Tor Frick’s Amazing Two Texture Game Level

Tor Frick created this whole game level was made using two 256×512 textures, which is mind blowing! Considing most game levels use hundreds of textures at a much higher resolution than this it really is an amazing achievment!

Here are the two texture maps:

Here is another level Tor Frick worked on with Robert Berg :

And this one is a WIP:

Check out the rest of Tor Frick’s amazing work on his website.

LG’s Flexible E-Paper- European Launch April 2012

 

LG has announced it has started mass production of its electronic paper display (EPD) product, with a planned launch in Europe next month.

LG’s EPD is a 6-inch, 1024×768 e-ink plastic screen. It’s 0.7mm thick, it weighs 14g, and LG claims it’s resistant to scratches and drops from a 1.5 meter height.

Of course, its biggest claim to fame is its flexibility: LG claims the screen allows bending at a range of 40 degrees from its center.

“With the world’s first plastic EPD, LG Display has once again proven its reputation for leadership and innovation with a product we believe will help greatly popularize the E-Book market,” said Sang Duck Yeo, Head of Operations for LG Display’s Mobile/OLED division.

There is no word on a US release, but LG says the EPD will first be supplied to ODM companies in China, with completed products hitting European shores at the beginning of April.

 

Check out the original article on Mashable.com: LG’s Flexible E-Paper Display Is Coming to Europe in April

 

 

LG’s Flexible E-Paper Display Is Coming to Europe in April

A View Of The Future Of Video Games

There is a really interesting article on Kotaku about the image of games and gamers in the future, which sums up the feeling of many of current computer games well- the fact that many big budget games are generic, safe and mainly focusing on sequals with only making small iteration changes.

Maybe video games are stupid. Maybe they’re junk or trash or action movies, at best. Perhaps they are not at all making the world a better place.

And maybe it’s not an old person—some out of touch politician who once bumped into a Pong machine—who will declare this.

Maybe it will be someone young, someone who Occupied Wall Street or someone who is in the exact target market for big-budget video games—they’ll be over 17 and under 35 years of age; male; with money. Maybe that person will declare that video games are not worth their time. And maybe there will be people who agree with them.

Jade Raymond doesn’t want a new, younger generation to be the next generation to sneer at them. She loves video games. But Raymond, whose 210-person studio at Ubisoft Toronto is making the next huge-budget Tom Clancy Splinter Cell action game, understands why games could start turning off the very people who are supposed to like them. She’s not the only one

A couple of weeks ago, Raymond and I chatted in the lobby of a hotel in San Francisco a few hours before she would deliver a rant at the Game Developers’ Conference. Our talk turned out to be a rant preview, one that dovetailed with a new book by the game designer and writer Anna Anthropy, who charges, for somewhat different reasons, that are are big problems with who games are for and who they alienate.

And now I can’t shake the thought: what if it’s becoming cool to hate video games now? What if the next generation of our culture thinks games are so out of touch that they dismiss them as the wasteful rich pastimes of a more self-indulgent generation?

Raymond surprised me in San Francisco by telling me a story about a 21-year old employee who no longer wanted to make video games. Young. Bright. Thought he had his dream job at Ubisoft Toronto. But he became uncomfortable about what his career amounted to, about what games stood for. So he quit.

“He’s like, ‘I really wanted to do this, but now I realize we’re stuck in this place.”

Raymond has heard this from other younger game designers.

“I’ve had a lot of people come, in serious one-on-ones, to talk to me about: ‘I’m thinking of leaving the game industry.’

“They don’t like the messages. They don’t like the idea that every game is a war game, that we’re reinforcing this. A lot of these guys are really spiritual. They spend time thinking, trying to find meaning in the world, and it bothers them.”

In her new book, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, game designer Anna Anthropy delivers a similar disappointed assessment of gaming’s fixation on the same tired tropes. “Mostly videogames are about men shooting men in the face,” she writes. “Sometimes hey are about women shooting men in the face. Sometimes the men who are shot in the face are orcs, zombies or monsters.” The few games Anthropy finds that star women tend to render them as waitresses or shop-owners.

“This is not to say that games about head shots are without value,” Anthropy writes, “but if one looked solely at videogames, one would think the whole of human experience is shooting men and taking their dinner orders. Surely an artistic form that has as much weight in popular culture as the video game does now has more to offer than such a narrow view of what it is to be human.”

