Game On
Issue: Volume: 29 Issue: 3 (March 2006)

Game On

However, there is more to game development than being energized and party-ready; it’s big business-especially when Hollywood comes knocking. The success of the theatrical release of Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong, for example, resulted in a major coup for game maker Ubisoft, as the developer released versions of the title for all major game platforms in advance of the movie’s box-office debut. This month, as we ready for GDC, contributing editor Martin McEachern goes behind the scenes at Ubisoft to see how Hollywood and the game developers combined their creativity to walk hand in hand-straight to the bank.

But the stroll can be a long one for game developers that don’t continue to refine and streamline technology and creative work flow within the studio. One of the most ambitious technological advancements for game developers-and the entertainment industry overall-is Collada. Originally initiated by Sony Computer Entertainment to help accelerate the development of content for its PlayStation 3 consoles, Collada is now an open standard that is being developed by The Khronos Group. It is based on an XML schema for 3D authoring applications, allowing developers to freely exchange digital assets without loss of information. In essence, multiple software programs can be combined to create power tool chains, supporting OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and Direct3D shading languages, to create advanced 3D applications and assets.

The companies that currently support Collada include 3Dlabs, Autodesk, Aegia, ATI, Havok, Nvidia, and Softimage. In fact, Nvidia’s next contribution to Collada will be the FX Composer 2.0, a shader development tool that will support loading and saving, skinning, animation, and materials for multiple devices, including DirectX and OpenGL.

If, by chance, the benefits of Collada for game development are still unclear to you, the PixelBox Academy has introduced a new e-learning solution (recently endorsed by The Khronos Group’s president Neil Trevett) for the technology that is designed to teach users how to use Collada to optimize studio work flow. One area of game development that is often overshadowed by console development is massively multiplayer online, or MMO, games, which debuted more than 20 years ago. In this issue, executive editor Karen Moltenbrey sits down for a Q&A with Mark Jacobs, president of Mythic Entertainment, developer of Dark Age of Camelot, for insight into making games for the online player, and the challenges the developers face while trying to push new content out to this unique community.

Certainly, technology will continue to push the limits of game development worldwide as more Hollywood studios and game developers start to hold hands and work together. It’s a courtship that could turn out to be quite beneficial for the business of CG.

We look forward to seeing you at GDC!

Kelly Dove