Interview: Simplygon's new CEO

Matt Connors on taking the reins at the 3D optimisation automation outfit
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After years advising the company, Matt Connors has now stepped up as the new CEO of Simplygon. We spoke to the man taking the optimisation automation technology outfit forward.

Firstly, for any of our readers that might not be aware of what Simplygon provides, could you just give a quick overview of the technology?
Simplygon is the leading solution for automating the otherwise very time-consuming task of optimising 3D content. With Simplygon game developers get all the benefits of optimisation techniques such as Level of Detail (LOD); draw-call reduction; scene optimisation; etcetera, which are necessary to get high, stable frame rates, but without the usual drawbacks like increased cost and development time.

What attracted you to becoming involved with Simplygon, both as an advisor and now as CEO?
Simplygon’s raw brainpower and focus. The engineering team is world class; the kind that can solve just about any problem you put in front of them. That’s what originally attracted me to the company. Since then, I watched them built a strong base of loyal customers in the super-demanding triple-A development studios. Simplygon is poised for growth.

Simplyon has undertaken some ambitious expansion in its recent history. Is that something we'll see more of with yourself at the reins?
That’s the plan.

So what has motivated that expansion, and what gives the company the confidence needed there?
We’ve solved some very challenging technology problems around 3D optimisation and we’ll continue to push ourselves to deliver more value to our customers.

From a markets perspective, Simplygon usage among the top studios has tipped. We used to have to convince developers, one-by-one, that integrating Simplygon into build pipelines, even just using Simplygon GUI, was worth the effort. Today, lots of triple-A artists and developers out there have relied on Simplygon optimisation capabilities; they are our biggest promoters, helping power our growth.

In addition to loyal customers, new platforms are making Simplygon even more valuable. Studios, such as Telltale Games, are a perfect example. Telltale uses Simplygon to automatically optimise multiple types of assets for each target platform for the episodic Game of Thrones. With Simplygon integrated into Telltale’s pipeline, artists spend more time focused on creating great assets, less on the drudgery of optimisation, while Telltale can fine tune pipeline-level optimisation settings to ensure quality experience across platforms and form factors.

We also know Simplygon’s automatic asset and scene optimisation will be key for emergent AR/VR platforms. Outside game development, our optimisation technology is directly applicable. Besides the obvious 'if it works for the most demanding video game development studios…' one could make, the latest version of Simplygon is essentially built on a modern cloud-based architecture. The new architecture allows triple-A studios to leverage their server farms for optimisation; outside games, making our technology available as a cloud service opens up a lot of new market opportunities.

In terms of the technology itself, how are we going to see Simplygon evolve, particularly with regard to reflecting current games industry trends?
We’ve developed close relationships with customers; their feedback and requests are critical to helping stay us a step ahead. Soon to be released Simplygon 7 streamlines the user interface for artists, while supporting all the advanced optimisation tools they need at every step of the creation process, including all the inevitable iterations. However, we know the best thing we can do for artists is make optimisation as invisible as possible.

The flexibility of Simplygon 7 SDK makes it easier for studios to manage automatic optimisation settings for every type of asset across the increasing number of multi-platform titles.

We’ve also invested heavily in tighter integration with game engines. In large part, it’s the flexibility we’ve developed. However, we’ve also collaborated with partners to take advantage of new features built into commercial game engines and build our technology into asset marketplaces. For example, soon Unreal developers will really notice the work we’ve done lately with Epic.

And what about beyond games? Are there increasing opportunities for optimisation technology as the likes of VR and AR capture the attention of those in other content and technology industries?
Definitely. We’re excited about VR and AR, because we see the potential for those platforms and know we can play an important role. Optimisation is, and will be critical, to delivering good experiences. For example, achieving an increased frame rate is reason enough to seriously consider Simplygon. For untethered AR applications, where low-latency experiences, delivered over-the-air content, without draining batteries too quickly will be important, Simplygon also has lots to offer.

In terms of your role steering the company, are we likely to see any grand changes at Simplygon? Or do you intended to mirror the work of your forbearers?
Attributing any grand changes to me would perhaps a bit too grand – you’ll know it’s coming when I start talking about myself in the third person. I’ve joined the company at a great time and have confidence we’re about to take off.

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