Pump Up The Volumetrics: CryEngine 3 Tech Demo

By Adam Smith on August 10th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

Wind In The Willows: The FPS Of the Michael Bay Film Of The Classic Book

I approach engine tech demos with caution, as if they were primed to explode, or at least deceive me with their promises and lies. They’re not necessarily representative of anything that will actually be seen in a game, unless you’re one of those people who reckons iD games are tech demos, in which case they’re the most reliably accurate tech demos of all. The new video advertising CryEngine 3 is utterly gorgeous, with lots of flashy pop-up text describing what’s onscreen, whether its ‘vegetation simulation’ or ‘tessellated toad tech’, but take the embellishments away and there’s still something impressive and that’s the world of Crysis 3. Recognisable urban ruins being swallowed by the return of greenery, and water freed from pipes and cisterns. It’s splendid and makes me want to do more in these surroundings than shoot people.

I actually feel a little bit disappointed when the soldiers and suit appear, but I don’t suppose a first person post-urban exploration and wildlife documentary creation simulation would sell quite as well as a futureman biff and blast ‘em up.

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138 Comments »

  1. Flakfizer says:

    “It’s splendid and makes me want to do more in these surroundings than shoot people”

    This.

    • Beernut says:

      I’m fine with shooters, as long as they offer explorable levels and desist from pushing the player down a rail while shoving endless waves of respawning cannon-fodder-enemies in his way. Cutscenes, which take the control away from the player or even change the perspective are horrible as well. I’m really hoping, that C3 does well from a gameplay perspective, because the graphics look amazing! :)

    • thegooseking says:

      Change “shoot people” to “get shot at” and I agree too. I want to be able to appreciate how pretty it is. That’s hard when people keep wanting to put bullets in me!

    • zeroskill says:

      Sadly, shooters sell best. And as EA only cares about what sells best, in thier limited minds, you bet your butt we are gonna see more shooters. I mean come on, they have a tab on Origin called “Shooters”.

      I would love seeing something a little bit different with this. Maybe an RPG using this engine, or an RTS. But it’s not going to happen.

      • DeathGhostBG says:

        You do know that Crytek has a studio that has made only RTS games that are working on a “secret project” . So its possible to see a RTS in the future

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Black Sea in Bulgaria? I thought they were making the Kinect game.

          And judging from your nickname, I guess I am not the only Bulgarian that reads RPS :D

          • mnishan111 says:

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            This extreme sports action camera, buy on ebay! Requires a minimum of $ 153.5! I found a website! Only $ 133! Really cheap! Is here: http://www2.nl/oux/

      • LionsPhil says:

        I suspect an engine that excels at this kind of close-up detail is better suited to first-person things but, yes, its a shame they have to be shooters.

    • AJ_Wings says:

      Dear Esther’s followup is made with this engine. Interested to see what those guys cook up.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      If only we could talk to the toads.

      • Paul B says:

        If only we could lick the toads…

      • Wulf says:

        You know… time away from RPS had actually built up my faith in gamers a little, because outside of here, there actually seems to be an audience of people who understands that there might be more to do with a game than base murder for one’s own perversions.

        You might actually be able to engage the user in something else, perhaps even make the pacifist as fantastic in his ability to solve problems without endless murder as gaming tends to make the killer. To romanticise the notion of working things out without barbarism. That’s where this ‘if only we could talk to X’ meme came from. I presented this as a simple desire, and I see it still lingers here as a mee.

        How disappointing. I see this community still endeavours to make Kotaku proud.

        • Toberoth says:

          What on earth are you talking about?

        • Veeskers says:

          I’ve seen this come up a couple of times in RPS threads, and I’ve never much liked misunderstandings that cause people distress, so…
          Wulf, the “talk to the monsters” quote originates from an old magazine review of Doom that has been brought up a few times in RPS articles.
          see link here: http://www.edge-online.com/reviews/doom-review
          Honestly, this is what people are referring to. No harm intended by them, I’m sure.

        • Unaco says:

          I see your time away hasn’t made you any less self-centred Wulf. As Veeskers above says, the “If only we could talk to the monsters” meme has absolutely nothing to do with you, and instead refers to EDGE’s review of DooM from 18 years ago.

