Crytek last night announced the latest incarnation of their engine, CryENGINE 3 is now available to be licensed. Now that may not affect you or me (unless you're a games developer of course), but there's some interesting implications of this latest tech. Of course, it first of all means games are going to be prettier - these are the people who keep bowling us over with each new engine as it creates vivid beaches and jungles. But it's also looking to streamline development across multiple platforms - letting programmers see how the game will appear in PC, 360 and PS3 on the fly. And rumours abound that it may be the engine of choice for STALKER 2.
I take it we've moved on from calling the current generation of consoles "next gen", as Crytek are describing CE3 as "next gen ready". This seems a bold claim, since Microsoft and Sony aren't. But presumably they mean it's ready for DirectX 11 and anything else that's likely to appear in the next couple of years. I dunno, what, do I look like a tech manual to you? They say it comes with "scalable computation and graphics for all major upcoming platforms," which means it's psychic technology!
If you watch the trailer below you can see the sorts of things it's boasting. Perhaps one of the more significant ingredients is an improved WYSIWYP tool (What You See Is What You Play), called CryENGINE 3 Live Create, which is increasingly the sensible trend for development tools - no more chipping away in wireframes and streams of code, then rendering it to find out whether you messed up. Or as Crytek put it:
"It allows developers to work with a single editor, but see and play the results in real-time on PC, PS3 and Xbox360, hooked up to a single dev PC. The engine takes care of the conversion and optimization of assets in real-time; enables instant, cross-platform changes to any part of game creation and as a result materially increases the speed, quality and significantly reduces the risk of multiplatform development."
Carl Jones, a suit at Crytek explained, "even producers, project managers and suits will love CryENGINE 3!" Surely this cannot be? The engine that will unite us all?!
The first game announced on the engine is, as was revealed at E3, rather predictably Crysis 2. The website for the new toy is currently struggling under weight of traffic, but you might be able to get at it here.
There are also rumours bubbling around the guts of the internet which suggest that GSC Gameworld have licensed, or intend to licence, Crytek's new engine for their next full game: Stalker 2. Gamasutra picked up on the rumours from here and here.
What's interesting about this, says Jim, is that GSC are expected to give up their X-Ray engine, which had seemed pretty cutting edge. Could it be that they lost man-power and expertise to the development of THQ's new Ukraine studio, 4a Games? Just speculation on our part, obviously, but it makes for interesting times.
Here's the CryENGINE 3 tech trailer: