Category Archives: Opinions And Editorials

CES ’14 Roundup: Are Gamers Getting Steamed for 4K?

To sum up what last week’s Consumer Electronics Show was all about, plenty of 4K televisions and Steam machines will be entering into the market. That will be great for video enthusiasts wanting a bit of extra oomph from their Blu-ray movies and video gamers will wonder what’s next to enjoy. With multiple hardware manufacturers clambering on board to develop boxes that will run SteamOS, the console gaming war is going to get a lot more interesting.

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Keeping Eyes on Track for a Video Game Future

Tobii's PCEye in action.

Tobii’s PCEye in action.

(This article is republished from Otaku No Culture, a blog that looks the pop culture scene of the Pacific Northwest.)

In an age where motion-tracking is becoming all the rage, only Microsoft knew how to make the idea work right. They made it nearly hands-free. With the Kinect. players can run on the spot in order to move faster than a speeding bullet or leap tall buildings in a single bound within a virtual world. With Tobii introducing a prototype of an eye-tracking sensor at CES this week with the EyeX, people can start sniping bullets out of thin air or melting weapons with laser beam eyes.

This technology to track eye movement may well be the next evolution to bring virtual reality home to the video-gamer. No date has been announced yet, but when this device is ready, it should be cheaper than the company’s main product, the PCEye that starts at $2k (on Amazon).

Danish gaming manufacturer SteelSeries is helping to make an affordable version that can detect what a person’s eyes is really ogling at on a video screen — female avatars may want to start covering up. Or with games like Duke Nuke’em or Grand Theft Auto, they just may become a little more difficult with all those distractions slowing the player down.

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The Future of CGI in Gaming and Films

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If keen observers of video game cinematics and CGI films think the computer graphics look great now, especially in how cloth material and hair is rendered, the next wave is going to be amazing.

The science behind how these surfaces are rendered have been restudied and restructured in such a way, where if there was a real world analogy: the way any type of thread is weaved on a loom in specific patterns is what the team of computer engineers from the Jacobs School of Engineering / UC San Diego looked at, but at a microscopic level. What they have discovered is a simpler method which matches this real world analogy and the ‘virtual threads’ are more cylindrical.

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Weighing in on Nintendo’s latest Two Dimensional Offering

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Nintendo enthusiasts now have a menu of portable hardware options to choose from: they can go 2D, 3D or XL. Each unit has their pros and cons, but as for whether or not their newest unit, the 2DS, will fly hinges on the upcoming Christmas shopping season. Read the rest of this entry

The Bard vs Next Generation Gaming

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“To PS4 or not to Xbox, that is the question:
Whether ’tis better, another console in mind —
Nay a Nintendo. Forsooth a PC?
All be it in gravitas for what
Divine Janus may offer in the New Year.”

— Ed “The Vintage Tempest” Sum

 
Sony’s PS4 has some impressive specs and interesting features like using an iPad for a second screen, but that’s not enough to convince me to own a unit yet. The Xbox One has an improved Kinect but that’s not a huge selling point. The videos of various games demos for both look great in high-def, but the list of games available during launch week are scant. They are not as wide and varied as I hoped.

The current line of exclusives are not all that interesting, and there will no doubt be some hardware and software kinks that need to be ironed out. There were reports over the weekend about the PS4’s ‘blue light of death,’ an analogy that brings to mind Microsoft’s infamous ‘red ring of death’ back when the Xbox 360 released. At least .4% of the people who bought the system were affected. I suspect the figure is larger but when considering the number of units that flew off the shelves in stores on launch day. That is not a good start. Read the rest of this entry

Two Players are Better than One? Neuro-interfaces and Gaming

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Neural interfaces are an idea of science-fiction, and over at the University of Washington’s Neural Systems Laboratory, the concept has moving one edge closer to reality. A direct brain-to-brain communication in humans is part of a pilot study by Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stucco where one human can influence the actions of another through electro stimuli.

