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No-holds-barred Production Rendering

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 2:17pm

The perennial goal of creative professionals working on animation and special effects for motion pictures and television -- as well as computer-aided design (CAD) professionals -- is to deliver top-notch work on time and under budget. While production times might be expected to decrease in direct proportion to available processing power, the ambitions of creative professionals are outpacing Moore’s law. Evermore complex rendering algorithms deliver increasing levels of visual subtlety and devour advances in processing power as quickly as they become available.


Solitude and Zombies: Waking up to a New Gaming Industry

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 2:08pm

In a nutshell, it seems that the players, the games, the business models, the game delivery mechanisms, the platforms, the market size and the way players interact with games have all changed. And through it all, the PC -- the most open and innovative of all the gaming platforms -- is experiencing a renaissance.


The Future of PC Gaming? A Personal Viewpoint

By Dan Sarto | Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 10:00am

Recently, I was featured in a prominent publication in an article about PC gaming. What I’m reminded of is how easy it is to be taken out of context. The article was well-written and I stand by most of what I’m quoted as saying. A few things, however, were lost in translation. It’s easy to forget that the people listening to me may not also share my viewpoints, convictions, experiences or vantage point, and therefore, it’s all too easy to be misinterpreted.


Explosion of Creativity: Power of Online Communities

By Dan Sarto | Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 9:46am

Today, the online landscape is profoundly richer, deeper and more readily available to digital media artists. Internet access is more affordable, and software applications create new tools for communication, collaboration and play. Here, we explore the ways in which Internet communities are born and thrive -- from competitions that build knowledge and skills to creative projects that push digital media production in new directions.


Hear Ye, Hear Ye: The Importance of Digital Sound

By Dan Sarto | Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 1:58pm

New processors and advanced graphics are always a hit at the Game Developers Conference, but digital audio companies like Cakewalk, Dolby, and DTS also have a presence. With new PC games starting to take advantage of Dolby 7.1 surround sound -- and DTS’ unveiling of 11.1 surround sound with DTS Neo:X technology at the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 -- sound is playing a more important role in today’s video game landscape.


Sneak Peek at 'DC Universe Online' With Chris Cao

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 8:11am

DC Universe Online, which launched in January for the PC and PS3, presented some unique development challenges. MMOs are notoriously difficult to create, but Sony Online Entertainment and Everquest veteran Chris Cao rose to the challenge. The game director of DC Universe Online talked to us about the game’s launch and what’s next.


Talking 'Portal 2' With Valve Software’s Erik Wolpaw

By Dan Sarto | Friday, March 25, 2011 at 9:39am

When it comes to video games, Valve Software was one of the early game studios to emphasize the importance of interactive narrative in shooters like Half-Life. Storytelling remains an integral part of all of Valve’s games. And Erik Wolpaw is one of the top writers at the Seattle game studio. Gabe Newell hired Wolpaw at Valve, where he’s worked on the story and dialogue for games like Portal 1, Left 4 Dead and now Portal 2. Wolpaw talks about the creation of Valve’s much-anticipated Portal 2, which ships in April, in this exclusive interview.


Hal Hanlin Talks 'Rift'

By Dan Sarto | Friday, March 25, 2011 at 9:31am

Rift, the new PC MMO, launched on March 1 in the United States and days later in Europe and Australia. The game debuts on a crest of positive buzz garnered through a slew of well-received beta events. But launching a successful online game is as much about follow-through as it is about first impressions. Trion Worlds design producer Hal Hanlin talks about his company’s philosophies on keeping customers happy, leveraging technologies and, of course, making great games.


The Future Battlefield Comes Alive in 'Ghost Recon: Future Soldier'

By Dan Sarto | Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 3:49pm

Of course, when it comes to video games, communication technology doesn’t play as large of a role as the fun factor of weapons and gadgets. To combine a true military feel with a great game, the Future Soldier development team in Paris had to blend real-world tactics with near-future technology, and then factor in fun and engaging gameplay to deliver the experience Ghost Recon fans expect.

Game Blogs

Talking Tech Tactics With 'Football Manager 2011'

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 12:08pm

In Football Manager 2011, players manage their favorite team from some 50 global leagues, buy and sell players and interact with the press and plan tactics - all with the ultimate goal of topping the league and filling the boardroom trophy cabinet at the end of the season. The game’s 3D match engine lets players watch every bout in real time, taking the game far beyond its previous 2D top-down presentation toward something ever closer to the real thing.


