Publications & Talks

Icon128_MonkeyGrim_QuoVadis

The revolutionary technology behind Monkey Island and Grim Fandango

Quo Vadis 2017, Lecture

Abstract: Monkey Island and Grim Fandango continue to be very popular despite the fact that these games are more than 20 years old. Their remarkable success is often attributed to fantastic writing, challenging puzzles and great storylines, but the tech used to make these games was no less exceptional and played a major role. This presentation will shed some light on how these games were made and how the technology behind adventure games has evolved over the years as well as how they were remastered.

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Remastering Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango (Video recording)

GDC 2017, Lecture

Abstract: This talk will cover the history and inner workings of the classic adventure games ‘Day of the Tentacle’ and ‘Grim Fandango’. It will then dive into the details of some of the most interesting improvements and challenges encountered while building the remasters of the two games for PS4, PS Vita, PC, and mobile. Attendees will learn about the internals of the classic SCUMM engine, improving the lighting in ‘Grim Fandango’ without any 3d source data to work from, the art of debugging and fixing classic bugs when original source code access is not available, and more.

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From Monkey Island to Broken Age (Video recording)

Reboot Develop 2016, Lecture

Abstract: Adventure games remain a popular video game genre today and the core mechanics of storytelling, exploration and puzzle solving keep gamers of all ages captivated. This presentation will shed some light on how these games are made and how the technology behind adventure games has evolved over the years by analyzing and comparing Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and Broken Age.

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Lead the Way! A Practical Guide to Team Leadership

GDC 2016, Lecture

Abstract: So they made you a lead, but now what? If you are like the majority of new team leads, then you might find it difficult to answer this question. Oliver certainly struggled to adjust to his new role at Double Fine Productions and after talking to many fellow developers it quickly became clear that most team leads are expected to simply pick up the necessary skillset themselves. In this talk Oliver will therefore share what he learned while settling into a leadership position in addition to providing lots of practical advice that will help new team leads to get started in their new role.

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So They Made You a Lead; Now What? (Annotated slides) (Video recording)

GDCE 2015, Lecture

Abstract: So they made you a lead, but now what? If you are like the majority of new team leads, then you might find it difficult to answer this question. Oliver certainly struggled to adjust to his new role at Double Fine Productions and after talking to many other fellow developers it quickly became clear that most team leads are expected to simply pick up the necessary skillset themselves. Therefore in this talk Oliver will share what he learned while settling into a leadership position in addition to providing lots of practical advice that will help new team leads to get started in their new role.

 

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Mobile Devices as Development Platform in Broken Age

GDC 2015, Lecture

Abstract: Our goals for the mobile version of Broken Age were to deliver a very polished experience that is optimized for a wide range of different iOS and Android devices. We quickly realized, however, that iterating on a mobile application with more than 1 GB of game assets is quite challenging, since it can take up to 20 minutes to update and reboot an app after a code or data change. This talk describes in detail how we reduced the turnaround time on iOS and Android to an average of 40 seconds. The topic of the second part of the presentation is the design and implementation of our file streaming system that allowed us to update game assets such as Lua scripts, shaders and effects in real-time on a mobile device running Broken Age.

 

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Game Changer Camp

Game Changer Camp 2015, Panel

Abstract: Bay Area game developers unite in collaboration with Intel Corporation for a full day of sessions learning from the experts in the game industry. The topics will range from Ideation, Design, Build, and Launch!

 

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Scaling from Mobile to High-End PCs: The Tech of Broken Age

GDC 2014, Lecture

Abstract: Bringing the beautiful and lively world of Broken Age simultaneously to five different platforms ranging from older mobile devices to state-of-the-art PCs was a great challenge. This talk will describe the key decisions made to achieve the necessary scalability, and will detail the authoring process of flexible 2D characters and parallaxing environments, the data build pipeline, as well as run-time techniques such as advanced 2D lighting and shadows. Several practical solutions for maximizing rendering performance on mobile GPUs as well as other challenges associated with mobile/PC cross-platform game development will be presented in detail.

