Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What is a GDD?

That was the question I asked my fellow colleagues. It was for the NASSCOM Gaming Summit presentation. I wanted to tell people about the current ignorance and the actual importance of the Game Design field here in India.

This video of course was partly true and partly fake as few guys wanted to give a funny answer. But the truth is most people have no clue what it is?
Here my colleague Pradip, a tech analyst went around asking the question for me.
The results are hilarious!

The video quality is not that great. And the audio sync maybe slightly off. The embed is not all that accurate.
We shot with Pradip's N73 phone. It was a momentary and my last moment decision to get this video done. I thought it would be fun and easy to break the ice with the audience :)

Some of the conversations are in Hindi. For those who want a translation, look below the video embed :)
Please bear with the buffering speed. May vary depending on any factor in the universe :D

(anything in square brackets, is my take on the replies)

Q. What is a GDD?
Guy1 (Programmer): GDD is a…*cleans throat* …GDD…Documentation something… documentation!
Guy 2 (Senior Game Designer): *my sparkling whites*
Guy 3 (Producer): Good Question!
Guy 4 (Tech Analyst): First, you tell me what a GDD is! *Gotcha!*
Guy 5(Lead Animator): Have to ask Purnima! I’ve heard about it! It’s something BIG! [Oh yes, its Big!]
Guy 6(Producer): GDD is a document that sometimes gets done after the game is developed! *Hahahha*
Girl 1(Asst. HR Manager): GDD? Game Design Document, right? *not sure*
Guy 4 (Again): Game Developer of Disco? Game Developer of Dance? What is it? What does GDD mean??
Girl 2 (Asst. Acct Manager - Publishing): GDD? *never heard of that term ever in my life!* [I like her reaction!]
Guy 7 (Studio Head): There is a large rotating dial with a depiction of Shiva about it! *this is more interesting, sorry I didn’t hear u!* [I wonder which game it is...]
Guy 4(Again?): *thinking…* *hints?*
Guy 8 (Programmer): Game Design Document *yay I got it right!* (Have you ever read a single GDD?) *LOL* No!!
Guy 9 (Studio Manager): Well…a GDD is what a game can be!  It’s not what a game will turn out to be, but it’s what a game can be! *Honest!*
Guy 4 (OMG!): Game Disco Developer? Game Developer Disco? Game Dance? *oh that’s only GD!* Game Dance Dance?
Guy 10 (QA Lead): Description of game which actually somehow doesn’t get implemented due to technical reasons and time du…. time constraints! [boy, u should be into management…so much diplomacy, yet the truth!]
Guy 11(Engine Lead): *Serious* Why? *Can anyone help me out here?* [he doesn’t like getting distrurbed during his tower defense or farm games]
Guy 4(It’s him again!): *thinking man… still thinking… it helps!* [yup! Go on]
Guy 12(Senior Game Designer): *ya right!* *help me out here!* What is his problem with life?
Guy 13 (Senior Programmer): I mean that’s the only thing that programmers hate! *true confession*
Guy 14 (Graphic Artist): (What is a GDD?) *err……* (GDD means what?) *still err…* (Gee Dee Dee!) *errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… I gonna get into trouble for this??*
Guy 4 (Enough already!): Too much options I’ve given you! You can take any of that!
Guy 15 (Senior Graphic Artist): They never follow except the producer! Because the producer truly believes that a game design document is really important for every … *nod*  [you've to complete the sentence! :P]
Guy 16 (Senior Programmer): I hate games! [Ooo boy, so much frustration but with a cheerful face..lolz]
Girl 3(Asst. HR Manager): *heeeeee heeeee heeeeeeeeeee* *trring trring*
Guy 4(Last time we hope!): Thank you, thank you guys! Meet you again! [AGAIN?? Noooo!!]

