mental mill, a look-development environment for creating platform-independent shaders in MetaSL, has been launched from mental images in two editions: the Standard Edition, which is a complete visual development environment that includes powerful debugging capabilities, shader authoring features, exporters to DCC and CAD software, and instant mental ray preview rendering; and the Artist Edition, which is a subset of the mental mill toolset, and comes bundled with Autodesk 3ds Max 2010.
With the Artist Edition, one can quickly assemble complex shader graphs from the provided library of shaders, tweak the parameters and save them as files which 3ds Max reads natively. In 3ds Max, one can then assign the shaders to 3D objects, continue to tweak the parameters in context with other shaders and lighting and fine-tune the look of the final renderings.
With Standard Edition, one can write and edit shader code, and visually debug shaders by interactive, visual inspection of graphical representations of the variables while stepping through the code. Also, one can export shaders for use in targeted software applications, including Autodesk's 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage, Dassault Systemes' CATIA and NVIDIA's FX Composer, through the supported, customizable back-end formats such as CgFX, HLSL and GLSL. With the included mental ray preview plug-in, it is easy to see the rendering results of a shader with mental ray's photorealistic ray tracer. The Standard Edition will be available for purchase and download from the mental images website www.mentalimages.com in April.
"The mental mill Standard Edition greatly facilitates the creation of complex and visually compelling shaders," explained Rolf Herken, CEO and COO of mental images, which was purchased last year by NVIDIA. "In addition, thanks to their representation in MetaSL, these shaders are future-proof and will not need to be recreated or modified to take full advantage of future technology and performance advancements in GPUs, multi-core parallel processing and rendering algorithms,"
"Our publisher signed off on the look of our characters before level design," added Izmeth Siddeek, Character Art Lead at Blue Castle Games." mental mill has revolutionized the development pipeline for the making of our latest game, DEAD RISING 2. We are looking into integrating mental mill even more."
During GDC, mental images and Blue Castle Games will host a joint session titled "Platform-independent Shader Development with mental mill: The Making of DEAD RISING 2" on Friday, from noon to 1:00 pm, Room 2011 (West Hall). The session will be presented by Siddeek of Blue Castle Games and Laura Scholl of mental images.