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The Triangle Arms Race
August 7th 2004, 18:06 CEST by m0nty

Most players are finding it hard to see what's happening in Doom 3, if not from the lack of decent lighting then from the half-dried fanboi spooge stuck to their monitor. However, while the Unreal Engine 3 is still "early in its development cycle", it looks like it will up the ante in the race to develop the world's most powerful weapons of mass construction.

Doom 3 was only ever going to be judged in the long term as a tech demo, and as such it seems to be getting decent reviews. This preview of the Unreal 3 Engine shows what the opposition is working on. Doom 3 was groundbreaking for its introduction of million-poly zombie manboobs condensed down to 4000-5000 for in-game use, but according to Epic, Unreal Engine 3 models will be more like 2 million polygons in their original source form, with about the same number of in-game triangles.

It seems a shame that with this selection of lovely-looking screenshots, all we are given to look at are hackneyed faux-Giger architecture and alien zombie marines. I don't claim to be an expert in the technology so I won't comment on the extensive technical rundown on that page, although I would like to see knowledgeable Crappers discussing it. Nevertheless, I am impressed by Unreal's advances in crate technology, including a rainbow crate, a chameleon stealth crate and a day-glo crate. I can only hope their attention to detail in modelling the cleavage of the inevitable 36DD leather-clad heroine of Unreal 3 is so precise.

So, to the traditional questions. Will games made with the Unreal Engine 3 (like, presumably, Unreal 3) look better than Doom 3? Will it have better gameplay? Do either of these things matter? Which technology will be licensed more by third-party developers? Is the main determinant of this battle going to be the quality of the underlying tech, or just the ease of use of the editors? Warren, where are you?
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#1 by LPMiller
2004-08-07 18:10:00
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
I have nothing to say in regards to this topic and/or thread, but I thank you for your contribution.

When LP says he's bringing Armageddon, he brings fucking Armageddon. - Caryn, 6/01/2004
#2 by Post-It
2004-08-07 18:15:16
keithlee@speakeasy.net
Ditto. Next Topic.

Comment Signature
#3 by Hugin
2004-08-07 18:19:56
lmccain@nber.org
I expect the Unreal3 engine will be better than the engine made two years before it.  But not as good as the engine made two years after it.  The quality of games made with any engine depend on the decisions made by the designers, not the technical capabilities of the engine itself.  Or as Monty jibed in the topic header, supercrates are still crates.

Ad the tools underlying it all still won't be simple enough for a random skilless schmoe like me to do anything meaningful with, so I can't get too excited about that either.
#4 by mgns
2004-08-07 18:28:37
Games don't need more polygons, they need better designed ones.

and who am I?
to dare to pull the stars from your favourite sky
#5 by mgns
2004-08-07 18:28:42
Thinking...

and who am I?
to dare to pull the stars from your favourite sky
#6 by mgns
2004-08-07 18:28:57
(groan)

and who am I?
to dare to pull the stars from your favourite sky
#7 by Max
2004-08-07 18:32:07
http://massivebraincase.org/
Games don't need any polygons, they need better designed games.

Gaaaaaaaaaay!!!  Also, pix pls. - Shadarr
#8 by Lurker
2004-08-07 18:34:08
Will games made with the Unreal Engine 3 (like, presumably, Unreal 3) look better than Doom 3? Will it have better gameplay? Do either of these things matter? Which technology will be licensed more by third-party developers? Is the main determinant of this battle going to be the quality of the underlying tech, or just the ease of use of the editors? Warren, where are you?


The first question should be obvious. For instance the engine used in Doom3 was targetted at a Geforce 1 level platform. The Unreal Engine 3 is targetting cards not even out at this moment. So graphically it should look better then Doom3 by a wide margin.

The next question is much tougher to address. If you are the type of person who thinks what you see is gameplay then I think it is safe to say it will have better gameplay. If you are the type that thinks gameplay goes beyond graphics power then it is unanswerable. Can't judge gameplay by a few released screenshots.

