Tool company goes public with 'work in progress' animation pipeline solution

GDC11: Autodesk’s secret ‘Project Skyline’

Autodesk has used GDC 2011 to reveal that is working on a new concept technology that presently carries the working title Project Skyline.

Currently realised solely for improving the animation workflow, Skyline is an evolution of the modern closed loop pipelines that provide a live link between level editor and game engine that unifies runtime and authored data.

Born from Autodesk’s expanding tool set and the increasing complexity of the technology that caters for the mid and late stages of a traditional pipeline, Skyline – which will currently exists as a platform in Maya – strives to make game development more efficient by adding live content authoring into the aforementioned modern workflow.

It also has the potential to save developers the huge cost of engineering their own closed loop pipelines.

“Project Skyline lets you see where we’re trying to go with integrating not just the content authoring, but the runtime authoring and the runtime so it’s in one place,” Autodesk Games Technology Group vice president Marc Stevens told Develop. “While Skyline is currently an animation focused project, a platform inside of Maya like that is something that’s going to extended to lighting and UI, and to all these other pieces of game content authoring to bring everything to the same simplified workflow.”

While currently only a concept technology, Skyline has the potential to become a productised pipeline.

As detailed in a statement to the press, Project Skyline provides:

• Live linking: Character animators can see and play with their characters in a game engine while they work in the familiar Autodesk Maya software environment. What previously might have taken up to weeks before artists could validate their work now happens immediately.

• Visual programming: Using a node-based visual programming environment, technical artists and directors can quickly build and edit custom interactions without coding. Live linking makes it easier to debug complex animation setups, which can be edited quickly without coding. Programmers can build custom nodes that can be used by the team to achieve specific results.

• Middleware integration: Programmers no longer need to worry about writing low level animation code and data translators. Project Skyline comes with an animation engine that can be integrated into your game engine with minimal effort.

Click here to read Develop’s special feature on Project Skyline.

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