At the Leipzig Games Convention Sony announced several updates to its venerable SingStar franchise, and whilst the inclusion of Barry Manilow is wince-inducing, the inclusion of several Queen tracks on their compilation issues, and the announcement of a dedicated Queen disc for SingStar can only be a good thing. Not because I particularly like SingStar - we had it on the PS2 and to be honest the novelty wore off pretty fast - somehow picking up the microphone and crooning on your own or in a duet just feels like you should be in a seedy bar, full of beer with your arm around your best mate, desperately hoping the next morning that nobody had a video recording mode on their mobile.

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Ugh. I’ve liked the Prince Of Persia series (although I only mostly only experienced the latest lot as a spectator, my wife played them more), but I have some misgivings about the gameplay trailer for the latest one. My gripes: Firstly, all that jumping & grabbing. It really doesn’t seem very fluid, more of a vertical shuffling game than the graceful acrobatic series of moves I’ve come to expect of PoP.

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We’re on the final home straight for Ogre 1.6 (aka Shoggoth), which should hit RC1 next week. One of the final features I wanted to squeeze in was support for Parallel-split Shadow Maps (PSSM), which uses multiple shadow maps per light in a hierarchical fashion to improve the quality while keeping the size down, particularly in outdoor scenes using global directional light. If you’ve played Assassin’s Creed, you will have seen this technique in action already.

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Oh…..my……God. I stumbled across this for the first time ever today, and I’m left completely horrified. I thought it was only relatively recently that George Lucas had jettisonned his quality filter into deep space - sure, I could see the beginnings of his lunacy in Return of the Jedi’s Ewoks, but it was forgiveable (just). Then, I saw this TV monstrosity created in 1978 of all times, between Star Wars and the pinnacle that is the Empire Strikes Back and starring all of the major characters.

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Damn, this game is good. The first one was great of course, but suffered from being a bit too limited in scope - it was great for a quick blast but the fact that there was really only one game mode worth playing (the other being a retro take on the same thing) made long sessions unlikely. The sequel resolves this by including 6 different game modes, with competitive and co-operative multiplayer variations thrown into the mix.

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I’m finally back at home and beginning to return to normal, trying to iron out the wrinkles in my sleep cycles. I’ve done 12 flights in the last month (I’m trying not to think of my carbon footprint, although at least I rarely drive back home) with a time zone range of 10 hours and I’m certainly feeling it - I’ll be happy to be settled in one place again for a while!

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I arrived in LA either Saturday night or Sunday morning depending on whose watch you believe, and am coping with the inevitable jet lag. Working helps to some degree, since it keeps you active, until you hit that ‘wall’ where suddenly your brain holds up it’s hands and says “I don’t care what the clock says, it’s 3am”, before grabbing its hat and coat and sodding off, leaving you a hollow shell looking at a screen full of C++ going ‘buh?

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Yes, this is the extra library project I’ve been working on recently: There are more details in my OGRE Forum post, but I’m pretty sure you can guess what it does 😀I’m pretty pleased with the shots & speed so far, although I’m refining it more all the time. I’m currently in a closed beta phase with a client, so no demos yet. I’ve written this in partnership with IDV (creators of SpeedTree), who have been very helpful.

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My old pal-turned-Microsoftie (I try not to hold that against him 😉 ) DamienG meme-tagged me again so here goes… How old were you when you first started in programming? I’m not completely sure, I know I was around 8 or 9 when our primary school got a ZX81 and a BBC Micro around the same time, and I used to mess about with them at lunchtimes and after school whenever I got the chance.

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Urghh. I appear to have come down with a nasty cough / chest infection and I’m pretty sure I can blame it on sitting through 6 flights in 3 days. Planes these days are breeding grounds for illness, I remember hearing somewhere that flying is actually less healthy since they banned smoking on board, just because now they can get away with recycling the air lots more times and won’t spend money on decent air filters.

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