 

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Rethinking a Classic Genre for the Modern Era (Video)

GDC Next 2013, Lecture

Authors: Tim Schafer, Greg Rice, Lee Petty, Oliver Franzke

Abstract: After the success of their record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine were tasked with developing a brand new point-and-click adventure game in the vein of Tim’s early work at Lucas Arts. The demand for this type of game was clear, but much has changed in the 15 years since Tim last visited the genre. In this talk, we’ll hear a multidisciplinary panel of members from the Broken Age team discuss ways in which they leveraged modern technology and methodologies to deliver a game that preserves the ideas and experiences core to the traditional adventure game.

 

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Broken Age’s Approach to Scalability

GDC Europe 2013, Lecture

Abstract: Bringing the beautiful and lively world of Broken Age simultaneously to five different platforms ranging from older mobile devices to state of the art PCs with only a small team of programmers was a great challenge. This talk will describe the key decisions made to achieve the necessary scalability, and detail the authoring process for characters and environments, the data build pipeline, and run-time techniques such as rendering tricks for rapid iteration and debugging. Several practical solutions for the many challenges associated with mobile/PC cross-platform game development will be presented in detail.

 

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Broken Age’s Data Pipeline

Broken Age Backer Forum 2013, Technical Post

Abstract: The data pipeline is an very important part of game development that is very often overlooked, because it’s not as glamorous as game-play programming or writing an engine. In a nutshell the data pipeline is responsible to prepare the assets created by our awesome artists to run optimally on the different hardware platforms.

 

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Furry, Floppy, Fuzzy: Once Upon a Monster’s Fur Pipeline (Extended, Slides)

SIGGRAPH 2012, Talk

Authors: Pete Demoreuille, Oliver Franzke, Lydia Choy

Abstract: This overview of the fur pipeline used to create loveable muppets and monsters in “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster” explains the authoring pipeline, simulation, tessellation, shading, lighting, and shadowing techniques used to create and render a wide variety of fur styles in real time.

 

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Building the Perfect Beast

Game Developer Magazine 2008, Article

Abstract: More than ever before it is important to improve the quality of our tools and editors in order to support next-gen game projects. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rewrite a lot of code, because even some simple changes can improve your applications quite a bit. In this article I want to share a few ideas about how to make game development tools better with very little effort.

 

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Modern Game Development

Stanford 2008, Presentation

Authors: Oliver Franzke, Javier Blazquez

Abstract: Even though ‘next-gen’ consoles have the potential for amazing games it is by no means easy to create entertaining and immersive experiences. This presentation sheds light on some of the challenges developers of AAA games are facing and describes techniques how to overcome them.

 

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Realistic Real-Time Rendering of Landscapes using Billboard Clouds

Eurographics 2005, Paper

Authors: Stephan Behrendt, Carsten Colditz, Oliver Franzke, Johannes Kopf, and Oliver Deussen

Abstract: We present techniques for realistic real-time rendering of complex landscapes that consist of many highly detailed plant models. The plants are approximated by dynamically changing sets of billboards. Realistic illumination is approximated using spherical harmonics. Since even the rendering of simple billboard cloud plants is too time consuming, the landscape in the background is approximated with shell textures. The combination of these techniques allows us to render large scenes in real-time with varying illumination, which is interesting for computer games and interactive visualization in landscaping and architecture as well as modelling.

 

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Real-Time Rendering of Billboard Plants in a Dynamic Lighting Environment

SIGGRAPH 2005, Technical Sketch

Authors: Oliver Franzke, Oliver Deussen

Abstract: A new method to render large landscapes that are covered by thousands of trees in a dynamic lighting environment. The billboard plants are illuminated using a special texture.

 

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Accurate Graphical Representation of Plant Leaves

PMA 2003, Paper

Authors: Oliver Franzke, Oliver Deussen

Abstract: We present a simple and practical method for rendering leaves and other translucent parts of plants. In contrast to other translucent materials, plant leaves usually are thin, though highly textured. An adaptation of rendering methods for translucent materials in combination with a set of predefined textures allows us to represent plants realistically. A hardware-based approximation of the shading-method enables us to render even highly complex plants efficiently.

