Battle Cry

Battle Cry
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

August 2nd 2011 at 8:00AM

Crytek is convinced CryEngine 3 is ready for the growing diversity of games platforms

Crytek is taking its engine to new developers and platforms, and wants its statement of intent to be heard loud and clear. We caught up with the company’s CEO Cevat Yerli at to find out more

There’s now more platforms available to developers than ever. Where does CryEngine go with so many platforms to potentially support beyond PC gaming?

We are pretty much going everywhere with it. CryEngine is expanding its footprint. We will support every platform that’s a major player in the industry of gaming. We are expanding in many ways, and some of that is more announced than others. Our support for Wii U is definitely going to happen. In fact, we aren’t showing it but we are pretty much running it already. Due to our relationship with Nintendo, we hope to get more access to it earlier.

Kinect is major driver for future platforms as well, so Kinect support is important. Having basic Kinect support in the CryEngine is one thing, but I’m talking about really supporting it deeply. CryEngine is going to have deep support.

Then there are other efforts towards supporting mobile and tablets, which we can only say we are working on. How far we have gone and what we mean is something I can’t talk more about now. We are also showing behind closed doors some online and web-orientated technology.

Why are platforms like mobile and web now getting Crytek’s attention? Those devices are quite different from CryEngine’s traditional market.

Well, some people say that gaming is retracting or declining on PC. What’s happening, in my opinion, is that there’s a big shift in user behavior and the related business models.

We’ve seen the move from games as a physical package to a downloadable item, and now to payment models like free-to-play microtransactions.

Those games are now being played on a range of devices that are not consoles. Consoles are still not fully supporting that kind of game, so mobile platforms and PC download clients and browser based-gaming are dominating the market and pushing the PC gaming to new heights, and they are not recognised by the people who say that the PC industry is declining.

It is not a decline; it is a shift that is happening, and that shift is not only to free-to-play and PC download clients, but also to mobile and tablet. I say those devices because mobile and tablet platforms are replacing the PC, and replacing it for gaming as well. Mobile and tablets are taking the sales from laptops, they are also replacing the acquisition of gaming content.

Of course devices like these are letting people have a great time playing games very easily, by just going into something like the App Store. That offers one of the best consumer models in the industry.

Indie games are prolific in that space. Crytek previously expressed interest in a CryEngine indie SDK. How will that work, especially as a business model?
There are going to be much more PC games in development. If when developers ask about what the next console generation will bring they get no answers, and it is this late in the console cycle, usually what happens is a surge towards PC games, and free-to-play and microtransactions. It is the same in the mobile and tablets space as well. People are looking for opportunities and asking: ‘where can I go if I don’t know what is happening in the console business?’.

From an independent game developer’s perspective, that is the best possible way forward now; looking at those kind of opportunities and exploring what you can do that minimises risks, and allows them to launch a company or IP.

For those studios we are launching an IP that will empower them, not just from a game development perspective, but in terms of what is beyond game development. That is something we will talk about in more detail in the future.

So for now you can’t tell us how the business model will work, either for Crytek or the indies? Crytek has to make money.
For now it is a much more long-term approach. We are not just thinking in the short term or about just this year, but actually about empowering these people with our engine, and then there will be ways of revenue generation for Crytek. But for now those ways are not the priority for Crytek. We want people to take the engine, and, with no revenue to Crytek at first, be able to make full casual and indie games.

There will be many ways of generating revenue and making this work. I don’t want to announce them yet, but I will say that we will be very aggressive about getting as many developers as possible in a very short amount of time. Let’s just say that implies a minimum barrier to entry for developers.

And how about the Vita? What is your reaction to that system?
The Vita is an absolutely fantastic platform but it will have a hard time, and it might be too late. I love Sony as a company, and we have great relations with them, but the Vita is going to have a hard time against the next generation mobiles and all the tablets.

There’s also the 3DS investing in this market. It’s going to be a battle, and it will be about content and the platform’s ability to receive the content. Streamlined social connectivity will also be very important.

Despite CryEngine 3’s popularity with Asian online game developers, in the West uptake appears to have been slow. City Interactive recently emerged as one of the first external triple-A companies to use the tech for boxed product. How important is that ‘traditional’ market to Crytek?
If you’re a current generation developer, you have a strong opportunity to captialise on the current generation if you are making a sequel or something based on an existing brand. If you are working on new IP, then you should probably concentrate on next generation development.

A couple of years ago in one of my presentations, I predicted that the next generation would arrive in 2012 or 2013, and I’m still holding to that. If you want to make a video game for the next generation, and maybe you want it to be a launch title, the message we are spreading is that you can do that with CryEngine 3 today.

CryEngine 3 will cover, by around 2013, all the dominant platforms that are applicable for developers looking to release triple-A packaged goods.

And you’re still supporting high-end PC gaming. What does the new DirectX 11 support bring to Crysis 2 and subsequently CryEngine 3? Why is it especially important?
The DX11 upgrade is enhancing quality and the gameplay experience by adding higher quality graphics.
The latest enthusiast-class PC hardware has amazing performance and allows developers to expand their creativity and highlight their new technology and rendering algorithms, independent of any particular API.

While the added features do require high-end PC hardware because they are very graphics intensive, the visual quality improvements are quite substantial.

Several state-of-the art computer graphics algorithms are implemented, like screen space directional occlusion and screen space reflections, which approximate raytraced HDR reflections in screen space – on any surface – not limited to planar like reflections.

To manage both high tessellation factors and high overall visuals, Crytek attained proper balance by using parallax occlusion mapping in certain cases. Many quality settings are exposed in the game control panel for the user, allowing quality and performance tweaking.

Even so, with so many multiplatform engines out there, why should developers today choose CryEngine 3?
I think CryEngine is the engine you consider when you think of next generation development and when you think of open worlds, highly interactive content and real time development.

We are actually the only engine on the entire planet – and by far I would say – including Unity and Epic, that is 100 per cent real time. People underestimate what it means to be 100 per cent real time.

100 per cent real time means that not only do you get faster iteration cycles, but it is more fun to work with the technology, and you can explore ideas much more quickly. You can test and try and test and try and fail over and over, and that means studios really can learn very fast.

Also, it makes the team, eventually, a far better team, because people learn faster and develop themselves. That’s how people grow; they grow by failing and learning.

In fact, that is the number one learning cycle of any human. CryEngine empowers people to develop their abilities faster by letting them fail and learn faster. That in turn bonds the team stronger, and eventually you get a better studio culture. There are so many indirect advantages to choosing to work with CryEngine 3.

And from a gamer’s perspective, there are games that are developed with CryEngine that I would argue you just cannot develop with the Epic and Unity engines. But at the same time, those games that have been done with those platforms; all of them can be replicated with the CryEngine.

I would bet my hand on this. I know it and when people want to object to hearing that, they will find out that the CryEngine is the best engine.

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