[In this Intel-sponsored feature, the company explains the benefits of the Intel Software Partner Program, a free program for game companies which includes development help, tools, and computer discounts.]
What kind of machines do you envision customers using to play your games? Regardless of the tricked-out custom box that comes to mind, you know that most people have off-the-shelf laptop or desktop machines, and most of those have integrated graphics.
Rather than thinking about what people should or shouldn't buy, consider this fact: optimizing for Intel Graphics lets you reach a larger audience.
In fact, the graphics engine that is built into laptops based on Intel Centrino 2 processor technology is better than you may realize. Quite simply, Intel Graphics have become a viable target for your games' minimum system requirements.
Because Intel has an obvious interest in encouraging game developers to target these systems, the company provides very extensive planning, development, and marketing help through the Intel Software Partner Program. Companies of any size can join at no cost, and the benefits are undeniable.
The Future Belongs to You
Integrated graphics already dominate over discrete graphics at a ratio of nearly 2:1 in terms of market segment share, and that ratio is expected to grow substantially over the next several years.
Discrete graphics will continue to be widely used as well, of course, so enabling games to scale across the spectrum from mainstream graphics to high-end discrete solutions is just good business sense.
A growing number of game companies are debunking the myth that 3D-based mainstream games require discrete graphics solutions, and as of second quarter 2008, Intel had more than a 47 percent market segment share for graphics hardware, with year-to-year growth of 46 percent.1
Scott Brown, president of NetDevil Ltd., a game-development company in Louisville Colorado, sums it up: "People with high-end machines need to see their investment pay off with our games, but at the same time, we'd be crazy not to target mainstream graphics hardware as well."
By tuning the scalable aspects of gameplay to the resources available, game companies can effectively expand their target user base, while still providing an optimal visual experience for everyone.
A number of challenges arise around targeting multiple levels of graphics hardware, and the Intel Software Partner Program is tooled up to help you meet all of them.
- You have to have an eye on the future to know what the hardware market will look like down the road, once you release the games you have in development now. With the insight into industry roadmaps you will get from the program, you will see the trends that are shaping that future so you can prepare.
- You need to get the full value and performance out of Intel Graphics, while retaining development efficiency. The program provides the tools, support, and expertise to efficiently develop game titles that take full advantage of Intel Graphics, as well as up to 50 percent rebates on development systems to help you control costs.
- You need the means to effectively market games once you have completed them, without a massive marketing budget. The Intel Software Partner Program shines there as well, giving you access to the Graphics Technology Focus Area with co-branding and potential opportunities like web promotions, conference participation, success stories, and the Intel Developer Solutions Catalog.
Mainstream Graphics: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
The emerging class of laptops based on Intel Centrino 2 processor technology inherits the pedigree of the world's most popular mobile computing platform, and it takes Intel Graphics to the next level.
This generation ratchets up the user experience for games, with more onboard resources made possible by the latest manufacturing technologies, as well as optimizations and improvements in drivers.
Support for OpenGL 2.0 helps to accelerate both 2D and 3D graphics, hardware-based transform and lighting improves performance while increasing game support, and Shader Model 3.0 support enables complex animations and visual effects.
Together, these features and capabilities make it possible to sustain high frame rates at the same time as rendering complex 3D scenes with realistic textures and effects like smoke, flames, and water particles. The Intel Software Partner Program offers its members access to the preeminent expertise in the world on development for these platforms.
Discounts on development systems help you obtain the equipment you need to add the latest Intel Graphics-based platforms to your validation lineup, so you can make sure that your titles are ready to provide excellent results on the emerging class of laptop and desktop computers.
These direct cost savings help you lower the overall expense of adding Intel Graphics to your development efforts.
Development assistance from the program also includes guidance and problem resolution assistance with multi-threading, another important aspect of getting the full performance out of the target system.
In fact, Intel offers program members a wide variety of tools for this purpose that range from performance analyzers to libraries that you can use to implement high-quality threaded code with minimum investment in time and effort.
Of course, members also have access to technical resources like knowledge bases and moderated forums that can help you move your product along its development path even more quickly and smoothly.
Walk a Well-Marked Path to Success
The first prerequisite for success is planning, and a proven plan is even better. The Intel Software Partner Program has established a methodology that assists game companies all the way along the product life cycle, aligning your projects with winning strategies to bring high quality titles to market efficiently.
The program is free of charge and open to companies of all sizes, from the lone genius to the major studio. When you join, you get access to resources arranged according to a three-phase methodology that has stood the test of time:
- Strategize and Plan based on the latest and future technologies using advance insight and strategic assistance from Intel. You will find excellent resources at this stage (available to members only) that will help you to grow your business, including detailed roadmaps that forecast Intel technology developments.
- Develop and Solve with leading tools and expertise that will help you optimize your games to get the most out of Intel Graphics. You can also qualify for up to a 50 percent rebate on the purchase of qualifying Intel processor-based computer systems for use in developing and tuning your applications.
- Market and Sell with co-branding and potential opportunities like web promotions, conference participation, success stories, and the Intel Developer Solutions Catalog. Generate demand for your products using tools and pre-built collateral provided by the program, and take advantage of Intel sales channels to build your market segment share.
Intel has an obvious interest in helping bring high-quality games to market that are optimized for best results on Intel Graphics, and we have built a large infrastructure around that effort that will help you be successful. These resources are there for the taking.
you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
Visit www.intel.com/partner/visualcomputing to get started.