Game Development

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Better Scripts, Better Games:
Smarter, more powerful scripting languages will improve game performance while making gameplay development more efficient.

The video game industry earned $8.85 billion in revenue in 2007, almost as much as movies made at the box office. Much of this revenue was generated by blockbuster titles created by large groups of people. Though large development teams are not unheard of in the software industry, game studios tend to have unique collections of developers. Software engineers make up a relatively small portion of the game development team, while the majority of the team consists of content creators such as artists, musicians, and designers.

by Walker White, Christoph Koch, Johannes Gehrke, Alan Demers | January 8, 2009


Scaling in Games & Virtual Worlds:
Online games and virtual worlds have familiar scaling requirements, but don’t be fooled: everything you know is wrong.

I used to be a systems programmer, working on infrastructure used by banks, telecom companies, and other engineers. I worked on operating systems. I worked on distributed middleware. I worked on programming languages. I wrote tools. I did all of the things that hard-core systems programmers do.

by Jim Waldo | January 8, 2009


Big Games, Small Screens:
Developing 3D games for mobile devices is full of challenges, but the rich, evolving toolset enables some stunning results.

One thing that becomes immediately apparent when creating and distributing mobile 3D games is that there are fundamental differences between the cellphone market and the more traditional games markets, such as consoles and handheld gaming devices. The most striking of these are the number of delivery platforms; the severe constraints of the devices, including small screens whose orientation can be changed; limited input controls; the need to deal with other tasks; the nonphysical delivery mechanism; and the variations in handset performance and input capability.

by Mark Callow, Paul Beardow, David Brittain | January 17, 2008


Gaming Graphics: The Road to Revolution:
From laggard to leader, game graphics are taking us in new directions.

It has been a long journey from the days of multicolored sprites on tiled block backgrounds to the immersive 3D environments of modern games. What used to be a job for a single game creator is now a multifaceted production involving staff from every creative discipline. The next generation of console and home computer hardware is going to bring a revolutionary leap in available computing power; a teraflop (trillion floating-point operations per second) or more will be on tap from commodity hardware.

by Nick Porcino | May 5, 2004


The Scalability Problem:
The coexistence of high-end systems and value PCs can make life hell for game developers.

Back in the mid-1990s, I worked for a company that developed multimedia kiosk demos. Our biggest client was Intel, and we often created demos that appeared in new PCs on the end-caps of major computer retailers such as CompUSA. At that time, performance was in demand for all application classes from business to consumer. We created demos that showed, for example, how much faster a spreadsheet would recalculate (you had to do that manually back then) on a new processor as compared with the previous year’s processor. The differences were immediately noticeable to even a casual observer - and it mattered.

by Dean Macri | February 24, 2004


Fun and Games: Multi-Language Development:
Game development can teach us much about the common practice of combining multiple languages in a single project.

Computer games (or "electronic games" if you encompass those games played on console-class hardware) comprise one of the fastest-growing application markets in the world. Within the development community that creates these entertaining marvels, multi-language development is becoming more commonplace as games become more and more complex. Today, asking a development team to construct a database-enabled Web site with the requirement that it be written entirely in C++ would earn scornful looks and rolled eyes, but not long ago the idea that multiple languages were needed to accomplish a given task was scoffed at.

by Andrew M. Phelps, David M. Parks | February 24, 2004


Massively Multiplayer Middleware:
Building scaleable middleware for ultra-massive online games teaches a lesson we all can use: Big project, simple design.

Wish is a multiplayer, online, fantasy role-playing game being developed by Mutable Realms. It differs from similar online games in that it allows tens of thousands of players to participate in a single game world. Allowing such a large number of players requires distributing the processing load over a number of machines and raises the problem of choosing an appropriate distribution technology.

by Michi Henning | February 24, 2004


Game Development: Harder Than You Think:
Ten or twenty years ago it was all fun and games. Now it’s blood, sweat, and code.

The hardest part of making a game has always been the engineering. In times past, game engineering was mainly about low-level optimization—writing code that would run quickly on the target computer, leveraging clever little tricks whenever possible. But in the past ten years, games have ballooned in complexity. Now the primary technical challenge is simply getting the code to work to produce an end result that bears some semblance to the desired functionality. To the extent that we optimize, we are usually concerned with high-level algorithmic choices.

by Jonathan Blow | February 24, 2004


When Bad People Happen to Good Games:
OK, so I admit it - not only am I a total closet gamer geek, I admit that I actually care enough to be bitter about it. Yep, that’s right - this puts me in the “big-time nerd” category.

But I think I have a lot of company, which sort of makes me feel better. In fact, at any given moment there are hundreds of thousands of people online playing games. Sure, some of them are playing very simple games like Yahoo! Checkers, and others are playing complicated realtime strategies like Blizzard’s Starcraft—but no matter what game they are playing, they are playing with other people. This is the real attraction of online games. No matter how good games get at so-called artificial intelligence, humans will always make more interesting teammates or opponents. That’s a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing.

by Josh Coates | February 24, 2004


A Conversation with Will Harvey:
In many ways online games are on the bleeding edge of software development.

That puts Will Harvey, founder and executive vice president of Menlo Park-based There, right at the front of the pack. There, which just launched its product in October, is a virtual 3D world designed for online socializing.

by Chris DiBona | February 24, 2004