Systematic Gaming

June 25, 2009

Asset Management – Runtime

Filed under: asset management — Tags: , , — systematicgaming @ 1:00 am

The runtime layer is the lowest level of asset management encompassing:  file loading, reference counting, instancing and even procedural asset generation.  To meaningfully discuss handling assets at runtime we’ll need to define the different types of assets.  Here’s a few basic types of assets:

  1. Raw data
  2. Instanced data
  3. Procedural assets
  4. Composite data

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June 24, 2009

Asset Management

Filed under: asset management — Tags: , , — systematicgaming @ 2:25 am

Modern games have gigabytes of data, and thousands of individual assets.  Managing all this data well can be a very complex task, and impacts game development at all levels, from concept artist to low level bit-pushing coder.  The next few articles will look at the issues of asset management in games.  First we must clarify our goals with some simple definitions.

What exactly is an asset?

For the purpose of this series we’ll define an asset as a set of piece of data used by the game.  This is very inclusive, and should help illustrate the scope of the problem.  A texture, a model, an sound, an AI script, really just about any data used can be considered an asset.

What is asset management?

Its the process of tracking data used by the game: when it is used, how it is used and how individual pieces of data relate to each other.  For example, to load a character we need to need: a model, the material and shaders, the textures, the animation data, and possibly more (such as AI or motion graphs).  Asset management is an integral part of workflow, data processing and runtime optimizations.

Proper asset management is a major issue in game development.  Solid asset management is required to handle the amount of content modern games use.

In this series we’ll take a closer look at the major layers of asset management:

  • Runtime Layer – Where the game engine deals with assets
  • Processing Layer – Where assets are processed for the engine
  • Content Layer – Where assets are created and used by designers

Each layer has its own issues to handle, and we’ll investigate these issues and look into possible management solutions.

Part 1: The Runtime Layer

Part 2: The Processing Layer

Part 3: The Content Layer

Finally we have a checklist of important points to consider when building and maintaining your asset management system.

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