New texture compression tech detailed by middleware provider

GDC: Allegorithmic unveils Substance Redux

Middleware specialist Allegorithmic is to release a new tool named Substance Redux, that allows developers to compress texture files late in the production pipeline, or even after an online game has been released to the public.

Substance Redux, which now stands as sister product to the established texture creation tool Substance Air, will allow users to compress the size of relevant files by up to 50 per cent.

“Substance Redux, the first in an exciting new line of products from Allegorithmic, is an intuitive compression tool that users are able to easily integrate into existing pipelines and production realities,” said Dr. Sebastien Deguy, president and founder of Allegorithmic. “Similar to a WinZip dedicated solely to online games, Substance Redux is a remarkably smart tool that will fundamentally change the way users reduce and compress textures.”

According to Allegorithmic’s data, textures contribute to an average of 50 per cent of an online game’s overall file size. Furthermore, total file size is reported to directly correlate with the financial success of an online game. In short, if the file size is too big many potential customers will either not complete the download of a given game, or never return once the download is concluded. The percentage of users that withdraw from playing the game during or immediately after a download is known as the ‘abortion rate’.

"Often the abortion rate is as high as 90 per cent," said Deguy, speaking with Develop at GDC. "That means a huge loss in revenues effectively caused by file size. When textures make up 50 per cent of that file size, compression of this kind is a big deal."

"Substance Redux makes a great deal of sense from a business perspective," added Allegorithmic’s VP of strategy and sales Alexis Khouri, adding: "but it’s also important to realise that this is something more. It is a revolution in the way people make content, and it will have a huge impact on the way people create content. It could be as significant as the introduction of MP3 to the music industry."

Designed to be simple to use and fast, Substance Redux allows for detailed texture map analysis and optimal compression schemes, the use of custom automatic filters to improve quality, extremely quick in-house DXT compression at runtime, and plugs-ins for Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 and Emergent’s Gamebryo engine.

The middleware will be available for evaluation in April.

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