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WildTangent to release enhanced 3D tool

A start-up that aims to popularize 3D graphics for the Web will introduce a product to make game development easier and cheaper.

A start-up that aims to popularize 3D graphics for the Web will introduce a product to make game development easier and cheaper.

Most PC games are created for Microsoft's DirectX graphics software. That technology got a boost this week when America Online announced a deal with archrival Microsoft to bring the latest version of DirectX to the 19 million users of AOL's proprietary service.

Alex St. John, a former Microsoft engineer, inventor of DirectX and chief executive of Redmond-based WildTangent, says his company's new "game driver" will bring game development costs down to earth and revitalize the market for game titles.

"The game driver is built to be a comprehensive solution for cross-platform game development," St. John said in an interview. "It's an architecture that makes it much easier to code for DirectX. We hide the nastiness, the 'Windows-ness.'"

WildTangent's efforts to simplify 3D development and bring it to the Web follow a failed effort by Microsoft to do the same thing with its Chromeffects technology.

Much like WildTangent's first product, a Web driver for creating graphics and animation on the Web, the game driver will let developers use common Web languages like Java and JavaScript instead of more complex computer programming languages such as C and C++. The Web driver is geared more toward amateurs, said St. John, while the more powerful game driver is aimed at the game-development professional.

The new product, which includes technology WildTangent acquired last month along with Eclipse Entertainment, is meant to help companies ease what is now an extremely costly and lengthy development cycle. Developing one game title can cost $2 million and two years' labor by 30 developers, according to St. John.

"We can develop the same content for five or 10 cents on the dollar you spend developing directly to DirectX doing hard-core Windows programming," St. John said.

WildTangent will release a trial version of the software at the Game Developers Conference, where WildTangent will detail plans to offer the system for use with operating systems other than Windows.

WildTangent is in the middle of its Series B round of funding.