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Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic 

General Discussion  » Why the graphics engine of SWTOR is inferoir to their competitors

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  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

 
OP  9/08/12 4:44:20 AM#1

Hi everyone, I just wanted to compile some information together, since there is some disparity about SWTOR actually having a decent game engine.

It's been talked about before, about how the game engine may or may not be OK, or just flat out SUCK.  Often times disputed by EA, and spoken to their fans, the whole idea is dumped back on the players, with reasoning that it's their customers machines, not the game.  Let's look into this.

 

Some time ago EA investigated the Hero Engine.  They loved what they saw, and, even though Hero was still in beta, they said, "we'll take it!".  Now the thing to walk away from here was that the Hero Engine was incomplete, by the very people who could have made it complete, but EA bought it "as is", saying they would fill the rest in later.  A Warrantee was void at this point.

Nowadays the Hero Engine is complete and other games are using it with full graphics capability.

 

Lets look back to what Hero said.  This response was notable only after EA said that optimization could not fully happen because of the Hero Engine limitations.  Hero has a way with words to defend their honor .. but then again I'd expect them to, since Hero is a principal to their company.

http://www.heroengine.com/2011/11/heroengine-meets-starwars/

We showed the game to our friend Gordon Walton.  We had known Gordon for many years, back in the days when he worked for Kesmai, our late great competitor.  Gordon had since been with Sony for its Star Wars Galaxies game among other places.  He knows games, especially online games.

Not only did we show him the game, but because Gordon knew us so well we showed him the development tools we had built around our special process – building the game online, in realtime, with tools for the entire team all in one package.

I need this, said Gordon.  “I am about to start a special project and these tools will let us build and prototype fast and get something running in a hurry.”  Gordon is not an excitable guy by nature but this had his adrenaline flowing.  “This is just what I need!  I want to license your engine.”

We had thought about offering our engine and tools to developers but we had expected that we would have to actually ship a game first, like Epic did with Unreal Tournament before they licensed the original Unreal Engine.

It’s not productized yet,” we told Gordon.  “There are whole sections of code that is only roughed in and not optimized for performance or security.  And there are very few comments and very little documentation.

He didn’t care.  “We are going to have tons of engineers.  We can finish it ourselves.  We’re going to want to modify your source code for our special project anyway.

Gordon Walton was General Manager of BioWare Austin, until early 2011, when he stepped down.  Perhaps to save his career after all the damage that was done?

http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/02/15/swtors-loss-is-playdoms-gain-gordon-walton/

 

Well it didn't turn out so good.  The performance of the SWTOR engine was awful.  EA's twisted version of the Hero engine is still incomplete.  SWTOR was nowhere near massively.  Multiplayer? .. ok, but with 16 players or less nearby to you.  16 players or more and the game showed it's "massively" weakness.  Hell 30+ players in Ilum turned the game into a slideshow, causing Ilum to be shutdown permamently (looking straight down didn't even help).  It wasn't because Ilum was a bad concept, it was because players went there and said, "wow this game blows" .. this was not the publicity EA wanted, so they shut Ilum down.

This ideology to sell a pile of poo with pretty wrapping doomed the game.  Who wants to play a AAA MMO that has a subscription fee, plagued by a horrible engine?

 

Well optimizations continue to happen.  I believe in 1.2 we saw a 10% performance boost.  At least that what the astroturfers on the SWTOR forums said.  I saw no increase.

EA Bioware recently came on to say (Aug 27, 2012):

Hey all, I just wanted to pop in and say we are actively working on various optimizations (both server and client) and will continue to do so. It's extremely important for us to continually make improvements to our technology so we can have users across a variety of system specs and support large living worlds for those users to craft their virtual lives.

ref: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?p=5091079#post5091079

 

So this is essentially the same message EA spread from the start, but now they are still working on it.  DarthHater has been after EA to optimize from launch, and this is the response SW fans get.  /sigh

[side reference to the original DathHater interview: http://www.darthhater.com/articles/swtor-news/19981-guild-summit-interview-with-daniel-erickson/daniel-erickson-interview-part-2, see NOTE [1] at the end of this article.]

 

From a post-launch release:

http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/01/11/bioware-claims-swtor-performance-issues-are-being-blown-out-of-proportion/

[Star Wars: The Old Republic is no Witcher 2, Skyrim, or government-created missile targeting program. It doesn’t exactly look like it should be the Death Star to your rig’s Alderaan. And yet, many players have reported framerates that can barely keep their heads above 20FPS on machines that eat the aforementioned titles/missiles for breakfast. So, what’s the deal? Well, BioWare’s not entirely convinced there is one. With a wave of the hand, game director James Ohlen told Eurogamer that these aren’t the performance issues you’re looking for.

