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Game Developers Conference 2014 (GDC 2014) – Wrap Up

Game Developers Conference 2014 (GDC 2014) – Wrap Up

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Gaming, General, Hardware, Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

GDC '14 - Bustling with activity at the Career Center.

GDC ’14 – Bustling with activity at the Career Center.

This past week, I had a chance to attend the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, a huge annual conference for game producers & developers. As this was my first GDC, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet professionals in the gaming industry, attend seminars on game development, as well as seeing the latest games and technology on display. 

GDC '14 - GDC attendees getting an opportunity to try out Oculus Rift.

GDC ’14 – GDC attendees getting an opportunity to try out Oculus Rift.

GDC ' 14 - Unity promoting the Unity gaming engine to game developers.

GDC ‘ 14 – Unity promoting the Unity gaming engine to game developers.

While the first two days of GDC came and gone with little fanfare, things became a bit more interesting when the Career Center and the Expo Floor opened up on Wednesday. Companies like Oculus and Unity were in full force on the floor. Oculus, riding on the growing interest into virtual reality technology, were demonstrating the full capabilities of what the Oculus Rift VR headset had to offer for the next generation of games. As for Unity, they were heavily touting it’s capabilities as a versatile gaming engine that supports most (if not all) current gaming platforms, as well as high-profile games that were developed with Unity.

GDC '14 - The Sony PlayStation exhibit at GDC.

GDC ’14 – The Sony PlayStation exhibit at GDC.

GDC '14 - Valve's exhibit at the GDC.

GDC ’14 – Valve’s exhibit at the GDC.

GDC '14 - Valve's SteamBox, a PC running SteamOS.

GDC ’14 – Valve’s SteamBox, a PC running SteamOS.

GDC '14 - The controversial SteamOS controller.

GDC ’14 – The controversial SteamOS controller.

Some of the biggest announcements at GDC included Sony’s Project Morpheus, a VR headset similar to the Oculus’ Rift headset.  Another large announcement was Valve’s unveiling of the latest version of the SteamOS controller, considered to be controversial due to it’s unorthodox game controller layout. Along with the new controller, Valve was also demonstrating the SteamOS and the SteamBox PCs over at it’s booth.

GDC '14 - Intel at GDC, promoting it's Iris Pro GPU's abilities.

GDC ’14 – Intel at GDC, promoting it’s Iris Pro GPU’s abilities.

Hardware companies like Intel, AMD, and nVIDIA were also at GDC, demonstrating what their hardware can do for game developers. With Intel, they were promoting Iris Pro (Haswell’s integrated GPU) and it’s gaming performance. The message that they wanted to deliver was that the Iris Pro was capable of running the latest games (albeit at lower settings compared to nVIDIA & AMD’s GPU solutions).

GDC '14 - AMD demonstrating EyeInfinity with Battlefield 4.

GDC ’14 – AMD demonstrating EyeInfinity with Battlefield 4.

As for AMD, they were focused on promoting EyeInfinity, their triple monitor solution for gaming, as well as Mantle, an AMD API that allows developers greater access to AMD’s GPU capabilities on a lower level.

GDC '14 - nVIDIA's exhibit at GDC.

GDC ’14 – nVIDIA’s exhibit at GDC.

GDC '14 - nVIDIA's GRID rack server on display.

GDC ’14 – nVIDIA’s GRID rack server on display.

Over at nVIDIA’s booth, they were promoting their latest Tegra 4 SOC solution, as well as nVIDIA GRID, a cloud game streaming service that nVIDIA is currently promoting.

GDC '14 - A GDC attendee playing Crypt of the Necrodancer with a DDR mat.

GDC ’14 – A GDC attendee playing Crypt of the Necrodancer with a DDR mat.

GDC '14 - Bit Bros., a 2D fighting game that plays similarly to Nintendo's Smash Bros. series.

GDC ’14 – Bit Bros., a 2D fighting game that plays similarly to Nintendo’s Smash Bros. series.

de with the large game & hardware companies, part of the Expo Floor was dedicated to Independent Game Developers, where the latest and greatest indie games like “Papers, Please”, “Crypt of the Necrodancer”, “The Stanley Parable”, and many others were on display. GDC has always had a large focus on independent game developers, but this year, indie game developers were definitely in force, as many of the indie games on display were quite intuitive and most importantly, fun to play.

GDC '14 - The Videogame History Museum Exhibit at GDC.

GDC ’14 – The Videogame History Museum Exhibit at GDC.

