The October 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine, the sister print publication to Gamasutra and the leading trade publication for the video game industry, has shipped to print and digital subscribers and is available from the Game Developer Digital service in both subscription and single-issue formats.

This issue's exclusive postmortem looks at the creation of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII from the team's perspective.

When development started on Final Fantasy XIII its gameplay, scenario, and technical specs were only vaguely defined. The team pushed forward anyway, creating a large number of assets but with no clear sense as to what would ultimately be usable in the game:

"Even at a late stage of development, we did not agree on key elements of the game, which stemmed from the lack of a cohesive vision, the lack of finalized specs, and the remaining problems with communication between departments.

What enabled us to conquer this line of seemingly endless conflicts was the development process for the Final Fantasy XIII demo, which was included in the Japan-only Blu-ray version of the animated film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete.

The demo was not in our original plan, so we had to make adjustments to the overall schedule to accommodate it. Whatever effects creating the demo had on the schedule, once it was complete we realized it was just the panacea we needed.

With a tangible version of the game that could actually be played, internal debates transitioned from theoretical discussions based solely on abstract concepts to concrete dialogue.

The demo not only unified the vision and understanding of the game’s direction across the entire development team, but it was also the first time that everyone could see exactly how the assets they worked on would function within the game. During the internal postmortem, many team members noted that the demo was what finally allowed them to truly realize and embrace the vision for Final Fantasy XIII."

Also in this issue is Game Developer’s 'Companies To Watch' listing for 2010/2011, a rundown of the 20 firms that currently or have the potential to set the course for the industry's future, for example the following two entries:

"ThatGameCompany: The recently named Journey is ThatGameCompany’s final title in its three-game deal with Sony, in which TGS makes downloadable games for Sony’s PlayStation Network service. Journey continues the company’s commitment to investigating new emotional experiences in games, while also pushing the developers into a new arena—the online space.

ThatGameCompany built its reputation on creating new and different experiences—but how will these experiences be enforced, subverted, or altered in the online space? How will this small team tackle adult cooperative play in a relatively open-world setting? That’s what makes TGC a company to watch in 2011.

OnLive: OnLive launched this summer and reports suggest that the company’s network streaming technology does in fact work as promised. In theory, the idea of jettisoning dedicated gaming hardware for something as simple as a fast broadband connection is pretty breathtaking in its implications.

In practice however, the OnLive service still seems a bit too niche-y to change the world just yet. Computer hardware is still required (although fairly low-spec) to connect to OnLive, which unfortunately moves the game experience out of most living rooms.

The service’s pricing is also a work-in-progress with top-tier games selling for about what a copy would cost at retail. More interesting is OnLive’s PlayPass system that is akin to renting, in which players can pay for multi-day access without having to buy a game in full. OnLive is currently at work on their MicroConsole TV adapter that will allow players to connect to the service directly through their Ethernet router without the need for computer hardware.

Along with this low-cost device is the distinct possibility that OnLive could partner with cable companies to build a game port directly into cable boxes (U.K. cable provider BT is already an investor in OnLive). This has the potential to be tremendously disruptive to the traditional console business and such a move would quickly take OnLive out of the niche and into the mainstream."

The October issue also features a detailed examination by JT Hooker of the shader techniques used by Volition to create shattered glass effects in the studio’s upcoming Red Faction Armageddon:

"During pre-production on Red Faction Armageddon, shattering glass was one of the areas identified as needing improvement. We started by doing research into film. We found that most action movies with large amounts of shattering glass, such as The Matrix and Face/Off, make use of glass that appears to be tempered. This gives a more chaotic and appealing look as the glass explodes into thousands of shards.

Another appealing effect of tempered glass is that many of the shards initially stick together in large clumps. Those chunks of glass break apart and fall away, and then usually break into tiny pieces after a secondary impact with the ground or other surfaces. We knew we wanted to duplicate the look of tempered glass, but we also knew that creating enough triangles to represent thousands of shards wasn’t going to be possible.

The final solution was to use a single tile-able texture to define the jagged edges on any set of triangles. With all the triangles using the same UVs and lined up next to each other, combined with a cracked tempered glass diffuse texture, the window appears to splinter into thousands of pieces with large and small ragged chunks falling away. With a particle effect of glass dust layered on top and another particle effect when those shards collide with the world, it looks just like in the movies."

In addition, our regular columnists and special guests including Steve Theodore, Damion Schubert, Vincent Diamante, and Matthew Wasteland contribute detailed and important pieces on various areas of game development.

Worldwide paper-based subscriptions to Game Developer magazine are currently available at the official magazine website, and the Game Developer Digital version of the issue is also now available, with the site offering six months' and a year's subscriptions, alongside access to back issues and PDF downloads of all issues, all for a reduced price. There is now also an opportunity to buy the digital version of October 2010's magazine as a single issue.