I don't think things between id and Epic are as comparable anymore. It seems they are on different engine levels and schedules. You can't compare Epic's next engine with id's Doom3 engine. Assuming Carmack/Dose don't have the next id engine in as good of shape as the Unreal Engine 3 I don't think they will be comparable either. Who knows really what lies behind the id office doors though. From most interviews the engine used in Doom 3 has been feature complete for awhile. It could mean the next engine is well underway and might compete in a time frame with the Unreal Engine 3.
#9 by The_Joker
2004-08-07 18:48:21
http://www.jackinworld.com
I checked out the screenshots of the unreal 3 engine and it's way way better than doom 3. No blocky headed characters. No blockiness whatsoever! And the shadows are really good. Not like the hard doom 3 shadows, which just suck.

Joker, Ph.D. Procedural Assholian Behaviour, Pedophilosopher
- All your ass are belong to my wang Jafd. Prepare to are penetration.
"I fart in THX." - Sgt_Hulka

PENETRATOR: Rise of the Wang Cuming "When it's done".
The American government and its supporters suck cock. See Fahrenheit 9/11 and discover the truth.
#10 by Gunp01nt
2004-08-07 18:50:38
supersimon33@hotmail.com
Imho the Unreal engine has always been better than the Quake engine, although the list of games developed using either engine doesn't really reflect that. Both Id Software and Epic really seem to be continuing their engines in the same trend, each company's 'character' reflected on the new features they choose to add.

Then again, an engine doesn't really make or break a game, it's what the game developer does, or is able to do, with the engine that makes the difference.
And if you look at the AAA games developed on the Quake (1/2/3) engine (excluding games by Id themselves):

- SiN
- Half-Life (albeit they nearly rewrote the original engine)
- RTCW
- Medal of Honor
- Call of Duty
- Jedi Knight 2 + Jedi Academy
- Elite Force 1 + 2
- Kingpin
- Soldier of Fortune

etc., and compare that to the list of AAA games for the Unreal engine (excluding Epic's games)
- Deus Ex 1 + 2
- Thief 3
- Splinter Cell
- XIII
- Rune
- Uhm... Postal 2? Nerf Arena Blast?

..you see that the Quake 3 engine is used more often than the Unreal engine.

NEEEEEEEERRROOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW HERE COMES THE PLANE!
-Jibble
#11 by Sgt Hulka
2004-08-07 18:51:29
I'm with LP on this one.

#12 by Gunp01nt
2004-08-07 18:53:56
supersimon33@hotmail.com
#9 The_Joker
I checked out the screenshots of the unreal 3 engine and it's way way better than doom 3. No blocky headed characters. No blockiness whatsoever! And the shadows are really good. Not like the hard doom 3 shadows, which just suck.


That's no argument. Id can load an original 3D Studio Max model of the fat zombie into a Doom 3 map and make a screenshot that takes 10 minutes to render. I don't think the level of detail you see in the Unreal Engine 3 screenshots are actually possible on the average hardware configuration of today.

NEEEEEEEERRROOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW HERE COMES THE PLANE!
-Jibble
#13 by hangedmanAG
2004-08-07 18:56:11
www.livejournal.com/users/hangedman_ag/
The Unreal 3 engine looks beautiful, it does.  I just shudder at the inevitable need to plunk down another 400 bucks on the video card that I will need to run it.  I'm getting tired of developers not creating games for the hardware that we have, right now.

ps   There is nothing Giger-esque about that architecture

S'right
#14 by The_Joker
2004-08-07 19:06:51
http://www.jackinworld.com
#12 Don't forget that people saw those demos running live, before their eyes, not long ago.

