Monday, 9 April 2012

Dear Esther

Dan Pinchbeck's Dear Esther, the seminal Half-Life 2 Mod funded by the AHRC has taken new life in this wonderful remodelling, undertaken in collaboration with Robert Briscoe at LittleLostPoly

The outstanding quality of the visual ascetics, narrative, music and voice acting of this superb little game cannot be emphasized enough, this is engrossing, though-provoking and moving interactive fiction at its best.  What I really want to draw attention to and praise however is the sheer visual quality of the natural landscapes as modelling by Robert Briscoe, all the more astounding as this is accomplished in Value's Source, which while an accomplished engine isn't an obvious choice for natural landscapes (step up CryENGINE here).  Briscoe's work is outstanding, technically amazing, scraping every last once of power from Source by stripping away all but the essential functions for this very low-key game.  What most impressed me is the sheer ascetic popwer of the landscapes, particularly the outside spaces and uplands, and the tangible sense of place this embodies.  This hypereal landscape takes on a salty, wind-swept solidity that is quite overwhelming at times.  I cannot praise this game enough.  If you haven't already, get it now.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Photosynth on the iPhone

Microsoft Research are doing some pretty sexy things with visualization at the moment.  I've greatly enjoyed their Image Composite Editor (ICE, now at version 1.4.4) and already extolled the virtues of Photosynth for creating panoramic images from sequences of game rendered stills.  Trawling through the iOS App Store on my iPhone I was intrigued to discover an iOS version of Photosynth.  This neat little App turns my iPhone into a significantly useful handheld panorama creator, limited only by the relatively low resolution of the iPhone's camera (well on my ageing 3GS anyway). The end results can be uploaded to for sharing.   I think the combination of iOS and Photosynth make a very capable device for capturing landscape and building panoramas.  Here, by way of example a bit of playing at Whitby Abbey.  I really like the ability to grab panoramas at will, in any circumstance that I can lay my hands on my iPhone, I can see lots of uses for this new toy - now, how can I lay my hands on a new generation iPad...