“The thing is, for the most part, 95 per cent – oh I can’t give you the exact percentage – most of our players aren’t really having performance concerns,” he said. “However, we know that it’s important that there is a smaller group of people usually with lower end machines that are having problems in some areas. And one of the most important things for us to grow our service is to continue to bring in more players, including those players who only have low-end machines.”]

Liars from the grand opening of this game.  Great start Bioware.  They even threw in a BS statistic.

 

This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Star-Wars-MMO_03. You're my only hope.

 

It should be noted that the same machine that gave 1-10 fps in a crowded environment with SWTOR gives 60 fps in GW2 and WoW.  Or close to it, even during massive PVP.

As a saving grace, SWTOR gives 60 fps when no other players are on the same map.  The only way to play this game is single player apparently.

 

---

 

[NOTE 1] referenced earlier

Guild Summit: Interview With Daniel Erickson

From http://www.darthhater.com/articles/swtor-news/19981-guild-summit-interview-with-daniel-erickson/daniel-erickson-interview-part-2

March 14, 2012

Where are you on game engine optimizations? Because I currently get about 5 to 10 frames per second on Alderaan and about 20 in Huttball and I have a PC that can run Crysis 2 at ultra. With no real explanation on what is going on.

Wow. You should do some investigation, because that is not typical. Where we are on game optimization in general is we’ve got some crazy, crazy options that you can turn on in 1.2. I played running around on several of the planets at fully acceptable wonderful running framerates on min spec machines now, which was the thing I wanted to see.

What we got right now is a big texture package pass, and we did it in both directions. So we can say, “Hey, you can take the textures way down, run around, the game works.” We’ve also said, “Hey, you know those textures people keep saying they like so much in the promotional videos? You can turn those on too now.” Because now we figured out how to do it in a small area so it doesn’t try to do it everywhere.
The next big thing we have to hit is effects, and that’s just a standard of what games do is say, “Hey, you know all those crazy crazy effects that everybody else is drawing? Yeah, maybe I don’t want to see all of your lightning storms all at once.” We have a programming team now that literally that’s their only mandate is game run better. Long term target is you should be able to play on your laptop, you should be able to play on your second and third machine in the house. And we are fiercely dedicated to that goal.

 

editted to fix typos

Want a nice understanding of life? Try Spirit Science: "The Human History"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8NNHmV3QPw&feature=plcp
Recognize the voice? Yep sounds like Penny Arcade's Extra Credits.

  Phry

Elite Member

Joined: 7/01/04
Posts: 5091

9/08/12 4:50:16 AM#2
the whole Hero engine thing has been done to death already, i think by now the general consensus is that it isnt worth using in MMO's, too late for Bioware perhaps, but hopefully an important lesson is learned..  the hero engine probably would have been okay in a single player game though.
  mmojunkie5000

Novice Member

Joined: 8/30/12
Posts: 96

9/08/12 7:36:57 AM#3
Originally posted by Phry
the whole Hero engine thing has been done to death already, i think by now the general consensus is that it isnt worth using in MMO's, too late for Bioware perhaps, but hopefully an important lesson is learned..  the hero engine probably would have been okay in a single player game though.

 

why comment if you haven't even read the OP?

why?

they bought a completely unfinished version and couldn't finish/optimize it for their purposes.

 

this is not the stock hero engine, which may still suck, but since this whole damn article was about how Bioware even fucked up the purchase of a 3rd party engine and was too incompetent to handle it....

 

pls read before you comment

  Bardus

Novice Member

Joined: 2/13/12
Posts: 475

9/08/12 10:46:48 AM#4

OP you snowed in or what? That's quite a presentation.

I don't know why people can't accept the fact that there is no machine in existence capable of running the awesomeness of TOR.

If you people will excuse me I must complete my game of peanuckle with Elvis and JFK.

