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ionForge Evolution Shortens Timeline for Game Development

Reuse, Collaboration, and Automation Tools Save Time, Reduce Costs

Game development teams are wrestling with the challenges of growing volumes of content, larger and more specialized teams, and resources that are often distributed around the globe. In many ways, this trend is just at its beginning. As hardware platforms become more powerful and consumers demand high-definition content and more involved game worlds, the complexity of creating next-generation games will continue to increase. To counter act this trend, game development teams need better tools that allow them to reuse existing work, collaborate easily, and move quickly and smoothly through the development cycles so that they can concentrate on game play and content.

ionForge's Evolution, now available as version 2.6, provides teams with these tools and with a level of flexibility in workflow design that has not been available to them in the past. The real challenge of game development is in finding a way to quickly and efficiently reuse elements that have already been built; allow new code and content to be generated and refined without creating a bottleneck for other team members; and provide for fast iterations of content and modified game play based on testing and feedback. Evolution has features that address each of these needs. In what may turn out to be the biggest benefit, it is built on a platform that will enable enhanced collaboration between content creators, programmers, and management with controllable, repeatable methodologies for managing content and synchronizing deliverables.

Based on the concept of a production unit, where one unit comprises the elements and assets that together create one piece of the finished product, Evolution's asset management system allows for the replication, reuse, branching, modification, and reconsolidation of each unit to maximize the value gained from the investment of time and resources that went into creating it. In fact, the individual elements that go into any production unit can be shared, duplicated, and reused in the same ways across multiple production units. This ability to reuse, modify, and reuse again any aspect of the work produced by the game development team, within a project or across multiple titles, eliminates the need to constantly reinvent the wheel and allows each team member to put their time into creating the unique aspects of their current project.

Creating a clear separation between game engine components and elements of content allow what are increasingly diverse and distributed teams to work independently and solves some of complex issues of creating multimillion dollar titles. But that doesn't address the need to manage asset lifecycles and team workflow, which are critical aspects of game production. Evolution provides next-generation workflow modeling features that do exactly that. Individual groups within the overall development team can maintain their existing lifecycle models and be integrated into the teams' workflow as well.

Compared with today's content build and integration process, which in many companies is handled in an ad hoc and inefficient manner, a managed workflow modeled in Evolution paired with its automation capabilities reduces the time spent waiting on last minute code changes and wasted testing broken builds significantly. Automated triggers associated with workflow stages can initiate consolidation, build, and distribution functions, and even generate automatic notifications. All of which reduce the effort and time required to generate testable game versions and increases the game development teams' ability to rapidly iterate through cycles of refining content and game play.

Evolution is available directly from ionForge ( Volume pricing, specials, and discounts are available. Current specials (9/7/2005) - Competitive upgrade, $99 per user; new purchases by game development companies made between 9/1/2005 and 9/30/2005 will receive and additional year on their technical support agreement for free (approx. $100 per user value).

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