Monday, June 7

Game development

Cutting edge game development is bloody complicated, expensive and now, nearly impossible. This is a truism. Only large publishers and mega-developers can produce games in this day and age. There are several problems entwined.

1. Quantity of art.

It can take six people a year to fill a 600 MB CD with artwork. They will need good knowldege of a suitable tool such as 3DS Max, Maya, Gamespace, Blender, whatever, plus artistic talent. These people are not easy to find or particularly cheap to hire.

2. Managers need to be shot.

Oh, the management is crap. Another truism. Most projects suck. Are over-time, and over-budget? So, what else is new? The person leading the team has to be multi-skilled. They have to manage in the classical sense of scheduling. They have to be able to program, they have to be able to tell when people are bullshiting them about schedules, and spot possible dependencies well in advance. They should also be able to design a little - it helps if they can spot easy wins that enhance the game and can structure or steer the codebase to obtain them. In short, they need to be superhuman. The strongest industry franchieses - at least on the PC are those with a strong programmer/designer figure at the helm.

3.Workflow is crap.

We use monolithic tools. Max, VisualStudio, and usually a custom per-game editor application. Remember the old days when Spreadsheet, Database, and Wordprocessor used to be seperate apps? Why are these seperate apps?

4.Language complexity.

C++ is an order of magnitude more complex than C and supports about five different programming paragadims. Which is great, but not when you have thirty programmers mixing them at will.

5. The base functionality you need is more complex.

In 1987 a sprite blitter engine was sufficent. In 1999 something that drew
textured triangles really fast cut the mustard. Now you need something that can still draw triangles fast, but also needs to be able to animate objects, do numerical integration to do realtime physics on them, plus
collision detection, and scene management...

I will deal with each of these problems and their solution one by one in individual posts, but now we have another deadline to hit today, for Driver Three I really shouldn't be writing this...bye..!

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