Frank Delise, director of game solutions at Autodesk, discusses the firm's ambitions following its Bitsquid acquisition
Tools provider Autodesk today announced its acquistion of Bitsquid, adding a fully-fledged game engine to its already comprehensive portfolio of game-making tools.
It's a bold move, and potentially a challenge to leading engines such as Unity, CryEngine and Unreal Engine. After all, this brings together a team that has been dedicated to engine creation with a company that offers some of the most widely-used tools in art, animation, modelling, rendering and various other aspects integral to games development.
To find out more about this move, we caught up with director of game solutions Frank Delise to find out more about Autodesk's plans for its new 3D game engine.
Why has Autodesk acquired an engine? What does it add to your offering?
Bitsquid is another piece in the Autodesk gaming arsenal that brings game engine development expertise as well as proven game building software in-house. With Bitsquid on board, we strengthen our development team by bringing in experts who understand how to build real-time rendering engines.
Combined with Autodesk’s strong middleware lineup such as Scaleform, Beast, Human IK and Navigation, we have a great team to building an exciting future. We’re really committed to creating tools that enable the creation of great 3D games and want to ensure that we create the best tools for game-makers, whether they are using a 3D art tool like 3dsmax, Maya or Maya LT, or one of our middleware tools.
Why acquire BitSquid specifically? What is it about this engine that appeals to you?
What we really liked about Bitsquid is the modern design approach they used in creating their tech. If you look at their current engine as an example, it's a super flexible design and doesn't box users into a rigid workflow – it’s incredibly collaborative and open. With Bitsquid as part of Autodesk, we have the potential to offer a ridiculously efficient and comprehensive workflow from concept to publish for game makers. Beyond games we also have the expertise to power new tools for design and even film customers.
What are your main priorities when developing the new 3D game engine? What do you hope to accomplish?
First and foremost, this was a technology acquisition that will help us build a 3D game engine to complement our gaming portfolio. Our goal is to make the game creation process more efficient, collaborative, so that we can drive creativity.
We also see the same potential outside the gaming industry. We’re exploring how the underlying technology of the Bitsquid game engine can serve as the basis of a new generation of design animation tools using game engine technology for interactive, real-time visualization of design data in architecture, manufacturing, construction and film production workflows.
With Bitsquid as part of Autodesk, we have the potential to offer a ridiculously efficient and comprehensive workflow from concept to publish for game makers.
Frank Delise, Autodesk
How will the engine interact with established Autodesk tools?
I can say we are exploring the interaction between the Bitsquid technology and our content creation tools and we are excited about the potential 'game changing' workflows we can provide with these great products. We will have more to share over the coming months.
What can Autodesk bring to the engine space? How will you draw from your tools experience to do something other engine providers don't?
Autodesk brings years of experience building tools for artists, designers and engineers. Combining this with great game engine technology from Bitsquid will enable us to can change the way games are developed, buildings are designed and how films are previsualized. We are in a unique position to bring artists, designers and developers together in a powerful way.
In terms of power and functionality, how will you compete with Unreal, Unity and other leading engines?
We’re not discussing specific features right now, but we see this engine as unique, modern approach to the ever-changing game development process. It is also important to note that we are very supportive of other leading game engines. At the end of the day, we want great games to be created and we will continue to support products like Unreal and Unity with fine-tuned workflows with 3ds max, Maya and gameware in the same way we support the many customers whom build custom game engines.
Combining our experience with great game engine technology from Bitsquid will enable us to can change the way games are developed, buildings are designed and how films are previsualized.
Frank Delise, Autodesk
How will you compete in terms of pricing given Unreal and CryEngine's recent low-price subscriptions?
While I can’t be more specific on the price of the engine right now, I do want to point out that we have been very flexible in our pricing, supporting large customers as well as indie developers. Beginning last year, we began offering our tools on a subscription basis. We've also been laser focused on pricing our tools to make them really accessible – especially for indie game makers who are often just starting out, but have a passion for games and want to use our tools. For example, just this Saturday we lowered the Maya LT monthly subscription price to £25 a month, down from £45 a month.
How will you reach out to developers to get them using your new engine? Do you have any current partners working on BitSquid-powered games?
We'll have more information on availability of our new engine later this year. And don't forget that the Bitsquid engine has already been used to create current generation console, PC and mobile games, and some of those folks are also working with us to test and refine a new engine based on Bitsquid. The best place to check out the work done using the current Bitsquid engine is at www.bitsquid.se.