          BTW, if the RPS community endeavours to make “Kotaku look proud”, you don’t have to stay.

          • nbdy says:

            Perhaps he himself wrote the review. Maybe no

          • Unaco says:

            I doubt it… It’s less that 1,000 words, for a start. And it doesn’t mention how superior the writer is and how inferior everyone else is. It doesn’t accuse the reader of discrimination/racism/prejudice/xenophobia if they don’t agree with everything being said. That’s enough for a start.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Christ, look who’s back.

          Didn’t Alec threaten to just ban you last time you got all self-centred about an EDGE reference?

  2. Morlock says:

    This looks toadally awesome.

  3. bglamb says:

    Nice to see they’re still working on getting that lense flare looking realistic. It still feels faintly unnatural to me somehow.

    • StranaMente says:

      I’m pretty sure “more precise lens-flare” (and thus more lens-flare in general) was ever a thing I wanted in my games. (I’m looking at you bf3)

    • Luke says:

      It did look a little like someone had just left fingerprints all over the lens, though.

    • gekitsu says:

      a bit more care into how eyes, as opposed to cameras, handle the overbleed of strong light sources would be neat.

      a lens flare only happens through the optics of, say, a film camera. that may be appropriate for some games, but most first person shooters want to make you believe that your monitor image is what the eyes of the player character see. therefore, no lens flares.

      • TheApologist says:

        EFFING THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS. ahem.

        What I mean to say is, I agree. I don’t want to be watching a televisual representation of a simulated event that I interact with. I just want to be interacting with the simulated event.

      • Xerophyte says:

        To get slightly technical: the problem video games in particular and computer graphics in general have with strong light sources and bright objects is that they’re basically impossible to do realistically on a computer. Your monitor does 256 levels of intensity for a given color (okay, not strictly true, but close enough) and the contrast ratio from pitch black to pure white on it is on the order of 1:1000. In reality that’s about the difference in intensity between a white object in direct sunlight and a white under the table in a sunlit room. Your monitor also has a max brightness roughly equivalent to a well lamplit wall, which is a very far cry from the brightness of looking directly into the sun.

        This has a bunch of annoying consequences for how you need to approach lighting. You can’t just say that “well, the blackest thing we have in our game will be as black as the monitor gets, and the whitest thing will be as white as it gets” since if you do you’ll completely lose all details in dark or bright areas. You also fundamentally cannot do bright objects the way reality does since the pixels just can’t get sufficiently bright (or sufficiently dark, but that’s usually less of a problem).

        If we can’t be realistic about bright lights and we still want to have games convince the player that it’s outside and daylight, well, the only available choice is to somehow cheat. To fool the viewer into thinking a pixel that’s actually as bright as an egg white is instead as bright as the sun, even though it’s emphatically nowhere near. Knowledge of how the eye works actually does help here: bloom works as a brightness trick specifically because of how the retina encodes visual information (which leads to overbleed). Similarly having the sun give off a lens flare in an FPS, even though it’s biologically nutty and everyone involved knows it, is a pretty successful method for making the viewer believe that the sun drawn on the screen is much brighter than the clouds next to it even though their pixels are the same color.

        Obviously you can go overboard on bloom, lens flares, tone mapping and all the other methods used to trick the viewer, to the point where bright objects look less convincing instead of more. Using some of it is still a huge improvement and having the lens flare look like real lens flare instead of drawing some transparent circles in the right places and calling it a day helps with keeping up the illusion.

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          Good lord that was educational. Thank you :)

        • tomeoftom says:

          Yeah, thanks! Interesting.

        • Toberoth says:

          Agreed, very interesting, thanks for typing it up!

        • vader says:

          Thank you! Very interesting.

        • Oak says:

          Informative!

