computer graphics

And Guildwars, Two.

by on Jul.18, 2010, under computer graphics, games design, mmorpg, rpg

Oh Guildwars, how you disappointed.

There were so many good things about it, most notably the visuals, but also the interesting quests, fun combat, an innovative henchman system, cool spell-effects and general polish. For the time, all of these virtues seemed great when held up to WoW’s cartoony, cutesy style.

So what was the problem?

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Pointclouds : Boon or Bust?

by on Mar.19, 2010, under computer graphics, games industry

Therein Lies the Problem

This is a video of “Unlimited Detail”, a new technology from the company of the same name. They introduce their way of representing (and displaying) 3D data in realtime. Here’s the video :

My comments to follow…
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Carmack unplugged

by on Dec.09, 2006, under computer graphics, consoles, games programming

Carmack Quakecon 06

Is there a point where pure expertise takes you far from the elemental principles of your subject? Such that your perspective actually becomes skewed? It’s an interesting question, and certainly a difficult one. History is replete with experts that get blindsided by innovation or worse, redundancy.

When listening to someone as clearly expert as John Carmack, it’s absolutely clear that there are few that can exceed his knowledge or experience in graphics technology. Every year, John delivers the keynote at his own QuakeCon convention. It’s somewhat of an industry joke that no one really understands what he says there. His whole manner exudes someone totally steeped in technology (more specifically, graphics technology). It’s always interesting, even if you don’t fully grasp every last ounce of his wisdom. He gets up, delivers a clinically fascinating speech, and leaves.

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Guildwars Factions Sketchbook

by on Sep.15, 2006, under computer graphics, mmorpg

Guild Wars Factions


AreaNet’s artist team posted some samples of their sketchbook for ‘Guild Wars : Factions’. If you’re interested, there’s more available from the Guild Wars homepage.

By user tinfoil - AreaNet   By user tinfoil - AreaNet

I am entranced.


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Narbacular Drop

by on Sep.12, 2006, under computer graphics, game reviews, gaming, indy, pc


Unfortunately Named HL2E2

Last month, footage for (the unfortunately named) Half life 2 : Episode 2 exploded onto the ‘net with tremendous speed and enthusiasm. And for good reason, too. The game looks fantastic, as we’ve come to expect. The interesting part of this story however, was not the continuing struggle of Alyx and Gordon Freeman, nor the next iteration of graphics and physics technology that the next chapter will have.

The excitement was about a little game that will be bundled alongside Episode 2. A little game called “Portal”.

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Probable Uncanniness

by on Dec.14, 2005, under computer graphics



Wow, this was a hot topic.Literally, ten thousand people clicked through the source articles in various places as it spread across the ‘net, and almost a thousand individuals read my journal entry from yesterday. Its not surprising, considering what a great piece of work that 3D image is.

Here is a nice backgrounder that Max Kor (the artist) prepared. Its a really interesting read, even if you just look at the pretty pictures. 🙂

The big argument? Its this : how far away are we from seeing this in a game?

Although my knowledge of 3D graphics is somewhat limited to intermediate OpenGL coding, I have a very strong belief that this will not only be possible, but it will be done within five years! Other people, disagree strongly. 20 years, they say!

I ttotally understand the industry professionals who contend that such things are impossibly difficult on a games budget and timeline. I mean, they know what they’re talking about, right?

Yet, I still cannot help but think where we were 12 years ago, in the literal ‘genesis’ of computer graphics. You think this stuff is expensive now? I don’t recall the specifics, but I remember Lucasfilm saying that it took days or weeks to render that famous “Genesis flyby” scene in Star Trek II. Do you remember that?

It was awesome… at the time. 🙂

I can only think of those early-eighties CG experts neighing in disbelief at Doom3 today. “Because of X Y & Z! It will never work! Neverrrrr!” The Incredibles? “Not in my lifetime!”. And this proves how conventional thinking works. To think I had arguments in 1994 with a telecomms engineer about whether ADSL was possible. The engineers know their biz, they’ve done their homework, and life is good. Right?


Costs will drop. Hardware capabilities will increase. Software will get smarter. Libraries will expand. Refinement will increase. And everything will get cheaper and faster and all that. I mean, this is the tech business people!

I can’t predict the future exactly, but I know the folly in shrieking “impossible!” when faced with musings on future tech. When will people learn.

What do you think? Sooner or later?

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The uncanny future

by on Dec.13, 2005, under computer graphics, games industry

credit : max kor,

If you close your eyes and peer into the possible future of gaming, you might glimpse an image such as this. Today this noble warrior was generated entirely in Maya3D, but its not difficult to guess that one day computer games will be peopled with characters of such depth and realism. Maybe not today, but one day.

Do graphics make the game? Hardly! Yet I would argue that characters are an equal contributor. Adding personae of such extreme levels will one day take games well beyond that of any Hollywood movie. Not just to watch, but to interact with, to fight against, to hate, to fear, to save, to love. If the gameplay is served by the story, then what a day when the story is served by characters like this! “Video game moments” of yesterday were as evocative for me as movies or novels (even when they werely merely games with text!), so its no surprise that I should greatly look forward to truly rich and interactive characters. It is one of the biggest challenges of this emerging artform. Storytelling without convincing characters is like a movie with bad actors.

This will be a critical aspect that brings the storytelling potential of videogames closer to the mainstream (and one day consume it). Maybe the publishers who relish rich graphics over gameplay have a point in this : they are attempting to expand the market with greater and greater eye-candy (while the rest of us real gamers get bored). Personally, knowing that I got excited in the days of text, I’m a shoe-in for great graphics done right. Give me a game that delivers on all levels of gameplay, narrative, interactivity and characters, and I will be happy. But we know this isn’t true for everyone. Gaming fans are a rarity in my generation (yet less so, I’ve noticed, in the next one).

However, as realistic as computer-generated characters become, there is a well-known problem referred to as “the Uncanny Valley“; the psychological consequence of increased photorealism actually decreases the believability of characters. The argument is that one should avoid (or minimize) the realism of graphics in order to heighten believability.

Personally, I would not shy from realism in this fashion. I see this barrier as part of the cost of having highly realistic characters in an interactive 3d environment. We may have a twinge of a “this is not real” creepiness, yet perhaps this will serve as the best reminder that we are, in fact, only playing a videogame. Is it not a fair trade-off from what we’re seeing these days? Compare the warrior above with the visage of a typical WoW character. I’d take the uncanny valley any day over that! Do non-human characters exhibit the same problem? Is it OK for them to move and appear realistic? Even if the valley rears itself, we’ll instinctively know that they are not real.

One day, that warrior will call out your name as he ambles towards you at the fireside. His footsteps will crunch across leaves as he nudgers closer, and emerges into the flickering light of the fire. Later, he will reveal himself as the King in disguise… and asks you to undertake a secret mission to save his daughter, the princess.

A little corny, but it sounds fun, right? For me, it is truly just as much fun to imagine.

And now a question for you! When will we see graphics at this level in computer games? 2 years? 5 years? 10? Never?

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