Stonetrip co-founder Philip Belhasen explains what the Shiva 1.9 engine upgrade is all about
What makes the release of Shiva 1.9 more significant than a simple update?
For us 1.9 represents a Shiva that is
dedicated to developers. With this version we wanted to break the rules, and to help experienced studios develop great applications using Shiva.
The main differences are the access to native code, the ability to extend the engine abilities using plug-ins, the power to simplify and accelerate the development process, and finally, to allow final publishing through a really robust process.
If you were to choose one new feature that is the most important addition to 1.9, what would it be?
1.9’s plugin features are the most important. It completely changes the way that the customers can develop using Shiva.
So what does that mean for the day-to-day work of a developer using 1.9?
Now there is no constraint. We free the constraints of development completely, so users can imagine everything they want, and use the plug-ins to achieve it. They can also integrate all the tools and middleware they want, so that they are free. The approach of Shiva is now that it is not just a good cross-platform tool; it is now also a complete native development kit.
The business model for Shiva is quite distinct from its contemporaries. Why did you create the system you have in place?
The business model is very simple. If you have the free version of 1.9 you will be able to test any export you want. Shiva Basic – previously called Shiva Unlimited – allows you to export everything you want without any watermarks and without any limitations, and create as many titles as you want for as many platforms as you want.
The Advanced version, which is €1,500, is dedicated to the studios wanting all the services and tools for team development. Features such as performance reports let studios be really productive and create really commercial applications.
With Shiva, we follow the business model of the internet. We are absolutely not doing it the same way as any of our competitors’ engines. They always charge royalties per platform and per title.
For developers that is complex and expensive. Stonetrip lets you buy the tools, buy the software, and use it as you want, without any limitation.
You mentioned your competitors, of which Unity and Epic are the most obvious examples. Where does Stonetrip fit? Is there space for you?
For us it is pretty easy. We work in a different market. Unreal, for example, works with high-profile studios, and is dedicated to triple-A games. Even though they talk a lot about casual gaming using Unreal engine, it is not really possible.
For our other competitors like Unity, all the customers we have that used Unity have said ‘this platform is not really efficient. You cannot do everything you want’. They are limited because of the quality of the software and the robustness.
Of course, Unity is a strong competitor – a really strong one. But we think that we are not on that level of software. We propose our innovations and difference of business model. We think that we are closer to the internet, so we have a different approach from them.
The entire games industry is changing. Why is Stonetrip’s offering relevant and important now?
Because inside our technology is all the systems, all the services and all of the tools to build the future, and to build for new business models, new distribution processes and a new kind of publishing.
We are truly cross-platform and we provide the ubiquity of the user experience. This is why we feel we are at the right place at the right moment. We think that people like to start a game on PC and continue on mobile and finish wherever they are. This is what we provide, and that is the future. We are always adding new platforms.
What would you say to people who would suggest being on so many platforms can be a weakness for and engine?
We have built an innovative technology to generate the perfect pipeline, for each platform, for each OS, and for each driver.
We can get the maximum of performance quality from not only every platform, but from every device. The difference with Shiva is that we don’t provide for the minimum. We offer the best on all devices.
How does Stonetrip plan to move forward? What do you hope to achieve?
For us, and for me, it is very simple. We want to replace Flash. Flash is used everywhere, and it is a great technology. But, there is a lot of stuff missing such as complex behaviour and physics capabilities. The future is to have a new experience on the web.
A lot of people talk about a new web 2.0, or things like ‘semantic web’. We think that what is next is ‘web 3D’ – a completely 3D experience on the web. This is what we want to provide for. There are a community of a million developers, and we want them to use our tools.
The future of the web is on mobile and TV. In the next couple of years there will be more connected smartphones than connected desktops. This means that more people will see the web through mobile. A connected-user 3D experience is the future of the web.
Free-to-play will be important too. It has become a standard business model in Korea, and I think Europe will follow. If you are building free-to-play, you cannot use an engine that charges royalties.