Occasionally at GDC, there’s a big new game announcement, but that’s not really what the week-long event is for. The Game Developers Conference is instead where designers, programmers and artists go to pull back the heavy tarp of secrecy and reveal the gross, technical innards of openness and sharing. It’s in that spirit – plus the spirit of self-promotion and bragging – that we’re seeing so much detail of so many different game engines. Including, in the video embedded below, Ubisoft’s Snowdrop Engine. It’s being built by Massive Entertainment for The Division, and it’s very pretty and smart.
Here is a thing I was once told: Assassin’s Creed 3 was built by a team of 800 people. Eight hundred! That’s more than is on a rugby team. If you’ve ever wondered why big publishers are risk averse, or wondered why modern games are made by four studios across different timezones, this is why. They’re modern day cathedrals, except with better safety conditions.
It makes sense that unlike Unreal Engine 4 or the CryEngine, The Division’s main selling-point isn’t its thrice-rendered teramips, its per-pixel specular lattices, or its Dong shading. It’s that the engine allows for greater efficiency, improving workflow, and lets Ubisoft make Tom Clancy’s The Division with, I hear, a team of a mere 300 people. Three hundred! That’s barely enough for a rugby team.
Also it looks like it does good snow. Hey Ubisoft, can I license your engine for a crisp bag full of farts? Epic said I could do it.