No one needs to tell Raymond or Anthropy that all video games aren’t war games (or Diner Dash). They know that. But they see the patterns and they are alarmed by the narrow range of topics in games.

“I’ve always been really excited about games,” Raymond says. “I got into the industry because I saw the potential. But we continue to be stuck in this sort of teenage narrow-band of themes that are action games. I kind of wish we were talking about some bigger topics and other issues.”

At her rant later that day, Raymond would talk about a hypothetical war game. It would be a shooter, as most of them are. In a twist, you’d be a woman. You’d fight somewhere hot. You’d be able to layer down, but if you did you might hear a snicker or get a catcall from a soldier nearby. That wouldn’t be the game. It’d just be part of it. It would make the game… real.

Both Raymond and Anthropy believe that the big money in games is one of the big problems. Budgets swell. Profit margins narrow. A willingness to take risks diminishes, and so the same kind of games are made again again. “The problem with video games is that they’re created by a small, insula group of people,” Anthropy writes. She compares game-making now to book-making in the era before the printing press, when every book in Western culture was the Bible or a book that supported it. Mainstream games are that narrowly-pressed today, she writes. “The population who creates games becomes more and more insular and homogeneous: it’s the same small group of people who are crating the same games for themselves.”

In Anthropy’s persuasive book the problem is a lack of plurality of voices. She rattles off the names of lesbian comic book creators and then opines, “Why are there no dykes in video games?” Behind every major video game she sees a man, and if she’s oversimplifying, she is just barely. And if she’s neglecting to mention the improved diversity among indie game creators, that’s just her point. The games of the underground are more diverse and interesting. The games of the mainstream, she argues, are not, which brings us back to Jade Raymond, who works on some of the most mainstream games around for one of the biggest big-money publishers in the business. If even Jade Raymond is restless, this is no niche problem.

Raymond makes blockbusters. She admits she can still enjoy some mindless entertainment. “I’m a huge fan of action movies,” she says, “I love to just go watch and turn off my brain and watch big explosions. But there are other types of things we should be doing, too. I just wonder why there are not so many efforts to go outside of that box.”

In theory, Raymond is an insider. She may not be a man, but she’s an establishment figure, a manufacturer of the big-budget stuff for which Anthropy holds little hope. Anthropy assumes outsiders, non-professionals and indie creators are fed up with big gaming’s homogeneity, but Raymond’s dissatisfaction—and what she says she hears from some of her younger designers—is an outcry from within. Through people like her, maybe even big-budget games will change, or at least budge.

What’s the problem? It’s not just what games are about. It’s what they’re not about.

Raymond believes blockbuster games miss a whole lot, and risk losing a generation’s interest because of it. Look at everything gaming is missing, she told me the morning when we spoke. She just rattled them off, topic after topic, barely touched by big-budget games:

“All the stuff that happened with the Arab Spring, internet freedom and just generally what’s going on with people’s privacy and all of those kinds of things as tech moves along… the growing class divide, all the Occupy Wall Street stuff. That’s the kind of thing that’s been brewing for a while. These are really big stories. They are being dealt with in other media. You can see films that are already out addressing these things. Books. Documentaries. But for some reason games don’t touch those things.”

These social issues and current events captivate a newer generation that Raymond believes are more prepared to dismiss the video games that ignore them. “I think it’s a mistake to think that target audience doesn’t care about meaning.” It would be a mistake, she believes, for the people making games to think players wouldn’t appreciate some of heat and texture of the real world. She knows this because she’s had some of that target audience that works in her studio quit the business.

For Anthropy, the answer is in the video game version of the printing press, in the democratization of tools that empowers anyone to make a video game about anything. That kind of thing happens outside of Raymond’s Ubisoft or other Bible-printers such as EA, Activision and the rest of the big companies that primarily create killing-games with teams that wouldn’t fit in an elevator.

For Raymond, change can happen within the mega-companies, but it’s only going to work if people are brave enough to try and—here’s the twist—if more diverse content can be fun. The two-year turnaround for making a game only slightly excuses the lack of timeliness of most video games, the lack of connection to modern problems in the economy or the Middle East. The bigger issue is that putting protest movements or an experience of victimized sexism in your game doesn’t necessarily up the fun factor.

“When you’re making a game, fun wins out,” Raymond says. “And if you’re thinking you will try to do this intellectual thing, you might go back to what you know is more fun—or it’s the first thing to cut. There are so many games out there that just aren’t even trying.”

