gdmagrift.jpgThe June/July 2011 issue of Game Developer magazine, the sister print publication to Gamasutra and the leading U.S. trade publication for the video game industry, has shipped to print subscribers and digital readers and is available from the Game Developer Digital service in both subscription and single-issue formats.

This issue showcases Game Developer's picks for the industry's top 30 development studios, honoring teams that demonstrated creative or technical excellence. The feature covers blockbuster studios like the BioWare Mass Effect team all the way down to indie teams and cult studios like Deadly Premonition developer Access Games.

The feature also celebrates some of the industry's most influential indie developers, including Minecraft developer Mojang and Super Meat Boy's Team Meat. Game Developer also highlights a number of indie devs in the mobile space, such as Fruit Ninja's Halfbrick Studios and Cut The Rope studio Zeptolab.

The June/July issue's exclusive postmortem by Trion Worlds' Scott Hartsman examines the studio's recently launched fantasy MMO Rift, and the successes and struggles the team experienced when creating a title that would inevitably be compared to the genre's most successful juggernauts.

In order to prevent feature creep and appeal to the expectations of hardcore MMO players, Trion Worlds carefully monitored Rift's scope to ensure that each element of the game works as well as possible.

Hartsman writes, "If you try to innovate in every single area just to ensure you are different, you’re never going to ship on time and at a quality level that people will accept. You’ll hit exactly one or the other, which unfortunately means an untimely death for your game."

"Further, there’s a price to pay for innovation in a fantasy MMORPG. If you don’t have enough similar elements to others in the space presented in a way that is easily understood by experienced players, your MMO will be viewed as 'broken' even if it all works. (What this really means is, 'too inaccessible to attract and retain a sufficient audience.') Unfortunately, that too means you die," he continues.

Despite the game's controlled scope, the studio found itself pressed for time when localizing the game for three different languages: "Beyond technology, finding people with relevant experience to run the operation and produce the languages was a far greater challenge than we had imagined. We did find them, though, and it’s a huge testament to their talent that we still managed to pull it all off in time, given that we started as late as we did. We already had a solid localization department, but we really fleshed it out about a year before launch."

In addition to the Rift postmortem, the issue also includes a feature that explains the benefits of several anti-aliasing techniques, and outlines how to implement MLAA exclusively on the GPU.

As usual, the issue features our regular columnists and special guests from the forefront of the games industry, including Tom Carroll, Steve Theodore, Damion Schubert, Jesse Harlin, Kim Pallister, and Matthew Wasteland, who all 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-month and one-year 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 the June/July 2011 magazine as a single issue.