CryEngine 3 SDK Out now for free!

The engine is now available for free here.

Read the terms and conditions, but they sound pretty good for those that just want to tinker around with it.

To get started, the official documentation can be found here.

The community developed documentation, which is well worth a browse can be found here.

A simple guide to get started on creating a level can be found here.

More indepth knowledge can be found in the wiki here.

Now go and enjoy!

Boston Blender User Group

>BBUG

Not to be confused with BUG (Boston Unity Group).
Good opportunity for Blender users to get together and talk about work flows, tools and other tips and tricks. This is especially good for indie devs to network as well as new comers who get the chance to meet a variety of skilled artists.
The next meet up is planned for 23rd of June, next week.
This group is organised by K. White Adam, who you can follow on twitter as @kadamwhite he also has a really interesting blog here, which covers indie game development and web design development.

Legal Basics for Game Companies

>A free half day conference in Waltham MA, hosted by Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, P.C. on the 5th of May 2011.


The iternary of the event is as follows:

Game Law Basics Sessions:

  • VC & Angel Financing – 1:00 – 2:00 pm
  • Strategic Partnering – 2:00 – 3:00 pm
  • IP Protection – 3:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Formation – 3:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Mergers & Acquisitions – 4:00 – 5:00 pm
  • Employment – 4:00 – 5:00 pm
More info on this great event for people thinking of starting up a studio, or who have started up can be found here.

PAX East – Party

>

10th March 7-10pm at the MS NERD Centre – http://paxeast031011.eventbrite.com/
For anyone in the area and especially those going to PAX East, it’s a great party event to network with people.
It’s a freebie event, get in touch for the discount code, it’s there to keep those not in the industry off with the entry cost.
Pass it on to your friends.
http://blog.masstlc.org/2010/03/masstlc-pax-party-maxes-out-microsoft.html That’s a link to some info of the party last year!

Best Lens and Screen Cleaner?

>Having tried a whole bunch after randomly getting quite a few as Christmas Stocking stuffers the one I keep going back to using with best results is the: – Spudz

It’s really weird how much better it is than the other clothes, it does actually make your glass lens that much shinier and clearer and it does work great on your monitors, DS screens etc and with the added bonus that it can be tidied away into its own little pouch and clipped to whatever you fancy, in my key as a keyring so I’ve always got it.

Mass Innovation Night

>Mass Innovation Nights – A monthly event held in various locations in Massachusetts.

You can follow info about the event on Twitter here. #min20 was the tag to follow specifically what happened last night.
This event is a free event for people to show off their products and get some simple marketing with word of mouth. IP lawyers were also there to offer advice as well as people who run marketing sites who also offered advice to people for free.
Some of the products and people who stood out for me last night though included a anti-piracy software, which was more analytic’s of who was pirating your iPhone/iPad software and had ways to help try and convert those users into paying users. Simple marketing for e-commerce, cloud based group collaboration projects and simple education animation software.
They have a great, simple to use stop motion animation software program called “SAM”, which is aimed at K through 12 year old students, which has mostly been used towards science and maths classes, but can be used to enhance any kind of class by having kids create simple animations to show off their ideas and understanding of a project.
It really was very simple to use and a lot of fun. The free version is great and has most of the features, but a few extra editing features are in the licensed version which was $50 but a site license was only $300 and individual license costs would be deducted from a site license if you decided to upgrade at a later date.
iOS apps anti-piracy software you can bolt on to your apps, with Android coming soon. The free version has basic analytics which is pretty good and then a paid service for more features.
What it does is identify how many users are using pirated copies, how and where, allowing you to use the info to help convert some of those users into paying users, but the paid service can go as far as allowing your app to be used for a short while before bringing up notices to buy your app or lose the high score, or other such stuff to inhibit the fun of the game.
A whole suite of features from building your website with simple CMS funtions, to e-commerce and easy social media integration. What made this pretty interesting though was the level of realtime statistics, the huge amount of information it can provide for you in simple graphics was kind of neat, especially when seeing which affiliates of ad programs seem to be working the best for you.
A spin off from the Grasshopper Group. This was simple way to market your products using your customers, by allowing them to have a shout out on Facebook, Twitter or whatever they used to spread the word that they just got something they liked. Really useful for e-commerce, but probably less useful to convert sales in games where you are already on the platform, but it might work. There’s a decent free trial of this service.
Cloud based collaboration software services. You can do ad-hoc group communications and work collaborations, file share and consolidate enterprise social networking with messages, chats, blogs and wikis all within one program.
There is free beta testing at the moment, but the licensing is $100 set up and then $20 annual service fee per seat.
Erik J Heels, of the above firm specialise in patent and trademark work with special interest in working with start ups to help minimise their costs. He does seem to understand the software and games sphere pretty well, so certainly with a talk to if you’re in the Boston area looking for a lawyer, based in Maynard, MA.

