By Simon Truempler
People say game developers work in windowless rooms, have no social contacts to speak of, and know women only from hearsay. Every single one of them bridges the 4 inch distance to the screen with 2 inch bifocals – thanks to good ol’ Franklin.
With that tool developers may not only glance efficiently from screen to pulp to computer mags, oh no, their hands have to leave the keyboard only to push a piece of pizza into the gaping hole in their face.
This efficiency is incredibly important, because it’s a well known fact that everybody involved in the production of a game is a programmer.
The game designers program the game’s story. The graphic artists program the graphics. The programmers write green code, which runs down on the screen, and even the marketing department programs ads for games mags, movie theatres and TV like mad.
Entering the industry, however, I realized that some rather unimportant details of this image don’t exactly match reality.
In “real life” (“RL”, as pros call it) my name is Simon TrÃ¼mpler. In a few days, I’ll be on this planet for 23 years, seven months of which I’ve spent here at Studio II in Aachen. Before I came here I spent two years studying at the Games Academy, where I learnt how to “program” graphics. Well, at least that’s what my friends think – when they tell people what I’m doing, they say, “He programs graphics!”
Like every morning, I enter the “basement” a few minutes before 9 a.m. today. Strictly speaking, it’s the ground floor of a house, and it’s still getting better! In a few days the entire company will move in the fourth floor of a new office building – so much for “windowless rooms.”
So, as I enter my familiar working environment, two ladies welcome me. They didn’t get lost or anything, they’re just interns. Plus another lady, whose creativity is unfortunately impaired by flu at the moment. So much for “knowing women only from hearsay.”
I remove my MPEG-1 audio layer 3 player from my ears, and music no longer fills me with joy – time to start working.
At the moment I’m working on dragon statues, which means that I make a rough sketch of their shape, take our dragon, put it into the right pose, model a highly detailed pedestal for it, model a less detailed version, transfer the details of the high-poly model to the low-poly model, draw a texture for it, and test everything in the model viewer. When everything is done, we add the collision geometry, sort of a simpler version of the original, which you can’t actually see in the game. Still, you’d notice if it were missing, because you could simply walk through an object that lacks collision geometry.
My tool for all of that is a 3D program called 3D Studio Max. However, I create the texture with good ol’ Photoshop. Contrary to what people close to me believe, I don’t just enter “> make.exe -3dmodel -cool” in the computer. So much for “He programs graphics!”
To pass the time in between I check whether some weapons match their criteria. Tasks like that are not particularly creative or enjoyable, but they have to be dealt with. The same goes for creating creative content for the game, which is also not always fun. You need a lot of technical know-how to build an up-to-date model.
I used to think that you just draw some sort of character, put it into the game somehow and it all kind of works out. But it’s not really that easy.
In the meantime I check out the Sacred 2 website, and there you go: new Shadow Warrior screenshots!
Now this character, which has seen almost as many name changes as Duke Nukem Forever has seen production years (okay, not possible, I exaggerate), makes his big entry.
My favorite screenshot is the second one! Next to the Shadow Warrior, the hellhound and some cool weapons (and cool they are indeed, I check many of them for errors, so I should know) there’s that training doll. I love it! I’d love to play Sacred with it! 😉
After my work is done I get the latest version of Sacred from the server and have a look at what’s new.
Having had the original Sacred pre-ordered I know that the retail version was a bit on the unreliable side in the stability department.
But playing Sacred 2 I have to say that it plays like a breeze.
My favorite feature is the bumble bee. In addition to the sounds of wind, NPC’s, myself etc. from time to time, there’s the sound of a bumble bee. It just comes along and buzzes off again – it makes me smile every time, and I almost love it even more than the training doll! 🙂
Later on I join some colleagues and friends to go for a swim. So much for “no social contacts!” 🙂
To be continued…
Last Updated: March 26, 2008