Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans’ Day

I would like to thank those Veterans close to my family and me:
  • Roland F. Chapman (Grandfather -b1910-d1987 - Navy)
  • Robert D. Boss (Dad - Navy)
  • Michael J. Boss-Hill (Brother – Air Force)
  • Stephan J. Hill (Step Dad – Navy)
  • Fredrick R. Chapman (Uncle – Army)
  • Mark Hanson (Uncle – Navy)
  • David Bishop (Navy)
  • Charles W. Hobbs (Navy)
  • Dawn Meiers (Navy)
  • Chuck Norris (Navy)
  • Arthur Pignataro (Army)
  • Dodd Schock (Navy)
  • Ronald Steele (Navy)
  • Rick Kolde (Navy)
Active Duty:
  • Kevin P. Boss-Hill (Brother – Marines)
There are many more in all of our lives.  Thanks to you all.
Till next time…

Friday, November 06, 2009

Industry Shake-Up?

Some of you know that I work in the Video Game industry.  See my last post.  I do not work for a company that makes games.  I work for a company that makes what is called a “Game Engine”.  If you are not a gamer you have no idea what i am talking about.  If you are a gamer then you are familiar with the term. The company I work for is called Emergent Game Technologies.

Yesterday, another game engine maker Epic (Makers of the Unreal Engine), decided to offer part of their engine to developers for free.  Yes, that’s what i said, for free.  Most around the office here, upon hearing the news, were a little pissed off.  But then most of us started to really look at the announcement to try to understand what it meant to Epic (the makers of Unreal) and to us as a game engine company.
What does this mean to Epic?
    1. Sales leads
    2. Sales leads
    3. Sales leads
When you download the engine from Epic, you supply all the standard info.  Epic then follows your progress. 

Then there is the gotcha.
    • No Support - To quote Epic directly "Epic Games, Inc. will not be providing direct support for this product. "
    • If you develop an internal application, you pay Epic $2500 per seat, per year.  To quote Epic directly "If you are using UDK internally within your business and the application created using UDK is not distributed to a third party (i.e., someone who is not your employee or subcontractor), you are required to pay Epic an annual license fee of $2,500 (US) per installed UDK developer seat per year."   Did I say free above?
    • If you develop a game and that game is sold with revenues greater than $5000, you pay Epic $99 plus 25% of your revenue.  To quote Epic directly "If you are creating a game or commercial application using UDK for sale or distribution to an end-user or client, or if you are providing services in connection with a game or application, the per-seat option does not apply. Instead the license terms for this arrangement are US $99 (Ninety Nine US Dollars) up-front, and a 0% royalty on you or your company's first   $5,000 (US) in UDK related revenue, and a 25% royalty on UDK related revenue above $5,000 (US).  UDK related revenue includes, but is not limited to, monies earned from: sales, services, training, advertisements, sponsorships, endorsements, memberships, subscription fees, rentals and pay-to-play." Did I say free above?
    • Only available for PC development.  If you want consoles, you pay Epic their normal price for the engine.  Did I say free above?
So, to my untrained eye, what this means is Epic will get money from you some way or another. This is great for Epic. A smart move. You could basically say that this is just a glorified, extended evaluation of the product. A single AAA license that comes from this move could mean Epic brings in a half million dollars. And that is conservative.

This is not necessarily great for game developers. It limits their choice because they will immediately go for FREE. I equate this to Microsoft offering Internet Explorer for free back in the 90s. I started using it, because it was free. But, the industry paid for it in the long run. Now we have less choice. Sure there is Firefox and Chrome. but those are relatively recent. It took a long time for competition to get were they needed to be to break Microsoft’s hold on the market. They are still trying.

What does this mean for Emergent Game Technologies?  We differentiate ourselves in a couple of ways.
  1. Our support to customers and evaluators is second to none.  Does Not Change!
  2. Our product, Gamebryo LightSpeed, addresses the rapid proto-typing, rapid iteration areas of game development like no other product. Does Not Change!
  3. Sales – This is the change – We now have to address the gap.  Those startups looking to evaluate an engine that will grab the first one they can get their hands on.  I can assure you, our Sales and Marketing Team is already implementing a strategy that addresses this space.
Will Emergent become the Netscape of game engines and fade away into (made with Gamebryo) Oblivion? I wouldn’t count on it.  Will Epic continue to dominate the market and grow market share?  In the short term, yes.  But who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Till next time…

Friday, October 23, 2009

What do i really do?

So, over the past few weeks my organization has been going through lots of restructuring and planning.  It occurred to me that a lot of my readers don’t know exactly what it is I do at my 9 to 5.  One of the exciting things the organization I work for is going to be doing in the next couple of weeks and months is expanding its presence online via blogs and youtube videos etc.  the idea is to generate a little excitement about what we are doing leading up to the most important industry event of the year.  So in that vain, let me introduce myself:

My name is Robert David Boss Jr.  Everyone calls me David.  In college I was mostly called “R.D.”  I am married to a wonderful woman named Holly and have two of the smartest, loving, caring children in the world (every parent should feel this way.)  I am originally from the Northeast but call Raleigh/Durham, Triangle area of North Carolina home.

