Crytek Nottingham Presentation

On Monday 5th of March Tom Feltwell, one of our MSc by Research students was invited over to Crytek Nottingham by Principal Programmer Mark Tully, to give a presentation about his research in the area of game data analysis. Tom described his arrival at the Nottingham office: “With the sun shining I took the train over to Nottingham from Lincoln and was welcomed into the concrete and glass behemoth that is the Crytek Nottingham office. Signing an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) before entering the inner sanctum, I was able to see all of the up and coming delights that are being worked on by the 100+ strong team!”

Tom works full time within the School of Computer Science and is pursuing a Masters by Research in Automatic Analysis of Spatial User-Generated Data in Games part time. He is working to analyse game data captured from the 2007 shooter Red Orchestra: Ost Front 41-45. The data is collected from play sessions taking place at the University (Fridays, 4.00pm Comp Lab B) and doing some automated analysis to isolate the effects that changes have on game play. Full details about his research will be published in his paper he is submitting to GAMEON 2012.

Tom Feltwell giving presentation to Crytek Nottingham staff.
Tom, admiring the lime and charcoal colour scheme.

Tom says: “Initially I was told I would be presenting to the programming team, numbering 20 or so. As the time got closer to 1:30pm, more and more people turned up, until I was faced with a nerve racking sea of industry professionals! Thankfully the talk was really well received and the questions weren’t too taxing. I had a good chat to various team members who had a particular interest in the area, and in some cases were actively working on data analysis of Crytek titles. To top the day off I was treated to a full tour of the office!

It was a real pleasure to get feedback about my work from industry professionals, and I had a fantastic time. I look forward to further collaboration between the University of Lincoln and Crytek Nottingham!”

Announcement: Research seminars, Richard Bartle, and MMOs

It is with great pleasure to announce that Professor Richard Bartle, best known for being one of the pioneers of the massively online game industry, is coming to the University of Lincoln to give a talk about his recent video-games related work. His talk is entitled “How to Cheat at MMOs without Cheating“. Richard Bartle summarises the talk as following:

“Player Type theory has a long history of use in MMO design, and is accepted as a standard model of player behaviour. In this talk, I explain how different player types view what a virtual world “is”, and how this affects their opinion of whether an activity is or is not cheating”.

The talk will be given on Wednesday, 14th March 2012 between 15:00 – 16:00  in the Cargill Lecture Theatre, which is situated in the Main Building of the campus. No registration is required, just pop to the lecture theatre on time. We hope to see you all there!

Update! For those of you who have missed the talk, Bartle uploaded his lecture slides on here. In his blog, Richard describes his talk as follows:

“For the rest of you, the basic premise is that different types of player have different ideas as to what an MMO is “about”, and play to an unwritten set of rules consistent with those ideas. Anything that breaks those rules, they regard as cheating (or at least with great disapproval). Players of different types don’t have any conception of these unwritten rules, though, and therefore have no concerns about breaking them.”

GameMaker Challenge #2: 60 Seconds ASCII Games

As part of their studies of becoming successful game-scholars, 1st year Games Computing students at the LSoC have to use and learn existing tools to rapidly develop and extend original game design ideas into fully fledged playable games. One of our favourite approach to the introductory of game studies is the use of game developing challenges. The rules of challenges: Make a game based on a given theme, within the available time scale. Volunteering students present and discuss their game in front of a playful crowd made out of their colleagues and university staff members. We previously reported about the Challenge #1; this post focuses on the results of Challenge #2.

Challenge #2: Design and produce a game which is based around the theme “ASCII”. Take inspiration from arcade games and Atari VCS games of the 1980’s by using the ASCII character set only as game components and graphics. The only other constraint on the game is that it must play in sixty seconds or less.

We were quite overwhelmed by the quality and brilliance of the games implementation submitted to the given challenge. The submissions ranged from dungeon crawlers, space ship battles, supermarket explorers, hacking terminals, serious games to tower defence, multi-player jump and runs, virus deletion, to racing games. As good as all game genres and ideas were looked at from a different perspective and re-engineered into a new innovative and fun game. Very well done to everyone who participated! As usual, Ben Kirman recorded the presentation sessions and created a short show reel video. The video is available on Youtube and gives a good glimpse of what is happening during the challenge presentation sessions!


In addition, we have hand-picked the following submissions; feel free to get them separately; or download them all in a handy zip file. Leave a comment and tell us what you think of the games!

Legend of Ascii by Kieran Hicks
Take control of a mighty warrior and battle your way through hordes of hellish monsters and kill the dragon that killed your father.  You shall have your revenge!


Neon Mage ASCII by Martin Smith
Minding your own business as a rogue mage, your home town is being attacked! Your most powerful spell, the teleport takes 60 seconds to charge, you’ll have to defend yourself against waves of enemy numbers with all you’ve got until it kicks in.


ASCII Blocker by Richard Lannigan
As the head systems analyst, it is your job to protect your base from a sixty seconds wave of enemy virus cells attempting to destroy it. Use blockers and turrets to aid you in your defence, or drop the almighty nuke and wipe out all enemies in range. Protect the system core at all costs to ensure law and order is upheld. Get it done analyst.


