Breaking Radio Silence

I’m clearly not good about updating this blog on a regular basis, but I’ll keep trying to get things rolling until they stick.

For today, a quick post to break radio silence. An article just went up at Industry Gamers discussing how to get the most out of your middleware purchases. I contributed to this article along with others from Emergent’s engineering team, so go over and check it out. Overall, I think it’s a really good set of tips, but I wanted to add one from the engineering team’s list that I think is really important.

  • Judge the features it has not the features it promises. The previous tip noted that a good middleware relationship allows you to provide input for future development. This tip says that you shouldn’t count on that for anything critical to your title. Middleware developers have a plan and a roadmap, but that plan can and will change. If you need a feature for a game, make sure it’s in the current version of the middleware you’re looking at or currently in development. If plans change with your middleware provider, you’ll be left holding the bag for development which adds cost and goes back to the first point.

This is a really important tip, but I can see why it’s not in the top ten list. There’s a lot of nuance here. As a middleware provider, we really want to be responsive to our customers. We try our best to adapt and get items developed that they need. At the same time, we’re juggling a huge number of issues ranging from feature input from dozens of clients to more mundane testing and distribution issues internally. Items on roadmaps slip out in time, and they shift as more customers request different things. Because of this, I really recommend that developers look at and value a middleware company’s roadmap, but I recommend they value current and in development features significantly higher. You have to be really careful if your game is counting on mission critical pieces that exist only on a roadmap. i.e., You may need to spend your own resources on them.

Oh, by the way, Gamebryo LightSpeed 3.1 went gold yesterday. 🙂 dba

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