Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Andy O’Neil and Gavino Morin of Bluepoint talk about the Gaming Industry and their Game Engine Development System

You guys have built a game engine, is that right?
Yes, we built the Bluepoint Engine which targets next generation consoles.

What is the capital for game engines on average?
Building a game engine from scratch is expensive. A high-end game engine takes tens of programmer-years to build and can cost millions of dollars to develop and test, and you won’t know how well it will work until after you’ve sunk all that time and money into it. This is why so many game developers license the technology from third parties. A lot depends on the platform; it’s easier to build an engine for a well-understood platform like a PC than for a next generation console such as the PS3.

So what market are you going after with your game engine?
Our engine is targeted towards high-end console developers. We built the Bluepoint Engine with two overriding design principles in mind. First, we designed it to produce high-performance games. This means that developers can use the Bluepoint Engine to develop games with better graphics, more features and more interesting game play.

Our second design principle was to develop a product that significantly accelerates game development. Our team has decades of combined experience developing game engines, so we have some pretty clear insight as to how to accomplish this. One way our game engine accelerates development is by allowing designers the ability to perform tasks normally only assigned to programmers. So, for example, changing game mechanics generally requires programmer time (which in some cases can mean days of extra work). But developers who use the Bluepoint Engine can tweak game mechanics with a few mouse clicks. When you consider just how much tweaking goes on when you’re building a game, you start to appreciate the benefit of our approach. Now, you’ll never eliminate the need for programmers, but there are a lot of tasks currently performed by programmers that can be done faster and cheaper by designers. Another example of how our game engine helps speed-up development is by giving artists tools they need, like an interactive shader editor. This allows artists to create assets faster and cheaper.

What tools do the artists have, is it like a Photoshop type of tool or a graphics tool…?
Most game studios use one of the Autodesk products. Our engine is tightly integrated with Autodesk Maya, which is a product familiar to most artists.

What’s the status of your engine, when do you think you might release your final version?
We have a beta version right now that is substantially complete, it’s been tested and three products have been built and shipped using this version of the engine. In fact the first downloadable game available in the U.S. for the PS3 was built entirely with the Bluepoint Engine.

We have several licensees who are building some very interesting game prototypes with our engine. To give you an idea of how flexible the Bluepoint Engine is, it’s been used to develop various game prototypes including a third person action/adventure game, a side scrolling 2½d shooter game, a racing game and a rhythm action platform game.

Right now the engine can be used to create games for the PS3 and the PC. We’re planning on having Xbox 360 and Wii versions by the end of the fourth quarter of ’08. Our first fully commercial version will be ready sometime in the first quarter of ’09.

Best regards,
Hall T.

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