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The Best Game Engines

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the quake-me dept.

Programming 113

SlappingOysters writes "IGN has taken a look at the most impressive middleware solutions for the next generation of gaming, giving a detailed analysis of which engines are performing the best and which have the most exciting futures. It runs through the technical strengths of each engine, as well as how that translates into actual gameplay. It also runs through which software has and will be using each engine."

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Anal Vapors (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703473)

Here beith (bee-ith) the Story of Anal Vapors

cool! (-1, Offtopic)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703505)

First post, ? if so ...mod me up +1initiative

Tell your daughter she is a whore (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703569)

that cunt fucks so many douchbags you think she would be clean...

In fact she is riddle with disease.

No amount of stuck up bullshit or pathetic nerds chasing you can make up for the fact that you are a diseased whore.

Asheron's Call (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703585)

Had the best engine to date imo as far as movement and the like is concerned due to the PVP the game offered because of it.

Re:Asheron's Call (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703709)

Goatse [goatse.fr] engine 6.1 is better.

All goatse all the time.

Re:Asheron's Call (2, Insightful)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703779)

Imo, PvP is considered Content, and has nothing to do with the engine.

A Game engine focuses on things like the underlying game mechanics (movement, physics etc), graphics rendering (Including, but not limited to Shader language, Character animation system, the basic UI handlers and texture engine) network handling and whatever scripting language is used to create content.

Things that come under "Content" are all the things that are put on top of an engine to make a game. IE Combat, interacting with NPCs, Menu systems, Inventory systems, weapons. Most of which is done through whatever scripting language the engine uses (In the case of Unreal it's the UnrealED application and it's scripting language. In the case of Source, it's a mixture of many things, mainly Map-based Entities created through Hammer and C#/C++ if you're changing game mechanics)

Having never played Asherons Call, I can't comment on the gameplay, but a good movement system on it's own does not make a good PvP system.

Re:Asheron's Call (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703823)

Perhaps, but a poor movement system can wreck PVP.

Re:Asheron's Call (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703979)

a good movement system on it's own does not make a good PvP system

yes, a bad movement system can break PvP... but so can unbalanced classes, unintended exploits, poor network code and a myriad of other things. the GGP said that Asherons call had the best engine because it's PvP was the best due to the movement code. He mentioned nothing of the game itself, gave no indication as to WHY it was better (i think there's a sibling post later that has an example)
The movement system could quite easilly have made it impossible to properly PvE, or the network code could have been laggy and horrible, the basic UI could have been unresponsive and unwieldy.

Just because the movment system worked for one part of the game, doesn't automatically make it the best engine.

Re:Asheron's Call (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703831)

A good movement system in a game with collision detection missile/warbolt attacks combined with auto target allowed for a player to fight odds up to and surpassing 5v1, and sometimes 10v1 in certain situations depending on the player skill. The engine is what made AC's combat great.

Re:Asheron's Call (2, Insightful)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703833)

C#

Being able to mod source in C# would be the best drug ever.

Re:Asheron's Call (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704005)

My mistake, I'm just so used to putting C++/C# next to each other :P

Re:Asheron's Call (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28707221)

it would be a disaster for performance.

Wow (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705139)

You're seriously arguing that Asheron's Call has better PvP than Unreal Tournament? That's like saying you little league team could beat the Yankees.

Re:Wow (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705389)

Seeing as in AC I could go toe to toe with 5 other people and win if I was better than them, compared to them all just focus firing me and I die in .1 second in UT, yea, it's a shitton better.

Re:Wow (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705669)

Your comment makes zero sense. A really good UT player can kill 5 other players as well. That has no relevance on whether or not AC has a good game engine.

You are insisting that you are good at playing AC, and that inherently makes the engine good.

You fail at logic.

Re:Wow (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28706085)

A good UT player can stay within the same 5-10 foot area and take out 5 guys who have him completely surrounded in a wide open space? I highly doubt this.

Re:Wow (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#28706387)

Either you're not on equal footing, stats-wise, with the 5 other players in AC, or you're playing against someone's collection of Kenner Starwars figures...

Re:Wow (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28706527)

You're right, most of the fights I was ever in with those odds weren't even footing. I usually played on a level 120-140 vs level 200-240's. Player skill trumped stats and items almost entirely after around level 90, which was easily reachable in a few days.

Re:Wow (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 5 years ago | (#28711547)

You don't need 90 days in UT, Quake Arena, CS, etc... to be on equal footing with the other players, therefore they are all better than Asheron's Call for PvP. Also, AC is a good game, but PvP was just a part of it. For the other games I've mentioned, PvP *is* the game.

