Tools Roundtable (Saturday)
- Make programmer use tool and watch tool user
- Recommended: Fred Brooke's Keynote, or get the new edition of The Mythical Man Month, PeopleWare, etc.
- "Critical stage analysis" = post-mortem after every milestone, recommended
- Spiral process/model works well for game development
- Give the feedback from tool users to management.
- Provide references (Game Developer Magazine, Gamasutra, Rapid Development) to less experienced managers
Design issues of engine and tools
- Proper factoring of graphics tools: want to share game engine and tools code; but may have different optimizations in each case
- Define the target hardware for shipped tools (someone's (iD's or Epic's?) new tools requires a 64-bit processor and tons of memory)
- Think of tools as a mini-game: a real project worthy of design, preproduction, QA, etc.
- Tool programmers as part of the team, especially for smaller studios
- Don't borrow tool programmers
- Art/programming/design Leads involved in intial tool design
- After the artist makes a script, then maintained by programmers (can use artist's version as a prototype if not well structured)
- Budget for tools!
- Three levels of game abstraction:
Tools tend to apply to the middle level: don't try and generalize beyond this
- Stuff for every game (strings, memory management, etc.)
- Stuff for every similar game (platform genre: tile-based maps)
- Stuff for this game
- First step: make a UI library => ensures a consistent look and feel.
Then artists/users don't have to relearn as much every project.
Content creation loop
- Automatically back-propogate changes to source data (if info is in two places, it is wrong in one)
- On consoles, can have debug versions of program read level data (or lighting or whatever) off of the network; console can apply edits directly to remote file.
- Look at how RenderWare Studio gets instant response to art changes on a console.
- "Tech Artists" are valuable -- help you know which things are hard
- Peer support is good: try IGDA message forums.
High End 3D has a Maya forum
- Look at www.kamron.net for info from talk on using excel to generate code, etc.
- Read IGDA whitepaper; "best practice" info good for making a business case for tools.
- Will setup a tools forum on IGDA; moderator's notes will appear there