|CryENGINE 3: An in-depth interview with Crytek
By Igor Gajic
December 18, 2009
PC Play: CryEngine 3 is obviously a really complex set of advanced tools, so for a start let's cover some basics. Just like CryEngine 3 for dummies :-) So, how does it differ with CryEngine 2, why is it better and what it makes easier for developers than its predecessor?
Carl Jones: CryENGINE® 3 is a powerful technology with some really easy to use tools, which give developers genuine power to rapidly create the most complex environments and gameplay possible in the current generation. The key differences between CryENGINE® 2 and CryENGINE® 3 is the support of console platforms for the first time, the increase in real-time development – our “What You See Is What You Play” tool design now applies to all platforms, simultaneously. We’re also adding LiveCreate functionality to all pipelines and development processes, making CryENGINE® 3 100% Real-time, all the time. On top of that, we’ve made huge improvements in rendering power and features, so in a nutshell, CryENGINE® 3 delivers the most power and speed to developers possible.
PC Play: Just one question regarding CryEngine 2. Can you tell us how well did it go with licensing, and did it satisfied your expectations at that matter?
Carl Jones: Licensing a PC-only engine was made difficult in the last few years due to the changing nature of the games market itself. Piracy hurt PC-only games in terms of sales figures, so publishers and developers moved away from making such titles. As a result, console middleware was more widespread than PC focused technology such as CryENGINE® 1 and 2, but we have had some great successes and developers are working on great looking games that will launch soon, that started out on earlier versions of CryENGINE®. We’re happy with the quality we achieved, but circumstances limited the quantity of licensees we signed up. That won’t be an issue with CryENGINE® 3!
PC Play: Your new engine is targeted for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 out-of-the box, which was not the case with the past one. Was CryEngine 3 made entirely from scratch, or you heavily modified CryEngine 2 to meet consoles' hardware environment?
Carl Jones: Our aim was to maintain the quality of output and tools from CryENGINE® 3, and make the support of consoles painless for our licensees. As such the console versions of the engine plug in seamlessly to CryENGINE® 3 Sandbox on PC, allowing developers to build on 3 platforms, simultaneously. This is no simple trick and it did require that the console engines were built from scratch – this is not a port of PC technology, by any means – such solutions have been proven to fail in this generation of consoles.
PC Play: Can you tell us something about sheer hardware power of today's consoles, specifically PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360? How much are you able to squeeze out of them with CryEngine 3?
Carl Jones: Always for Crytek, the PC will be the highest performing platform and CryENGINE® 3 is no exception – simply because PC technology has upgraded several times during the life cycle of the console. Having said that, we’re delighted with the performance we’re achieving on PS®3 and Xbox 360™ – we can run massive worlds at incredibly high quality on both platforms. We’re confident we’re going to set a new benchmark for what is possible in the current console generation.
PC Play: How well does CryEngine® 3 use the advantage of dual-core and quad-core PC CPUs? From a gamer's standpoint, if I own an Intel Core2Quad, will I have to upgrade to i7 in order to flawlessly run upcoming CryEngine 3-powered titles?
Carl Jones: CryENGINE® 3 has been built to take full advantage of multi-core systems, past, present and future. You will get great performance in CryENGINE® 3 on your dual-core and quad-core CPUs, but of course, if you upgrade, you’ll see the performance increase further. In the development of CryENGINE® 3 we have been working really hard on solutions that enable phenomenal looking games on both the low and high end - so you won’t need to upgrade by any means to get great results from CryENGINE® 3 games.
PC Play: Now some platform-specific questions. Can you tell us something about difficulty of development with CryEngine 3 for each of the platforms; PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360? How much do they differ with each other?
Carl Jones: There is no difference, that’s the beauty of CryENGINE® 3. You build your game in Sandbox and the engine takes care of making your content work on each platform. You then spend your time tweaking your assets, game design and level design to take advantage of each platform’s slight differences.
PC Play: Since multiplatform games are what many publishers want nowadays, how are they easy to make with CryEngine 3 and how compatible is CryEngine 3 between target platforms? More specifically, if PC is a lead platform of my game, but I want it to be on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 also (and vice versa), how easy is the process of porting with CryEngine 3?
Carl Jones: With CryENGINE® 3 – you don’t really port to each supported platform – you build your game to run on CryENGINE® 3 and it will run on PS®3, Xbox 360™ and PC. Your lead platform is now simply a matter of design – not a requirement to favour one development approach over another due to technical limitations. There are differences between the platforms, but these are easy to play with in Sandbox and CryENGINE® 3, allowing you to mix and match solutions, asset quality and quantity to get the best results on each.
PC Play: What are the new technologies you're able to use with CryEngine 3 which were not available with the CryEngine 2?
Carl Jones: We have implemented more multi-core support, streaming, a new rendering technique: Deferred Lighting, which allows for a huge number of dynamic lights in a scene, without requiring a high amount of processing power, we have real-time global illumination in the engine, plus a host of smaller, yet important improvements to all our technologies and features.
PC Play: In CryEngine 3 demo we've seen even more destructible environment than it was the case with CryEngine 2. What level of destructibility does it offer? Will we be, for example, able to destroy entire buildings, skyscrapers and similar stuff?
Carl Jones: In CryENGINE® 3 you can destroy anything you want to build as destructible. We have a procedural system that can be used on any material in the game, as well as more traditional asset-based destruction. Procedural destruction is more expensive in processing power, so we tend to recommend using it when you want the player to control the destruction precisely. But with the latest hardware, blowing up a skyscraper using full procedural physics would definitely be possible!
PC Play: Sandbox Editor was a huge addition to Crysis for modding community. I mean, I've seen really incredible stuff those guys do with it. Can you tell us something about new features and possibilities of the new Sandbox Editor?
Carl Jones: Our new sandbox editor just makes things easier and faster for the user – we’re improving the basic interface and interaction with the editor, adding new features, such as visual browsers for various game assets and we’re adding more and more to LiveCreate, which makes a real-time connection to content creation tools such as Photoshop, enabling instant update of assets in-game.
PC Play: What kind of genres do you expect developers will use CryEngine 3 for?
Carl Jones: CryENGINE® 3 isn’t genre specific – you could use it to make any game. Ultimately it delivers the ability to have large, fully-interactive worlds, with near CGI quality graphics, so it lends itself to any game that wants to achieve a movie feel. A lot of Action games, RPGs, MMOs, but really any genre that benefits from the power of the engine.
PC Play: Last, but not the least: how do you think PC gaming will develop and evolve in the future?
Carl Jones: PC gaming will go online much more in future – communities and users will become vital parts of PC games. PC will also lead the way in terms of graphics quality, we are not far away from movie quality gaming experiences on home PCs. The new hardware will instigate a renaissance in graphics programming as new technologies will support multiple rendering solutions in a single game or game engine. We’ll see graphics and a level of interactivity with game worlds that will amaze gamers. Making games this real and accessible will further increase and broaden the gamer demographic, so more people will be playing better games with more connectivity to their fellow gamers. Greater gaming is on the horizon and we are heading towards it as fast as possible!
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