• Category Archives Feature
  • Top Tips for Designing Games

    The gaming industry has evolved in new and exciting directions in the past few years, and gamers cannot be more pleased with how things are looking. However, designing a game from A to Z is not a walk in the park, and it takes time and practice to learn how to do it. And then there is the fact that there are various kinds of games, and you need to adapt your creative process to the type of game you want to make.

    Take for instance online slot games, like the ones you can enjoy if you register an account and claim the Energy Casino bonus code – these casino games might seem easy to develop, but the reality of things is that a lot of details have to be taken into account in order to design a decent game, like graphics, sounds, animations, themes, mini-games, bonus features, multi-paylines, and more.

    Making a video game is an equally challenging endeavor, especially for beginner developers. For them, and even more seasoned game devs, we put together a list of tips for designing games.

    1.       Start small. Keep it simple – Even if you’re the most gifted game designer, you should know that it’s impossible to design a game like God of War or Final Fantasy all by yourself. So set realistic goals.
    2.       Design your game around your skills – Learn what you can do and design your game around that. Watch tutorials, study them, and learn some tricks that can help you.
    3.       Design on paper – Always keep a notebook at hand to write down your ideas or draw some sketches.
    4.       Avoid linearity –Some gamers like to fight, others prefer to do quests or interact with non-player characters. It’s important to include all these elements in your game to give players choice and the opportunity to follow different routes.  
    5.       Focus on the atmosphere of the game –The overall atmosphere of a game is more important than fighting creatures or finding treasures. Think about the music you’d want to use for your game to get players in a specific mood.
    6.       Create a meaningful experience – All the efforts players put in the challenges the game entails should pay off one way or another. Whether it’s rewards, treasures or the fact that they level up, players need to feel they work towards something.
    7.       Design with the player’s lifestyle in mind – Try to answer these questions when creating your game: Who are the players? How much time will they play the game? How will your players access the game? What hardware/software will they need?
    8.       “Test, test, test” should become your mantra – Testing is very important in game development as things tend to change a lot along the way, which means the outcomes also change. So test your game often and thoroughly.
    9.       Don’t give up. Be ready to try again – Don’t be disappointed if you fail. Sometimes the mistakes we make are what makes us think outside the box and leads us to success the next time we try.  

  • Best Art Books of All Time

    Art is for many people “food for the soul” and creating art, in any form or shape, can be both challenging and relaxing. Regardless of the nature of your interest in art – be it art history or drawing/painting techniques or sculpture or photography – if you’re looking for some inspiration, there are countless books that focus on this topic. Below you will find our picks in terms of the best art books of all time.

     

    From Manet to Manhattan: The Rise of the Modern Art Market by Peter Watson – This is an anecdotal history of the modern art market. It begins with a behind-the-scenes testimony of the 1990 Christie’s auction, during which a van Gogh portrait was sold for a record $82.5 million. The book talks about artists, dealers, art connoisseurs, collectors, as well as auction houses that have contributed in one way or another to the development of art.  

     

    100 Painters of Tomorrow by Kurt Beers – Curator Kurt Beers embarked on an ambitious mission to find the greatest and most talented active artists of the moment, no less than 100 of them. Over 4,300 artists from all over the world submitted an application to be featured in the book.

     

    After careful selection carried out by a panel made of prominent names in contemporary art, Beers compiled this extraordinary collection of high-quality images of the artists’ work. Besides the images, the book also includes biographic information and some relevant quotes from the artists themselves.

     

    The Deftness of Da Vinci by Johannes Nathan, Frank Zöllner – Leonardo da Vinci was a genius through and through. He was a master of everything, being reminded as a great artist, philosopher, scientist, inventor, and mechanic. This book is a beautiful collection of 663 of Da Vinci’s drawings and is part of a series called Leonardo da Vinci – The Graphic Work. It includes a diverse selection of the painter’s works, from anatomical studies to architectural plans.

     

    The Power of Art by Simon Schama – In “The Power of Art,” non-fiction writer and art historian Simon Schama tries to answer the question “What is art really for?” To get to the answer, he presents the evolution of eight famous works of art from equally famous and talented artists. And besides the art itself, he also concentrates on the context in which the works of art are created, touching on the artist’s life, their vision, and so on.

     

    The Artist Project: What Artists See When They Look at Art – Artists have always found inspiration in the work of others before them. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s impressive art collection includes works that can spark anyone’s imagination, so 120 prestigious contemporary artists from all over the world sat down and stated their opinions on these works of art. Readers can basically see Met’s art collection through the artists’ eyes.


  • Digital Art Trends in Online Games

    Digital art and graphics trends have come a long way when it comes to online games compared to the old days of pixelated characters and low graphics, especially since game companies invest more in powerful graphic processes to breathe life into their new releases.

