Updating The Blog! (It’s been a while…)

So its been quite a while since my last blog post… theres a good few reasons for that and I’ll list them below. None of them are bad of course – in fact I’d say all the reasons for me being off the radar are pretty awesome and cool. It’s been a very eventful university semester.

Firstly, I completed and handed in my dissertation on visual variety in crowd simulations. I’m pretty happy with how it went… the project was completed on time and the results gathered by the evaluation supported the changes I’d made to the agent’s model in the world. You can read the full project report here, hopefully you won’t find any mistakes in it (if you do… please don’t tell me as it’ll make me panic.)

Secondly, I completed my last two assignments of the year:

  • A games design document for a ‘critical’ game looking at illicit gun-running, capitalism and dictatorships. The player assumes the role of an unscrupulous arms dealer who travels to a fictional island in order to make money off of the war brewing between two countries.
  • A pathfinding assignment in which I implemented a pre-baked pathfinding solution in order to simulate more agents at runtime… it allowed for the simulation to have 20,000+ agents moving around all at once.

Thirdly, myself and the rest of my wonderful council at the university’s anime society (JAMS) put on a big event in the university’s bar called ‘LinCON’ – we had a load of things going on such as an artists alley, a sumo suit arena, sushi, origami and calligraphy. It was a great night and from all the feedback I’ve received everyone had a great time. I’d specifically like to thank Pia Davison from Lucky-Con for taking a big chunk of her free time out in order to help us get ready in time!

Fourthly, it was my birthday last Friday so I had a wonderful party at The Shed, my local student pub. We took on the theme of “Steampunk… like a sir.” and I was most impressed with how good everyone looked in their shirts and dresses. I like my parties to be classy and with whiskeys and victory cigars this was no exception to that.


Fifthly… and I think this is the biggest and most awesome news of this entire updateI’m lucky enough to now be the managing director of my own games company! I’ve literally been buzzing this whole week after receiving the news that I’m now in such a position at the age of twenty two. I’ve been in touch with a couple of initial clients and hopefully in the future Top Notch Studios will grow to be a well-known development company here in Britain!

Thank you for reading! I’m sure I’ll be doing more updates soon about other things I’m working on… and I’ll be typing up the next Laundry RP files soon when I get chance to!

3rd Year Project Update #1

So I’ve not really blogged much about what my third year project is actually about, so I’ll do a little post now about it, and how things are developing so far.

My project’s title is “Towards Developing Character Visual Variety in a Crowd Simulation Program” and it’s pretty much that: Developing a way of generating varied characters in a crowd simulation!

Project Abstract:

When simulating crowds in virtual environments, specifically games – it is often the case that models will be re-used, lowering visual variety in the crowd. This project aims to address the problem of re-used models by developing a procedurally generation system in OpenGL to generate more varied character models. The project will then be evaluated using focus groups and a “spot the same models” activity similar to that of McDonnell et al. (2008).

So I’ve been working towards developing a method of generating characters in real-time based on manipulating a base character using several different visual variation techniques the main being:

  • Mesh Deformation based on  William Herbert Sheldon‘s Somatotype Theory.
  • Randomly generated Heights and Widths.
  • Randomly chosen Bodies and Heads.
  • Randomly generated colour differences in certain areas of character models.

I’m working on Oliver Szymanezyk’s crowd simulation program that he is developing for his post-graduate research project. He’s been working on creating a more realistic crowd simulation in which members of the crowd interact with each other in groups and not just as individual entities:

I’ve been tasked with making the characters more visually varied in the scene. If you look at the video and then at my screenshot below you can notice the differences I’ve added in so far between the old version and my current implementation. Ignoring the texturing problems on the bodies of course… I’m working on editing the texturing soon – since I’ve added in all these new vertices to the body I’ve got to change the way the body reacts to texturing.

Project Screenshot

After a great deal of painful fiddling with OpenGL vertex arrays and raging over little buggy rendering issues, I’m finally getting somewhere with this final year project! I’ve got my model (mostly) finished, and I’m happy with the results – might do a few more edits before I sign off on it, but the models are looking a great deal more varied than they originally were.

I hope to have the models completed one-hundred percent by early January so then I can hit my deadline for starting the evaluation process of my project. Then I’ll get on the typing up of my final submission… I’ve got most of my notes collated together, it’s just a matter of pulling it all into one epically sized document!