Monumental Get Another Grant

6 01 2009

Monumental Games recently moved offices in Nottingham, acquired half of Swordfish Manchester as it got into trouble, and now have another £140,000 grant. This time it’s from Northwest Vision and Media, and they were eligible for it thanks to taking on the extra office in a different region. That’s probably a happy but unintended outcome rather than a plan, as there are plenty of other reasons for Monumental to have acquired Swordfish Manchester and it’s not very long since they did.

It’s comparatively rare for games companies to take advantage of this kind of thing though, whereas it’s fairly common for film production all over the world. Good to see developers acting smartly even in the downturn, as we’ve previously heard a lot of cynicism from studios about readily available government support.

(CC image of coins by Warren H)

Monumental Games Funded with £300K

24 09 2008

East Midlnads based Monumental Games have won £300,000 of funding from the Technology Strategy Board, they announced yesterday.

It makes a lot of sense, as networked technology is looking like one of the safest bets in games at the moment.

I do wonder if Rocco wrote this or it was written for him, as press release quotes often are:

Project Chairman Rocco Loscalzo (CTO of Monumental) praised the approach of the Technology Strategy Board. “This is the first year that the Technology Strategy Board has invited applications from the Creative Industries, and it is encouraging to see recognition for the contribution made by such industries to the UK economy. This award for Collaborative Research and Development has enabled us to kick-start a commercially viable but inherently high-risk project, and we can’t wait to get going with our partners.”

Either way, it’s fairly progressive for a games company to class themselves under “creative industries”; most stay pretty aloof from the label because they see it as only applying to small, local artisanal businesses.

(CC image of monumental forehead by Salemek)

NaturalMotion Join Games Academy

14 11 2007

NaturalMotionNaturalMotion are having their software taught at a German Technology School, as reported by GameDaily:

As part of this partnership, the German school will integrate endorphin into the course curriculum. Students at Games Academy will have support from NaturalMotion on certain projects and access to certain 3-D technology from the company.

“Thanks to NaturalMotion’s support, we have the ability to integrate this exciting technology into student curriculum immediately,” said Thomas Dlugaiczyk, principal and managing partner of Games Academy.

It’s an excellent idea and more technology firms should do it:

“Upon graduation, students will have a leg up on the competition because we strive to provide the latest professional-grade tools found in the digital entertainment industry.”


23 08 2007

Oxford based middleware provider NaturalMotion have been working closely with quite a few developers worldwide, including RockStar and LucasArts, to integrate fluid procedural animation into their games. Today, they announced their own game IP: Backbreaker.

It sounds like it’s going to be more an arcade game than a sports simulation, which certainly suits the disaster-porn-esque rough and tumble of colliding bodies that NaturalMotion’s software is so good at. Indeed, the entire trailer for it focusses on tackling.

While it’s not necessarily my kind of game, I’m pleased to see it. The UK has slipped to 4th biggest game developer in the world from 3rd. The dollar rate is squeezing UK developers. We still have the development talent and critical mass to launch new IP, but it’s a fire that needs fanning.

GDC07: Codemasters signs up Havok Behaviour

7 03 2007

Havok’s new Behavior tool has debuted at GDC today, and the tech already has a licensee: Codemasters.
Behavior is a new element in Havok 4.5, the modular suite of artist tools and run-time tech that includes Havok Physics and Havok Animation and aims to offer complete control of character actions to developers via its hierarchical finite-state machines and procedural modifiers. Animation assets direct from Maya, Max and Softimage XSI can be aggregated straight into it.

Codemasters plans to use Behavior in a number of upcoming next-gen titles.

“For the next generation of games platforms we really wanted to push the boundaries in terms of realism and characterisation, but we needed to do it without compromising our timescales,” explained Codemasters Studios vice president, Gavin Cheshire explained.

“Havok Behavior allows us to create a huge range of behaviors for our next generation characters and do it in a way that makes the most of both our creative and programming resources.”

GDC07: EA licences Autodesk’s HumanIK

7 03 2007

Just weeks after it confirmed a partnership with Softimage, Electronic Arts has announced it has licensed Autodesk’s HumanIK middleware.
HumanIK is a customised development library that enables animated game characters to interact more realistically with digital environments – it has already been used in EA’s DEF JAM: ICON, FIFA Soccer 07 and NBA STREET Homecourt titles.

“Through our partnership with Autodesk, we were able to achieve a new level of character animation in DEF JAM: ICON, FIFA Soccer 07 and NBA STREET Homecourt,” commented Glenn Entis, EA’s chief visual and technical officer.

“Part of the reason EA consistently delivers innovative hit game titles like these is because we rely on extensive internal and external R&D. Autodesk HumanIK middleware allowed efficient porting of game data to the various platforms on which we shipped our games. Autodesk R&D team was highly responsive, quickly providing us with customised builds of the HumanIK solution.”

Entis continued: “With HumanIK, the character behaviors we created remained intact when exported to the video game engine. That was a huge benefit; it eliminated the usual time-consuming and costly tweaking and toggling between the development software and the game engine. Autodesk HumanIK is the ideal solution for our next-generation game development.”

Rockstar sign Natural Motion for PS3, 360 Project

28 02 2007

Rockstar Games is using NaturalMotion’s Euphoria engine in its next-generation PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titles.
The two companies have revealed that work is already well underway following several months of close collaboration between the Grand Theft Auto publisher and the Oxford-based animation specialist.
“In Rockstar, we have found a partner that shares this vision, and is renowned for creating some of the most ground-breaking and immersive games in the industry,” commented Torsten Reil, CEO of NaturalMotion. “Euphoria is about giving people an interactive experience they have never seen before. We now have the processing power to simulate humans, and the possibilities for games are endless,” he said.

Teeside students’ Twisted team

1 02 2007

A team of students from Teeside have teamed up for a graduate business within the Tees Valley’s DigitalCity project called Twisted Studio – and the gang is already talking about of licensing out its games development toolkit.
The studio has been formed by three graduates from Teeside University’s computer games programming and design course and plans to specialise in three areas.

The first is the sale and distribution of its rapid application development toolkit, called LOGIC; second is producing original games using the tool; and third is to offer the team’s services to other studios.

Twisted’s Production Director, Graham Bryan commented: ‘Our development team has a range of revolutionary games and applications conceived, devised and prepared, and in the process of completion.

‘We are also working on fully licensing our LOGIC toolkit to empower developers to produce high quality software with noticeably lower overheads. It’s an incredibly exciting time and the entire team is looking to the future with great confidence.’ “