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What are the reasons to have an intermediate format?

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I have no idea what you're asking, Jack. I think you should frame your question in a human-readable format, and offer your own thoughts as to what you suspect a good answer might be, and why.

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One big reason is it's an easy interchange format. For example, you might have artists/animators/riggers/etc working on a set of models, but there are multiple tools/programs that are used to make the models from start to finish. Each program might have it's own file format, but if they each can work with collada files, then you can use it as a... you guessed it... intermediate format to go from one program to another.

Intermediate file formats are used for just that: going between two states/programs/workflows/etc as a way to bridge the gap so you can transition from one to the next.

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One purpose is for conversions.

Let's "pretend" that there are 200 different formats to store music in.
Let's further "pretend" that people want to convert between those formats.

You can either make a conversion tool for each individual "format <-> format" pair, which would require 39,800 different conversion tools...
Or, you can identify three or four of the most popular, and just make each of the 200 formats be able to convert to those popular ones (~796 tools required).

Then you can go: .wav to .mp3 to .ogg, without having to create a specific .wav to .ogg conversion tool. ([size=2]Note: this specific example has lossy data issues. A good intermediary format is lossless)

So: If there are >100 different formats to store 3D models in... why should every 3D model creation tool, and every 3D game engine, have to know how to load and save in 100 different formats? Why not just identify the four or five popular ones and support those, knowing you can convert the less popular ones to the more popular ones already?

The key is, you want your intermediate format to be lossless, so any modelling (or sound, or pixel) data doesn't get lost when converting from one format to another. File formats created explicitly for intermediate use are probably larger sizes, and save any little spec of data that it may think you want to keep, and when you finally convert to the file format (known or custom format) for use with your game, you can strip out all the extra data you don't need. In the same way, my PaintShopPro image files are huge, but save all the image layer data that I need while working on the image, and all the layer data is stripped out when I save the final result as a .png or .jpg.

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And that belongs in game design because...?


Probably the biggest reason that it fits in game design is because it doesn't fit anywhere else. It's not specifically attributed to Writing, Music, Art, Modelling. It could perhaps fit into a technical forum, but I think it's definitely something that is applicable to game design. Taking a modelling aspect, the types of models you use for your game is worth bearing in mind especially if you have more than one modeller.

If you have two modellers working on your game but they each prefer their own modelling program then it could be worth planning to use an intermediary model in deployment so that they can each work to their own preference, and conversion can be applied to both. The same holds true for working with multiple sound techs, or (a lesser extent I would say) multiple artists.

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it doesn't fit anywhere else


Well we do have Production and Management down there. This seems like organization to me, which, if I'm not mistaken, should be handled by the project management aspect of things.
I'm just having a rough time trying to figure our whether this would really be the Game Designer's job to go so micro into details before production starts, and make decisions on tech and stuff like that without prior consent from the hierarchy (which inherently would discuss these matters with the tech folks).

Maybe its just me though.

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I agree that it certainly lends itself to a management aspect, but then I also think it would depend on how much your designer has to do with designing the architecture of the game. I think I'm probably thinking in the mindset of a small indie team where I'd expect the game designer to be acting in the role of producer too. At the same time, if you design your game to be moddable or editable, taking into account various formats of different game resources is something the game designer definitely should consider.

If you want the player to be able to import their own music into the game so they can listen to it while playing for example, I would expect the game designer to consider the pros and cons of the different formats and include that in the design. A lot of this would be reconsidered during production, and will depend on the team, but it is definitely a design point.

I've argued with myself back and forth here. I still think that it doesn't not belong here, just the same as it doesn't not belong in Production and Management. It would help if the OPs specific context was clearer to make the differentiation.

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