Backstage Pass Seminar on Scientific Visualization

A Seminar on Scientific Visualisation – By Sathish Kottravel, a Doctoral Researcher at Linköpings University, Sweden

A picture speaks a thousand words.Therefore, the world prefers that acomplex ideais conveyed through an image.

Scientists deal with huge amounts of data when dealing with physical phenomena such as the weather, space, human brain activity, and molecules. They visualise the data using various techniques of image generation. Since these images are based on data, they are accurate. Also, they are more comprehensible than the raw data. Scientists use the images to explore the data better.

According to Wikipedia, scientific visualisation is used to graphically illustrate scientific data to enable scientists to understand, illustrate, and derive insights from the data. Scientific visualisation is a subset of computer graphics which in turn is a branch of computer science.

Seminar

We invited Sathish Kottravel, a doctoral researcher at the Linköpings University of Sweden to Backstage Pass, to conduct a seminar on Scientific Visualisation and its significance in game development.

We bring you an excerpt of his interview and a peek into the seminar.

About Sathish

Sathish Kottravel is a doctoral student at Linköpings University in Sweden. He specialises in Scientific Visualisation. He has published research papers in Scientific Visualisation.

His rendezvous with computer graphics started when he started working, after a bachelor’s in computer engineering, as a simulation software developer. After 6 years of work, he joined the master’s programme in Advanced Computer Graphics from Linköpings University in Sweden. After the master’s programme, he joined the university’ research force as a Research Engineer and went on to become a doctoral researcherspecialising in scientific visualisation.

Scientific Visualisation – The Seminar

Sathish started the seminar withimages of scientific visualisation and introduced the concept to us. The very techniques used for scientific visualisation also power the 3D graphics engines of game design tools. This is the common thread between scientific visualisation and game development.

Further, he spoke about the application of molecular and volume visualisation to 3D graphics and games.To elaborate,he explained how thecommon techniques such as raycasting and the depth of a field are used in making games.

The use of aesthetics in scientific visualisation was also a dominant theme of the seminar. He described the common features that aesthetics and game art and design share.

The session was interactive,and Sathish answered many questions that students had.He enthralled the audience with images and graphs showing the effective and right application of scientific visualisation.

Interview with Sathish Kottravel

Sathish, thanks for visiting us at Backstage Pass and spending 3 days of your vacation here with us. Please tell us something about your research interest?

“Thanks for having me here. I loved the interaction with the students. I specialise in the field of scientific visualisation. This is a unique field of study where mathematics, programming and aesthetics overlap. This field is also quite interdisciplinary, meaning the knowledge that you gained can be applied in many areas such as game development, special effects, graphics application developer, research, and so on.”

Can you tell us about your research in this field?

” I do research in thevisualisation of scientific data. Currently,I specialize in molecular visualisation. Here, my primary goal is to explore material structures and proteins at theatomic level in high-detail. Also, my research implicitly includes volume visualisation at low-detail representation.

My team of researchers work in close collaboration with physicists to help them understand the scientific process through any desired visualisation techniques. Some of my research publications are published here.

How is this related to computer graphics and gaming?

“The volume visualisation techniques such as volume rendering is often used in 3D graphics. For example, realistic rendering of fire. In molecular visualisation, we use techniques such as ambient occlusion to create the effect of soft shadows to improve the depth perception. The depth of field is also another technique inspired by digital photography thatfocuseson one plane. All these techniques are quite common in 3D games that borrow ideas from computer graphics.”

What are the new technologies that are being used in Scientific Visualisation?

“The new technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and haptics are used for scientific visualisation.”

What Activities Did You Conduct for the Backstage Pass Students?

“On Day 1, I conducted a seminar to give an overview of scientific visualisation and its significance in the field of 3D graphics. On day 2, I organised a workshop.  The aim of the workshop is to introduce shader programming tasks to implement special effects filters. We framed the tasks into basic, intermediate and advanced levels and day 3 was open for discussions and Q&A.

How was Your Experience Interacting with the Students of Backstage Pass?

“During the seminar, the students were very enthusiastic about the techniques that I presented in the seminar and had many questions. They asked about GPU optimization and raytracing.

During the workshop on Day 2, the student’s feedback was excellent. Also, I observed that the students are good at programming. They could solve all the tasks that we assigned to them. They showed interest in extending the basic ideas discussed on Day 1.

