Friday Flashback #159


Before Sumatra became XSI, XSI was .XSI the file format, an ASCII-based, .x-like file format for game developers.

… the .XSI file format and real-time viewer will give game developers a seamless environment for faster prototyping and more accurate exchange of data between their Windows-based PC development platform and target Windows CE-based game consoles. The .XSI real-time viewer will be available to developers in September 1999, and will ship, with source code, as part of Microsoft Windows CE authoring tools.

Here’s a news release from late 1999 that mentions “.XSI” 18 times, and “game” 27 times.

gdk1

Avid Technology to design new Dreamcast game authoring tools

Reporter: Jim Cordeira
Date: 8-10-99

Avid Technology Inc.’s subsidiary, Softimage® Co., has entered into a strategic agreement with Microsoft Corp. to design and deliver tools for authoring Microsoft Windows CE-based games for the Sega Dreamcast console.

Softimage will provide game developers with an ASCII-based file format called .XSI. The .XSI file format is based on Microsoft’s popular .x file format which is already used extensively in conjunction with the Softimage® GDK (game development kit) game core module.

Softimage will also develop a real-time viewer for .XSI files, which will serve as a key prototyping component of a Windows CE-based games authoring environment. Together, the .XSI file format and real-time viewer will give game developers a seamless environment for faster prototyping and more accurate exchange of data between their Windows-based PC development platform and target Windows CE-based game consoles. The .XSI real-time viewer will be available to developers in September 1999, and will ship, with source code, as part of Microsoft Windows CE authoring tools.

Seamless Authoring Pipeline Between Windows NT and Windows CE Game Consoles

Many of the leading game developers are long time users of the Softimage® 3D and Softimage GDK premier tools for creating high-quality geometry, textures and animation for use in games. To prototype game play using high-quality complex scenes, game authors are faced with a daunting and time consuming task of converting data files to and from real-time, console-compatible formats and sizes. The .XSI file format will provide game developers with a flexible conduit for importing, exporting and editing game data. The .XSI viewer will allow game developers to quickly and easily view their 3-D game data in a real-time environment without having to leave their development platform. For the first time, game developers can have a seamless authoring pipeline between their Windows NT-based development platform and the Sega Dreamcast game console.

“Our goal is to help game developers optimize their authoring environment,” said Chris Phillips, director of Business Development, Consumer Devices Group at Microsoft. “The .XSI file format and viewer will become a critical part of the toolset for creating and prototyping Windows CE-based games for the SEGA Dreamcast. The .XSI real-time viewer and .XSI file format will greatly accelerate the development of next-generation games.”

“At Softimage, we understand the difficulties inherent in developing next-generation games,” adds Softimage Director of Product Marketing, John McQueen. “We have foreseen the needs of games developers and are developing viable, tightly-integrated prototyping and authoring tools that will improve game development environments.”

The .XSI Viewer

The .XSI viewer will include source code, enabling game developers to modify and enhance both Softimage 3D exported data as well as the .XSI parser or data reader. The .XSI file format contains a variety of new templates offering data interchange solutions for high-end features shared between the Softimage 3D program and any game engine.

The .XSI Viewer allows scene display using Microsoft Direct3D Immediate Mode, enabling the display of complex scenes with high refresh rates. It will accurately display .XSI data, including geometry, textures and hierarchical shape and transformation animation in an optimized environment with interactive navigation controls.

The development and distribution of the .XSI file format and viewer will result in an environment in which developers initiate game development with entirely new features, including advanced graphics technology and algorithms using the Direct3D Immediate Mode API. .XSI will also accelerate on-going development on all manner of Windows CE platforms, including Sega’s Dreamcast console.

— Jim Cordeira

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