New Zealand firm helps build Xbox games

New Zealand know-how will help developers build games to woo players of Microsoft's yet-to-be-launched Xbox games console.

Right Hemisphere Ltd., an Auckland-based company that builds tools for 3D developers, has signed a "strategic agreement" with Microsoft to become an Official Xbox tools and middleware developer.

"This hasn't sprung out of the deal with NVidia but is complementary to it," says co-founder Mark Thomas. Earlier this month the company signed a deal with NVidia Corp. under which the graphics chip manufacturer signed up Right Hemisphere to an elite group of developers who have access to pre-release version of the latest graphics engines.

This Microsoft Xbox will use the NVidia chip and Thomas says this means game developers will be able to use Right Hemisphere tools to come up with high-grade, real-time three-dimensional (3D) rendering that previously couldn't be achieved.

"We'll be working on Deep Paint 3D and Texture Weapons to optimize them for this kind of platform," says Thomas. Right Hemisphere has a similar arrangement with Intel that means it has access to Intel Corp.'s latest chipsets as well.

These kinds of relationships are paying off for the software house. Its tools have been used by game design company Inevitable in some of its latest games. Inevitable has produced the popular Tribes Two for Sony's PlayStation 2. While previously Right Hemisphere's tools had been used to produce the in-game movie sequences, in games like the 007 Racing game for Play Station, now the tools are being used for the actual game elements themselves.