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The Game Developer 50

April 13, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next


Chris Hecker

At Maxis, Hecker was responsible for pushing forward the procedural animation, character tessellation, and rendering found in Spore, which, regardless of the game's overall success, did some spectacular technical things.

Hecker is also the cofounder of the original Indie Game Jam, of which there are now multiple international derivations, inspiring indies to collaborate and work together in new ways.

Now that Hecker is once again independent, one can only anticipate what technical (or, indeed design!) delights he may create with his "free time", starting with the truly promising-looking Spy Party.

Kristján Jónsson
CCP Games

Running a gigantic MMO on a single server carries a host of difficulties -- from latency issues and player capacity to time synchronization. However, when having a large, persistent universe is the primary selling point for a game, using a single-sharded architecture is the only way to effectively create that environment.

Kristján Jónsson's team on EVE Online continue to impress technically by delivering a consistent universe on a vast scale, ever more eye-opening because of the game's growing subscriber base, now over 300,000.

Rob Knopf and Nyung Chul Kim
CN FusionFall team

The Cartoon Network has jumped into the free-to-play MMO space with FusionFall, a web-based game built on the Unity game engine and incorporating Cartoon Network characters.

The project is a great example of how smart, low-cost technology can give media companies an easy path to their increasingly connected audiences. In the browser space, 2D is much more common, and for an MMO, even that is difficult. Taking it to 3D and keeping the "massively" bit intact is what puts Knopf (at Cartoon Network), Kim (at Korean developer Grigon), and the FusionFall team on our list.

Jetro Lauha
Secret Exit

As a past and present Finnish demoscene coder, and as part of the team that created the first licensable 3D mobile game engine, Lauha is at the cutting edge of making 3D work on low spec machines, coding much of the first 3D engine from Fathammer for mobile handsets.

So it should be no surprise that he's gotten ragdoll physics working in the iPhone in the form of a port of his 2006 title Stair Dismount, while also helping with the rope-wrapping element of Secret Exit's iPhone hit Zen Bound. Lauha makes the list for his continued pursuit of power in small places.

Taku Murata
Square Enix

Square Enix's custom-built Crystal Tools engine has only recently gotten to step into the limelight with playable demos of Final Fantasy XIII, which bring the company's signature baroque visuals to real time, in incredibly high fidelity.

As the general manager of R&D at the company, Taku Murata has spent years shepherding the Crystal Tools framework, and despite long development times, Square Enix's lush engine, which powers the recently-released art triumph Final Fantasy XIII, is a genuine wonder to behold. Summon, anyone?

Jean-Charles Perrier
Quantic Dream

Few companies in the entertainment sector of games are doing more to pursue visual realism than French developer Quantic Dream with PS3 exclusive Heavy Rain. Though the viability of realism as a method of expressing artistry in games can be debated, QD's singular focus on what they believe in, both from a gameplay and technical standpoint, is admirable.

Perrier's tech work, building the engine and the tools that support it, helps lead a team that is creating realism without sci-fi or post-apocalyptic scenarios to fall back on for "It's supposed to look like that" excuses.

Adam Saltsman

Austin-based Saltsman is a prolific indie game creator, probably best known for Flash and iPhone roof-jumping game Canabalt. But he exemplifies a sharing trend among indies that's great to behold.

During the course of developing his games Saltsman built up a library of custom ActionScript 3 files called Flixel that takes a lot of the grunt work out of Flash game creation. Flixel provides handy implentations for collision, particles, parallax scrolling, sound utilities, tile maps, fast rendering, and more. The best part? In the true indie spirit, he provides everything for free at

Eskil Steenberg
Quel Solar

Swedish indie developer Steenberg is in a class all his own. His multiplayer online FPS, LOVE, was created entirely from scratch, engine and tools included. And Steenberg did it all himself.

The visuals are gorgeous procedurally-generated impressionistic artistry, the world builder is amazingly involved and detailed, and he's been extremely open about the whole project. Steenberg is one of those rare games programmers that just doesn't seem to realize he's doing it the hard way -- because to him, it isn't.

Steve Swink and Scott Anderson
Enemy Airship

Shadow Physics is an intriguing prototype that takes the 3D lighting effects we take for granted in games and uses the technology to create a new spin on traditional platforming challenges.

