We always hear about the potential for AI and machine learning to transform game development. But now one Ukrainian company is turning special effects like liquids, explosions, and fire into something spectacular.
Zibra.ai creates patent-pending cross-platform tools that help developers create seamless real-time visual effects. I spoke to CEO Alex Petrenko to find out more.
Zibra liquids make it possible to mix liquids with different visual properties and physics behaviours during the same simulation. This creates natural environments, and interactive game mechanics.
Its realistic physics and game mechanics are based on interactive liquid work even on mobile devices.
Smoke & Fire creates real-time volumetric effects to help game developers, game designers, and VFX artists simplify effects creation, improve scene aesthetics, enhance realism and user immersion into virtual worlds.
And the results are nothing short of mesmerizing. (This article was slightly delayed as I stared at the results for far longer than I should have and I've uploaded some images to include in this article).
The company is also working to automate the process of creating 3d assets by converting text inputs.
Petrenko explained that you can write "have a windmill set on fire" and generate a windmill on fire:
"You can upload sketch art, a random picture you find on the internet, a photo or video reference of objects, and Zibra's tools will convert the text into actual 3d objects with the ability to modify everything in real-time."
The evolution of Zibra.ai
Founded in 2021, the company started its exposure to the market by listing a base version of its liquid product in gaming development marketplaces to access the gaming community. Offering a combination of freemium and lifetime licences, the company gained 72k organic installations early on.
From there, the company engaged in rigorous customer feedback and is now monetizing through an advanced pro version of its graphics solution for greater visual effects – it also offers individual licences and free student licences.
The challenge of game development in Ukraine
Zibra.ai is headquartered in Kyiv, with most of the team now situated West of Ukraine. Petrenko told me:
It wasn't an easy year. We faced war in the middle of the fundraising process, so we needed more capital to continue developing. We were super early in terms of our go-to-market strategy; we had just shipped our first product.
It generated a super small amount of revenue but wasn't consistent with supporting our development needs. So it was a really challenging period for us.
For the team, the safety of the staff came first. Next up, they worked to relocate tech equipment, our servers, laptops, PCs, and build machines to safe regions. "And only after that did we start gathering with our leadership team to try thinking about ways to continue our operations."
The company gradually returned to work, with March and April being the most productive months "because everyone was just tired of the terrible news and decided to focus on work."
The gaming development community helped. Gaming marketplaces included their products in gaming promotions, generating product traffic – in March alone, the company sold 500 licences and a comparative amount in April.
In 2022, Zibra.ai generated over 100k annual recurring revenue and closed a $1.5 million seed investment from global investors.
The company is planning another funding round this year and will ship additional product functions to the marketplace.
Zibra.ai is preparing to expand its reach outside indie gaming. Petrenko shared that "before the end of the year, we would like to get to the next step in our go-to-market strategy focusing on enterprise-level companies and extending our focus within industrial VR AR and XR industries also."
Petrenko wants the world to know that "
Some Ukrainian companies are struggling to get contracts like EU and US businesses because people are afraid that something might happen within Ukraine, and service would just stop, but it's not the case. In business, we are thinking about our plan B's and plan C's, ensuring that we produce the same quality of services and products, similar to before the war."
This article is part of Tech.eu's highlighting of remarkable Ukrainian startups on the one-year anniversary of the Russo-Ukrainian War. Read more ...