GDCE 2001 Web Lecture: From PC to Next Generation Console by Peter Molyneux [11.07.01] Peter Molyneux discusses the assumptions and design considerations that separate PC game development from console game making. Using Big Blue Box's upcoming Project Ego as an example, Molyneux explores the difference and contemplates what PC game makers can bring to the console world in this web lecture from GDC Europe. Requires Real Audio.
Keeping the Pirates at Bay by Gavin Dodd [10.17.01] Beyond giving developers a feeling of violation over having their hard work pillaged and disturbed illegally, piracy exacts a steep toll on the entire game industry. Insomniac's Gavin Dodd takes you inside the minds of game crackers and describes how Insomniac successfully delayed the appearance of a crack for Spyro: Year of the Dragon, which left more than a few weary and confused pirates in its wake.
Turning a Linear Story into a Game: The Missing Link between Fiction and Interactive Entertainment by Pascal Luban and JoŽl Meziane [06.15.01] The quest for more cinematic games is turning into a huge commercial prospect. To continue its development, the games industry needs to broaden its audience into new segments, including casual gamers and women who are not generally attracted to current videogame offerings. Luring them requires gameplay that takes its cues from what they already know: cinema and literature. This article offers a few tips for designing games that look and feel like movies.
Where'd It Go? It Was Just Here! Managing Assets for the Next Age of Real-Time Strategy Games by Herb Marselas [02.21.01] With the increasing number of assets and people involved in game projects, manually maintaining game assets takes on an ever-increasing portion of the project. In order to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, this time from future game projects, Ensemble Studios decided to evaluate its own asset management needs and implement a system for storing and managing all game assets. In this article, Herb Marselas discusses how they translated their asset management needs into an effective asset management system for future games, and the technologies utilized in doing so.
GDC 1999 Production Keynote: The Secret to Consistently Delivering Hit Titles by Louis Castle [11.15.00] Westwood Studios co-founder Louis Castle draws upon personal experiences as examples of successful and not so successful approaches to product development and retaining key people in a very competitive market. This keynote address from the 1999 Game Developers Conference touches on many aspects of production including art direction, technical direction and, heaven forbid, marketing. All are equally important elements to consistently developing hit products. Or at least minimizing the misses. [Real Video] [Quicktime]
Killing Feature Creep Without Ever Saying No by Scott Crabtree [10.20.00] Why is your favorite game late? Why is your own project slipping? Chances are good that one of the reasons is an acute case of feature creep. Feature creep -- requirements changing during development -- is a major risk for virtually every game project. If uncontrolled, changing requirements can overwhelm even the best-planned effort, and quickly put your project in trouble. By completely understanding your original design, all change requests, and the people involved, you can avoid feature creep without ever saying 'No' to a request.
Machinima Cutscene Creation, Part Two by Hugh Hancock [10.06.00] The first part of Hugh Hancock's article on game engine cutscene design looked at tool design, overall project management, and content creation for cutscenes. Now it's time to move on to the meat of cutscene creation, production and post-production, before ultimately considering the specific strengths and weaknesses of real-time 3D as a cinematic medium.
Machinima Cutscene Creation, Part One by Hugh Hancock [09.29.00] Game developers are coming to the realization that newly found graphical power can be harnessed not only in traditional gameplay sections, but also to replace the horrendous expense of prerendered cutscenes with in-engine cinematic sequences. Hugh Hancock provides insight into some of the most common mistakes and omissions made in real-time cutscene creation, and points out a few pathways to truly cinematic cutscenes within game engines.
Cutting to the Chase: Cinematic Construction for Gamers by Hal Barwood [05.18.00] Game developers are right in the middle of inventing an art form, and the rules are vague. Some of us assume that we must also invent our own system of dynamic visual expression, because those rules seem vague as well. This article is a primer aimed at designers and artists who need to incorporate cinematic sequences within their games in order to drive a story or heighten the impact of their title, and who have little knowledge of how to proceed.
