Hit Games Developed in Austin

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 6:09 pm

64px-Texas_flag_map.svg I recently heard from a friend that past (and maybe present) West Coast game industry executives view Austin as developing no successful titles generating significant profit and/or receiving critical acclaim.

I want to convince them otherwise, so here’s the a partial list of hit games developed in Austin:

Know of more titles, or any additional information to add? Add it to the comments! (As long as the info is public, that is…)

It would also be great if we can also get some rough sales and revenue numbers for each title.


Speaking in September

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 1:39 pm

I’ll be speaking at two game development conferences during September: CEDEC 2009 in Japan and GDC Austin in Texas.  Details and links follow.

CEDEC 2009 – CESA Developers Conference 9/1 – 9/3 in Yokohama, Japan

  1. Handling Code and Assets for Huge Projects Using State-of-the-Art SCM
  2. What I Have Learnt From Japan (panel) – Tuesday 9/1, 11:20 – 12:20

GDC Austin (Game Developers Conference) – 9/15  – 9/18 in Austin, TX

  1. Defending the Realm: Resisting Exploits and Hacks to MMOs and Other Online Games (roundtable)- Thursday 9/17 3p-4p

Look me up and say hi if you are there!


My CEDEC 2008 Presentation: Recent Trends in U.S. Game Development Processes

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 4:41 pm

Last week I spoke at CEDEC 2008 in Tokyo, Japan about "Recent Trends in U.S. Game Development Processes".  And then I followed it up with lots of sight-seeing!

CEDEC is the CESA Developers Conference, the Japanese equivalent to the GDC’s Game Developer Conference in the United States.

My presentation covered Agile development and Scrum, SCM tools including Perforce, and the emerging role of a build manager or build engineer on projects.  It was great meeting so many Japanese developers and discussing game development processes, comparing the differences between US and Japanese development.

To view the slideshow of my presentation, click "more…" below and use the presentation controls.



Non-Programmer Scripting and a Hybrid Solution

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 1:18 pm

Damien Schubert has an interesting video game development post entitled "No Scripting for You!" on his blog Zen of Design:

"Ubiq’s law of scripting: Programmers always say, “No designer scripting!” This lasts until they see the production schedule."

I posted a comment about hybrid solutions which can frequently achieve many of the benefits of the individual solutions while minimizing the drawbacks.   Basically, I suggest using data driven systems run by engineer-developed code as much as possible, and when additional scripting/feature coding is needed either have a scripter supervised by an engineer (via tech design, consultation, and code review) implement it for simpler cases, or an engineer implement it for more complex cases.

This could allow the use of more efficient and less error prone data driven system in most cases, while allowing scripting (code reviewed by software engineers) when needed when a more expressive solution is required.

More detail after the jump.


Star Control 2 Sequel Possible!

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 9:35 am

UQM logoAlex Ness, producer at Toys for Bob, posted on their web site that they have re-acquired all rights to their classic game Star Control!  If you have not played Star Control 2, I highly recommend you download and play the awesome open source version, The Ur-Quan Masters.

Toys for Bob is now owned by Activision, and Alex says they are seeking to convince Activision that there is demand for a true sequel to Star Control 2 so Toys for Bob can develop the game.  How?  By handing them a huge stack of email messages!

If you are a fan of Star Control 2, email Alex and tell him that you’d like to see a sequel to the classic game created by Toys for Bob.

[via Slashdot]


Games as Art and NPC behavior

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 11:22 am

Austin Game DevelopersUpdate: If you want to find out more about the meeting, Gamasutra published a summary of the meeting, "But Seriously Folks: Austin Game Developers Panel", written by John Henderson.

Summary of my own thoughts: Improved NPC AI could make characters in games more believable and entertaining, and increase player empathy and emotional indentification with the game characters.

My thoughts: I attended the Austin Game Developer‘s meeting last night (March 10th) and caught up with some old friends who are now at a variety of different companies around Austin.  The meeting featured a round table discussion entitled "Games as Art: Does it matter?" as a follow-up to Roger Ebert’s recent comments about games.

Being more on the technology side of game development (though always interested in design and sticking my nose into it), I’ve been thinking for a long time about what technological developments could make games more immersive or involving to a larger audience in such a way that could make them feel more alive.  These same outcomes could also help games be seen potentially as art instead of just mass market entertainment (in the same way that some movies and books can be art or mass market entertainment, or in the rare exception, both). (more…)


Nexus: The Jupiter Incident

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 6:58 pm

Nexus logoAs usual, I’m at least a year behind playing games on my "to play" list compared to their release dates.

I’m currently playing Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, a strategic space combat game with a good storyline released at the end of 2004.

The graphics are incredible, creating a beautiful rendering of 3D combat between large ships in space as you can see from the screenshots posted online.

No resource mining or unit construction in this game: the only chance to swap out ship weaponary, components, or fighters is between missions.



Classic Games: The Ur-Quan Masters aka Star Control 2

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 1:36 pm

UQM logoAfter finishing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (yes, the original, I’m always behind on playing computer games), I was looking around for another good game to play. For some reason I decided to search online for Star Control 2, which I had completed again about five years ago (running via DOSEMU under Linux).

Boy was I in for a surprise! Toys for Bob, the original developers, had released the source code of the 3DO version under the GPL! And a team had ported it to Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, made bug fixes and improvements, and added back some PC only features! Since the publisher still owns the rights to the name Star Control 2, this version is called The Ur-Quan Masters.

Star Control 2 aka The Ur-Quan Masters is a classic epic space game, combining elements of adventure, role-playing, and action games to make a terrific hybrid. The exploration and sense of humor in the game makes every encounter with a new alien species a hoot! It also features great music, especially for a 1990 title.

The Ur-Quan Masters is darn near a perfect version of Star Control 2, and my kudos goes to Toys for Bob and the Ur-Quan Masters team.

Highly recommended!


Tron 2.0

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 3:20 pm

Tron 2.0 boxI played and completed Tron 2.0 last week. Pretty cool game, especially playing it on a 61" wide screen display with 7.1 surround sound! 🙂

Monolith and Touchdown did a really good job on the Tron glow effect. I also liked the Tron fiction, look, and especially the disc weapon. My favorite levels were the city and the Alliance level, in addition to the early levels that had a more Tron movie like feel.

The story seemed to get weaker toward the end of the game. For example, I didn’t like how the virus storyline ended early (I actually liked the virus storyline better than the overall fCon storyline). I liked the alliance with the ICPs and was disappointed that it ended so quickly.

Overall, I give Tron 2.0 a positive review and recommend it for some enjoyable single player gaming.




Origin: The Final Goodbye

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 11:04 am

Richard Garriott hosted a final farewell party to Origin at his new place on Lake Austin last night. Many past and present Origin faces attended to say a final goodbye to the creator of worlds we all loved. A bonfire provided emotional release as we burnt many relics of Origin’ s past.

Fortunately, Ultima itself will live on with the dev teams and projects moving to California.

I took many photos, though some are blurry due to the nighttime darkness and a shaky hand on long exposures. You can find the photos here.

We created worlds. Goodbye, Origin.

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