Autodesk’s Game industry ICONS – Good show

Autodesk Media & Entertainment, publisher of a range of sytsems like Smoke, Flame, Flint, Smoke, Lustre and software like 3DsMax and combustion, recently held the Mumbai leg of its Game Industry Icons 7 city tour. Held at Mumbai’s JW Marriot on Aug 22, the show witnessed a full house and had some interesting sessions with International gaming personalities Dr Michael Capps, President of EPIC games (Unreal Tounament, Unreal Engine) and David Hibbeln, Director of Art for Bioware (Jade Empire, Baldur’s Gate). The show also included an insightful talk by Michel Kripalani, Games Industry Manager Autodesk and some sneak peeks at 3Ds Max 8.0, the official launch of which is on 5 September. Speaking first, Autodesk Games Industry Manager Michel Kripalani, who prior to joining Autodesk was CEO of Presto Studios for 12 years said that,” More than 40% usage of 3Ds Max worldwide is for game development. The scenario in India is however different. We anticipate the games market in India to grow and want to support that. We also see a lot of 3D mobile gaming coming in”
Epic games President Dr Michael Capps
EPIC Games President Dr Michael Capps in his presentation emphasised that,”With the rising cost of nex gen games, Epic’s strategy is to work with Vendors (like Autodesk), license middleware and also to make tools which can’t be bought” Currently the studio is developing Unreal Tournament 2007 and Gears of War. The studio has also been developing Unreal Engine for the past 10 years and has licensed the engine to about 50 game titles. While Unreal Engine 1 was for PC FPS games, Unreal Engine 2 was cross platform and titles like LineageII and Splinter Cell involved it. “The Unreal Engine 3” remarked Dr Capps “is targeted at nex gen gaming consoles and PCs. It has a 100% shader driven rendering pipeline and per pixel lighting & shadowing anywhere” Refering to nex gen games, Dr Capps remarked “Epic is a 60 person studio and we cannot afford 3x increase in costs. Our approach is therefore to improve tools. We also work very closely with vendors and push them to develop the kind of tools we require. For instance the pelt mapping feature in 3DsMax 8.0 comes from our design mockups” Dr Capps also spoke about the Collada standard which is a COLLAborative Design Activity for establishing an open standard Digital Asset schema for interactive 3D applications. BIOWARE director of art, David Hibbeln had a special slide show on Jade Empire game art. He also disclosed Bioware’s intention to outsource to India (for more on that click here) The Q&A session Is it worth going in for training for next gen gaming? Michel Kripalani replied “Based on what I have seen at E3, Microsoft is at least coming on with 2 dozen next gen games and 40 others are currently under development. Sony also has many dozens of nex gen games lined up. This Christmas 20% of the offerings from major game studios will be next gen” “That said, the Xbox and PS2 are still very viable platforms. One difference is that Sony and Nintendo are continuing the life cycle of PS2 and Game Cube, but Microsoft has a very different strategy Once 360 ships they will entirely shift their focus to nex gen” Autodesk’s Michel Kripalani speaks to Animation ‘xpress Autodesk Games Industry Manager Michel Kriplani, based in San Fransisco manages hardware relationships with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. He also manages relationships with Middleware companies like Epic and assists with key clients which includes gaming studios like Bioware, Blizzard, Ubisoft and Bungie. Speaking to Animation ‘xpress, Kriplani commented “There is a vast market for Game development outsourcing and China has done well. Thousands of people in China are working on AAA titles. India too needs to build up its skills and come up to that level of competency”

“India has a highly educated, english speaking and technically competent workforce, the only component that’s missing is people who know and love games”

Speaking on the difference between animation and gaming, Kriplani said” The first question a modeler working on a game will ask is How many Polys can I spend? How large can the texture maps be? Games require a lot of real time rendering and in Gaming every polygon has to be perfect. While animation is more of visual art, gaming is 50% visual art and 50% computer coding” “In a game studio today most areas of employment are specialised. Within that you have to realise what you want to do. There’s books, there’s info on the net, but the best way to learn is from experienced people. The problem with books is that by the time a book is published, the topic which it elaborates on is no longer cutting edge” As a parting shot, Kriplani said that,”When we ask anyone about where is India’s film industry located? the answer will be Mumbai (Bollywood), when we ask where is the tech industry answer will be Bangalore. Similarly the game development community has to come together at one location so as to enable quick sharing of know how and evolution”