Recently GBR took the opportunity to visit MaxPlay at their headquarters in San Francisco. Meeting face-to-face with CEO Sinjin Bain and his team, GBR got a chance to do a deep dive on everything that makes MaxPlay unique: it’s people, their platform, business focus and overall strategy. Here is what we learned in this exclusive interview with CEO Sinjin Bain of MaxPlay:RT: Tell me a little bit about your background and how you came to be CEO of MaxPlay?
SB: I started my career as an industrial designer, made my way into game development, eventually ending up as a VP & GM at EA. I spent a total of 16 years at EA , 8 of those years spent at EA partners. I founded MaxPlay as their CEO in early 2014, bringing together a small team including Matt Shaw, the CTO (also from EA).
RT: What you are trying to achieve and what makes MaxPlay different from all the other middleware game engines now available?
SB: We wanted to provide developers with the power to work more effectively and creatively on high quality game and VR projects. To that effect, we are building an advanced game development solution that will revolutionize how game development teams work together to build the most immersive game, VR & AR experiences.
RT: What does your game/product/technology offer and how does it work?
SB: Our Game Development Suite, or GDS as well call it, is the first full-stack, cloud-enabled game development platform. It’s the only Software as a Service (SaaS) development platform for games. Our GDS combines the power of our high performance MaxCore game engine with the immediacy, accessibility and real-time data of a cloud-based enterprise software platform. Our GDS is a real-time collaborative authoring platform combined with powerful runtime technologies that allows developers to get the most out of today and tomorrow’s hardware for richer, more immersive experiences.
RT: Can you explain to our readers more about MaxPlay’s Game Development Suite (GDS)?
SB: Sure, we think about our GDS in terms of the following core architectural pillars: Performance, Productivity, Control, and Insights.
- Performance – MaxPlay’s proprietary MaxCore™ multi-threading architecture optimizes CPU runtime performance for multi-core gaming and VR devices
- Productivity – Developers can iterate faster via GDS cloud-enabled real-time collaboration from anywhere in the world & instantly preview on targeted devices
- Control – GDS’ modular service-oriented architecture is built so developers can modify & extend the platform to suit their specific workflow & performance needs
- Insight – Enterprise quality, end-to-end big data analytics platform, fully customizable and extensible from development through live operations.
RT: What makes it unique from other products in the space? What is your competitive advantage?
SB: GDS really is the only commercial game engine that will provide real advantages in developing experiences and games for all platforms including virtual and augmented reality, in the following ways:
- MaxCore™ Performance – our asynchronous and data parallel n-core processing runtime gets the most out of modern CPUs with multiple cores. When combined with our advanced Light Indexed Deferred (LID) rendering solution and rapid iteration environment, the benefits to VR and AR are significant and clear. The LID rendering solution comprises a Forward+ engine with physically-based rendering and light indexed deferred illumination for higher fidelity, drastically improving on-screen frame rates and content scaling.
- Real-time Collaboration – whether sitting across the room from another team member or even across the globe, teams can collaborate in real-time to create, test and tune every aspect of their game, faster than any other game editing suite has achieved to date.
- Extensibility – we’ve designed a command-driven tool set with a highly customizable front-end, all running on a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Whether you want to tweak the front-end, change the engine’s business logic or even replace entire systems, you have the power to control your work environment. At the runtime level, we provide header and library files, for further flexibility.
The underlying architecture provides the industry’s first end-to-end, real-time, distributed, collaborative, content-creation and authoring environment. With integrated analytics, cross-platform deployment & live operations solutions, MaxPlay GDS fully supports making and operating interactive content for any hardware. The platform improves workflows and runtime performance for game and app development, surpassing popular game engines that are built on 15+ year old architectures that pre-date modern multi-core computing hardware and the ubiquitous use of cloud-based services.
RT: What additional services/products do you provide?
SB: As an experienced publishing team, Maxplay evaluates innovative game concepts in development that take advantage of the GDS capabilities so that we might partner to provide production and publishing services.
RT: Why do customers use your product? How do they find you?
SB: Our first development partners will be those in search of rich, highly performant development solutions like those working in VR/AR or on complex simulations. But really, it’s for any team that wants to stay in sync and iterate quickly. Developers can work faster and get more out of their development process, which in turn means creating better products. Any developers who are reliant on outsourcing other developers for their projects, are regionally distributed, who would like to increase the creative iteration process and collaborating in real-time are prime candidates for the platform. I.e. all developers! We expect that early access and closed beta users of our platform will be professional developers who are comfortable working with beta software and trying to get the most out of their game concepts. That will be followed by a larger audience of professional, independent developers and first-time academic developers. We are expecting to have an active community of users, viewers & specialists who can follow each other’s work and provide feedback and services.