This shows that the institute has awell-structured syllabus and active environment for learning game development. I am certain that the students are industry ready.”

What is Your Advice toBackstage Pass Students?

“Backstage Pass has an excellent infrastructure that is easily accessible to students. The college has strong ties with the gaming industry, and these industry collaborations put themmiles ahead as the ties increase the students’ industry interaction multi-fold. To stand out in the crowd, students must make use of this resourceful environment as much as possible.”

 

Thank you, Sathish, once again, for sharing knowledge and giving a glimpse of scientific visualisation in gaming.

backstagepass

The First Game Developed by Backstage Pass Students at Level2

Level2 is the Backstage Pass incubator that provides mentoring, infrastructure, marketing, and publishing support exclusively to Backstage Pass students who want to make games and establish indie game companies.

There is a lot of activity with the students at Level2 working on their first game.

Let us find out all about the game here. Here are the teasers and an exclusive premier of the game, just for the curious souls like you…..

For the past three months, students at Level2 have been developing a mobile game. It is the first game developed by students at Level2, and it is taking shape under the watchful eyes of their mentor, Asar Dhandala. Asar is a Backstage Pass alumnus, entrepreneur, and has developed many games.

We caught up with Asar to bring you a sneak peek from Level2’s game studio.

The Progress So Far

The game is in the beta stage where we have completed making the game and testing it. After testing and the bug fix stage, we are planning to go for a soft launch.

A Soft Launch

A soft launch is a selective release used to gather early feedback from players. It helps us improve the game.

Team Size and Duration

We have a mix of students. The team consists of five members. They are:

2D Art

Monideep Chakraborty

3D Art

Vamsi Krishna

Programming

Sai Rohit Thota

Vivekanand Prajeev

Venkat Ram Reddy

It took nearly three and a half months to make the game.

The Game Design

While conceptualising the game design, we researched thoroughly to ensure that the concept is new. We wanted it to be simple and easy to make. Early, we felt that it should also be immersive and fun to play. It took us a couple of weeks to finalise the concept, and we started after all the team members understood and agreed upon the concept. Then we began the game design.

Name of the Game

We are yet to name the game. We will let you know soon.

What did They Learn by Being a Part of This Project

This is a first game developed by most of the students at Level2. The project taught them game development from start to finish.

We started from conceptualisation of the game, sketching it on paper, making the 2D and 3D art, adding graphics, programming and blending all to make a full-fledged enjoyable game.

The learning curve was steep for the students. In college, they learn game development, game art, and game design. This project helped them to connect the dots and complete the picture — how to make a full-fledged game and know the monetisation. (Monetising the game means that you add elements that a player can purchase as he progresses through the different levels in the game.)

How did You Mentor the Students

It was a more hands-on experience for the team. It took more time than I thought it would take for getting the students into the groove. But, the end product turned out to be the best in class.

For the team members, this has clearly been a transformational experience from being a student to a game developer.

Backstage Pass is a great place. The support we got from the college helped the students immensely in their journey.

Watch out this space for more updates about the game — the visuals, the trailer, and more…

Backstage Pass Institute

The Making of a Game | Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology

Work like it is a game. This is what die-hard gamers always wanted to do. The journey of two young game developers, Anand Dhavle and Anmol Nikam is no different.

Both Anmol and Anand were students of Backstage Pass. They work in game development companies and make games that they like to play.

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Our conversation began with the usual round of introduction. They spoke about the games they make, with each one filling in where the other left. The camaraderie they shared was ubiquitous. On the whole, it was inspiring to peep into their world and understand game development from their perspective.

 

Team Name: Digital Cartridge

No of team members: Two

Education: Anand studied B.Tech (Gaming) and Anmol studied B.F.A (Game Design). Alumni of Backstage Pass,

Important events: Participated in a game jam competition held at NGDC 2015 (Nasscom Game Development Corporation). They made a prototype of their game.

Games developed: Reverie, Rock It, and Blind Boy Project

Play Reverie by clicking here

They love to play games.

 

The Beginning

“It all started when we made a prototype of a game when participating in a game jam held at NGDC (Nasscom Game Development Conference) 2015 at Pune. We got a lot of positive feedback. And we decided to flesh it out further.”.

