Meet the PlayCanvas team: Dave Evans

dave_s.jpg

Next up is PlayCanvas’ Chief Technical Officer who shares his name with beanie clad U2 Guitarist ‘The Edge’, Dave Evans. Dave grew up just outside of Cambridge in Duxford where he says he was regularly dive-bombed by old planes from the nearby Imperial war Museum.

How did you get into the video games industry?

I started writing games when I was around 13-14. Learning to program in C on a Mac LC II, which is not a great introduction to programming. Then I didn’t do anything for a few years and got back into it at my last year at Oxford University where me and a friend wrote a game about a skateboarding monkey called Stunt Monkey.

When it came to applying for jobs after university I fell into game development as it was the first job I applied for. I worked at Rebelllion in Oxford for a couple of years on Gameboy Advance and PlayStation 2 titles. Then I moved to London where I worked for Sony for about 7 years. During this time I made the change from AI/gameplay programmer to Tools programmer.

Can you briefly describe your role at PlayCanvas?

I’m the CTO, which is a grand title for a small team. But basically I make sure that the development of the PlayCanvas tools and engine are all on track. Making sure all the programmers have stuff to do along with making sure what they are doing makes sense for PlayCanvas in the longer term (i.e. it’ll scale as we grow, it’s maintainable for the future, etc). I try and get a bit of coding done most days, but that’s not always possible. Finally, along with the rest of the team, I’m supporting all our users to make sure they are happy and productive.

Favourite aspect of PlayCanvas’ service?

The speed at which you can prototype a game idea and share it with other people

How is PlayCanvas changing the way people make games?

Online communities are massive accelerators where people can learn new skills and create new things. The PlayCanvas community is built around our tools and we can already see it bringing together game developers from all over the world.

Where do you see web-based gaming in the future?

Web-based gaming is the future! If there is one thing you can be certain of, it’s that every device released in the future, from phone, to TV, to something we haven’t thought of yet, will have have a web browser. And we’re right on the brink, as with PlayCanvas and WebGL you can now create great looking games to play on any of these machines.

 

The Quick Fire round (this is where things get a little interesting)

Zelda or Final fantasy?

I’ve only ever played FF7, so I guess that?

COD or Battlefield?

COD

Mario or Sonic?

Mario

Favourite game of all time?

That’s a tough one… Monkey Island or Multiplayer Halo.

New Custom and Built-in Post Effects

We want your projects to look as good as you imagine them and today we are pleased to announce brand new tools to manipulate your entities. We have recently released a way for you to add Post Processing Effects to your applications and it has never been easier.

Before

Plain old boring scene

Built-in Post Effects

The visual element of gaming experiences is as important as any other and we want the projects made by our PlayCanvas community to look as good as they can. Adding to our already extensive library of Post Effects, we have spoiled you lucky PlayCanvas users as you can now choose from effects such as Bloom, Brightness-Contrast, Hue-Saturation, FXAA, Sepia and Vignette with a simple right click on the camera entity in the hierarchy. Its as easy as that! Thanks to PlayCanvas you don’t have to be an artist to make your games look cool. Want to find out more about the new built-in post effects? Cast your eyes here.

After

With added post processing effects

Custom Post Effects

We count ourselves lucky to work with very creative PlayCanvas users and many members have an incredible eye for detail. If you know some JavaScript and GLSL then you can create your own Post Effects, using our step by step guide on writing the script for your effect/s and a library of existing Post Effects for reference you can really bring your entities to life (well almost).

Now we have given you the tools, its time for you to take your project to the next level. Modify your entities and give your game a truly stunning atmosphere.

Meet the PlayCanvas team: Maksims Mihejevs

maks

Today we are talking to the Russian (from Latvia) Senior Engineer at PlayCanvas Maks!

How did you get into the video games industry?

I started making games when I was 13 years old and always knew what I wanted. A long journey but here I am, making game development better with PlayCanvas.

Can you briefly describe your role at PlayCanvas?

I’m a Full-stack developer and love to be involved in anything specific or generic. Making PlayCanvas service work fast and scale well is what makes me feel good.

What is your favourite aspect of PlayCanvas’ service?

It is in the browser (1-click-away), and JavaScript.

Where do you see web based gaming in the future?

There are so many ways gaming in web can be moved forward, that we even can’t see where it will be in few years, only guess. The most important thing is well-connected and social games, where by just sharing a link you can invite your friends to challenge your record or even play in real-time with you.

