Next in the line of OgreSpeed* products, here’s a shot of OgreSpeedGrass. It’s based on IDV’s SpeedGrass but I’ve rewritten a fair amount to make it work conveniently with Ogre, and also improved it somewhat - such as better wind effects and the completely dynamic lighting and shadowing you see there, which I think looks rather nice. OgreSpeedGrass will be bundled with a yearly support agreement for OgreSpeedTree, in the same way that the original SpeedGrass is licensed.

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I just read that EA has decided to drop the RRP of Rock Band in Europe ahead of the PS3 / PS2 / Wii release this Friday, to £109 instead of £129 for the instruments edition (game is still extra). This is good, but I’m not sure whether it will be reflected in the practical price you pay; Play.com were already selling the instruments bundle for less than this lower RRP (£99) right from release in May (on 360), and Amazon matched it fairly quickly.

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David Heinemeier Hansson is famous for being the guy that invented Ruby on Rails and running 37Signals; I have mixed feelings about Rails personally (great for some things, not so great for others, but then that applies to pretty much every technology), but this presentation he did on making money as a tech startup is very good indeed - insightful yet very amusing. He presents in an online context for the most part but as he says himself, the principles apply to all kinds of product.

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I’ve just released a report summarising the results of the OGRE 2008 User Survey. Thanks to everyone who participated, we did in fact break the 1,000 responses mark which was my goal when I decided to run the survey, I think that’s a statistically respectable number to draw conclusions from. I intend to give copies of this report to hardware and software companies I need to blag a bit of assistance from, so I think this will do the job.

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One of the latest items of news in the music game scene is that Sting is now confimed to be lending his likeness to Guitar Hero : World Tour, along with the already announced / leaked likes of Ted Nugent, Billy Corgan, Jimi Hendrix, and Ozzy Osbourne. Now, I can imagine marketing men getting excited about being able to include famous characters in a game, in a wonderful brand marketing / halo effect / leveraging synergy moment, but I look at these announcements and really can’t give a rat’s arse.

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I blogged a little while ago about the soul-crushing tedium that was my brief, never to be repeated experience with EVE Online. Well, happily Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation has waded in with his size 9’s and had me cheering from the stands in between chuckles. Amen, brother Yahtzee, amen.

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One of the problems with doing most of your business internationally is that you’re at the mercy of currency exchange rates, with the ever-present possibility of losing money just because the market changed. In the last couple of years the Pound has steadily got stronger against the Dollar, meaning it’s not a case of whether I lose, but rather how much. It has also meant that for new work I either have to stick to my Pound rates and risk being less competitive, or just accept a lower & ever-depreciating Dollar rate in order to secure the work.

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I’ve had a long-running back injury (a twisted vertebra in my lower back) which I’ve figured out how to manage through experience - a bit of stretching here, avoid certain types of activity etc. It’s a bit inconvenient but after a while you get used to living with it, and it’s not that painful most of the time provided I don’t go nuts. However about 2 weeks ago, not long after getting back from LA, I was doing something quite simple (moving a coffee table back after a Rock Band session), when something in a completely different part of my back suddenly hurt really badly.

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My wife mentioned to me a week or so ago that one of her work colleagues had recently had a hard drive crash on her laptop. Having replaced it, she wanted to try to get some of the data back from the disk, because she had a lot of family photos on there which were not backed up (I’m sure this experience has informed her future back-up plans). However she had taken it to a local store, which I won’t name, who quoted her £600 to recover the photos.

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Ok, soapbox time. I’m going to alienate a lot of people and say that ubiquitous voice acting in many games, particularly roleplaying games, is a bad thing. The reason is that it’s constraining the ability of script writers, particularly in conversations. It’s obvious really - recording voice is more expensive than text, both in terms of the time required to produce it, and the space it consumes on the final media.

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