The home of Barnaby Smith


July 19th, 2011 | Posted by mvi in University - (Comments Off on Graduation)

So I am now officially, as this photo of me in a silly hat will attest, a graduate. Four years of my life and eighteen years of contiguous formal education are now at an end. Being at university was the most fun I’ve ever had and while there were a fair share of good points and bad points during that time, I feel that attending is one of the most worthwhile choices that I have made so far. The time I’ve spent on my course and on work placements/internships has confirmed that I have chosen a path that is right for me. I’m looking forward to a career in the games industry and the challenges ahead.

Oh, and shaking Patrick Stewart’s hand was awesome.

Achievement Unlocked: First Class

June 25th, 2011 | Posted by mvi in Dissertation | Team 6 | University - (Comments Off on Achievement Unlocked: First Class)

17 years of formal education has come to an end and what a road it has been. With university over the close friends I’ve made over the past few years are disappearing to the four corners of the country (and possibilities of further afield) it looks like for most a mass exodus has begun. I’ll miss all the friends I’ve made and the many laughs we’ve had (like everyone’s time at university there’s been a fair share of memories which I have a feeling I’ll keep for the rest of my life). I’m especially thankful for the lecturing and guidance of Andrew Crampton, John Turner and Dr Zhijie Xu who demonstrate how important it is to have a passion for what you teach.

So on to bright, sparkly things.


February 8th, 2011 | Posted by mvi in University - (Comments Off on Art)

Just a random update, at the moment at University I’ve been working on a lot of AI stuff (neural nets, game planning and traffic simulation) which has been pretty intense, so to relax a bit I’ve been learning some art tools. I’ve been able to do basic modelling since school, when I (mis)used Pro/Desktop to make spaceships and space stations, one of which can still be seen on a Blake’s 7 fansite logo but using 3DS Max is something I’ve done a little of in the last couple of years. Yesterday I started learning UV Layout, which is a fantastic standalone tool for unwrapping models. I’m getting the hang of it, I still have to go back to the shortcut list every ten minutes since it’s pretty much exclusively shortcut based (which is fine by me as it speeds up workflow and makes it more intuitive once you’re past the learning curve.) UV Layout really is proving to be an amazing tool, I think from now I’ll be rarely using 3DS Max for unwrapping.

At the moment I’m about halfway through unwrapping a car, I’ve also downloaded Mudbox off the education programme at Autodesk. So once the car is unwrapped I’ll have a go at texturing it in Mudbox.

This evening I made a quick stab at making a traffic light, it came out pretty well, the proportions don’t feel 100% right to me although someone else said they thought it was dead on. The model is a bit messy, it’s about 3k tris at the moment, but I should be able to cut it down to 1k easily enough. Since modelling it, I’ve been messing about with 3DS Max trying to figure out how the lights work. I’m still a bit fuzzy on that front, I should probably look it up on the net instead of messing with random settings!

Next I need to learn how to use 3DS Max’s Render to Texture feature to generate AO maps and bake normal maps.

Assembla SVN

January 12th, 2011 | Posted by mvi in DirectX | Dissertation | SVN | University - (Comments Off on Assembla SVN)

A while back I was looking for a free SVN host for migrating the Dark Oz repository to, our existing repository while reasonably stable isn’t the quickest of servers and also doesn’t allow email updates when someone makes a commit. I tried a few different hosts, including XP-Dev, but I didn’t find XP-Dev particularly stable.

So the requirements for the SVN hosting:

  1. Free
  2. Private
  3. Fast
  4. Stable
  5. Emails on commit
  6. Preferably a decent size for space
  7. Preferably a decent limit for users

Fortunately I stumbled upon Assembla, which I’d used a couple of years ago but had believed to only offer free packages to open source projects. Assembla however does offer free private SVN hosting and satisifies every single requirement listed above. I’ve started using Assembla’s free SVN hosting for my dissertation now and have so far found it very fast and stable. The web interface is nice and clean too. It’s obvious that Assembla offer the free SVN hosting in the hopes that users will be tempted to upgrade to commercial packages for more services and I have to admit I think it’ll be something I’ll do in the future. Speaking of my dissertation, here’s an image:

A screenshot of my dissertation so far, I started on the implementation the day before yesterday so I’m not that far into it yet. The above image shows octree generation for a mesh, in this case a spaceship, with child nodes generated in nodes that contain or intersect mesh geometry. The actual image shows nodes rendered in wireframe at a subdivision depth of 5, with the actual mesh displayed as solid (you should be able to make out the dark green inside the cubes.)

Next I’m going to convert the generated CPU octree structure to a texture which can be used be used on the GPU for Octree lookups. I’ll post soon with an overview of what my dissertation is actually on, so you’ll see why I need to access Octrees from GPU shaders.

Team 6 Are Go

October 15th, 2010 | Posted by mvi in Team 6 | University - (Comments Off on Team 6 Are Go)

With the final year of my degree underway, we’ve begun our team project module. In this module we have a mix of programmers and artists/designers (4 and 6 respectively,) it’s a chance to spend 8 months working on our own game idea and hopefully bringing it to release. Somehow among my responsibilites I’ve now been given the job of “PR Guy” so I suppose it would seem a little wrong not to mention what we’re working on in my blog.

We’ve spent the week working on game ideas, we then voted for our top 3 using a weighted system and ended up with 2 ideas that came out on top. Firstly a film noir detective game and secondly my idea for a dark version of the Wizard of Oz. We’re developing the mechanics and design for these games and will have that finalised next week, meaning that we can pick the strongest idea and get underway with some initial development (concepts and tech research.) I’m looking forward to what we can build this year, I’m sure we’ll see some interesting results.

Final Year

September 27th, 2010 | Posted by mvi in Playtime | University - (Comments Off on Final Year)

Had my first day back at Univeristy today, since second year I worked at Canalside Studios for a placement year (year in industry) and have had the chance to work at Four Door Lemon for a summer internship thereafter. It’s been a lot of fun and I feel I’ve developed quite a bit over that time, still a long way to go yet :). I’m looking forward to getting stuck in into my final year (though while it’s termed that, it’s actually 8 months with 7 months of teaching.) Pretty scary to think that I’ve not got very long left at University.

This weekend just gone, I played through the first three episodes of Alan Wake, which has been pretty awesome so far. Reminds me of Stephen King meets Twin Peaks. As part of our final year we do a team project. Today we carried out personality tests, which said that I’m a “implementor-innovator.” I think we’re all a little anxious to find out the teams we’ve been assigned on Friday.

Lap has posted an interesting insight into his feelings on the Design Process at Huddersfield University, while my experiences have been similar there’s a couple of points we differ on. A good thought provoker anyway.