Softimage Offers SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP for Half-Life 2 Free

Montreal, Quebec –- Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVID), has announced SOFTIMAGE®|XSI® EXP for Half-Life® 2 – a free version of its award-winning 3-D nonlinear production environment designed to work exclusively with Half-Life 2, the upcoming action game created by Valve.The software, which will be demonstrated in the Softimage booth (# 1528) at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Jose, Calif. March 24 – 26, allows gaming customers to create and modify characters, props, and scenery for Half-Life 2 MODs and other Valve Source™ engine-powered titles, and then output their creations directly into the games.   On Wednesday, March 24, Softimage will provide special, limited edition, pre-release CDs to attendees of SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP for Half-Life 2 seminars at GDC.  The complete software package is also expected to be available for download from the Softimage website by Wednesday, March 24.

“We’re thrilled to be involved with Half-Life 2, and for the opportunity to give gamers an easy, fun, and powerful way to alter the game and customize their entertainment experiences,” said Gareth Morgan, senior product manager for Softimage.  “Half-Life 2 is significantly raising the bar for the gaming community, delivering higher quality graphics and presentation values than many other games on the market.  This free version of our software will enable a generation of young artists to introduce new characters and other imaginative elements into Half-Life 2 using Valve’s Source engine.  It’s a great way for creative gamers to experiment with the same animation tools used by their favorite professional game developers.” 

Since introducing the Half-Life game franchise in 1998 and selling more than 10 million copies, Valve has received rapid acclaim for its innovative approach to interactive gaming.   In addition to its realistic graphics and storylines, Half-Life was designed to permit customization via a free software development kit (SDK).  As a result, Half-Life players developed their own rules, characters, and environments to alter the game – and then shared their not-for-profit MODs (modifications) with other players.  Today, a multitude of online communities exist around the world, made up of thousands of interactive game development enthusiasts – known as “MODders” – who regularly use SDKs to customize the games they play.

Valve is currently targeting this summer for the completion of Half-Life 2, and the company plans to pre-release a collection of development libraries. This will allow MODders to use the powerful toolsets found in the free SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP for Half-Life 2 software and begin experimenting with their own creativity even before the game is released to the general public.

“As game sales continue to outpace box office revenues and online game play usage is capturing more consumer time than the top television shows, the goals for our products have changed,” said Gabe Newell, managing director and co-founder of Valve. “Success in this changing environment requires the strongest developers, artists, and tools. During the development of Half-Life 2, we’ve recruited animators from Hollywood studios and switched to SOFTIMAGE|XSI in order to maximize the game’s potential. Now, with the release of SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP for Half-Life 2, we are putting the same powerful animation toolsets we use in the hands of MOD authors, who represent the next generation of content developers.”

The free SOFTIMAGE|XSIEXP for Half-Life 2 software is based on the same architecture as Softimage’s professional SOFTIMAGE|XSI software, and includes toolsets for creating characters and hair, mixing and blending animations via the Animation Mixer, applying real-time shaders, and rendering elements interactively.  Customers who download the software will also receive specialized tools and functions for creating and outputting complex graphics into Half-Life 2, several key tutorials and scene files, and access to over 100 additional tutorials via the Half-Life 2 Community Center (accessible from within the SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP for Half-Life 2 software).

“We anticipate over half a million MODders will share customized versions of Half-Life 2,” added Morgan.  “This presents a tremendous opportunity for us to get our software in the hands of these gamers, and introduce them to the industry-standard tools used to create the world’s most popular CG-animated games.”