Global Game Industry News Blog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thus an Experiment Begins: Programmer Art

I've been prototyping quite a few different game designs recently and have been struggling with not having place-holder graphics that give enough sense of the overall aesthetic of a game concept. Boxes, lines, and colors are useful to an extent, but I've wanted something more before I start recruiting people to help me out with the art side. Plus, there are all sorts of technological issues associated with transitioning to real art created by talented artists that are already taxed for time that I would rather not put off.

Thus, began my new experiment. I started thinking about how much time I invest in the tools that make me a better programmer, designer, writer, etc. What I realized was that I had not put much time or energy into the tools and software that I was using to create art. I use Mellel for writing, TextWrangler for many text editing things, Versions for SVN management, Omnigraffle for diagrams, Bookends for bibliographic and research material, Evernote for research and archival, ScreenFlow for software demonstrations, and even a special program for using Gmail, Twitter, etc. Now, I will cut myself a bit of slack, because I long ago invested in Pixelmator for image editing, but I use only a fraction of its capabilities.

So, I have begun testing out graphics creation and editing tools. Some for bitmap graphics, some for vector graphics, etc. But I've also invested in a small "Bamboo" Wacom tablet. It only makes sense to invest in my tools, right? I ought to pay as much attention to how I'm going about creating graphics as I'm going about selecting a new graphics library. So, I'm going to document the process here. Now of course, I'm tweaking things a bit here. Obviously based on the above software selection, you can tell I don't immediately go for the Microsoft/Adobe solutions, but I try to support independent developers first. Often I find much "sharper" tools as I term them.

So, first on the docket are a selection of indy graphics tools before I launch into those "other" programs, unless I find the cat's meow first!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Java? Really?

I recently came upon an article, "Java looked upon as the hottest prospect," to which I thought, "Java? Really?" In a world of AJAX, Ruby, Perl, Python, Lua, and numerous others, Java is still a topic? I know that Java is in wide use on the server side in many places and in many embedded devices like J2ME on cell phones. To quote the article:

Part of the reason, this person says, is that Oracle believes it can make far more from Java than Sun ever did. That is because Sun decided a decade ago virtually to give the software away to make sure it was widely adopted. Many of the Java licences - including one that Sun granted to Nokia - were for 10 years and come up for renewal next year, implying that, in future, Oracle will look to extract a higher price for the technology.

But, if the price is too high, many of these companies may go the way of Apple or Netbook makers and simply begin making devices closer to real computers. Then they can run Linux variants and full blown application development environments. Java was a magic platform bullet, that failed to really arrive, and even on J2ME devices platform variations plague development. What does Java really do that cannot be accomplished with the combination of other technologies? I don't think very much.

What really amazed me about the article was that the real punch line was left for the final paragraph of the article, a mistake that I beat out of my students early in their classes with me. Never, ever, hide the real punch line.

The final big software prize is MySQL, the open-source database program Sun bought last year for $1bn. Oracle's databases handle more massive workloads, but MySQL has been adopted rapidly by next-generation web companies looking to save on cost. With Oracle in charge of MySQL, it could reap revenue from related services contracts while ensuring that the programme does not develop into a more serious rival product.

Yes, MySQL is a much bigger prize than Java. Duh.