Posts in February, 2009

27 Feb 2009
Operating Theatre Test Render (light levels final…ish)


needs rest of objects inserting into scene…

heart and lung machine… bin… etc

…more tubes!

27 Feb 2009
Operating Theatre Test Render (no rooflights on)
26 Feb 2009
Monitor Workstation
26 Feb 2009
26 Feb 2009
Operating Theatre Test Render (equipment only… no room detail)
26 Feb 2009
Anaesthetist's Workstation
25 Feb 2009
Liberatis – an early alpha version of an MMO produced by a group of Young People

Onteca is proud to announce the unveiling of a playable Alpha of our Mediabox Project, ‘Liberatis’ (a name thought of by a young person working on the project). This is an MMO created by young people, for young people. It involves some violence, within a Tolkienesque ‘fantasy’ setting, because that is what the young people called for. It is still at an early test stage, but is playable.

Given the theme ‘Freedom’ this is what a group of 14-19 year olds came up with

A screenshot from liberatis

A screenshot from liberatis

Over 50 young people worked for four months to make this game. First the young people planned out an overall story, a premise, a series of characters and detailed paper-based maps and Level Design Documents for each section . Next they had to painstakingly learn the skills they would need: Maya to create the 3D assets; Photoshop to create the mood-boards and textures; the Torque level editor to create landscapes full of trees, mountains, valleys and towns in which the game could be played. Onteca provided support and training at every step.

Onteca then worked on integrating all these elements into a playable game, to the design of the young people and under the direction of their representatives.

Some of the most academically inclined young people on Merseyside worked alongside young people from a local Special School who had learning disabilities. Everyone addressed themselves to the same tasks and were expected to prodice the same results. Sometimes the young people would work alongside each other, sometimes they would split into school and project based groups. Standards were high across the range of schools, with genuine talent and IT ability coming from all groups involved.

Areas worked in were amonst the most economically disadvantaged in the country. That said, the young people who involved themselves in this project were eager, polite and creative. Hopefully, they will learn from being part of the making of Liberatis, and consider a career in the North West’s still healthy Games Industry.

Thanks to all the young people involved, and Onteca hopes you like the game you helped create.

An alpha version of the game is available to download here to install it, just download and run.

if you get an error message mentioning python when running the game on certain versions of vista you will need to run the game as an administrator

24 Feb 2009
Of noobs and leets and crossing over…

Alison’s Blog.

Being the noob amongst the leet at Onteca has its pros(everyone assumes you know nothing about their stuff)and its cons (normally because you erm don’t).Working with Onteca this year, attending Crossover Kids and working on an MMO created by young people, has been great. Challenging what I know as a writer and pushing me to think about what I need to. This blog is about ‘Crossover.’

So, ‘Crossover’ is:

‘…an extraordinary series of ‘innovation labs’ for creative professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds: game developers, tv and film producers, web designers, animators, theatre practitioners and others. Each Crossover lab is an immersive, five day incubator fostering new collaborations and original ideas for cross platform media content and services.’

Jon and Max put me forward for: Crossover Kids (Dec 1 – 5).‘Crossover Kids’ said it would:

explore the future of children’s media and develop original ideas for cross-platform projects. Based on the knowledge that:

‘Children have always loved TV, but the days when passive viewing was their only option are well and truly over. They’re media literate and demanding more sophisticated, interactive content which is fragmenting the market. So what does this mean for content creators? A decline in traditional TV commissioning and falling budgets? Or a framework for innovation and collaboration?’

I wasn’t sure on the idea of being incubated with a load of content creators. But, on the promise of a paid trip down south,(Thank you North West Vision and Media) a hotel spa and a country walk, I bought myself a nice new networking cardigan, packed my bestest walking boots and swimming cossie and set off to deepest, smartest Sussex to find:

non-stop work and no time for a sauna, or even a stroll around the grounds. But it was jolly good work, planning, pitching and thinking a lot about how multi platforms can be used with a young audience. I spent time thinking about how creative ideas can be best delivered to an audience of children who probably don’t even think about the word ‘virtual’ because to them it just is.

‘Crossover Kids’ comes highly recommended. Over the five days I worked on ideas involving Bluetooth mapping, MMO worlds and erm robot alien ponies. Obviously it was the alien ponies idea that I chose to develop. (See Recon Ponies Blog to follow.) It was constantly relentless, equally rewarding and hugely funny. Mentors were excellent and networking opportunities allowed for me to make some good contacts with lovely folk, specifically:

Childs Eye
Mustard Corporation
Unexpected Media
Red Bedlam
Tuna Technologies
Grierson Awards
Wak Studio
Poddington Peas
Milky Tea
and Capsule films

Friendship and creative seeds were planted in December and as we turn into spring I’m pleased to say they are growing.

Following the Crossover week, I also attended the first Crossover Kids pitching event, which was held at the Princess Anne Theatre, BAFTA, London on Thursday 11 December. We saw a couple of new CBeebies ideas including a great news programme aimed at 4 year olds ‘What’s your news?’ I pitched along -side virtual world creator Kerry Fraser Robinson(Red Bedlam), producer Emma Hindley (Grierson Awards) and animator Sara Quick (Tuna Technology) our multi platform animated cartoon/ website/robot: ‘Recon Ponies’. We’re still looking at developing this idea. Interest and funding most welcome. We thinks it’s got legs (and a nosebag.)

Crossover enabled me to extend the thinking that I had already been doing on my work with Onteca, specifically working story narrative in MMO and developing cross platform ideas. I am still very much a noob but with leet aspirations.

17 Feb 2009
Game Creation teaches Young People – New York and Wirral

Over on Boing Boing, my own favourite blog, I noticed that they are rather excited by a new school that engages young people by utilising the process of Games Design. Making games is almost as much fun (even more fun?) than playing them, and involves a range of different subjects from story-telling through text and image, to advanced mathematics, to design, to historical research. As well as the IT skills you would expect.

Boing Boing are excited by ‘Quest to learn’, a school in NYC.

‘Man, that sounds good enough to move to NYC for,’ says the chap at Boing Boing. Well he doesn’t need to, as long as he is living on the Wirral. ‘Over-the-water’, Onteca has been running a very similar course for dis-engaged young people for the last two years. It is going well.

Glad to see our American Cousins are catching up with the Innovative approaches we are developing in Merseyside.

12 Feb 2009
3d Solar System in Flash

Just a quick post to show off something I was working on last week, a 3d solar system with orbiting planets done in Actionscript 3

[swfobj src=”” width=”600″ height=”450″ align=”center” required_player_version=”9″]

it uses displacement maps to make the planets look like spheres, the displacement maps are generated at run time, and affect the planets texture, cloud cover, and shading. depth sorting is done by flipping layers dynamically so that things appear in the right order.