Game Development for Gamers #1 – First Day in the Office

Although this marks the first post in what will hopefully be an interesting, compelling, mysterious, exciting, breathtaking, daring and life-threatening series, my first day in the office as a game developer is by no means the real beginning.

I have roughly noted that I’ve been working for the studio for 1 year and 3 months without making an income (ouch), and I am by no means the longest serving or highest contributing member. As the weather and my melanin-deprived skin type will attest to though, I am the most sunburnt.

Assyria Game Studio Office

The first day in the office represents a massive step in development terms for my colleagues and me; it allows us to be taken much more seriously by the industry. We’re no longer just a bunch of students trying to work together from home with the University labs as an essential crutch to stand up on, but instead a unified work force in a smart office, complete with spinning chairs and a freakin’ sweet banner.

To begin with though, there’s a hitch.

Through Teesside University, all the artists (including myself) are competent with Autodesk 3DS Max – a piece of software used to create, texture and animate almost anything you’ll see in a game, from street alleyways with exploding barrels to ample-breasted heroines. Retailing at about £3000 per license, we needed a cheaper alternative, and that approximately £500 alternative was Luxology Modo.


On the left is a selection of buttons taken from Modo’s interface, and on the right are Max’s equivalent buttons for the same functions: creating simple primitive shapes, cubes, cones and so on. Primitives are very useful objects to begin creating from and layout basic geometry, but already one piece of software is looking more compact, visual and friendly.

And perhaps most strikingly, when it comes to selecting, manipulating and editing those precious polygons, these are the toolbars used to access these options from Modo…

Modo Toolbars

…and here is Max’s giant sliding menu…

Max Menu

Although it’s a struggle grasping a new and different interface, I’m finding Modo more intuitive. The first time I used Max I felt overwhelmed by walls of text. While Modo is offering most of the same functionality to meet the same ends, it’s broken down into smaller, separated menus; it’s a simple and probably pedantic difference, but something I feel would make a noticeable positive learning experience to a first-time user.

So that’s my introduction, from now on through Game Development for Gamers, I want to show you simple methods game artists use to create what you see on a screen without falling into ‘tutorial’ territory. Maybe you’ll learn something you didn’t know before, and maybe what you’ll learn will be interesting. Fingers crossed, eh?







7 responses to “Game Development for Gamers #1 – First Day in the Office”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    Can you give us helpful hints to make a fun game, really cheaply, really quickly, and make millions from it. I’ll be waiting for that lesson. 😀

    How did the name Assyria come about?

  2. Darach avatar

    It was an early Mesopotamian culture, wasn’t it? 🙂

    Nice blog Em. 🙂
    *wants to know how they make the magic pictures move* 🙂

  3. theBlackHalo avatar

    If you’re going for cheap, Blender’s cheap, free in fact. But no way near as intuitive as Modo, I think on my 14th attempt at getting to know Blender’s interface I finally got somewhere, even if it is baby steps.

    From what I’ve seen of Modo it does look quite intriguing, I believe it’s made by the core engineers of Lightwave? A package many modellers still swear by out there. A past colleague of mine reckoned Modo would take the throne of Max and Maya, with it being £2500 cheaper and a solid looking package he may on to something!! Perhaps Autodesk will aquisition Luxology too knowing them… who knows…

    Thanks for sharing, I totally forgot about Modo until I stumbled upon your post.

  4. Michael avatar

    You got a history buff in your ranks, Emily? But, aye, why that name in particular? Darach is correct about the culture. It was also a place from where that culture came. Naturally. 🙂

    I’m very intrigued by all this… 😀

  5. Emily avatar

    I think “Assyria” was the first game the original team members started developing, but nothing commericial came of it (not yet, anyway!)

    Also, Assyria were totally the best race to play as in Age of Empires, with the fastest bow fire rate 🙂

  6. MarkuzR avatar

    I almost envy what you’re doing… I spent most of my youth immersed in the world of 3D modelling when the most advanced (or recognised) software was Lightwave or Imagine. I lost my way somewhere and haven’t touched it again in more than 15 years… sad. Best of luck with it 🙂

  7. Lorna avatar

    Wow, I wish you all the best Emily and I very much look forward to reading more tales from the developing front! I think intimidating looking interfaces can be an off putting barrier for people interested in leanrning something new. Looks like you really fell on your feet with this 🙂

    (am also jealous of your skill, guts, and gaming entrepreneurship!)

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