Archive for March, 2008

38 Studios hires Jennifer MacLean from Comcast as BDM

Friday, March 28th, 2008, posted by skg

from the World Domination through Gaming dept.

BigWorld licensee 38 Studios, helmed by famed baseball celebrity Curt Schilling, has announced its appointment of Jennifer MacLean, former VP at Comcast as their Business Development Manager. With such cultural luminaries as Todd McFarlane and R.A Salvatore pumping their peculiar brand of story-line and artwork into the studio, MacLean will have plenty of content to work with on their upcoming BigWorld powered online game.

“MacLean’s responsibilities at Comcast included interactive entertainment strategy, business development,and product management. She spearheaded products including Chill, Comcast’s multi-platform casual games product line, and GameInvasion.net, the company’s video game news and content aggregator site and Video on Demand offering. MacLean also negotiated, implemented, and managed major partnerships for Comcast including Electronic Arts, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Fox Sports, Real Networks, Oberon Media, and Microsoft. Products under MacLean’s watch delivered more than three million client installations and 30 million downloads.”

Full text here, and other references here, here and here.

MTV Covers KWARI

Monday, March 17th, 2008, posted by skg

from the I can’t wait to kill somebody for some cash dept.

Over at MTV they have a lengthy interview with Mr Al King, spokesman and marketing manager for Kwari. He covers some interesting points regarding how they see the Kwari positioned at the moment – where it’s going (the USA), and some of the trickier legal ramifications behind trying to get the skill-based shooter deployed.

Comments are where the meaty bits are

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008, posted by skg

from the Sparking an interesting campfire debate dept.

Over at Kill Ten Rats, there is an enthusiastic and surprisingly educated rant on the choices facing developers and licensing game engines following Nicodemus’ Two Cents discussion, including :

Chas : “Regarding 38 Studios… I don’t find it unusual that they’d wait so long.

First, you need to hire the people experienced with the tech to MAKE such a decision. Next, you need to develop your core design and make a NEEDS ANALYSIS so you get the tech that will support your concept (and don’t overinvest in tech that’s absolutely not needed, too).

That core design isn’t a simple term paper. You don’t necessarily need the whole design document fully fleshed out, but you need a HUGE chunk of it in place. Once you do, you need to identify the risk areas- parts of your design that really are new/novel/untested in ANY engine. You need to pick your candidate platforms and do a rough prototype “proof of concept” to be sure that the tech is possible.

While that is going on, you want others developing anything that’s not platform-specific. Once you agree on a platform, you want to hit the ground running- every day lost makes your tech 1 day older. You want the concept art done. You want reference models done. You want art assets that can be ported to any of the candidate systems done. You want as much story written as possible. You want development tools in place, and you want every developer working on the project as familiar with the environment and workplace as humanly possible.

…Because from here on out, it’s about producing as much quality material as quickly as possible so that the platform you’ve chosen isn’t dated by the time you enter the market.”

This is actually genuinely meaty, tactical and strategic startup road-to growth analysis. I am almost tempted to step on over there and contribute. Stir the pot and really make some noise. Too much real work to do though, so probably not.

Netease’s Tianxia II – now free to play, in closed beta

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008, posted by skg


from the Under the Heavens dept :

Netease (NTES) of China is in the go-live phase of it’s latest opus, Tianxia II. Last year saw a partial release, but it was pulled back for re-development by Netease as discussed here.

The game is currently in testing, limited release mode, and you can grab some great wallpaper action for the title over at fmmorpg.

Umbra discuss occlusion and engines

Monday, March 3rd, 2008, posted by skg

from the How it works dept.

In this GameDev.net article, a Teppo Soininen of Umbra discuss their occlusion system, a real-time method of optimizing frame rates in rendering engines – basically, visual middleware.

TS: Basically, this is our middleware solution, which is using Big World’s engine to do rendering. What’s happening over here, here you can see the player’s eye view, and on the right-side you can see the bird’s eye view of the whole scene. You see only the visible geometry, a couple of houses. Now, I switch umbra, our middleware solution, off, and you can see the whole city. A real big city. This has more than a hundred thousand objects around, and it would ridiculously slow the rendering without any occlusion culling or visibility optimization. If we turn umbra on, and you can see it only renders the houses that are visible. I can move around, it updates. All the updating is done on the fly. We’re not doing any preprocessing of the scene, or anything like that.

There is also a great showreel here of the Umbra occlusion system working inside BigWorld.

38 Studios selects BigWorld

Saturday, March 1st, 2008, posted by skg

from the Let’s put the band back together dept :

MAYNARD, MA, February 26, 2007 – 38 Studios (www.38studios.com), a pioneering entertainment force delivering a broad spectrum of immersive products, today announced the company has entered into an agreement with BigWorld to license its BigWorld Technology Suite. The licensed engine will provide 38 Studios with the tools and technologies to support an unparalleled OEE™, (Online Entertainment Experience), for its upcoming massively multiplayer online game.

“BigWorld provides the most proven, robust and technically solid game engine and toolset available, while still allowing us to be flexible and tailor the technology specifically to our game,” said Jon Laff, 38 Studios’ Chief Technology Officer.

Led by the artistic vision of Todd McFarlane and the enthralling storytelling of R. A. Salvatore, 38 Studios is developing an original IP – a world made up of fantastical elements, settings, characters, creatures, rules, and experiences. The IP will encompass multiple media forms including the online game experience that is currently scheduled for release in late 2010.”

R.A Salvatore. McFarlane. Curt Schilling. Laff. Close. These guys may be serious. Says it all really – although if that isn’t enough for you, President Brett Close had some other choice comments to offer over at Ten Ton Hammer.