There are dozens of ways to put 3D objects on-screen today. But the problem of maintaining their believability, no matter what the angle or proximity, while taking up as little memory as possible remains a taxing ordeal.
Tackling this issue head-on is Simplygon, a tool for the automatic optimisation of 3D game assets.
“We took something that has never worked, and just made it work,” says Ulrik Lindahl, CTO and co-founder of Donya Labs. “We are the only company that spends all its R&D resources solely on perfecting this process.”
Simplygon has been licensed for more than a hundred titles, including Beyond: Two Souls, Destiny and, most recently, Star Citizen. The tool is used for managing level of detail (LODs) for 3D game assets.
PC and console have long been the sector most suited to such a tool, but the rapid advancement of 3D gaming on smartphones and tablets means that its presence is in demand here, too. Fortunately, mobile is high on Donya’s to-do list for Simplygon 6, the newest iteration of the optimisation middleware.
GON THE DISTANCE
Perhaps the biggest improvement to Simplygon 6 is its completely renovated UI. The new layout is promised to be simultaneously much more advanced and more user-friendly. “The old GUI had all the features exposed, but in the new version you are able to use modifiers to create custom presets for different use cases. For example, one interface design for characters and one for props or backgrounds,” explains Lindahl.
The refreshed UI is based on a brand new renderer, which Donya says allows developers to work more interactively with scenes as well as in collaboration. What’s more, Simplygon’s features can
still be accessed directly from the likes of 3ds Max, Maya and Softimage.
Beyond the navigation refresh, better optimisation features, such as MeshLOD, ProxyLOD and MaterialLOD, will allow devs to reduce the polygon count while creating an altogether new mesh. The same features can also generate texture atlases that incorporate all the details from the original asset.
Donya’s goal, says Lindahl, is to make Simplygon more accessible for smaller teams and mobile development too.
“Mobile devices by default still have limited performance and cannot handle many draw calls, so to use ProxyLOD to create optimised assets for a certain device or screen size will allow users
larger game environments and more frames per second,” he says.
Lindahl says it will continue to licence Simplygon on a per-project basis, depending on the type and size of the project. But it is also working on widening accessibility through its cloud service.
Alongside these upgrades, the middleware’s reputation as a time-saving aid for removing repetitive manual work remains unblemished.
“Eliminating tedious manual work in optimisation is the foundation of Simplygon and we have ideas on how to further increase efficiency in games development,” sums up Lindahl.
“With demands on better-looking assets and a range of new platforms, we have many areas that need our attention. Our growing team of 3D optimisation experts is working hard on facing the challenges head on.”