written by Evan Goncalo
Today was off to a good start with Khronos’ three press releases this morning during their “Developer University.” They talked briefly about the all-new OpenGL 3.1 with a new streamlined API, and also covered their new OpenSL ES 1.0 API, which is coming close to completely converging with OpenGL – something that would enable a subset that could run anywhere, either on desktop or mobile. They also unveiled their initiative to bring accelerated 3D content to the web. Mozilla spearheads this effort with the support of Google. The goal of the movement is to not only enhance current web applications, but to enable new innovations in web 3d created by any developer. A call-to-arms was made for industry personnel to support and work towards this goal.
I headed back over to the Independent Games Summit, and sat in on a session called “The Indie Businessman,” a panel made up of Jamie Cheng (Klei Entertainment), Daniel James (Three Rings), and Hampus Soderstrom (Nabi Studios.) Each provided insights on their studio’s business model, the focus mostly on micro-transactions and stackable subscriptions. Soderstrom’s studio is behind a game called “TORIBASH” which allows users to craft their own fighting moves. Their answer to finances is allowing users to purchase the ability to upload their own textures and customize up to forty elements of their character. When asked the going-rate on a character with forty slots worth of rare items, he replied that hardcore players were paying $1,000 or more. Both Cheng and Jame’s studios follow similar business models by allowing users to purchase in-game money to put towards “pimping” their character.
Next up was “The Indie Game Maker Rant,” a session made up of 11 independent developers, each allotted with about five minutes to “rant” on a topic of their choice. The scope of the rants was broad, everything from Auteur theory to what “indies” are actually independent of. President of “thatgamecompany”, Kellie Santiago, suggested that the game industry is currently on the precipice of birthing a new medium, and that even competitors in the industry should work together to bring upon this radical change – one that would allow the world to view games as art, and to realize their immense impact on us. Raigan Burns, co-founder of “Metanet Software,” implored developers to find new ways of producing game art. In doing so he asked studios to look outside the box - to build things by using only primitives and exploring new means of non-photo-realistic rendering besides cell shading. After showing screenshots of “ASCII Quake” he also encouraged developers to invent new types of post-processing rather than relying on the standard bloom and tone mapping.
After a quick bite to eat, I headed to “How Do You Manage Small Indie Teams” headed up by the earlier mentioned Santiago. After listening, I’m sure the tips could apply to the management of any type or size of team. She offered several “tools” to managers, such as having a mission statement, plan, and defining roles. She also discussed RACI charts (Responsible for, Accountable for, Consulted on, Informed.) RACI Charts open up clear channels for both communication and conflict resolution.
The last talk of the day I attended was suitably called “Making LOVE In Your Bedroom.” The solo developer of a game called “LOVE,” Eskil Steenberg, ran the session. The absolute focus of his talk was pushing developers, indie and commercial alike, to build their own tools rather than licensing existing ones. The argument for this being that application developers “don’t want you to get done on time, they want you to spend more time, and to hire more people.” You might argue that it’s a bold statement to make without something to back it up. He then, under thirty minutes, showed off a whole suite of his authoring tools that he used to create his MMORPG, LOVE. The tools can only be described as innovative and beautiful – they were highly simplistic yet incredibly functional. Readers interested in finding more about his open-source 3D engine called “Quel Solaar”.
During the after hours, I attended the “OnLive” media announcement. “OnLive” is a new console that may be the end of console gaming, as we know it. They promise to bridge the gap in between platforms and to allow play of “any game, any time, anywhere.”
You can find out more about the announcement and the OnLive’s new services on AWN.
With another exciting day behind me, I look forward to what’s ahead during the next three days of GDC, and plan to deliver the goods. Battlestations: Pacific didn’t go forgotten either, more details on Friday!
Evan Goncalo is currently a game development teacher at Bristol Community College. Evan started in the game industry when he was 18 has worked in QA, Marketing, and Design in AAA studios that include Turbine Inc, Blue Fang Games, and Hasbro Inc. In his spare time he creates 3D art and textures for game modification and as a hobby.