I'm Jon Olick. I make shiny things. I simplify.

I presented Sparse Voxel Octrees at Siggraph 2008.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gaming in 2011

Free to Play
Despite Red 5's game Firefall being a AAA free to play game, most games will still be pay to play in 2011. However, this is a growing trend that more and more games will adopt in the future. Red 5 is 2 steps ahead of the curve. Companies will always be willing to accept lower margins in order to gain market share. (Interestingly though, some free to play games make more money being free to play than they would if they were pay to play.)

Retro-fitting a free to play mechanism into an existing game will fail. It must be designed that way from the start.

Mainstream Indie
Minecraft has put indie in the forefront of many gamers eyes. Next year will have at least one other popular indie game that goes mainstream, and chooses to not align with any console manufacturer or publisher.

I know that many can argue about other games which reached this category, but I do believe that Minecraft is different enough to be considered its own class.

Linear Videogames
More and more games are going to feel like they are on rails. The rising costs of creating content will push most if not all games in this direction. Sad... but true.

Next generation Console Details Leaked
Some detailed information about the next generation consoles may be announced or leaked. After which the pissing matches get worse then they already are...

Playstation Move Fail
I love Sony dearly, but I do believe they have been out-gunned. Kinect is different enough to stand out against Nintendo. PS Move isn't really all that different from Wii. I expect to see lots of Wii knock-offs that many people will buy. However, I don't expect to see anything radically different. More of the same, but with fancier graphics and possibly some better camera interactions. I'm interested to see SPUs saving the day with PS Move. Go SPU!

Kinect Success
Microsoft will spout out some big numbers showing how Kinect is a financial success. Followed shortly by people being tired of flailing their arms and legs in every game. Still, I expect to see some interesting titles come out of Kinect.

Rage redefines beautiful
Rage from id Software is a fantastic game that I had the pleasure of working on. Id will release Rage with unique virtual texture mapping with a very many jaw dropping scenes in the game. I am a bit worried about the financial success of the product. This being ids first new title in a great many years (over 11 years). Will Rage be able to garnish the attention the title deserves, or will it be a viral hit that takes a while to reach its potential market penetration? Only time will tell. I hope for the best.

Epic releases next generation game
In typical Epic fashion, they will release a game shortly after id which many will praise as being superior. The flame wars begin! At the very least, I expect a tech demo showing something incredible. Epic won't give up their #1 spot without a good fight.

Housing bubble precursor

Foreclosures were way up in Q3 2010 causing housing prices to plummet in Q4. Read More

A precursor of things to come.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Real-time translation on an iPhone

Wow, I'm very impressed that this exists.


This is basically what I said few posts ago w/ computer vision & real-time translation. Very very impressed. I have to try it out.

They just had to cut some corners somewhere. :) Still very cool even if they did!

Home owners association

This is some really messed up things some people are doing.

As a member of the HOA, you have the ability to put a lein on somebody's house if they don't pay their dues. You then have the ability to foreclose on the house. Then you personally have the ability to bid on that house and then re-sell it at a profit to you personally.

That is messed up.

The crash of 2012

The housing market may have another dip in 2012. My measurements show that this may be a real possibility. Watch out home owners!

Review Xbox Kinect & Kinectimals

I got one of these for my daughter for X-mas. She loves it. She loves to watch me play it that is, not so much playing it herself. That is probably due to her age though. Kinectimals is a genius bit of hardware / software combo. Very well matched.

Here is my review of the hardware: Kinect.

Overall Fantastic device. I'm very impressed that they have been able to pull off what they can with it. The data is fairly low resolution in Z, and very noisy I bet.

It only works when you face the camera. Kind of obvious when you say it like that, but this has some pretty serious implications for what kinds of games you can create.

If you try to play the game with one hand behind your back, it breaks completely: Randomly positioning your arm trying to figure out the best position for it. Don't put your hands in your pockets or behind your back.

Don't point the camera at a window. If sunlight comes in the window, it doesn't work very well at all.

Don't have anything in your hands. It screws up. Including don't hold your kids in your arms.

Don't play while sitting on a couch.

In general, I think the corollary to the Wii's waggle is the flailing of your arms and legs wildly while you try to get the game to do what you want it to.

Precision with the device is apparently pretty bad. So bad that most games auto-aim for you when you try to toss something.

It doesn't detect any finger motion at all, so don't worry about it.

There is also a pretty significant lag from doing something, to the game actually registering the movement. Its pretty easy to plan for that ahead of time with the existing games. So no problems there. It might limit what kind of games you could make with it though.

As long as you are using the games the way they were intended. 9 times out of 10 it does what you want. Which is pretty awesome considering the data they are working with.

The software:

My daughter loooves kinectimals. She just can't get enough of it. Good job on that one Microsoft.

You purchase real-life stuffed animals and then register them with the games. Very cool idea connecting the physical and the virtual with that.

The other games are pretty nice too. Kinectimals is clearly the winner of the bunch though.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Augmented Reality, Boom or Bust?

There has been a lot of excitement brewing recently, and will be even more so in the coming year about Augmented Reality. Quite frankly, the technology just isn't there yet. The most advanced piece of augmented reality tech we have is Xbox 360 Kinect, and even it IMO leaves a lot to be desired. Don't get me wrong, its an amazing achievement! I think we will have a boom for the next few years in augmented reality will be followed shortly after by a bust when people realize that its just not what they expected. After the bust though maybe 5 years from now, maybe a little longer, we will have a true and lasting boom for augmented reality. Computer Vision is still in its infancy. There is an incredible amount of improvement that will come. I look forward to it. Here is a short list of what I think computers should do better and/or faster than people with the aid of advanced, in some cases yet to be invented Computer Vision tech:
1) Security Monitoring (this would also incorporate various parts of advanced AI)
2) 2D to 3D conversions (much to be desired in this area)
3) Automatic Driving (this is nowhere near ready for prime time, no matter what googlers think)
4) Targeted In-store advertising a la Minority Report. (I'm going to hate this, but this would be a billion dollar business, hello google...)
5) Real-time Augmented Reality OCR of names of places, menus at restaurants, etc. When I'm in Japan, I want to see things in English. (mobile phones aren't fast enough to do this entirely ATM)
6) A vacuum cleaning robot which doesn't act like a drunken sailor.
7) An automatic fan which points at me, wherever I go.
8) A computer which would automatically log me in, because it knows who is sitting at the computer. (lol, fooling it with a picture... priceless)
9) etc...

There are probably hundreds of great ideas where computer vision will revolutionize technology. This is only the beginning.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Framerate

Every video game I own runs at a solid 60fps. I have a new Samsung TV with motion flow technology. It is sometimes very jarring for TV and Film, but for video games.... it rocks. This is presumably because with TV and film, you have all sorts of very very hard problems to solve such as noise. Video games have no such problems (most video games anyway, as some inject noise for style). This is great for graphics programmers though. Drop a frame, no big deal because the TV will compensate. Have to run at 30fps because you game looks just too darn awesome for its own good? No big deal. --- Fantastic. My life just got a whole lot easier. And I didn't have to write a single line of code! Thanks TV makers!