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Session Name: You Got Art In My Test Suite!
Speaker(s): Seth Gibson
Company Name(s): Intel Perceptual Computing
Track / Format: Programming

When developing a test suite for Technical Art tools, one of the main considerations that should be addressed is that many components of a Tech Art codebase are designed to operate on art content, and as such, should be tested against art content. Fortunately, Maya's Python integration provides the necessary functionality for addressing this consideration. This poster session introduces the concept of "unit test content", which can take the form of simple art files included within a test suite for testing art-specific code, or scenes generated by a test case at runtime. Topics covered include setting up a Python IDE to recognize Maya's native Python interpreter, using Maya's Python interpreter with external unit testing frameworks, and best practices for building test cases that incorporate unit test content.



10-10:15am: Welcome

Adam Pletcher, Technical Art Director, Volition, Inc.


10:15-11:05am: You Have to Start Somewhere... Defining the Tech Art Role and Building Their Team

Arthur Shek, Technical Art Director, Microsoft Studios (Turn 10)

This session will go over the trials of moving from a job in film/animation to a studio with a minimal Tech Art presence and the ensuing panic of change. The Tech Art role has a soft definition and differs at every studio – our common quality is that we are problem solvers, and to problem solve, you must have experience, wide knowledge and the ability to scramble on your feet. At times, what we may feel pressure to know can be overwhelming. Relax - you have to start somewhere.


11:05-11:55am: Better, Faster Stronger: Teaching Tech Artists to Build Technology

Rob Galanakis, Lead Technical Artist, CCP Games

The success of Tech Art has caused a complexity of projects and tools for which our traditional skill set is under-equipped. Tech Artists are now building technology, not just scripts, and our essential growth must be as a cohesive team, not just trained individuals.  In this session, attendees will learn how to apply a few key practices of professional software development, such as code review, support processes, and collaborative coding, to the unique environment of Tech Art.


11:55am-12:45pm: Build it on Stone: Best Practices for Developing A Tech Art Infrastructure

Seth Gibson, Senior Technical Artist

In this session we present a set of best practices for building Tech Art tools and pipelines in a stable, maintainable, and scalable fashion through the establishment of a solid tools development infrastructure geared toward the specific needs of Technical Artists.


12:45-1:45pm: Lunch Break


1:45-2:35pm: Joining the Dark Side: How Embedded Tech Artists Can Unite Artists and Programmers

Ben Cloward, Senior Technical Artist, Bioware Austin

Technical Artists can be a powerful force to unify teams and ensure that productions run smoothly. In this case study, I’ll show how the simple act of moving two technical artists into the programmers’ working area helped to improve the relationship between art and programming and resulted in a better-looking, more efficient game.


2:35-3:25pm: Lessons in Tool Development

Jason Hayes, Technical Art Director, Volition, Inc.

All too often, the importance of planning the architecture of tools and pipelines in game development is overlooked.  In most cases, project pressures often give us the false impression that we don’t have time to plan, or worse, we actually save time by “just getting it done”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This session explains why up front planning is important, when to recognize over-engineering and offers architectural design principles for effective tools development-- such as program organization, data design, scalability and user interface design.  Internal tools developed at Volition will be used to demonstrate these topics.


3:25-4:15pm: Shady Situations: Real-time Rendering Tips & Techniques

Wes Grandmont III, Senior Technical Art Director, Microsoft Studios (343 Industries)

This tutorial session will cover a variety of techniques that can be used individually or combined to solve a variety of game related real-time shading problems. It will begin with a brief overview of the current generation GPU pipeline, followed by some HLSL basics. The rest of the talk will dive into a range of techniques with a complete overview of how each one is implemented.


4:30-5:20pm: Unusual UVs: Illuminating Night Windows in Saints Row The Third

Will Smith, Technical Artist, Volition, Inc.

This session presents a holistic case study involving HLSL shader development. Included is not only the problem and its resolution, but perhaps more importantly, an insight into the Technical Artist’s problem-solving mindset throughout its resolution.


5:20-6pm: Group Q&A and Closing Remarks

GDC 2012

Seth Gibson

Intel Perceptual Computing

free content