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.

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.

IMG_20151110_160638

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.”.

IMG_20151109_134740

 

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”.

IMG_20160303_211321

 

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”.

16507793_1383699381681094_646635357_n

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”.

10628069_779072072156160_8600570710355349193_n

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

IMG_20170128_003842_020

“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.

A Chart Topping Mobile Game

A Chart Topping Mobile Game from Hamara Hyderabad

Backstage Pass Students Did It Again

50,00,000 downloads and counting…

Yes, that’s the number of downloads of the Avion Flight Simulator ™ game on the Google Play Store and counting.

Students of Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming & Technology, Satish Chandra and Asar Dhandala, are the creators of the Avionics Flight Simulator ™, 2015 game. Currently, the game is the 3rd most popular game in the world among similar games on Google Play.

Asar completed his B.F.A and Satish was a student of the PG Diploma in Game Design programme. Satish was a Systems Engineer at Infosys before he dropped out to pursue gaming while Asar turned an entrepreneur in his student days with Seven Summits.

Here is the making of the game, in their own words.

The Genesis

“While working on some project, we discovered that both of us have a penchant for aircraft. That got us both excited. We both started getting along very well and started talking more and more about the concept”.

“I already tried to make a flight simulator game and failed once. So, when I met Satish, I thought we could together build the game. Besides, he had already built two flight sim games through TeaPOT games with a million downloads each”, says Asar.

“Initially we were coding like 6 hours a day. On one of those days, we met in the coffee shop to discuss the progress. I came to know that I had to travel to San Francisco for Casual Connect USA, 2015 and we joked that we should finish before I leave for the conference”.

“Later we got serious about the jokes. We thought, why not?”,  adds Satish, quietly.

“That’s when the real game started. From 6 to 7 hours of coding a day, we jumped to 20 hours of coding a day”.

The Method

Satish chips in. “Since we both liked flight simulators, we knew what to build. We took the most played simulator games at that point and analyzed each of them in our own way. Essentially, we were building our kind of flight simulator. Like kids who fancy a helicopter full of candy. We were no different”.

The Madness

“Marketing? That’s the craziest thing in hindsight. There wasn’t any:zero marketing. No user acquisition. No spreading the word around the world. We just joined the Play Store and the Microsoft Store. All that we did was every mobile near us had the game running on it. Friends, family, neighbours, just about anyone known to us”. Both laugh heartily.

The Aha Moment

“The zero-day. That was a great moment. The zero-day retention was 30%. And that’s a winner. We knew it. After that, there is no looking back. The game took its own course. It has been totally organic”. A hush descends on the conversation, characteristic of experiencing something before the experience.

What Happened

Asar breaks the silence, “I guess all the right elements were there. While we designed the game together, we stuck to our areas of expertise. Satish was programming and I took care of 2D Art and visualisation. Satish is a very professional coder. Trust me, it is extremely important to have the right team in place”.

The Stage

“Besides meeting each other, at Backstage Pass we learned how to get into the game industry. This is a very important turn in our journey as entrepreneurs. And I went on to publishing my first commercial game. And, so did Asar”, adds Satish.

Recounts Asar, “Backstage Pass helped me with partly financing some of my trips to conferences, gave me the freedom to work on my games and they spread the word of Avion”.

What’s Next

“We are working on the next version of Avion and we are also planning to come up with a new game by mid-2017”.

Advice

“It’s perfectly OK if you are looking for a secure job. But to be an entrepreneur, you should fail fast, and fail early”, pat comes the suggestion from Satish.

“You got to build many games before you have a winner. I made as many as 14 games. So just make. Make as many as you can”.

About Backstage Pass

Backstage Pass Institute of Game Development offers various courses in game design, game art and game development. Backstage Pass has collaborated with JNAFAU, Hyderabad to offer bachelor’s and P.G. Diploma courses. Backstage Pass alumni include entrepreneurs, employees of start-ups and MNCs, and students of acclaimed universities across the globe.

For more information, please email to: info@backstagepass.co.in or call: 040-800 800 2794/800 800 2795.

Glu Mobile Workshop

Backstage Pass Students Attend an Exclusive Workshop at Glu™ Mobile, Hyderabad.

Glu Mobile, Hyderabad, organized an exclusive workshop on level design for the students of Backstage Pass.

Techopedia defines level design as:

“…a game development discipline that involves the creation of video game levels, locales, missions or stages. This is done using some sort of level editor – software used in game development to construct digital environments. Level editors may also be included in released games to allow players to get creative and make their own levels and scenarios. Level design is both a technical and artistic process.

