søndag 23. desember 2012

Game Engines

So I don't really know what I am talking about in this post buuut here goes.

I’ve been trying to explain the concept of game engines to my parents. It’s pretty hard for me to explain to them the differences between, for example, 3D software and a level editor, so I thought I’d have a go at explaining this in as simple terms as possible in this blog.

This is my parent/grandparent guide to what is this shit:

A 3D package, like 3Ds Max, is a piece of software that functions sort of like the construction site where you make all the visual elements and pieces and objects and people that go in the game.

Then you export all those things to the game engine and put them together to construct a world where it is possible to run around and shoot things. In fact you can test-play your scene while constructing it. (Or at least you can in Unreal)

You put in simple, invisible geometric objects beneath your 3D assets, for example in a wall, and these function as the borders to where the player can go and are the reason you can’t run trough walls or fall trough the ground because unlike in the physical world these borders have to be manually established in a digital one.

You also put in lights and things that sway and move and things that are interactive and other effects in your scene and make it look pretty and playable.

I am not sure that’s very helpful.

Some companies write their own in house engines. I am not sure this works out cheaper than using prebuilt engines like CryEngine, UDK since you’d probably need loads of programmers and stuff to do that, but it probably allows for more customisation and tailoring towards the game’s needs. CryEngine and UDK costs a ton of money to licence for commercial use (but luckily it is free for us wee students to play with). There is a third option of growing popularity called Unity. Unity is open source, but apparently not as powerful as CryEngine and UDK.

The two engines that are most frequently used on our course are UDK and CryEngine so they would be the relevant choices for me when choosing which engine to use for my FMP, I guess. They have some core differences in their art tools that would influence my choice.

UDK has to be installed on your computer to work, but functions offline. It has a complex material editor that allows for a high level of customisation. Lightning has to be built, which might allow for more complex-looking light than CryEngine, which lights in real time. UDK does not allow overhangs such as caves when you build terrain, which I think is a bit of a deal breaker.


The triple-A first person shooter Bioshock (above) used the Unreal Engine. So did the indie third person puzzle game Unmechanical (below). I think that demonstrates the versatility of this engine pretty well.


CryEngine can be launched from a USB-stick, but you have to be online to use it. The materials are simpler, but limited in customisation possibilites. The lightning is realtime, but that sacrifices the quality of UDK. CryEngine does allow overhangs and caves in terrain, and apparently features stronger terrain painting tools than UDK. I think these last two might be a good reason for me to choose CryEngine over UDK but like with any art tool, it probably mostly comes down to your knowledge of the basics and how you use it, I guess.

Looking at lists of games built in CryEngine I honestly couldn't find any games I've actually played or ever felt like playing but I am sure that's not CryEngine's fault.

These are from Crysis 2 anyway (I think)




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