AkulabyteProject soft launch

Posted on 24 July, 2022

What’s Akulabyte? Well, It’s like a room temperature byte – but ever so slightly chilled.

As you may or may not know – I like sharks.

As you may also know or not know – I like videogames.

As you may know if you knew either of the above, but likely don’t know if you did not – it’s been a lifelong goal of mine to combine the two.

Mid last year, I began making steps to finally realising this goal. As a means of documenting and sharing my progress, I’ve recently launched Akulabyte.

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Okay… so what is it?

The Master of Research in Computing Science I’m currently undertaking at Staffordshire University has been focused on wildlife and game related tech. That’s not by design, so much as my own disposition. I specifically pursued this course because it would allow me to determine this particular direction.

For my first module, I investigated the accuracy of morphometrics captured from digital reconstructions created with 3D photogrammetry – inspired purely by my compulsion to have the most obnoxious project title possible.

The second two modules took a broader look at the simulation of wildlife in video games, culminating in a series of prototypes based on selfish herd theory.

Those prototypes served as the basis for my final project, wherein I’m using Unreal Engine 4 to create a simple video game based on the predator prey interactions between great white sharks and cape fur seals.

One of the prototypes created as part of my third module.

One of the prototypes created as part of my third module.

Documenting growth, encouraging feedback

The creation of this game is in many ways, the least important part of my dissertation. At the end of the day, it is a tool via which to generate data which I then need to analyse. So dedicating a considerable portion of my write up to the hows and whys of certain design decisions is a surefire way to missing most of the marks.

But this is also the element I have the most natural enthusiasm, interest and passion for. I’ve therefore started an Instagram through which I intend to showcase and share short updates, and technical breakdown videos of how certain systems are being simulated. As much as anything else, this is hopefully going to be a useful way of explaining core aspects of the design to marine specialists who can then feedback on the validity/accuracy of my execution.

More importantly though, it’s intended to log my path in games development. I’ve barely touched scripting and gameplay design since the days of Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 back in 2004. Sure, I’ve bodged a few pieces of functionality together using Unreal Engine Blueprints. Building a complete, end-to-end experience from scratch is a whole new challenge. Probably an ill-timed one, too, with everything going on at the moment.

I settled on the name ‘Akulabyte’ in the early stages of conceiving the idea itself, as I figured I’d probably want to keep all such work somewhat separated from my main portfolio and journal. It’s too self-contained a thing to have muddied by all the other nonesense I witter on about on here, so I will be making a conscious effort to keep general updates off of this website.

Therefore, if you’re interested in observing the highs and lows of my foray into game design, please do head over to the Akulabyte Instagram.

Animated logo concept I was faffing with when I first had the idea.

Animated logo concept I was faffing with when I first had the idea.

But I’m not an infant, Ed. So why would I have Instagram?

First of all – don’t diss social media, it’s actually a pretty amazing tool. You can create echo chambers of positive reinforcement that protect you from the threat of ever being faced with a perspective that might bring your own into question AND enjoy an endless stream of cat videos! Win-bloody-win in my book!

That being said, a more fully fledged, detailed development blog will make its way online in the form of a proper website at some point. This will most likely be around the time that the game is available and I need a quick, easy way of making available for people to download.

That’s why I’m referring to this as being a ‘soft launch’ as it’s not really bringing all the whistles, bells, information and media that you’d typically associate with “bruh, here’s a new thing”. So you’re welcome to keep your eyes peeled on www.akulabyte.com in tense anticipation of this time, but I will likely fart some form of announcement up on here when the time arrives.

In the meantime, like I say if you want to excite yourself with videos like the below, I invite you to follow the Akulabyte Instagram.


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