Feature: 'High Moon Shining: Inside Sierra's San Diego Outpost'

Best known for vampire Western Darkwatch, now working on The Bourne Conspiracy, and with a history that includes Sammy, Sega, independence, and now Sierra ownership, Gamasutra tours San Diego-based High Moon Studios to quiz its execs on its
As part of the growth of its games division, Vivendi Universal acquired Darkwatch developer High Moon Studios early last year. The studio underwent some transition before reaching its present circumstances; after starting out as pachinko giant Sammy's development arm prior to the merger with Sega, High Moon transitioned to an independent studio before settling in with Sierra. On its studio tour, Gamasutra got an in-depth look at the company's tools, techniques, strategy and inspiration, as the studio preps for The Bourne Conspiracy. Clinton Keith, who currently heads High Moon's technical department, overseeing research and development of next-generation game engines, talked about keeping up on tools: "This is the problem -- one of the things that I like to have for tools is the source code, so that we can modify it for our own particular needs. This is one of the biggest lessons we learned in going to Unreal 3. I like Unreal 3 -- it's gone through a lot of changes, and it's now stabilized -- but any kind of tool or engine that you buy off the shelf has some assumptions built in, in terms of the workflow. Unreal 3's power is in its tools, but those tools are built based on the philosophy of how their level designers and artists build levels. If you go into that with a different approach... you'll have a learning curve to overcome." In the comprehensive interview, Keith also discussed Xbox 360 and PS3: "We've achieved parity between them, but it's not like you can hit a button and all of a sudden it's working the same. The development environment, in terms of Unreal 3, is fastest on PC. It's easier to get that moved over and debugged on the Xbox 360. And we have to keep an eye on the PS3, because the Xbox 360 does a lot of things that really slow down the PS3. It doesn't mean that you can't do it on the PS3, it just means that you have to do it in a different way." You can now read the full feature, with more of Keith's industry perspectives and development methods (no reg. required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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