Boston Unity Group – Second Meet up

>The second Boston Unity Group – BUG had the meeting last night, 31st August 2010, held at the really nice Microsoft NERD Centre in Cambridge, MA.

The presentation was given by the ever talented user of Unity, Yilmaz Kiymaz, who came from Turkey to give the talk. He talked about editor scripts and maximizing your Unity workflow.

For an artist, a lot of this was a little over my head as it was quite technical in nature, but the results spoke for themselves, lots of little tips and tricks for people to create scripts and custom editors that would help over come a lot of tedious and especially repetitious tasks, more so for when dealing with a group of artists on the same project.

The presentation can be viewed in 3 parts below, apologies for the low volume and slight gitters in the video, but you should be able to hear and see most of the info. It’s a 40 min presentation and worth seeing.

Part 1 –

Boston Unity Group – First Meet up

>Boston Unity Group – BUG

This is a new meet up group organised for the Boston indie dev scene, though anyone who is interested in, or has used Unity were more than welcome to the event.

The group met up in Northeastern University for the first time, a good venue, organised my Elliott Mitchell and Alex Schwartz.

Kicking off the event, Tom Higgins, community manager at Unity Technologies, spoke about Unity, the company, the product and what will come in the future as well as understanding how to get the best out of it with various pricings and features. The afternoon session held an all-day workshop dubbed ‘Unity Day’. This was a series of tutorials on Unity.

Below is, in three parts, a video of the talk given by Tom Higgins.

Part 1:

http://www.viddler.com/player/579bb145/

Part 2:

http://www.viddler.com/player/7287b3a9/

Part 3:

http://www.viddler.com/player/3c78f85a/

The next of these bi-monthly Boston Unity Group (game developer meetup) meets will be August 31 @ the Mircosoft N.E.R.D. center in Cambridge, MA. 7 p.m.

Sony Playstation – Move

>This is just a little summary of information gained at the last Boston Post Mortem, held 20th May.

So what makes this a good thing to develop on? Hard question to answer with out seeing any killer apps for it, though the tech demo was pretty interesting and does show some potential for tools creation and as a editor for current games.

What Sony are doing to help developers is providing the Live Motion 2, the motion library for free to all licensed Sony devs and they are trying to make a push for people to use this by offering various bundle deals, most including the Eye Toy camera which is need to get this working, which is a good thing as they have only something like 10M Eye Toys out there at the moment.

What doesn’t help, certainly devs going for the casual sports and pub type games, there won’t be any controller add ons, such that you get with the Wii controller with all those baseball bats, golf clubs etc. This I think is a bit of a short fall as it breaks the illusion of being part of the event, sure this thing is accurate but there is a much larger level of disconnect from the game because of that.

A concern for who will use this is another big issue. For a party accessory, unlike the Wii, this becomes very expensive, having the PS3, the camera, the Move and the navigator, not a cheap toy to bring to a party. Also you need a certain level of light for this to work, and it needs to be consistent light for it to work at its best, so that could rule out anywhere with strobed party lights. A nice tough though, the controller can phase out colours which are similar to the background and lighting so that they won’t create problems with the controller and if two or more controllers are using similar colours, it can auto change the colours for you to make game play smoother and easier.

You can have up to four Move controllers on any one system which is good, but there was no mention if that included the navigator controller or not and they would take up a joypad spot, so limiting how much of a mix and match you can have.

Allowing older games to function with these, should be easy apparently, though this is a little more in the programmer sphere than I understand, it did sound relatively simple because the units used very little system resources with a 13m/s latency per SPU for each controller. I think I got that right.

