Middleware is a software framework provided by third-party companies to help create complete packages without starting from scratch. Anywhere code is present, middleware can be found. The most prevalent use of this shortcut can be found in the gaming industry.
An unlikely company is venturing into the middleware sector of gaming -- Autodesk Inc. -- which, on March 1, 2011, acquired the company Scaleform.
Autodesk Inc. (makers of AutoCAD) has announced the upcoming release of Scaleform UI Middleware, targeted for developers who want to design games for mobile platforms based on Android, iOS, and Windows 8, but have little to no programming experience. Previous iterations of the software were primarily used by big-name developers to pump out "triple-A" titles such as Crysis 2, Mass Effect 3, and Batman: Arkham City.
The software suite enables developers to incorporate their Adobe Flash game renderings into the Unity game engine, which not only helps them bring their ideas to life, but also gives them the ability to add features, such as HUDs (Heads Up Displays) and game menus. Scaleform can also give developers the ability to create entire 2D games using advanced tools such as triangle-based tessellation (rendering), Edge AA (Anti-Aliasing), and multi-threading, which can take advantage of mobile devices equipped with multiple CPUs and GPUs.
Included with Autodesk's new Scaleform revision is the Unity package, which incorporates the Unity native plug-in, C# API (with Source code), Desktop preview player, Amp profiler (analyzation/optimization for Flash UI content), Exporter (converts SWF files to Scaleform's GFx format), CLIK (Common Lightweight Interface Kit), and documentation and game demonstration utilizing Scaleform's more advanced tools for rendering.
A preview SDK of Scaleform is available now, with the commercial release expected sometime before the end of the year, at a cost of about $295 per platform. Not bad for those of us who have great ideas for mobile gaming, but don't necessarily have the greatest skills in programming.
Autodesk plans to push the Scaleform, "Gameware," product into the education sector, in an effort to expose students to professional level tools. The Gameware team states that "education should provide a strong theoretical background, as well as practical skills and industry knowledge so that students can best prepare themselves for their profession."
Autodesk believes that whether you are in architecture, engineering, or digital arts, their comprehensive software is a path to success. With Scaleform, they certainly can give anyone a taste of the gaming industry.