    Influenced by culture, technology, fashion, media, and more, online games have evolved and have become more graphically intense over the years. The same has happened with online casino games, and gamblers can now enjoy enhanced graphics when taking their gambling game online. Sugarhouse Casino, for instance, offers a plethora of games, ranging from
    Terminator 2 to the hugely popular Jurassic Park.

    When creating online games, designers try to keep up with the latest visual technologies and follow the current digital art trends, some of which we try to list below.

    The first graphics trend we have noticed in online games is the flat design, also known as Material Design. This kind of design is influenced by minimalism and gives objects a neat colorful look. It also uses subtle gradients, combined with negative space and bold typography, and it’s very popular because it allows for fast loading times. A well-known game in which we can see an example of flat design is the award-winning indie game Monument Valley.

    Though some consider this design style fake or inauthentic, the use of skeuomorphic textures is still quite popular in web design. For those not familiar with the term, skeuomorphism is a style that makes digital items as similar as possible to their real-world counterparts, both in appearance and use.

    And even if many see it as outdated, its wooden textures and stitched ribbons are seen quite often in the user interface of online games. 1-2 Switch is a good example if you want to see how skeuomorphism is employed in interesting ways, with motion-based controls used in gameplay to reinterpret real-world tasks as multiplayer games.

    Moreover, game developers currently tend to create games in which characters are very similar to real humans, and in order to bring virtual characters to life, they use performance capture technology. This process involves recording the movement of objects and people and then including it in video games. Basically, the technology digitally records human movements and the recorded data is mapped on a digital model in 3D software. As a result, the digital object or character will act just as the real life counterpart.

    On the other hand, when it comes to static environments, the current trend is to use real-time global illumination which models how light is reflected off a surface onto other surfaces.

    As for future trends, digital artists believe that games will move towards more unrealistic universes, with utopic-based alternate worlds, hyper-sensorial experiences and dystopian visions, going beyond the idea of realism into the imagination realm.


  • CURRENT TRENDS IN DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

    Companies that are looking to keep up to date with the latest trends in technology and get well equipped for the future cannot miss the NEXT Conference, an event dedicated to people who want to get involved in shaping the digital transformation and where around 1,500 industry visionaries will inspire and inform them about the newest technologies that shape our lives.

    And talking about keeping up with the latest trends, here is something for sports fans who wish to up their gambling game. Today we can’t say ‘technology’ without thinking of something connected to the internet, or something that happens online, and the sports world also follows this trend in a way through online betting and tries to get fans involved through amazing offers and bonuses, like the Pinnacle vip code 2018.

    In the past decade, there has been a lot of talk about the digital transformation of companies through important business changes. But what is digital transformation? A basic definition of digital transformation would be the thorough rethinking of how companies use technology and digital products to create new revenue streams or new business models.

    In order to accomplish these changes, companies need to think ahead of time and always keep up with the novelties in terms of technological advancements. So without further ado, here are the top trends in digital transformation at the moment.

    Internet of Things (IoT) – The IoT is a giant network of connected devices or ‘things’. Almost everything you can think of from cellphones, to appliances, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and even components of machines can be connected to the internet with an on/off switch.

    With around 8.4 billion connected devices in the world, we would say that IoT’s presence in our lives is pretty important. And given that more devices with Wi-Fi capabilities and in-built sensors are being created, that number is expected to skyrocket in the next years.  Actually, analyst firm Gartner estimates that there will be over 26 billion connected devices by 2020.

    This will result in a flood of data coming from all these connected devices, so companies are now working on advanced analytics systems to manage and process that data.

    Which leads us to the next trends in digital transformation – analytics and faster networks.  The analytics systems of the near future will be centered on AI and machine learning and will mainly be aimed at deciphering the reams of data that will be recorded in order to create actionable insights out of it.

    Competition is fierce in the business world, so companies will want access to information in real time, if possible, which entails the need for faster processing of large amounts of data, more intelligent ways to search for information, and faster methods of evaluating data and determining its relevance – hence the need to build 5G networks as soon as possible, along with the development of edge computing systems to replace central servers.

    Last but not least, more AI applications are increasing their popularity among companies that want to grow in areas as marketing, analytics, customer service and robotics.


  • FROM BETA TESTING TO TRILLION DOLLAR COMPANY

    Everybody knows Google. The brand, the search engine that since 1998 has gone from being unknown to becoming one of the world’s largest companies.

    Most people will also recognize the Google mantra “Don’t be evil”. This is a mantra, which in recent years has been tarnished. Especially in connection to Google Maps’ launch of Street View. And one might think such mistake could give rise to red-faces in the board of directors and dismissals further down in the organization. Not necessarily.

