Monthly Archives: December 2011

Guest Blog: Dennou Coil Technology by James Hidahl

One of the major innovations in electronics is Augmented Reality (AR). AR programs work by taking real world information such as through a camera and inserts virtual images and objects in real-time. AR technology is currently used by modern devices such as smart phones like the iPhone and portable games systems like the Nintendo 3DS and has many uses for utility and entertainment.

A sci-fi anime series from Japan named Dennou Coil was aired in 2007 and lasted 26 episodes. The setting was a society in the near future where a commonly used technology was computer glasses that allowed their wearers to interact with the Internet and other virtual systems.

Many programs and other software have forms and behaviors. Some examples these virtual items include tools, devices, and digital creatures such as virtual pets and “illegals” which are leftover data and code from earlier versions of the system.

The glasses the characters of the series not only work as displays to see the virtual objects but also include speakers and work as miniature computer to communicate with virtual infrastructure.

Though the technology of these glasses does seem advanced, I expect them to still be plausible. Most of the components of them already exist and only require miniaturization before they could be combined into a practical device.

Computers are becoming smaller constantly, and I expect the devices themselves don’t need to be very powerful. Cloud technology generally works with smaller, “dumb” devices that mostly run their more sophisticated processes through a centralized system much like the virtual infrastructure in Dennou Coil. If they can’t have computer small enough to put in a set of glasses or goggles, they could still be connected to something like a smart phone on the user.

The lenses are another issue that are plausible. Liquid crystal displays (LCD) are very common and more importantly already mostly transparent. Just sandwich a pair smaller, high-detail screens between pieces of glass and plastic and connect them to the computer system. Images would then be displayed right in front of the eyes with enough difference to create an illusion of 3D. A similar technology is already used in heads-up displays (HUD) which are used in fighter jets and in development for infantry.

The possibility of people practically living in a virtual world doesn’t appear to be too far off. It just takes a bit of time and development for all the pieces of technology we already use in our daily lives to become smaller and merge together.

I would also like to say that though Dennou Coil is a great series, it is only available in Japan. The only DVDs of it that are out are only compatible with DVD region 2 players. If it weren’t for regional lockout, I’d be able to play it here in America, except it would just be in Japanese which I can actually deal with. In the mean time, I’ll just watch it on unofficial fansubs.

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Podcast: The Beauty of Skyrim

Podcast Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the most immersive and entertaining role-playing games ever created in the history of video games. In this podcast I discuss some of the reasons for why Skyrim is such an amazing game. Through the use of environment and player choice Bethesda Softworks has created one of the best games in video game history.

Game 2: Dark Souls (Part 2)

The last blog post was focused on how the design element of game mechanics are used in the video game Dark Souls on the Xbox 360. This post will be based in the same game world of Dark Souls but will focus on how the game uses the design element of atmosphere.

Atmosphere – A world of evil…

In video games, atmosphere seems to be the one design element that can turn a good game into a masterpiece. Atmosphere in Dark Souls ties all the other design elements together to create the amazing yet evil world that exists in the game.

Throughout the course of the game, players will venture through numerous environments each having a different look and feel than the previous. At the beginning of the game the player is stuck in a dark and lifeless prison where they cannot wait to see the sun again. The art style and visual effects used to create environments like the prison, work so well together that they influence the player’s experience.

Sound in Dark Souls is done in a very unique way. At moments in the game, the only sounds the player hears are the breaths of the evil waiting for them around the corner. With no music, the smallest noises become loud to invoke feelings of fear and desolation within the player. Music in Dark Souls is used only at specific times such as when a player can momentarily rest or when a player encounters a true boss battle.

Dark Souls is one of the most unique video games on the market today. The game pushes the player to uncomfortable limits at times while offering an experience and a feeling of accomplishment that is unparalleled.