Alias announced that U.K.-based game developer Blitz Games is moving its entire game development pipeline to Maya after extensive research of the industry's top game development tools. Blitz has successfully moved two of its five teams to its new Maya software pipeline and is currently utilizing Alias custom Maya training for the remaining teams, in preparation for a switch of its entire pipeline, to be implemented as each new game project begins.
Blitz Games is one of the U.K.'s most stable and successful independent developers. Blitz develops for all major gaming platforms. Since the company's launch in 1990, Blitz has held deals on such major projects as BAD BOYS II, THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS, TAZ: WANTED, THE MUMMY RETURNS and LILO & STITCH.
Blitz began evaluating its pipeline tools just over one year ago. Andrew Oliver, development director at Blitz Games, began his research by asking customers and partners which software tools they used and valued. "It was clear amongst those who had investigated the options that Maya was fast becoming the tool of choice," comments Oliver. "With an increasing amount of our work being with licensed assets from the TV and film industries we wanted to ensure that we were technologically aligned with our customers. This convergence of games with traditional screen media industries has meant that we regularly need to work with assets created in Maya, as well as send our own work back for approval to the same companies. After discussing Maya's capabilities with our technology reseller, bluegfx, it rapidly became the logical choice."
Oliver says Maya's price for performance makes it highly competitive in the industry and was another compelling reason to switch at this time. "We had used a competitive 3D software package for several years but as the technological capabilities of our target hardware increased it became essential to switch to software with higher-end features," recounts Oliver. "Maya offered exactly the higher-end features we needed, such as MEL scripting and API tools, that our previous package just couldn't."
"Blitz is a leader in working with the convergence of assets between the broadcast film and games industries," says Geoff Foulds, global games marketing manager at Alias. "Their success and credibility in the marketplace makes them a sought after developer that Alias is proud to work with. We're thrilled to collaborate with them closely in providing custom training while they complete their transition of Maya as their core 3D pipeline tool."
"As an established key supplier for games developers we've seen a games industry movement to Maya over the past few years that just keeps growing," says Neil Parmar, senior company director at bluegfx. "Our goal is to recommend and deliver the best-solution-in-class software products to our customers. Matching Blitz's needs of a complete games development package to Maya's advanced features and functionality set was the right solution for them. We look forward to working with more games, broadcast and interactive industries to bring them the power of Maya."
One concern of companies changing their pipelines, let alone moving to a new tool, is the staff down time created by training on a new tool. "The comprehensive training developed and delivered by Alias' Maya experts helped us minimize any downtime or drops in productivity during the switching process," confirms Oliver. "Our first team to switch was up and running within a couple of weeks."
Blitz staff attended a two-day off-site introductory Maya software training session and more advanced training is planned for the coming months. "With the formal classroom training underway, our staff now further develop their Maya skill sets by using Maya self-study Learning Tools books and DVDs," says Oliver. "We're proud of how quickly our staff adapted their training and got up and running with Maya. This is due to the expertise of the Alias training team and the enthusiasm of our staff to working with Maya."
The greatest return Blitz has experienced to date is in the implementation of Maya into its existing pipeline. "We estimated that it would take four months to get Maya integrated into our pipeline and have it working with all of our custom developed tools," states Oliver. "We were very pleased when, after just two months, Maya was fully implemented and ready for our artists to begin using it. Maya's well structured and easy-to-use interface was a key factor in the 50% reduction in implementation time."
"We're all used to change in this industry - after all, there's a brand new console out every five years or so," reflects Oliver. "To guarantee the success of our staff we ensured that the pipeline was fully integrated into our workflows before we asked artists to start using the software."
"Maya's animation, modeling and texturing features are much more comprehensive than those in our previous software and they allow us the ability to have all the functionality at our fingertips right out of the box, without the need to purchase additional 'bolt-on' packages. We're anticipating a much higher quality of finished product along with substantial productivity increases," says Oliver. "We're already seeing proof of this in the early work our first Maya teams have been producing. Our newest games in production are already looking stunning and as we move into PlayStation 3 and Xbox 2 work it will become vital that our core 3D software is the best it can be - we are confident that Maya will provide that for us."
Blitz Games expects to release its first all Maya game toward the end of 2004.
As one of the world's leading innovator of 3D graphics technology, Alias (www.alias.com) develops award-winning software, custom development and training solutions for the film and video, games, Web, interactive media, industrial design, education and visualization markets. On March 1, 2003, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Alias|Wavefront an Oscar for scientific and technical achievement for the development of Maya software, the professional 3D animation and effects package. Alias also offers a powerful range of services for new to advanced users in the most demanding environments. Learning Tools and training, support, and professional services help meet rigorous production deadlines. Alias is a wholly-owned, independent software company of SGI with headquarters in Toronto and a Custom Development Center in Santa Barbara, California.
Recognized as a top five U.K. independent developer, Blitz (www.blitzgames.com) is a one-stop total developer who has worked on titles for all major platforms. Founded by the Oliver Twins in 1990, the company now has more than 120 dedicated and creative staff working in its Midlands based head office. They have released a wide variety of games on all platforms.