Category: Teaching


I’ve said before how I like to keep in touch with alumni. Often they are a pleasure to know when they are studying at University, but watching them as they go into the games industry and started making a name for themselves makes you really proud of what they are able to achieve, and perhaps even a little bit jealous!

Yacine Salmi did our masters course a while ago. It might even be more than 10 years ago now, which is scary. I’ve been vaguely aware of some of the projects that Yacine has worked on, but his latest offering – a mobile game called ellipsis, is doing really really well. Ellipsis has won Intel Level Up Game Developer Contest awards for “Game of the Year” and “Best Action Game”. and judging by social media Yacine is now busy flying all over the world promoting his game.

Here he is promoting his game at the Tokyo Game Show! He’s on from about an hour in.

Yacine explains to the host that Ellipsis is a minimalist action puzzle game. Ellipsis also has no text at all, which is clever because it means that the market is not restricted by language. You can watch the trailer for Ellipsis here, and you should definitely check it out.

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The Games Developer Conference starts on Monday, so Sunday gives a good opportunity to try to get over the jet lag and wander round the city. That’s exactly what we did. After starting at the shops in fisherman’s wharf we walked towards the bridge, which was obscured by a heavy fog, then up the hill and back round towards the city. I think we covered about nine miles in all. After that we walked down to the convention centre to register before heading back to the hotel.

Monday saw the start of the conference. I mostly switched between sessions on the math and the graphics tracks. I learnt all about Grassmann Algebra, which is a more generalised version of vector algebra that I’m more familiar with. Then I learnt about some important considerations when introducing randomness into games, and then rotations using quaternions.

In the afternoon I deviated a little to see a session on using OpenCL for AI, and then I spent the rest of the day in the graphics track, covering shader optimisation in DirectX, optimizing DirectX, tessellation, volumetric rendering for shadows and god rays, and hair and fur shaders.

It was a busy day, but then it always is at GDC. There’s just too many great sessions on at a time!

Strange Rooms

1:52. That’s what’s it said on the large, red digital display next to me when I woke up. My nose and throat were dry, and my back ached like I’d been sitting in the same position for several hours. Outside I could hear the familiar, bell like tones of chains being dragged beneath the street that service the San Francisco trams.

Yes, after a shameful gap in which I failed to blog about all sorts of things, including the Global Game Jam! We made two games ambitiously linked by a bespoke, configurable 3D printed controller! I’ve decide to use my trip to GDC to try to kickstarting my blog, at least for the next few days.

GDC is the Games Developers Conference which is held annually in San Francisco. It’s a really great experience where we get to go to all sorts of talks on all sorts of topics. We get to find out about how parts of particular games were made, and go to talks on all sorts of topics, from hardware to graphics, physics and maths, to business and monetization.

So, Warren and I got an early train from Hull, and after more than fifteen hours of traveling, waiting and traveling again we arrived at our hotel. It’s traditional to take a picture of the view from your hotel room. Here’s mine:

Room with a view

Room with a view

The hotel is pretty good and is in a great location for the conference. I’ll try to post more tomorrow, but in the meantime if you want to find out more about what goes on at GDC go to www.gdconf.com