Game Development Reference
includes the selection of compilers, engines, middleware, databases, servers, editors,
drivers, common code libraries, and reuse of code from previously developed games.
During the project, the development lead provides technical direction and assistance
to other programmers when needed, and represents the development team in planning
and status meetings, including participation on the project's Change Control Board.
On smaller game development teams, the development lead is also responsible for
developing some of the code.
Development engineers are also referred to as programmers or developers. They pro-
duce the code that the testers test. Their job involves translating the concepts, ele-
ments, and story of the game into programming language code. This code is subse-
quently converted by the build process into information that gets stored and execut-
ed on the target game device.
Development engineers make or break the game. The code has to fit within a certain
budget, use a limited amount of working memory while the game is running, and be
able to have enough performance to make things such as user input responses and
animations flow smoothly.
A programmer's code also has to fit within a certain environment or framework that
the development team is using. The environment may include elements such as a
game engine —which follows defined rules for automating the processing of certain
game elements—and middleware —which provides a common interface to certain
game functions so the same code can be moved from one platform to another with-
out loss of function and/or performance. Programmers also have to deal with operat-
ing systems, device drivers, and communications protocols for multiplayer games.
Those each have their own complexities and pitfalls.
Programmers may also be involved in the porting of game code from one platform to
another. Certain portions of the code should remain the same, whereas others must
be changed to accommodate differences in the new platform. Porting from Xbox to
PC may not be so difficult because of the platform similarities in terms of operating
system and underlying DirectX APIs. However, the PC version needs to account for a
variety of screen resolutions, graphics cards, installed memory, audio devices, and
input devices. Going from Xbox to PS2 would provide a different set of challenges,
and porting a PC or console game such as True Crime: Streets of LA to a mobile or
handheld device may turn into a brand new design and development effort.