DIMEA2008 Tutorial Proposal Developing a videogame: from concept to your TV Kostas Anagnostou Department of Computer Science Ionio University email : email@example.com 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.