Giving It Away

Last week, we launched the Free Community Edition of Intelligent Character Motion(ICM) at Activate3D. This has been a really cool experience for me for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s been great to take a piece of software from a research codebase to a real product in 6 months. I spent a long time at Emergent working on software, and I shipped 15+ releases while I was there. However, when I joined NDL in 2001, NetImmerse was already on version 4. Even though things changed over time, that team had an established process and product. I’ve never started from the ground up on a piece of software. It’s exciting to realize that I was a crucial part of putting together a top notch team and working with them to establish a development process that has led to a full product. There are a lot of questions to answer, and, while you can rely on your experiences with other projects, there’s no precedent for the decisions you make. You end up taking a lot of leaps of faith and making educated guesses. It’s been a great and humbling experience to realize that I know so much and yet so little about software development. I’d encourage every developer to consider working on a brand new product at some point in their career if they haven’t already.

It’s also been exciting to release a free product to the community. All of my previous work has been on commercial projects that required contacting our sales department to evaluation. While ICM is certainly a commercial product, this version is free for non-commercial use in the community. We’re targeting a different user base and reaching out to work with hobbyists and people working on prototypes. It feels good to help foster innovation and share technology. It’s also been a good way to get feedback on the product. We’ve already had great discussions with several developers that have downloaded the package, and we’re meeting with some of them at GDC as well. In that sense, it’s interesting that we’re getting something back even though we’re “giving away” our software.

New experiences on my part aside, give our download a try if you’re into Kinect development. It’s cool tech for making cool motion games.



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