Joker, Ph.D. Procedural Assholian Behaviour, Pedophilosopher
- All your ass are belong to my wang Jafd. Prepare to are penetration.
"I fart in THX." - Sgt_Hulka

PENETRATOR: Rise of the Wang Cuming "When it's done".
The American government and its supporters suck cock. See Fahrenheit 9/11 and discover the truth.
#15 by BobJustBob
2004-08-07 19:13:57
My summary of m0nty's topic: "Please, predict the future."

Dood.
#16 by gaggle
2004-08-07 19:14:12
If Warren was here I'd ask if he ever truly was pushed down the stairs at Legend Entertainment.

superman flying in the movies is a plot hole because there isn't any reasonable method of propulsion
#17 by gaggle
2004-08-07 19:14:30
#15
Sounds like a job for.. Titorboy!

superman flying in the movies is a plot hole because there isn't any reasonable method of propulsion
#18 by Russ
2004-08-07 19:20:46
From the OT:
So, to the traditional questions. Will games made with the Unreal Engine 3 (like, presumably, Unreal 3) look better than Doom 3? Will it have better gameplay? Do either of these things matter? Which technology will be licensed more by third-party developers? Is the main determinant of this battle going to be the quality of the underlying tech, or just the ease of use of the editors? Warren, where are you?

Maybe. Totally unrelated. Yes. Who knows? The better tech will likely be deemed slightly more important to the suits who make licensing decisions. Warren is probably being much more productive than before since he's not posting here or working on Respawn games. Either that or Bailey sucked him into WoW.

Magister mundi sum!
#19 by Matt Perkins
2004-08-07 19:47:19
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
I'm with the sentiments posted above that most games don't actually need better polygons/graphics at this point, but better design/implementation.


Far Cry...it was beautiful, but except for a few purists it was a broken game.  Take that engine, put new art in it, make a real game, you've got a good thing.

"I mean, who knows what a fucking zombie would do in the first place?  Maybe if you were a zombie and Satan said "Get in that closet and wait until someone comes by" you'd do it.  Because he's Satan." - Foodbunny
#20 by lwf
2004-08-07 19:52:40
I'm still pretty disappointed that these engine can still only render triangles. When are we going to see some squares or god forbid, a fucking octogon. It's retarded!

How the hell'd we get here?
#21 by LPMiller
2004-08-07 20:02:50
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
Farcry was not broken. Those last 3 or so levels were really sucky, and the ending was lame, and the monsters not very original, but it was still fun.

When LP says he's bringing Armageddon, he brings fucking Armageddon. - Caryn, 6/01/2004
#22 by The_Joker
2004-08-07 20:11:51
http://www.jackinworld.com
Far cry sucked. you stupid assholes.

Joker, Ph.D. Procedural Assholian Behaviour, Pedophilosopher
- All your ass are belong to my wang Jafd. Prepare to are penetration.
"I fart in THX." - Sgt_Hulka

PENETRATOR: Rise of the Wang Cuming "When it's done".
The American government and its supporters suck cock. See Fahrenheit 9/11 and discover the truth.
#23 by Sgt Hulka
2004-08-07 20:13:21
I've never played Far Cry.  It upsets me, but not enough to actually cry about it.  I think I'll listen to MegaDeth instead of worrying about it.

#24 by Your Friend
2004-08-07 21:18:24
What defines a good game engine is currently in flux.  Before it used to be which engine could render the most polygons or use the most clever algorithm to avoid drawing polygons that won't be seen anyway.  In the coming days of ultra fast GPUs, most of the graphics code is going to be really simple setup stuff that just feeds vertex buffers and shaders to the card.  There won't be as much room for uniqueness  in that area.  Every engine built will have the capability of looking amazing (in screenshots anyway) and it will come down solely to the artists to make a game look great or not.  What will set one engine apart from another in the programmer realm is the toolset and integration of physics and lipsyncing and things of that nature.  And in that area, Unreal is pretty much head and shoulders above the rest.  (Source could be a real contender, but we'll have to wait and see).