RT: What platforms does your product(s) run on?
SB: MaxPlay Game Development Suite runs on most Window’s and OSX machines. The GDS builds products for ANY platform: PCs, mobile devices, VR/AR hardware, and consoles.
RT: What tools and tech does your product support?
SB: Our platform is built with a service oriented architecture (SOA) that allows any development tool written in all programming languages to integrate seamlessly into the solution. We also provide easy to integrate APIs for existing middleware tools and applications.
RT: Why will our readers be interested in your product?
SB: The analogy we hear frequently is you’re “Google Docs for game development”. What Google Apps did for office software over the cloud, is what MaxPlay is doing for game development over the cloud. MaxPlay is taking a completely different approach to the core architecture for an advanced game development solution. This will provide many positive benefits to developers. Collaborate, save time, increase iteration cycles, customize software to their needs, take advantage of multi-core CPUs & allow devs to meet & build teams quickly and communicate with them over the cloud.
RT: What are the opportunities you see in the market where you currently positioned?
SB: Provide a cloud-based single source game development platform to meet the needs of today’s developers. Existing engines are built prior to current explosion of multi-core devices and without SaaS as a platform model. There is a great opportunity to connect developers from around the globe through a single platform and give them actionable data and a powerful run-time engine to create immersive game experiences together.
RT: What are the risks and challenges you think you face, and what qualifies you to overcome them?
SB: Competitive market, entrenched market leaders, & switching costs for developers. Why MaxPlay? Well we are developers too. We have been in the development trenches. We have on average over 18 years of development and network game experience and have lived through the challenges of internal and external development solutions. We want to provide a solution that truly helps developers focus on being creative and not fighting with the tools and broken workflows. A strong and experienced management and engineering team that is from both game development and enterprise software who understands the complex needs of today’s developers.
GBR Analyst View:
Says Sinjin Bain, “Every other industry has a cloud based infrastructure, why shouldn’t the game development industry?” This may very well be the most unique value provided by MaxPlay, as no other licensable middleware engine supports real-time game dev iterations for vastly distributed development teams as a core architectural requirement. Witnessing impressive demos of rendering demanding polygon-rich scenes (~10,000 objects) using 8 cores (hyper-threaded to 16) and running at 300FPS with (~80% of CPU) proves MaxPlay’s Maxcore architecture is working.
MaxPlay is platform agnostic, built to support great hardware that no other engine is supporting today. Combining this with the promise of convenience and extensibility developers crave, on a collaborative platform developers need today, could significantly shift the power in the game engine middleware market. With veteran and experienced game industry talent on hand, MaxPlay should also be in a position to deliver the first-rate support necessary to help developers get on board and stay effective as well.
There is much more to MaxPlay’s tech that warrants an in-depth technical profile, which GBR is planning to do a bit later this year. In that, we plan on covering MaxPlay’s various run-time systems for animation, particle effects, audio and scripting that we learned about during our visit to MaxPlay. One area we’ll be looking forward to cover is how MaxPlay supports end-users. MaxPlay also anticipates an active ecosystem and marketplace that game makers, artists, coders and other specialists can use as their one-stop-shop for finding art, plug-in tools, and even talent to help them finish their games or interactive apps.
You can find a video about MaxPlay on Youtube, and be sure to catch their colorful Origami Sky demo created by The Mill. MaxPlay is planning early access to their platform in late spring, followed by a closed beta in summer and an open beta in January, 2017.
80 employees (60 in Austin, TX, 20 in San Francisco, CA). Company formed in May 2014. Core technology has been incubating since 2013. Funding from a number of private angel investors and Technicolor totaling approximately 19M$ USD.
Key partners include:
- Hardware providers: Intel, NVidia, AMD
- Middleware tools & 3rd parties: FMOD, EmotionFX, PhysX, PopcornFX, PlayFab, DeltaDNA
- Studios: Fingerfood studios, Midnight Studios,BonusXP, Playside Studios
13809 Research Blvd, Suite B400
Austin, TX 78750
74 Tehama St
SF, CA 94105