If that sounds too complex, then consider the analogy from the movie Pacific Rim. Two pilots are required to move one of those Jaegers. The reason is because there are too many mechanisms to make the robot fight, run and jump. Two minds are better than one when coördination is required to handle all the variables that happen when this robot is fighting it out with a Kaiju. But in order for two pilots to be able to work together, they have to be compatible in more ways than one. Read the rest of this entry

The Future of Computer Generated Imagery: Creating True Photo-Realism

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(This article is republished from the pop culture blog Otaku No Culture. While it is not specifically gaming related, the technology it discusses is.)

If keen observers of video game cinematics and CGI films think the computer graphics look great now, especially in how cloth material and hair are rendered, the next wave is going to be amazing.

The science behind how these surfaces are rendered have been restudied and restructured in such a way, where if there was a real world analogy: the way any type of thread is weaved on a loom in specific patterns is what the team of computer engineers from the Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego looked at, but at a microscopic level. What they have discovered is a simpler method which matches this real world analogy and the ‘virtual threads’ are more cylindrical. Read the rest of this entry

3D Gaming’s Future – Part Three: The Oculus Rift, Virtuix’s Omni, and Other Potential Game Changers

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The Oculus Rift is getting plenty of press lately. Many are calling it the next big thing in video games. The device is a large piece of eyewear that can comfortably fit over glasses (which is a good thing) to give players a sense of being in a 3D virtual world. Despite all appearances, the device is light; it weighs roughly 380g. Don’t worry, you won’t feel like Ray Charles at the piano. But with excitement building over the pairing of this device with motion sensors and treadmills, immersive virtual reality environments are nearly here. There are still a few hurdles to overcome — namely replicating every single movement a player can make like jumping and making him believe he can fly — but that’s only a matter of time for an innovator to invent neural interfaces.

For the time being, the devices being offered are exercise machines in disguise. Virtuix’s Omni is a treadmill product that offers players the sense of walking through a virtual space. When the Rift or similarly styled products are worn, a user can get a fuller immersive experience. The only thing missing is an interface suit with built-in pressure pumps to let players know that they have been hit by a bullet, slammed into a tree or brushed at. Added stimuli in games are good, and they are essential for becoming part of that virtual environment. All of the five senses really must be considered instead of three or four. In a talk with Ray Latypov of VirtuSphere Inc., he hinted that an olfactory sensor is in the works. This pioneer has been in the field of developing and testing VR products for at least 20 years. Read the rest of this entry

Dark Souls: Why is it Still So Effective?

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By Tristan Rivard

In today’s casual player oriented market, Dark Souls stands as a monument to the unforgiving, unnerving, unrelenting games of earlier generations. Prepare to die. Over and over.

From Software’s title, a follow-up to 2009’s Demon’s Souls, is sort of an anachronism in an age where game difficulty is often suited to the broadest audience possible. You can kiss goodbye to manual saving, contextual tips, button-mashing, regenerating health and the likes. Dark Souls makes no concession to the player, whom, in the face of ruthless enemies, is left to rely solely on his wits, reflexes and adaptability. Even then, death is inevitable. Read the rest of this entry

Looking to 3D Gaming’s Future: Use Augmented Reality! Part Two

Augmented Reality (AR) may have come of age with its implementation in Pedigree Books coming line-up of comic book annuals for 2013. Readers can access new content and activities through their smartphone or tablet. Now the big question is will it catch on? The money is currently with this company’s acquirement of video game licenses Angry Birds, Angry Birds Star Wars and Sonic the Hedgehog. Hopefully, players will be able to toss virtual birds around and have them bounce off walls and ceilings of the real world with pool-table geometry just to knock some pigs around.

In video games, the use of AR has been a complete novelty. With games like Face Raiders on the Nintendo 3DS, Wonderbook: Book of Spells on the PS3 and Skylanders on the Wii, the limitation is what programmers are realizing with AR. And depending on who you talk to in the entertainment industry, the application varies from talking to an imaginary figure to manipulating graphic displays a la Iron Man. Read the rest of this entry

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