But having said that, most games using the Unreal engine feel foofy to me when compared to games using the Quake engine.  Not due to rendering, but generally due to the movement and physics.  While Unreal-engine games are nothing like the horror of most Litchtech games, they still never seem to feel as fluid to me as games based on the Quake engines.  I realize this is personal preference though, YMMV.

Comment Signature
#25 by Your Friend
2004-08-07 21:20:34
Far Cry was like Metal Arms: Glitch in the System.

It was a very good game that could have used a film-editor type person to tell the designers that enough is enough and its much better to have a shorter, all-fun experience than an experience that starts out as all-fun but wears out its welcome by going for a longer running time than it really merits.

Comment Signature
#26 by BobJustBob
2004-08-07 21:53:08
Lip-syncing is the most wasteful, pointless "feature" ever. Flushable toilets have nothing on lip-syncing.

Dood.
#27 by mgns
2004-08-07 21:57:49
Troll, troll, troll you post...

and who am I?
to dare to pull the stars from your favourite sky
#28 by Lurker
2004-08-07 21:58:36
most games using the Unreal engine feel foofy to me when compared to games using the Quake engine.  Not due to rendering, but generally due to the movement and physics.  While Unreal-engine games are nothing like the horror of most Litchtech games


This is the biggest problem I have with most engines outside of the id based ones. id engines are very tight in control and you feel directly in contact with your player/model. Epic based engines aren't that bad but there still seems to have a slight floaty/lag type feel to them. As you pointed out lithtech games have the worst feel. They feel so disconnected like you are playing through fluid. Nothing is tight anymore, aim is lofty, player movement is massively delayed.
#29 by mnemonic
2004-08-07 22:09:25
xmnemonic@softhome.net http://jti.developer.graphyx.net
I've never liked Epic's character designs.  Actually, the only good ones were the WH40k Spacemarine ripoffs.  Everything else just looks generic, hollywood action hero, or just silly like the lady liberty inspired metal woman.  what's it all about?
#30 by jjohnsen
2004-08-07 22:21:50
http://www.johnsenclan.com
Question.  In almost every review you read about a Unreal/Doom/Quake III based game, it says  "such and such game uses a heavily modified version of the Quake III engine, or the Unreal engine".  Why do they have to be so heavily modified, aren't they pretty great on their own?

Sgt Hulka-I punched the toilets for about 5 mins and never got them to flush.
#31 by TheTrunkDr.
2004-08-07 22:30:06
Because it sounds cool, there really isn't much other reason.

I kid cause I care.
#32 by BobJustBob
2004-08-07 23:07:04
mgns - You actually care if a game has lip-syncing or not?

Dood.
#33 by deadlock
2004-08-07 23:08:41
http://www.deadlocked.org/
Jjohnsen:
Why do they have to be so heavily modified, aren't they pretty great on their own?

Because not every game is the same, even when they use the same engine. Take games based on the Quake 3 engine. Q3 was developed by ID as a multiplayer only game and I'm guessing that as such the engine didn't have a huge amount of non-multiplayer functionality: singleplayer AI and whatnot. So anyone developing a Q3-based singleplayer game (Return to Castle Wolfenstein, for example) would have had to modify the engine somewhat. I'm not sure that 'heavily modified' applies, necessarily, but the engine is certainly modified by each individual develpment team to suit their own purposes.

The classic example (and gunpoint has already alluded to this) is probably Half Life, which was based on the Quake 1 engine, but was almost unrecognisable as a Quake-based game.

#34 by phyrephox
2004-08-07 23:48:13
dkasman@gmail.com http://www.d-kaz.com
Higher and higher levels of interactivity will be the staple of the best game engines.
#35 by mgns
2004-08-07 23:55:09
mgns - You actually care if a game has lip-syncing or not?

