Autodesk Enhances Game Development Middleware

Category: GDC
SAN FRANCISCO — Autodesk (www.autodesk.com) has announced new and enhanced game development middleware from its recently launched Autodesk Gameware product line. The company has extended its mobile game development and artificial intelligence offerings, while providing usability and performance enhancements for existing products.

Autodesk Gameware comprises solutions that have been used in at least 1,000 games to date. Evaluation versions of the products will be available on the Autodesk Gameware Website, along with related videos, tutorials and forums.

“We united our efforts to streamline the game development process under the Autodesk Gameware banner and created the Gameware website to reach out directly to the development community,” says Marc Stevens, Autodesk vice president, product management. “Over that past four years, we have been investing significantly in the area of runtime technology. The new releases of our Gameware products highlight our continued commitment to providing game development solutions that help increase production values, while reducing development risks.” 

The latest version of Autodesk's video game user interface (UI) solution, Autodesk Scaleform 4.1, offers new features and enhancements designed especially for mobile game development. A new mobile-ready player, flexible input support, game kits and tutorials extend the product’s toolset for developing mobile game UI, as well as 2D games and apps.

Further usability and performance enhancements for all types of video game development have also been included. Scaleform 4.1 rounds out its Action Script 3 compatibility by adding support for BitmapData, AS3 XML and regular expressions. The new release also offers a user-friendly front-end client for the middleware’s export/cooking tool, with graphical preview of assets. In addition, a new version of the Analyzer for Memory and Performance (AMP) tool for fine-tuning Flash applications provides an easier-to-use UI, as well as improved graphics processing unit (GPU) profiling capabilities.

Scaleform 4.1 is newly available for use with the Unity 3 engine. It also now supports the new Microsoft Windows 8 Metro platform, which provides an excellent touch-based interface to tablets and PCs.

Autodesk has integrated recently acquired artificial intelligence technology from Grip Entertainment into its Gameware line through the introduction of two new products: Autodesk Cognition and Autodesk Population. The company further expanded its AI offering through new enhancements in Autodesk Kynapse middleware for real-time 3D pathfinding.

Autodesk Cognition 2013 is a visual programming system and run-time engine for creating and managing high-level artificial intelligence. Based on the paradigm of behavior trees, the system’s visual representation of AI behavior can be more widely understood for better collaboration. The formal structure of nodes and trees helps keep code organized, so it can be managed, reused and modified more easily, while comprehensive debugging tools help game creators correct complex AI more quickly. 

Autodesk Population 2013 is an AI software module for Epic Unreal Engine 3 technology that enables game designers to create and manage large numbers of secondary characters. With Gameware Population, game designers can rapidly create vibrant, living worlds populated by hundreds of nonplayer characters (NPCs), resulting in a more meaningful and compelling gaming experience.

The 2013 version of Autodesk Kynapse offers enhancements for more realistic navigation by NPCs. A new mode of pathfinding enables characters to navigate around changing environmental conditions by dynamically updating pathdata based on aggregates of dynamic objects in a level. Automatic path smoothing capabilities also help animation systems to better anticipate motions and produce more naturally moving characters. In addition, further memory optimizations have been made specifically to reduce the footprint of AI bots, to allow for higher numbers of NPCs in a game level. 

The 2013 release of Autodesk Beast lighting solution enables live scene authoring, so artists can see results interactively as they edit scene geometry, lights, as well as their parameters and baking properties. These features are integrated into the Beast Unreal Engine integration, as part of a more efficient lighting workflow that provides interactive previews in the viewport. Beast 2013 also helps artists achieve high-quality lighting without delving into configuration through a global illumination mode that provides quick and simple lighting setups. 

Autodesk HumanIK 2013 middleware enables more realistic character animation with simplified access to its two-bone IK solver, a new shoulder solver and an improved spine solving technique that uses a new parameter to control spine curvature. Animators can also now pinpoint issues in problematic character animation more easily by loading the character in Autodesk MotionBuilder 2012 software using an improved HumanIK plugin.

The new versions of Scaleform, Cognition, Population, Kynapse, Beast and HumanIK middleware are expected to be available in spring 2012. 


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