Presented by Autodesk
As video games continue to become more and more complex, game developers need to know that the tools they rely on are up to the challenge and, even more so, actively evolving in ways that keep developer needs front and center. This is especially true for the talented artists creating the cutting-edge assets that constantly redefine what is possible in a video game.
No one knows the needs of 3D artists quite as well as Autodesk. With staple 3D software like Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max, the team at Autodesk is constantly meeting with major developers like Bungie, Riot Games, Insomniac and many more to understand the needs of the game development community and ensure its tools are giving developers room to thrive.
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Gamasuta recently sat down with two of Autodesk's finest to explore where they see the industry going and discuss how tools like Maya and 3ds Max are considering the ever-evolving needs of game developers along the way.
Steven T.L. Roselle, Product Manager for Maya, has been with the Maya team since before it was acquired by Autodesk in 2005, and spent time as a technical artist in the game industry before that. As he puts it, it's his job to oversee the development and planning for Maya and get to the "pulse of the industry" in order to plan and act on the needs of the game development community.
Like Roselle, Chip Weatherman is a 20 year veteran of the broader entertainment industry, and himself serves as the product manager for 3ds Max. His own journey to Autodesk has seen him working with everything from commercial jumbotron animations to a civil engineering architecture brand. He now oversees product management on 3ds Max and works with game developers to ensure 3ds Max best reflects their needs.
Both have witnessed video games become more and more complex over the years and pick up particular momentum during the last year alone. But that same complexity means game artists have more than ever on their plate, and things show no sign of slowing down.
"It's been the case, and it will continue to be the case, that demand for more content, bigger content, more detailed content is going to continue," explains Roselle.
"From an artist standpoint, as far as workflows go I think what you're going to see is, as [artists] have to create more polished, high-quality content, higher resolution geometry, higher resolution textures, and so on, then they're going to have to eliminate a lot of the mundane tasks that they have to do today."
Roselle adds that, currently, 3D artists across many disciplines spend a good chunk of their time doing mundane tasks like UV editing, skin weighting, handling dense mocap data, and other tasks that artists generally don't want to spend the bulk of their time with.
"These are not necessarily the things that that artists want to focus on," says Roselle. "They want to focus on actually being artists and being creative. And so I think what you'll see is, over time replacing these more mundane tasks with things like automation, and with things like machine learning and AI, and basically leveraging technology."
Many developers are already facing down similar issues, and Weatherman notes that programs like 3ds Max and Maya have already started to incorporate features that streamline workflows and help developers work through the more mundane parts of asset creation.
Weatherman points to recent features like the addition of smart extrusion to 3ds Max to help modelers have quicker access to the tools they need, improvements surrounding [cache playback] in Maya to allow those high-poly meshes to playback considerably faster, or, for both programs, leveraging advanced tree topology tools to help devs better prepare assets for games.
"Like we were saying before, for alleviating some of those mundane tasks...There's a lot of things that game studios go through as far as massaging data to get it into the engine," explains Weatherman.
He adds that this is especially important given the recent trend of reviving and remastering classing games for modern audiences as well. "Like we mentioned, some of those older games are coming back online. So how can they up-res textures? How can they up-res content without having to go back to those older tools? Those are things that can be automated, and there's a ton of stuff that can be done with regards to machine learning in AI as well."
Both see cloud-based utilities as something that will, and already are, play a major part in how game developers tackle creative projects as well, and Autodesk aims to ensure that technology is helping devs hone their efficiency. Find that insight and more peeks into the future of game development tools in the full interview at the top of the page.
And for more from Autodesk, including helpful articles, blogs, and info on how to connect with its games program, check out this link.