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September 30, 2005


Robert Cassidy

At the moment, I suspect the challenge lies in the recouping the cost of the engine license for an experimental market. Most of the good engines are either proprietary (WOW) or cost serious money that you'd need to generate tens of thousands of sales at a minimum to recoup.

The UI for such a product would be very different from what we have now. I'm amazed at the patience of the machinima artists now - it's the equivalent of jewelry fabrication with nothing but a jackhammer at your disposal.

That said, as these engines get progressively better, good cheap engines will come available but it'll take someone with Apple iTunes-like vision to pull a product together with a UI that anyone other than the most hardcore will want to use. Now, machinima is simply offsetting the costs of traditional animation, which itself is in heavy transition. But I would expect at some point that some spinout team from Pixar or one of the many other film animation houses creates just such a product out of their own efforts at building storyboarding tools. But once the engine costs are out of the way, the UI is the key to success here.

Actually, thinking about it, you'd need an engine which is a combination of FPS (Half-Life 2, for example) and sim (The Sims 2) to meet all of the needs. I'm not sure any one engine meets the need right now - but man, are they getting better each year.

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