Raymond has tried to make her games carry some weight, to make them matter. She was one of the top people at the Ubisoft team behind Assassin’s Creed. They tried to make an action game with some intellectual heft, pulling together a conspiracy story inspired by real history and immersed in mid-millennial cultures usually ignored by video games.

She’s trying again. “We’re trying with the next Splinter Cell that we’re developing at Ubisoft to try to have some statements about certain things built in there,” she said, though the game is so secret now that she declined to elaborate.

Raymond didn’t leave me with the impression that her big-budget action-spy-thriller was suddenly going to be a game about picketing the power elite. She did give me the impression that, with Ubisoft’s blessing, this new Splinter Cell might have ideas in it that someone who thinks about today’s news would find stimulating.

“I think we need to push a bit harder,” she said. “I think it’s possible to have something that’s entertainment and full of wow and explosions and has a bit more depth for those who care to pay more attention to that. I think we can deliver those things in a way that the people who don’t care won’t notice.”

Jade Raymond’s message is this: young people, the very target audience that video games are blitzed to, are not looking for a brainless escape every time they put a controller in their hand. They care about the world. They care about life. She wants games to still be relevant to them. She knows it’s not easy. In fact, it might be harder for her than for the freer Anthropy, who, as an indie creator is more beholden to her muse than to a company’s money.

Raymond knows it is hard to make serious issues fun. She knows that making a game more of an activist thing could make gaming less of a pleasure. But she’s also had people who get paid to make video games walk up to her and say they want nothing to do with modern video games anymore.

Look at how she describes the leeriness she sees in some of her younger team members, and let her choice of words sink in: “A lot of the younger people who are in the industry, one of the things that really matters to them, is they don’t want to feel like they’re making games…”

She catches herself.

“They’re kind of sick of the games being…”

She catches herself again.

Who wants to insult the thing they love? She doesn’t want to go there. She can’t go there. She’s making a Splinter Cell, for god’s sake, a Splinter Cell that she hopes will be as fun and as interesting as she could ever hope it to be.

The people who were supposed to think games are out of touch were supposed to be old. That theory’s fallen apart. Jade Raymond wants big-budget video games to stop risking losing the young. Some, like Anna Anthropy, would say big-budget video games have already lost an even bigger group of people than that.

Check out the original article on Kotaku: What If The Next Generation Thinks Video Games are Stupid?

**Spoilers** Mass Effect 3 Ending Comparisons Video

**Spoilers** Mass Effect 3 ending comparisons video.

It is interesting seeing the colours, the timings and what exactly is shown in the various out comes, before The Normandy crashes onto a planet, which is always the same outcome. I don’t know how you get the vaporization outcome though?

And here is a good video discussing the endings in more detail. This is a good watch if you did not pick up on every detail in the series- just like I didn’t:

Journey Of Design

 

Awesome Out Of 10 has done a great interview with Jenova Chen, Co-Founder and Creative Director of thatgamecompany:

 

“In music, novels, TV, movies, there is so much variety in terms of the feelings that the different genres provide. The emotions […] are somewhat limited. That’s why some people stop playing games when they grow up.

“Our goal,” says Chen, “is to push the boundary of the emotional potential of games. Every game we make we want to create a new type of feeling for the player, opposite of the norm.”

The developers have arguably succeeded in that endeavour. flOw, Flower and recently released Journey embody pure sensation. They strive to make the player feel something, and at the same time challenge what a videogame can be. flOw, for example, was born out of trying to make an arcade game, which are generally fast-paced and loud, a relaxing experience. Subverting the player’s expectations of a stressful environment with a calm one and try to make him feel something was at the center of the idea.

As someone whose tastes have recently been shifting towards games with a lower body count, what he said next resonated with me.

“For Flower, people were complaining about how games were violent and about destruction. I thought, if people complain about that, what about making a game where all you do is positive things: helping the world, making it a better place, where after playing the game you would wanna do that to the people around you and the world around you.”

Whether or not he achieved his goal is something that only the players can answer. In Flower, you play as what could best be described as the wind, accumulating flower petals and restoring life wherever you go in the world. The experience is very musical, since each petal produces a different sound, and very visual as you rush through a valley or down a canyon. The game’s motion control unfortunately put off a lot of gamers, as the Sixaxis doesn’t have the friendliest interface. Still, many of those who played the game felt something, myself included.

Journey, the studio’s most recent title, originated from a similar place. “We first look around in the gaming industry to see what is the norm, and we bring a feeling that is very much the opposite.”

