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.

Unity 3D rendering example

Unity 3D rendering example

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.

Unity 3D lighting example

Unity 3D lighting example

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!

7 Comments on “Start your Engine!

  1.  by  USSGreatePier

    Congrats on chosing an engine! Must be a daunting task to come to a good choice indeed… I raised a Spock-ish eyebrow when I read about the Unity Web Player… Sounds like a very nice feature to make the future CotD players drool a bit more before the game releases… :)

  2.  by  Markos

    If that first image would be an actual screenshot of the game… Wow! ;)

  3.  by  Remco

    @Markos, the picture isn’t from CotD, but it’s something that shows what Unity is capable of :)

  4.  by  USSGreatePier

    Remco said: “We knew that we did not want to focus on a hyper-realistic style for CotD”

    But, agreeing with Markos, I wouldn’t mind seeing such stunning scenery in CotD as in the example pic… By far the most important thing for me are things like the story, the characters and the gameplay in general, but a nice environment would be a plus…

    I have of course seen the artwork in the “Designing Arum” article, and I liked it… I just hope it won’t be TOO cartoonish so it comes across like a game aimed at 5 year olds, haha :D (But I actually don’t have any worries regarding that)

  5.  by  Remco

    There’s a difference between a stylized game and a game created for children. Even though I think the artstyle for CotD is stylized, it’s not a game that is designed for kids. Our main focus will be on battles and those were quite violent in those days :-) We also want to play to the strengths of our team, and creating a stylized game simply means you’re able to ‘leave out’ parts that would otherwise be missed. The more realistic a game gets, the more damage it does if something doesn’t look like a real-world counterpart. That’s why even the most advanced games choose to display humans or objects in a way that isn’t ‘real’ so your mind is able to fill in the gaps, and accept that you’re actually just playing a game, and not looking at the real world :-)

  6.  by  USSGreatePier

    About the multi-platform thing… I assume it’s going to be released on (at least) PS3 and PC (as the game has a [PC] tag on the Triangle Studios’ website)… Will it be a simultaneous release or will it be the classic approach of consoles first, then pc? (Or am I trying to drag information out of you guys you don’t want to release yet? haha…)

  7.  by  Remco

    We would like to have the game out on multiple platforms as soon as possible. The thing is that even though we’re able to develop the game for PS3 or 360 at the same time, we also need the partners to help us publish the game and make it a success for those platforms. Setting up the community and generating attention is actually the first step we’re taking to try and get those alliances formed asap!

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