Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
Game Developer Magazine's 15th Annual Front Line Awards 2012
arrowPress Releases
July 24, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


 
Game Developer Magazine's 15th Annual Front Line Awards 2012

January 18, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4
 

Programming

Bugzilla
Mozilla Foundation (Open Source)
bugzilla.org

Bugzilla isn't the sexiest product in the world -- after all, it's bug-tracking software. But it's one of those required tools in our development arsenal, one of those tools that we all rely on during the most critical moments of the development process.

For me, Bugzilla was particularly convenient while I was working with a bilingual team in China. In this situation, we had a group of about 20 developers of all disciplines working on building a free-to-play online PC game. In our case, Bugzilla was efficient, quick, and easy to learn and use.

Bugzilla has some key features that I found essential in our development process. The ability to mark or update multiple bugs simultaneously was a workflow convenience I could not live without.

I also appreciated the tracking reports, which gave me an up-to-date chart that showed how quickly we were closing bugs off our list, which users were behind in closing their issues, and how many bugs of each priority category were remaining. This was useful for feature tracking as well, because we could earmark requests with their own category, which could then serve to roll up new features for the team to implement.

Bugzilla's tracking features are complemented by a whole host of other features that contribute to its utility and usability. Its email notifications allowed me to immediately react to updates and communicate build-testing results back to the team within shorter timeframes. Its automatic duplicate detection feature (a form of autofill) lets the user find potential bug duplications before they are committed to the database. Time tracking allows the team to set deadlines and test against user time estimate accuracy.

Perhaps the most useful part about Bugzilla, though, is that it's a free, open-source product. This cannot be understated. In an industry that is now party to an enormous host of smaller developers working with lower budgets to make their products, Bugzilla is a welcome respite to the incoming tool costs associated with new cloud subscription models that have become the norm for many development toolsets. Because of my positive experience working with Bugzilla, I now automatically look toward open source solutions to our tool problems before I consider the licensed per-seat solutions that are currently on the market.

To that end, I salute the Bugzilla team, as well as everyone else who is offering their time to make the product even better, and hope that we in the game industry do our part to keep it alive well into the future.

Carey Chico is a game industry veteran and a member of the Game Developer advisory board.

Free Tools

Blender
The Blender Foundation (Open Source)
blender.org

Blender is a free, open-source 3D art suite with a combination of powerful modeling, unwrapping, and rendering tools that is growing in notoriety as its user community demonstrates that you can still make professional-quality movies and game art with free tools.

I first started working with Blender six years ago, while working toward my classical art degree, and felt an affinity with computer graphics that led me to spend the rest of my university years learning to use Softimage XSI and 3D Studio Max. Blender's accessibility remains one of its strong points and is helping artists around the globe to express themselves in new ways.

Our development studio (Nine Dots) was founded on a small budget, so we opted to use Blender instead of paying $5,000 per head for commercial 3D software. As the studio's founder started gathering a team, my previous experience with that software was a strong asset and I was hired. I've used Blender ever since, and new Nine Dots artists are taught to use it when they start out in our company.

After a few weeks of adaptation -- getting used to the interface and customizing our keyboard shortcuts -- the 3D artists at Nine Dots were able to reach the same production speed they had on the software they were used to. In my experience, I have actually found Blender to be far faster than any of Autodesk's products in terms of modeling and unwrapping, at least for the low-poly models required for video games.

I also made good use of my graphics tablet in Blender while working on our first game, Brand. Using the Poly Paint mode, I drew the lights and shadows on the 3D mesh itself before baking the result in the diffuse texture. That single feature I found while exploring the software has helped us obtain a painterly look for our game. Other features use the tablet, such as the newly implemented sculpt mode, which lets the artist manipulate the geometry in a manner similar to ZBrush.

After we released Brand on Xbox 360 and PC, we started work on a more ambitious project with fully detailed characters. Once again, Blender has proven to be a great tool for creating an elegant facial geometry and for animating the bodies and faces of our human (and nonhuman!) characters. We also used Blender to edit some of our trailers and gameplay videos; since the video editing tool is integrated with the rendering software, the production pipeline is streamlined, saving us some precious time!

In short, Blender is an accessible and customizable tool that can be optimized to greatly increase production speed. For video game creation, I can speak from experience that Blender's modeling and unwrapping tools are on par with those of its costly competitors. I'm eager to see it grow as it refines its strengths and irons out its last kinks!

Etienne Vanier is the lead artist at Nine Dots Studio.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

Related Jobs

Runic Games, Inc.
Runic Games, Inc. — Seattle, Washington, United States
[07.24.14]

Visual Effects Artist
Galxyz Inc.
Galxyz Inc. — Mountain View, California, United States
[07.24.14]

Narrative Writer for Interactive Media
American Girl
American Girl — Middleton, Wisconsin, United States
[07.24.14]

Game Developer
InnoGames GmbH
InnoGames GmbH — Hamburg, Germany
[07.24.14]

Quest Writer (m/f) for The West






Comments


E Zachary Knight
profile image
I have been trying for a couple of years to get my Brother to switch to Blender for 3d art and animation. Unfortunately, I have no real experience with it and can't help him make the switch. He is comfortable with 3DSMax and claims the UI in Blender is too hard to use. I need someone to train him to use Blender so that we can make the official switch.

Asa Taylor
profile image
After initially learning Max and then Maya, I've fallen in love with Blender thanks to the CGCookie training. Tons of free stuff.

Peter Huang
profile image
I know what you mean. Coming from a 3dsmax background, the UI of blender can be a bit intimidating.

Ryan Creighton
profile image
Blender's UI can be a "bit intimidating" like flapping your arms to to fly can be a "bit challenging".

Such Ch
profile image
I can see his point about the UI in Blender, but it's like that for many other advanced tools too, no? Blender is a real winner though, with all that stuff from CGCookie and BlenderGuru, anyone with patience can become a pro. I love it.

Gregory Guertin-Jr
profile image
Great article as always guys

Joe E
profile image
Glad to see Unity recognized up there.
I remember falling instantly in love with it back in 2007 when I first found it by chance (the editor was still Mac only, so not very popular yet). Since then, I've never looked elsewhere. That was after years of dealing with clunky, buggy, slow and/or generally painful low cost solutions (3DGameStudio, Torque, C4, etc). Truly a breath of fresh air in that space, and combined with the trend in the business to seek lower-cost general purpose solutions (as opposed to cutting edge in-house engines), made up for explosive growth, and well deserved at that.
And obviously each version has gotten incrementally better and added more features, but the core foundations remain the same, which speaks to great software architecture from the get-go (as you guys have acknowledged with the nod to Joachim Ante in a previous article).


none
 
Comment: