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27. February 2017


For the third straight year Soniss have released a massive collection of sound effects for download in celebration of the annual Game Developers Conference.  You can see the complete list of released audio files here, in total there are 806 audio files across dozens of different categories from several different creators.  The license seems exceptionally liberal with very few conditions:


a) Licensee may not modify any of the sound effects with intent to claim authorship of the original recording.12141731_10153066685161962_3912813759275053667_n-600x222

b) Licensee may not sell any of the sound effects as they come. (Although the sound effects may be sold as incorporated into licensee project).

Rights Granted

a) Licensee may use the licensed sound effects on an unlimited number of projects for the entirety of their life time.

b) Licensee may use and modify the licensed sound effects for personal and commercial projects without attribution to the original creator.

c) Licensee may freely distribute the licensed sound effects and make an unlimited amount of copies.

d) Licensee may publicly perform a reproduction of the sound effects over any form of medium.


You can read the complete license here.  Downloads are available from multiple sources including Dropbox, Google Drive and Torrent links available, click here for various download links.

27. February 2017


While no individual VR headset has set the world on fire sales wise, between the GearVR, Vive, OSVR, Daydream and Oculus Rift, there are a fair number of them out there.  The problem for developers is supporting each device requires a slightly different workflow. The Khronos group, the people behind OpenGL and other cross platform media frameworks, have teamed up with a number of hardware and middleware providers to create OpenXR, which acts as an abstraction layer between VR devices and various game engines, as shown in this graphic.

The Industry need for a Virtual Reality Standard

The idea is actually a bit of a no brainer, and to a certain degree engine providers like Unity and Unreal were doing the heavy lifting for us.  It comes as no surprise then that both Epic and Unreal are part of the initiative.  Most major players are in fact!



That is pretty much every single relevant player, except oddly enough HTC (although Steam’s membership might render their participation moot).  For most game developers OpenXR will be pretty much a transparent layer, however game engine developers will certainly want to pay attention.  It will give them the ability to target several different VR headsets using a single code base.


You can read more about OpenXR here.  It’s unfortunate that Steam owns the trademark for OpenVR, it’s the most logical name for this project.  The Khronos Group are going to be present and active at GDC 2017, the following is a list of details and events they will be participating in.

  • Khronos GDC Booth – Visit the Khronos booth for hourly presentations on Khronos APIs as well as opportunities to talk with Khronos members and standards experts. Booth 2419, South Hall.
  • Khronos discusses OpenXR at VRDC 2017: Monday and Tuesday, February 27 to 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., visit the Khronos table #TT06 in room 135 North Hall to talk to VR experts working on OpenXR and share feedback on this recently-announced initiative.
  • Khronos 3D Graphics Developer Day Sessions on Vulkan, OpenXR, WebGL, glTF and more: On Tuesday, February 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., room 3022 in West Hall, Khronos will host one-hour educational sessions for developers.
  • Khronos Meetup: To discuss WebGL, WebVR, glTF, mobile 3D and network with Khronos members and developers, join the group on Thursday, March 2 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Galvanize, San Francisco.
  • Official GDC Sessions related to Khronos standards: Khronos members and developers will present on topics from Vulkan Lessons Learned to the Future of VR.

The full schedule of events is available at:


OpenXR is still very much in the planning stages, and like OpenGL, will be implemented both as an API level and in the hardware drivers of the individual devices.  They have described the architecture (as it stands now), like so:

OpenXR defines two levels of API interfaces that a VR platform’s runtime can use to access the OpenXR ecosystem. Note that the design of the OpenXR specification is in progress, and so while the above diagrams represents the design goals of the group - final details may change

Apps and engines use standardized interfaces to interrogate and drive devices. Devices can self-integrate to a standardized driver interface.

Standardized hardware/software interfaces reduce fragmentation while leaving implementation details open to encourage industry innovation.


Obviously this is all tentative and subject to change.  A standardization in the VR space is exactly what is needed, so hopefully this takes off.  Only time I suppose will tell, although with the players involved, this one looks promising.

GameDev News

24. February 2017


Valve have just launched Steam Audio a new SDK for advanced audio processing in games.  Currently it ships with support for a C api and with a Unity SDK, although a Unreal Engine SDK is in the works.  In Valve’s own words, Steam Audio is:image

Steam Audio delivers a full-featured audio solution that integrates environment and listener simulation. HRTF significantly improves immersion in VR; physics-based sound propagation completes aural immersion by consistently recreating how sound interacts with the virtual environment.

Essentially it enables you to create realistic real-time audio simulations, by integrating audio processing into your 3D world.  You define sound sources within your 3D world, define what geometry does and does not interact with the audio simulation and their acoustical properties and finally define the position of your ear in 3D space.  Steam Audio is then capable of simulating more accurate audio  positioning in a 3D world.  In many ways it works a great deal like existing physics engines, except for audio.  Obviously its tailor made for VR applications, but is useful for regular 3D applications as well.  Currently Steam Audio supports the following platforms:



There is obviously one major missing platform...  iOS.  It will be interesting to see if it is added in the future.   Somewhat surprisingly for Valve, this is not an open source project.  It is however free to use and is available for download here as both a Unity package or C API.