How is PlayCanvas going to change the way people make games?

Collaboration and the fact you can make games straight away and test them out in minutes on hundreds of users, like your twitter followers. It’s something so powerful. We can’t predict what users will come up with being so accelerated by those features.

Can you describe one interesting thing about yourself?

I do care about things going on around and will always get obsessed by things I work on, I want to get as much as possible from my efforts.

 

The Quick Fire round (this is where things get a little interesting)

Zelda or Final fantasy?

MediEvil

COD or Battlefield?

COD

Mario or Sonic?

Contra

Favourite game of all time?

Tough question, which ever one has most meta-gaming (UO or EVE for instance)

Greatest Gaming Achievement?

Life

Meet the PlayCanvas team: Vaios Kalpias-Illias

'I used to play basketball. Before all this I considered doing it for a living.'

‘I used to play basketball. Before all this I considered doing it for a living.’

Vaios comes from Athens, Greece (if his name wasn’t giving anything away) and he is a Senior Engineer here at PlayCanvas.

How did you get into the video games industry?

I wanted to get into the video games industry since I was a teenager. So I studied Computer Science at the University of Piraeus where I researched everything I could about graphics and game development and then I got an MSE in Computer Science from the University Of Pennsylvania. I was very fortunate to get a job as a Junior Programmer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, where I met Dave and Will and I’ve been working on games and game related tools ever since!

Can you briefly describe your role at PlayCanvas?

My work at PlayCanvas includes implementing and documenting new features for the Engine, the Designer and the backend, improving user workflows, fixing bugs and creating game demos whenever I can. We’re a small team so we all contribute our ideas of what we should be working on based on our experience working on other engines and games.

What is your favourite aspect of PlayCanvas’ service?

The fact that I can work on my game anywhere from any device. I’m not limited by the operating system and I don’t have to worry about source control or where to store all my assets. Everything is on the cloud and I can instantly share my work with others or invite them to my project to work with me, without going through the whole process of downloading and installing tools first.

Where do you see web based gaming in the future?

I think game development is moving towards people working together from all around the world. This used to be a big barrier before – for example, as a programmer with not a lot of artistic talent, I was limited to downloading free models and textures from the Internet. If I wanted to make something unique and pretty I had to find an artist. Then I would have to give that artist access to some repository and explain to them how the whole source control thing works. The artist would have to compile and run the game in their machine or I would have to be there physically to do it for them. You can see where this is going… With PlayCanvas you simply don’t think about that stuff anymore. PlayCanvas empowers people from all around the world to work with whomever they want, instantly.

How is PlayCanvas going to change the way people make games?

One of the main reasons why developers would want to develop games that work in the browser is the fact that their game would be more accessible by everybody. One of the reasons why people avoided making games for the Web was that they were limited to simplistic games that may not have appealed to their taste. I believe that WebGL and game-related web technologies in general have become more and more reliable in every device and as tools get better developers will be empowered to make any kind of game they want. I think that eventually most games will be playable in the browser so PlayCanvas is moving in the right direction.

Can you describe one interesting thing about yourself?

I used to play basketball during the period between elementary school and university and before all this I considered doing it for a living. I even played in the major leagues for a while! (well I sat on the bench that is…)

The Quick-fire round (this is where things get a little interesting)

Zelda or Final fantasy?

Unfortunately I haven’t played either of them!

COD or Battlefield?

Same as above! I’m not a big FPS guy.

Mario or Sonic?

Mario! It was one of the first games I played!

Favourite game of all time?

Grim Fandango! Viva la revolution!

Greatest Gaming Achievement?

Finishing Killzone 2 on a single Sunday while sitting on the floor in front of my sofa for the duration of the game.

PlayCanvas Update 20/06/14

Now it really has been a busy week for us and we have so much to tell you about. Here’s a run down on improvements to the engine and what happened behind the scenes at PlayCanvas this week. 

User Camera View

You can now view your scene from any Entity that has a camera component in your scene. Either right-click in the 3D view and select the camera you want from there, or alternatively do it from this new combo box (below). You can also move the selected camera wherever you want using the normal camera controls in the Designer.

Cam combo

Entity Context Menu

We added a new Entity context menu that appears when you right-click on an Entity in the 3D view. From there you can see all the parent Entities of the selected Entity up to the root and you can select a parent Entity easily. You can also see more options for Entities like Delete, Add Component, etc.