If only... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703647)

they had done the same with F/OSS and/or Cross platform game engines, the article would have been significantly more interesting...
Most of the big commercial engines are pretty useless to those without a budget, or with a desire to target their favorite OS...

FOSS and Cross Platform Engines (4, Informative)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704261)

It's not every day I come across a perfectly good excuse to toot my own horn. Here is my list of free game engines: http://www.freegameengines.org/ [freegameengines.org] My definition of "game engine" is a bit stricter than most. I believe Wikipedia has a similar list.

Drivel like this article is why I quit Slashdot. You can quit too! with only occasional relapses.

Re:FOSS and Cross Platform Engines (0, Offtopic)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705451)

Since they've banned electro-shock therapy in China [slashdot.org] , I'm going to have to find another country to break my addiction to Slashdot!

Must... resist... clicking that link again...

Re:FOSS and Cross Platform Engines (3, Informative)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708719)

Hi,

you've skipped one of the more powerful and flexible free game engines available - the Blender Game Engine.

See an example of its usage here - http://www.yofrankie.org/ [yofrankie.org]

LetterRip

Re:FOSS and Cross Platform Engines (1)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28711381)

Here's one you're missing: the OHRRPGCE [hamsterrepublic.com] , an open-source RPG engine good for creating SNES-style 2D games.

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:If only... (2, Informative)

msormune (808119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704703)

It takes a lot more than the engine to create a succesful game with 3D graphics. You need the story, and graphics (duh), overall design a a lot more. That's the problem with open source: It's pretty damn hard to find people to contribute to those. So you need the money anyway, not just for the engine.

Re:If only... (1)

bazald (886779) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705143)

That is a bit of an exaggeration isn't it? Unless you're considering time == money, you can get everything you listed for free with a bit of effort and teamwork. (The one man team is somewhat rare.)

Anyway, a number of my associates have had some success working with a game engine that I've been working on (http://zenilib.com). It is free and targets Windows, Linux, and MacOS X. I'm not sure it would meet WK2's definition of a game engine though. He seems to liken a game engine more to something awaiting mods / content.

Re:If only... (2, Insightful)

msormune (808119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705277)

Many people who are skilled in graphics creation etc. do NOT have the open source mentality: They are not "geeks" who feel pride in taking part in such projects.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to create a "open source graphics, sound and design" project in which people could contribute various objects needed in game design and graphics? Kind of like a 3D engine, but for graphics etc. only. But then there any such projects?

Re:If only... (1)

bazald (886779) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705865)

You're partially right. They don't generally have the mentality that they should go out looking for projects to contribute to. I imagine that creating a project tailored for them won't increase the likelihood of their doing so.

On the other hand, many artists, musicians, and designers are more than happy to work on free projects from time to time. The project managers just need to find them first. They won't find you.

Re:If only... (2, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705679)

It's strange, 'cause there's a big modding community which provides tons of "full replacement" mods, with textures and 3D models, and there are many open source 3D engines. I think the problem is the lack of "middle" code, to provide a way to make a "mod" to the OS engine as easily as for most commercial games.

Re:If only... (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28712293)

I think its very chicken and egg:
1)Modders want to work on the engine they are already playing games on which is invariably going to be a large, multiplayer, commercial pc release.
2)Current gen stuff, source/idtech5/etc have had a lot of work put in, this is hard to achieve without an large active development & userbase see 1

If there was a popular, multiplayer, OSS game this would hopefully reach a sort of critical mass as modders could go right down and do/ask for engine level mods and the developers would benefit from more bug report/beta testers/itch scratchers/ports from the expanded userbase.

Re:If only... (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28711835)

Good thing were not talking about games then. FLOSS would be a great development model for just the engines, companies start with a great base modify the engine to their games requirements and get all compatibility/features that large groups of people want (3d rendering, wii, etc)charge for the stuff that makes the game fun (graphics, story, sounds, gameplay, etc). There are reasons this has never happened, partly because its counter-intuitive to work with your competition, partly because competing against companies that do the tech (ID,Unreal) requires a significant investment of time & money, but the idea of the tech being OSS and the art being what you pay is brilliant.

xReal (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705693)

Honestly, I'd like to see a comparison of professional engines, the common free engines, and XreaL.

http://xreal-project.net/ [xreal-project.net]

I don't know why XreaL doesn't get more attention.

Re:xReal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708273)

Probably because in the core is the same crappy physics that just looks like every other engine but with the linear blocky feeling of a Quake?

Sure you can put lipstick on a pig or polish a turd, but it won't be a modern engine as far as actual functionality is concerned. Last time I checked, it hated Radeon cards of all kinds too. So yeah, suggestion XReaL despite its pro-nVidia compatibility is not a very good suggestion in any case.

