Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Steve Meretzky

Steve Meretzky is a great character and designer in the Boston dev scene who has produced some great games in the past, especially The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

He gave a really interesting talk about fun in games called "Bring Back the Fun" at the Boston Post Mortem. This wasn't about how to make games fun, but about how to help make making games more enjoyable looking at past trends and how other industries have done things to change a slump.

The whole talk was filmed, but it wasn't very long so it would certainly be worth taking the time to watch it when it comes online, probably later in the week, a link will probably show on the BPM site and on Steve's.

It was a very inspiring talk too and certainly one of the most amusing events held for quite a while.

It's just a shame that the area will be losing Steve as he is moving on to the west coast for a new adventure.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

3D Stimulus Day

The Digital Northeastern Artist group as part of Great Eastern Technology held a day long art event today called "3D Stimulus Day" at the Ida Mount College in Newton, MA. The host of the event was Brad Porter.

The free event had talks about success in animation, which was more of a selling event for the person giving the talk of her books and the classes she taught and wasn't that useful for many there.

Intro to 3DSM Mental Ray Rendering was next, this was about architectural rendering and covered the basics to global illumination and final gather and was pretty informative and the talk was very amusing, given by Ted Boardman, who has a good blog which has many tutorials and good information here. It was also a chance to see 3DSM 2010, which had a new user interface which is a bit different to previous versions though how good that is I didn't get to see. The main things of note were the simplifying of Mental Ray for the basic features and how quick it was to get them working to make good quality renders and yet still have all the tweaks you would expect. Also the new Quadify modifier looked pretty nifty too, which as it suggests, quadlifies your model rather than the tessalate feature.

Elliott Mitchell did a talk about realistic Mental Ray Skin Shaders in Maya, showing off Maya 2009, which had a few issues of stability, but compared to 2008 and below seemed to have simplified the whole process of creating shaders that work by automating the setting up of them, though there was still a lot of tweaking and rendering to get a good result.

Gael McDill of Digizyme Inc, talked about molecular and cell visualisation in Maya. This was very interesting showing how they are able to use custom scripts using Python to help them make tools as well as using cloth and hair adapted to show cell interactions. was a really good resource they created to share the knowledge of what they do and includes a lot of videos and tutorials that can be applied to many aspects of art and animation.

Michele Bousquet, from Turbosquid talked about how you can maximise your sales and make money from using the service. Most of the things were comon sense such as providing good quality thumbnails and a good description of your work and what is included in the sale as well as how to best price your work by comparing to other works on the subject and looking through the highest priced pieces to gauge your price point.

Following this talk was a raffle of goods from the vendors who sponsored the event, the highlights included a new Wacom Intuos 4 tablet, a licensed copy of ZBrush 3 and one upgrade. All these things were being demoed during the breaks and especially the lunch break as well as a 3D scanner.

The last part of the day was a SIGGRAPH animation festival screening.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sippy Cup Reviews

It's now time to try sippy cups, well for a while now, but there's loads about to try out, so we got a bunch and here's our thoughts on them, all of which are BPA free by the way.

Avent Insulated Cup - $7 cup, for cold drinks only, but that's fine. Easy to take apart and clean and also the parts are interchangeable with other Avent cups. What is nice about this cup, the flip top lid, so you don't have to worry about losing the lid, which makes this very handy when on the move and out in public. It is also very easy to hold and a good sized cup and the spill proof valve works very well.


Avent Magic Cup Trainer - $5 which isn't bad value for money, like the above cup, well made, functions very well and very practical, dishwasher safe and the training handle can be removed once unneeded. There is a plastic cap lid for this, but the spill proof valve works very well so it isn't really needed. The squat size makes this easy for small hands to hold and also tilt back far enough to drink from.


Born Free Training Cup - $11 so getting a little expensive for one cup, but very sturdy and well made. This is dishwasher safe and easy to assemble, but there are more parts in this than the Avent, so more likely to lose pieces, but they do fit together nice and easily. The handles can be removed and the parts are interchangeable with other Born Free products which is nice.


Munchkin Mighty Grip - $7.50 for two cups, which appeared like great value for money. The reality is, this was rubbish. This isn't dishwasher safe, so more hassle to clean, also the parts are very flimsy and the rubber seal only fits in one way and has to be lined up into 3 notches which aren't equally spaced and not clear in which way to line up the valve. The valve is also very flexible and doesn't take much shaking or squeezing of the bottle to cause a gap in the valve and a big leak. The bottle is also very flimsy and weak and looks very cheap. There's no cap to cover the top of this and given how easy it is to cause it to leak, this is a bit of a over site.