A graduate of the LISAA Paris school of applied art, specializing in video games, real-time graphics, storytelling and development, Antoine BEZBORODKO quickly joined the communication and design agency Troisième Oeil. Within it, he created on behalf of Peugeot in 2004, his first serious game.
Indeed, playful video games, for educational or informative purposes, are still in their infancy. However, Antoine detects all the potential for innovation, especially in its application to companies.
From ambition to achievement
In 2006, Antoine set up AD-Invaders, a studio specializing in serious games for companies. The studio responds to growing marketing challenges. But also to the objectives of raising awareness of complex subjects, or learning.
Driven by the ambition of “serious” entertainment, he created at the end of 2007 a second parallel company, Serious Factory. It is dedicated to business applications, virtual showrooms (dematerialization of events), maintenance simulator.
In 2009, Antoine BEZBORODKO decided to leave the company and continue the development of AD-Invaders. He works for major automotive accounts (Toyota, Peugeot, Renault), Parisian communication and advertising agencies (TBWA, Publicis…), the energy sector (EDF, GRTgaz, Total), beverage brands (Orangina, Lipton…).
AD-Invaders was sold to the communication group Révolution 9 in 2015, as part of an ambitious conquest strategy.
From driving simulator to reflex development
As a result, Antoine joined during The Good Drive to develop a driving training simulation software. Almost a simulator, the video game nevertheless uses game techniques in the service of learning. He is particularly interested in the development of reflexes to be transposed into real life.
At the end of 2016, after ten years of experience in the serious game and the B to B commercial relationship, Antoine set out to take up the HoloForge challenge by joining the Asobo studio. He became coordinator and business developer, to put video games at the service of professionals.
An opportunity that also allows him to find the Bordeaux living environment, which he particularly likes.
The HoloForge division, from Bordeaux-based video game studio Asobo, is working with the HoloLens headset. This is a Microsoft technology on which HoloForge develops mixed reality experiences. HoloForge has just made two games for their new virtual reality headset
The HoloLens headset allows you to first scan everything around you, allowing the player to evolve in a familiar environment.
Displaying holograms is fine, but if they do not evolve in your own universe, we do not amaze the user
David DEDEINE, co-founder of ASOBO
From gaming video games to augmented reality
Asobo was created in 2002 in Bordeaux, and has already developed seventeen video games, for Disney, Pixar, Ubisoft… The company now employs about 100 people. Essentially computer developers, artists and game designers.
But this Bordeaux company has tended to orient itself B to B for a few years. It is currently developing augmented reality solutions applicable to various professions. To illustrate a little their concept, we had the chance to test these revolutionary glasses, in the shoes of customers looking for a property. We were able to visualize the residences in 3 dimensions, and take a guided tour in the different rooms of the “proposed” apartment. All this while having total control over our environment. These are real “digital assistants” aimed at assisting man in carrying out his tasks and thus increasing his productivity.
The winning alliance of skills…
HoloForge is the professional holographic division of the video game studio Asobo.
Based in Bordeaux since its creation in 2002, the company has real technical expertise and strong legitimacy on technology. Antoine BEZBORODKO dreamed of a development studio with ambitious means, in order to be able to develop cutting-edge technical solutions. Asobo was looking for skills to develop B to B both at the relational level and at the level of knowledge of customer uses.
The company then invests in the development of a mixed reality headset (integration of virtual elements into the real world by making them interact). She worked confidentially on it for more than four years before the first demonstrations. With the release of the HoloLens headset, HoloForge established itself as the leader in the sector thanks in particular to Microsoft’s investments.
A virtual headset without equivalent
Since the release of the headset in 2015, the mixed, virtual and augmented reality sector has grown significantly. Even today, the helmet has no real competitor because no innovation offers equivalent services. 100% autonomous headset, wireless, perfectly stable display, good perception of space, under a standard development environment…
… serving high-tech sectors
Following the release of HoloLens, calls from major accounts are multiplying, making it necessary to open a dedicated division. Recruited to develop this new branch, Antoine and his team work beyond technology, to understand use and ergonomics.
With the loss of the screen concept, new problems arise, such as how to bring information to the user, find new ways, intuitive or a minimum quickly apprehensible, for man to interact with the machine …
Presented at the CIS in Las Vegas, HoloLens is available for sale to the general public. In view of its price (5000 € in commercial version), it currently remains rather dedicated to the professional world, and more particularly to manufacturers for training, maintenance, or assistance.
Offering significant time savings, increased security and a significant reduction in the number of errors, the solution has already attracted reference companies… Such as the pharmaceutical laboratory UPSA, Naval group, Framatom, Thales, Nomadeec of Exelus for telemedicine, Airbus …
Sustainability, support, drive and innovation
This diversity of projects allows HoloForge to grow steadily and hire for the long term.
The composition of the HoloForge studio team is very similar to that of a video game studio team. Developers, 2D and 3D graphic designers, designers, technical artists, project managers form the core of a team of fifteen members. The organization and the trades are the same, but it is the subject that changes.
The skills and tools are done in collaboration with Asobo but at each cell its projects. This structure allows HoloForge to benefit from Asobo’s technologies that the studio could hardly have afforded otherwise, such as motion capture. This allows the division to offer qualitative services at competitive rates.
A start-up spirit at the forefront of new technologies
Conversely, asobo is playing traditional video games and HoloForge acting as a startup, at the cutting edge of technology, Asobo is inspired by its tools and new technologies.
Like an independent company, the productions developed must follow a global strategy. Antoine BEZBORODKO is responsible for the good management of the teams and the management of the strategy. HoloForge managed to achieve balance last year. The division is now relatively independent.
It is very important in the values of HoloForge, and more broadly of Asobo, to capitalize on the experience project after project.
In keeping with its original philosophy, HoloForge wants to put on the market only successful solutions.
Recently, the studio became interested in the field of culture and began working with the CNRS on prototypes for archaeology. This sector does not have much money to invest in innovation, but HoloForge still sees an interest in it.
“It’s a gamble, an anticipation. We are in areas where it is imperative to experiment and follow intuitions. The point is to work on the use. Second, it lowers costs, making the tools accessible to more people. HoloForge will already be ready when the user is ready.”
Towards understanding the issues of the serious game
Antoine had seen it in the early days of the serious game, studios such as HoloForge suffer the image that sticks to their skin, that of the video game studio.
“We work in defense and industry […] As the field is relatively new, it is necessary to be pedagogical in the commercial approach.”
Nevertheless, HoloForge does not need to be proactive: almost everything works when entering, with already relatively qualified needs and alert interlocutors.
Another difficulty to take into account within the commercial relationship, the end result is not determined, and will evolve during the realization.
“We have already changed our approach during development, which would have been impossible with too strict a specification. What we sell and what we commit to is not the path, it is the goal.”
In addition, this approach is delicate because the requested developments are expensive. When HoloForge sells the script, projects range from 20,000 to 200,000 euros.
Bordeaux, a double-edged ecosystem
Bordeaux benefits from a beautiful ecosystem of developers and attracts new talent thanks to the setting and quality of life. However, the principals turn relatively little to the city. Many projects are launched which HoloForge is not even aware of because they are not based in Paris.
Even so, the opportunities ahead are exciting… AInsi, Asobo being an expert in video games, Antoine is waiting for augmented reality technology to arrive in homes in order to open up to new challenges, especially in terms of augmented video games.