Autodesk has announced the Softimage Mod Tool 7.5 -- previously known as Softimage|XSI Mod Tool. This free 3D modelling and animation package for aspiring game artists is based on the same professional toolset as the high-end Softimage 3D animation suite.

New features include learning materials from Noesis Interactive. These materials show users how to create a character and export it for use in Microsoft XNA Games Studio 3.0.

Softimage Mod Tool 7.5 supports the Realtime Shader API version 3.0, which Autodesk says helps make real-time shader development simpler and more flexible. The new version offers an architecture focused on programmable shaders (GLSL, HLSL) and file-based effects (CgFX and DxFX). With these capabilities, what game developers see in Softimage Mod Tool is what they get in the game.

The new Interactive Creative Environment (ICE) is an open, scalable platform that enables artists to extend the capabilities of Softimage more quickly and intuitively using a node-based dataflow diagram. Artists can now quickly create complex 3D effects and tools without writing code. Autodesk Softimage Mod Tool 7.5 also now supports the Windows Vista Business operating system.

Softimage Mod Tool 7.5 can export 3D models and animation for use with the Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3 framework, offering a toolset for creating original games on the Microsoft Xbox console or Windows platform. Users can also download add-ons for content export to Crytek CryENGINE 2, Epic Unreal Engine 3 and Valve Source game engines. With this professional 3D toolset modders can produce characters and props for their favourite game.

Autodesk has also created a commercial version called the Softimage Mod Tool Pro 7.5, which is functionally identical to the Mod Tool, but has an End User License Agreement that allows users to produce assets for games sold via Microsoft’s Xbox Live Community Games. Softimage Mod Tool Pro 7.5 is available only with Microsoft’s XNA Creator’s Club Premium membership.

Autodesk anticipates that Softimage Mod Tool 7.5 software will be available in April 2009. For more information, visit