Join Sebastien Deguy for an in-depth discussion in this video Games and artists, part of Sebastien Deguy: Allegorithmic Changing the Art of Games.
- So I cannot speak that much about the games, but today I what can tell you is that triple A super-advanced games are being produced using Substance right now. Last year it was about 20. So it's really increasing fast. And the first ones you will see officially announcing that they have been using Substance should be by the end of this year, early next year. But today I cannot really talk about it.
But they look amazing. (laughs) - I know some of them, because I know you've been working on them. - I was not at E3 myself, but we made a table internally, like all the games presented at E3 that we know use Substance, that we think use Substance, that we know don't use Substance, and it was more green than red, so it was a good feeling, but we couldn't talk about it yet, so that's a bit disturbing, but we're working on it. And we understand as well, so. - So after the games are released? - Yes, usually it eases the process, yeah.
So Substance Painter is a bit of a mix of things. It was an alignment of planets at some point. Super old ideas, like the particle-based brushes. Actually, that was an idea pushed in 2005. So I had an intern coming in and trying out programming a particle system that would leave traces behind them, and behaving in a certain way, and you could program the behavior.
And I was producing super amazing stuff, but I was slow, and It was 2D, so we couldn't use it, really. But we had that in back of our mind, at some point. And so at one point one of our guys also came to me and said, "Well, I've programmed this on the weekends." And it was a GPU-accelerated 3D paint. and he told me, "You could go that fast. You could do that." And it was super well-done, super well-crafted. And then some people started to ask, "Well, when do you add "this 3D painting capability to Substance Designer?" etc.
So it was a mix of old innovations that we kept somewhere. Old ideas. New burgeoning things coming from the inside. Feedback from the outside as well. So it was a mix of things, and an alignment of planets, and at some point we decided, yeah we should do that. With our DNA behind it, which is using procedural techniques but not procedural for procedural.
It has to have a meaning, and it has to be helpful to the user in the end. And the more hidden it is the better. And in Substance Designer we made the choice of making it completely open, super complex, and not that hidden. You couldn't hide the complexity of things, but you could get into it as well, whereas with Substance Painter we say, "Well, we want to take the opposite vision for this one," but add very complex procedures.
Procedural based techniques, like this particle-based painting system, and hide it as much as possible, and make it just a fun product to deal with, and so we got inspirations from PhotoShop, from Mug Box, and from all the tools that we liked. And we said, "This is great. This is cool. "This is what people use now, and we should replicate it somehow or get inspired from that somehow. And so we've mixed that together, and we can up with Substance Painter.
It was a mix of things. A very hybrid approach. Yeah, we do have artists working at the company. From the start, actually. It's always been a super important thing to us. And it's even more complicated than this, actually. It's much more programmers also do other stuff. They're interested in film. They're interested in music. They're interested in literature. Sometimes they produce. Sometimes they create themselves. So they usually have that eye, that interest in this, and vice versa, the artists we work with, usually they are very technically-minded.
And they don't mind working with the buggy software. And they don't mind coming up with ideas, and sometimes they come up with products themselves. Just by meta-programming them somehow. And it's been always this mix of things, and actually the name Allegorithmic, it's all there. It's a mix of allegoric, for the artistic part and poetic part, and allegorithmic for the mathematical part of it.
Allegorithmic. It's a mixed name. It's the worst name ever. I know it's too long, but we love it. Because of that story, actually. (laughs) Absolutely, yeah. Especially since Substance Painter. Substance Painter is an easier tool than Substance Designer. It's a 3D paint application, whereas Substance Designer is a note-based interface. Substance Designer is more for the right part of the brain, you know the logical part. Is it left part or the right part? I never remember.
That part of the brain is logical, and Substance Painter is more for the other one, where it's easier to get into. It's fun to use, and it's in 3D so you're painting 3D directly, whereas with Substance Designer, where you have one more step. Which is like a 2D layout, and you have this graph, and so it's very complicated. Substance Designer is super powerful and useful for pipelines, and for the finding of pipeines in a new way and creating texture that are good for the new PDR, physically-based rendering techniques that you see used by most of the game developers these days.
But it's kind of a mindset. And it's perfect for a team of users. And a little bit of overkill sometimes, when you're one guy, doing one texture for one asset. Whereas Substance Painter is easier. So that when you start producing, game art, even if it's just you having fun with it, Substance Painter is an easier entry point. So this is how we could get into this indie market and reach these people with Substance Painter.
The tool was better for this, but also we've seen distribution channels change very much. Like Substance Painter we sell a lot on Steam, for instance. And on Steam what you can find is all of these gamers and they love games, obviously, but a chunk of these guys and girls, obviously, they like to get into the game development themselves.
By finding on top of the games that they can buy on Steam, they can find the tools that have been utilized by the game developers to use these games. They pick them up at a certain price, and they can start playing the game of being a game designer somehow. Or game developer. So these enthusiasts we reach this way. We reach by our website, on forums, directly. It's a very direct relationship that we have with this new population, and it's a very savvy population as well, so they've known internet from the start.
They're young, so they know how to search for information. They know how to learn new stuff and to find everything that they need online. So they find information that they need. So if you're well-positioned. If you master inbound marketing; not only outbound marketing, but the good old ways of pushing products, but providing information, helping these guys out.
They will come at you and look at what you do, and they will start to get interested in what you pose as products. So that's combined with the third thing, which is the business models. So, is it two years ago, maybe, we introduced an indie version of our license so you have pro and indie, and indie is delegated to these guys as well. So basically it's the same tool, just saying that as a company acquiring, or an individual acquiring the tool, if you do less than 100 K per year in revenue, coming from that direct production, you can say, "Well, I'm an indie." So you can have this very very nice price.
So nice price, new distribution channels, and a good product. Easy to grasp product. We could reach that new market, and it was perfect timing because these people, they were not here before, or they were hidden, they were spread away. It was super hot to reach them. They couldn't cut the prices off, so we wounded up with this new business model, where you have the same products, but we trust the people to say, well I'm doing more or less than this threshold.
And if I'm doing less, I pay this. If I'm doing more, I pay that. And it's paid off so far.