programmer's graphics library

An experienced programmer tells his Fastgraph story...

With Southpark: Chef's Luv Shack , we were given the daunting task of creating what was essentially a gameshow-style trivia game and an arcade classics collection, written for 4 different platforms...PC, Playstation, Dreamcast, and N64. Worse, we were given a grand total of 8 months to do it in. And as a final caveat, Isaac Hayes (Chef) and Matt and Trey couldn't record the audio samples for the game until just a few weeks before we were supposed to turn over. We were getting really the powers-that-be decided, as a time-saving measure, to give the axe to the PC version. It wasn't running very reliably at all, and no one was going to have time to fix it. At the time, it was relying on an old (circa DX5) version of Direct 3D, and crashing frequently.

Early on, I had written a complete Southpark-esque animation tool, which I called Spanim. The backbone for Spanim was Fastgraph, and every animation in the game (on all platforms) were created using this tool, including the really neat music video intro by the talented Mr. Gregg Hargrove. After seeing first-hand how quickly I created Spanim, I was able to convince management to let me port the game engine to Fastgraph. I told them we could have a version that didn't require 3D hardware and would run reasonably well on low-end machines. The port was up and running within a week, and I would spend another 3-4 weeks optimizing buffers and such as best I could. In the end, that game ran on a P133 with 32 megs of RAM. Although the game doesn't exactly "sizzle", it is NOT the fault of Fastgraph, our "game engine" was designed for doing front-end menus, and was woefully inefficient as it was. But it shipped on time and was very stable on all platforms.

Without Fastgraph, we would not have had a PC version of the game. The support from Ted and Diana was above and beyond the call of duty...especially since my calls sometimes came, uh, rather early in the day. With the new features in Fastgraph version 6, it's become a truly inspirational tool. I look forward to using it in most all of my future projects.

John Nagle
Acclaim Studios, Austin


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