Outside of the Expo Floor, I encountered an interesting exhibit, the Videogames History Museum. It was an exhibit dedicated to the history of arcade and console gaming, with classic consoles like the NES, SNES, Atari, N64, Genesis, GameCube, Game Boy, Virtual Boy, etc. on display. There were several stations where gamers could reminisce and play these classic consoles; I was able to get a chance to play E.T.: Phone Home (a game that was largely responsible for the 1983 video game crash), as well as a few rounds of Super Smash Bros. Melee. The exhibit was definitely a trip down nostalgic road for me.

GDC '14 - Game Developer's Choice Awards

GDC ’14 – Game Developer’s Choice Awards

On Wednesday night, the Game Developer’s Choice Awards 2014 was held. It’s similar to the People’s Choice Awards, except that the winners here are games and their developers. A significant portion of the GDC Awards were dedicated to indie games, showcasing how far indie games have come in recent years. What I found surprising is that a large amount of the awards were given to the indie game “Papers, Please”, winning five awards for categories such as Best Narrative, Visual Art, etc. Another big winner was Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us”, a great game that rocked the gaming world last year.

With GDC ’14 concluded, I am still in awe over all the announcements, games/tech that were on display, and more importantly, the advice I received from game designers and professionals. As I have started the journey back into software development in the past year, I was initially overwhelmed, as I felt at times if I could ever get back to speed with what game companies are looking for in developers these days. However, I also gained insight and a better direction of where I should focus my software development skills on.

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Google Launches Android Wear

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Hardware, Mobile, News | 0 comments

Today, Google has unveiled Android Wear, it’s take on the smartwatch concept. With Android Wear and like Google Glass, Google brings the Android infrastructure to the smartwatch form factor. Google is also making the Android Wear SDK available today to developers, making it possible to add Android Wear support to existing Android apps.

Source: http://venturebeat.com/2014/03/18/google-launches-android-wear-a-new-project-to-bring-android-to-wearables-like-smartwatches/

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Project Geo Unveiled! Introducing Dragon Geo

Project Geo Unveiled! Introducing Dragon Geo

Posted by on Mar 12, 2014 in Gaming, Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

Project Geo, now unveiled as DRAGON GEO today, is an interactive map app akin to Google Maps, but displays maps from Square-Enix’s lesser known RPG series, Dragon Quest. Those of you that have been playing RPGs since the early days of the original NES will better recognize this series as Dragon Warrior. DRAGON GEO allows for viewing world, region, castle, town, dungeon, and shrine maps from Dragon Warrior / Quest I-VI. It also includes maps from the remake versions that later appeared on the Super Famicom, Game Boy Color, and Nintendo DS. As an added nostalgic touch, the entire interface uses the old Dragon Warrior command window style, complete with music and sound effects from the original Dragon Warrior / Quest games. If you’re a Dragon Warrior / Quest fan, you’re in for a big treat!

More about the origin of DRAGON GEO: Project Geo was originally used as a way for me to get familiar with Android development, roughly four months ago from today. During development, I’ve learned quite a bit about developing on the Android platform, such as programming gestures, loading and playing media files, displaying large images, UX design  handling memory optimization issues, and much more. Although I still have far to go in terms of Android development (and mobile development in general), I’m proud to have been able to put out a quality first app that I quite enjoyed working on in the available spare time I had. I’d like to thank the sites & people that have made these maps and sprites available online.  Without them, DRAGON GEO would not be possible:

  • D-Navi
  • Dragon’s Den
  • FlyingArmor
  • King Zenith
  • NES Maps
  • NES SNES Sprites
  • Realm of Darkness
  • RPG Legion
  • Sprite Database
  • x_loto
  • Zophar’s Domain

Also, many thanks goes out to my friends who have dedicated their time to beta testing out DRAGON GEO:

  • Ashwin Kamath
  • Steve Chou
  • Joey Dorpat
  • King Zenith
  • James Spencer
  • Dan Smoliak
  • Jesse Thomas

DRAGON GEO is now available for download on the Google Play Store. If you have an Android device, be sure to check it out! I’ll be making improvements to the app from time to time.

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Happy New Year and the Latest Updates

Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in General, Mobile, Software | 0 comments

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone had a great holiday season! Although it’s been quite some time since my last post, I wanted to let everyone know that I didn’t pass away or abandon the blog. Ever since I returned from California in October (great trip BTW), I’ve been quite busy, mostly focusing on my efforts into transitioning into the world of mobile software development, amongst many other things.

In particular, I have been heavily focused on Android Development, working on a new project that I began in late November. Unlike previous Android projects, the end goal of this project was to produce a unique, high-quality app that could be downloaded on the Google Play Store. During the development of this project (dubbed “Project Geo”), I have learned quite a bit about developing on Android platforms, including best practices and system limitations (i.e. memory limitations). With the experience of working on Project Geo, I can say that I am much more comfortable with Android Development now compared to a few months ago, but there is still much to learn.

