GDC 2014: Raft of additions to HumanIK, Beast, Navigation, Scaleform, Maya and Maya LT middleware

Autodesk reveals 2015 updates to animation and Gameware tool suites

Autodesk has outlined the latest 2015 updates for its suite of animation and Gameware tools.

Character animation middleware HumanIK has been integrated with Unreal Engine 4, as well as getting improved support for mobile and adding the ability to for developers animate large groups of characters on PS4 and Xbox One.

Cross-platform UI tool Scaleform will be updated with a new ActionScript 3 virtual machine and a re-worked multi-core rendering engine, and has also been optimised for new generation consoles and mobile platforms.

Lighting tech Beast meanwhile incudes the new DistriBeast tool for managing multiple Beast render nodes on a network, support for Open Shading Language and a new plug-in for Autodesk 3D animation and modelling software.

Rounding up the updates for its Gameware suite of tools is the latest release of AI middleware Navigation, which features improved support for animation-driven locomotion and vehicle inertia, the ability to apply a dynamic NavMesh to multi-floor level designs and hierarchical pathfinding. The tech is now also compatible with iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Surface, and can be integrated with Unity.

Updates to Scaleform, HumanIK, Navigation and Beast tools are expected to be available in spring.

Autodesk has also unveiled the new 2015 versions of its suite of animation tools that includes 3ds Max, Maya and Maya LT.

The latter tool is targeted at indie developers and will include new features such as cloud integration, allowing artists to browse, open, modify and save Dropbox or Autodesk 360 files to the cloud through the Maya LT interface.

Other additions include Unfold 3D, which helps facilitate the creation of UV maps from 3D models and substance material integration enabling users to apply materials created in Allegorithmic’s Substance Designer to 3D models.

The latest version of Autodesk Maya will come with new capabilities such as the Bifrost procedural effects platform for simulation and rendering tasks, and Autodesk 3ds Max has been redesigned to improve ease of use, featuring a new node-based visual interface called ShaderFX.

MotionBuilder 2015 meanwhile will come with a new plug-in for Kinect to help capture body movements for use in the tool, and a content library with 100 character animations.

"Our strongest releases in many years, the 2015 versions put more creative power back into the hands of the artists," said Autodesk senior VP of media and entertainment Chris Bradshaw

"To achieve this, we redesigned core parts of our applications focusing on performance, ease-of-use and innovative new tools like Bifrost that make it simpler to do complex tasks. Whether our users are creating effects for a movie blockbuster, a game for one of the new consoles or developing a mobile app, the 2015 versions allow artists to focus on what they do best – storytelling."

GDC 2014 – Live! Breaking news and up-to-the-minute developments: HERE

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