Posted by STLR, 18 June 2010 7:00 pm
I'm finally home and recovering from a long but fun week at E3. Let me start by saying that I'm glad to see that E3 is back and once again big! This is the first one that I've attended in 3 or 4 years after it all but collapsed. E3 is not the prototypical kind of conference/expo for us (like GDC or Siggraph) but it's a good opportunity for us to keep up with what's going on in the industry and see first hand what our game customers are creating with our tools.
I spent a good chunk of my time in meetings with various game developers discussing how they use Maya, Motion Builder and Mudbox. But one of my favorite meetings was actually with some of the the guys from South Park. Being in Marina Del Rey, E3 is in their back yard so they stopped by to meet with us and get a closer look at Maya2011 while they were there. They have a very different pipeline from what I'm used to seeing on the games side. First of all, no polygons and no skinning... just a bunch of animated planar nurbs surfaces. They also have minimal rendering requirements so the old Maya renderer does just about all they need. Plus they have incredibly fast turnaround times from idea to finished episode, which of course is nothing at all like game development. It was a good meeting and they were super friendly. I'm hoping I get the chance to stop by their studio and see them in action one of these days.
When I wasn't in meetings I was roaming the show flow checking out all the new stuff. For those of you that haven't been, it's pretty overwhelming actually... serious sensory overload. So I could do the standard E3 recap here and blabber about the announcement of the Nintendo 3DS... or I could pontificate about Sony Move or spew some general commentary about Microsoft Kinect (project Natal)... all of which were cool. But instead I thought I'd keep it local and try to plug some stuff that's a little closer to me. Several Austin based game developers made some announcements at the show. Not only are all three of these studios in Austin but -they all use Maya- so I have a bit of a personal interest in these games doing well :)
Austin based game studio Junction Point (part of Disney Interactive) was promoting their upcoming game "Epic Mickey" which is essentially a reinvention of the classic Disney character as well as a reintroduction to some of the past Disney characters that have gone by the wayside. The concept as well as the aesthetics of the game look amazing...
Sony Online also has a studio here in Austin that is working in conjunction with Warner Bros Games on the highly anticipated DC Universe Online. They announced a release date of November 2010 for both PC and the PS3. I played the PS3 version briefly on the show floor and from what I could tell it should be a fun game.
And finally it was announced that Austin based Retro Studios (part of Nintendo) is making "Donkey Kong Country" for release on the Wii in the fall of 2010. The developers of the Metroid Prime franchise have a track record of success. This is a very different kind of game for them so it should be interesting to see them make the transition.
So there you have it... three legendary franchises all being expanded and reinterpreted by creative forces right here in Austin, Texas... and all use Maya to help make it happen. Pretty darn cool.
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