The best news is that Project Geo is nearing completion and I hope to release it onto the Google Play Store within the next few weeks. Read More

Disaster Strikes! A Sad Galaxy Note II :(

Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 in General, Mobile | 0 comments

Over the weekend, I went Atlanta for a friend’s wedding. (Congrats Jared & Robynn!) On the last day of the trip, my trusty Galaxy Note II met with disaster, as it fell face flat onto the pavement when I tripped over a parking block. The aftermath of the disaster:

The Galaxy Note II... after the fall.

The Galaxy Note II… after the fall.

While it looks bad with the cracked screen, fortunately that was the only major damage, as my Note II was still fully operational, with LCD and touch functionality intact. I’m grateful for this, as replacing the gorilla glass is no where as expensive as replacing the LCD digitizer.

As I had no accidental warranty on my Note II (as I purchased it from a previous owner), I went ahead and ordered a replacement Note II gorilla glass part from eBay for roughly $25 USD. With video guides available online on how to take apart a Galaxy Note II, I’ll be doing a DIY repair on my phone, as it’ll save me roughly $130 USD (if repaired through a professional local service).

It’ll take several days for the replacement glass to arrive, but as I’m headed over to San Francisco for two weeks starting next weekend, this’ll have to be a on-vacation repair job. In the meantime, the Galaxy Note II is in sad-face mode. :( Read More

Android 4.4 Now “KitKat” Instead of Key Lime Pie

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in Mobile, News | 0 comments

Although it has only been a short time since Google released Android 4.3 and has yet to be released for most Android devices, Google today has released some minor details about Android 4.4, specifically in that it will be called “KitKat” instead of “Key Lime Pie.” Apparently, Nestle has given approval to Google for them to allow the name usage of their beloved snack for the next version of Android. 

Android 4.4 - KitKat

The next version of Android… KitKat.

Their reason for the name change? Many of the developers at Google aren’t familiar with the taste of key lime pie, but many at Google do snack on KitKats. While not the Android 5.0 update that many were hoping for, hopefully 4.4 will be a significant update like” JellyBean” was to” Ice Cream Sandwich”.

BBC – Android KitKat unveiled in Google surprise move
Engadget – Google teases Android 4.4 as ‘KitKat,’ passes one billion Android activations

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Nintendo Introduces the Nintendo 2DS

Posted by on Aug 31, 2013 in Gaming, Mobile, News | 0 comments

Nintendo unveiled the Nintendo 2DS this week, a new addition to the Nintendo DS handheld family. Unlike previous Nintendo DS devices, the new Nintendo 2DS is more tablet-like in nature, abandoning the flip-screen design present in previous Nintendo DS devices.

The new Nintendo 2DS, with a tablet-like structure.

The new Nintendo 2DS, with a tablet-like structure.

In terms of hardware, the new Nintendo 2DS boasts the same specifications as the Nintendo 3DS, but lacks one important feature, 3D gaming, hence being affixed with the 2DS label. While it may seem like a significant feature to drop, the 3D feature on Nintendo 3DS games released so far hasn’t been entirely crucial and ground-breaking. Although current Nintendo 3DS owners will likely ignore the Nintendo 2DS, Nintendo hopes to appeal to casual gamers with the new tablet-like design.

The Nintendo 2DS will be launching on October 12 in North America for MSRP price of $129.99.

Source: DailyTech – Nintendo Announces Tablet-Like “2DS,” Cuts Wii U Price by $50 Read More

AOKP Team Releases JB 4.2 Milestone 2

AOKP Team Releases JB 4.2 Milestone 2

Posted by on Jul 21, 2013 in Mobile, News | 0 comments

The AOKP Team released their JB 4.2 Milestone 2 build for several Android devices today. It’s been a while since the AOKP Team has released their JellyBean 4.2 Milestone 1 build, so there have been quite a few changes made since then.

From their announcement post on the AOKP blog site:

We are happy to announce our Milestone 2 build at long last, compiling and uploading right now. We say ‘FINALLY’ because that’s exactly how we feel about it, too. With vacations, setbacks, summer, and maybe a hint of procrastination, it took us a bit longer than we’d planned. We hope you enjoy the new build, and are looking forward to 4.3 as much as we are!

Our nightly schedule will be restored with the milestone finished: please watch your AOKPush apps in the middle of the week or so.

AOKP is now on 44 devices!. We’re very proud of our maintainers for getting that number up there.