Enigma by Ashley Clewes
ENIGMA is a text-based hacking/decoding game, designed to appear like a simple terminal/console application which has been adapted by its creators to allow for a level of competition.


Asciinauts by John McDonagh
The evil Asciinauts have captured the inhabitants of the planet decimalus. It is your mission to kill the 10 evil asciinauts before they get away with their crimes towards the decimals. A retro 60 second fast action shoot em up. Can you save the decimals before it’s too late?


Mind by Laura Buttrick
A minimalist exploration of seasonal affective disorder.


Draw! by James Brown
Draw! The clue’s in the name.


@LAD by Jack Guerrier
@LAD is a cross between a Maze/race/collision style games, allowing the player to manoeuvre around other obstacles to reach a particular point before another object. Plan their path towards the point gaining object!


ASCroller by Jack Broughton
ASCroller is a space scrolling shoot em up with a rewarding level-up system. Take control of the brutish Battleship or control the nimble Yen ship. Collect as many points as possible before time runs out while dodging or destroying asteroids. Players can gain power by collecting objects and use it for special powers.


Rocket Racer by Christopher Dye
In Rocket Racer you have 60 seconds to test your rocket car! Using the arrow keys collect money to increase your score and speed, but watch out for potholes, hitting too many will force you to slow down and decrease your score!


ASCIIPE by Matthew Housley
ASCIIPE is an ASCII themed Dungeon Crawler. The goal is to navigate your character through one of three randomly chosen puzzles, fighting your way past enemies while finding the exit within the given time limit. Every time a puzzle is loaded the room will look different as it is randomly generated.


Astonishing work guys! Challenge #3 will be set in Unity and has been unveiled. Results will be posted in the following weeks!

Video Games & Virtual Worlds, POCOS : Keynotes online!

Sean Oxspring previously reported about his experiences at the recent POCOS symposium on Virtual Worlds and Games. We have been recently informed that the videos of the speaker led sessions are now online and are available to view.  We put a handful of speeches in this post, however all of them are available on the POCOS Vimeo streaming webpage.

Dan Pinchbeck,The Chinese Room, UK – Standing on the shoulders of heavily armed giants: why history matters for game development

Professor Richard Bartle, University of Essex, UK – Archaeology versus Anthropology: What can Truly be Preserved?

Ian Livingstone OBE, Co-Founder, The Games Workshop, UK – The Future History of Video Games

Tom Woolley, Curator of New Media, National Media Museum, UK – Curatorial Issues in Preserving Games for Museum Collections & Public Display

Student conference report: Video Games & Virtual Worlds, POCOS.

This post has been written by Sean Oxspring, a 2nd Year Games Computing from the University of Lincoln. He recently attended at the 3rd POCOS Symposium, which discussed the fundamental tasks around the preservation of video-games and digital worlds.

In the 1920’s movies were not considered as a significant cultural object, this meant a great deal of films to not be archived for the future and they were lost to the ages… unfortunately history is as per usual repeating itself – only this time with video-games.

Oliver and I travelled along to the POCOS symposium in Cardiff in order to be a part of a discussion on the future possibilities of games archiving in this country. Other attendees ranged from games designers to archivists and librarians, all interested in preserving the history and future of games for both research and cultural purposes.

We received a great deal of information on the problems surrounding preserving games, some were similar to other forms of media, but a great deal of things were different. Several speakers talked about the great deal of metadata surrounding games, hardware specifications, software, user created content, patches etc. etc. the huge amount of metadata surrounding games makes it hard for archivists to decide what is important to keep and what researchers will not need to know in the future.

Ian Livingstone discussing the importance of games culture.

The vast majority of games preservation today is done by private collectors and through legally dodgy websites. IP is a very big problem as a lot of publishers do not wish to release their works for archiving as the public would have access to them – meaning in the future they might lose out on selling their retro-titles as a re-release (Nintendo’s WiiStore being the most obvious one). Some archives have copies of very old games, but are unable to show the public as they find it difficult to get permission to display them in exhibits (IP being owned by several people made it hard to get hold of everyone’s permission).

Richard Bartle spoke on the problems with preserving an MMO game, the main problem here is that although it would be reasonably easy to preserve a server and the client software – you would only have half of the picture, as an MMO’s main reliance is its players. Bartle described it as ‘evacuating Leicester and then covering it in clingfilm, then coming back in a hundred years’ the cities structures would be preserved, but the people living there make the city what it is. As such to fully understand an MMO a great deal of player metadata would have to be preserved along with it.

Ian Livingstone gave a talk on his history in the games industry and ran with the idea of games being of a phenomenal cultural value. He showed how Tomb Raider became a hit with both sexes, and the great deal of adverts that used Lara Croft as a spokesperson.

Dan Pinchbeck talking about why history matters for game development.

Dan Pinchbeck, the creative mind of ‘Dear Esther’, did a presentation entitled ‘Standing on the shoulders of heavily armoured giants’. He expressed the point that we needed to remember and preserve gaming history in order to understand how to design better games in the future.

Later on both days we split into groups and discussed ideas about games preservation, and how we can tackle such a task in order to avoid losing games in the future. There were several problems to tackle: What to preserve, Who would want access to it and the most difficult one being whether or not we can get publishers to give up their IP for archiving purposes.