And Valve is no where? (5, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703679)

The Source engine is a great engine and the results frankly impress me a lot more than Unreal engine. Bioshock was an incredible game, but the look and feel of HL2 and it's subsequent episodes/tech demos were far more impressive visually.

Not only that, but the Source engine is painfully easy to mod and is supported by a company that goes out of its way to encourage third party developers to use it.

Frankly I'm disappointed that Source was not mentioned here.

No iD engines either (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703751)

Source and "iD Tech [some integer]" were what people expected to be the big engines. Apparently times have changed and there's room for more than a couple talented development teams.

Re:And Valve is no where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703771)

From the article "While the world had waited expectedly for Half-life 2, Doom 3 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to usher in a new generation of PC gaming, Crytek beat them all to the punch with a stunning, tropical set FPS game powered by its own brilliant CryENGINE."

I don't know about anyone else, but my gaming computer at that time was pushed to run Source based games, let alone Far Cry. Far Cry didn't have nearly the amount of online players as the Source engine did/does (CS:S, DoD:S, and now L4D). I agree, its very disappointing that the Source engine didn't even get a mention.

Re:And Valve is no where? (2, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708137)

I expected to see a lot more games using the Source engine. Those games you mention have a great feel to them. I won't go so far as to say the movements feel "natural" but they don't get in the way.

But the first time I played Far Cry, I was astounded. I'm not smart enough to know how much of the way the enemies work, or how the environment looks and feels, and how the physics of the games world work are because of the "engine" but there was something dramatically different in Far Cry. Compared to Far Cry, games like the (excellent) Fallout 3 or the so-so Call of Juarez (something called " "Chrome 4" engine) feel like you're interacting with the world through a Thai puppet.

Whenever I play a game that really looks and feels and plays great, like Far Cry, I always expect that there will be a whole series of games based on that engine, which makes me happy because I think I'll be able to play all these games on my computer, which is at the low end of what you'd call a "gaming" computer. However, it never seems to work out that way. Far Cry was followed by the (also excellent) Far Cry 2, which had a remarkable story, milieu and character development, but sure didn't feel like the same engine. Plus, of course, it required an upgraded computer.

You would think that a smart gaming company, after having used a particular engine to make a successful game, would want to put out a few more games using the same engine/with the same system requirements, in order to sell to all the customers who loved the first game but aren't going to replace their computer more than once every 3 years. Hell, it seems to me like once you get a great engine, a great story, great characters and a team in place that made those things, you'd just knock out a few sequels.

There only seems to be a game series that have followed that approach - the Half-Life franchise and Civilization. Each new game is based on its predecessor, works and feels the same, but with advances.

Speaking of Unreal. Why in the world has it been so many years without a new installment? Here's a demonstrably great setup, popular with a built-in fan base, and then half a decade goes by without a new Unreal game.

I guess all these companies are out searching for the next super-blockbuster, but it seems to me like they're leaving a fair amount of money on the table.

I also wished there wasn't such a focus on online gaming, but that's just me, I guess. I don't put in the amount of time many gamers do, so I never get as good as most gamers. So, when I go online to play, I usually last a few seconds and I'm blown away before I can even start to have fun. Thus, I stick to single-player games, like Bio-Shock, Half-Life 2, etc. I'm happy that these companies can be so successful with online games, but I wish they'd give people like me a little more to work with when we play single-player. I'd actually buy Left 4 Dead, for example, if it just had some single-player fun. There seem to be more and more games that are either primarily online games, or have just a couple of hours of single-player content. For me, those just aren't worth buying.

Re:And Valve is no where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28709039)

Far Cry was followed by the (also excellent) Far Cry 2, which had a remarkable story, milieu and character development, but sure didn't feel like the same engine. Plus, of course, it required an upgraded computer.

The game you are looking for is Crysis, which unlike Far Cry 2 is actually developed by the same studio as Far Cry

Speaking of Unreal. Why in the world has it been so many years without a new installment? Here's a demonstrably great setup, popular with a built-in fan base, and then half a decade goes by without a new Unreal game.

There is always Unreal Tournament III, which came out in 2007 and is available relatively cheaply on Steam

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28711429)

The game you are looking for is Crysis, which unlike Far Cry 2 is actually developed by the same studio as Far Cry

I haven't played either of the Far Cry games, but I have played Crysis, and I was disappointed with it in comparison to what I've heard of Far Cry. While it was fairly impressive visually and felt fairly satisfying to play, I found it very mediocre in terms of gameplay - they took an engine capable of massive maps and stuffed it into an extremely linear, scripted game with very few opportunities to play around with and push against the engine's constraints.

