Boss of French middleware initiative says team is already thinking ahead to PlayStation 4

Play All head: ‘ engine independence is critical’ for future of dev biz

In an in-depth Q&A looking at the French PlayAll middleware scheme, we’ve been talking to project manager Anne Dévouassoux to find out more – and she has said the collaborative technology effort is key to supporting independent developers in France.

We revealed PlayAll late last year – supported with €6.5m funding from the Paris region’s agencies and the French Ministry of Industry in a bid to fuel the local games development sector, the scheme sees five studios HQ’d in Paris (Darkworks, Kylotonn, Load Inc, White Birds Productions and Wizarbox) working together to build a shared middleware technology.

"Our vision was – and still is – that securing engine independence is critical from a business and game performance point of view," Dévouassoux told us.

"Building an Xbox 360 and PS3 toolchain is already very risky for a studio to undertake on its own, and when we project forwards to PlayStation 4 the risk is even greater. So our bet was to start a collaborative approach on this generation so we will be ready to face next cycle challenges. We really are thinking that far ahead – it’s a highly ambitious and long-term project."

Architects working on the project at a central location in the French capital are aiming to build a hugely ambitious framework that supports a vast array of platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PSP, PS2, Wii & DS. Explained Dévouassoux: "To test the Play All engine and toolchain, three demonstrators (or prototypes) will be developed by the studios – a first-person shooter, an action game and an adventure game."

But the bigger aim, she added, was to transform the way developers use and view middleware: "We are developers who have gone through the RenderWare story, so we know the need to come up with an innovative and secure model for studios. We understand how studios feel trapped when they decide to opt for a middleware solution. Our mission is to solve that frustration. And having been in the industry for 10 years we feel the need for more open standards."

The full Q&A, which also asks how the project exactly works, can be read here.

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