Monday, 11 February 2013

Elements of Game Technology, part one: game engines

Game Engines, I don't know much about them really. The only experience I have had using one has been with UDK a few weeks back. It wasn't an awful experience, I was expecting it to be a lot harder, but I didn't get into it much.

I know there are several games engines out there but I'm not really sure what the difference is between them and why different ones are needed. A brief look into the world of game engines has shown me there are probably 100s of engines I had no idea even existed, so for now I will just try and compare two of the most well known and commonly used today.
Unreal Engine (UDK)

Most modern games created recently that have good graphics and adaptive gameplay will be made using either the CryEngine or UnrealEngine . Cryteks latest engine, called the CryEngine3 is better at detailed graphics than the UnrealEngine, but every time the graphics become better, the machines have to aswell in order to run them.

The CryEngine

Characters and faces are becoming features of almost all modern AAA titles, and Crytek is the closest in achieving realistic individuals in real- time graphics.  CryENGINE3 brings together the most technically advanced, integrated and scalable animation and graphics technology to deliver astonishingly real characters to cross-platform games, at no extra licensing cost.

- Better graphics

- More detailed characters
- Creative and adaptive environment (the movement of grass, bird, smog, etc.)
Advanced 2D and 3D algorithms allow the AI navigation paths to be modified in real-time in response to events which may create, modify or destroy existing paths – a critical feature for creating believable AI in a highly interactive and destructible environment
- better at creating more "interactive world"

-Intelligent AI

- In order to get the maximum potential out of the engine people need high end computers
- Graphics/textures take longer to load

The Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine 3 is integrated with numerous leading middleware technologies through Epic Games’ Integrated Partner's Program. Continual optimisations are made to the Unreal Engine’s highly mature tool pipeline, massive world support and multi-processor performance. Unreal Engine 3's advanced tool set is designed specifically to accelerate developers' productivity for ultra-complex, next-generation content.
Pros :
- More stable running on mid computers
- Widely used with a network of tutorials/guides and people that can help you
-More user friendly and easier to program than CryEngine
- Unreal have been the leader of game engines for several years, they've had time to work out the kinks and make a less buggy and stable engine
- They are currently working on the UnrealEngine4, which could potentially match or better the CryEngine3 in terms of graphic quality
- Lower graphic quality compared to CryEngine3
- Less detailed customization
- Currently an older engine that it showing its age on the newest games.

I've only looked briefly at two of the most well known engines, and its clear there are some differences between them, pros and cons to using either. Which engine would be best suited to a certain project is hard to say and down to the developers, depending on what type of game they were making, how long they had, how detailed they wanted it to be and what device they were developing it for. Thankfully I don't have to worry about that anytime soon, because Im still not sure what Im talking about when it comes to game engines.

Some interesting reads:
CryEngine specs

UE3 specs

how game engines work

Massive list of game engines and about them

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