This is a great week for Windows 8 game development. First the full version of Unity 4.2 arrived with Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 support. Now Autodesk, makers of Autodesk Scaleform and many more middleware solutions, has just released their latest development tool: Autodesk FBX Review. The application will allow developers to view 3D characters and animations from a variety of devices, including Windows 8. Not only is FBX Review built specifically for Windows 8, but it’s free!
Review assets with ease
Videogames these days are often created by in-house teams of varying sizes and any number of remote contractors. Art for a game might be created by a guy in Korea and then sent to a developer in the UK, a California-based team could send assets back and forth to an Indian contractor, etc. Often times other stakeholders will need to review a game’s assets as well, such as a publisher like Microsoft or a license holder like Disney.
With so many people in a game’s production chain, you don’t want to limit access to the game’s art and animations to only the people with 3D modeling and animation software. And converting the assets from that type of software into formats that everyone can view adds a lot of time and effort to the process.
FBX Review will streamline 3D asset sharing by allowing users on any Windows computer or tablet to view those assets. The app supports a variety of 3D file formats, including .fbx, .3ds, .obj, and .dxf (Autodesk’s AutoCAD format). Essentially, an artist can work with whatever 3D software he or she prefers and then share the asset output without having to worry about compatibility or conversion.
Features and Options
After opening assets with FBX Review, users can view them with a multitude of shading options, cameras, animations, and lighting options. Some of the supported viewing options:
- Static and Dynamic Tessellation
- Displacement and Vector Displacement Maps
- Skin Deformations and Animation
- Real-Time Shadow Maps
- Reflection Maps
- Light and Ambient Occlusion Maps
- Image Based Lighting
- Ground and Sky Ambient Color
Since many of the people using FBX Review won’t be artists themselves, the app needs to be simple and intuitive to use. To that end, the app’s controls can cycle through animation takes and camera angles with a minimum of fuss. During playback, a viewer can pause and scrub-through (advance and rewind by individual frames) with ease as well.
Tablet and PC friendly
Not only is FBX Review easy to use, it’s easy to use anywhere thanks to Windows 8 support. The app comes in two flavors: Windows 7 and Windows 8. The latter version has all the same features of the desktop version, just optimized for touch screen displays. Some optimization examples include panning, circling, and zooming of assets with standard swipe and pinch controls, as well as touch sensitive playback and lighting controls.
The tablet-oriented app runs on Windows 8 only, not RT. That’s likely due to its slightly higher end hardware requirements such as needing 4 GB of RAM. It’ll run on the Surface Pro (actually the recommended hardware) but not some of the more affordable Windows 8 tablets like the Asus VivoTab Smart. A DirectX 11-compatible graphics card is recommended but not required. Complete system requirements are available at http://area.autodesk.com/fbxreview.
Start your viewing
The Autodesk FBX Review app is now available for Windows 8 devices via the Windows Store. Windows 7 users can grab that version from within Autodesk Maya’s Autodesk Exchange or the Autodesk 3ds Max store. 3D models are not included - you'll have to supply your own.
Autodesk FBX Review – Windows 8 with 4 GB RAM – 24.3 MB – Free – Store Link