The January 2011 issue of Game Developer
magazine, the sister print publication to Gamasutra and the leading U.S. trade publication for the video game industry, has shipped to print subscribers
and digital readers and is available from the Game Developer Digital service
in both subscription and single-issue
In the January issue's exclusive postmortem from Harmonix on key Kinect launch title Dance Central
, the studio describes the creation of a title for a new piece of hardware with a new user input paradigm.
"Given Dance Central's reliance on dance detection, Kinect's skeleton tracking was the key technology we needed to harness. Preliminary versions of the tracking pipeline were less precise and reliable than the final shipping system.
As we designed our user interface and dance choreography, we uncovered gestures and poses that were difficult for the early tracking to reliably detect.
Rather than putting development off while the tracking improved, we accepted the situation and tried, whenever possible, to handle noisy skeletal data and cases of skeleton 'crumpling' gracefully.
We also began investing in sophisticated in-game detection technology that could better handle the possibility of imperfect tracking.
Even as the Kinect skeletal tracking was refined to its more robust shipping state, we realized that this wasn't wasted work. Every Kinect game needs to handle cases where skeletal data isn't reliable (e.g. if the player drifts out of the sensor's field of view).
Dealing with the design ramifications of noisy and unreliable data early on helped us better understand the capabilities of the technology and mitigate risk."
In a bonus postmortem, seminal developer Yuji Naka and the Ivy the Kiwi?
team at Japanese developer Prope outlines how its newest game went from a minigame spawned by a new hire initiation, to a full-fledged product for Wii and DS.
"At Prope, every year, when we hire new employees we customarily divide them into teams and have them create a mini-game as one of their training exercises. The development period is one month and we set the platform as Wii, but other than that, each team is free to create any type of game they would like.
The planner at the time (who would become the director for Ivy the Kiwi?) had an idea to "create a game with a soft and squishy creature that you pinch and extend." On the other hand, the designer's idea was to create "a character that keeps running while the player creates clouds to prevent the character from falling."
Both staff members felt strongly about their ideas and didn't want to back down, so when they almost got into an argument, the programmer created a program that formed soft clouds, which later became the vines. It was his way of mediating the disagreement, but the program became the prototype for Ivy the Kiwi?"
As hardware evolves, so too must each established genre adapt itself to new platforms. In this issue, Rade Stojsavljevic, an original Command and Conquer
designer, discusses bringing the strategy genre to touch devices.
"There is so much room for innovative game design on mobile platforms. Shorter development schedules and relatively lower budgets compared to PC and console games allow designers to take more risks. Imagine a game based on Foursquare's location-based check-in model, where you capture and hold real territories for strategic gain in a version of an alternate reality game. How cool would it be if the entire world, via Google Maps, were your battlefield?"
This issue also features the recently revealed
winners of the 13th annual Front Line Awards, which present the best in game tools as voted on by the readers of Game Developer
and the game development community at large. Categories include art, audio, middleware, engine, programming, and networking tools - including detailed write-ups on each winner.
In addition, the January issue features our regular columnists and special guests from the forefront of the game biz, including Dave Mark, Kenneth Lammers, John Graham, Steve Theodore, Damion Schubert, Jesse Harlin, and Matthew Wasteland who contribute detailed and important pieces on various areas of game development.
Worldwide paper-based subscriptions to Game Developer magazine are currently available
at the official magazine website
, and the Game Developer Digital version of the issue is also now available
, with the site offering six months' and a year's subscriptions
, alongside access to back issues and PDF downloads of all issues, all for a reduced price. There is now also an opportunity to buy the digital version of January 2011s magazine as a single issue