        • gekitsu says:

          that was a great post, and i agree 100%.

          i am familiar with the dilemma from painting. in the case of traditional media, we are more or less stuck with the differences of brightness we can inflict upon a reflective surface – therefore we have to employ similar cheats: orchestrating the little range we have to make it look like something is really bright or very dark, make strong light spill over into shadows, or let it make edges glow.

          the problem i see is that one method of cheating is the kind of cheating you do with every medium: you compress an impression into a certain medium – watercolor, graphite, words, whatever – and inevitably, something has to give, some things have to be translated to fit whats possible in that medium.
          the other kind of cheating – the lens flare – is a crutch. its calling upon a rote image we have learned from the movies: bright = strange rings and bands of color, despite the fact that a translation from an actual impression into the medium of a slightly glowing screen would not indicate that.

          of course, all these technical artifacts can be employed deliberately with high success, think of the look of kane & lynch 2, where everything looked like a cheap video tape. there definitely is a place for them, i just think there is at least as much place for experimenting with more successful implementations of bloom, distortion effects like when you squeeze your eyes almost shut because of strong light, or tears forming in your eyes. and that is just talking about how a strictly “literal” translation of impressions could be made more varied and more rich.

          lets not get started about what strong stylistic art direction could do to how successful certain kinds of impressions can be conveyed. its about time this wooing people with more and more polygons and shaders and whatnot comes to an end, and we start exploring how to use that power to make something visually interesting.

        • Shodex says:

          A true RPG commenter indeed. Not only were you immensly educational, but you snuck in a pun too. A far cry indeed, hahaha!

        • bglamb says:

          It was nice to read your response (and yours Gekitsu), thank you. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to poke fun at them.

          Also, maybe I shouldn’t do it so subtly.

        • mr.black says:

          Also on top of all that, who says we don’t see through some kind of optics in Crysis, He’s got the full-faced mask after all. Zoom in iirc can be done without use of binoculars he keeps in his pocket, or any other object..

  4. Dowr says:

    It’s a shame the EA marketing machine had to show it’s face in this utterly amazing video.

  5. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Looks great but Crytek think all PC gamers are pirate scum so pointless really when they do not want to make PC only games with it & the licence fees are so high others CBA with it either they stick with UT4 engine games instead so all you get are pretty tech demos!

  6. Fazer says:

    That engine makes me wanna cry.

  7. reggiep says:

    Beautiful, but those bird and butterfly animations aren’t going to blow anyone away. (Talk about being nitpicky…)

    • DrOwn says:

      No, those animations looked really stale. This isn’t 2002, and these devs aren’t Bethesda. I mean, you don’t have to put a lot of money into perfecting the animation of critters, but you at least have to make sure they aren’t so utterly bad that everyone watching the trailer will notice. A board with wings. Jesus.

      • Syra says:

        tech demo chaps!

        • RakeShark says:

          A demonstration, which means everything they show is open to critique and scrutiny. Yes it seems picking on the bird animations is petty, but they’re part of the demo, and the toad had better animation than the birds for the same amount of screen time. Not to mention the human models were standing and walking comfortably.

          It’s attention to detail, especially detail that’s right at the beginning.

          That said, it does look pretty. Could’ve been watching a Wasteland 3 trailer.

    • particlese says:

      Yeah…those flying animations were distractingly awful, given their surroundings. I suppose they’re as good as most background-life animation in games these days, but here, they’re focal points of something meant to visually impress, so come on! And the real-life pidgeon-lift-off sound doesn’t help, either — it’s like one of those martial arts films where there are twice as many foley hits as there are punches.

      Lovely tech demo overall, though. Those animations would have easily been forgotten had I not written about them.

  8. alice says:

    The sound I just heard was my video cards groaning.

  9. frightlever says:

    Finally a game engine that would let someone make “Swamp People: The Game”.

  10. aliksy says:

    Fancy, but graphics are pretty low on my priorities when assessing a game. Style’s a thing, but not all this fancy toad tessellation.

    • gekitsu says:

      this!

      visual pleasantness & interest is not how many polygons and shaders an engine throws onto the screen but how well they are used for a set purpose.

      a good game can do without pleasant visuals, of course.

    • Stochastic says:

      But who wants to play a game with lumpy, polygon toads? Immaculately rendered warty toads are the way of the future!

  11. nasenbluten says:

    Oh so for 360 and PS3 too… it won’t look like that. Liars.

