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Announcing  Game Developer  magazine's 2011 Front Line Award winners
Announcing Game Developer magazine's 2011 Front Line Award winners
January 13, 2012 | By Staff

January 13, 2012 | By Staff
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More: Console/PC, Programming, Art, Audio, Design



The editors of UBM Techweb's industry-leading Game Developer magazine -- Gamasutra's sister publication -- have named the winners for the 2011 Front Line Awards, the fourteenth annual ranking of the best tools enabling game development for professional video game creators.

Front Line Awards are given in the categories of programming, art, audio, game engine, middleware, networking, and the Hall Of Fame.

Overall, the Front Line Awards represent the best tools in the game industry, as nominated on and voted for by Game Developer and Gamasutra's professional readership.

Following the announcement of the finalists in December, all winners have been profiled in detail in the January 2011 issue of Game Developer magazine, available now in print and digital editions.

The editors congratulate the winners of the 2011 Front Line Awards:

Hall of Fame:
XNA Game Studio
Microsoft

XNA Game Studio delivers a full-featured, free, and professionally-developed programming suite that enables game makers from all levels, from hobbyists to indie outfits and beyond, to bring their ideas to life on a current generation home console via Xbox Live Indie Games (as well as on Windows and Windows Phone 7). The breadth of technology and design on display from XNA Game Studio developers is staggering, ranging from slick, high-definition 3D games to 2D pixel adventures straight out of Game Boy or Genesis alternate histories.

Art:
Autodesk 3DS Max
Autodesk Media and Entertainment

One of the main workhorses of game development, 3DS Max brought several wonderful additions this year with its latest version: Nitrous, the long-awaited XBR rendering engine that finally brings the full power of modern graphics hardware and multicore computing to the process of modeling; Substance, Allegorithmic's procedural texturing engine enabling developers to create complex effects by combining and compositing noise functions; and iRay, the new rendering engine designed to produce Mental Ray-quality imagery with point-and-shoot simplicity.

Audio:
Pro Tools
Avid

Pro Tools is a vital part of the creation of sound for games and deserves a victory lap for enabling efficient and accessible design for all. Locked in the muscle memory of every Pro Tools user is a set of hot-keys and shortcuts that enable the swift execution of design. Coupled with a clean and simple visual representation, it's all about familiarity. It turns out that working with sound is also a very visually intensive discipline, and Pro Tools succeeds by delivering an experience that facilitates the mastery of flow for those who have been working with it for years.

Middleware:
Havok Physics
Havok

Havok Physics offers best-in-class collision detection and simulation, all wrapped in a well-designed API that's packed with powerful tools and offers high performance across multiple platforms. Its documentation includes excellent resources like illustrated help files, detailed comments embedded directly in each C++ class's header file, and an invaluable, comprehensive set of sample projects. The middleware's support services are also top notch, with the company's engineers quick to respond, assist, and even offer advice for your project.

Engine:
Unreal Engine 3
Epic Games

Developers all around the world continue to choose the Unreal Engine for its impressive and powerful suite of content creation tools and a frequently updated engine core that supports the latest and greatest technology. Designers, artists, and programmers love the power the Unreal Engine gives them through tools like its robust Kismet visual scripting system, integrated Lightmass static light-map generator, and many others. The variety of genres of games built with the engine is proof that the technology is extensible and powerful enough to support many use-cases.

Programming tool
Lua
Roberto Ierusalimschy, Luiz Henrique de Figueiredo, and Waldemar Celes

Lua has become an extremely popular programming language, so much so that it's achieved a critical mass of developers in the game industry, meaning Lua skills are transferable from company to company. That's partly due to its speed and the ease with which developers can embed Lua into a game engine. Lua is also highly extensible -- it's simple to expand its functionality with libraries either written in Lua, or as extensions in other languages. And it's relatively small and simple, both in terms of the source files, and the resultant code and run-time memory usage.

Networking
GameSpy Technology
GameSpy Industries

For 15 years, GameSpy has been a leader in providing online services to all gamers, including resources such as data tracking, user-generated cloud storage, in-game commerce, and matchmaking services. Those great tools enable developers to build great games. And more recently, its new Open program began to provide independent developers with the same level of access to GameSpy software as AAA studios. Lowering the barrier of entry on middleware is becoming an industry trend, but GameSpy took it a step further by providing direct interaction with its engineering team.

Methodology
Game Developer looks at the lineup of new products and new releases of favorite tools for professional game developers. Following an open nomination period and consultation with the magazine's editors, finalists were selected based on criteria such as utility, innovation, value, and ease of use.

The resulting Front Line Award winners represent the most innovative, user-friendly, and useful products from behind the scenes of the world's best video games. Nominations for this year's Front Line Awards were open to all new software products (and new versions of software products) related to game development that were released between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011.

For more information and a full list of finalists, please visit the official Game Developer website.


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