Among the first of these vendors (along with Side Effects Software and Softimage) is Alias|Wavefront, whose Maya Real Time SDK (Software Developers Kit) was announced at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose this spring. The ultimate aim of the SDK is to provide game developers and designers with the capability of creating film-quality characters and scenes for these next-generation game platforms.
The Maya SDK, which is designed to be used in conjunction with the Maya modeling and animation program, incorporates real-time versions of Maya's 3D algorithms with an OpenGL version of the Maya Real-Time engine to allow developers to easily reconcile the "artistic" aspects of character and scene design with the programming demands of the game environment.
In the past, says Mike Wilson, interactive business development manager at Alias|Wavefront, artists had little control over how their characters ultimately appeared in games. "You'd finish your design, throw it over the wall, and hope that the programmer could recreate the character," he says. With the Maya SDK, designers will be able to see on the fly how their creations will appear in the game environment.
The Maya Real-Time SDK is scheduled to begin shipping this summer, with prices starting at $200,000 for the OpenGL Base system license. The PlayStation 2 development option will be available for an additional $150,000. (Alias|Wavefront; 800-447-2542; Toronto; www.aliaswavefront.com)