Trip Hawkins: There's an App for That Game

By Dan Sarto | Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 11:23am

William M. "Trip" Hawkins III - founder of Electronic Arts and father of the 3DO console - needs no introduction to serious gamers. But three decades after writing the blueprint for the PC and video game business, his latest creation - social games start-up Digital Chocolate - is rewriting the rules again.


'Ghostbusters' Challenges: Game Loop Parallelization in the Infernal Engine

By Dan Sarto | Monday, February 21, 2011 at 11:17am

With the advent of multiprocessor computers, game programming has become a lot more complicated. Given a 3 GHz quad core and a fast video card, Ghostbusters will be able to keep all four cores 100-percent utilized in heavy action. During the development of that game, which is based upon the movie franchise, we were able to accomplish this feat.


Independent’s Day: The Reality of Indie Game Development

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 9:02am

Interactive entertainment’s answer to art-house films is indie game development. Titles like Minecraft, Recettear and World of Goo have captured a legion of forward-thinking fans’ and bedroom coders’ imaginations alike. But despite consistently raising the bar for innovation and creativity, life left of the keyboard isn’t all fun and games. Dave Gilbert, founder of indie adventure-game studio Wadjet Eye Games (The Blackwell Legacy , Puzzle Bots ), explains the indie life to Scott Steinberg.


The Muddy Beauty of 'DiRT 2'

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 10:04am

Rally driving is dominated by one thing: four tires. Every spectacular corner, power slide, or windshield-cracking collision is determined by the complex interactions between those spinning pieces of tread and the unpredictability of an unmade road surface. Small wonder that even after 10 years of the multi-million-selling Colin McRae Rally games -- or DiRT, as the games are known in North America -- U.K. developer and publisher Codemasters still maintains a laser-like focus on simulating that pedal-to-the-metal, rubber-on-the-gravel reality.


Developing and Optimizing Games for Netbooks

By Dan Sarto | Monday, January 31, 2011 at 12:31pm

Whether you’re developing a new game or have an existing game that you want to port to the netbook platform, it’s important to know how to optimize it. The netbook market is growing steadily and creating new opportunities for game developers on this mobile platform. The best way to show you how to optimize your game for netbooks is to describe what we did when creating a demo for Fireflies. It’s a great example of the easy optimizations and quick performance gains you can achieve when developing games for this fast-growing market.


'Need for Speed' Drives Back to Roots

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 1:16pm

Veering away from painstaking authenticity and turning back to the white-knuckle arcade races which initially defined it, high-stakes driving game Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit appears to be cruising in the fast lane toward success. You can credit not only an impressive sensation of speed, but also the introduction of savvier computer-controlled opponents and a suite of new social networking elements that enhance online play. Producer Hamish Young drove by to tell us how publisher Electronic Arts is steering the storied franchise back on course.


Rolling Thunder, Analytics and Performance Drive 'Need for Speed World'

By Dan Sarto | Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 1:29pm

I recently caught up with two of the key visionaries behind Need for Speed World. Dave Wall, a 15-year veteran of the gaming industry, is the rendering and systems lead on the Need for Speed franchise. Eneko Bilbao, Black Box’s technical director, has worked on Need for Speed for two years. Together, Wall and Bilbao provide a convincing case for using Agile development, in-game analytics and performance-analyzing tools for creating a rolling-thunder rollout of new game features and optimized game performance.


The Force Remains Strong with 'LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars'

By Dan Sarto | Monday, January 10, 2011 at 1:36pm

Generations of children have grown up playing with the Danish LEGO toy bricks. Over the past decade, while those original toys still flourish, kids and kids-at-heart have transitioned to LEGO videogames from developer Traveller’s Tales(TT Games) and the LEGO Company. Now, the developer behind all of these blockbuster hits has returned with LEGO Star Wars: The Clone Wars, featuring a brand-new game engine that brings the latest technology to PC gamers.


Racing to the Finish Line: Chris Southall Talks 'Total War' and 'Sonic'

By Dan Sarto | Monday, January 3, 2011 at 1:20pm

SEGA’s video-game production output for 2010 was winning, to say the least. It included the latest titles in some long-running popular franchises, such as Napoleon: Total War, Sonic Free Riders and Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. I talked to Chris Southall, technical director at SEGA, about how Formula 1 and other racing games started his engine and got him interested in game development. He also tells us how the latest technology helps speed the workflow and bring games to life faster and better than it did when he entered the business in 1995.