Elly Williams' Weblog

Caught Between Industries

Lost in Translation

I’ve lost far too many hours recent playing Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup, which Meri kindly bought me for Christmas.

I’m playing the PC version – I don’t own a TV of my own, let alone a console – but fortunately my brother bought a Sidewinder Gamepad ages ago (possibly for playing Magic Carpet so… ’95?) which I have since aquired because he didn’t use it.

Why fortunately? Because this game, like many others out there, was designed, first and foremost, for use on a console. It requires you to have 8+ directions, and 8+ special buttons at you fingertips and the ability to use, sometimes complicated, combinations of these – fine, if you have 3 hands, but a bit tricky otherwise.

One amazon review says

“I became frustrated and annoyed whilst trying to control the characters movements with several different keys scattered across the keyboard as well as using the mouse at the same time”

I can relate to this – I’ve never managed to get the hang of using keyboard and mouse at the same time (I think I’m the only person I know who can die on the training mission in Half-Life) I just don’t have the coordination – and I doubt I’m alone in this.

So my advice for today:

If you want to play a game for console – play it on something that acts like one.

Jack’s Back

This caught my eye on Games Domain

CapCom(flash) are releasing a “The Nightmare Before Christmas”(more flash) for PlayStation2 just in time for Hallowe’en 2004.

The look of the game appears to be very much in keeping with that of the original film (no doubt partly due to the movie’s art director, Deane Taylor, also being art director on the game) and it’s refreshing that the game will have it’s own plot – rather than just apeing the plot of the film.

Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorite films… so far it looks like the game will do it justice (rare in games and films based on each other) – I hope it does.

BIG Pictures

This has been floating around for a while now. Max Lyons has created the first digital photograph with over 1 billion pixels.

What he’s done is stitch together 196 6megapixel images to create a single shot. Combining images to create larger pictures isn’t new – it’s particularly useful for panoramic shots, or in tight spaces where you can’t get a wide enough angle or move any further backwards (due to pesky things like walls.)

But why bother?

Max’s answer is quite simple

‘”why not?” …. there has been speculation about when gigapixel images would become possible. This seemed like an interesting challenge to me. ‘

So there you go.

Battling Leukaemia

On the BBC I found this article on a new system to help with the treatment Leukaemia

LISA ( Leukaemia Intervention Scheduling and Advice) is

“An internet application could ensure patients with leukaemia do not receive dangerous doses of chemotherapy”

Fantastic! No more leukaemia patients being prescribed the “wrong” drugs. And one day we can use this for other forms of cancer and other illnesses and all you’ll need to do is feed in your symptoms at home and get your miracle cure dellivered to your doorstep – hurrah, no more doctors…..

Hang on a sec – much as I’m in favour of making the lives of doctors and nurses easier and providing them with adequate patient and treatment information – do we really need a piece of software to make their judgements and descisions for them? Are years of medical training going to be replaced by databases and search engines? Are we going to end up with the job of a medical practitioner merely involving cataloguing symptoms and mindlessly dispensing medication? I sincerely hope not – if someone’s giving me potentially harmful drugs, I’d really like to think they know why.

Borrowed Technology

There’s a bit of a debate going on on GameGirlAdvance about the way the battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies were programmed and whether it was “borrowed” from computer games.

I can remember being impressed 2 years ago when Fellowship of the Ring came out – and I can remember reading in Empire Magazine (can’t find the exact article – their archives don’t appear to go back that far) about how each of the soldiers in the HUGE battle scenes had their own minds (and how human, elf, orc, etc, etc minds were all slightly different) but I hadn’t previously equated it with anything in videogames…..

More Modelling Software

Meri sent me this link earlier in the week and I’ve only just looked at it (having spent the last week without internet)

Anyway, what it’s all about is Blender, which I hadn’t previously been aware of. The pitch is

Blender is the first and only fully integrated 3D graphics creation suite allowing modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, realtime interactive 3D and game creation and playback with cross-platform compatibility – all in one tidy, easily and free downloadable package!

…. and they’ve just added a raytracing to its list of features

Overall I think this is a really exciting project – and means I’m slightly more likely to start running Linux…… but seeing as most of the industry expects Max or Maya the chances still aren’t good.

Not Just for Kids

Interesting article I found this morning about grannies and grandads playing computer games

There’s a bit of debate about whether this is a good thing or not – although it appears to just be a bit of the ongoing “is this a social activity or not” question.

Another angle on this one is Daniel Etherington’s article on the effects of Counter Strike due to its imminent realease on Xbox.The argument goes something like this…. do games that involve teamwork to blow stuff up (or blowing up people who want to blow stuff up) encourage violence, or develop teamwork skills and socialisation.

Bearing in mind the number of gamers of any age that are inclined to sit in their rooms and not talk to anyone, surely any game that encourages teamwork and develops social communities (online or offline) is doing more good than harm?

Not Just for Boys

I was looking at this article about girls who play computer games

I think this is great – the way to get girls gaming isn’t to make “games for girls.” That sort of thing only ends up in disasters like Barbie Games.

Hooray for universal appeal and unbiased marketing!!!

New Things

While looking at this article about what the PS3 may or may not look like I discovered a site I hadn’t previously been aware of….

GamesIndustry.biz is a site full of anything anyone could want to know about what’s going on in the games industry (note, this isn’t a site for people who just play games… more of an overview of what the games companies are up to). Anyway, I spent lots of time looking through that today and getting scared by looking at some of the job descriptions & requirements…..I think I need to work on my character modelling some….oh, and get hold of a copy of Maya

World Aids Day

It’s World Aids Day today. Hence the ribbon.

There was a giant concert in Cape Town over the weekend organised by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. There are also events going on all over the place over the next few days.

A few more related sites (by no means a comprehensive list!!)
BBC Aids Debate
Children with Aids Charity

Seasons Greetings

It’s December, so I’ve decided to decorate….. if you can’t see the difference – clear your cache…..

More decorations may go up if I feel more festive…

Incidentally – does anyone know of a fractal snowflake maker…. I couldn’t find one (hence the stick art….)

is an Architecture Student and Web Designer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, (UK)