Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Elements of Game Technology Part 1: Game Engines

Now that I have dipped my toes into the basics of importing assets into UDK, I think it’s time to look into various other game engines and what they have to offer!
Here are some of the game engines that I have discovered and will be comparing:

CryEngine 3
Source Engine
Unreal Engine 3

I’ll start from the top with the CryEngine 3.

Oh Timesplitters, you so crazy! Bring back the madness Crytek!
CryEngine 3 is the game engine from Crytek that runs games such as Crysis franchise, Homefront 2, Mecha Warrior Online, to name a few. Crytek UK was formerly known as Free Radical Design responsible for one of the awesome game franchises that I grew up on known as 'Timesplitters' (a bit pointless, but it's what comes to my head when I think Crytek!)
It’s not free software and is reported to cost roughly 1.2 million dollars to have it licenced. However there is a version called CryEngine 3 SDK that’s free of charge for educational purposes and non-commercial game development. If distributing a game you had created for free then it also requires no license.

Truthfully, there are a whole lot of things that I read up about game engines and I have only the slightest clue in what they mean by it at the moment, but I'll do my best to research them and get a better understanding of them!
Apparently unlike many other game editors that use a subtractive style of editing which retracts areas away from a filled space in the world the CryEngine 3 uses an additive style within their sand box.
Hmm, I think I preffer the CryEngine in this image
Since the sand box can potentially be large, it uses an algorithmic form of creating the textures onto the landscape and other objects. It does this by utilising many parameters within the software to work out the distribution of textures and vegetation, etc. It supposedly saves time and makes it feasible to edit large terrain and maintain the sandbox free roaming style.
Because of something called “What you see is what you play”, you can jump right into whatever you were designing.
A few disadvantages with this engine is that it’s limited in its free version and that it’s only compatible with Windows and the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles, limiting itself further. For me though, it’s fine as I’m still at the stage of learning game engines and what not.

The Source Engine was developed by the Valve Corporation and games such as Half Life 2, Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2.
The game was originally designed for powering FPS games, however it has also been used to professionally used to create many other genres such as side scrollers and RTS games.
As with UDK and CryEngine, there is also a SDK version for educational and free use.

However upon doing some further research into the engine I have learnt that it has been criticized for being outdated and a “near broken” state with bugs and crashes. It requires varying level of (potentially long) text based scripting manually before the commands are executed.
Currently a new set of tools is being created by valve so time will tell if the problems will be addressed. I think I’ll stay away from the Source Engine for now…
It's a shame cos it looked quite nice in that video. I might look it up at some point when it's updated.
It can however support the Mac, Xbox 360 and the PS3 (as well as Windows of course).

Ahh UT... brings back memories... *teary eye*
Unreal Engine 3 was developed by Epic Games. When I think of the name Unreal I instantly think about the Unreal Tournament games I had enjoyed oh so much back in the day (I make myself sound so old…)
Anyways, moving on swiftly; some games that ran on the Unreal Engine 3 are Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Borderlands 2 and the upcoming games BioShock Infinite and Aliens: Colonial Marines a currently being developed on the engine.
Like the Source Engine, it was primarily designed for running FPS games, however many other genres have been successfully developed such as MMORPGS. It is a rather popular game engine used by many game developers. It could be because of its support of C++ making it very universal and familiar to use.
It’s also in support many of the current platforms such as Windows, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, the iOS and Android.

Hmm, I think I prefer the Unreal Engine in this image
The latest Unreal engine (that being 3) is designed for the use of Direct 9,10 and 11 and can read systems using OpenGL managed by the non-profit technology consortium Khronos Group.
With UDK, anyone can sell there games by paying Epic 99 dollars and 25% royalty on UDK related revenue all UDK based games or commercial applications above 50 000 dollars.
One advantage with the Unreal Engine is that it’s considered widely as being ‘easy to use’ compared to a lot of other engines. I guess if I were in need of some tutorials or need find out a problem, it would be more likely to find an answer using this engine as many people use this popular engine.
Since UDK is free, it’s no surprise that its features are limited. The platforms are severely limited to only Windows and the iOS and it costs around the 1 million dollar mark to get a license for Unreal Engine 3.
This shouldn’t be a problem to me though as I’m only learning the program through educational purposes.

So now that I’ve looked into these three engines, I think I’ll give the SDK version of CryEngine 3 a crack at some point. Though learning UDK should probably be my first choice for now (especially since the group projects are coming up!)

This is pretty interesting. I personally find them both to look quite appealing and have their own little charms (in this demonstration at least). I'll definately be giving these two a go probably and getting a grasp at them before checking out another game engine... (probably... :p)

Also, saw this very recently and just remembered. I'll just leave this here... ¦3


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