The headlines might be grabbed by the likes of Unreal 3 and Tech 5, but there are game engines available for all sorts of different projectsâ?¦

Horsepower for courses

When it comes to engines, the pendulum has definitely swung in favour of technologies developed by companies who also make games.

There are clear advantages, of course, in terms of having a battle-hardened system from a battle-hardened studio that’s actually shipped a game. Yet compared to vendors such as Emergent and Qubesoft, who just do the technology, the Epics, Cryteks and ids of the world do have disadvantages to overcome too.

Historically all three have had a propensity for the PC; something that requires plenty of re-engineering in terms of providing similar features across Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, let alone Wii. Indeed, of our featured companies, only Emergent and Qubesoft support Nintendo’s little box of fun. Other mundane issues such as support and documentation don’t always sit well in terms of the game development mindset either.

Yet when it comes to any sort of engine, sheer horsepower
generally wins out, and that seems to be the priority in terms of the big studio-wise deals publishers are signing up for.
But as the range of games being made continues to broaden – from casual and serious gaming on one hand to Triple-A and MMOs on the other – there should be plenty of business to go round.


Technology: Unreal Engine 3
Clients: Activision, BioWare, EA, Gearbox, Microsoft, NCsoft, RealTime Worlds, Sony, Take Two, THQ
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Integration with: Enlighten, GameSpy, Kynapse, morpheme, PhysX, ProFX, Rendez-Vous, Spark, SpeedTree
Price: Available on request

Apparently there are some game developers and publishers who aren’t yet using Unreal 3, but there can’t be too many left out in the cold. Indeed, the cross-platform engine is become increasingly popular in other sectors including MMOs, architecture and pre-visualisation. Epic’s Integrated Partners Program for other middleware companies to integrate into Unreal is also going from strength to strength with Scaleform and NaturalMotion recent adopters.


Technology: idTech 5
Clients: TBA
Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Integration with: Alienbrain, DevTrack, plus plug-ins for 3ds Max, LightWave 3D and Maya
Price: Available on request

With no announced clients or in-development titles, except id’s
Rage, not too much is known about idTech 5. One much discussed feature however is the MegaTexture system, a streaming technology which treats environments as one very large texture rather than small tiled components. Another talked-up feature is the collision system which id claims prevents the geometric interpenetrations and collision errors typically seen in games.


Technology: Q 2.0
Client: TBA
Host Platforms: Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii
Integration with: Visual Studio 2008, Max, Maya
Price: Available on request

A lightweight cross-platform plug-in framework, Q is designed to enable you use the provided components or customise and add new ones appropriate to the game or application you’re making.

Data streaming, arbitrary scene rendering, n-dimensional animation blending and a real-time 3D editor are just some of the out-of-the-box features. You’ll have to add your own physics and AI, though.


Technology: Gamebyro v2
Clients: Bethesda, Blue Fang, EA Mythic, NCsoft, Sony, Take Two, The9
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Integration with: Anark, CRI, Kynapse, morpheme, Miles, PhysX, ProFX, Scaleform, Speedtree, Wwise, and plug-ins for 3ds Max and Maya
Price: Available on request

It’s full speed ahead at Emergent where the focus is on Gamebryo 2.5, which is due to ship this summer.

New features include a terrain system, which consists of a runtime component and editor, a re-architected geometry
pipeline and integrated GPU instancing.

The Floodgate stream processing engine will also be fully integrated with the core engine via the new mesh modifier system.


Technology: CryENGINE 2
Clients: Avatar Reality, Games Academy, MindArk, Paleo, Reloaded, WeMade
Platforms: PC (Xbox 360 and PS3 in development)
Integration with: Alienbrain, CRI, FMOD, Perforce, and Scaleform, plus plug-ins for 3ds Max, Photoshop and XSI
Price: Available on request

Perhaps the most obvious competitor for Unreal, the CryENGINE 2 reputation as bleeding edge technology for shooters is based on Crytek’s callingcard, PC game Crysis. The company points out the flexibility of systems such as the animation and physics means it can be used for most genres. The quality of the forthcoming Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions will be the key to future success however.

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