  12. Xocrates says:

    How is something on an advertising trailer “Top Secret”? Are they going to shoot us if we tell someone else about the toad?

  13. Shooop says:

    And yet they still can’t make a game worth a damn.

  14. Luke says:

    The helicopter wind was impressive. No way I could run this on my current machine though. Need to finally get around to upgrading it.

    • Shooop says:

      You must be new to watching tech demos.

      You’ll never see anything of this magnitude on this engine in an actual game. They have to make sure it runs on consoles first so they can port it.

  15. jmedge91 says:

    ” first person post-urban exploration and wildlife documentary creation simulation”

    Why doesn’t this exist!??

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      Day 1 purchase.

    • Njordsk says:

      I’d rather have a animal simulator where you record human’s dirty acts and show’em to mother nature so she can unleashed her wrath and restore peace amongst nature.

      Sneaking up with a squirel cameranimal as always been my dream.

    • RobinOttens says:

      First person post-urban exploration sounds a bit like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to me. If we just take the wildlife documentary creation simulation from Beyond Good & Evil, we’re all set!

      Now if any of those developers got their hands on this tech and an endless budget to match. *sigh* Don’t mind me as I go cry in my little corner over here.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Ah, but will you be able to run over the toads and break it’s legs off?

  16. tgoat says:

    Third-person frog life simulator based in a post-apocalyptic world. DayZ from the point of view of an animal. Make it happen.

  17. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Reminds me of playing Far Cry 3 at Rezzed a month or so ago. Found a pool with some turtles in it and went swimming, a representative ran over and reminded me I needed to go to the way points to complete the demo… the only thing I liked about that demo was swimming with those turtles :(

    • RakeShark says:

      “Sir, you seem lost, if you look here you’ll see the checkpoint hint showing you where you need to g-”

      “NAY! I have my place in this world! My kingdom and fantasy is here with the terrapins!”

  18. primatewithagun says:

    YES! 3D Lens flares! I have waited so long, I never felt 2d lens flares hurt my eyes enough.

  19. TheApologist says:

    Mr Developer, make my computer do this. Go on. Go. Now. Do it!

  20. MythArcana says:

    You won’t be getting that kind of quality on an XBAWKS or an iProd, folks.

  21. onodera says:

    I bet you still can’t trample vegetation underfoot.

  22. Syra says:

    My upper lip rises in an unmistakable snarling sneer of an expression whenever I see LENS FLARE being advertised as a great feature to have.

    Completely involuntary.

  23. roryok says:

    Re: the dude loitering at 0:30. I am probably alone in this, but I’m tired of seeing people shift from foot to foot in games / CGI. Somebody came up with it back in the 90s as a way to make characters look more realistic, but people just don’t move like that. I mean, I’m sure everyone does it now and again but it seems like in a lot of games, that’s how you make a guard ‘idle’. Feels like I’m watching that disney recycled animation reel sometimes

    • iniudan says:

      I actually shift from foot to foot, especially when I am just standing around (even more if carrying extra weight on me), has it help reduce leg tension. Sorry for not having the discipline of a British Royal Guard when I do some standing around. =p

      • Shooop says:

        What he’s saying is that’s become a default canned animation. There’s other movements people do too when standing and it’d really add to the sense of believability to have more than just that one.

        • roryok says:

          Thanks Shooop, yes that’s what I meant. There’s an over-reliance on the shifting from foot to foot. I do it myself. I work at a standing desk and I shift from foot to foot every few minutes, but I do plenty other things in the intervening time. The average person touches their face something like 2000 times per day. I’ve done it at least four times since I started this reply. But what do guards in games do? They walk from one place to another, then the shift from foot to foot, then they walk back.

    • Nic Clapper says:

      I’ve always guessed they do these extreme animations for idle and character select etc to try to make sure its noticeable. Like unless they are able to capture all the subtilty people would normally express, and have enough of that to be continual so theres always some movement, it might end up just looking static.

      I suppose even if thats why, they could def mix it up with more variation in some games. Can really get silly looking…especially on character close-ups.