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Dr. Impossible (1580675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28711827)

Far Cry was followed by the (also excellent) Far Cry 2, which had a remarkable story, milieu and character development, but sure didn't feel like the same engine. Plus, of course, it required an upgraded computer.

Far Cry 2 was a piece of shit. I didn't play it for more than 4 or 6 hours before uninstalling it and trading the game away. Crysis was the real sequel to Far Cry.

I'd actually buy Left 4 Dead, for example, if it just had some single-player fun.

It can be played in singleplayer.

Re:And Valve is no where? (3, Interesting)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703927)

Source isn't really that good. Or rather, it's Graphics aren't that good... and that won't make for a lovely 'next gen' video

I love Source, it's piss-easy to create content for, and there are shitload of 3rd party applications to speed up creation (Packrat, VTFEdit, and Milkshape from goldSRC - although Milkshape tended to SLOW creation at times :D)

You get Source-only modeling tools in the shape of XSI Softimage, for free, which is awesome.

Things like this is why Source is the biggest Modding platform ever, but that's also hurting it slightly in the main stream. All these amatuers creating sub-standard mods are giving Source a bad image (I can think of no mods that live up to Valves standards) and one of the few Commercial Source games released - Vampire Bloodlines - was riddled with bugs, and made a right mess of the lauded Source Facial Animation system leaving us well within the uncanny valley.

Sin: Episodes was slightly better, and completly ignored (just as Sin 1 was overshadowed by the original Half-life) and all their dev team left for other jobs leaving the whole thing in limbo.

Three of the most popular online games have been made in Source (Counter Strike Source, TF2 and L4D) and one of the most innovative and fun games in recent times (Portal) - most have been made by teams that started independant but became part of Valve.

The curse of Source - Merge with Valve or Fail miserably.

Re:And Valve is no where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28704461)

Have you actually been following what mods there are around right now ?
Zombie Panic
Empires
Age of Chivalry
Dystopia
Eternal Silence

All of these are well-polished mods with solid gameplay.
I've likely missed a lot, but these are the ones I prefer to play.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708171)

Are all of these online multi-player or coop? I keep hoping for more single-player games based on the Source engine.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704593)

Source isn't really that good. Or rather, it's Graphics aren't that good... and that won't make for a lovely 'next gen' video

HL2 with the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod is a lot better looking than most of the things in TFA, I think.

FakeFactory (1)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28710357)

Yeah, except where it goes of the deep end with the character models. High res textures, good. Anime babes/boobs? No thanks.

Its a good mod to the engine but this is a particularly common disease to the modding community for any given popular game/engine. The majority of modders are younger geeks that essentially start building their own virtual robot babes.

Check that Alyx Vance model. In FF Cinematic Mod, she's got a bare midriff, serious cleavage and looks like the character spent two minutes too many in front of the makeup mirror.

And Oblivion. My god.

Re:And Valve is no where? (2, Informative)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705847)

Personally, I think Insurgency [insmod.org] lives up to the standards of a commercial game... it has good graphics, plays very well, and often crashed until it was patched!

What game released in the last 3 years hasn't had all three of those attributes (especially the third!)?

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 5 years ago | (#28707495)

There a few things wrong with your post. First you state there are no mods out there that live up to Valve's quality... So which mods have you tried? Have you tried them all? There are a few mods out there that if they were sold as full games, people would buy them. Their quality is that good. The player community might really fucking suck, as tends to happen from time to time, but the quality of the mods is damn good.

And wih Sin Episodes, you have that all wrong. What had happened was not that Ritual lost its developers (which they did), but before most of them left, Mumbo Jumbo games had acquired Ritual and said they were doing strictly casual games. And with that said, it's fairly obvious why more of the developers left after the acquisition. But honestly, Ritual wasn't doing too great financially before that anyway.

With Vampire, didn't they use a really fucking early version of Source and just didn't bother to try to fix any of the major issues in the game? If I recall correctly, the community decided to do more fixing to get things to be really set nicely.

And lastly, what about Dark Messiah? Did it become super popular? Well, no. But it didn't fail miserably and it wasn't riddled with bugs. For what it offered, it was fun and hassle free.

Besides, do you honestly expect every game to be released on Engine X to be a super awesome game?

Re:Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708117)

I agree with all but this:

And lastly, what about Dark Messiah? Did it become super popular? Well, no. But it didn't fail miserably and it wasn't riddled with bugs.

It was buggy as hell when it was released. They fixed it, but not quickly enough.