Based on the idea of manipulating objects in the foreground in order to cast shadows that become the actual playfield, Shadow Physics is thinking outside the light box, and is a great showcase both for Flashbang's Swink (also working on 3D web games for the Blurst portal) and full-time mainstream industry participant Anderson, as well as the role of technology in indie iteration and experimentation.

Hiroki Ueno

As executive technical director for Yuke's, Ueno has been dealing with motion of and interactions between human bodies for some time. The developer is known for its wrestling titles, but with UFC Undisputed 2009, a large step forward was taken in body interpretation.

The human body isn't easy to deal with, because the user knows how it should work, and how it shouldn't, and it's especially tricky for close-contact titles like MMA. That the UFC team managed to do chokeholds and kimuras so convincingly is a testament to their skill, and the depth of experience they have with the subject.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

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Bob Stevens
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Snubbed again!

Dana Cowley
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Congrats to Jason Della Rocca. Glad to see his tireless years of dedication to the IGDA recognized here.

Reid Kimball
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@Bob, same here. I can't believe it... "Miyamoto never had to work for press like this."

PS: I'm joking about not being on the list.

Sean Currie
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Amy Hennig?

I take it she's not part of this list because she has an entire upcoming issue of Game Developer devoted to her.

Right? Riiiight?

David Paterson
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No audio folks?? (Apart from Tommy T. and Jack Wall, and they're in for Video Games Live...)

Kim Pallister
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Alice has a nice rant about the high percentage of men on the list:

Mark Kilborn
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What David Paterson says. I'd love to see some audio people on this list, and I can definitely name a few who are worthy. Let's see... Charles Deenen, Akira Yamaoka and Bruce Swanson to name but a few.

Mac Senour
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um, Producers?

Glenn Storm
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(Nice list. Thank you, Gamasutra. But, I have to agree with David, Mark and Mac. If you're going to list developers, expect this kind of criticism.)

But, primarily, LOL @ Stephen's "USC Voltron" and Reid's quote relay.

Mark Kilborn
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Producers don't do anything. They just order dinner.

...kidding :). I work with an amazing producer. ANYWAY.

Sorry to nitpick you guys, I realize a list like this is going to cause some controversy. My frustration is just that you obviously started with discipline divisions, but certain disciplines just aren't represented at all. I'm sure the next top 50 will address this though :)

Alexander Bruce
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I read this list, I read Alice's rant and all the comments on both articles. As has been pointed out by many people, lists like these are always going to exclude someone. You can't please everyone unless you make a list of "The top 50,000 people in industry" and just name everyone you can. Hell, even if you did that, I'm sure people would still be sour at not being included, and then you'd start getting into rankings, etc.

I take these lists as a bit of fun, though I know that's not the case for others.

Ismini Boinodiris
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Statistically speaking, out of 100 developers you have about 12 female developers. So just looking at statistics here, it's reasonable to say that out of 50 developers, around 6 of them are likely going to be women.

The fact that they couldn't even name ONE woman on this list is extremely disheartening to me. Are the authors of this article just completely oblivious to which women have been working to shape this industry? Why is it that not one woman appeared on their radars? Did they compare their list to say... the nominees/winners from the Microsoft Women in Gaming Awards at GDC?

Not that I ever put much stock into these kind of lists anyway, but it's still disappointing.

Tim Carter
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Thanks to Gamasutra for mentioning these developers by name.

joy pan
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Jenova Chen-when I see his resume first ,so surprised!he change work so rapid and use this way to add his experience.

Michiel Hendriks
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Using statistics to reason always cracks me up. So according to statistics 12 out of 100 game industry people are women. If I would build a list of the 100 most significant people in the game industry, there is no guarantee that 12% if female. Being female, left handed, or born on February 29 toed isn't a factor. The chance that I roll 6 times 6 with a dice is quite low, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

Anyway... it's just a list compiled to more or less personal preference of a group of people. Respect their reasoning/opinion.

Or not.

Senthil Kannan
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But where's my name?? ;-)

Emma Smith
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I hope I'm on something like this one day in the future :)

Ruthaniel van-den-Naar
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Successful people lose breath with sense of fulfillment, the best ones are always those hungry young dog, who stands nearby, only few have an eternal hunger. Games are teamwork, icons needs mainly marketing.