Monday, 26 April 2010

I'd rather stand on a hornets nest...

Let’s take a few steps backwards to assess the situation. At GCSE maths and IT were my weakest subjects. At A level, I avoided both at all costs. Now I’m at Uni I would happily pay someone to look at numbers for me, can’t stand the sight of them. So naturally, the concept of even beginning to get my head around a Games engine is a daunting one. From where I’m stood right now it is by far the most boring part of the whole game making process. Despite how I may feel about it however, it is incredibly important in making something feel more believable. Although the artists deal with the physical elements of the game and making that look and feel authentic, that would be useless if the programmers couldn’t get a decent facial expression out of a character when the love of their life has just been ripped apart in front of them.

Even though I did go through how I feel about the game already, this would be a perfect time to talk about the game engine of Alien Vs Predator again. In all honesty, I can’t fault really the design work or the 3D modelling of the game as it sticks to the original designs and environments which a fan like myself would have really freaked out over had they not. However, it is clear that this is an example of how the men with money have gotten their hands on something which could have been great given a little more love. For example: when playing as a predator and in heat vision, corpses stay warm and when hats or guns are dropped, they are completely warm and stay warm even when they’re not on a soldier’s body. There is about 5 different human characters, after that you just seem to kill the same NCP over and over. Handling and movement of the Alien and Predator is inconsistent, makes no sense and often costs you your life in game play. Even bosses didn’t really do anything, they kinda just sat there and waited for you to do damage to them. Lazy problems which could have been resolved given the time.

On the plus side however, game engines give programmers a visual interface to make a game without a hell load of glitches. It allows them to see their progress or mistakes without them having to read a load of C/C++ stuff to get where they want. Although this does make it easier to transfer information between platforms, games engines do have problems of their own. They’re limited to a memory budget according to the memory space on the platform it will be assigned to. Hence why PCs are in constant need of upgrading their CPU, particularly with shaders in modern titles. Shaders themselves are a piece of software which read the information from normal maps in a 3D model. They make the model appear more textured than the bare wireframe using 'height' information to determine which areas of the model would attract the most light and which areas would shadow.

In addition there are also other software programs such as Middleware, which can be employed, and today are expected to be used by programmers for accurate physics portrayals of objects being kicked, falling thrown and particularly for explosions. These are all of paramount importance in making and interlude, cinematic and game play experience more believable.

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