I felt totally disappointed with HL2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28704015)

It may have just been a matter of timing, but I was totally disappointed in HL2. All that hype and anticipation during that long wait, but in the mean time I got to play Far Cry. At almost every point in HL2 I kept feeling that Far Cry had done it better in both visuals and game play. At points in HL2, I felt like a bull in a chute compared to the mostly open FC. Maybe if HL2 had come out earlier, the comparisons would have been different.

As far as engine rankings, I say Bioshock and Mirror's Egde have done it for me visually. So I'd put the sons of Unreal on top of cryengine and the unreal engines seem to be more aligned with the current hardware.

Re:I felt totally disappointed with HL2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28704633)

Far Cry came around and bitch slapped both Doom 3 and HL2 visually, and did it 6 months before either came out. It was quite a shock.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704025)

Source is nearly 5 years old at this point, without any "major" updates. There have been a few upgrades with L4D and TF2, but nothing apocalyptic.

I agree, it's a wonderful engine, but IGN obviously wanted engines that were eye candy, physics, and eye candy, roughly in that order.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704099)

Among the updates Source has had: (from the Source Engine Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org]
Half-life 2: Episode 1 added High Dynamic Range lighting (pretty major) which was then able to be copied across all other source games (like Counter-strike source)
The Orange Box added a new Soft Particle system
Left 4 Dead added new shadow routines for more realistic bump-mapping and rendering routines for rendering large numbers of enemies (Zombies in this case)

Re:And Valve is no where? (2, Funny)

darpo (5213) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704039)

"...painfully easy..."

I think you want a different adjective there.

Re:And Valve is no where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28704507)

"...painfully easy..."
I think you want a different adjective there.

"...inconceivably easy..."

Re:And Valve is no where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28711067)

What? And miss the chance for a red hot poker up the jacksie?

Re:And Valve is no where? (1, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704469)

The Source engine is a great engine and the results frankly impress me a lot more than Unreal engine. Bioshock was an incredible game, but the look and feel of HL2 and it's subsequent episodes/tech demos were far more impressive visually.

You're taking LSD. Or at least you'd have to be to come to that conclusion.

Every single Valve game, with the exception of Team Fortress 2, is an aesthetic trainwreck, devoid of almost all visual appeal. Desaturated greys and browns dominate, and the landscapes generally resemble gravel strew tundra or concrete fortresses. Half Life 2 itself is set in an eastern European soviet housing, and looks it throughout. Flair on characters consists of things like glasses, a cigar, or perhaps a moustache. Everything is dirty, dilapidated and dank.

Compare to Unreal Tournament 3. The first level is set in a gilded temple complex, lavishly decorated in an eastern style. From there you proceed to space stations, ice caps, futuristic robot factories, desert temples and underground mines. Every level is covered with fantastic architecture and neon lighting. Colours are vibrant and varied. Characters are as eccentric as those from a comic book.

This doesn't say anything for the gameplay mind. Valve's testing process still produces better play, though other companies are improving. But it does point to a consistent problem with Valve's ethos that has finally caught up with their engine. Their visual style is boring, and the (lack of) capabilities of the Source engine reflect that. Even Team Fortress 2 and Portal are still relatively dry in their visuals.

Epic Games by contrast have moved the industry in another aesthetic direction with their new engine and the games made using it, Gears of War and UT3. Other companies are following suit, with lighting effects, water effects, shaders and all more colour saturation all round becoming more common. Crytec and others are following much the same line(NaughtyDog has always produced vibrant titles). Designers are now wowing players with scenes that delight the eye.

It should be stressed that such scenes are in fact "unrealistic". The Source engine typically produces scenes which more closely resemble the real world. Which is its primary problem. People are playing games to escape the real world. I can recall commentary from the beginning of HL2:Episode 1 in which the designers rave on about new effects that allowed, I think, higher lighting contrast in the scene. Alyx's face and features could be seen whilst the sun was setting or some such thing. I recall recalling how completely underwhelming the final presentation actually was the first time around.

The Source engine is finally showing, not its age, but its direction. The direction chosen by Valve for the engine has taken it away from the mainstream path of brighter and more interesting visual scenes towards duller and more realistic displays. But brighter and more interesting scenes, along with musical scores, that give the player a feast for the senses as well as for the mind, are the way that the industry is moving. Thankfully.

Unless Valve take steps to add such capabilities to the engine and, more importantly, develop a game that demonstrates those capabilities, the Source engine is going to be left behind over the next 3 years.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

SSgt. Lagface (1588425) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704621)

Yes, Valve may have made games with such graphics, but realize they aren't the only ones using the Source engine. There are mods that make very good use of the engine, such as the newly released Neotokyo.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704675)

Well, HL2 does work very well with renderings that resemble the real world. Of course UT3 could not work with it, but comparing HL2 and UT3 is absolutely pointless. I like both games, but I would never even think of re-doing HL2 with the Unreal Engine 3.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704711)

I would agree that Source is a bit behind the times, I am confused by your connection between game engine and aesthetic design choices. You could use the Unreal engine to design a drab, grey world or you could design a rich and colorful world with Source. Again, this is not to say that Source is the most powerful engine out there (although it has held up amazingly well, considering its age).

