Today the Disney Wonder cruise ship is docked in Nassau, The Bahamas but the Foundations of Digital Games continues. I started the day with a keynote by a senior development manager from EA Sports. He talked about some of the future developments in game development as well as the technologies that they need people for their development.
He made a number of interesting comments. One of them that for game companies fun is the principal design criteria. Realism is important, accuracy of rendering is important, sticking to the rules is important but if compromises have to be made to make the game fun that is what “wins.” Some of the technical areas he said students need to learn are databases and networking. Graphics programming and artificial intelligence are still very important but the need for handling databases and networking is growing rapidly. He also talked about code optimizations. Or rather how difficult a problem that was and how their very best people were critical in solving those issues. Modern games are refreshing at a rate of 60 frames a second and it take very efficient code to make everything work in the short period allowed. My experience is that many students assume time and efficiency are not issues. Or at least not things they think are important.
One other huge take away I got from his talk was that they are looking for students who know how to learn quickly. They use multiple programming languages from low level assembly language up to high level languages like C#. People need to be able to work in the full range and pick up new things quickly.
After lunch I heard an interesting talk on women and girls in online gaming. I had heard that 70% of casual gamers (people who play casual games) were women. What I didn’t know was that there are a lot more virtual world games for children (especially teens) than I knew about. This virtual worlds, especially those aimed at tweens (10 to 13 year olds) were very much a girl’s environment – also about 70% girls. I really want to learn more about this.
Tonight I heard a talk on XNA 3.1. It’s now midnight and I’m really about to crash so I will be putting more information together on this soon. For now let me say that the avatar game usage for XBox Live games and the ability to play video inside of games looks interesting and exciting to me. I can see a lot of use for both. And I can see this sort of personalization of games will appeal to a lot of students.