November 11, 2004

Game development: Harder than you think

Writing about web page http://acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=114&page=1

This article is a really interesting primer on why writing video games is so much harder now than it was ten or fifteen years ago. Some interesting insights into the relatively poor fit of compilers and profilers to games development, and the pain associated with the build-and-test cycle for modern games. But as a games developer from many years ago, the bit that really made me wince was this:-

A programmer just isn't going to be competent in a modern game without a decent grasp of basic linear algebra, as well as geometry in 2D and 3D. We often use 4D representations for basic operations (4D homogeneous coordinates for general linear transformations, and the quaternions to represent rotations) so the ability to reason about higher dimensions is extremely useful. Basic calculus is necessary for all kinds of simulation and rendering tasks. For many rendering tasks, signal-processing mathematics is very important – both linear signal processing as well as the murkier study of spherical harmonics. For any kind of sophisticated simulation, you'll want experience with numerical analysis and differential forms.

Ouch.


- 3 comments by 3 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Steven Carpenter

    ..or do what most publishers do these days; buy your physics and rendering engines in and stretch 10 unimaginative games out of them.

    11 Nov 2004, 22:21

  2. John Dale

    Sure, but as the article says, it's (a) expensive ($300K minimum for the Quake 3 engine?), (b) you have to understand a reasonable amount of the maths to know how to use the engine, and (c) you'll almost certainly spend a large part of your development effort rewriting, disabling or working around those parts of the engine that don't suit.

    11 Nov 2004, 22:25

  3. Chris May

    I read somewhere that Doom 3 required something like 500,000 lines of script code to automate the graphics processing apps (e.g. Maya). That's before you've even written a line of the actual game itself. Can't help thinking that there's a market out there for better tooling…

    11 Nov 2004, 22:33


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