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704803)

People are playing games to escape the real world.

Some people are, but not everyone. Besides, escapism doesn't require a world that is completely different from real life. Games that focus on realistic graphics can make it easier to suspend one's disbelief, making it easier to "escape."

You seem to have the opinion that colorful games/engines with lots of saturated color are better than gritty realistic games. I say the art direction should depend on the setting of the game. If you are creating a zombie fighting game and want to frighten the player, you would want engine that can best provide you with a dark, scary world. Unless you are fighting gay rainbow zombies on top of purple ponies, I don't think you want colorful scenery in this scenario.

I sincerely hope that a specific visual style doesn't become dominant in all the games we play. Commercial games are already lacking in originality in many other aspects. Let's not stymie creative visual styles too, shall we?

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

kv9 (697238) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704819)

The Source engine typically produces scenes which more closely resemble the real world. Which is its primary problem. People are playing games to escape the real world.

I thought people play games to have fun. you make it sound like everyone lives in a fucking turkish prison.

also, TFA and the thread are discussing engine features not visual styles. you not liking Valve's art deparment doesn't make the source engine a bad engine. and speaking of artsy fartsy, HL2/Portal/TF2/L4D look very good esthetically speaking. visual style, props, settings are all top notch.

Unless Valve take steps to add such capabilities to the engine and, more importantly, develop a game that demonstrates those capabilities, the Source engine is going to be left behind over the next 3 years.

I really don't see how adding neon lights (to sum up your post) would make their engine/games any better.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

czg (869463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704955)

What on earth does a game engine have to do with the aesthetics of a game? Sure the fidelity of the final rendered image is very much the result of the engine, but the overall look of a game is still a conscious decision made by the game developers. Valve wanted HL2 to be set in a post-apocalyptic eastern Europe, so they made it look like that. Take a look at Dark Messiah of Might and Magic for an example of the kind of visual vibrancy you're talking about, which is made with the Source engine.

..is an aesthetic trainwreck, devoid of almost all visual appeal.

Each to his own I guess, I personally love the look.

That's not to say the Source engine is without it's faults though. The lightmapped BSP approach is getting too cumbersome for the level of detail expected from modern games, and their level editor is quite frankly horrendous. They seem to be generally moving more towards using static meshes for detail though, so they can probably squeeze a few more years out of it yet.

And I'm not trying to say Unreal Engine is bad either, I'm just saying that what you're saying is bullsh*t.
Also Gears of War is pretty much the greyest game series since the DOS version of Prince of Persia.

Re:And Valve is no where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28705007)

That's just like, your opinion, man.

Re:And Valve is no where? (3, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28706521)

Wow, that was a really long post to show you don't know the difference between artistic style and the underlying engine.

Re:And Valve is no where? (2, Insightful)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28706529)

You complain about HL2 being brown and grey and then praise the aesthetics of Gears? You do realise that Gears is the ultimate in brown-and-grey technology? Right?

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Hythlodaeus (411441) | more than 5 years ago | (#28707123)

So you claim the Source engine fails because they chose a color palette that fit the needs of their game's gritty and ominous setting? You do know that the colors are 24-bit RGB values that could be set to something brighter if they chose, rather than hard-wired architectural parts of the engine, right? (Likewise lens and saturation settings in the HDR subsystem.)

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

urinal-cake (1598647) | more than 5 years ago | (#28707127)

Hey, I just want to clear something up as I'm reading your post. I don't mean to stop you from the suckfest you have going on with titles from Epic Games, but I worked there during Gears of War's development, and I can tell you one defining thing about the game is an underwhelmingly bland color palette of gray and lowly saturated brown. Go back and play it if you get a chance. However, I do agree that UT3 provided amazingly articulated and consistent models and textures for it's maps while Gears of War 2 provided a much more colorful and vibrant color palette. It takes some studios time to learn about their own colors, but Valve has never changed theirs mainly due to a very post-apocalyptic world.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28707577)

personally, I think the realism in valve's titles does more for them than the oversaturated bloomy blur fests common with many UT3 (and other) engine titles. That half-realism (zombies in the real world) IS the fantasy. The realism plays a critical role. Do you want your HL3 to be suitably scary/forboding/apocalyptic or do you want HL3: my little pony's palette poopfest?

