Quality Time in Seacrest County

Lately, my nephews and I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time in Seacrest County, the fictional land featured in Need For Speed Hot Pursuit.  Thankfully, designers of this racing game have foregone obsessing over telemetry and torque curves generated on the world's most famous race tracks. Leaving that to those crafting Grand Turismo 5, NFS creators instead made the solid decision to offer up a dynamic new twist on a childhood favorite: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys.

Adrenaline levels run high as convincing near photo-realism is placed in just the right places. It starts with the diverse and beautifully rendered vistas of Seacrest County, which span coastal roads, open desert highways and snowcapped alpine routes. These stand out as heros of the title alongside the fastest police response units. Creators of the game follow through with a great range of the world's most exciting vehicles. I for one was most happy to see the BMW Z4 sdrive3.5is and the Lamborghini Reventon among the list of beautiful cars one can try their had at. 

The game delivers on a few well-honed gaming principles:

1. Support immersion- Convincing visual details in the landscape and vehicle modeling are convincing and invite drivers into the world of Seacrest County.

2. Cause and Effect Loops- Dramatic and sufficiently detailed damage simulation reinforces just enough cause and effect consequences to keep things interesting.

3. Collectibility- An impressive range of vehicles each with their own overview provided by an ecosystem of manufacturers keeps one engaged and moving forward in the game as does the addition of technological enhancements.

While there are surely a number of alternative driving games out there with more realism that would be far better to use as training platforms for your next trip to the Nurburgring, few can match the levels of sheer joy that come along with busting bad guys or racing at high speeds across the deserts of Seacrest county. Thanks goes out those who put quality time into creating the vistas of Seacrest County and Need For Speed Hot Pursuit.

A New Perspective

Sometimes the essential functionality of an object is best revealed from angles seldom seen. Take the redesigned 2010 R1200RT for example. Seen from the side, the bike appears familiar... a fine design iteration of the venerable long distance tourer.

However, the true genius and dynamics of the design are best revealed from a eagle's-eye view. From above, affordances for generous wind protection and ways to obtain comfort for miles on end really stand out. Undoubtedly this type of "form follows function" creativity is stirred up during long hours spent shaping the design in a wind tunnel. Regardless of how it came into being, the bivouac is once again blown away by the refinements taking place in motorrad land. Perhaps you too are thinking about your designs from all angles?

Back to the Future

Not sure just what is going on over at Cadillac headquarters these days but let's hope they keep it up! Ed Welburn and his design team continue to successfully explore the edged aesthetic reminiscent of some of Syd Mead's vehicle designs which inspired so many to think about what the future of vehicle design might hold. The CTS Coupe concept is another successful design exercise in that regard. Thanks to the folks at Cadillac for bringing back that feeling of future think once again. Now, if we could just start seeing more vehicles like this on the road...ideally with a hybrid power plant.






Before and After

Some people may have a tough time spotting the differences between the older model X5 and the all new for 2007 redesign. However, enhancements and changes are significant. This morphing promotional video clearly shows that signature character elements can be retained while achieving significant design revision.


Give A Little Love in 2007

Perhaps we should all take the message from Coca-Cola's recent video game-inspired commercial to heart this year. Created by Sheena Brady and Shannon McGlothin of Wieden + Kennedy, Portland and produced by Nexus Productions UK, the spot serves up a cool and refreshing spin on the Grand Theft Auto genre of video games.


Automobile Website Designers Get Flashy

The bivouac has spotted two vehicle websites which pushing the limits of web-based communications. Sites like these are undoubtedly keeping writers, musicians, photographers, digital video compositors, videographers, flash developers and three-dimensional rendering experts busy and working together. Supplemented with informational video clips and theatrical quality soundtracks, content is conveyed in a rich, albeit broadband requisite fashion. One similarity between the two sites is the use of three-dimensional renderings of the featured vehicles. Let's hope the new Audi R8 and BMW X5 are as impressive in the real world as they appear to be online.


View the 2007 BMW X5 website.


View Audi R8 microsite.

Let's Tango!

The Tango!, an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device created by Blink Twice, helps children who are speech or hearing impaired with communication and self-expression. Users create and customize sentences using touch screen pictograms and text. The device then reads them aloud. Vocabulary can be built upon through the use of a built in camera. The device is also useful as a tool for teaching English.

The device also has a USB connection for expanded functionality, CompactFlash, and SD, with the option to use a keyboard. Cellular conectivity is planned for later models. Current princes for the units are still very high at approximately $6899. Blink Twice hopes to get prices more accessible through meeting quantity orders in the future.


Touring with Tourist Trophy

The bivouac recently logged some laps with Polyphony Digital's Tourist Trophy Playstation 2 motorcycle simulator. The folks at Polyphony are the same ones who brought us the excellent Gran Turismo racing series and this title is equally impressive.


Beyond convincing riding dynamics, an extensive range of motorcycles and riding gear to explore, and near photorealistic racing venues, perhaps one of the most pleasant features of the simulator is the photo mode. It allows riders to replay a race and capture memorable moments. Extensive image manipulation capabilities are available so riders can pan to a perfect angle at a critical moment in the competition and stylize their photos to their choosing. As for the level of detail achieved, the images below are photos output from the simulator.




It was remarkably easy to plug in an iShuffle USB drive into the PS2 and save the photo content. For added control and immersion, you may want to try adding a Yamaha Motor Sport Game Controller to the mix. Ride safe, smart and strong.