PLM, VPLM and Game Dev

There’s a slow thread over on the Core77 forum (Link) I’ve been visiting occasionally. It may not move very fast, but the comments that are coming are worth noting.

The thing was virtually dead when a couple of PLM vendors started plugging their (limited) wares – Paxonix and Design2Launch. Hit and run stuff. However, it’s the most recent posting by “pier” to which I want to call attention. Here’s one sentence that hit home for me:

I have worked with companies using Primavera, JDEdwards, MatrixOne, SAP, PLMWorks, Enovia, IMAN, etc. All were grossly problematic, universally despised more than any work tool, bad boss or environment. All companies had stupendous, costly installation, training and familiarization time periods, averaging 2 – 3 years from acquisition. In fact, every company had a customized version of their PLM installation as no one package solution was adequate. In some cases, the customization was by independant third party contract as the PLM software company disagreed or disapproved or had exclusive integration agreements with other software companies different than what the company was using.

This sounds like my experience using PTC’s Windchill back in 2001. It also sounds quite a lot like some game development software out there.

Based on what I’m hearing and reading, all indications are that the winner in the race to PLM dominance will be the company or companies that make (3D) product development in all its forms a less strenuous exercise. The bells and whistles just don’t matter as much when they add so much complexity people are either avoiding the application or deliberately circumventing it. CAD software would be the obvious example here. SolidWorks has surely capitalized on its cleaner and more friendly user interface. Other companies have followed suit and even surpassed it in some areas but the perception of SW as the easiest CAD app persists. Rhino has made surface creation relatively simple and done so at a remarkably low price point. No wonder it’s such a popular tool (I often recommend new designers start with the Rhino evaluation). And just as 3D creation software has adapted to meet the demands of the market, PLM must surely follow. I guess that’s why Second Life is so intriguing. The modeling certainly lacks capability, but it’s the way other things seem to all tie in that has me seeing shades of a simple PLM-like tool. And to some degree it already is a product lifecycle management tool – a virtual PLM.

Now the thing I’m wondering is: who has the best chance of developing a PLM package that truly starts to form a part of the future Metaverse: a big corporate-serving developer or a company that sells to the low-end public? Maybe Valve – assuming they’re serious about collaborative building games software – will open a few eyes.