If you're gonna have close-ups of characters engaged in deep and meaningful dialouge about the impending alien invasion, I'd prefer it not look like a dubbed-from-korean kung fu flick.

and who am I?
to dare to pull the stars from your favourite sky
#36 by mgns
2004-08-07 23:57:05
I think, or hope rather, that next generation engines try to make some headway in content management. Streaming content, online single-player, stuff like that.

and who am I?
to dare to pull the stars from your favourite sky
#37 by TheTrunkDr.
2004-08-08 00:40:28
Higher and higher levels of interactivity will be the staple of the best game engines.

Yet, amazingly, game object interactivity has almost nothing to do with the game engine!

I kid cause I care.
#38 by gaggle
2004-08-08 01:40:42
Mjeeh, can be argued both ways I think, Trunk. An engine such as Doom 3, with its unified lighting, can have panels and objects and platforms that totally fits into the world. Whereas you make a moveable platform in, say, Half-Life or the latest in Unreal engine or whatever, and the object sticks out. It doesn't receive the lighting of the surroundings because of the static lightmaps.

Not that Doom is the forerunner of all things interactive, I just think the engine will open certain doors. Also something that matters is the way the art content is managed. If you have an engine that supports some sort of versatile library to pull objects from you can more easily make a complicated elevator (or whatever example) because you're only going to spend time doing the one script. Also also there's progress into physics that new engines brings to play, which should allow for "automatic" interactivity to a certain degree. Ie. smashing things up or whatnot.

I think I get what you're getting at, interactivity certainly starts on the design table and the developers.. but engines seems involved in the process to me.

superman flying in the movies is a plot hole because there isn't any reasonable method of propulsion
#39 by Charles
2004-08-08 01:50:14
www.bluh.org
UE3 looks pretty nifty from my standpoint.  And as an unreal engine developer, it's good to know that the Epic guys are doing a ton of stuff other than graphics to make the engine kick ass.  From what I know, there's probably a good chance that UE3 will really be the engine to have for the next generation of PC games.  I think that they are also making the engine more console-able for the next gen platforms, which will be great as well.

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#40 by Charles
2004-08-08 01:52:10
www.bluh.org
Higher and higher levels of interactivity will be the staple of the best game engines.


Object interactivity is something that needs to be implemented on a per-game basis.  You aren't going to have a game engine that offers all of that right out of the box, other than basic physics interactions.

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#41 by Eyegore
2004-08-08 02:14:15
http://home.cfl.rr.com/eyegore/gallery.htm
The Unreal3 screenshots look amazing.  It's another big step from cartoon to photoreal.  If the engine can smoothly animate at that amazing level of detail it could be a serious contender to replace Lightwave and 3DSMax for a lot of things those programs are used for.

As for the 3 way engine battle, I think Unreal3 has already won on multiple fronts.
#42 by Charles
2004-08-08 02:17:31
www.bluh.org
It'll be a long time before UE3 runs smooth. At E3, running on the latest and greatest cards, it still wasn't getting more than 15FPS.

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#43 by Hugin
2004-08-08 02:19:11
lmccain@nber.org
#32 by BobJustBob

 mgns - You actually care if a game has lip-syncing or not?


Games aren't just piles of tools that efficiently get you from the beginning of the game to the end.  Games are entertainment, designed to bring the player pleasure on one or another ways.  A craftsman has a responsibility to make sure a table he or she builds is properly flat and sturdy.  But he or she isn't then commiting a crime of they carve some pleasant designs into the legs and stain it an appealing color.

A car needs to get from point a to point b with reasonable reliability and safety.  But a nice radio and a nice paint job aren't betrayals of the thing's core function.

I can understand to some degree your Joe Friday "Just the facts ma'am" reductive attitude of we were talking about business applications.  But your seeming hatred of any effort expended in the way to make games that are anything more than unpainted, unpadded stainless steel gameplay seems to border on the masochistically ascetic.  It's a game.  Let them put a packet of sugar in the tea, let them decorate the walls a little, and for god's sake sit on this cushion.  It won't kill you.
#44 by Eyegore
2004-08-08 02:56:17
http://home.cfl.rr.com/eyegore/gallery.htm
<clap clap>
#45 by Russ
2004-08-08 02:57:13
Hugin, your avatar needs better lip syncing.

