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Dolby posted 3/26 at 11:24:57 PM PST by Dave Astle

I sat down with the head of developer relations for Dolby to talk about what they're doing for developers. First of all, I want to say that I'm really impressed with the approach they take. They understand that if games use their technology to make the games more immersive, then gamers are going to want to buy Dolby-enabled products. Accordingly, they're willing to provide training and other support at no charge, as well as not requiring developers to pay a licensing fee to use their technology.

They pointed out that many games are distinguishing themselves by taking advantage of Dolby 5.1, using its surround sound features to add to the gameplay. They pointed out Halo as one example, which received the GDCA aware for Excellence in Audio.

The XBox, of course, supports 5.1 natively. Dolby also provided the technology for the XBox to enconde and decode sounds in real-time, without incurring a performance hit.

Dolby also announced ProLogic 2 for the Playstation 2 at the GDC. This allows PS2 developers to take advantage of surround sound immediately, usually requiring no code changes.

Dolby has gained wide support from developers over the past year, and based on how willing they are to help developers use their technology, if you're working for a game developer that doesn't use Dolby, it's time to make some changes.

For more information, visit http://www.dolby.com

Epic posted 3/28 at 7:28:20 AM PST by Dave Astle


One of the coolest things we do each year is meet with the guys from Epic, who show us the latest Unreal tech. This year was no exception.

While we were waiting, we ran into Cliff Bleszinski, who was more than happy to take a photo with our little plastic buddy Steve. And he was only a little suspicious of our motives ("You guys are going to use this to make fun of me, aren't you?").

The tech demo they showed us was really, really impressive. Some of the more noticable things:

  • The outdoor scenes were stunning, with realistic vegetation and large environments.
  • They've added the ability for a model to lip synch to any sound file. They showed it handling phrases in several different languages, and the lip motion looked dead on.
  • They've also integrated Mathengine's Karma technology, for physics simulation. Using UnrealEd, adding physics behavior to an object is really simple.
  • The attention to detail is stunning. In one scene, a soldier ripped off the arm of another soldier, and proceeded to beat him to death with it. As he did so, the other soldier's face bloodied, and blood started running off and across the surface of the water in which they were fighting. Okay, this is a little on the violent side, but the point is, it all looked very good.(I liked this so much that I asked to see it again after the presentation was over. They were more than happy to oblige.-TAN)
  • UnrealEd is unbelieveably powerful. The demo started with them showing us a film which lasted for about 10 minutes. The film looked almost pre-rendered, but it was done in real-time. The "film" was created over the span of a couple of days using UnrealEd. It's probably the most powerful editor I've seen.

We'd like to thank the guys at Epic for inviting us, and look forward to meeting with them again.

NXN posted 3/27 at 2:08:41 PM PST by Dave Astle

Eric Schumacher of NxN and Erica Bliss of Bender/Helper Impact (and Steve and I, of course)

NXN are the creators of NXN alienbrain, which they describe as a Digital Production Management system. Honestly, going into the meeting, I only had a vague understanding of what NXN alienbrain is, although I knew that it provides version control for media assets in addition to source code.

Version control was the first thing we talked about. You can use NXN alienbrain to manage any asset you'd use in a game, from source code, to 3D models, to levels, to sound files. From what I've heard from developers who are using NXN alienbrain, it compares very well feature-wise with other version control solutions. One nice thing is that NXN has worked with other companies to allow close integration with various middleware packages. For example, in Criterion's Renderware Studio, you can directly add assets which are stored in NXN alienbrain.

The second aspect of NXN alienbrain which we discussed was its project management features. You can use alienbrain to assign tasks to team members, and then track their progress. For example, you could assign an artist to create a particular level, and then follow their progress, including being able to check out the level as it progresses.

The asset and project management features of NXN alienbrain, combined with the fact that it can be used by remote groups over the Internet, make it an ideal solution for many companies. I think that especially some independent developers, who work as "virtual teams", would benefit from it (although the price tag will put it beyond the reach of groups that have not already had some degree of financial success).

For more information about NXN alienbrain, check out www.nxn-software.com. Also, NXN has generously agreed to provide us with a complete NXN alienbrain setup so that we can thoughoughly test it and provide a complete review, so be sure to check back over the next couple of months.