Liveblog of IGDA Presentation

Here we are at Giovanni! Remedy is sponsoring the space for tonight.

17:32 Right on time! Sonja opens the second IGDA Finland seminar with a few words of introductions. She stressed our grave need for feedback from you people, so please don't hesitate to mail us with your comments and/or suggestions! She also outlined the previous feedback.

17:37 Lasse takes on with his opening words. He briefed IGDA Finland's history and why we decided to keep these seminars.

17:40 Sumea time! Lassi Leppinen (head of tools dep.) & Kai Auvinen (art d.) takes the stage. * company info, history and track record

"Why do we need tools?" * tools streamline the development and production of mobile games, as there are hundreds of different phones to run them on * production times are really short with multiple projects at all times, so having a working toolset at all times is really valuable (no time to develop "on the fly") * thus, tools are made outside the game projects and are also ment to work with future projects, not just the game at hand * same tools are used in all DChoc studios (US, Spain, India, Finland) so documentation/overall quality must be good and updating them globally must be as easy as possible * all tools are Java based

Sumea Graphics tool "Da Vinci" * automating repetitive actions, like scaling and importing graphics/animation, so less programmer's time is "wasted" * more efficient graphics packing -> more visuals! * Past: photoshop -> export -> programmer import/timing -> testing -> tweaking * Present: Photoshop -> export to toolset(s) -> animation/whatever -> 1-button-export to the game -> testing -> tweaking * Exporting cycle (photoshop -> game) from +30 min to seconds! * Screenshot of the tool, you can't see it :( * Live demo of the workflow! Looking good, DChoc people sure are happy campers :)

Sumea tools team * two programmers and one tester * tools programmers handle everything from development of new tools to maintenance of old tools * tools tester handles everything else, like testing, filtering bug reports, documentation, training, support etc. * tools tester is really important and helpful for the artists, so they can approach him with all their troubles

Tools development in general * around 15% of programmers build tools only * it's really worth it to have people developing them full-time * having different backgrounds and skill sets in the tools team is helpful

Conclusion * with dedication comes quality * documentation and training is really important and should be scheduled * sometimes it's more efficient to make tools that fit multiple projects * better tools usually concludes to better games * just our approach, this is the DChock way to tools!

18:22 Questions Q: is Photoshop really the tool for mobile games as it's "hard" to integrate to other tools A: yes, as it is so versatile otherwise Q: specific question about the Da Vinci tool A: explanation Q: how does DChoc handle porting assets to multiple platforms A: manually, as there is no easy way

18:27 DChoc is done and Sami Vanhatalo (Remedy's lead technical artist) takes over! * our data projector is having a hard time with blacking out on us, but we'll get there... Eventually... (Optoma didn't earn my shares today!) * The Force is not with us today, we're switching to an older slideshow :( * focus is on Alan Wake's toolsets * outlining Alan Wake's idea and visual style * custom tools for this game only (they will be expandable in the future, tho) * tools are required to be very console friendly with no loading screens and very little limitations for gameplay/scripting * AW's huge scope requires efficient multi user editing * everyone contributes to tools development

External tools * Perforce * Visual Studio 2005 * 3DS Max 9 * Photoshop CS3 (and other Adobe products) * Vegas Audio * Apple Soundtrack * Araxis Merge * Office, Final Draft etc. * Intranet (Bugzilla, Confluence Wiki etc.)

Internal tools * World Editor (WED) * Builder - handing out game builds * Farm - distributed processing for any needs * Adama - manages asset dependencies * MaxEd - "interior creator" orginally created for Max Payne's * mocap studio

Middleware * Havok Physics and Animation * FMOD Sound System * Scaleform Gfx (Flash playback) * FaceFX * DirectX / Xbox 360 XDK * WED includes miscallaneous stuff like XTP * no open source code in the game, so it is more secure against anti-Microsoft abusers

Game structure * "everything that takes significant amount of memory should be made 'streamable'"

WED main features * WYSIWYG World Editor with very fast iteration * home built game editor, where all assets come together * supports complex stuff like multi-editing and a huge world * 2-5 people have been working on it for four years * niiiice screenshots of the beast itself

Biotypes * nickname for landscape texture, blending and surface definition * screenshots demonstrating the process of applying landscape objects based on biotypes on certain locations (ed. note: COOL!)

Questions Q: Hardware reqs? A: Lates stuff Q: Open source, aren't there any usable sollutions? A: Potential patent lawsuits are definitely not worth it, even Remedy has been affected by them in the past Q: How random are the biotypes? A: You can "encourage" the numbers to be what you like, but in the end it is more or less random (you can still place everything manually) Q: Is it randomed in-game? A: No, everything happens in WED

19:15 Show's over and we're heading out to the IGDA Finland montly meeting. Epic thanks to everyone involved!