Illusoft, a games, software and design company, has recently put up a new website dedicated to their new Blender plugin.
From the site:
This plugin is a script for Blender to import from and export to the Collada 1.4 format. The plugin is a python script which runs through the Blender Python Interpreter.
The reason for the plugin? Other than supporting the Blender community with a powerful tool, Illusoft is developing a new game-engine, written in C# and DirectX, and is looking to use Blender in their creation of game content. Cannibal, the name of the game engine, has built-in support for Collada. The plugin will allow Illusoft to speed up their game development and design process.
Currently, Blender supports import and export of older Collada versions. The newest Collada version, 1.4, was released in January 2006. And Collada is? From the Collada site:
COLLADA ("COLLAborative Design Activity") is an open standard for the interactive entertainment industry that defines an XML-based schema for 3D authoring applications to freely exchange digital assets without loss of information. This enables multiple software packages to be combined into extremely powerful tool chains. COLLADA supports programmable shaders authored and packaged using OpenGL ES Shading Language so that leading 3D authoring tools can work effectively together to create OpenGL ES applications and assets.
I asked Pieter Visser, who is chief executive and the admin of the development team for the Collada 1.4.0 Plugin for Blender, more about the project and how Blender is involved:
We started developing Cannibal more then a year ago. The Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands used the first release for a 3d-game project. The project was a big success, but the main problem was importing models from 3d packages. After that, we went for a new release which includes perfect support for importing models and animation.
Since a lot of creators of game-content didn't have access to 3dmax, Maya or other expensive tools, we went looking for an inexpensive alternative for them to use. Blender was a good option at that time. A year later, the functionality and satisfaction with the use of Blender are so good, that we don't even need an expensive tool anymore. Blender does exactly what you need to create good game-content (models and animations).
Meanwhile, Collada became more and more the standard for 3d-applications, so for this reason, we wanted to adopt our engine to support the full Collada specification, because it's just great. The only drawback is that Blender does not support the Collada 1.4.0 specification, so we decided to develop this plugin for Blender and share it with the rest of the world, to support the Blender and Collada initiatives.
Illusoft has just released their first version (version 0.1), so give it a try and help them keep making it better with their forum and bugtracker! This plugin will be an important tool for everyone in the Blender community, and with the ability to coordinate with many different applications, this will certainly be moving Blender ahead.