Magister mundi sum!
#46 by m0nty
2004-08-08 02:59:12
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
The light mapping is just dandy, though.
#47 by Russ
2004-08-08 03:18:30
Yes, I see he has specular highlights turned on.

Magister mundi sum!
#48 by ProStyle
2004-08-08 04:53:04
http://prostyle.deviantart.com
I'm not particularly psyched about UE3 or anything of that nature because I still haven't gotten any decent games for this round of hardware. It'll be interesting to see what the lifetime of Source is, but other than that I see nothing that would extend its player base through to the next-gen timeframe. D3-engine multiplayer is pretty much on lockdown in terms of styling and subject matter, so I think the expandability or less-restrictive orientation of Source will lead it through to a broader mod base and therefor longer life.

This kind of a view is pretty myopic though. Once again, it's giving Source alot of credit for not ever having dealt with it in a live launch setting, but I think this is really just the beginning of the Steam platform and what it was meant for. Getting a Quake/2-engine type game on a distributed network like that was a feat in itself, and I applaud Valve for doing it (and alienating everyone on sub-broadband connections in one fell swoop). However, I think a more advanced and inherently cooler technology tied in with that from the ground up will be a real powerhouse. I'm pretty sure from the product staging of Half Life (platinum, platinum plus, platinum plus xxx rev32, expansions, CS standalone retail, etc) that they understand the power of mods and what they can do for a game. I'd imagine that most the people who bought one or a few of these packages were pleasantly suprised at how much extra content and gameplay modes were available after they tired of their 'original purchase' if you will.

So I think the real question of engine dominance has moved past looking at the engine itself and more to the actual life of the application or ability to keep the player interested in new and interesting ways. I'm not trying to imply that Steam will have an ultra-dominance because its easier to mod for it, or its toolset is better than x-y-z's engines. That's probably not even the case, and after becoming familiar with UnrealED from UT2K4 frankly I'm amazed at how much more advanced and easier level editors are becoming. But you see the trend in every title - it wasn't too long ago that I don't think anyone would have seriously considered 'Mods' being a title switching option in their main menu, but basically every game I play these days has it upon initial install (Doom3, UT2k4). The real advantage of the Steam system is the integration of news, product placement and basic information - also a streamlined content system so you don't have to go hunt through CDROM.COM (Nowadays FilePlanet, etc) reading text files to find some small mod that might interest you (extreme example from the Doom/Quake days).

As for licensing, I think it will become obvious that having your title sitting next to HL2 in the same application will give you alot higher chance of someone clicking through to download and play it then them going to a physical store and browsing through seemingly unrelated titles. I'm not sure what kind of tie-ins are there for licensees though, it'll be interesting to see what direction and how extensively Valve takes it.

Fabricated like the word absurditive
#49 by Charles
2004-08-08 05:06:22
www.bluh.org
D3-engine multiplayer is pretty much on lockdown in terms of styling and subject matter, so I think the expandability or less-restrictive orientation of Source will lead it through to a broader mod base and therefor longer life.


Buh?  What on earth makes you say something as ridiculous as that?  Any Doom 3 licensee will be able to do whatever the hell they want with multiplayer.

As for licensing, I think it will become obvious that having your title sitting next to HL2 in the same application will give you alot higher chance of someone clicking through to download and play it then them going to a physical store and browsing through seemingly unrelated titles.


I hope you aren't under the impression that all Source games will be on Steam, because that's just not going to happen.  Publishers won't put their games on an electronic system, it's self defeating for them.  Valve can do it with their own games because they own them, and everything about them.  That's a rare thing.

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#50 by m0nty
2004-08-08 05:14:23
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Listen to the large-breasted bikini girl, she talks sense.
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