And, no, we arenít talking about Super Smash Bros. Brawl either.
While perhaps not the most familiar name to video gamers, to development studios Icarus Studios is but one of many companies offering middleware for virtual worlds. Earlier this week, the announced the completion of their next generation tool suite. Of course, that in and of itself probably isn’t that exciting, except when you consider that it is also under development for the Nintendo Wii...at least if Nintendo-specific website The Wiire is to be believed.
According to the Wiire, a representative for Icarus Studios informed them that, while it is not currently available for Nintendo’s latest home console endeavor, it is in the works for the Wii. Unfortunately, while we’d like to believe this information based just on their word, the only quote included in the story comes straight from the general press release (which we’ve, of course, included below), with no specific mention of any system. However, in addition to the upcoming MMO Fallen Earth, it has been signed by two other companies, protected by non-disclosure agreements.
If this is true, it represents a huge step forward for the system and its online future, giving Wii developers access to tools (in addition to their own in-house tools and whatever offerings Nintendo has provided) on par with the other major consoles this generation. Though no specific MMO has been announced for the Wii, many suspect the next Animal Crossing will embrace Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection more than any other Wii title planned thus far. As always, we will try to confirm this story, and if we learn anything more, we’ll be sure to keep you updated. For now, the official press release of the Icarus Tool Suite’s completion can be found below:
CARY, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 22, 2007 – Icarus Studios, a comprehensive resource center for builders of 3D virtual worlds, MMOGs, and simulation projects, has announced the release of its next generation platform and suite of middleware tools. Nearly six years in the making, the Icarus platform represents one of the largest investments to date in a 3D virtual world platform.
"Icarus Studios has created the only suite of tools designed from scratch specifically as an integrated 3rd party environment for 3D online world creation," says Jim Hettinger, CEO of Icarus Studios. "We’re launching our technology suite today after an 18-month stealth period during which our 65-person team completed our six-year development and QA testing efforts."
Built by a team of industry veterans, the Icarus suite was designed to meet the specific needs of next-generation Virtual Worlds supporting functionality such as user generated content, in-world social and entertainment activities, diverse revenue models, and in-world profiled marketing on a secure and scaleable platform.
"Regardless of whether you are building a MMO, simulator, collaborative or social environment, using the Icarus Developer Tool Suite will allow most of your project to be completed by non-programmer staff, and reduce time to market by an estimated 50% and development cost by 65%," says Icarus EVP, David Gardner. "Most importantly, the suite includes hundreds of features that represent the ‘polishing’ that so often gets left out of a final product as deadlines rapidly approach."
The Icarus platform incorporates a number of best of breed technologies such as Vivox® for VoIP, Ageia for its physics engine PhysX™, IDV for SpeedTree®, and OC3 for avatar speech and facial expressions.
"When people see what our tools can produce for the first time they are really blown away by the level of realism and our ability to integrate with the web and real world," continues Jim Hettinger. "Our goal is to blur the lines between the real world and virtual worlds with features such as integrated working browsers, dial-out to real world phones, and real-time video streaming. We have taken everything to the next level including the network architecture where our servers have the ability to dynamically re-task themselves based on user demand, allowing us to offer a massively scalable solution."
The Icarus platform has been licensed by two unnamed clients covered by NDAs, and is being used by MMOG Fallen Earth™, now in development.
Partial Source: The Wiire
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