The December 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine, the sister print publication to GameSetWatch and the leading worldwide. 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.

In the December issue’s exclusive postmortem, Patrick Redding, Alex Parizeau, and Maxime Beland go behind the scenes on Ubisoft Montreal’s Splinter Cell: Conviction.

Moving Splinter Cell's trademark stealth-based game play in an action oriented direction without undermining the series was a tricky problem for Ubisoft Montreal. The original game design for Conviction was radically different from the franchise's traditional mechanics and necessitated a mid-development reboot.

“Conviction’s original direction, while intriguing as a concept, proved to be unworkable as a fully-featured game experience. When Parizeau and Beland joined the team in early 2008, the game as it existed then was so far removed from the core mechanics of the series that Ubisoft felt one of its key franchises was in potential jeopardy.”

Fortunately, clear direction and a well-tuned production pipeline kept the team from being knocked off balance by the shift, as the extensive, detailed postmortem reveals.

Elsewhere, big explosions with lots of fragmentation and debris are a video game mainstay. But making them look convincingly unique is a tedious process for artists. In a technical article in this issue, Robert Perry and Peter Wilkins describe a procedural technique for automatically generating fragmented meshes that can save both time and sanity.

Also in the December issue is an article from writer/designer and industry firebrand Tim Rogers on the now-ubiquitous Quick Time Events in games. Are they a lazy way to keep players mashing buttons? Or, are they broadening the range of expression for game designers? Using examples from the past and present, this article looks to the future of QTEs:

“Shenmue II’s example of using QTE to replace game action, in theory, is purely out of Dragon’s Lair. In practice, it offers no neat graphical payoffs. Even death is unceremonious: the hero is swallowed into the void. It’s a chore that must be completed to move forward in the game.

QTEs are a powerful game mechanic in that they offer developers the opportunity to show the player something really cool—and that’s why gamers play games: to see really cool things. Making a game sequence entirely out of QTEs means everything has to be very cool, and it’s hard to make everything cool. It’s like writing a sentence using only exclamation points. People get tired of that after a while.”

Kinect and Move have arrived, and with them comes a growing interest in augmented reality. In an article on pattern recognition, Cesar Botana guides you step by step through the basics of the OpenCV library, an essential tool for pattern recognition in augmented reality games. Also covered is placement of 3D objects in game worlds based on these patterns' orientations.

In addition, the December issue features Game Developer’s 2010 Front Line Awards finalists along with our regular columnists and special guests including Giacomino Veltri, Steve Theodore, Soren Johnson, Jesse Harlin, and Matthew Wasteland who contribute detailed and important pieces on various areas of game development, plus a section discussing the just-debuted Front Line Awards finalists for the world's best tools.

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 December 2010's magazine as a single issue.