Autodesk has announced the 2013 editions of its games middleware tools at GDC 2012.
The rapidly expanding line-up, now officially titled Autodesk Gameware, includes six separate products: the Beast lighting engine; UI-authoring sytem Scaleform; real-time IK solver HumanIK; and AI tools Kynapse, Cognition and Population.
The latter two are new products which result from Autodesk having “integrated recently acquired AI technology from Grip Entertainment”. As yet, we’re not certain how far they differ from Grip’s old Character Control System and Digital Extra System – although given that only four months have passed since the acquisition, we’d imagine they’re essentially the old tools, updated and rebadged.
Of the existing tools, Beast gets live scene authoring for interactive lighting previews; Kynapse gets a smoother new pathfinding mode; HumanIK gets a new shoulder solver and improved spine solving, plus better workflow with MotionBuilder; and Scaleform gets new tools aimed at creating UIs for mobile games.
You can find full details below. As yet, there don’t seem to be any demo videos online, but we’ll update once they’re available. All of the Autodesk Gameware 2013 products are due to ship later this spring.
In a separate announcement, Autodesk also announced a deal with Nintendo to provide its licensed developers working on titles for the upcoming Wii U console with access to Scaleform, HumanIK and Kynapse.
PRESS RELEASE (Excerpts)
New Products and Enhancements Expand Autodesk’s Artificial Intelligence Offering
Autodesk has integrated recently acquired artificial intelligence (AI) technology from Grip Entertainment into its Gameware line through the introduction of two new products: Cognition and Population. The company further expanded its AI offering through new enhancements in Kynapse for real-time 3D pathfinding.
Autodesk Cognition 2013 is a visual programming system and run-time engine for creating and managing high-level artificial intelligence. Based on the paradigm of behavior trees, the system’s visual representation of AI behavior can be more widely understood for better collaboration. The formal structure of nodes and trees helps keep code organized, so it can be managed, reused and modified more easily, while comprehensive debugging tools help game creators correct complex AI more quickly.
Autodesk Population 2013 is an AI software module for Epic Unreal Engine 3 technology that enables game designers to create and manage large numbers of secondary characters. With Gameware Population, game designers can rapidly create vibrant, living worlds populated by hundreds of nonplayer characters (NPCs), resulting in a more meaningful and compelling gaming experience.
The 2013 version of Autodesk Kynapse offers enhancements for more realistic navigation by NPCs. A new mode of pathfinding enables characters to navigate around changing environmental conditions by dynamically updating pathdata based on aggregates of dynamic objects in a level. Automatic path smoothing capabilities also help animation systems to better anticipate motions and produce more naturally moving characters. In addition, further memory optimizations have been made specifically to reduce the footprint of AI bots, to allow for higher numbers of NPCs in a game level.
Improved Solving With Autodesk HumanIK 2013 Animation Middleware
HumanIK enables more realistic character animation with simplified access to its two-bone IK solver, a new shoulder solver and an improved spine solving technique that uses a new parameter to control spine curvature. Animators can also now pinpoint issues in problematic character animation more easily by loading the character in Autodesk MotionBuilder 2012 software using an improved HumanIK plugin.
Easier, Interactive Lighting With Autodesk Beast 2013 Middleware
The 2013 release of Beast enables live scene authoring, so artists can see results interactively as they edit scene geometry, lights, as well as their parameters and baking properties. These features are integrated into the Beast Unreal Engine integration, as part of a more efficient lighting workflow that provides interactive previews in the viewport. Beast 2013 also helps artists achieve high-quality lighting without delving into configuration through a global illumination mode that provides quick and simple lighting setups.
Autodesk Scaleform 4.1 for All Types of Video Game Development
The latest version of Autodesk’s video game user interface (UI) solution offers new features and enhancements designed especially for mobile game development. A new mobile-ready player, flexible input support, game kits and tutorials extend the product’s toolset for developing mobile game UI, as well as 2D games and apps.
Further usability and performance enhancements for all types of video game development have also been included. Scaleform 4.1 rounds out its Action Script 3 compatibility by adding support for BitmapData, AS3 XML and regular expressions. The new release also offers a user-friendly front-end client for the middleware’s export/cooking tool, with graphical preview of assets. In addition, a new version of the Analyzer for Memory and Performance (AMP) tool for fine-tuning Flash applications provides an easier-to-use UI, as well as improved graphics processing unit (GPU) profiling capabilities.
Scaleform 4.1 is newly available for use with the award-winning Unity 3 engine. It also now supports the new Microsoft Windows 8 Metro platform, which provides an excellent touch-based interface to tablets and PCs.
The new versions of Scaleform, Cognition, Population, Kynapse, Beast and HumanIK middleware are expected to be available in spring 2012.