Sunday, 8 February 2009

Hmmmm....Game Engines

I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed and so when it comes to how things work I usually turn a blind eye. So actually looking into how games work is proving quite a challenge.

I’ve heard of game engines, don’t get me wrong. I would regularly be playing games with my friends and whilst I was easily amused by the colour of my characters shoes, my friends would be in an in-depth discussion about the game engine and it’s physics. Now by this point I would have groaned, rolled my eyes and pleaded with them to stop being geeky and get back to playing the game. But just recently I’ve realised how important the game engine is.

Being an artist I’ve only ever focused on the concept work and the graphics. But without the game engine there would be no game. A game engine is the software system used to create a game. It programs key factors such as AI animation, lighting, shaders and physics.

There are many game engines been used but the major ones that most people have heard of include Cryengine, Source and Unreal. Now when looking at their own websites and specs most of them brag about dynamic lighting and real-time editing but what advantages do these big name engines have over the smaller companies.

Now most fps games tend to use the same game engines, which is good news for the bigger companies, but sadly not so good for the smaller developers.
Many of the smaller game developers are struggling to produce new big title games as they can’t afford to buy the game engine technology that many other games share.

However to develop their own game engine is too complex and expensive which causes the smaller companies to struggle within the industry. This then means that the bigger companies are gaining control of the market which may lead to a decline in the quality of games as there is less competition.

But for the companies that are able to develop their own game engine technology, it gives them a chance to put a unique edge to their games, increasing the popularity, desirability and sales.

So with the hype of the next-gen games, we could possibly see two major outcomes within the industry. Either a decline in the quality of games or an increase in the experimental approach to the gameplay and physics.

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