    One of the key elements to Google’s success comes from the ability and the will to rise again after the occurrence of a mistake. Mistakes are simply a part of the company, which is reflected in the company’s nine rules of innovation.

    1. Innovation, not instant perfection

    There are in general two ways to approach software development. You either code for years until you end up with the completely perfect, shiny, and infallible product. Or you release a product on the market, and make adjustments along the way. The latter is the classic Google way of doing things (Google has a long and proud history of beta), and it allows development of a released product. For that exact purpose the company has its own playground, Google Labs. All possibly viable ideas end up at Google Labs, and from there they can be developed interactively. Sometimes they end up with a real Google product, at other times the product is simply being removed quietly from the Lab when it has been tested.

    
2. Ideas occur everywhere 

    Knowledge sharing is a key expertise. Google has an internal platform onto which the employees can post their ideas. Their Google colleagues are afterwards able to have a look and review the ideas and potentially cooperate on developing them.

    
3. License to follow your dreams

    Cooperation and development of the employees’ own ideas and of business potentials, is exactly the key behind the famous 20% rule of Google. In short terms the employees are allowed to spend 20% of their working hours on “individual projects”. You can compare it to spare time, which the company pays for, and Google only benefits from it, if the ideas are good enough. Thankfully it is working. Google Wave, which is now closed down, and Google Chrome, which is alive and kicking are both results of the 20% rule.

    
4. Fuse projects – don’t kill them


    When a project struggles to survive, many companies have a tendency to either try to save the project or quickly kill it. In both cases the focus on creating tools to the customer is quickly disappearing, and instead it is a struggle staying alive, or an attempt to delete projects and everything that goes with it. Google has a philosophy which revolves around how these kinds of projects often have obvious opportunities to do well in other project. It means that you pin out the best elements from failed project and fuse them with other projects.

    
5. Share as much information as possible

    
In a company with more than 25.000 employees it can be a struggle to know exactly what each employee is working on. Every week the employees write an email in bullet point form, which contains the projects they are working on. All of these emails are indexed, so if you want to find out if anyone is working on a project you came up with in the first place, you are able to figure it out. It reduces the amount of double work considerably and promotes a great deal of transparency within the company. At least for the employees.

    
6. Users, users, users

    Earlier on it was called “Users, not money”, but the philosophy is basically the same. Satisfy your users’ needs, and money will come to you. Either in consists of advertisement or in subscription payment services. The key element in both cases is creating a big enough collection of consumers to support the economy.

    
7. Data is apolitical


    There is no doubt that Google is a highly academic company. Therefore no haphazard decisions are made based on some designer’s or developer’s discretion. Consumer testing is always completed before anything hits the market. And itdoes matter whether the little button on the center of the screen is grey or blue.

    
8. Creativity loves boundaries

    
If you begin the process of creativity with fixed boundaries, the project participants are inflamed to break them. It is much easier to achieve success with fixed boundaries telling what is possible, than throwing in ideas all directions.

    9. You are skilled – we hire


    Even though no job ad is out, there is always a job for the right employee in the organization. Google is mainly on the look for entrepreneurial developers, who address the company with a good idea: an idea that will be ready to hit the market after a few months. All solely based on the size of the company, and its ability to constantly launch and support new projects.


  • NEW WAYS OF THINKING

    Before he became a fulltime college drop-out, Steve Jobs attended various courses chosen exclusively on the quality of sounding exciting. One of the courses, calligraphy, later provided the idea for the fonts of Macintosh.

    Favorite example of the world, Apple, is in fact one long string of examples of how development is driven by things that are different, surprising approaches, that the pioneer spirit is of great value (and maybe the only one of real value!), and that a mistake can easily turn out to be an early stage of success. NEXT has caught one of the strategic thinkers of Apple, Clark Dodsworth, to share some of his formulas for success.

    When the iPhone was launched in 2007, and ushered in a new and mobile centre for the sharing of the world’s knowledge, it was proclaimed to be as a gigantic mistake, a flop, by most critics. But the iPhone was, once again, one of Apple’s many examples of their strategic and holistic approach, in chains rather than individual products, and their uncompromising insistence on user experience.

    One of the thinkers behind Apple’s successful products is NEXT speaker Clark Dodsworth. His thoughts are also the basis of the technical venture of EU’s sixth framework programme. He invented the expression ’ambient intelligence’, and is the man behind Philips’ current product philosophy and their entire digital product catalogue. Today Clark is counseling independently from his company Osage Associates, but he still has his finger placed on the spot, from which most companies won’t notice the pulse until later.