Since Milestone 1 we added:
– HTC One devices: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Intl.
– Samsung Galaxy S4 devices: Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon
– Samsung Galaxy Note 2 devices: AT&T, T-Mobile, Intl.
– Sony Xperia devices: T, V, Z, ZL, Tablet Z (2 versions)

Major features (there are many, really, just dig into ROMControl):
AOKP Ribbon
– Permission management
– Dark AOKP
– mGerrit – check our latest changes anytime
– Persistence support – keep DPI/hosts settings between wipes
– Quick Torch on Lockscreen
– HDR mode in AOSP Camera (does not work on every device)
– Few new Toggles – StayAwake, Custom, Sleep, Reboot, etc.
– Superuser from Koush

Builds will become available in the coming hours, check this post / AOKPush / our mirrors / your device page.

You can grab the JB 4.2 Milestone 2 build for your device from the AOKP site. Read More

Android 4.3 Camera App from Google Edition Galaxy S4 Leaked

Android 4.3 Camera App from Google Edition Galaxy S4 Leaked

Posted by on Jun 28, 2013 in Mobile, News | 0 comments

Even though Google just released the Google Editions of the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One yesterday, Android developers have already broken down the firmware for both devices, as custom ROMs for the standard versions of both devices are beginning to appear. Along with custom ROMs, the new Android 4.3 Camera app from the Galaxy S4 has also been leaked.

Aside from some UI changes, the 4.3 Camera app seems to have the same feature set (including Photosphere) as the 4.2 Camera app. The leaked 4.3 Camera app is easy to install, as it can be installed as an APK. It also seems to be largely compatible with Galaxy Nexus, S2, S3, S4, Note, and Note II devices running on 4.1.x/4.2 TouchWiz and AOSP-based ROMs.

You can grab the leaked camera app from the XDA Developer Forums.

Phandroid -Android 4.3 for the Google Play edition Galaxy S4 leaked, new camera app available for download
xda developers – [App]Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition Camera Read More

Apple WWDC 2013 Recap

Apple WWDC 2013 Recap

Posted by on Jun 11, 2013 in Hardware, Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

For those that missed out on Apple’s WWDC 2013 Keynote in San Francisco yesterday, here are the major points:

  •  iOS7: The newest version of iOS introduces major graphic and UI changes. This was a change that was greatly needed, as the iOS UI was feeling increasingly stale and outdated, especially when compared to the Holo UI found in recent Android OS releases, 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and 4.1-4.2 (JellyBean). Interestingly, some of the visual changes seem to take a cue from the TouchWiz UX 2.0 interface found in Samsung’s Galaxy S3/S4/Note II phones.
  • MacOS X 10.9 Mavericks: The next version of the venerable OS X was also unveiled. Aside from updates to Safari, iCloud, etc., there were no significant UI changes in Mavericks. The most significant announcement for OS X Mavericks was that it was optimized to be more energy efficient.
  • MacBook Air Haswell Refresh: As expected, Apple refreshed their entire MacBook Air lineup, replacing Ivy Bridge with Haswell. As we’ve seen from the Haswell launch earlier this month, the refreshed MacBook Air models with Haswell will offer greater battery life than previous MacBook Air models. Apple claims that the 13″ model can last up to 12 hours on a single charge.
  • Mac Pro’s New Design: Apple also showcased the new Mac Pro workstation, which sports a significant chassis change from previous Mac Pros. The new Mac Pro is cylindrical and robotic-looking, resembling R2D2 from Star Wars. I’m not sure if I dig the new design, as it looks rather silly than modern/futuristic. Still, it would be interesting to see the thermal cooling aspects of the new chassis. Aside from the chassis, the specs are certainly impressive, boasting a 12-core, Ivy Bridge-based Intel Xeon E5 processor, along with multi-GPU support, PCI Express 3.0, Thunderbolt 2.0 and more.
  • iTunes Radio Streaming: As expected, Apple unveiled it’s new music streaming service, in response to Google’s Play Music streaming service that was released last month.
While it was nice to see that Apple unveiled the new iOS7 and refreshed the MacBook Air with Haswell, I can’t but help feel underwhelmed. With Apple’s mobile marketshare and sales taking a beating from Google’s Android devices, many were hoping to see some significant changes to the iPhone and iPad lineup, but such updates were surprisingly absent from the WWDC.

For those interested in watching the full Apple WWDC 2013 Keynote, you can find the video over at Apple’s website here: Apple Events – WWDC 2013 Keynote

AnandTech – WWDC 13 Keynote Blog Live
IGN – Apple WWDC 2013 Recap: iOS 7, iTunes Radio, and the Mac Pro Read More