Hope you all enjoyed it!
Still no idea what a GDD is? Try searching the term "Game Design Document" on Google. Don't know how to use Google? You don't need to know what a GDD is! :D

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BioShock 3D (PC vs Mobile)

So I came up with few screenshots that compare the PC/Console version of the critically acclaimed game - BioShock to the 3D mobile version.
Those who are having plugin issues can follow this link:

Before you get all judgemental, here's more technical details that compares the versions.
(Thanks to hubby- Arjun Nair, also Producer of BioShock 3D Mobile)

Know more about the mobile version of BioShock here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

NASSCOM Gaming Summit 2009 & 24fps Award

Should have posted earlier... but then I got all busy with my marriage preparations and then besides facebook, I forgot to update it anywhere else...So here it goes....better late than never :)


November 7th 2009 saw the first ever 'full fledged' Indian gaming summit that took place in Hyderabad.

It was inaugurated by Ernest Adams of the 'Designer's Notebook' fame. An industry veteran of over 20+ years of experience in Game Design, Ernest Adams, spoke about 'The Promise of India: Ancient Culture, Modern Game Design.'

I was honored to be one of the speakers at this summit.
Here's a small article on my session:
Writing a Game Design Document - What the books don't teach you!

My husband (Arjun Nair) along with another colleague - Vishwas Kasat, presented a session on 'Bringing a killer console game to mobile which spoke about bringing the console game 'BioShock' to the mobile (3D and 2D).
There were a lot of informative sessions that took place. All articles can be found here.

For the first time, people like us had the opportunity to interact with others in the Indian gaming industry.Otherwise GDC and other gaming summits abroad are usually attended by the CEOs or senior management staff and hence our chance to mingle and interact with others is very rare. So the NASSCOM gaming summit came as a saviour. I hope more and more local summits like this happens and enables people working in the industry to get to know each other and share knowledge!


Also around the same time, i.e. on 6th November 2009, we won the Best Game Design award at the 24fps Animation Awards organized by MAAC for Movin' Maze 3D - iPhone. We shared the award with Ghajini, the game.

Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication, I wasn't informed that we won the award. So, at the last moment, another studio head, Shaina Rajan went ahead and collected the award on my/our dept's behalf.

How I wish I was there to collect the award! *sigh* 

Anyways cheers! :D
The complete list of winners are here
(Indiagames is misspelled as Indian games)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

BioShock 3D Mobile Released!

This long awaited game is now available for the Verizon mobile devices.
Release Date: 9th Feb 2010
Click here to see it in the Verizon store.

BioShock 2D Mobile also released for the Verizon mobile devices.
Release Date: 5th Jan 2010
Click here to see it in the Verizon store.
Also, click here for the 2D mobile game review. It got a 7/10.

The 3D review is yet to come as it just got released.
Edit: It's now released. Click here.

I've been the lead designer for both the 2D and 3D mobile versions, however have been very closely associated with the 3D one as I belong to the 3D studio.

The 3D game has closely followed its console version and tried to do justice to it.

BioShock 3D ran into its alpha stages during recession time and I ended up losing my team members... This meant that the whole design was now on my heads... I literally had to read thru my team's work and redo the designs...

I also saw that a lot of similarities, pop ups, help messages, simple things as such was not implemented. I decided that we should do it. Although I was overloaded with the whole design (plus time was running short), I managed to squeeze these little things inside to get the whole feel!

The redesigning of levels took a toll on me, but I did take 3 ppl's job and still delivered it on time...
This game has given the whole team a lot of learning experience and it has been one of the most tiring yet pleasurable project!

I hope people like the game. We all did and we are honest! :)

Reblogged in Confessions of a Confused Freak.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My journey - Part 3 - From the first disaster to the next

After a successful completion of a mobile chat application program, which our team lovingly called as ‘Me2U’, and with a first class in the final year, I thought It would be easy to get a good job. But fate willed otherwise!

I was enrolled for the aptitude test for Patni, one of the reputed software firms. When I arrived at the mentioned venue on the said date, I saw about hundreds and thousands of jobless people. Thankyou! That was very encouraging! Bah.

