EGBL 2009

Therese and I presented papers at the European Game Based Learning conference this week. We felt that our presentations went well enough and explained our work clearly. We had a number of good conversations with researchers who were interested in what we were doing and I really enjoyed chatting to a couple of researchers from France who were on the same research wavelength as myself. Hopefully, I can maintain links with these guys and take the education virtual world RPG ideas forward. EGBL 2009 had a mixed quality of presentations but was well worth the trip for the conections made.

Halo ODST

Therese and I finished Halo ODST co-op campaign last night on Heroic difficulty. We enjoyed playing Halo 3 in co-op and on the whole we weren’t let down by ODST. There are some great set pieces and it really brought the experience right back to Halo 1 and 2; the Hunters scared me again and there was a nice balance to the battles. I liked the addition of the visor which really improved the atmosphere by having quite a few dimly lit scenes. On the down side, it was quite short for the price, the detail on character models is pretty average, and the story-line was weak (a bit like a short story rather than an epic). Firefight is a good addition, but I think for me Gears of War 2 still beats Halo for this type of gameplay.

As usual, I am playing several other games at the same time. Shadow Complex on Xbox Live is excellent, really like Super Metroid (which I adored). I also  tracked down the PSP game Jeanne D’Arc which is fun tile based RPG. It is funny having historical based gameplay with actual locations and historical characters mixed in with turn-based battles with orcs and mages!

While I wait for the endless updates for the new mmo Aion I have started playing Mario Galaxy on the Wii – what a great game. In between trying to get some work done in the afternoons I find myslef being called into Kaci’s room (6 yrs old) to help her progress in Spyro for the Wii. All good fun.

Busy Times!

Its been my busiest summer ….ever! The only holiday I’ve managed to take this year was last week. I wasn’t resting though, we got our house completely repainted and new carpets in every room. Lots of carrying of furnature and plenty of drilling of holes for new curtains etc.

The end of June was devoted to writing a journal paper for BJET – no word on this yet. We completed three papers for CIG 2009, two of which have been accepted.
July was spent working on a consultancy report on the use of games and virtual worlds for construction industry education and engagement. We focused on OpenSim and Metaplace. Metaplace proved to be a very popular choice and it is now likely that we will be using this virtual world technology on a two year Knowledge Transfer Project. XNA was also suggested for the creation of wiimote educational mini-games and we may be creating some prototypes for this in the near future.

In August, one of my students Ben Cowley, successful passed his PhD viva and Leo Galway will be doing his this week. I also finally found out that my paper was accepted for ECGBL 2009 so a bit of work needed on that before I send in the completed version. Tomorrow I’m making a presentation on games and virtual worlds to enhance student engagement at a T&L symposium within the university. I hope to find some time to prepare for my two semester 1 XNA based modules soon!

What’s new

I have a few things that I want to write a bit on, including quality games (or the lack of them) for 4-6 year olds, but lately been to busy to take the time to write something worth reading :-) Maybe later!

Been a good period though. I’ve had abstract accepted for a game based learning conference in Austria and I’ve been doing a lot of background reading on virtual worlds in preparation for finishing the paper. This reading will also help for the journal paper that we have been invited to write on the back of the VS-Game 09 paper. Two of my PhD students are just finishing off their thesis write ups, so there is quite a bit of reading there too.

I was at an Apple devday in Belfast yesterday which was enjoyable – the numbers at this illustrated the buzz around iPhone development at the moment. Graham McAllister’s (University of Sussex) talk on game usability and the “vertical slice” was really interesting. His focus on player experience is very much in line with thinking at our group from all sorts of games research perspectives. I’ve just received funding to go to the Apple developer conference in San Francisco which I’m very excited about, though this will mean that I’ll have to fit in a crash prep. session on iPhone development before I go.

Oh! and there is my teaching … last two weeks of the teaching semester. Coursework due for marking … presentation of XNA games to sit through … excuses for non-submission to hear! Some my students games are shaping up to be excellent though, and one of the group games has got through to the 2nd round of the game development competition of the Imagine Cup 2009. I’ll post more details on these games at some time in the near future.