  TeknoBug

Novice Member

Joined: 10/13/07
Posts: 2166

9/08/12 12:40:11 PM#5

Graphics in game itself is pretty decent, the engine on the other hand is crap (unfinished version of HeroEngine), Ilum lagged so bad even with just 25 players and with certain patches pvp zones were horribly laggy as well. Now with Guild Wars 2 in world vs world zones where there's easily 50-80 people, I got zero lag whatsoever, made me realize how horrible SWTOR was in that department.


  grimal

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 9/11/05
Posts: 1840

9/08/12 1:24:00 PM#6

I see a lot of people throwing around how horrible the engine is.  I've never had a problem with it.  I consistently get above 30 fps at all times in the game (for the most part).

To me, I see a lot of people criticizing the engine with no real background of expertise in programming mmo engines.  It's sort of like me commenting on a surgeon's work after a medical procedure, yet having absolutely no knowledge of medicine.

You dont like the game.  We get it.  Now leave it alone.

Edit: since the inevitable GW2 comparison was drawn, I run TOR on max settings and get 40+ frames.  I can't do this in GW2 as it will lag me down to less than 10 fps.  So, I run a medium quality setting in GW2 to achieve 30 or so.  So not sure why we are getting reverse results? 

Irregardless, I have had no issues with the engine used in TOR and I stand by that remark.

Release a game with a very large established fanbase from 10+ years of bnet history when the market was still emerging and the casual base had not yet been established, thus ripe for harvesting a momentious self perpetuating playerbase people never leave because they have X hours invested in their characters, and their friends and everyone else plays anyway. Not discounting Blizzard quality... but WoW's success is as much about perfect timing as it is quality, if not more so. - Derros

  ShakyMo

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/11
Posts: 7246

9/08/12 1:28:37 PM#7
No its a bad engine, grids to a halt with more than 10 players on screen. Has lower framerates than graphic superior mmos like gw2, tsw & tera. Takes a bloody age to load every time you zone, even with a SSD
  ShakyMo

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/11
Posts: 7246

9/08/12 1:30:02 PM#8
Basicly its an engine for a single player game, it goes fine when you are on your own, but my god it suffers when there's other players around.
  User Deleted
9/08/12 1:40:08 PM#9
Originally posted by grimal

I see a lot of people throwing around how horrible the engine is.  I've never had a problem with it.  I consistently get above 30 fps at all times in the game (for the most part).

To me, I see a lot of people criticizing the engine with no real background of expertise in programming mmo engines.  It's sort of like me commenting on a surgeon's work after a medical procedure, yet having absolutely no knowledge of medicine.

You dont like the game.  We get it.  Now leave it alone.

Edit: since the inevitable GW2 comparison was drawn, I run TOR on max settings and get 40+ frames.  I can't do this in GW2 as it will lag me down to less than 10 fps.  So, I run a medium quality setting in GW2 to achieve 30 or so.  So not sure why we are getting reverse results? 

Irregardless, I have had no issues with the engine used in TOR and I stand by that remark.

Really. Sooo, i know nothing of "how to build a car" but when i see malfunctioning car in the street i can easily call it crap, because i dont really care how of why its not working good.

And i looooove claims "i get 30+ FPS most of the time". Here is eye opener for you: when game cannot support 10+ FPS at MOST IMPORTANT times its a deal breaker, standing somewhere on some planet alone is irrelevant. Same as fanbois who claimed at launch they get "constant 100+ FPS" with waaaay crappier hardware.

Here is fun fact for ya:

SWTOR has 2007 graphics. It should run flawlessly on any 2010+ machine with above low end graphic card even with 50/50-100/100 people on your screen. There are MMOs with DX11 graphics out there that run without problems in any situation with bells and whistles that SWTOR can only dream of. Hell, it took em what, 4-5 months just to enable high res textures. Hpw pathetic is that, eh?

Engine is crap, plain and simple, and with "state of the game" SWTOR is in i seriously doubt they gonna rewrite it and fix all that needs to be fixed, so yah.

  Ahnog

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/18/05
Posts: 230

9/08/12 2:06:29 PM#10
I'm no expert in this area so I will not comment on the technicals of it. I will say, however, that I have never been a fan of high graphics in games. I have a top end machine and I always try the high settings. Okay that's what that's all about. Then I set the medium settings and never have a problem with the game. I don't play for graphics, it's the content that I focus on.

Ahnog

Hokey religions are no replacement for a good blaster at your side.

http://www.ahnog.us

  sleepr27

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/11/11
Posts: 102

9/08/12 2:12:37 PM#11

SWTOR has 2007 graphics. 

Thanks for the laugh.

  tiefighter25

Novice Member

Joined: 7/30/12
Posts: 949

9/08/12 2:59:24 PM#12

I'm not going to cite sources, so don't bother either pointing that out or asking me to.

