Far Cry 2 – Which Engine Was That Again?

By John Walker on January 4th, 2008 at 3:45 pm.

Let me tell you a secret. Sometimes when you read an interview with a developer, rather than having sat in the room with the individuals involved, it’s done by sending a batch of questions off and awaiting the reply. The trick is, ask questions that offer a sense of a narrative flow, and then arrange the results in such a way that it reads naturally. It’s not a case of faking anything, simply making a Q&A an entertaining read. (If you want to see the difference, check out our interviews with Valve which were all done face to face, apart from the Eric Wolpaw one. Very rudely, he failed to rearrange his wedding around our visit.)

Sometimes, this can backfire. For example, German magazine PC Games Hardware’s recent Q&A with the Far Cry 2 developers.

Slow motion car crash.

It all begins with a simple, innocent mistake. The thought that Ubisoft had licensed the Crytek engine. Find out what happens under the cut.

Beyond this, there’s some useful Far Cry 2 tech info to plunder, for those who love to know what their Direct X 10s are doing, the AI programming, and its “realistic fire simulation”.

1) When licensing the Far Cry brand you purchased the Cry Engine and it seems logical that this powerful peace of technology will be the technical base of Far Cry 2 too? Is that correct?

DG: No, I understand the reasoning but it is incorrect. The engine was licensed mostly for use on the console adaptations of the original Far Cry. On Far Cry 2, we had a mandate not only to build an ambitious sequel to Far Cry but also to build a new cutting edge in-house technology. We started building that new technology in 2005. Our engine is called Dunia and was built from the ground up to support the scope and goals of Far Cry 2.

It’s perhaps a little more awkward for question 2:

2) Was it necessary to reprogram or even add code to the engine? If so what parts were altered what kind of technical features were integrated into the engine? What were the reasons behind these alterations?

And question 3:

3) In general what according to your personal experience makes the Cry Engine so special for the development of Fps games? Why do you decide against developing a new engine from scratch for Far Cry 2?

Question 4 is where it becomes just about too painful to carry on:

4) One part of the Cry Engine is a…

There’s a lesson for us all here.

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23 Comments »

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  1. Piratepete says:

    Unfortunately with that method of interviewing there is no way to remove ones foot from ones mouth it would seem.

  2. ImperialCreed says:

    I imagine they were lucky to get as polite a response as they did. Reading it made me cringe ever so slightly – thank you John and RPS for my daily dose of cringe.

  3. Meat Circus says:

    Why does every developer have to “write their own engine”? It seems like a severe case of Not Invented Here winkie-waving. Maybe if people spent less time writing engines, they could spend more time making games not be a bucket of wee-wee.

  4. Kieron Gillen says:

    Meat: From what I understand, buying an Engine isn’t nearly the easy solution it sounds like, in terms of the amount of work you have to do to make the fucking thing to work.

    KG

  5. Richard says:

    I remember doing an interview like that a few years ago (I won’t name the guilty party, but it was one that the company had volunteered to do in order to build up some buzz, and I inserted a very rude word between the game’s names every time I mentioned it afterwards. Pretty much the entire thing read as follows…

    Q: What can you tell us about (the game)?
    A At the moment, we’re not releasing many details. It’ll be a worthy successor to (the series).

    Q: What additions will it make to (the genre)?
    A: We’re not ready to say at this point.

    Q: Could you walk us through an example mission?
    A: All details are being kept under wraps for now. However, we promise gamers will enjoy them. We don’t want to give everything away, after all!

    Or, in a nutshell…

    AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

    Oh, and the pictures supplied with this ‘exclusive interview’? A single, empty street, shot from seemingly random angles. I never played the finished thing, for fear I’d end up using the gold master as a frisbee.

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’ll name my one.

    It was for PC Gamer’s The World Is Not Enough feature (A game which, of course, didn’t come out). Answers came back late, and had an infinitesimal amount of detail in, which I somehow stretched to four pages, swearing all the while.

    However, I took the four worst answers to questions, and put them in a box-out called “THE ANSWERS ARE NOT ENOUGH” for public ridicule. And then turned it into a competion, so whichever reader sent in the best answers to the questions would win a prize.

    KG

  7. Meat Circus says:

    Q: What can you tell us about the game?
    A: We are not prepared to confirm that it is a game at the moment.

    Q: Am I right in thinking it looks like a game?
    A: You might very well think that. We are not prepared to confirm that it is a game at the moment.

    Q: What does a game look like?
    A: We are not prepared to confirm that we are able to make judgments based on images alone at the moment.

    Q: Are you able to confirm whether you will be able to confirm these things in the future?
    A: We are not willing, at this time, to be able to confirm whether we will be able to confirm that we are able to determine, via the gift of sight, this which may or may not be a game (we are not yet ready to confirm), looks like a game.

    Q: What engine does the game use?
    A: See above.

    Q: If it were a game, what engine would it use?
    A: Were it to be a game, we would be prepared to confirm that it will be using an engine.

    Q: And if it weren’t?
    A: Then we will be prepared to confirm that an engine might or might not be necessary.

    Q: Thanks for your time
    A: We are not prepared to confirm at this time that any time was expended in the process of not being prepared to confirm things or being prepared to not confirm things.

