Honours Project Development Blog – s1 – 1

The final year of my undergraduate Computer Games Technology degree at Abertay University allows me to complete an honours project and dissertation relating to technology and games. Accompanying this project will be a development blog which tracks my progress on a week to week basis allowing me to look back on the project’s timeline as well as allowing others to follow my work. I will be using this blog to document my research as well as to record any key decisions and milestones as the project is developed toward completion.

My initial aims for the project, in addition to the course requirements, are to conduct useful research into an area that I find personally interesting. I will accompany this with a polished prototype application as either a means of demonstrating the use of an interesting technology or as a means of testing various techniques to answer a research question.

This first week was primarily about exploring possible ares of research and trying to narrow down on one particular subject area, to allow me to spend time deciding on a suitable question withing the subject area. Here are a few of the preliminary ideas I had which I looked into the feasibility of:

  • Using a functional programming language (e.g. Haskell) to create a game and which types of game a functional language could be used to create
  • Using a functional programming language (e.g. Haskell) on a GPU for parallel computing and/or rendering
  • Pathfinding / flocking algorithms for groups of agents which can walk in formations or unorganised crowds.
  • Using the SpatialOS platform for persistent, scalable, interactive simulations
  • Creating a plug-in for a widely available game engine (Unity / Unreal) for integrating some aspects of Microsoft’s Azure platform.

After looking into these areas I constructed a decision matrix where I could assess the total benefit of each choice with respect to scope, how interested I would be in the project, how the resultant project would affect my employability and whether the technical requirements of the project satisfied the requirements of my degree program.

The decision matrix left SpatialOS and functional programming as the best options for me, which I took to a lecturer to speak to. It was pointed out that whilst the Haskell projects could be academically interesting it would be quite hard to form a good research question that would be measurable beyond “Is it possible to use Haskell for this purpose” – not really good enough of a question. The lecturer pointed out that Abertay University was about to be involved with a project where PhD students would be working with a professor to create a ‘4D simulation of a cancer tumour’ using the SpatialOS platform. This led me to research the professor running the project (Prof James Bown) and what exactly the project would entail. I was extremely interested in the project and decided to contact the professor to see if I would be able to use my honours project to provide some good preliminary research to help the PhD students get started.

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