 

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Rendering Plant Leaves Faithfully (Slides)

SIGGRAPH 2003, Technical Sketch

Authors: Oliver Franzke, Oliver Deussen

Abstract: An approach for improved representation of translucency in plants, based on a set of textures that are combined with a biological leaf model.

 

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Photorealistische Darstellung komplexer Pflanzenmodelle in Level of Detail Repräsentationen

Dresden 2005, Master Thesis

Abstract: Die Computergrafik, als spezieller Fachbereich der Informatik, beinhaltet viele interessante Forschungsgebiete. Ein Aufgabenbereich stellt die realistische Darstellung von natürlichen Umgebungen dar. In der Regel ist eine solche Landschaft mit vielen verschiedenen Pflanzen bevölkert. Soll ein computergeneriertes Abbild einer natürlichen Szene erstellt werden, dann müssen also auch diese organischen Objekte realistisch visualisiert werden. Doch gerade die Darstellung von virtuellen Pflanzen ist mit vielen Problemen verbunden. Zum Beispiel besteht ein Wald aus tausenden von einzelnen Bäumen, Sträuchern und anderen Objekten. Neben der hohen geometrischen Komplexität einer solchen Szene, gilt es auch die komplizierten Lichtinteraktionen zu behandeln.

Diese Diplomarbeit ist deshalb der photorealistischen Visualisierung komplexer Pflanzenmodelle gewidmet. Dabei spielt sowohl die hochqualitative Darstellung, wie sie zum Beispiel in einer Filmproduktion benötigt wird, als auch die Echtzeitvisualisierung, die in Simulatoren oder Computerspielen Verwendung findet, eine wichtige Rolle. Für beide Anwendungsgebiete werden neue Verfahren eingeführt und bewertet. Mit Hilfe eines Level of Detail-Ansatzes wird es schließlich möglich, umfangreiche natürliche Szenen – in beliebigen Beleuchtungssituationen – in Echtzeit darzustellen.

 

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Realistische Darstellung von Flüssigkeiten und Gasen

Dresden 2004, Course Paper

Abstract: Die realistische Darstellung von natürlichen Phänomenen war schon immer ein wichtiges Ziel der Computergrafik. Dies ist jedoch keine leichte Aufgabe. Dabei müssen unzählige Effekte beachtet werden, von denen einige noch nicht einmal vollständig untersucht wurden. Die mathematischen Formulierungen dieser Phänomene sind zudem meist so kompliziert, dass sie durch eine mehr oder weniger grobe Approximation ersetzt werden müssen, um sie praxistauglich zu machen.

Diese Arbeit fasst die Entwicklungen der letzen Jahre zusammen, die im Bereich der gasförmigen Objekte gemacht wurden. Dabei wird insbesondere auf die Möglichkeiten der Darstellung dieser Phänomene eingegangen.

 

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Flexible Raytracerarchitekturen zur Berechnung komplexer optischer Phänomene

Dresden 2003, Minor Thesis

Abstract: Die Bedeutung von computergenerierten Bildern und Animationen ist in den letzen Jahren explosionsartig gestiegen. Diese Entwicklung hängt von mehreren Faktoren ab. Erst einmal ist die ständig größer werdende Rechenleistung der Computer bei gleichzeitig sinkenden Preisen zu bemerken. Brauchte man früher noch einen extrem teuren Supercomputer oder eine ebenso kostspielige Renderfarm, so können heute auf herkömmlichen PCs nahezu photorealistische Bilder in nur wenigen Minuten, sogar von Amateuren, erzeugt werden.

Das Prinzip dahinter ist aber stets dasselbe. In einem Modellierungsprogramm werden die dreidimensionalen Szenen erstellt. Danach wird diese Beschreibung der Objekte durch eine weitere Software in ein Bild übersetzt. Dieser Vorgang wird auch „rendern“ (auf Deutsch: übersetzen) genannt. Eine gängige Methode dies zu tun, ist das so genannte „Raytracing“, also die Strahlenverfolgung. Hierbei werden virtuelle Lichtstrahlen in die Szene geschossen und dann bei ihrer Interaktion mit den Objekten beobachtet, wodurch der Farbwert eines Pixels berechnet wird. Erfolgt dies für jeden Pixel, entsteht ein computergeneriertes Bild.