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Tech

Graphics Make Games Fun Again

As I’ve mentioned before in other posts, I’m not a really big gamer.  I use my original xbox as a media center and use it to play NES, SNES, and other old console games. Ignoring my status as a non-gamer, I decided to get an Xbox 360 elite when it came out. Microsoft finally decided to include an HDMI port and I think that’s what really set me over the edge.

Man am I glad I got it. The graphics are absolutely amazing.  Before getting one I really didn’t think of the next-gen consoles (Sony PS3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360) as a revolutionary change in the gaming industry like other consoles generations have been. I knew the technical specs sounded great on paper, but I didn’t think the graphics held up to my standards.  After playing Lost Planet for a few hours, I can say the graphics / visuals are definitely revolutionary. 

 

Need For Speed - Pro Street
 Need For Speed: Pro Street

The amount of “jaggies” on the screen has been reduced incredibly, the lighting technologies are amazing, and the character interaction/movement is amazing. I am really disappointed every time I play an Xbox 1 game and jagged edges on object are sticking out like a sore thumb.  This is really annoying on games like Need For Speed, where you always have a car on screen and it has jagged edges all over the curves.  The same holds true for one of my recent favorites Star Wars: KoTOR (Knights of the Old Republic) – the clothing and robes have a lot of jagged edges and really detracted from the overall graphical ambience of the game.

Regarding lighting technologies, it seems like the console can really produce much more realistic lighting.  I’m not sure if it has to do with the processing power of the multi-core “brain” of the unit, the graphics card, or some other aspect, but it looks great.  Lighting has always been one of those things that is hard to capture and reproduce – this was even a large topic in the painting class I took in college. However they do it, the 360 brings us one step closer to reality.

Lost Planet
Lost Planet – Xbox 360

I don’t think I’ve noticed a single CG scene that is a simple movie playback.  All the plot scenes look like they are all done with game objects on the fly.  In older games, like Final Fantasy on the PSX, you would play with your normal game characters with jagged edges and all their imperfections throughout all the game play. Basic plot-scenes with interaction between characters were sometimes done with in-game characters, but large / action plot scenes were pre-recorded CG being played back. In Lost Planet, all the scenes are done with in-game characters.  The graphics still look just as amazing and have a better effect in my opinion.  Instead of feeling like there was this abrupt change in styling, the whole game just flows together much better. I assume it also takes less disc space to record an action sequence with in-game characters than it does to save a CG video. 

 

Categories
Josh Lyon

Business in Memphis

For one of my projects at Flowserve, my team decided we needed to go to a plant in Memphis, TN. After building a business case behind our decision to go to memphis and getting buy-in from the plant manager and IT director, we were on our way to the Memphis Pump Facility. Because we bought the plane tickets last minute, the tickets directly to Memphis were almost $900 dollars. We found a cheaper flight ($230) to Little Rock, then rented a vehicle and drove to Memphis — which is just across the border.

They are working on a lot of cool projects that I sadly cannot tell you all about. But it was exciting just to see all the innovation that is going on within the company right now. Even our team project required some innovation. We were supposed to be there looking at barcoding technologies as a possible way to streamline processes and improve efficiency, but our focus shifted to a whole new type of project.

We had the GM of the plant recommend areas that he felt barcoding could improve the bottom line and increase efficiency, but then realized there were more serious issues at hand. We compiled a list of these inefficiencies and locked ourselves in a conference room and came up with some great ideas.

The whole 2006 IT Intern team took a trip to Sulphur Springs at the beginning of the summer, but this was a whole different kind of trip. We were no longer restriced to following the "safe path" that was outlined in yellow for visitors. We got our steel toed shoes and safety goggles on and we were given hands on time with the whole facility.

The first day included a completely guided tour with an agenda for meeting with various people throughout the day. We started with a general tour of the whole facility with one person giving us a very high-level explanation of what the issues at hand were. Throughout the rest of the day we met with subject matter experts within each area that needed improvement. All-in-All it was a good trip and I we should really be able to make a big impact within the company.