  8. Muzman says:

    Small sidetrack about the licensing thing;
    I get a bit of an impression that since the only real engine licensing (or is that ‘really conspicuous engine licensing’?) that’s gone on the last…oh..six years?..is Unreal of some stripe or another and that has often ended up being modified heavily, disastrous or controversial, licensing isn’t quite the panacea it was once seen as. So there’s a lot of “Hey if we have to go to all this bother reworking the thing why not just make our own?”

  9. Darniaq says:

    Sure, asking the questions can lead to faux pas like this. But that only result in this when the interviewer takes the responses verbatim and puts them back online. Since this isn’t a live podcast or chat, I don’t get why they didn’t just edit it out. Trying to hit a word-count target?

  10. Alan Au says:

    Ah yes, the joys of the email interview… You’d think that interviewers would at least try to submit a second set of questions to fill in the gaps, although there isn’t a lot you can do about antagonistic interviewees.

  11. Meat Circus says:

    @Muzman:

    You hear that a lot, working as a developer. The constant desire to write your own rather than working with what’s out there. It’s a bad habit developers have too, and one I’ve always tried to resist.

    The problem is, developers systematically tend to overrate the quality of their own code and underrate the quality of third party code. And that leads to a cycle of NIHism that can be hard to break.

    The fact the so few engines have been properly productized is largely a factor of developer laziness and market immaturity. Give it ten years, I reckon. The thought of writing your own engine will seem as ridiculous as writing your own low-level 3d card API seems now.

  12. Masked Dave says:

    Haha, it’s interesting, ’cause I’m a programmer, and I’m kind of rare in that I will *always* look to see if someone else has done it first before bothering to write my own.

    Coding is just a means to an ends for me though, as long as it works, I don’t care who did it.

  13. Leeks! says:

    I went into an interview with a playwright before thinking she was someone else entirely. That was fun.

  14. No Picnic says:

    If I had a system that could run it, I’d be very excited about FarCry 2, more so than Crysis, which I have not played. (BioShock barely runs, but it still manages to look good.)

    Crysis went and did the whole tropical island again. It seems more like FarCry 2 than FarCry 2 is. So you can turn invisible and speed run. Meh. I remember the disappointing alien battles in FarCry, and battling the squid from the Matrix just doesn’t get me excited.

    FarCry 2 is in a completely new environment for me: the African savanna. Tropical islands have been done to death in TV and games. FC2 is going to be realistic with no zombies or aliens, only people. It seems like a big sandbox where you can do anything you want. It seems like it has a lot of potential.

  15. Hump says:

    dumbest. bastard. ever.

  16. Lacero says:

    There is plenty of NIHism but still middleware like Havok and auido/video technology gets a fair amount of reuse.

    I think that’s because they’re boring and tedious to write. Writing a game engine is fun, and modifying one needs the same skillset anyway. Between a choice of doing relatively boring work using someone else’s code in the games industry and doing boring work for goldman sachs people will follow the money.

    I guess I’m arguing that the games industry can’t afford to pay for professionalism. That’s quite depressing but I believe it to be true, given the competition for programmers.

  17. Wozza says:

    That’s how I would conduct every interview, total ignorance and full on assumptions of the subject matter, it’s abit like thinking John Romero was the brains behind Doom and the technology, which he was.

  18. Essell says:

    “Meat: From what I understand, buying an Engine isn’t nearly the easy solution it sounds like, in terms of the amount of work you have to do to make the fucking thing to work.

    KG”

    Definitely not.

  19. Meat Circus says:

    I guess I’m arguing that the games industry can’t afford to pay for professionalism. That’s quite depressing but I believe it to be true, given the competition for programmers.

    As a developer, there’s a reason I work for an investment bank not a game studio…

    MONEY IS NICE.

  20. Dr Snofeld says:

    However, I took the four worst answers to questions, and put them in a box-out called “THE ANSWERS ARE NOT ENOUGH” for public ridicule. And then turned it into a competion, so whichever reader sent in the best answers to the questions would win a prize.

    Don’t suppose you could post those questions up here for the sake of history? If you remember them and it’s not too much trouble, of course.

  21. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Just for you, I’ve dug out the issue in which the preview lurks (in truth I’ve been riffling through the back-issues of late and this I had this one fairly close to hand). It’s in issue 82 and the box-out actually has the slightly more pun-tastic title of ‘the words are not enough’.

    Q: Will the game be purely first person, or will you be able to play from a thief-person [sic] (or other) viewpoint?
    A:
    First-person

    Q: Are any of the film’s actors lending their vocal talents to the game?
    A:
    We are currently anticipating some participation. Nothing can be said now, however.

    Q: How about the Garbage title track?
    A:
    We have not made any announcement about music, yet.

    Q: How many weapons will feature? Will they have alternate firing modes? Can you give us a few examples?
    A:
    This information is still classified. MI6 have strict policies against me discussing this.

    Q: Will you be able to control vehicles? If so, which ones? Will you be able to ski?
    A:
    Again, this is classified information. Sorry.

  22. Lu-Tze says:

    TWINE still has the best abbreviated title of any game ever though.

  23. PoC says:

    I mixed up “The World Is Not Enough” with the DS game “The World Ends with You,” and got very confused.