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28707839)

You seem to confuse aesthetic success with bright colours. Yes, Unreal is aimed at people like you.

Re:And Valve is no where? (0, Flamebait)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708375)

This is just yet another post telling you that you are stupid and have no idea what you're talking about. I'll skip the content.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

-noefordeg- (697342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704489)

I really really hope you are just messing about right now...
Have you tried creating good maps for the Source engine? It's almost impossible compared to a lot of the other enginges out there.
Have you seen veichle physics or the physics in general in that engine? It's simply not there.

IMO the source engine is the perfect example of something which was great (many years ago), being taken too far and extended too much with the result that it comes out just looking and acting wrong... Please let it die.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Dr. Impossible (1580675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28711795)

Have you tried creating good maps for the Source engine? It's almost impossible compared to a lot of the other enginges out there.

Why would it be "almost impossible?" Many, many excellent maps have been created for Source.

Have you seen veichle physics or the physics in general in that engine? It's simply not there.

Now you're just lying.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704667)

The big loser is Oblivion, not because the engine is inferior or bad, but because it's named "Gamebryo." "Gamebryo." I could muse over this for a year and not come up with a worse name for a game engine.

Re:And Valve is no where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28706667)

Gamebryo - I believe that's French for "game engine that can't fucking handle alt-tab without becoming unresponsive" isn't it?

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

AntiRush (1175479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28707739)

The source engine may have the outward appearance of being easy to modify but reality is quite different.

The documentation is cryptic, outdated, incomplete, and often just plain missing.

Re:And Valve is no where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708407)

Bioshock used the Unreal 2 engine. The Unreal 3 engine probably competes a lot better against the Source engine.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

PhasmatisApparatus (1086395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708561)

Bioshock was based on old Unreal Technology, so comparing it to HL2 is disingenuous.

The Source engine has been lagging behind the other major game engines for quite some time now. INcluding it in the discussion of "best" game engines would be something of a joke. Perhaps when the category is "best games to make mods for", then it will have a place.

Re:And Valve is no where? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28714203)

Yes it's a pretty odd list. No Source, no id tech yet they have stuff like the pile of poorly optimized turd that is the latest CryEngine?

I disagree that source is better than the Unreal engine though, I've yet to see any Source game that even comes close visually to things like Gears of War 2. That said I'm not even convinced any source games look better than Bioshock so I guess maybe it's quite subjective.

They included things like the Call of Duty engine and whilst the CoD games really are awesome (CoD4 being my favourite game in the last few years) I think this is more down to gameplay than engine quality. I do not think that Call of Duty's engine either looks better, or is more playable than say, the Halo 3 engine for example.

That said, in contrast, things like the assassins creed engine do deserve to be on there because whilst the game was crap it was down to crap gameplay, the engine was jaw dropping to look at and felt fun to play.

Who gives a hoot (1)

jeffliott (1558799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703739)

GAME PLAY, GAME PLAY, GAME PLAY!

Almost all of these modern engines rock. We don't need someone pointing at the guy who is flexing his e-muscles. IGN, stop wasting our time with this nonsense and review games, then get us scoops on the latest titles and hardware.
/rant off

Re:Who gives a hoot (1)

Iberian (533067) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704061)

I think you are underestimating the need for a game engine. The better the game engine the easier it is to develop for and the more time they have to work on content. It is hard to have good content when your engine fails to enable you to express it.

Part of the reason for your reasoning though is that today it is more marketable to have nice screenshots that look cool on boxes/tv/websites/tech demos/etc and thus a disproportionate ammount of resources is directed this way.

Even SCUMM as dated as it is holds as a good engine because it lets the developer express his content effectively.

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy... (0, Flamebait)

Millennium (2451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703939)

If your game touts the fact that it uses another game's engine as a principal marketing point, it might be generic.

Re:With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy... (3, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704073)

Or it might not.

I get your point that using a 3rd party engine would seem to limit your creativity: you wouldn't want to use an engine designed for a FPS to write Battleship Frisbee Cookoff Challenge.

However, if you're intending to create a game that's even remotely within a common genre, then using a 3rd party engine frees you up to concentrate on producing a unique experience. You can blow 20 man years just to catch up with the last generation of Quake, or you can start with a working, tested engine and concentrate your resources on adding just the new functionality and tools that you need.

Why, yes, I'm speaking from experience (of doing it the wrong way). Thanks for asking!

Re:With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy... (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704175)

Not to speak for the OP, but reread the condition: "If your game touts the fact that it uses another game's engine as a principal marketing point..."

This says nothing about whether a 3rd party engine was used or not, only how it is advertised. In my experience, games whose marketing divisions spend a lot of time touting the game engine it runs on tend to suck... hard. Using 3rd party tools is almost necessary these days for smaller (and sometimes larger) developers but if the use of those tools is a major selling point, you've failed already.

