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Unifying the Game Production Pipeline - Are We Ready Yet?

I remember texturing a character who wore jeans. I’ll never forget the worn-denim masterpiece I’d spent way too long tweaking in Photoshop. You could see every frayed thread on those western-stitched pockets. You could feel the comfy, broken-in fit. So imagine my surprise when the character’s legs showed up completely black in the game engine.

I remember texturing a character who wore jeans. I’ll never forget the worn-denim masterpiece I’d spent way too long tweaking in Photoshop*. You could see every frayed thread on those western-stitched pockets. You could feel the comfy, broken-in fit. It certainly looked cool in my modeling viewport; it was even very convincing when I coaxed my little model through a walk cycle.

So imagine my surprise when the character’s legs showed up completely black in the game engine.

Somewhere between the terrifically rendered artwork on my name-brand workstation with its other-name-branded graphics card and the programmer’s “other” brand-named PC with yet “another” brand-named graphics card—my denim masterpiece went “bye-bye.”

Of course, the fingers began pointing and the shouting began. Surely I had missed a pixel somewhere in cropping my texture; certainly the programmer had no business modifying our engine to the point where my work was disfigured.

While the typical artist versus coder blame game went on, other folks began the long, nasty business of actual “root-causing.” It ended up taking nearly a day to fix. In the end the problem was resolved but not before we had run the engine and loaded the character and texture on several machines and had replaced several graphics cards, drivers, and configurations.

In other words, we didn’t find the answer until we unified our pipeline—at least long enough to rule out hardware as the root cause.

We now have workstations with HD graphics—high-definition cards actually integrated into the chips—and we have PCs with essentially the same configuration.

Are we close enough to completely unify our pipeline on PC games?

Maybe it’s time to not waste so much time root-causing hardware and driver issues and just get down to game development. I don’t know if we’re there yet or not, but I’d like to think so.

- Pitz

Interested in finding out what new technology is available for creating art and animation? Check out www.intel.com/software/visualadrenaline  and don’t forget to check out www.intel.com/software/artist for tips and tricks on digital content creation.

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