A Case for Code Review by John Stenersen [03.14.00] Not to worry, this is not Dianetics for the software guru but rather one small development technique, a process that can have immense impact on the quality of software you produce. John Stenersen explains how code review offers broad, positive, and measurable effects for an entire development team -- and across numerous products.†
Working the Grammy Angle by Aaron Marks [02.25.00] As the curtain rose on the 42nd Annual Grammy Award ceremony, the legitimacy and expectations of game music rose with it. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) Board of Trustees, last year, approved opening 3 categories to include music written for the continuously evolving digital arena that is video games, and although no game music was nominated this year, the ball is rolling, and Aaron Marks calls upon you to keep it rolling.
Recruiting the Candidate: Now Playing at a Theatre Near You by Marc Mencher [02.14.00] The game industry is, indeed, a competitive one, and quality talent is vital to success. So, how do you appeal to the quality candidates? Rather than hustle HR to the local theater or send them rollerblading down the street with a bullhorn and a sandwich board, in this article Marc Mencher addresses consistent means of attracting ideal candidates to your company via advertising, company branding, unique hiring ideas, and professional search firms.
Interviewing the Candidate: More Than a Feeling by Marc Mencher [01.11.00] In a follow-up to his article on selling the candidate, Marc Mencher discusses the interview process, addressing how you can get clear on your objective, plan the interview, listen to the candidate, and evaluate the interview to make optimal hiring decisions, as well as discussing what certain interview questions can reveal about a candidate.
Artists and Game Design Documents: From Interpretation to Implementation by Joshua D. Gordon [01.04.00] One of the biggest problems in the design and implementation of games is the lack of interactivity amongst the various team members of a project. Noting this problem, Joshua D. Gordon focuses on the relationship and communication between artists and designers during the development process. Topics include "blue sky" meetings, the design document, methods for streamlining the production process, and other random thoughts.
Video in Games: The State of the Industry by Ben Waggoner and Halstead York [01.03.00] Video is one of the most commonly used and least understood elements of modern computer games. Ever since the CD-ROM offered a medium able to carry significant amounts of audio and video, game developers have worked to incorporate video into their titles, and although there have been many missteps along the way, video is still a critical element of the game designerís palette.
The Anatomy of a Design Document, Part 2: Documentation Guidelines for the Functional and Technical Specifications by Tim Ryan [12.17.99] Design documents sometimes fall short of their purpose. This article is part two of a series that provides guidelines that, when followed, will ensure that your design documents will be pertinent and to the point.
Postmortem: Heavy Gear 2 by Clancy Imislund [12.08.99] Heavy Gear II allows game players to suit up in a giant, high-octane, humanesque battle tank called a "Gear," outfit a wily band of squadmates, arm them to the teeth, and prepare for battle. Clancy Imisland, a programmer on the game, talks about the rights and wrongs of the development experience.
Postmortem: System Shock 2 by Jonathan Chey [12.07.99] The story of System Shock 2 is one of inexperienced developers, missed deadlines, technological obstacles and a small budget, and yet despite it all, it's a game that turned out to be a worthy sequel to the original. Read all about it from Jonathan Chey, the project manager and programmer.
Postmortem: The X Files by Jason VandenBerghe [12.03.99] The X-Files Game was designed with the intention of setting a new standard for Full Motion Video games, integrating cinematic footage worthy of the television show itself with quality adventure gaming at its best. Game programmer Jason VandenBerghe discusses the rights and wrongs of the four year development project, and allows us to claim... that The Truth is In Here.
Postmortem: Star Trek: Hidden Evil by Michael Saladino [11.19.99] Presto Studios was built on 2D graphic adventure games, but Presto's founders decided to push aside everything they knew in an attempt to make their mark in the world of real-time 3D gaming. Star Trek: Hidden Evil is the first game produced from this effort, and represents a clever blend between where Presto was and where it wants to be. Hear the inside scoop on the game's production from lead programmer Michael Saladino.
Manuals: They Can Be Good by Arnold Hendrick [11.11.99] Manuals are reviled as overblown, badly worded, uninformative dross that provide little or no help -- and unfortunately, this is sometimes true. But it doesn't have to be that way. Arnold Hendrick, game designer and manual writer, discusses some of the dos and don'ts of writing game manuals.
The Anatomy of a Design Document, Part 1: Documentation Guidelines for the Game Concept and Proposal by Tim Ryan [10.19.99] Design documents sometimes fall short of their purpose. Make sure that your design document meets the needs of the project and your team by instilling procedures that will help you complete your game on time and on budget.