Re:With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy... (1)

Millennium (2451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708515)

Bingo. My post was about marketing. More than a few of the greatest games ever made use engines originally made for other games, but very few of them advertise that fact.

Re:With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy... (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708667)

Well, I'll just go ahead and call cognitive dissonance on that. Marketdroids are so detached from reality that reading any significance into what appears in a press release speaks more to your prejudices than to the quality of the product that they're marketing.

I'm sure you could (but won't) Google up a couple of examples of ads for suckfest games that boast of 3rd party engine use, but that does not constitute a compelling argument for a significant trend.

Re:With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28705293)

So, which part did you have in Duke Nukem Forever?

Re:With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy... (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705305)

I get your point that using a 3rd party engine would seem to limit your creativity

I've discovered as I get older, that for one to be truly creative, one must have limitations imposed. Whether you're a graphic artist and the limitations are the size of the canvas and the colors of paint, or a musician and the limits are the instruments or the length of time. Of course, this theory isn't limited to just the arts.

Re:With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28707475)

I don't know about you, but my Battleship Frisbee Cookoff Challenge would definitely have an FPS element.

Re:With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy... (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704121)

This is a fun game:

If your game has crosshairs on the cover, it might be generic.
If your game mentions another game on the box, it might be generic.
If your game claims to be the best [insert genre here], it might be generic.
If your game was made or published by EA, it might be generic.

All of them? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703943)

So... All of them, huh? Seriously, this isn't really a top 10 or comparison, it just lists a bunch of them. I'd be a -lot- more interested in open source ones that anyone can use without paying tons of money.

altough D20 is nice, (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704029)

I still prefer the old fashioned advanced dungeon and dragon 2 rule set.

Fairly decent list... (1)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28704709)

...but the exclusion of The Source engine is a serious omission. Pretty much any gamer out there has heard of it and the games built upon it are some of the most popular and critically acclaimed ones out there.

Why just performances? (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28705123)

I would also mind about features! An engine with skinny features will very likely show better performances ...

Dunia (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#28706061)

Despite Far Cry 2's somewhat, umm, controversial gameplay I really think that the Dunia engine should be on the list.

BGE (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28707523)

Blender Game Engine is showing promise

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc9JWYuUa2o [youtube.com]

Re:BGE (3, Interesting)

planetoid (719535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28707967)

Blender's game engine seems like a good prototyping tool for artists to test out their animations and interactions before the project's actual game engine is even started, but I'm still convinced that it's too generalized to run at optimal performance for any specific type of game to be THE game engine for an actual game. Then again, computers these days are extremely fast compared to ten years ago, so you could argue that a certain degree of non-optimization is okay. I think we're all guilty of that, and we don't have to pay quite as much attention to detail in our code as we did back when we were programming for 486 25mhz systems in mind (though something about that seems morally wrong). Still, the question of performance pokes at me.

For example, is it guaranteed to draw only the bare minimum of polygons when you're in an indoors environment? Does it "know" when you're outdoors and use the optimal drawing orders for large outdoors areas?

And what about collision detection? That's another hairy subject that has the potential to snail down performance of even simple games (ever play a shmup with hundreds of bullets on the screen, but tends to slow down during those tense moments even on a fast machine? That's the programmer's fault). How does Blender know to internally use "this set of data structures and algorithms for collision detection with Situation And Circumstances X" but "these other data structures and algorithms for collision detection would be better with Situation and Circumstances Y instead"?

Of course, I know Blender is open source, and any of these issues can be resolved by forking your own Blender project for your own needs, but I'm asking strictly about Blender's game engine as it is "out of the box".

Nothing even related to idTech? (3, Interesting)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708701)

I'm surprised that the only engine on this list to derive from the Quake family is the Call of Duty engine. I'm not enough of a game engine expert to disagree with any given choice, but it's very, very surprising to me to see one of the major families of engines basically ignored. At the very least, some discussion of its omission seems in order.

thoughtfulorange (1)

Thoughtfulorange (1399755) | more than 5 years ago | (#28710553)

No Gamebryo Engine? What were they thinking?

I've worked with two of the engines on the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28712101)

One of them was largely to blame for a project being such a catastrophic failure that it was cancelled and the company went bankrupt.

One of them, while I have no real complaints about the product, the most senior person I met at the company responsible for it went into an apoplectic fit of psychosis when our senior programmer mentioned that he'd written a replacement for one of the modules in the engine. This episode was largely responsible for my decision to quit the games industry.

Not gonna name the engine for each experience, though.

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