Entity context

Error Console

Whenever you try to launch a game from the Designer you will see errors in a new console, so you no longer need to wonder why the game is not loading. You can click on the problematic script and get transferred to the code editor at the offending line.

error console

Shadow Distance

We added Shadow Distance in the Scene Settings, a value that controls that maximum distance from the camera from which shadows coming from Directional Lights are visible. Just toggle your scene settings to adjust it. This makes shadows from Directional Lights visible in the Designer as they no longer rely on the frustum of the camera. Read about Shadow Distance here.

Events & Oculus Rift Support

We also showed our faces at a number of events this week. Dave showed off some of our work with the Oculus Rift at the Scenario Bar (as seen above) and we ran a Swooop high score challenge at the IDEA London summer party.

VR night

Stay In The Loop

Follow us on Twitter, @playcanvas, for updates on PlayCanvas.

Like the PlayCanvas Facebook page for our whimsical views on the game dev scene.

Join and start discussions on the PlayCanvas Forum.

Get expert responses to your questions on PlayCanvas Answers.

Virtual Reality and the future of Web Based Gaming

On Thursday 19th of June we will be showcasing some of our recent work with the amazing and exciting Oculus Rift Development Kit. In the build up and anticipation to this event we hope to convey why Virtual Reality and revolutionary hardware from Oculus VR are set to be a part of our future at PlayCanvas. Playing a game in VR is one thing. Making a game in VR…now that really is the future. playcanvas oculus1

What is the Oculus Rift?

Developed first by then 18 year old Palmer Luckey, two evolutions of its development kit amongst other improvements makes it arguably the most promising virtual reality system to date. The Oculus Rift is a low latency,head-mounted display that receives two independently rendered images to a screen to be viewed through stereoscope lenses.

Why Virtual reality?

Many virtual reality experiences target immersion, where users interaction can open the door to a reality (even if only partially) that is not their own.  However the technology behind the Oculus lets the user into a much deeper experience. Where extreme latency and narrow fields of vision have prevented previous Virtual Reality technologies from being immersive, they have often proved successful in creating nausea. As humans are sensitive to latencies as low as 20 milliseconds it is important for the technology in question to be as precise and fast as possible.

Usually leaving users craning necks and grabbing thin air in disbelief, the Oculus takes over 1000 readings per second and so far is effective enough to trick the mind and simulate a physical presence. The VR industry is now closer to ‘telexistance’ than ever before. Mark Zuckerberg, the current owner of the technology (following an acquisition worth $2 billion by Facebook) described its potential, exclaiming  “Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world, or consulting with a doctor face-to-face—just by putting on goggles in your home.”. The Oculus promises that in (hopefully few) years to come, gamers may be able to act and react naturally in what is still a virtual setting.

The Oculus Rift and PlayCanvas

Dave wearing Oculus Rift head mounted display

Oculus Rift support coming soon to PlayCanvas

Imagine a future where you open your Internet browser, select a VR ready online game, enable your Oculus headset and transport yourself into the game immediately. Mind blowing? Potentially yes. This is why we here at PlayCanvas are committed to intertwining the paths of both WebGL and HTML5 technologies with the capabilities of the Oculus Rift. It’s crazy to think that VR games could be played and developed by simply opening your favourite web browser.

Firefox are already thinking about VR on the web, Chrome are too. Be sure that when VR support fully comes to the web, PlayCanvas will be ready to help you get there faster. Game Developer’s have so many challenges to overcome while developing their game that adding VR (or Head-Mounted Display) support could become just another one of the features that you’d love to try but never quite have time to do. However, using PlayCanvas it’s simple. Just drop the OculusCamera script onto your camera and we’ll do all the magic to make your game render ready for the headset.

Hyper-realistic gaming experiences should not be limited to core gaming platforms. When web-based gaming can involve products like the Oculus we’re opening up an whole new class of immersive gaming experiences. The best of the features of the web; low-friction, accessible and shareable; with the best features of the Oculus, immersive, high-end experiences. It’s brave new world!

Dave Evans (CTO at PlayCanvas) will be showcasing some of our work with the Oculus Rift on June 19th at the Scenario Bar. Check out the Event link here and maybe we will see you there!

Meet the PlayCanvas team: Will Eastcott

Our recent commitment to open sourcing is not the only thing we at PlayCanvas are open about. To help get in touch with our community, we are starting a series of posts about the people behind PlayCanvas. From the informative down to the outright silly, step deeper into our world.

