Today's Gamasutra feature is Game Developer magazine's 2008 Front Line Awards honoring the year's best game tools.
As part of the Awards, which has finalists chosen by open nomination and winners decided by game developer voting, industry notables like game designer Noah Falstein and Venture Arctic
creator Andy Schatz share their experiences
working with the winning products.
As one of the write-ups showcased this year, Sega Studios' Jeremy Gordon and Michael Boccieri praise this year's middleware winner, Havok Physics, for its solid codebase and Havok's commitment to providing real value and support to its clients.
"Real value is a company that delivers a solid middleware solution and continues to update it with developer-requested features. It's a mindset of getting to know your clients' products and their product goals, and aligning middleware roadmaps toward providing them with their most-important features wherever possible.
It's providing responsive and thorough developer support when bugs do arise, and a dedication to providing solutions quickly and efficiently. It's continued expansion of Havok Physics' integrated product set, with new modules like Havok Behavior and Havok Destruction seamlessly integrating with the core Physics SDK; modules created based on cross-discipline developer feedback, and expanded and refined with an eye towards versatility and ease-of-use."
In addition, Pocketwatch Games (Wildlife Tycoon: Venture Africa
) founder Andy Schatz discusses engine winner Torque Game Engine Advanced 1.7.1 from GarageGames and its growth from a product originally targeting hobbyist developers, to an emerging player in the field of major game engines:
"I've personally used the Torque line of products since I quit my mainstream game programming job four years ago and went indie.
Over that time, Torque has evolved from a somewhat clunky and underpowered 3D engine to a framework that supports the Xbox 360, Wii, PC, Mac, and iPhone and sports many of the bells and whistles that make Unreal and other high-end engines cost a million dollars.
But in stark contrast to those high-end engines, TGEA costs under 300 dollars. And over the past four years the engine has evolved: it's not just for indies anymore."
Finally, Noah Falstein, whose credits include arcade classic Sinistar
and LucasArts' Indiana Jones
titles, congratulates Jesse Schell for his book, The Art of Game Design, which was designed as an entire course in how to be a game designer:
"The very structure of the book serves as an object lesson in interactive design. Its subtitle 'a book of lenses' is not just a promotional phrase, but rather says a lot about how Jesse thinks about the meta-process of game design.
He uses the term lens metaphorically, as a way of looking at a game and asking questions to help analyze it. He includes 100 lenses he uses in the book, with names like Fun, Surprise, Flow, Chance, Emergence, Puzzle, Beauty, Client, Pitch, Technology, and many more.
This philosophical approach captures in concrete form an intangible truth about the essence of game design."
You can read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, which includes more in-depth comments from industry figures on this year's 2008 Front Line Awards winners (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).