Applications and Tools, Serious games

AutoDesk Finalizes Purchase of Game AI Engine

On the heels of AutoDesk’s announcement of its purchase of RealViz comes the completion of its purchase of Kynogon, a middleware company for the gaming industry that allows advanced AI, 3D pathfinding, and lots of other scripty goodness.

Per the company’s press release:

Kynapse gives characters spatial awareness, enabling them to realistically navigate digital environments. As well, Kynapse is widely used in simulation industries.

“The acquisition of Kynogon extends Autodesk’s leadership in game development and simulation technology. We welcome Kynogon’s customers, partners, and employees to Autodesk,” said Marc Petit, Autodesk Media & Entertainment senior vice president. “The future of video games is about more believable characters and environments. Due to the increasing complexity of video games, developers are adopting commercial middleware solutions such as Kynapse and Autodesk HumanIK to improve game play and to stay on time and on budget.”

Buildings that crumble and 10,000 person crowds. Image from a review of this type of technology over on CGW.

I posted recently on the ever-deepening pipelines and networks for content creation, and Hamlet Au picked up on this generating some great discussion over on New World Notes.

I’m not expert enough to know whether these technologies are, well, game-changers. Someone commented on my thoughts about Calligari. Or take 3DVIA Shape or Google’s Sketch-Up. And you can’t discount the role that Metaplace might have (although it seems to have fallen behind on its “spring beta”), Simple tools. Maybe not as “deep” as those in Second Life. But both bringing standards of some sort to bear, and interoperability (to a greater or lesser degree).

It used to be that Second Life didn’t need to look over its shoulder at the powerhouse gaming platforms as competition for casual creatives. You were talking big, expensive titles with massive learning curves – and in some ways you still are. But the tools are expanding and at the other end of the spectrum the tools are simpler – some to an infantile degree, but still simpler.

Second Life’s business model has been and, I think, still is, that it is a platform for creation. Your world, your imagination. And sure, maybe Mono will help make the execution of your imagination less clunky and less laggy. And Windlight gives a, well, MORE laggy but nicer looking backdrop to the fruits of your labor. But the only significant improvement they’ve made to the building toolset (of which I’m aware) has been the hack to allow mega prims, but the plug was quickly yanked.

So while we worry about lag, grid crashes, and stability we take our attention off what was once a core value proposition, and start to worry about whether we can keep the social fabric together to boot by attracting more newbies to the grid.

Meanwhile, the “other” 3D pipelines, many of them with their own interoperability issues, IP challenges, and learning curves are deepening and widening, nibbling away at what was once a core value proposition for Second Life – at both the high end for architectural and 3D visualization, and at the low end for casual creators who want to make 3D “stuff” either because it looks good or because they’re creating little mini islands of immersion.


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