[Just wanted to mention that my colleagues at Game Developer magazine - yes, still going strong, thanks to neat, exclusive dev-specific content - have announced their Front Line Award tool winners for the year, with the little-heralded but super-useful Bink Video getting Hall Of Fame.]

The editors of Think Services’ industry-leading Game Developer magazine -- Gamasutra's sister publication -- have named the winners for the 2009 Front Line Awards, the twelfth annual ranking of the best tools enabling game development for professional video game creators.

Front Line Awards are given every year in the categories of programming/production, art, audio, game engine, middleware, books, and the Hall Of Fame.

This year, Game Developer is pleased to honor RAD Game Tool's practically ubiquitous video codec Bink Video as its inductee to the Front Line Awards Hall of Fame. The codec and associated tools were used in many of last year's top-selling AAA titles, and has served developers for over a decade.

The Front Line Awards Hall of Fame is reserved for those landmark tools that have served developers mightily over multiple iterations and multiple years, including past winners such as Microsoft DirectX, Adobe Photoshop, and Epic's Unreal Engine series. Overall, the Front Line Awards represent the best tools in the game industry, as nominated on and voted for by Game Developer’s expert readership.

Following the announcement of the finalists in December, all winners have been profiled in the January 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine, available now in print and shortly in digital editions.

The editors congratulate the following winners of the 2009 Front Line Awards:

Hall of Fame:
Bink Video
RAD Game Tools

Art Tool:
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010
Autodesk

Audio Tool:
Pro Tools 8
Digidesign

Middleware:
Havok Physics
Havok

Engine:
Unreal Engine 3
Epic Games

Programming/Production Tool:
Adobe Flash CS4
Adobe

Book:
Mastering Unreal Technology: Vol 1 by Jason Busby, Zak Parrish, and Jeff Wilson
Sams Publishing

Game Developer's mission for more than fifteen years has been to provide game developers with information, news, and articles that pertain directly to them. The Front Line Awards are an official way of recognizing one specific aspect of the industry: the tools that developers need to do their jobs better.

As for the Front Line Awards' methodology, Game Developer looks at the powerful lineup of new products and new releases of favorite tools for professional game developers – from game engines to books. Following an open nomination period and consultation with the magazine’s editors, finalists were selected based on criteria such as utility, innovation, value, and ease of use.

The resulting Front Line Award winners represent the most innovative, user-friendly, and useful products from behind the scenes of the world’s best video games. Nominations for this year’s Front Line Awards were open to all new software products (and new versions of software products) related to game development which were released between September 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009.

"As ever, these awards allow developers to honor those tools that actually make their lives easier, and represent the best in the industry,” said Brandon Sheffield, editor-in-chief of Game Developer. “We would like to congratulate both the winners and the also-notable finalists for 2009's Front Line Awards, and wish the industry a prosperous 2010."

For more information and a full list of finalists, please visit the official Front Line Awards website or visit Game Developer magazine online at its website.