Using a range of Autodesk’s middleware and software tools, Epic Games created a new user experience for Gears of War 3 through its highly-polished gameplay and new and expanded multiplayer modes, using Scaleform with Unreal Engine 3.
“Scaleform is just a great and simple way to bring awesome interfaces into games,” said Maury Mountain, senior artist at Epic Games. “The middleware allows us to bring in animated 2D, 2.5D or even pseudo-3D content and integrate it while preserving things like animation, tweenings, frame-by-frame timings, as well as many of the standard game interface practices such as button press design, menu navigation and content display,” explained Wyeth Johnson, lead artist at Epic Games. “With Scaleform software’s support for Flash content, assets created in Adobe Flash come through Scaleform directly, and then into Unreal Engine 3, with no problem.”
Marc Stevens, Autodesk vice president, games, adds: “Gears of War is one of the most memorable and celebrated sagas in videogame history and we’re proud to be a part of it. Epic brings the Gears of War UI to a whole new level and does an outstanding job demonstrating what’s possible when designing UI with Scaleform. With Scaleform being bundled with the Unreal Engine at no additional cost to licensees, the integration is near seamless.”
Autodesks 3ds Max, Maya and MotionBuilder were also at the heart of Epic’s art creation pipeline on Gears of War 3 as the team tackled twice as many cinematics as Gears of War 2, and rigged 27 faces. Maya’s scripting tools enabled Epic to write a custom auto-rig, as Jeremy Ernst, technical animator and character rigger explains, “I use the Maya script editor a lot. The syntax highlighting in 2012 is pretty powerful, and the addition of Python has been huge.”
FBX was also helpful when importing assets into Unreal Engine 3, and sharing files between MotionBuilder, 3ds Max and Maya. “We used to use a proprietary format to import content into the engine, but with FBX we have a centralized format to get all skeleton meshes, animations, targets – the whole works – easily into the editor,” Ernst continued. “It’s a great bridge that enables artists to use whichever program they’re most comfortable using.”
To find out more about Gears of War 3, the third-person shooter videogame released in September 2011, visit www.xbox.com/gearsofwar.