GameDev News

23. February 2017


Pluralsight is one of the oldest online courseware companies in existence, founded back in 2004.  Traditionally they have focused on the enterprise, but have been more and more active in the world of game development.  Just in time for GDC 2017, they have released a very interesting product.  A complete top down dungeon crawler game ( which can be downloaded for free here ), as well as a series of lessons covering how the game was created using Unity, Maya, Photoshop and ZBrush.  The game “Swords and Shovels” was created by a team with industry experience including such titles as Skyrim, Fallout, Fable Legends and Splinter Cell.

The following is the official press release:

SILICON SLOPES, Utah (February 23, 2017) Pluralsight, the enterprise technology learning platform, today announces the release of a free, downloadable game, Swords and Shovels,” to enhance the learning experience for aspiring game developers. The first of its kind on the technology learning platform, “Swords and Shovels” offers game developers the hands-on opportunity to play a game they can then learn to recreate in its entirety through a series of courses available on Pluralsight.

Mapped as sequential training through the Game Environment Modeling learning path, the courses provide game developers with the most direct route to increased proficiency in gamingPluralsightSaS environments, character modeling and gameplay elements using leading software tools including Maya, Unity, Photoshop, ZBrush and more.

“As technology becomes more complex, the art of creating games will become increasingly interdisciplinary,” said Andy Rahden, VP of creative, design and engineering at Pluralsight. “By embracing hands-on, interactive mediums like “Swords and Shovels” and the Game Environment Modeling learning path, we are helping game developers understand the full inner-workings of a game, see where every little piece fits and interacts within the pipeline and master the skills they need to be successful.”

“Swords and Shovels” is a top-down dungeon crawler -- a game where characters navigate a labyrinthine environment, battle monsters and loot treasure. The game and accompanying courseware was designed and authored by Josh Kinney, curriculum manager at Pluralsight, in collaboration with game development industry veterans Jean Simonet, Jonah Lobe, Dan Cox, Michael Baker and Alex Jerjomin, known for their work on “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” “Fallout 4,” “Fable Legends,” “Splinter Cell Blacklist” and “Below.”

"Learning how to create games is one of the most difficult and demanding challenges in tech right now,” said Jean Simonet, a former AAA developer for “Skyrim,” “Fallout” and “Oblivion” and lead developer for the project. “Due to the complexity of modern games, many developers are forced to specialize their craft, limiting their experience and exposure to the various elements of video game creation. With ‘Swords and Shovels’ and the learning experience through Pluralsight, game developers can get a taste of the entire game-creation process and then select the learning focus that really appeals to them.”

“Swords and Shovels” is available for immediate download on and will also be available to play at Pluralsight’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) booth #244 in San Francisco on March 1-3, 2017.


As mentioned above, the game is available as a free download, while the course is available via their subscription service.  You can currently get a free 10 day membership, I am currently in the process of registering, and unfortunate it doesn’t appear to be an automatic process.  Coincidentally, you can also get a 3 month subscription to Pluralsight when you sign up for Visual Studio Essentials.

GameDev News

23. February 2017


Amazon just released the 1.8 Beta version of their Lumberyard game engine, an engine forked from CryEngine.  The 1.8 release contains over 234 (um... 235?) improvements, fixes and features, the primary new feature being the Cloud Gems Framework.  The new framework is described as:

Lumberyard Beta 1.8’s new Cloud Gems Framework makes it easier for you to build and launch connected game elements, such as dynamic content, leaderboards, and live messages. With the Cloud Gems Framework, you can add a connected feature to your game in as little as 30 minutes, with one engineer, freeing up the rest of your team to think about innovation and player experience.

The Cloud Gems Framework is made up of the Cloud Gem Portal, a web application that lets anyone on your team visually manage your cloud features (e.g. scheduling messages, releasing dynamic content, or deleting a fraudulent leaderboard score), and Cloud Gems – modular packages of discrete functionality and assets that include everything necessary for a developer to include that functionality into their project, including backend and client functionality. Cloud Gems can be used out of the box in production, and they come with full source code in case you want to customize their behavior in whatever way you choose.

Considering Amazon is one of the largest cloud computing companies in the world and the primary profit center behind Lumberyard is selling cloud services, I suppose this new functionality makes a great deal of sense.  Another part of this release is an updated UI, as shown in the screen shot below.


Other features of this release include Multiple UV support for meshes, the ability to animate component entities in Track View as well as new GameLift functionality.  You can read more about this release in the release notes as well as on the Amazon Dev Blog.

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