Thursday, 12 April 2012

Elements of Game Technology, part one: game engines

Ok so this blog is entirely down to differences in game engines as some big game companies like to have their very own when developing a series of games. I guess teams must feel comfortable all working within their own engine as they will know the ins and outs and depending on the genre of the game, be able to create desired elements much faster and easier. It’s the engines that integrate all the hard work developed from 3DS Max, Maya, Photoshop, zbrush and so on but also allows the dynamic elements and intricate important details such as lighting or mechanics for opening doors, how they open, at what speed and all that.

We know Unreal is a very commercial engine that can be used and abused by anyone but must pay if they want to actually sign up and use it for personal commercial purposes. It is perhaps the reason why it has become so famous. We non commercially use it for our second and third year semesters and despite being just game artists where we thrive on 3DS Max and such, to learn exactly how an engine ticks is great for our growing development if we want to enter the industry.

I found a great little website that shows a list of game engines and a small explanation to the side of them, explaining what they were used for so please take a good look at these but for the duration of the blog I will pick out ones that interest me in what they were used for and see if I can find any differences in how they may work better or worse than each other. The famous Unreal and CryEngine is included and clicking on the links actually take you to the Wikipedia pages to explain them in more depth.

One engine I noticed is the Jade engine, originally used for beyond good and evil, and being an old time gamer, thanks to my dad, I did read up on, played and very much enjoyed this game at the time. The engine is developed by ubisoft and further games created were, surprise surprise, the whole prince of Persia series! Other games are, King Kong, a key game when the next generation of PS3 and Xbox 360 were releasing, rayman raving rabbids, naruto adventure games, avatar, and the newest prince of Persia. So usage has been from years 2003 to 2010 and the engine has been able to create content for PlayStation 2 and pc all the way up to the Nintendo Wii meaning it has a great depth and can keep up with the current gen up to this point. Although this could be due to changes in the engine and I’m sure, like unreal and any other software for that matter, they are constantly improving the way you can use them making things easier and allowing integration of improved physics, AI, dynamics, lighting and so on.

So failing to find the way the jade engine ticks, I go onto the crystal tools engine, also named the white engine, used for the newest of my most favourite series of games, Final Fantasy! Used for Final Fantasy XIII onwards (however I think the new FF Versus XIII will use an entirely new engine) this engines allows 3DS Max and Maya, standard, and XSi which I have no idea about so I’ll have to research that. Otherwise key features include, advanced audio processing, real-time physics calculations, cinema-quality special effects rendering, progressive scan loading, high quality cgi real-time rendering graphics capabilities for both cut-scenes and gameplay and seamless cut-scene to gameplay transition. Now reading this and having played final fantasy 13, I can totally understand why they would create such an amazing sounding engine like this. Final fantasy being a role playing game thrives on its storylines, battle systems, characters and animations, sounds, special effects and most importantly, cut-scenes which is all taken seriously to make an immersive emotional game. That backs up my previous point that specialist engines made for specialist genres allow companies to add features that work for them.

Think, if every company used the same engine, we would see too many similarities and common ground between transitions and the way you can actually play the game. CryEngine specialises on first person shooters and I kind of see the same with Unreal, even though you can create different kinds of games, how hard would it be to make that happen?

Refs
http://www.3d-animation.com.ar/game_engines_commercial_01.php
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=118511

1 comment:

  1. hi..Im student from Informatics engineering, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)

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