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What Was The Game About

“The game was called “Reverie” which means getting lost in thoughts, something similar to daydreaming. It is a gesture-based 2D platformer for the Android platform. You get to draw shapes to create objects, defeat enemies, and solve puzzles to help the little girl to get out of the world she is trapped in”.

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The Making

“It was a great learning experience. We underestimated the effort we need to put in to make a full-fledged game. Initially, we got our friends to play the game and tell us how they felt. Then, we improved the art-style, animation, added new graphics, changed the controls a number of times to get it right. We created unique mechanics which made our game fun to play. Lastly, we released it on platforms like Itch.io. Within five days, our game crossed 2000 downloads. We released the code into the public domain so that anyone can edit and enjoy the game. Here’s the link to the full source code”.

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What Was Your Motivation For Making This Game

“We wanted to present our ideas and make a game that we wanted to play. And we hoped that others will enjoy playing as well”.

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How Did You Choose To Work With Each Other

Anand said, “ Choosing the team member is very important. I would look for team players who can complement”. Anmol added, “Each team member should contribute and fill gaps in the process. Their ideas should be in sync though. We should play the same type of games and be aware of the type of game play that our target audience enjoy.”

 

What Did You Learn While Making The Game

They both echoed that a lot of patience, hard work and perseverance is required to complete a game like any other creative pursuit.

 

What Is Your Motivation to Play Games

“I enjoy playing games as we can break free from the routine and it relieves stress. I also like to play games as it is interactive and we can see our actions changing the outcome,” says Anand. “Playing games promotes skill building for sure. Also, it disconnects us from reality”, adds Anmol.

 

What is Your Advice For a Person Who Wants to Try Their Hand at Gaming

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“If you are sceptical about starting just like we were, start small and participate in a lot of small projects and game jam competitions. Being hands on will build your confidence and you will learn a lot in the process.”

“Learn to program, use a game engine, play a lot of games, start small, find a partner who can support you, enter competitions like game jam, and do projects.”, they said.

 

Here Are Some Valuable Thoughts to Ponder Over

“Try to make something different and be proficient in different art-styles, animations, graphics, controls. More than anything else, enjoy the entire process”.

The Backstage Pass Incubator for Game Development

Level2 – The Backstage Pass Incubator for Game Development

Level2, the Backstage Pass incubator, is a creative space with the all the facilities to support developing games through launching entrepreneurial ventures of our students.

An incubator acts like a seedbed. It provides mentoring, infrastructure, marketing and publishing support.Level2 is briskly putting together all these and more.

The Mentors

Experienced mentors from the industry guide our young entrepreneurs. Our mentors come from different fields of game making such as game art, game design, game publishing, and so on. Also, the mentors are either entrepreneurs themselves or are senior professionals from the various leading game development companies. Consequently, the mentoring quality is of the highest order.

The Process

Backstage Pass provides the infrastructure including the software, systems, and offices.The development of each game will take about 3 to 6 months from inception to launch.

The first phase of the incubation involves the market fit of the game. Once themarket fit is found, we move on to game design. Game design is followed up by game development, testing, a soft launch, a marketing phase and then, finally, launching the game.

The incubator is currently open only to the students and alumni of Backstage Pass.

The Selection Process

The selection process is simple:

  • Teams with 3-4 student members are selected.
  • These teams will develop the games.
  • Backstage Pass owns the games and the IP.
  • Teams that create winning games will be sent to international competitions such as the Microsoft Imagine Cup, Casual Connect, and so on.

Benefits

Students will have extensive connections with industry experts, develop games, learn to work as a team, and handlethe ups and downs of developing and taking a game to the market. In this process, they also learn from the experiences of mentors as well as fellow team members.

Marketing a game is both an art and science. While a small part of it could be learned, mostof it experiential. Student teams gain expertise in this area as well.

They know how to deal with failures, either collective or individual.

 

Looking Forward

Backstage Pass is eagerly looking forward to becoming the “go to”space for student game startups.

US polls bring rich dividends to city game developers

US polls bring rich dividends to city game developers

The ‘Avion Flight Simulator’ downloaded more than 7.5 million times

When people across the globe were backing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump late last year, two game developers from the city bet their luck on the U.S. presidential elections.