Postmortem: Outrageís Descent 3 by Jason Leighton and Craig Derrick [10.08.99] Come along with Outrage as they develop Descent 3. Share their pain and the ultimate rewards as Leighton and Derrick describe what went right and what went wrong in the process of developing the third installment of the Descent family.
Postmortem: LucasLearning's Star Wars DroidWorks by Jon Blossom and Collette Michaud [08.13.99] In the fall of 1998, Lucas Learning emerged from its shell with the offering of its first educational software product, Star Wars DroidWorks. The game combines first-person shooter game technology with solid educational content to create something different: a thoughtful game that's actually fun and helps kids to learn within the game medium.
Controlling Chaos in the Development Process by Tim Ryan [08.06.99] The roller coaster of game development is full of ups and downs, but there are common-sense solutions to the prevailing sources of chaos - it is possible to be successful in this competitive market while managing an evolving game design.
An Industry Standard for Benchmarketing by Loyd Case [04.23.99]Ever notice how practically every single graphics card on the market claims to have the best benchmark tests? These marketing campaigns donít necessarily help customers pick a better card, or steer them towards buying your game. One solution is to build a standard performance test right into your title, and let your "benchmarketing" speak for itself.
Pedersen Principles of Game Design and Production by Roger E. Pedersen [03.05.99] As he closes in on two decades in the game development industry, Roger Pedersen has seen his share of ups and downs as a producer and designer. In this article he distills his experience into ten simple principles of game development.
Using Project Home Pages to Manage the Game Development Process by Rick Baumgartner [02.05.99] Using a project home page, you can communicate changes about your game to instantly and effectively to your team, your managers, and to distant publishers. Taking a tip from Steve McConnell's Software Project Survival Guide (Microsoft Press, 1998), Baumgartner shows how to create a project home page and uses his own website as an example.
Deer Hunter's Three Month Development Cycle by James Boer [01.08.99] Tired of the chaos of the typical game development cycle? Kesmai Studios applied traditional development methodologies to its game projects and now deadlines come and go like a soft breeze on the water.
Bringing Engineering Discipline to Game Development by Gordon Walton [12.18.98] Tired of the chaos of the typical game development cycle? Kesmai Studios applied traditional development methodologies to its game projects and now deadlines come and go like a soft breeze on the water.
Postmortem: DreamForge's Sanitarium by Chris Pasetto [12.04.98] A strong and inspired design coupled with some innovative team management guidelines and solid asset management tools made this development effort smooth and sane.
Localizing For Lands Beyond The Wild Frontier by Patrick Dowling [08.28.98] Foreign distribution will expose your latest red-hot title to potentially huge new markets, but localizing a game involves quite a bit more than calculating $49.95 in deutshemarks.
Postmortem - Myth: The Fallen Lords by Jason Regier [07.31.98] Concurrently releasing Macintosh and Windows versions of its real-time strategy game seems like an ambitious goal in itself, but Bungie Software didn't stop there. This two-year project culminated in a critically acclaimed title and helped redefine the RT3D genre.
Hiring Game Developers by Arnold Hendrick [03.20.98] Hiring a game designer can be more challenging than filling other positions on a game development team. The skill set of designers is often a bit softer than, say, a programmer, so assessing the strengths of a particular candidate can be difficult. Verteran game developer Arnold Hendrick explains what to look for.
Why Can't Johnny Ship? by William Volk [01.01.98] Maybe it's a little late for the holiday crunch, but this lil' gem is required reading for all project managers.
Conducting In-House Play Testing by Jeanne Collins [07.07.97] Coaxing information; allowing critical feedback; encouraging comraderie: Successful in-house play testing is a lot more than just throwing several hard-core gamers in a room.
in Game Design by Noah Falstein and David Fox [06.19.97]
Collaboration among game designers is not rocket science...it's harder!
Here are some tips on how to avoid common pitfalls and spread peace and
joy amongst cube-ville.
Milestones and Glass Houses: Protecting Your Development Schedule From Shattering by David Mullich [06.19.97] The top ten solutions to steering your project around the brick wall of burnout.
Recovery Mode: Taking Control of an Out-of-Control Project by Evan Robinson [06.19.97] Class notes from a very popular presentation delivered at last April's CGDC.