What Qualities Make a Game Popular?

I recently made a post about Dare to be Digital 2016 (online) highlighting a number of video pitches. What qualities make a game addictive & popular? To what degree does the gameplay, sound effects, music, graphics, playability, level of difficulty have a bearing on the overall popularity and addictiveness of a game. The following are just a few popular games.

Cooking Fever
Cooking Fever is all about cooking – anything from burgers and hot-dogs, to pizza, suchi and baking. One can upgrade kitchen appliances to make cooking faster, upgrade the restaurant to increase customer wait times and how generous they are with tips. The main interaction style consists of simple drag and drop. When a customer arrives at your kitchen, the ask via a graphic bubble representation of the items they are looking for, e.g. an icon representing a burger. You then need to get some burger buns set out on your work surface and start dragging the ingredients on to complete the burger. One of course needs the cooked burger meat, along with various combinations of extras such as lettuce, tomato, ketchup – dragging each component on to the burger bun. Once the burger is fully assembled one then drags the burger to the waiting customer. If you manage to do this quickly enough they will drop coins representative of the price of the burger along with a tip for good service on the counter and leave as happy customers. As the levels progress the number of customers and combinations of food items increase. At the time of writing the number of installs was between 10 & 50 Million, the game is available from the google play store (online).

Angry Birds
Angry Birds has become an extremely popular game with 100 to 500 Million installs of the app via the Google Play Store (online). What are the qualities of launching a bird at various targets to get them to topple over that makes the game so popular.

Candy Crush Jelly Saga
Having 10 to 50 Million downloads Candy Crush Jelly Saga is certainly another popular game (online).

Clash of Clans
Available from the Google Play store (online) has between 100 & 500 Million installs.

SimCity Buildit
With 10 to 50 Million Google Play installs SimCity Buildit is certainly another popular game (online). This game is all about creating a city and populating it with residences, so you can earn Simoleons through the construction of residences and earn tax from same as well. One can also earn cash through the Trade Depot whereby you can sell goods that you create. One can sell all manner of goods from the basic raw materials created by factories, to more complex items created by taking the raw materials and forming them into a new product such as: Doughnuts, Shoes, Watches, Nails, Vegetables, Tables & Chairs to name but a few.

As you level up through the game further opportunities for Trading become enabled such as the Port for shipping your goods overseas, or the Airport (available once you have a population of 120,000). The Airport allows you to gain special items allowing you to build new types of residences with higher population capacity, namely, Paris, London and Toyko zones. To keep the population happy one must supply them with basic services, provide them with places to relax (parks), and a whole host of other facilities from Schools and Universities, to Entertainment and Gambling.

Over time one can create a city of some 4 million inhabitants and stretch out the area of the city to encompass both the beach and mountains. These areas allow one to build special buildings that can greatly boost the population within a certain catchment area.

At the Vu Tower (available at a population of 90,000) one can unleash a number of different disasters, that allows you to gain valuable Golden Keys. The most basic disaster one can unleash is the Meteor Strike, followed by Earthquake, Alien Invasion and several more.

Questions
What makes a good game?
How important is the embedding of Social Media in a game?
Do you make use of in-app purchases, to buy credits, upgrade systems etc?
Is it easy to lose track of the amount you spend on in-app purchases?
How important is the time it takes to complete a level – especially for Mobile Games?
What are your favorite games and Why?
How often do you play games on your Mobile?

Advertisements

Quadcopter Flying Around Campus – Video

We had a number of very nice days last week, blue skies and sunshine all day long, hence as part of a module I have with 1st year computing students I took the class outside to experiment with some quadcopter flying. We had two DJI Phantom quadcopters in operation with Go Pro’s attached to capture the scene. One can see some still image captures at the following post.

In the first video above we were all arranged in a circle the radius being calculated by the average width of a student x the number of students / Pi / 2 / 2. This amounted to a radius of a little over 16 feet or roughly 33 feet in diameter. The reason for this was to attempt a “Bullet-time” capture of a quad-copter hovering in the centre of the circle, with the students taking photographs on all their phones. If you look closely at roughly the mid point of the video above you will see the second quadcopter taking off and flying around a little bit.


The flights took place towards the west end of campus next door to the Scott Sutherland Building and the Round Tower, see the map below.

Exploring DOF with PixelSense & the Canon EOS Utility

Around this time last year I made use of an MS Surface (MS PixelSense) Samsung SUR 40 to control a Camera using Canons EOS Utility. A Libec Swift Jib 50 and a Sony NX5E camera were used to capture the interaction with the MS PiexlSense table and transmit it to a series of projectors around the room.

The main idea behind the setup was to demonstrate the effects of Aperture & Focal Length on the Depth of Field. This time round however I took a HDMI output directly from the MS PixelSense table & fed it into the projection system of the lab. To establish the feed between the MS PixelSense & Projection System a HDMI splitter & 10 meter HDMI cable was used. The resulting image was outputted to 6 Epson Projectors and 2x 55″ NEC Displays around the lab. The following images below taken just before shutdown & tidy-up should give some sense of what the setup was like.

In addition we also spent some time taking a look at two sets of cineskates. You may also notice that some of the content shown on the MS PixelSense table looks to be some outdoor footage of a nice clear day. Had taken the class out the previous week to fly some Quad-copters around the campus, you can see some videos here & here as well as a flickr photo-set of images.