Finally when the elections were declared, Asar Dhandala and Satish Chandra were richer by a few lakhs. The duo behind the mobile game, ‘Avion Flight Simulator’ introduced an update during the elections which doubled their revenues.

“We wanted to take advantage of the elections and introduced Air Force One flight, the official carrier of the U.S. President to the existing fleet,” said Mr. Dhandala.

“Users had to purchase the flight for $ 3 if they wanted to fly it using simulator. A lot of people paid for the additional feature and our revenues doubled during the U.S. elections,” he added.

The game has been downloaded more than 7.5 million times on Android, IOS and Windows operating systems since its launch in mid-2015. The game also helped the team generate revenues of around Rs. 50 lakh.

The game is a big hit in other countries than in India.

According to the developers, the game has the maximum downloads from USA, Russia, Brazil and Germany followed by India in the fifth position.

It was a chance meeting of the two gamers from Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology which gave birth to the idea of working on a simulator game.

“Though our target was three months, we developed the game within two months. We almost worked for 18 hours a day.

We analysed the top games and went through the reviews. We wanted to develop a product which was the best among the flight simulator games.

We are glad that our game is in the second position in this category of mobile games,” said Mr. Dhandala.

In 2017, the youngsters want to come up with a better version of the game which includes refined engines and improved graphics.

Anibrain School of Media Design's Showdown 2016

Showdown 2016 – Backstage Pass Team is the Runner Up

Ranging Tornadoes, with Mir and Prakash, was declared the runner up (http://schoolofmediadesign.com/showdown-2016/game-showdown-result) in the Games category of Showdown 2016.

Showdown is an annual event that attracts national and international participants to Pune where Anibrain School of Media and Design hosts this event. What makes this win sweeter is the fact that Mir and Prakash have been studying game development only for a few months now. They are in the first year of B.Tech. (Game Development) at Backstage Pass.

We are bringing out a blog to showcase what propelled such young boys to the centre stage at a prestigious event.

As I waited for them, I saw two lanky and shy-looking boys walk into the room. After the introductory handshakes, I deliberately took them on a trip of small talk. By the end of the talk, I saw they were smiling, nodding and chipping in with a word or two.

Mir Fasiuddin has always been an avid player of console, mobile, and PC games. Every time he would get a better grade, his family would buy him a game. And he had been showered with games throughout his childhood. When he passed his 10th class, the gift was a coveted Wii box. His eyes lit up even as he mentioned his Wii.

Mir says “I did not want to pursue a traditional career. So I started googling for offbeat careers and I found Backstage Pass.” He adds, “I knew I wanted to make a career in gaming and I should opt for the B.Tech. programme. So I picked up the mathematics stream in 11th and 12th classes.”

Jaya Prakash says, “I always used to have my way at home. My parents knew that whatever I do, I do responsibly so many decisions were left to me. I wasn’t a big time gamer. But after I joined a private boarding school for my 11th grade, I realized I was part of a factory that makes machines called engineers. And I knew the life of being a programmer because I know many in my family who are programmers. And that was a big no for me.” His eyes narrowed even as those words poured out. He adds, “When I told my parents I wanted to study gaming after my 12th grade, they were clueless. And my cousin stepped in to back my decision. (I owe him something.) Finally, I am here doing what I wanted to do.”

I set on to understand the bonding between them. “Well, we did a class assignment together and made a presentation. And that rocked bigtime. So we know we make a good team.”

And now comes the test, “What made you participate in the game?” Mir quips, “I saw the announcement on the notice board and thought we should give it a try. So I promptly roped in Jaya Prakash.”

“Since this is an international event, we weren’t sure where we would stand but thought we should at least participate.”, adds Jaya Prakash.

Then they set on to research. And learnt many things in their journey towards submitting the entry. How do we draw up a game design document, how do we engage a gamer, what traditional Indian games are popular, what locale do we choose, what choices do we give the player and so on. Many decisions with a lot of gut feel. And they submitted and forgot about it.

And when the results were out, they were in for a pleasant surprise. Raging Tornadoes was declared as the runner up.

“What did you learn?” I asked them. “Many aspects of game development, from writing the game design document to game psychology and some tools too.” Says Mir.

“The courage and now my parents know that I will find a niche for myself in gaming,” adds Prakash.

Even as I congratulated the boys, I could listen to their eyes say that the journey transformed them from within.

By Surya Prabha Vallae