The CEO of animation tool firm NaturalMotion studios has predicated that studios will soon start seeing an acceleration of development timetables – and it’s all thanks to the vibrant tools sector, he says.With the world’s development community now waist-deep in a new generation of hardware, Reil told Develop during GDC that “within months” studios will start seeing a faster turnaround in their production cycle as technology from external vendors consolidates a valuable place in the industry foodchain – and in studio toolchains.
“I reckon that after the initial push we’ll see on development in the next few will go down,” he said – not because new tools are now offsetting the spiral in team sizes and a shortage of
engineers, but due to emerging technologies in fact “over-compensating for bigger teams. I’m pretty sure of that.”
NaturalMotion’s latest attempt to expedite this is morpheme, which has intentionally been
designed to remove the grunt work usually done by coders when it comes to engineering animation rigs, instead speeding up workflow by offering a 3D authoring tool both programmers and animators can use.
“We wanted to give animators a great powerful tool – and that’s gone down really well,” explained Reil.
“At the end of the day it comes down to the quality and of the code and the focused difference that comes from iteration. It’s about saving time. Everyone’s now thinking about ‘what can we do better’ for next-gen as the hardware is giving us more than we expected.”
The change is also spurred by the willingness – and necessity – of studios when it comes to opting for middleware. Like every other big name in the tools market, NaturalMotion has a number of big name development partners on its books (the most recent being Rockstar, which has signed up for euphoria) which sees each vendor proving, said Reil, that “studios no longer want to be in a position where they rely on just one company or one tool to get by.”