Level design is also known as environment design or game mapping.”

At the end of the three-hour workshop, Glu organized a level design contest for the students and 2 teams were declared the winners.

The senior students of the group also had an opportunity to apply for an internship at Glu Mobile.

The students’ response was amazing. They had 3 awesome things to say about their interaction.

The students were swept off their feet from the way Glu Mobile office was appointed. Casual, trendy, meticulous and a sense of exuberance, all blending into an overarching sense of freedom to think, create, and just be.

Even more appealing were the friendly workshop coordinators and the staff who interacted with the students. When asked if they would like to work for Glu on graduating, there was a thundering and unanimous ‘aye”.

The students also felt that the way level design was explained was awesome. And given a chance, they would like to appear for more workshops and want to learn character design and artificial intelligence (AI).

Thanks to the Glu Mobile team who got the students excited beyond words.

Debdatta

Success Needs the Freedom to Fail

A sharp mind, quick questions, high doses of common sense, loads of candour, a maturity level that stumps any adult and of course a dash of humour. Mix all these ingredients into a potpourri, and you get none other than Debdatta Basu. A game developer since his school days and a graduate from IIT, Roorkee, Deb can converse non-stop and be simultaneously thinking a couple of steps ahead of his conversation.

Were you thinking of game development when you started college at IIT?

“I developed games at school. It was a lot more fun to develop games than applications from the school’s textbook. The subject was interesting enough that I didn’t mind spending long hours learning concepts that would be considered dry or boring otherwise. My education at IIT served to expand my knowledge and formally cement a lot of things I had learnt. I am a great software engineer today because of the curiosity and interest I developed while making games in school.”

What defines a software engineer?

“A software engineer is someone who engineers and builds software. He is identified by what he builds and not necessarily by a job or a designation, or the tools he uses. A great software engineer should be strong enough in his fundamentals to adapt to the rapid change that is a reality of the industry.”

What was your first job?

My first job was at a semiconductor company. I participated in the design and implementation of drivers for graphics hardware.

How did you happen to choose game development as a career?

“I do games because they are fun to build. Game development has many more moving parts than a business application, which makes it more mentally stimulating to work on. Games are a pure technology play. The recurring costs are low to non-existent. That makes for an interesting business model as well. Overall I love games and so far, they have loved me back.”

There seems to be an acute shortage of game developers and other types of talent for the booming gaming industry. What kind of talent should we bring into game development?

“We should target kids who are avid gamers. It requires some stubbornness to pursue a career in games, and kids who are avid gamers already have it in them. Such kids take to gaming naturally.

Young engineers working in the industry are the second set of people who are the ideal resource pool. Many of them want to get into software engineering roles and game development presents a tremendous opportunity to do so. Backstage Pass has the right courses for them to get trained and placed in software engineering roles.”

 

What do you think of game development as a business?

“For a game development business to be sustainable, it has to deliver hits consistently. Many people think the game industry is too risky. But anything is too risky if you don’t understand the landscape. If you don’t know how to lay a brick, then constructing a house is risky.

Success in the game industry is a matter of figuring out what the market wants and meeting the market’s needs with a well-designed product that can sell itself. In game development, it is not about the production house or the star cast as is the case with movies. Gamers love or hate a game purely because of the experience that it provides. So, it is a more level playing ground out there.”

How does one learn game development?

“Today anyone can learn what he or she wants to learn. I learnt to code by building games, and this can be a fun way to get engaged talent into the software industry as a whole. There are plenty of resources available on the Internet for those who are eager to learn. Khan Academy has very good content. Consider Udemy and Coursera as well. Google is good for research.

Software engineering is a constant learning process. Once you know the fundamentals, follow sites like Stack Overflow, The Hacker News and so on. The software engineering community is quite friendly, and when you approach people with a specific and legitimate problem they rally around to help you.”

As a country, what should we do to promote making games in India?

“We should understand that game development, at its heart, is a creative industry. And creative industry can thrive only when one has the luxury to fail. To achieve success in one game, we will have to fail many times. Those who quit and return to other professions should be accepted as normal people. Let our kids and youngsters fail when they follow their dreams. They have very high chances of succeeding in life if we let them fail without fear or shame.”

That sums up Deb’s approach to life. Good luck Deb and all of you who look forward to taking part in the booming gaming industry.

Rahul Sehgal

Pocket Gamer Connects 2016

PG Connects, an annual event organized by Steel Media Ltd., was held in Bangalore between 21 – 22 April.

We are presenting the first-hand account of the event from Rahul Sehgal, Backstage Pass senior faculty and Founder & Creative Director of Roach Interactive. Some impressions from Rahul:

What is the significance of this conference?

