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CLIMAX UNVEILS TOMCAT – A NEXT GENERATION TOOLSET FOR THE NEXT GENERATION CONSOLES!

Los Angeles, CA. Wednesday 24th November, 2004: Climax Group today took a major step forward in the development of next generation games with the unveiling of Tomcat, a proprietary toolset that enables the quick creation of dynamic shading effects.

Already equipped with a well-established set of tools and pipelines, Climax has used its existing technology to develop a string of hits on PS2, Xbox and various mobile game devices. But the next generation consoles demand next generation technology, and this is why Climax has developed Tomcat. Designed exclusively for the PS3 and Xbox2, it's the next evolution of the company's current tools and is already proving itself a valuable asset in the development of the next generation of hits.

Developed by Climax's Core Technology Group (CTG), Tomcat is based on High-Level-Shading-Languages and uses small fragments of shader code that are concatenated to produce stunning shading effects. Crucially, Climax has developed a simple way for these small fragments to be created and inserted, which drastically reduces the amount of programming required to create such outstanding visuals.

The increased power of the next generation consoles, combined with the development of programmable shaders, means that shader management is going to be a crucial concern to game developers in the near future. Climax Group has moved swiftly on the issue to ensure it's well placed to exploit the new opportunities it presents, as Tony Beckwith, President of Climax Racing, explained: "Rather than reacting to the issue when it arrives, we've taken a proactive step and developed a unique toolset that allows us to fully exploit the potential for outstanding shading effects. The system we've created allows our artists to create amazing shader combinations faster, and without the need for programmer support."

Tony continued: "As soon as we started working on Tomcat, we knew we had something really special on our hands. Even still, the industry's reaction has amazed us. All the major publishers we've shown it to have been blown away and are pushing us hard to let them use it. This is an exciting step for us, and could mean that in the future a wide range of brilliant games built on the Tomcat technology could be filling the shop shelves, not just those developed by Climax."

Built from a stable platform that has proven its worth in several games, Tomcat is so powerful the company only needs to innovate for the next generation features. Other qualities of the tool set include:

  • Real-time Shader Combining And Preview
  • Normal Mapping
  • Bloom And ViViD Renderer
  • Online And Networking
  • DYNE Physics
  • Real-Time Game Tweaker

Normal mapping, in particular, is core to the company's next generation strategy. This technique provides an incredible amount of detail for little cost, so gamers can enjoy a considerable and disproportionate gain in quality without a drop in performance.

Fully developed and operational, Tomcat is already being employed in the development of Avalon, Climax's highly anticipated and fantastically innovative next generation game.

-END-

Note to Editors:

About Tomcat

Over recent years, real-time procedural shading has become an increasingly important area in the development of graphics hardware. The versatility and power of pixel and vertex shaders have made them a key feature of the next-generation of game consoles. And as the technology has matured, we have seen a move away from low-level hardware interfaces towards high-level shading languages. These developments have allowed Climax to create a new tool set designed to fully exploit the recent advancements in console hardware.

Alongside their power, programmable shaders can lead to an explosion of permutations. Recent Climax games have featured up to a hundred different pixel shaders alone. Many of these shaders are variations on a few basic themes, for example, the same lighting model both with and without animation skinning. The number of possible combinations is huge and this is set to increase still further with the next generation of hardware. This will make shader management an important concern for game developers.

Climax has chosen to address this issue by developing a system in which we can write many small fragments of shader code. Fragments are stored in text files with an interface block and an implementation. These are then concatenated to create a large number of different combinations.

The emergence of High-Level-Shading-Languages has been vital in the development of this technology. They have allowed us to develop a simple format for the input files, making it straightforward to create new fragments. The fragment combiner then concatenates the fragments and passes the generated code to the compiler to generate efficient shaders.

One of the major advantages of this system is that it allows artists to create new effects by combining shader fragments without the need for programmer support. This is key to the design of Tomcat, our next-generation art tool, designed to specifically to match the needs of future console hardware.

Tomcat provides an environment for programmers to create and edit shader fragments. It also allows artists to quickly create different shader combinations, apply them to surfaces and to review the results in a single framework.

About Climax

Founded in 1988 by Karl Jeffery, Climax Group Inc. has grown to become the world's leading independent video game developer. At the cutting edge of the games industry, Climax develops technologically advanced and critically acclaimed interactive games software for all major console platforms. The company works with major worldwide publishers such as Microsoft, SCEA, Buena Vista Games and THQ to create such hit titles as ATV Offroad Fury 3, Sudeki and the Moto GP series on Xbox and PC.

Climax is headquartered in Los Angeles. Additional information on Climax is available at www.climaxgroup.com.

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