Start your Engine!
Ah, finally an article about the development of CotD. But what’s that, it’s not written by one of the programmers! Fright ye not, I may not be responsible for the programming side of CotD, there is much I can tell you about the decisions and hurdles we’re facing when choosing the right Engine for this project.
Making this decision was actually one of the first questions we needed to answer for ourselves. It would have by far the biggest impact on the project, and the choice will influence your approach about everything from art, to programming, to music and sometimes even the features you want to support. When we started making our decision, it was not just one that would influence CotD, but also most of our other projects. Let’s start with a couple of questions we had to answer for ourselves:
Multi-platform — We wanted to make sure that we would not have to start from scratch if we wanted to bring CotD over to another platform. Most of the Engines supported this, so we still had a very broad spectrum to choose from. When we took a more detailed look, we noticed that even though compatibility with multiple platforms is claimed, not all Engines are able to live up to this claim, or are very secretive about what it takes to create a game for two or more platforms at the same time.
Up-to-date Graphics Engine — Getting great graphics out of an engine looks easier than ever before. Just announcing that your project uses the Unreal Engine ensures that you will be able to deliver on a certain level of quality that players will appreciate. We knew that we did not want to focus on a hyper-realistic style for CotD, so we didn’t have to rely on cutting-edge technology. However; performance varies quite a bit between Engines, so we had to be careful not to end up with an engine that only gets updated once a year or so.
Different Styles of Gameplay — At the time, we did not know what CotD would be, and we knew that we would be using the Engine for many other projects as well. So it needed to be versatile. The Engine should be able to handle both Shooters and Racing games at the same time, and not force us into a decision because of it’s limitations. We had to dive in deep with a handful of engines to get this question answered, and it’s one of the most difficult questions at the same time, simply because you don’t know what you’ll be doing one or two years from now.
So what did we go with? Well, lots of engines were reviewed. Among these were: Unreal Engine, Infernal Engine, GameBryo and CryEngine. All of those have some very impressive features, and we were very close on making a decision with one of these. We didn’t end up with either of those engines however. What we did end up with, is Unity 3D.
Ahh, Unity. The Engine we’ve been keeping our eyes on for quite a couple of years now. What made us decide to go with Unity? Allow me to explain. First, Unity 3 was about to be released, the kind folks allowed us a preview of the beta, and we were able even give the Wii version of the Engine a try. Within the next couple of updates, it would become possible for Artists and Developers to work together on the same piece of data as well. So we waited for the release of Unity 3, and jumped on board the day it became available!
From that moment, most of the projects done at Triangle Studios have been developed using Unity. One of the most interesting features for us, however would be the ability to demonstrate game play and assets right through the website! That’s right, we will use the Unity Web Player to show you 3D models, Animations and even game play in the very near future!