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  • Vancouver Development Community Mourns The Loss of A Comrade

6th September 2010

Vancouver Development Community Mourns The Loss of A Comrade

It was with great sadness over this past weekend that I learned of the passing of designer Brian Wood. Only 33 years old, Brian was fatally injured in a motor vehicle accident Friday evening on Whidbey Island in Washington state. His wife Erin, who is 6 months pregnant with their first child, was with Brian in the vehicle when it was struck head-on by another vehicle just north of Oak Harbor. Two passengers in the other vehicle also perished, and the driver of that vehicle, along with another passenger, are expected to face criminal charges relating to this tragic accident.

As many of Vancouver’s development community know, Brian was lead designer for Relic Entertainment’s Company of Heroes Online. I first met Brian back in December of 2006 when he, along with senior artist Roland Longpre, presented a post-mortem on the then brand-new Company of Heroes debut title at the Art Institute’s ARTmageddon. Brian and Roland at ARTmageddon in 2006

Many of us will remember Brian as the guy with the kind of laugh and sense of humour that could get everyone going. A designer who believed in the importance of marrying story to gameplay, he was always on the go, a sports enthusiast and was always willing to share his knowledge of game development with those who wanted to learn. Michael will remember Brian as the guy who handed him his butt in a Company of Heroes tournament at ARTmageddon, making a big comeback in round three to steal the victory. The good-hearted banter between Roland, Brian and the gamers during the tournament showed how much Brian enjoyed being a game designer, and how important it was to him that the people playing a Company of Heroes game had a great time, even though he had their back to the trenches, so to speak. In memory of Brian, I am re-releasing the 2006 article I wrote about the Company of Heroes Mission Breakdown. Please feel free to share your memories of Brian in the comment section.

The focus of this lecture was the development team for Relic’s latest RTS release Company of Heroes, specifically Mission 7, a commando/infiltration-style mission which takes place in Normandy.

Mr. Longpre opened the lecture stating that the single most important element for a development team is communication. This stands true for every stage from concept to product shipping. The first step in developing a game is the concept stage. At this point, the game concept along with a one page outline of the game and a basic map are presented to the studio’s lead development team. If the concept is accepted and the go-ahead given to develop the game, then a basic team is formed. The actual development time for Company of Heroes was four years from concept to completion, with a development team of up to ninety members. Read the rest of this entry »

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