Mustering up some confidence from what was left I entered the building. Soon there was a pre-placement talk; and all candidates were sent to different rooms as per their enrollment numbers.
A bell rang and the test papers were distributed. Although I do not recall the actual question, the first one that caught my attention was on similar lines to this:

Directions(Q. 6-10): Below is given a passage followed by several possible inference which can be drawn from the facts stated in the passage. You have to examine each inference separately in the context of the passage and decide upon its degree of truth or falsity.

Mark answer 1): if the inference is “definitely true”, i.e. it properly follows from the statement of facts given.
Mark answer 2): if the inference is “probably true” though not “definitely true.” in the light of the facts given.
Mark answer 3): if the data are inadequate, i.e. from the facts given you cannot say whether the inference is likely to be true or false.
Mark answer 4): if the inference is “probably false” though not “definitely false” in the light of the facts given.
Mark answer 5): if the inference is “definitely false”, i.e. it cannot possibly be drawn from the facts given or it contradicts the given facts.

Passage: Efficiency of capital has long been an area of neglect and remains so. This aspect is underscored in the eleventh plan draft, ironically in its demand for the rate of investment being raised to 35.1% of GDP from 29.1% in 2004-2005. The irony lies in the fact that the planning commission has consistently relied on the Incremental Capital Output Ratio (ICOR) as tool of expediency rather than one designed to promote efficiency. Yet, the ratio conceptually seeks to get the most out of the capital stock that is existing and is being added. The ratio now is 3.7, i.e. the capital needed for an output of 3.7 times. If the effective ratio is brought down during 2007-2012, then it would be possible to achieve a GDP growth value of 8.9% over the period with a lesser level of investment than 35.1%. Nobody doubts that capital formation is critical to a higher rate of growth in GDP, but efficiency lies not so much on the capital stock as its utilization.

6. The present rate of investment is around 30% of GDP.
7. Higher the capital output ratio, higher is growth of GDP.
8. When the rate of investment increases the capital output ratio also increases.
9. Efficiency of capital largely depends upon capital stock.
10. The issue of efficiency of capital is now assuming adequate importance from the Government of India.

WTF! How does THAT test my programming efficiency??? (Maybe when my heartbeat rate was lower, this would’ve made sense… but it didn’t then! i get lost here even now!)

However, when I turned the sheets, I was a little relieved. There was a verbal section, analytical section and quanta section.The verbal section was alright. The analytical section was fun but time consuming and by the time I hit maths, it was time up!

Hey! I had no clue how to multiply 1553283 with 343434 any faster than the traditional method since I was not allowed a calculator! And why not!! What’s with the no calculator allowed crap!! Come on, use the technology to advance!!!

I really don’t understand why the MBA kinda entrance tests are made mandatory for software programmers. Maybe I’m the only one seeing it as a problem. I was least prepared for this. Might as well have gone for some MBA entrance test coaching classes!

Putting on a face of rejection, I walked away from there. Ya, duh! Obviously I wasn’t selected!

I had some kind of personal hatred towards these kind of aptitude tests which also meant all the mighty software companies were ruled out for me!

Soon I got a job interview with a mobile company which I would not like to name here. I had a terrible experience there. The interviewer was a sexist! 

He just wouldn’t believe that I had actually coded in my final year project. He went on to say that we might have bought the project and stuck our names to it! With a calm attitude, I argued with him, made him understand my part of the code, the architecture, how we preferred using canvas over forms to give a better feel etc, but no!

He then said that the other two guys in my team would’ve done the coding and I pretty much did nothing. My frustration meter was begin to move to the higher side. Somehow maintaining my temper, I asked him, “Then how did I clear your technical round? I had to write code samples and answer the other questions too. So passing by fluke is out of question. Don’t you think?” For which he said that I might have cheated by trying to lure the supervisor! GRRRRR! 

Then he said he will ask me a technical question. I asked him to go ahead.

Can you believe what he asked me? He pointed to a random location on the screen of a mobile device and asked me to tell its coordinates!
My answer: I snatched my resume from his hand, took my file, gave him an evil glance and walked out of the room.

I might’ve totally done it differently today; probably even smashed his face! xD
After these disasters, life took a different turn…

to be contd…


You can find the whole series here: My journey