Autodesk Inc. has acquired the important parts of Grip Entertainment, a privately-held artificial intelligence game middleware company. Or to use the exact wording of the announcement, Autodesk has “acquired certain technology-related assets and hired individuals associated with” the Montreal, Canada-based AI specialist. Further details and terms of the deal were not available.

Grip develops two artificial intelligence (AI) middleware products for video game development: Grip Character Control System and Grip Digital Extra System. Both of these products are included in the acquisition. They help game designers create scenarios that involve large numbers of non-playable characters that not only look good but which also demonstrate logical and realistic behavior.

“The acquisition accelerates Autodesk’s strategy to offer a more complete, simplified solution for the creation of believable interactive characters,” said Marc Stevens, Autodesk vice president, Games. “The technology and expertise acquired complement Autodesk’s existing gameware offerings, including Autodesk Kynapse artificial intelligence middleware. This transaction will enable us to offer game developers a more comprehensive AI solution.”

Grip Entertainment co-founders, Dr. Paul A. Kruszewski and Aaron Davey, along with all developers currently working on the Grip technology will join Autodesk. That will help integrate the newly acquired technology into Autodesk’s existing products. Additionally, the talent and the technology fit in with Autodesk’s proposed Project Skyline, a set of game content authoring tools that have been shown at SIGGRAPH and at Game Developer’s Conference 2011.

The most recently released major title to use Autodesk’s game development technologies is Deus Ex: Human Revolution, from Eidos-Montreal, a Square Enix company. The franchise’s lead character, Adam Jensen, received extensive cybernetic modifications and mechanical enhancements following major injuries, and his resulting augmented reality perspective is an essential part of the gameplay. Eidos-Montreal used Autodesk Scaleform middleware to develop this and other immersive user interfaces. The studio also used other tools including Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk MotionBuilder.

“From the early days of development, we had very high requirements for the game’s UIs,” explained Julien Bouvrais, director of technology at Eidos-Montreal. “With a cyberpunk setting and Adam’s Augmented Reality, user interfaces were a key element to nail from the get-go. We investigated a few middleware solutions and found that Scaleform was the best choice for us.”

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