    Clark delivers clear messages. Apple once contacted him to get a lot faster to adapt to the world’s changeable circumstances. His answer was: ’Rely uncompromising and steady on the user’s inputs to a process of development.’

    Today single product development is more or less being replaced by ecosystem thinking. If you aren’t capable of placing your product in a context – and maybe even design that context – you can forget all about being successful.

    With the market of the smartphone, the door to the semantic web’s era is open, pervasive computing, ambient intelligence and hundreds of other expressions for the technological future with merging types of computers which respond intelligently on our behaviour instead and not the other way around.

    Everything changes, and the only way to get organised is to be dynamic. That means, you have to be prepared for constant changeability, and not being much conserned about the current shift. It requires the right approach and the right tools. The tool developing process is divided into three stages – empathetic pragmatism: Intuition and widely knowledge updates are central when creating tools for a changing world. Perspective: The users point of view is the internal perspective and Work: All theory must be put into practice – is must be tested in reality, and it must work. A scythe is actually a nice example of a good tool – no straight lines, everything is designed to match use and user. Nobody has to spend more than 10 seconds finding out, how to hold and use a scythe. This is the way all software and product development should be like according to the man whose thoughts have had a massive influence on the way our everyday life is working.


  • WHEN MYTHS ARE BEING MARKETED

    How do you create one of the world’s largest brands without spending a penny on marketing? Admitted – you don’t. But if you take a look at some of the world’s largest brands, you sometimes come across marketing budgets so small, that you have to wonder. One of these brands is Ferrari.

    The legendary Italian car manufacturer’s history is shrouded with glamour and myths. It is actually one of these myths, that defines the essence of how Ferrari administers their brand. To put it briefly, you can draw up two key issues of Ferrari: Design and way of life.

    You will always be able to recognize a Ferrari on one of the four typical colours, red, yellow, black, or silver. The red colour is of course the “right one”. Additionally the design is characterised by the low profile of a sports car, the elegant sweeping curves, and the fabled logo with the rearing stallion. You never be in doubt when you see a Ferrari.

    The way of life, the stories about the races with proud traditions and mane playboys, is highly connected with a love for mechanics, pace and car races. A passion, which was a big part of the deceased founder of the company, Enzo Ferrari. Even though he wasn’t an engineer, or well educated in any way, actually he was a mechanic at Alfa Romeo before he founded his own company. His dream was to build amazing racing cars and with his persistence this was the main reason that maybe the best known sports car brand has reached this position.

    But what is your PR going to be like, when you’re sitting on the shoulders of a giant, and moreover never have used money on marketing and advertisement? Matteo Sardi can answer this question. He is Head of Communication at Ferrari and has furthermore created the fashion company WonderMode.com. At the NEXT Conference Matteo is going to provide exciting stories about marketing in a world full of gigantic brands. It will be a wild game, where traditional PR strategies meet the latest of psychoanalytic methods in an attempt to understand how the so-called modern consumer actually navigate.


  • THE COMPANY THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

    … And is going to do it again. Forget career plans, talent programmes, and fringe benefits. The upcoming generation wants to go out and change the world. One company has done this more than any. And now they are stirring again.

    Before the telephone business became a place for customer hijacking without any rules, protected behind the monopoly earnings, it was a true paradise for research, where fundamental technologies was realized – technologies which nowadays allow us to navigate by GPS, use broadband, and even see television.

    More then any other company AT&T, American Telephone & Telegraph, has speeded up development. Their development department was called Bell Labs, named after the inventor of the telephone, Graham Bell, who spent 50.000 franc of the earnings of his first invention to start Bell Labs. Since the fax machine was presented to the World at Bell Labs for the first time in 1926, the bright minds at AT&T have won 11 Nobel prices. Even side gains such as films with speach, measuring of distance in space, and solar cells can be ascribed to the monopoly protected lab research. An interesting perspective, when all that everyone want is to complain about the telephone companies’ monopoly.

    Today AT&T is a company with more than 250.000 employees and an annual turnover of more than 300 billion dollars. The Nobel Price research has in a long period been replaced by the traditional focus on making money for the loud and chronically hungry shareholders. But the giant is beginning to stir again – tired of the greedy, reactionary, and unfriendly image, which almost naturally follows too much care for the investors. New technologies are going to be created, new ways of activating live stores, new tools for marketing, new ways to organise your company, and new ways to run cooperative innovative work – outside the lab.

     

    To be head of the new Lab strategy, AT&T has chosen the colourful David Polinchock, who previously started Brand Experience Lab and among the first of the fabled MIT Media LAB. David is coming to NEXT in August to tell about the new methods. It will be a peek forward from the one place which can, with coolness, say that they have been a creator to the view of the world as we know it today.