Mixamo wants to democratize game creation. It is advancing that cause today with the launch of Fuse, a universal 3D character creation tool that will be available on Valve’s Steam game distribution network.
On top of that, Valve is making a few characters from its Team Fortress 2 game available to be used in Mixamo’s library of animations. That means that game creators will be able to take the various body parts of the Team Fortress 2 characters and use them in brand new digital characters. The result is hundreds of assets that can be reused to create thousands of new characters.
“Our aim is to democratize the creation of 3D art,” said Stefano Corazza, Mixamo’s CEO and co-founder, in an interview with GamesBeat. “This completes [our] animation platform with a character creator, autorigger — for animating characters — and Face Plus for facial animation.”
Fuse is the latest in a series of 3D animation tools released by San Francisco-based Mixamo. With Fuse, users can browse, resize, customize, and combine various body parts, textures, materials, clothing, and accessories to easily generate high-quality, royalty-free 3D characters in seconds. Once the user creates a character, he or she can then get those characters to move using Mixamo’s animation platform.
That should save game artists a lot of time. 3D character modeling has traditionally been a time-consuming process for professionals. But Mixamo tapped research that Corazza and his team did at Stanford University as well as “substance” technology from Allegorithmic.
“The Steam community has always been extremely creative,” said Valve’s Mark Richardson. “As more and more people want to create compelling 3D and game content, there is an increasing need for new tools that are easy to use and that enable users to share assets and collaborate on their projects. Fuse is a great example of how to offer all that while also delivering high-quality assets.”
The character creator will get regular updates of new user-generated content, making the library even more customizable. The Spy, Sniper, and Scout characters from Team Fortress 2 are available now. In the future, six more will be added: Soldier, Demoman, Heavy, Pyro, Medic, and Engineer.
“I can’t wait to see what the users are going to create,” Corazza said.
The Team Fortress 2 characters are favorites of the community for machinima, or taking game art to create animated films.
Fuse is available on Steam at a 50 percent discount ($49 instead of $99) for a total of 64 body parts, 57 clothing items, and 25 smart textures. You can get Fuse Basic with 28 body parts, 25 clothing items, and 10 smart textures for free.
Mixamo was founded in 2008 by 3D experts Corazza and Nazim Kareemi after they worked on animation technology at Stanford University. They raised $11 million to date from Granite Ventures, AMD, and Keynote Ventures. Mixamo has 20 employees.
“We have proven this technology works, and now we want people to start using it,” Corazza said. “We can’t wait to see what they are going to come up with.”