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Developing a videogame

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					                            DIMEA2008 Tutorial Proposal

         Developing a videogame: from concept to your TV
                                    Kostas Anagnostou
                              Department of Computer Science
                                      Ionio University
                                 email : kostasan@ionio.gr


                                         Abstract
This tutorial provides a general introduction to the videogames development process in two
sessions. In the first session, a brief background to the videogame industry, the history, the
current state, the value of videogames and the profile of the game player is provided. The
state-of-the-art in videogame platforms and hardware as well as gameplay, effects and
physics simulation is presented. Development costs and ways to minimize them are
surveyed, and the pursuit for massmarket acceptance of videogames is discussed. In the
second session, based on this background knowledge, the tutorial outlines the development
process of a videogame, from concept, prototyping and funding to managing a development
team. The art pipeline is explained and software technology and tools used during
development are presented. Later stages of game development such as testing, localization
and publishing are discussed as well.


                                     Tutorial Outline

                                Session 1 – Background

A brief history of the videogame industry: How did it all start, the rise of the personal
computer and the console as home entertainment systems, the influence of the Internet, the
major events that shaped the industry.

The current state of videogame industry: What is the state of videogames industry today,
the wide acceptance as an entertainment medium, the large publishing houses, the
multimillion dollar budgets, the huge development teams.

The profile of the videogame player: Who plays videogames nowadays and why. Is the
videogames-only-for-boys myth actually true? The power of the female player. What
games/games platform prove to be more popular to each gender/age group. The types of
player (hardcore, casual) and the games they prefer to play.

The value of videogames: Videogames are not just for entertainment. They can educate,
train, and recruit. A presentation of the emerging uses of videogames.

Developing costs, cost minimization and IP licensing: The larger game assets that the
next generation games require much larger development teams which in turn leads to greater
developing costs and greater risks. The development houses/publisher try to minimize the
financial risk by reusing popular Intellectual Property (IP) such as Mario, Lara Croft, license
movie characters and produce sequels of popular sports games. How does licensing of
graphics engines help drive the costs further down and what is the impact they have to
videogame development.

State-of-the-art in hardware and videogame platforms: Nowadays videogame
development houses have a large choice of game platforms to develop a game for. A
presentation of each platform, their hardware capabilities, their popularity. What are their
differences and which platform is easier to develop for. State-of the-art dedicated graphics
hardware (GPUs) and physics acceleration hardware.
State-of-the-art in graphics and physics simulation: A presentation of the state-of-the-art
in rendering. What visual effects can we achieve today and how far we are from achieving
photorealism and totally realistic human and facial animation.

How can the new generation videogame platforms improve gameplay: Faster CPUs and
GPUs, large memories, large hard drives, internet connectivity. How does the next generation
of video game platform change the way we design (and play) games.

The hunt for mass acceptance of videogames: Console manufacturers aided by
development houses and publishers increase hardware capabilities, monitor resolution, invent
new interfaces (Nintendo Wii), expand the game worlds in an attempt to attract the
massmarket. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo fight to place a console under every TV and
platforms to distribute digital content (movies, music, games, web content).

Independent developers: XNA, WiiWare, Personal Computers, the Internet. The way we
develop and sell games changes, it is now possible for small teams to develop a game and
distribute it to the massmarket directly. The independent developer is on the rise again, a
presentation of the opportunities that arise.

The future of videogames: What does the future hold for videogames. How will gameplay
and the way we interact with a game change. How might game look in 10 years’ time. Will the
way we develop games change in the future?


                        Session 2 – The development process

It starts with an idea: Several concepts will be put to the table. The most promising will get
the go-ahead for prototyping. What makes a game idea appealing and choosing the target
audience.

Prototyping your game: A prototype is a demonstration of the game concept in playable
form. How is the prototype developed and what should it demonstrate.

Getting your game funded: A successful prototype may sell the game to the publishers.
Which points should you pay attention to when pitching your game idea.

Putting together a development team - roles and responsibilities: What roles comprise a
development team, the hierarchy and their interaction. Managing a game development team
efficiently.

Choosing and getting to know your game platform - hardware strengths and
weaknesses : Which game platform to choose? The game platform dictates several elements
of the game like graphics complexity, game interface and gameplay. Deep knowledge of the
hardware intricacies is essential to efficiently utilise the power of the platform.

Creating game assets: Game assets include everything that will appear in a game (models,
backgrounds, textures, sounds, music, animations). How do artists create the game assets,
popular tools used.

Developing the game technology (rendering engine, physics engine, audio engine):
The various layers of software used for game development. Should the team write the game
framework from scratch or should they license one of the various middleware software
solutions? What is the available licensed technology and the advantages/disadvantages over
in-house software solutions.

Game development tools for artists and programmers: Which programming tools do
programmers use to develop the game/graphics engine? Which tools do the artists use to
create the game assets? Which tools the game designers use to design the game?
Digital asset management: Game assets for next generation games are huge. Efficient tools
are required to maintain the asset database efficiently and to allow fast updates and building
of the assets to be used in the game. In house asset management technology versus
commercial tools.

The Art pipeline and the artist-developer interaction: The artists create the game assets
(models, backgrounds, textures, sounds, music) using specialized tools. A large framework
exists to export the assets to game specific format and integrate them into the game.

Localizing the game – the international market: It is a requirement from most publishers
that games should be localized to at least 8-9 common languages. This includes text, speech,
audio and in-game graphics. Pitfalls that should be avoided during distribution of the game to
international markets.

Testing: Testing of the game is one of the most crucial tasks that will happen during the
development lifecycle. The types of testing that exist.

Publishing and post publishing game support: Getting your game published is not the end
of the road. Frequently patches should be developed to fix bugs, and additional content may
be developed for the user to download.


                                  Potential audience
The tutorial is an introduction to the videogame industry/development process for all. No
previous knowledge of the field is required.


                                    Author’s resume
Kostas Anagnostou has a BSc in Computer Engineering and Informatics from the University
of Patras, an MSc in Information Systems Engineering from UMIST (UK) and a PhD in
Computer Science (Computer graphics and Image processing) from the University of Warwick
(UK).

He has been a member of the Research and Development team at Microsoft Game Studios
(UK) developing game technology for next generation consoles such as Xbox and Xbox360.
He has a deep knowledge of game engine development, shading & lighting algorithms, GPU
programming and efficient multicore CPU programming. He has worked on Conker: Live and
Reloaded videogame for Xbox and Kameo: Elements of Fire, Perfect Dark Zero and Forza 2
videogames for Xbox360.

Currently he teaches the Computer Graphics, Virtual Reality, Digital Image Processing, and
Digital Speech Processing courses at the Department of Computer Science, Ionio University.

				
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