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Simutronics has been making games since 1987. But in 2004, one of the company’s teams embarked on an ambitious massively multiplayer game. But developers fell in love with the tools they used to create the game. And that’s how the HeroEngine was born.
Neil Harris, president of the HeroEngine division of Simutronics, has been actively licensing the technology to make game developers more productive when it comes to building the vast virtual worlds that are the settings for MMOs. The BioWare division of Electronic Arts is using the HeroEngine to make Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMO that has been gaining buzz as it nears the end of development. ZeniMax is also using the engine for an unannounced MMO. (Lots of folks think this is the Fallout MMO).
Rivals range from Big World, another MMO engine builder, to Unity Technologies, which is enabling 3-D browser-based games at the low end of online games. Harris says that Simutronics and HeroEngine are preparing to separate into two companies sometime this year.
After a tough time during the recession a year ago, lots of companies are starting to sign up for licenses. They need tools that automate the building of online games because the costs of creating worlds that can compete with vast games such as World of Warcraft keep going up. Harris says that his company provides a full engine that can create cool graphics and the client and server infrastructure to run huge games. It may still take years to build MMOs, but the process will likely be a lot less painful with better tools.
We shot a video with him Wednesday at the Dice Summit executive game conference in Las Vegas. Please check it out below.
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VentureBeat’s interview with HeroEngine’s Neil Harris from Dean Takahashi on Vimeo.