Develop examines the impressive tool that powered Bioware's blockbuster MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic

Essential Game Engines: HeroEngine

Creator: Idea Fabrik
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, mobile
Seen in: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Idea Farbrik’s HeroEngine is a development platform tailored especially for MMOs, and most famously used in BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The middleware comes with a windows client, world server and integrated suite of tools.

Idea Farbik COO Neil Harris says that the platform provides a “tightly integrated server system” to help produce stable environment crucial to an MMO world that needs to handle thousands of concurrent users.

Its creators also offer small developers a free-to-use HeroEngine license, the HeroCloud, that handles all hosting and bandwidth, taking 30 per cent of net revenues once games start taking advantage of the services and make money.

Harris says that the engine is currently being used on an unnanounced Zenimax Online title, and also claims that since revealing HeroCloud in 2010, 5,000 games have been made with HeroEngine.

With the games engine market continuing to become more fragmented and specialised, Harris says one of the key challenges facing the vendor and the entire sector is in providing a single optimal solution for projects.

“There are many different kinds of games – an engine that optimises rendering is usually not very good at an MMO because of the different kinds of needs of an MMO game,” he explains.

“Social games make use of Flash, which is widely available, but at a much lower end of graphics performance. Engineering involves trade-offs to optimise performance for specific projects.”

Harris says that Idea Fabrik is currently working on a revised rendering engine for its client, whilst on the business side it is integrating billing, marketing and analytics platforms.

He also said the company will begin to roll out Hero clients on other devices such as Mac and smartphones to customers in the next year.

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