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Globalizing Production for the Future


September 23, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6
 

Sharing and Reuse of Technologies

Many engines, including many popular middleware engines, are not structured in a modular or componentized structure, making it really hard to work on a single system or part of the game in isolation. In order for really great Production Globalization to work, it will probably take some minor to major changes in your technology and engine structuring.

However, once accomplished, and once you have your technology modularized, it will significantly help everyone on the team, whether you are globalizing your production or not. The point being is that it is critical to your long term success if you develop your technologies in a way which lets many different people work on parts of it, without needing access to or even knowledge of the entire engine and game.

Longer term, you will also come to realize that we also need to move away from being a technology driven industry, and become much more of a content driven industry. In the film industry, if you talk to the leading technical directors at major companies like Pixar, ILM, and Dreamworks, you will find that not only do they all share code, but they get together and meet regularly on how to standardize their technologies.

They don't want to have to re-invent their lighting model for each project, let alone re-invent the cameras too. In games, we like to re-invent things far too much, and must begin to move away from that in many cases.

Now, understandably for games, unlike films, having a technology advantage over your competition can be a huge advantage, so sharing every core algorithm with each other isn't feasible. However, this doesn't mean that tools and core concepts can't be shared, while maintaining some competitive advantages.

We also can't underestimate how critical it is to standardize your toolset. Unreal Editor 3 is very popular, not just because it is good, but because many designers know it. Being able to hire designers and others and have them get up to speed quickly saves everyone time and money in the long run. Artists have been mostly able to standardize on 3DSMax and Maya, which grown more similar each year, but designers and programmers still need to continually relearn everything half the time (or most of the time) they switch projects or companies, which hurts everyone.

This also means that we need to be okay with reusing our technologies. We've already seen a lot more reliance on middleware, which can be a very positive trend. However, I know many companies that allow their internal teams to use any technologies they like, and even change their technologies significantly from one project to the next, even when doing what should be a simple sequel.

So, until we can break from some of our technical bad habits, it will still significantly hold us back at many levels in many of our projects. It will be impossible to quickly bring on external designers and programmers, unless you use some kind of industry standard.

Re-Building Your Process

In order to understand how to globalize your production process, you need to:

  • Honestly evaluate all aspects of your company.
  • Understand what resources internally and externally you have access to.
  • Understand the risks of different production models.

So now that you have an idea of what Globalizing your team is about, and why it is important, you're probably asking "How do I do it?" In future articles I will get into more details on exactly this, but for now, you need evaluate your team and project and create a plan for them including:

  • Evaluate which team members are used during which part of the development process and for what capacity and decide which roles aren't needed regularly enough.
  • Determine where your current team's weaknesses are.
  • Build a plan for modularizing your technology, and improving your technology process to ensure that outside teams can utilize it.
  • Evaluate teams worldwide and begin to build relationships with other companies who you might be able to outsource to, and ultimately who you trust.
  • Determine what parts of your development process work, and which could be improved -- and then determine if they can be improved by using outside help.
  • Analyze the risks in production pipeline, and create a risk analysis for them, weighing what options you have to minimize the risks (and cost) associated with each one.

Depending on how much you want to change your process, these may only be the first steps in understanding how to improve your process.

Conclusion

No matter what you think about the idea of adapting globalization within your production process, hopefully you are being smart and at least now evaluating how you are working, and how it is working for you.

Globalization may not be for everyone, but for most typical game developers it could mean the difference of staying in business or going under do to cost overruns and other issues during your game development.

No matter what you do however, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself and your team about what really needs to happen, and then create a plan to try and make it happen over time. The industry can't shift its paradigms overnight, but this change will happen, one day soon. Will you be ready?


Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

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