Wednesday, February 27, 2013

VFX protest

VFX ProtestMaking visual effects for a movie is surprisingly similar to making a videogame: the workflow maps very closely, both need graphics engineers, modelers, animators, technical artists, producers, more or less the same process. Historically there has also been a fairly consistent exchange of professionals between the two in the last ten years. I've always looked very closely at the VFX industry to gauge what might happen to the Game Industry, for this reason the news of the VFX protest struck me pretty hard: it's about time there's a protest!

To cut a long story short, many of the visual-effects makers of Life of Pi, who made the creative vision of the award winning movie possible, were let go without compensation for them or their families.
These people are not cheap, they bring with themselves years of technical and artistic expertise that is extremely hard to build up, they work hard, long hours, weekends after weekends with the promise of a bonus after the project is done; a bonus that very rarely materialize. More often than not they are trimmed at the end, by a very competitive industry that is not sustainable in the long term.

Rings a bell? Yes, the same happens in the Game Industry.

Like the VFX industry, the Game Industry is very badly organized, with lousy project management demanding crunch time after crunch time even when all evidence accumulated in a hundred year of research on the matter suggest that it is counterproductive. And like in the VFX industry, workers are let go easily at the end of the project.

People working in the VFX industry and in the Game Industry need to draw a line in the sand, organize themselves and demand sustainable business that rewards who give life to the next Life of Pi or the next LA Noir.

How? Give me some feedback.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

XNA is dead - Oh noo!

Actually it's been dead for few weeks, but it took me some time to get over my mourning for what has probably been one of Microsoft's best ideas. The API was well thought, clear, nicely designed and, most of all, simple yet pretty versatile.

So they killed it.

I used to teach XNA Studio at the University back in Germany, my students loved it, I loved it because I could visually show interesting game programming concepts in a very slick environment that could target Windows, Xbox 360 and Windows Mobile, with some very good assets management for small games thrown in the mix. it was a great tool to learn game programming.

So they killed it.

I bet they needed resources to focus on Surface.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Playstation 4

And so Sony announced the Playstation 4. The first thought is that the cell processor wasn't that revolutionary after all. The second thought is that indeed the cell processor sucked precisely as foretold years ago. In fact they announced a PC.

The actual show was very much underwhelming, set aside Alex Evans who is always a sexy beast: Alex, I miss you and our late coding evenings and our chats at the hairdresser in Guildford, my man... I don't miss the english rain though.

But the really scary thought is that my Macbook here will outperform this PC, i mean, this console. My iPad will almost as well.

I must not mention Apple on this blog... I must not mention Apple here...

My biggest hope is that Sony doesn't go bankrupt after launching the PS4, cause I have almost 10.000$ invested in Sony photographic gear: I love my A99V and my Zeiss lenses, please Sony, don't die.

Monday, February 18, 2013

In a galaxy far far away...

... I moved to California to work for Apple more than a year ago, which partially explains the total lack of content in the blog for quite a long time. It also means I don't make games anymore, so writing about games making hasn't felt so pressing for a while. This begs the question: what am I working on now? I can't tell you. Apple wouldn't be Apple if I could happily spill my guts on any blog and tell you exactly what I'm doing. All I can say about my job (aside the fact that it is by far the best job I've ever had) is that my office has no window. Nada, zero, not a single ray of light can penetrate inside (or come out, what interests the most whoever designed the building).

On top of changing job, country, continent, I got married last year with an awesome woman, +Lina Mosashvili.

Better photographic proofs of the event are available on request, including a video that shows my skills in dancing traditional georgian dances. Quiet a feat.

After such a plethora of information that have nothing at all to do with game programming, the second burning question of the post is: will I keep writing about making videogames? Most probably not, but changing the name of the blog is not an option (too lazy), but I can probably still write about software engineering in a more general, and synthetic, way... and, no, I will not write anything about Apple.

One more thing, I opened, together with my better half, a Fine Art Print online store with a collection of my best photographic work: having been a graphics programmer for so long, I wanted to remain somehow in the field. Somehow. Click on the photo and give it a look, there's some good stuff.