My Work:
I work for a company called Emergent Game Technologies.  I am the Development Technology Manager and IT Manager.  “What the heck does that mean?” you may ask.  Well I have two main areas of responsibility.  First, I am in charge of the group responsible for building and packaging my company’s product, Gamebryo LightSpeed.  Second, I am responsible for IT.  This combination may not make the most sense in some folks eyes but within Emergent, it is related in so many ways.  Mostly in the area of networking and server hardware.  Because we are not a large company, these duties overlap much more than one might think.

What is Emergent Game Technologies?
from Emergent’s web site:  Emergent Game Technologies has one goal: innovation in game development. We provide game developers with all the tools they need to make games that break new ground in every field: graphics, content, player experience, genre and technology. Emergent develops flexible technology that supports the needs of game designers, artists and programmers, and integrates easily with other tools and applications in today’s game development pipelines.

You can read more at the web site.

Emergent has some of the smartest people I know employed in the industry.  Here are some links to their blogs:

Beautiful Pixels - Vincent Scheib
Online Game Techniques – Darrin West
What Makes You Think I'm Not – Dan Amerson
Shaun Kime's Blog – Shaun Kime
Nick Darnell's Blog – Nick Darnell

So there you have the pertinent info.  Expect to read more about Gamebryo LightSpeed and Emergent in this space and the blogs above.

Till next time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What do the colored shirts mean?

For those who know me and what I do when I am not at my regular 9 to 5, you know that I sometimes I work in the theater and at concerts as a stagehand (the best description of a stagehand I have ever seen is found here.)  When I lived in Rhode Island I was a member of IATSE with the now defunct local 538. When 538 was swallowed up by the ever hungry local 84 out of Hartford CT, I took an Honorable Withdrawal from 538. I did this for various reasons. I continued to work with a group closer to me, though not union.

That was years ago now, and the point of this blog is not about my history.  Move forward to 2009.  I am now in a new state with new exciting opportunities.  I hooked up with local 417 down here in Raleigh/Durham.  A great bunch of stagehands who know their stuff.  I haven’t officially joined the local yet, I am still a little upset about what happened up north, but I am sure the time will come for me to chip in and be a part of the organization again.

So.  After that lengthy intro, to my agonizingly pointless point. At my current 9 to 5 I am able to wear t-shirts and jeans, or shorts and sandals if I so desire. I frequently wear t-shirts of differing colors with various rock, country, and pop band’s logos on them.  I am asked occasionally where I get these shirts and have I attended the concerts and isn’t this band great and that concert was horrible etc.. I don’t go into a lengthy explanation of the term “SWAG” in the industry, but I do tell them that I do stagehand work on the side and we sometimes get t-shirts from the talent for the work we do.

Now, my wife hates how many t-shirts I have and I’ll admit that I probably have too many and should get rid of some of them. (not my Aerosmith ones though!)  They are “what I wear.”  They come in many different colors, but mostly black as you might imagine.  Black is the default color worn by all stagehands. They are not always black, though. 

After you go to a concert and the houselights come up, you may see many stagehands in different colored shirts.  There is a group over there in blue, a group over there in red and a group over there in green.  Each colored shirt represents a discipline. One color for Lighting, one color for Audio, Carpenters and the ever popular Pushers.  A “Pusher” is a stagehand that literally pushes boxes from where they are to where they need to be.  I am usually a “Loader” or in Lighting.  Loaders are the guys that take the boxes and load them onto the trucks during the Load-Out or unload them during the Load-In. The “Riggers” are the guys above your head, carrying span-sets and working that 1/2 ton motor that raises and lowers the lighting truss.  We wear our shirts when we work so all the touring crew can tell what discipline the house crew works in.

So “What do the colored shirts mean?” Well, they mean a great deal.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Another great CCNet applet!

Craig Sutherland has become a prolific contributor to CruiseControl.Net recently.  He has pushed the envelope and I think is making some positive changes with the structure and architecture of CruiseControl.Net.  A while ago he started down the road of creating a replacement for CCTray, a staple among CCNet users.  He was going to migrate this replacement into the actual product but got some resistance so he started his own app that will, when complete, replace CCTray in my eyes.

The application is called FastForward.Net.  It is currently in CTP but I have been using it for a few days now and it has almost completely replaced cctray.  I am using it for our build farm of 15+ servers using CCNet 1.4.4.  I am sure once we move to CCNet 1.5, this applet will be even more functional for me.

There are, as you might expect with a CTP, some issues that need to be overcome.  But, overall I am very pleased.

Great job Craig!