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Exploring DOF in Class

Moments in time of Building a Motion Capture System

Over the past few days I have been assembling a 12 camera Optitrack Flex 13 Motion Capture System in the Schools new Green Screen Room. The first set of images below are a photography journey of this process of the first day working on this. The consisted of setting up the workstation, mounting the cameras, wiring them up and positioning them with respect to the capture volume. Have written more about the process at the following blog.

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

Motion Capture Setup in Green Room

All the above images were form this past Thursdays work on the Motion Capture System, given that all the cameras were positioned all that was remaining was to calibrate the system and tidy up the cables, which I spent a good deal of this past morning and afternoon doing, as per the following images.

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

2013 11 16 MoCap

Shader Driven Rendering Demos

The following videos are from the work carried out by one of my Honours Project students this past academic year. One can follow this link to read some further detail about it. One may access a playlist of all the videos below on YouTube. The engine consists of over 55,000 lines of code spread across almost 80 classes.

A rewrite of the NVIDIA SDK Island demo using the XPR Python library and the original NVIDIA media resources.

A rewrite of the NVIDIA SDK Ocean demo as an extension of XPR which uses the inbuilt Compute Shader pipeline along with the original NVIDIA media resources.

XPR Python based rewrite of the NVIDIA SDK Terrain demo. Uses the XPR engine’s mesh generators, resource management system, multipass framework and inbuilt tessellation pipeline.

A demo that showcases XPR native instancing and geometry shader driven particles using the textures and animation logic from the Microsoft SDK Particle sample.

An optimised, procedural representation of the Menger Sponge fractal using the XPR engine’s inbuilt pipeline. The demo supports up to 7 recursive subdivisions of the original cube and can animate each resulting cube individually.

A demonstration of hardware instancing as supported by the XPR engine. This sample renders 125.000 boxes using only one model with multiple positions.

A rewrite of an old Microsoft SDK demo using new completely shader-driven methods. Uses XPR multipass and post-processing features to showcase HDR.

An XPR engine demo that demonstrates how to override pipeline bindings in order to create and animate custom fractal shaders. In this case the fractals represented are Mandelbrot and Julia set.

An XPR engine demo that loads a series of meshes that form a car from an FBX file.

Photography – Light, Composition

One of the key elements to photography is of course light. Without light one would simply have a blank image. If you enjoy landscape photography then the magic hour at sunrise and sunset are really the only times of the day for such photography. The reason being that photography is in essence about two key things composition / framing of the subject and the painting of the scene with light.

Light can be described in four different forms, transmitted, reflected, soft and hard light. The sun on a clear day is a good example of hard light as one can see really strong shadows on a summers day. Soft / diffused light is that which you would find on an overcast day with little to no visible shadows to be seen. In the case of taking a photograph of a sunset for example you also have the ability of taking in transmitted light, in the form of being able to see the light source. Should you be located close to the sea or a lake then you can also make use of the reflected light from the water.

One of the classing photographic assignments is of course Portraiture. Often you may hear that you should always shoot with the light (sun) to your back. However by shooting into the light source you can capture some wonderful colour and highlights. A large aperture lens is also great for portraiture, thus allowing for a shallow depth of field to be created and all the emphases being placed on the subject in question.

If you enjoy landscape photography then some of the videos below may be of interest.

The following video includes a number of examples of some interesting landscape shots to the music of Enya!

Its not just light but also composition that is important to any great image. You can perhaps glean a few tips on the subject of composition from the final video.

Photography Freezing the Motion

The video above details some really fun things one can do by freezing motion varying the exposure between 1/100 to 1/1000 of a second. The camera is of course set to manual, as well as continuous capture to grab several frames in quick succession. Water is being poured into a wine glass that has been mounted at an angle whilst the main light source illuminates from behind a defused background (velum). Adding some food colouring to the water creates that additional level of drama and dimension to the shot.

The next video looks at capturing the splash of a water droplet. Again like the previous setup this is done without the use of flash photography techniques, though they both make-use of a continuous light source.

Another fun experiment to do is to capture bubbles as they float down to earth. To really freeze the motion exposures on the order of 1/250 of a second allow for some interesting shots to be captured.

One further interesting video fairly similar to the second last one in which the task is to capture a splash, instead of capturing a water drop, this time the task is focused on capturing the splash caused by the dropping of a spanner into a tray of water.

Gavin Howie also has a nice video demonstrating how to capture water splashes. Initially he uses a white sheet of paper as a background. Towards the end of the video he looks at the addition of colour to the image, firstly by changing the white balance, in this particular case he uses tungsten. The alternative option is to use a coloured background that results in some really interesting colouration on the waters surface.

If you happen to have an aquarium floating around then you can have a go at dropping a selection of fruit and vegetables in and capturing the motion of the impact and splash.

Its always of course useful to take a look at the user manual of your camera to be familiar with the settings. In the case of the Canon 600D one can download the user manual from the support page on canon.co.uk. You will see on page 88 of the manual that the Canon 600D is capable of shooting about 3.7 shots per second in continuous mode. One can find details about the Tv setting on page 94 allowing for motion to frozen or blurred.