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9. June 2014

 

I just received the following email from Autodesk:

 

SAN FRANCISCO, June 9, 2014 -- Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) has acquired Stockholm-based Bitsquid AB, the creator of the Bitsquid game engine. The acquisition brings to Autodesk expertise in 3D game development and proven technology that will enable Autodesk to supercharge its portfolio of tools for game makers through the development of a new 3D game engine. Multiple game developers have used the modern and flexible Bitsquid engine to create 3D games for next-generation consoles and PCs, and Autodesk will continue to work with many of these companies to develop the new 3D game engine. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"Bitsquid has been a key success factor for Fatshark, as we’ve been able to produce high quality games with short development times,” said Martin Wahlund, CEO, Fatshark. "We are excited to see how Bitsquid evolves now that it is part of Autodesk.”

In addition to acquiring the Bitsquid game engine, the acquisition of the Bitsquid team and technology will enable Autodesk to create new tools that push the limits of real-time 3D visualization for architects and designers, many of whom face challenges placing design data into real world contexts. The new technology will also be incorporated into solutions for customers outside of the games industry, including architecture, manufacturing, construction, and film. Autodesk plans to create new types of design exploration tools that allow visualization and contextualization of designs using the same fluid control and immediate feedback that exist today in modern console and PC games.

"Autodesk's acquisition of Bitsquid will revolutionize real-time exploration of complex data. Imagine being able to walk through and explore any type of design, from buildings to cars, with the same freedom you experience in the open world of a next-generation console game. Game engine technologies will be an increasingly critical part of the workflow, not only for creating games, but also for designing buildings or solving complex urban infrastructure challenges," said Chris Bradshaw, senior vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. "The Bitsquid acquisition brings to Autodesk both the expertise and the technology that will enable us to deliver a groundbreaking new approach to 3D design animation tools, and we welcome the team and community to Autodesk."

Additional information on the new Autodesk 3D game engine, which will compliment Autodesk's industry leading games portfolio of middleware tools and 3D animation software including Autodesk Maya LT, Autodesk Maya and Autodesk 3ds Max, will be available later this year.

 

In that press release, it sounds like a relatively minor acquisition, they could simply be rolling the technology in to one of their existing products.  However, if you read this site, they obviously have bigger plans:

 

More than just games – This is going to be BIG

With the acquisition of Bitsquid, Autodesk is bringing expertise in 3D game development and proven game engine technology in house. We are significantly expanding our portfolio of game making tools, complementing our middleware and 3D animation tools: Autodesk® 3ds Max®, Autodesk® Maya®, and Autodesk® Maya LT™ software. Across Autodesk, this technology will fuel new product development in our Media & Entertainment business, and enable a new class of design animation tools.

Tools for Game Makers

Later this year, Autodesk will introduce a modern and flexible 3D game engine based on the Bitsquid engine. By introducing a game engine, Autodesk can offer game makers a more complete game creation workflow from concept to release.

A New Era in Design Animation

Many of our manufacturing, architecture, building, and construction customers are also excited about game engine technology– but not because they are making games. Instead, they are looking for new ways to visualize and interact with design data with the same level of control and feedback of modern console or PC games. With the acquisition of Bitsquid, Autodesk will begin exploring the creation of a new interactive design exploration platform, integrated with our design tools, which will help designers contextualize their ideas.

In Film and Television

Autodesk will also be looking at how Bitsquid technology may be applied to workflows such as pre-vizualization and interactive compositing.

 

Bolded portion mine.  So Autodesk is clearly entering the game engine space and building it around BitSquid.  Ever heard of it?  Yeah, me neither.  It is however the engine powering Magicka:Wizard Wars:

2.jpg (1920×1080)

 

Their site is fairly minimal, but describes the BitSquid engine as:

 

Fast

Bitsquid is a new high-end game engine, built from the ground up to focus on excellent multicore performance, cache friendly data layouts and advanced rendering techniques.

Dynamic

Bitsquid supports immediate reload of all resources, both scripts and content. You can also test run levels instantly, on PCs, consoles, phones and tablets.

Flexible

The engine is completely data driven, making it easy to create a highly scalable rendering pipe that shines on both the latest DX11 GPU and mobile devices, just by changing configuration files. And any game or simulation can be authored using just Lua and visual scripting. Of course you can use C as well, where you need the speed.

Lightweight

Written with a minimalistic modular design philosophy the entire engine is less than 200 KLOC and easy to modify.

 

The technical blog however makes for an interesting read.

 

Autodesk entering the game space isn’t really a huge shock.  They actually dipped their toe in the pond when they released Scaleform as an Indie game engine.  Considering their heavy role in the game development pipeline ( due mostly to Max and Maya ), this move does make sense.  The question is, will this alienate their existing partners?

 

EDIT: One thing I didn’t mention in the original post.  Autodesk also announced the lowering of the monthly cost of Maya LT from $50 a month to $30 a month.  Additionally they have made Mudbox available for $10 a month.  This seems like a much better price point to me.  You can now get Photoshop ($30), Maya LT ($30) and Unreal (19$), a complete game development package for less than $80 a month.  Compare that to prices a few years ago and it is simply mind blowing!

 

Additionally, Develop have published an interview with Autodesk’s Frank Delise discussing the acquisition. 

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