SAN FRANCISCO (GDC) – Several trends are coming together to redefine the role of animation in game development, says Owen Hurley, the newly appointed VP of Creative for Animation and Games at Technicolor, noting that the convergence of virtual reality, mobility and socially engaging eSports are driving the future of how the growing community of gamers want to be engaged.
"Immersive experiences like virtual reality are, of course, big. 2017 started off with the launch of Resident Evil 7, which is probably the biggest and most successful VR title to date, and which we happen to have animated for the last two years,” says Hurley. “I have to offer kudos to the team for that because that project is doing really well.”
The dramatic rise of interest in eSports is another key trend that Hurley believes will play a key role in the industry.
“In 2016 we saw, for the first time, network television showing eSports matches. I am already seeing that eSports is having an influence on game design. You are seeing more teams, more leagues, more competition-style games become popular, and that will grow exponentially in 2017,” projects Hurley.
The growing sophistication of mobile devices, and the ecosystem of services that surround it, is also altering the gaming landscape.
“Mobile games are growing, and as handsets become more powerful, they will be able to run more complex animations, hold more data and run faster,” says Hurley. “That is interesting for us because for a long time, our CG expertise was not really applicable to mobiles. The units were not capable of running data of such complexity. But over the next year or so, you will see what you would have previously regarded as high-end CG content appearing on mobile.”
The Technicolor animation unit that Hurley oversees started out as a service offering animation for television programs. In recent years, it has grown and adapted to meet the demands of game developers.
“Our studio in Bangalore is now close to 1,500 people working on a huge variety of projects for both TV and games,” says Hurley. “We have a substantial games team working with many major developers concurrently, and we’ve been building out our technical team over the last 18 months to complement our art teams, so games are a huge area of growth for us.”
Hurley explains how Technicolor’s animation business is adapting to meet the changing demands of its customers. “There is constant growth in skills as we adapt to meet the requirements of each of the developers we work with. We make it possible for them to scale up their operations,” he notes. “We partner creatively with developers and collaborate with them and enable them to grow their teams to the size they need to achieve the scope that is becoming expected in the gaming industry.”
Listen to more of Hurley's comments on the topic in this audio clip here.