Another balmy San Francisco spring, another Game Developers Conference. Our heads are still swimming with what we learned during an incredible week for the Shotgun team. I’d love to share a little bit about what went down at this year’s event.
Shotgun for games
Lunchtime Tuesday, our own Don Parker took to the stage with Brian Brecht, Art Manager and Senior Producer at Epic Games. And we thought we’d had a busy year. Here’s Brian (left) and Don (right) doing a little Q+A at their session:
Don presented our vision for games studios of the future, and explained what we’ve been up to to help us all get there – removing friction from games studios’ creative pipelines. Let me summarize for you…
You’ve probably noticed that we work in a rapidly-changing landscape (Stadia, hello!). Gamers’ thirst for fresh content and new experiences grows by the day. So there’s never been a more important time to talk about the way we work as an industry, and how we can all work smarter rather than harder – doing what we need to do but get home in time for … whatever it is we want to get home in time for.
These trends show no signs of letting up. It’s the opposite, if anything. So how can the games studios of today succeed in this ever-more demanding industry? Here are our three main aspirations – traits that we think will help successful studios stand apart.
Here’s how they appeared in the slide deck. If you weren’t there, you’ll just have to imagine this on a massive screen – maybe with a few silhouetted heads of game producers obscuring the bottom:
1. Creative flow
Our new After Effects integration is just one example of Shotgun helping artists be artists for more of their working day. AE joins similar integrations for 3ds Max, Maya and Photoshop – and many others – to help artists jump straight into what they need to do each day, stay working in their creative environment of choice, then share and publish straight to Shotgun without ever worrying about managing files and version numbers.
Beyond traditional creative tools, our Unreal Engine integration and forthcoming Unity integration increasingly lets artists share their work to get the feedback and approval they need without having to leave the game world they’re working on. We’re working every day to help artists stay in that all-important flow, and our aspiration is to help artists be artists for 100% of their working day.
2. Producer superpower
If artists’ superpower is creativity, then the producer’s is situational awareness. We’re striving to give producers the latest insights on the development of their projects, from that high-level health check down to individual tasks that may need urgent attention.
Our newly-announced Jira Bridge helps to superpower producers and their teams by removing the bottlenecks between the art and engineering sides of the studio. By connecting tasks in Shotgun to tasks in Jira, there’s no one need worry about the latest, most correct source of information – while both artists and engineers can keep using the tools they prefer.
This is just one example of how we’ll keep striving to hone Shotgun as the tool producers need to have 360-degree vision of the past, present and future of their projects, and to see their creative vision come to life.
Third, we want to work towards the hyperconnected studio. Wth Shotgun, games studios can bring not only their in-house teams together, but also outside contractors, vendors and clients to bring all their expertise together.
Going further, can we bring that degree of connectivity to the whole industry, so the very best development team possible can quickly be pulled together regardless of which studios or suppliers are involved?
We’re not there yet, but we’re making ground with our growing suite of integrations which service to bring studios together as well as catalyze creative flow. There’s a lot of work we need to do. But I’m excited to see the conversation that’s starting between studios, us, and other tools providers in working towards the future we all want to see.
Finally, Don passed the baton to Brian Brecht to show how the team at Epic Games is making great use of Shotgun to manage the creative pipeline on its staggering games output. Brian not only went into great detail on how to squeeze the most out of Shotgun as a studio producer and creative lead, but also had useful tips to share on studios new to the platform. (Maybe we’ll see if we can convince Brian to share a guest post on the subject here in the not-too-distant future.)
Brian – thanks so much for joining us and being a great sport.
Meeting Shotgun users
Wednesday was our chance to meet with users to talk more about our plans for Shotgun. This was another opportunity to set out our vision for how games studios could work in the future, but also talk more about how we’re changing the way we’re working to help everyone get there.
Shotgun’s Kevin Connor took the opportunity to show Create, a new way for artists to use Shotgun while maintaining creative flow.
This is our first desktop experience designed solely with creatives in mind – and as you can hopefully see we’ve taken a visual approach to the interface, so artists can easily identify tasks, and see which are upcoming, active, or done. There’s also quick and easy access to version history and notes for any particular asset.
Artists can also work full screen and take fast and easy screen captures. There’s also the option to quickly compare one version with another, either side by side, or using a transparent overlay. In future we’ll be adding a split-screen comparison too. Create also makes it easier for supervisors to see all the work that needs to be reviewed, one task at a time.
Create is currently in public beta – there’s still a lot for us to work on, but we think it’s already a powerful tool for creative teams. You can download it from the Apps menu of your Shotgun site. We’d love to hear what you think to help us shape the product.
Next Rob Blau spoke about our plans for Toolkit, our powerful suite of integrations and API tools to help studios get things done with Shotgun.
This was another chance to talk about our latest integrations, designed to help artists be artists for more of their working day. We were excited to show a preview of the forthcoming Unity integration, due this summer, which we’ll be sharing more about here soon.
You can read more about Shotgun for games on our website (we’ve given the page some spit and fresh polish – so it’s a great time to take a look and maybe give Shotgun a spin.)
Highlights of the week
It was no surprise that GDC week itself shone a light on the rapid change evident in the games industry – and nowhere more so than the announcement of Google Stadia. If you managed to score some hands-on time with Stadia, it was hard not to be impressed by playing a triple AAA game on a large HD display, all running via a Chromebook. It seems games streaming services are finally on the cusp of mainstream appeal.
The Shotgun team caught a number of talks during GDC week, and we were struck by the innovation happening around the industry: from the ongoing rise of procedural development to the adoption of quick and dirty agile techniques, like quickly shooting, reviewing and re-shooting previsualizations on iPhones rather than more traditional animation.
GDC week was swiftly followed by the reveal of Apple Arcade – a new subscription service brimming with new potential to bring fresh and innovative games to life.
Now is as exciting a time as there’s ever been to be making games. We can’t wait to see what you create between now and then. Let’s use the rest of 2019 to continue the conversation about the future of the industry. By working together, we can make things better for everyone.
Visit our games page to continue that conversation with us: www.shotgunsoftware.com/games