  24. Shazbut says:

    “I actually feel a little bit disappointed when the soldiers and suit appear”

    I’m almost always disappointed when the soldiers and suits appear. Why do these guys create games with such beautiful locales and then put us in a position where we can’t enjoy them? They either blow them up or infest them with zombies, or they put us under such constant threat that you can’t actually look at anything. I don’t want trouble in paradise, I just want paradise!

  25. mrmalodor says:

    I’m betting that the release version will have less than half of those pretty features and will have low resolution textures.

  26. Radiant says:

    Why in gods name is it in 720p?
    Idiots.

    • Radiant says:

      Also the bit where it turned something on and off again to no discernible difference was interesting.

      • Didden says:

        You ‘Really’ need to look again. The effect is actually incredibly stunning. There is a massive difference between on and off. Look at the bark on the tree, not the outline of it.

        • Nic Clapper says:

          You’re right theres quite a big difference on the swipe. But, I question the benefit of doing this process ingame. I’m not sure why you’d want to use resources to do this process real time instead of feeding it a high poly model to begin with. Because, unlike bump mapping, this is actually creating more geometry, so the end result would be the same.

          • Jackablade says:

            This is why they use use realtime tesselation – it adds more polygons to on the surface of an object as the player gets closer to it.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            Modern cards (ie those that can run this demo) have hardware tesselators, so there really is no downside to it. It’s better than LODs since it requires less time to make for artists while being smoother (ideally, unnoticeable).

    • Stochastic says:

      Releasing this video at anything short of 4K is a downright travesty. What gall they have!

    • Xardas Kane says:

      The video was released in 1080p. RPS for an undisclosed reason decided to link a 720p version.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d61FPSXnTLc

  27. InternetBatman says:

    It’s weird, but I’m not that impressed. Games haven’t wowed me graphically for a while. I was fairly impressed with Hard Reset, but my jaw hasn’t dropped since UT 2004 ( I skipped 2003). The video feels like a weird half-breed between graphical eras. The water and most of the animals and close-ups (especially the leaf) look like a new era of graphics, but the buildings and trees look antiquated.

    The problem with all the things that look old seems to be that they’re too geometric, too straight. The decaying buildings don’t look like actual decaying buildings, they look like the same decaying buildings we’ve been seeing for a decade in videogames. The trees don’t look like actual trees, they look like models of trees with better bark. Is this all we can expect from games for the next ten years? Really?

    Well, I guess I’ll go back to playing Minecraft.

    • Lukasz says:

      I think so. There is nowhere to go with graphics anymore, just tuning it to make it more realistic. step by step. small steps for our eyes but huge for computer.
      If you gonna remember…
      come back to this video in five years and come back to UT2004 also. you should the differences much better.

  28. Didden says:

    No steam, no sale. Time will tell. Still not put Origin on.

  29. fallingmagpie says:

    My living room has real time area lights, too.

  30. meklu says:

    It’s just horribly ugly. Lense flares, bloom, and other awful stuff make it look horrendous.

  31. Desmolas says:

    They release a so called ‘Tech’ trailer but half of it has those god-forsaken lens-smear effects trying to simulate cinematic grittiness and the trailer itself is in 720p. What in the actual hells is all that about?

  32. Navagon says:

    Alright. I’m convinced. So where can I buy a Top Secret Tessellated Toad then?

  33. Snuffy the Evil says:

    For whatever their faults the Crysis games sure do have fantastic art direction.

  34. Crainey says:

    Most badass toad ever!

  35. NightShift says:

    Enough graphical hype, show us some actual gameplay that isn’t the “stealth” or armor route.

  36. wodin says:

    Well looks like where getting to the point that very little will impress after this…they need to start concentrating on AI and gameplay now. WE have amazing graphics, they don’t need to be upgraded anymore after watching that video.

    So I hope now graphics are at a stage that only very minor noticeable things can be done in the future, I want to see better AI, deeper gameplay and as far as graphics go start improving animations.

  37. porps says:

    look great, i just hope somebody will actually make a decent game with the engine (and by decent i dont mean crysis 3)

  38. Zoomalude says:

    Is it too snobbish of me to say 720p isn’t a high enough resolution anymore? Don’t we all own nice, fat monitors running at 1920×1200 minimum?

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