Video Games are a lot like automobiles. Well, actually they’re nothing like automobiles, but they do share something in common. Both require an engine, or they will not function. In this modern age of gaming, many developers have their own proprietary engine, and still many others will use the engines of other developers to power their games. During this console cycle, you’ve probably seen plenty of start up screens advertising the Unreal Engine, which was the most prominent engine utilized by developers.
Toward the end of the cycle though, we started to see other developers bringing new and more powerful engines to the forefront. EA and DICE released the popular and visually impressive Frostbite engine for example. But even more impressive than this was the console introduction of Crytek’s CryEngine. First utilized by Crysis on the PC, this engine brought incredible graphics, realistic lighting and shadows, day and night cycles, you name it, and this thing had it. Of course, you had to have a military grade supercomputer to run it on the highest settings, but even so, this engine had everything going for it.
Later, Crysis and both of its sequels released on consoles with impressive results, and incredible graphics, which pushed the limits of the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. I recall my PS3 sounding like the finale of an airshow while I played Crysis 2; I was convinced the poor system would burst into flames with how fast the fans were running.
Needless to say, this engine has already brought photo-realistic graphics and effects to Crytek’s Crysis series and to another title called Warface, but the engine still has yet to find its footing on the consoles with widespread franchises utilizing it. This was due mostly in part to the current generation lacking in raw horsepower to truly support this next generation game engine.
The PlayStation 4 is almost here, and the system is bringing the power and the endurance that this engine needs to truly succeed and realize its potential. You’ve seen the tech demo, but for those of us who don’t have college degrees in game development, let’s talk about what all those fancy terms mean and how they are going to revolutionize atmosphere and immersion in games.
Physically Based Shading
Shading in video games refers to how the game’s engine appropriates things like light and shadow onto the various objects in the environment. They can also be used to properly control how things are drawn, which allows some games to create unique artistic styles such as Cel Shading.
With CryEngine 3, developers will be able to utilize a real time, dynamic form of this known as Physically Based Shading. This allows the engine to display light and shadow in realistic and constantly changing ways. Depending on the physical makeup of the objects and on the source of light, the way the environment is viewed can change to realistically portray everything that the player is viewing in terms of light and shadow
Physically accurate Skin and Eye Shader
CryEngine 3 also allows developers to apply the same level of detail in terms of light and shadow onto the complex facial features and expressions of characters within their games. In addition, the skin features on the human character models exhibit an exhilarating amount of detail. With the capacity for the engine to produce intricate and intense facial expressions, this level of detail in the tautness of the skin along with the ultra-realistic light and shadow effects, create a face that even in motion looks photo-realistic.
In the tech demo, we see a roman battleship charge directly into a dock, decimating it into pieces. The physics behind such a set piece moment are governed by the game engine, and in CryEngine 3, running on next generation hardware; we see how the system can smoothly simulate something this complex while maintaining consistent frame rate and system stability.
Integrated Cinematic Tools
Video games have been compared to films far more in the recent generation, and part of this is due to the excellent ability for developers to provide cinematic camera angles and great views of the action on screen. In the tech demo, we see how the engine is used in Crysis 3 to create perfectly framed shots that portray the action on screen in the best possible way.
CryMannequin Animation Pipeline
A game can have incredible graphics, but without realistic animation, the entire experience is lost. CryEngine 3 delivers in this tech demo with a demonstration of its smooth and realistic animation suite that allows for customizable motions and seamless transition between animations.
Flexible Day and Night system with weather effects
These features shown in the later portion of the tech demo showcase the engine’s ability to create customized cycles of day and night within the game. Beyond this, the weather effects provide new and exciting options for intense rainstorms, hurricane force winds, or anything else the developers can image. The final scene showing the puddle evaporating over time in the sun truly showcases how powerful this engine is.
There you have it, CryEngine 3 laid bare for all to see. It is an incredible piece of technology, but what’s more exciting is how its potential can be realized on the PlayStation 4 hardware. Crytek has crafted some amazing examples of how their engine can bring a new level of realism to games, but the truth potential of the engine has yet to be seen. Once this powerhouse is placed in the hands of more and more creative minds, we will truly see how far this engine can go.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 9/22/2013