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Game Tech Leadership Summit
December 2 - 3

Next generation games are among the most complicated pieces of software currently
under development. Managing such development from conception to completion is
the demanding job of the Tech Lead, the linchpin of modern game development. To succeed, a Tech Lead must possess a comprehensive view of the engine, gameplay code, and tool chain. Leads must make fundamental decisions that shape the development process for both the programmers and the artists.

Day 1: Engine and Tool Chain Case Studies

We look in depth at the engines, tool chains and development processes behind ambitious games. Speakers analyze design decisions, show details of the final design, and discuss their plans for the next game, based on experience gained.

Half-Life 2 by Jay Stelly, Valve
9:15am to 10:15am (1 hour): Lecture
10:15am to 10:45am (30 minutes): Q&A

Halo 2 by Chris Butcher, Bungie
11:00am to 12:00pm (1 hour): Lecture
12:00pm to 12:30pm (30 minutes): Q&A

Lunch and presentation sponsored by ATI Technologies Inc.
Data Amplification for Next-Gen Platforms
12:30pm to 2:00pm (1.5 hours)
Jason Mitchell of ATI will discuss issues facing developers targeting next-generation platforms which have extremely high compute power and relatively low memory. These platforms will require a high amount of data amplification through clever instancing and procedural synthesis techniques. This talk will address general issues and discuss specific applications such as water synthesis and animation.

Stranger's Wrath by Charles Bloom, Oddworld Inhabitants
2:00pm to 3:00pm (1 hour): Lecture
3:00pm to 3:30pm (30 minutes): Q&A

The Sims 2 by Andrew Willmott, Maxis
3:30pm to 4:30pm (1 hour): Lecture
4:30pm to 5:00pm (30 minutes): Q&A

Dinner sponsored by Intel
Challenges and Opportunities for Multi-threading in Next-gen Game Titles (Panel Discussion)
5:30pm to 7:00pm (1.5 hours)

Day 2: Wrangling Technical Constraints

Tech Leads grapple with many competing concerns, often implementing specific technical features that constrain the rest of the engine and the content pipeline. How do we keep these constraints from piling into an unmanageable mess? How do we minimize the creation of these constraints to begin with?

Designing and Evaluating Reusable Code
Casey Muratori, Molly Rocket
9:15am to 10:15am (1 hour): Lecture
10:15am to 10:35am (20 minutes): Q&A
Most theory about code re-use turns out to be wrong when applied to game engines. This lecture will present insights gleaned from five years of designing code used across several hundred games.

Building a Reusable System for Patching Console Games without Local Storage
Ken Demarest, Eidos Interactive
10:40am to 11:40am (1 hour): Lecture
11:40am to 12:00pm (20 minutes): Q&A
Such a patching system places constraints on the whole project. How does this affect the way the data files and executable are structured? How do we minimize interference with the development process?

Digital Asset Management
Lunch sponsored by Sony Computer Entertainment America
12:00pm to 1:30pm (1.5 hours)

Physics Data Definition, Standardization, and Scripting
John Ratcliff, Ageia
1:30pm to 2:00pm (30 minutes): Lecture
2:00pm to 2:20pm (20 minutes): Q&A
The Open Dynamics Framework (ODF) presents a unified data model and virtual interface for rigid body physics. It should provide a mapping to every physics middleware vendor and, at the same time, extensions for vendor specific properties. Additionally, ODF presents tools with features such as the auto-generation of dynamics models and the ability to perform real-time interactive physics scripting. ODF is an open-source project that is free for use in both commercial and non-commercial products. It comprises a demo application as well as a set of plug-in DLL components, including an exporter for 3D Studio Max. The primary goal of the Open Dynamics Framework is to provide a unified data exchange model for rigid body physics by engaging the development community in an open source effort and forming partnerships with major tools vendors.

Things to Worry About When Using a Physics Engine
Brian Sharp
2:20pm to 2:40pm (20 minutes): Lecture
2:40pm to 3:10pm (30 minutes): Q&A
Physics has existed as a major subsystem in game engines for a long time, but now with the advent of more realistically-simulated rigid body physics, physics interacts with the rest of your engine in more widespread, less constrained ways than ever before. We'll discuss ways that physics tends to interact with major engine subsystems and how this affects management and team collaboration. What subtleties can you expect? What other interactions might you not be prepared for?

Robust State Recording and Playback as a Debugging Tool
Jonathan Lindo and Jeff Daudel, Replay Solutions
3:10pm to 3:50pm (40 minutes): Lecture
3:50pm to 4:10pm (20 minutes): Q&A
One of the biggest impediments to debugging is the difficulty of reproducing the bug. If we can record and play back the state of the game, this problem is greatly reduced. But building a robust and general playback system is difficult, and new issues arise as we move to the next generation of machine architectures, which rely increasingly on parallelism. How do we deal with these issues?





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