Lucy James hosts the weekly web series Reality Check on and uses the series to illuminate the technology and science behind everyone’s favorite video games.  After exploring some of the techniques that make open world games like The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt possible she delved further into two of the middleware tools involved: SpeedTree and Umbra.

Middleware is not often mentioned in the development in games but with the constantly increasing scale and complexity of games these tools enable studios to focus on bringing more content and features in a shorter amount of time without skimping on design.  SpeedTree for Games has been a part of a growing list of AAA blockbuster titles and now with the inclusion of SpeedTree in Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4 we are seeing more use in the indie realm as small studios use SpeedTree to match their ambitious goals. Umbra is an Occlusion culling tool that is used in countless titles to increase performance by intelligently removing what isn’t visible by the camera.

If you’ve been unsure about how middleware and SpeedTree in particular fits into the world of games, be sure to check out the video above for a great summary of what we do and why so many studios and artists have made SpeedTree the industry standard in vegetation modeling tools.

Keep an eye out for more great stuff from Lucy James and Gamespot: