2D. This year I’d like to improve my skills in 3D games and learn some new tools, so that will be my New Year resolution for 2015. I’ve been looking at the most popular tools for creating games on One Game A Month and it seems like Unity is the leader.

With this in mind I set out to make a prototype using Unity and managed to achieve this in around 4 hours thanks to some great tutorials on Youtube. I also managed to convert the game to work with Google Cardboard, the low cost Virtual Reality headset.

My prototype is a simple landscape with a couple of walls, a first person view (with two cameras to create the VR effect), and it is controllable with a gamepad. I’ve packaged it for Android and you can download and install the package from the link below (remember to enable ‘other sources’ on your Android device). I’ve only tested it on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus with an Xbox Controller and also an Ipega PG 9017 bluetooth game controller. If you don’t have a controller to connect to your Android device, then you can still download the app, but all you’ll be able to do is look around and not move.

Download the game (Android package)

Looking Back, Looking Forward

January 11, 2015 Leave a comment

2014 brought a few interesting technologies that may have an impact in the gaming world, many of which won’t be fully realised until at least 2015. Here is a rundown of some technology that emerged in 2014 or is due to appear in 2015:

  1. Oculus Rift, the Virtual Reality headset made it into version 2 in 2014, with version 3 codenamed ‘Crescent Bay’ to be launched early in 2015. The big question is whether or not virtual reality will be accepted by the gaming community or whether it will be consigned to the ‘skip of failed tech’. Several companies are betting on VR becoming popular, including Samsung who have launched their own VR headset that uses their latest cellphone as the screen. Oculus themselves, purchased in 2014 by Facebook, have been recruiting some big players in movement tracking technology and bought up Nimble VR, a small tech company developing hand-tracking systems. Google also made a much less expensive step into the virtual world with its budget Google Cardboard virtual reality headset. Many thought it was a joke at first, but the reality is that it’s a cardboard headset containing some cheap plastic lenses that houses a smartphone in a similar way to Samsung’s headset. Sony were also developing their own VR headset, the Morpheus, for Playstation 4, but it is now believed that the project has been canned. Microsoft are also rumoured to be developing a similar system, and meanwhile in Scotland a company called Eyedak Ltd is developing its own headset.
  2. The Steam Controller finally made an appearance too, but the design has only just been finalised, so we’re not likely to see it in the shops just yet. The controller which mixes together a gamepad design with touch pads is being hailed as the new best way to control your game, providing a halfway house for gamepad ¬†and mouse users. It remains to be seen whether this will prove to be better than either of the systems it aims to replace, and there’s still no news on how much it will cost.
  3. Valve’s other project, the Steam Machine has¬†failed to appear in 2014. The new range of gaming platforms, co-built with a handful of hardware vendors was to run the SteamOS and provide a new gaming platform to run all of your favourite games downloaded via Steam.Valve has restated its intention to have the hardware on full release in 2015, but we shall see if there is any appetite for yet another gaming platform.
  4. Also in the virtual world, the company Virtuix has brought a virtual reality treadmill to the pre-order stage. Designed to allow players to walk in a realistic way in a virtual world, the treadmill known as Virtuix Omni is compatible with Battlefield 4 and is suitable for gamers with a large room and probably an equally large bank balance.
  5. HP is launching a new 3D monitor that allows users to interact with objects on screen in an augmented reality kind of way. the system uses a special stylus and a set of 3D glasses to create the effect. The screen is based on the Immersive 3D technology from zSpace.
  6. Intel is also jumping on the bandwagon of interactive display technology with its RealSense devices that will allow the user to interact with screen based objects with gestures and movement, as well as to create 3D scans of objects.
  7. 2014 also saw the release of yet another Nintendo DS. This one had two analogue sticks, Near Field Communication and a cartridge slot. In other news a Nintendo fan has built a tower of old DS models that reach from his bedroom in East Tokyo to the moon.