What makes Journey stand out from the crowd is its innovative and fresh approach to online multiplayer. As you, a creature wrapped in a red cloth, cross the desert trying to reach a mountain in the distance, the only actions you can do are jump and produce a sound almost like singing. You can meet other players along the way, but the only way to communicate is through these sounds and your actions. No username, no voice chat. Whatever you could have imagined about online interactions goes out the window.

“If you look at online console games, most of them start as single player mechanics, and they add multiplayer layers on top of it. That’s why most of them are power fantasies: everybody’s a space marine, everybody’s a secret agent, everybody’s a golf player. They are about killing each other, or killing something together, or competing about something.”

The fact that so many players together, with elaborate ways of talking to each other, only results in a dehumanizing experience is a paradox that is not lost on Chen. “Even though the technology allows 32 or 64 people to be connected, there’s really no social activity. There is no exchange of social emotional communication. We wanted to make an online game where you could feel an emotional bond with the other player, like ‘Oh my god there’s another player, that’s a human being.’”

Journey achieves just that. Stripping away every traditional form of interaction between two people makes for the most human encounter you might ever live through in a videogame. You help each other, you feel for the other when they get hurt, you jump in excitement when the music starts ramping up because you know your partner is feeling what you are feeling right now: you connect through emotions, become more human. The alien world and abstract visuals, interestingly, make for a more real connection.

“The goal at the start is emotion. We don’t know what the mechanics will be, we don’t know what the characters are, what the world is. We figure everything out [later].”

The secret to elevating the medium may be to start from a place that is pure, and work your way up to the player. The studio did walk a fine line between what is considered a video game today and what is not. The gameplay portions, while technically flawless, aren’t especially ground breaking, reduced mostly to platforming sections. The game lasts about two hours on a full playthrough, but if playing for a second time you can actually enter an area at the beginning that fast forwards you a few levels later. The short length could be considered a drawback, but the incredible pacing more than makes up for it.

According to Chen, however, there is no doubt in his mind it’s a video game. I asked him if he thought longer and more gameplay-heavy games could have the same impact on people. “Honestly I don’t really like longer games. As you get older you have jobs, and a family. In order to make a medium consumable for adults you have to cut it down. I don’t think games that stretch out to be forty hours long there isn’t a single moment that is not wasteful, because they’re just repeating the mechanics. I just don’t think adults have the time to grind.

“If we present a game, we want to respect their time. If we want to deliver an emotional feeling and bring them to tears, we want to do it in the most efficient way rather than having to grind for forty hours until I get to that point.”

He has a polarizing opinion on the matter to say the least. He thinks about the more adult player who has a hundred things to do and not a lot of time on his hands but who still wants to play video games. A time limit, he told me, is a good thing. I asked him if he thought he could price a game like that at the normal retail price. He replied saying he thought 60 dollars was too much for a video game. A movie ticket costs around 12 dollars he said, and expecting to have five times the amount of entertainment and still feel something the entire way through is a daring feat.

I could sense that movies were a big influence of his philosophy and outlook on games, for better or worse. When I asked whether smaller prices would entail smaller budgets, he again drew a comparison with the movie industry. “If you look at films, blockbusters have high budgets,” adding he didn’t have a problem with big budget games as long they were profitable, but that, “More and more people use digital downloads, and that’s a different business model.” When asked about how much Journey cost, he said he could not discuss that but mentioned around 9 people usually worked on the game, 12 people at its peak.

There are quite a few who do not think that what thatgamecompany creates are games, and I could understand pointing to these comments as an argument in their favor, but I think that would be missing the point. I could sense during the interview that Chen wanted a world where games were as widely accepted as books or movies, where they emulate the same wide spectrum of emotions that the others do. It is hard for him to imagine 100 hour games in his vision, because the experience would be too diluted and not carry the same impact. His comparison to films comes from a positive place: the total acceptance of the medium as works of art, as attempts to make you feel something, and explore the human condition. Less about playing on the repetition of a mechanic and more trying to accentuate the sensibilities that differentiate us from the other species: our humanity.

Whatever the future holds for the company now that their deal with Sony is over, one thing can be sure: their philosophy won’t change. Pushing the boundaries of the medium will remain a priority, and for whatever that is worth, chances are their next game will surprise you once again.

 

Check out the full article on AwesomeOutOf10: Raw Emotion: Talking Game Designs With thatgamecompany