“India has 2 major annual events for gaming, NASSCOM’s Game Development Conference (GDC) caters to all forms of gaming whereas Pocket Gamer Connects focuses on mobile games.”

Who attended the event?

“Game designers, game developers, students, bloggers, indie development companies, the Press, and just about anyone who has something to do with mobile games. Many speakers from abroad. The whole ecosystem was present. “

What was your talk about subjective design?

I discussed how to engage casual through core players through appropriate game design.

How do such conferences benefit the attendees?

“The opportunity to learn, connect, and showcase is enormous. For example, you can set up a table for an insignificant fee and showcase your game under development. The feedback you get is priceless. If you are an indie developer, you can find resources. If you are a studio, you can meet publishers. You can meet business developers who can market the game. Not to mention, such events organize competitions. These competitions kick off typically months ahead of the event. Isn’t that a great platform to showcase talent?”

Your advice for students of gaming?

All students should attend such events. Entry fee for students is subsidised. You get to experience the whole universe of mobile gaming. That can be a transforming experience. Also, the networking, the exposure, meeting the old and new friends, and the very vibes…all of them count immensely.

game development

3 Skills to Blaze a Trail in Game Development

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a star member on a game development team?

Communication Paves the Way

Wondering why you should be good at communication skills when all you want to do is build the next big game?

Whether you are part of a big game production house or a small indie game team, you will have team members from various geographies, cultures and perhaps non-native speakers of English. Now, how do you express your thoughts clearly to such an eclectic mix?

In your day to day life, you need to present your thoughts, ideas and feelings, prototype when needed using effective imagery, and document what you are doing. If necessary, you may even have to convince and inspire your team to explore your suggestion. You may have to write the game design documents, in-game screen text, messages, help, and whatever else is needed. This means you will rock if you communicate well to convey the energy and enthusiasm you carry.

Curiosity Wins Hearts

If you were living in a community, you would ideally want to know who your neighbors are. Don’t you?

Similarly, try to understand and appreciate all departments that participate in game development, art, programming, marketing and PR, writing, testing, and production. For example, if you want to become a game developer, understand how other areas contribute to and influence game development and vice versa. Ask your colleagues and ask on forums. And everyone loves to talk about their expertise. It endears you to people. And the ability to see your core area of expertise through the eyes of other members on your team will help you plan and communicate better.

And Team Players are Cherished

In recent times, have you heard of a game that was developed by a lone developer?

Not a chance. Today, games are developed by businesses, both small and big, that have a team made of developers, writers,  artists, designers, musicians, testers, marketers, and so on. What’s more, some of them may not be on the business’ roles. To work with such a diverse set of people, to give and accept their feedback, you should be a team player with a “give and take” attitude. As a team player, your team’s goals are top priority for you, execution of ideas is subject to the approval by the team members, and your decisions are made based on what is good for the team and the business.

mobile game development

Things You Should Evaluate When You Choose Mobile Game Development

Mobile gaming has been a major source of entertainment for many since it came in to being. Mobile gaming in the past was very simple and of low quality resolution. But with the invention of Smartphones and advancement in the technology, mobile gaming has highly evolved. Mobile gaming quality these days is no less when compared to PC games. The introduction of mobile platforms like Android and IOS has also played a huge role in the advancement of the mobile gaming industry.

The best part about Mobile Gaming though is that it can be played where ever and whenever you want to. When you’re waiting for a bus, or you’re travelling in a car or when you’re simply bored in a public place.

mobile gamingIt has also become very easy for game development companies to develop and distribute games, with the presence of advanced tools these days.

Evaluation of Mobile Game Development Challenges –  

“It’s not about what you do, but how well you do it.”

With so many game developing companies and so many new games in the market each day, you need to make sure that your game stands out. Which is well, not a very easy task. There are several creative, technical and marketing challenges in the mobile game development industry.

1) Marketing strategies must be made according to the genre of the game.
2) Marketing of the games is a huge challenge. A proper knowledge is essential.
3) The game idea must be fresh and not copied.
4) Your games must be optimized according to a wide variety of mobile devices.
5) You need to buy licenses and they can be pretty expensive.

What can you do to overcome the challenges? 

There are challenges, but there are also solutions to meet them.

1) Hire mobile game developers from reputed companies only.
2) Hire a good creative team.
3) Marketing also must be carried out by professionals.
4) See through that all the departments work together as a team and collaborate.
5) Research about the licenses online and take help from experienced individuals.

You can also take a certificate course in game development and increase your knowledge about Mobile Game Development!