'I wanted to work at Marvel Comics when I was 18, my coding skills won out which is probably for the best!'

‘I wanted to work at Marvel Comics when I was 18, my coding skills won out which is probably for the best!’

First up is Will, our CEO and co-founder, from everyone’s favourite sleepy little town Bedford, England!

 How did you get into the video games industry?

I never intended to get into making games. During my time at Imperial College in London where I studied Computing, I had to do a 6 month industrial placement. I joined a VR company that’s still around today in the form of Virtalis. But being the late 90s, the technology was underwhelming and I wanted to be back near to London, so I took an interview at Criterion Software where I started out as an engineer developing RenderWare. If you haven’t heard of RenderWare before, it powered hundreds of PS2 titles (including the GTA series). I think it’s fair to say, I learned a lot working with such awesome teams.

Can you briefly describe your role at PlayCanvas?

I’m CEO. I’m a technical guy, so although I don’t do much coding myself these days, I know enough to keep the coding team on their toes. I spend most of my time dealing with the mechanics of running the business and promoting what we’re doing out to the wider world. If I had to pick one thing I do and do best, it’s predicting where we need to be 5 years from now and figuring out how we get there. So far, so good!

What is your favourite aspect of PlayCanvas’ service?

Tough question, there’s a lot to choose from. For me, it’s the collaborative nature of the tools. It was the killer feature of Google Docs that completely blew me away. We’re doing the same thing for game developers. It really is a revelation once you’ve experienced it.

How is PlayCanvas changing the way people make games?

It’s becoming more transparent. If you choose to work in public, I can see your project at any time I want to. I can play your games any time, anywhere and on any device. We’re making the process more collaborative, with a multi-user editor where you can see the game come together live before your eyes. And we’re opening game development up to a far wider audience, by making the tools incredibly accessible. Did I mention we’re open source now?

Where do you see web based gaming in the future?

I see it becoming the pinnacle in convenience. Ultimate accessiblity. Completely cross-platform. And even more dynamic and open than it is today.

Can you describe one interesting thing about yourself?

I wanted to work at Marvel Comics when I was 18. I used to take my portfolio along to the London Comic Art Convention looking for a job. In the end, my coding skills won out which is probably for the best!

 

The Quick-fire Round (this is where things get a little interesting)

Zelda or Final fantasy?

Zelda

COD or Battlefield?

COD

Mario or Sonic?

Mario

Favourite game of all time?

No contest: Elite.

Greatest Gaming achievement?

Can losing be an achievement? I played the UK Nintendo Champion at Street Fighter 2 in 1993. I left his Dhalsim battered and bruised with a mere pixel of health remaining!

PlayCanvas Update 13/06/14

construction_kit-001

After a busy week here in the PlayCanvas office, we thought what better way to champion our efforts than to give you a taste of whats happened at HQ. We plan to start a series of weekly updates so you know what is keeping PlayCanvas at its best. This week; 

  • We completely reworked our back-end API. All page loads are now 50% to 1000% times quicker.
  • We have also made an improvement to the manoeuvrability of Entities as we introduced a new default Snap option. This function allows you to move incrementally within the PlayCanvas Designer (find more information on the Snap function here).
  • Lastly we are happy to introduce a brand new platform starter kit which features a contribution from the artist who worked with us on Swooop! (read all about it here).

Stay In The Loop

Follow us on Twitter, @playcanvas, for largely technical updates on PlayCanvas.

Like the PlayCanvas Facebook page for our whimsical views on the game dev scene.

Join and start discussions on the PlayCanvas Forum.

Get expert responses to your questions on PlayCanvas Answers.

Snappy New Update

Game developers and the idea of perfection are never far apart and we are pleased to announce a new feature that allows you to be as precise as your project demands. If you were thinking what we were thinking then…SNAP!

snap screenshot

Due to popular demand (coming in particular from PlayCanvas user Crefossus), Entities now move incrementally as default. This feature allows you to quickly measure and perfectly place where your Entities need to be, no need to rotate the camera to make sure your items are perfectly in line.

However if the fate of your game rests on being between our increments, have no fear. Holding shift will disable Snap while in the PlayCanvas Designer, you can also check and toggle the status of the snap function by using the magnet icon on your toolbar. Here’s some help, just in case.

snap_tool

http://developer.playcanvas.com/user-manual/designer/designer-settings/

Happy Snapping!