What was very nice, the face detection, this could add quite a bit of fun to game design because it could track relative age, eye movement, head movement, if you had glasses and whether you were smiling or not. It could also consider your height, if you were sitting or standing. This was a nice mechanic for game show puzzle type games because it could indicate various facial factors.

Gestures, which was also quite nice, but very glitchy. It allowed you to create a rough skeleton of your height and build, so you could control yourself and using the buttons on the controller to add fine hand control, something they pointed out that Natal didn’t have. It was nice to see, but it didn’t work that great though.

Big issue was the line of sight, the light on the Move controller had to see the camera and getting in the way either because you were moving around, someone passing through, or you swinging the controller back behind for something like a baseball swing broke the controller, left you hanging in the air as it were. It was quite quick to pick you back up, but it still broke the illusion.

WD TV Live Media box review

>There are loads of these media boxes around so it can be hard to chose, but I personally went with the WD TV Live – Mainly because I know quite a few people who have one, or at least the models down, the WD TV and WD Mini.

First the alternatives, which there are quite a few –

Dragon Tech

Popcorn A-200

Acer Revo
– a mini desktop using XMBC media streaming network software.

Main reason I went with the WD, it was a cheap option at $120 did nearly everything I wanted from it and was easy to use as well as being nice and small.

So out of the box, you’ve got the player which is about the size of an external hard drive, a tiny remote and the audio/video cables and composite cables, you have to get your own HDMI cables.

The player has two USB slots so you can use a thumb drive or plug in a wireless adapter to get it online, but the list of adapters that are certified to work is fairly small, you can see the list here. You also have the option of plugging in a network cable.

There is no hard drive in this, unlike other players, but using a thumb drive to get media on the thing is pretty good for tele shows or movies, but if you wanted to get the most out of this, you should get it hooked up to your network where it can play music and movie files from a shared drive on the network or media shared device.

Once you’ve got a USB wireless adapter that works for the device, getting it set up is a breeze, plug it in and go to settings to select wireless and automatic settings and then you plug in any network passwords and it hooks straight up. You also can store user name/passwords for any shared drives if you want which is quite nice.

So far, it has played all kinds of media files I have thrown at it, streamed them really well and upscaled non HD content wonderfully. It also remembers where in a file you were if you have to stop the show and go to another show for example. Fast forwarding files also seems to work really smoothly, as does the ability to read subtitle files.

Product support is great too, with regular firmware updates to sort out any issues, which are really easy to install. For the more adventurous out there, they also provide beta firmwares here.

Online features, Youtube, Pandora, Live365 radio, Flickr. Really easy to use and they all work really well with the device.

With all the love and I’d highly recommend this device to anyone, there are a few cons and I’ll go over them.

The remote, you can’t use the player without the remote and it is a small remote, make sure you don’t lose it, and for anyone with a large media catalogue, it would have been nice to have a rocker switch to quickly scroll through your library.

USB slots, only two of them, the one at the back, which you’d probably use for the wireless, it is right next to the HDMI slot, so unless you’ve got a narrow adapter, you’ll have to use and extension or there won’t be room for it. The other USB slot on the side is slightly recessed and isn’t lit up at all so can be difficult to find if you’ve got your player in your TV cabinet, but that is a small gripe. There really needs to be a third USB slot though because you can use a keyboard, but there isn’t room to plug one in, and you’ll see how useful a keyboard is if you use the online features like YouTube, Panadora etc. Still don’t know why they couldn’t have built wireless into the device as it would reduce there need to support other adapters but oh well.

The online features, it is missing Hulu and other services such as Netflix, which apparently can work if you have a media server set up and stream the content from your desktop and there are also hacked firmware files out there that do add extra services. Would have been nice to be able to put in proxy/VPN details so you could use a BBC iPlayer service etc. Also the player can’t play DRM protected content from say iTunes

Audio, it’s stereo output, automatically downscales it for you, but it would be nice not to if you’ve got an A/V receiver to put it through, less of a concern for me but it should be mentioned.

I’m still loving it, works a treat, simple to use and no messing around to get it up and running in minutes.