The great irony in Gordon's decision to go with the Alpha Hero Engine was that his primary motivation was so the game could be quickly designed (in real time with multiple designers working on the virtual world simulataneously) and post launch game updates should have been easy to quickly design and een easier to deploy. (The Hero engine updates should have been able to be implemented with soft resets, with no reason to bring the servers down.)

Instead, the game took 6+ years to design, was still incomplete at launch, and has had only 3 updates of which only 1 really included new content. The servers require weekly maintence and appear to be incapable of roll backs (see Illum exploit). Somehow amid all this, simple server transfers became harder then cold fusion.

In summary, the Hero engine was supposed to make the development of SWTOR much easier, which is seems to have failed at doing. Componding the problem, the serious frame-rate underperformance has caused new deveopment to purposefully design content to avoid crowds of players; not a design choice calls into question just how Massively Multiplayer SWTOR is.

I A final side note: Although the limitations of SWTOR's hero engine bacome painfully obvious when more then 16 players congragate, the horrid optimization is actually evident just about everywhere. If you zip along on your speeder and keep your eye on the FPS meter, you'll see it seemingly randomly dipping as you travel SWTOR's environs. The poorly optimized code if everywhere and affects everything. The foundation is rotten. Don't expect to see chat bubbles wny time soon.

I keep calling it SWTOR's alpha hero engine because as stated by the OP, Bioware was not using the final productized engine.

The first AAA MMO that will be using the Hero Engine appears to be TESO. Although I am not particulairly looking forward to it (I think it's another attack of the WoW-clone) it will be interesting to see how well the Hero engine performs in its commercially available form.

As to the remaining players of SWTOR; they seem to fall ino three camps. One camp seems to have either accepted the fact that SWTOR's engine isn't very well optimized and enjoy the game with an "It is what it is" attitude. A Second game seems to agree the game is poorly optimized and hop that somehow Bioware (after years of development and months of a launched game with now significantly less staff) will be able to optimize the engine properly in the future. The third camp seems to be the most vocal. They tend to vehemently deny that SWTOR's engine has any short comings. They are the SWTOR forum dwellers who tend to pounce on anyone complaing about the engine's performance, defending the game and blaming the engine's underperformance on players' computers, no matter how fast or new the players' computer sare.

At the end of the day, the engine is poorly optimized and most people either know it, or have accepted that fact.

I guess it's basically old news.

  NorseGod

Novice Member

Joined: 2/28/12
Posts: 573

9/08/12 3:15:14 PM#13

I tried the game. I knew exactly what it was about and what I was getting myself into.

There are many reasons that I left the game. Most of them have to do with the arrogant devs and the fans that refuse to admit that things need to be fixed or added to the game. The over-zealous mods that delete your post because a fan didn't like it and reported it.

Outside of that, the engine is bad. Even if they turned the game and company around, there is only so much they can do with it. The game has no future. All they can do is add small scale fluff.

Keep in mind, I came to this conclusion before the announcement of f2p. All that did was solidify my beliefs about the game and company.

  grimal

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 9/11/05
Posts: 1840

9/08/12 4:31:56 PM#14
Originally posted by mikahr

Really. Sooo, i know nothing of "how to build a car" but when i see malfunctioning car in the street i can easily call it crap, because i dont really care how of why its not working good.

And i looooove claims "i get 30+ FPS most of the time". Here is eye opener for you: when game cannot support 10+ FPS at MOST IMPORTANT times its a deal breaker, standing somewhere on some planet alone is irrelevant. Same as fanbois who claimed at launch they get "constant 100+ FPS" with waaaay crappier hardware.

Here is fun fact for ya:

SWTOR has 2007 graphics. It should run flawlessly on any 2010+ machine with above low end graphic card even with 50/50-100/100 people on your screen. There are MMOs with DX11 graphics out there that run without problems in any situation with bells and whistles that SWTOR can only dream of. Hell, it took em what, 4-5 months just to enable high res textures. Hpw pathetic is that, eh?

Engine is crap, plain and simple, and with "state of the game" SWTOR is in i seriously doubt they gonna rewrite it and fix all that needs to be fixed, so yah.

I'd argue the average person knows a bit more about cars then they do about the fundamentals of game engines.

Listen, I have never had a problem running TOR.  I'm not arguing you or others did;  that sucks and I don't know what else to say.  The bottom line is, you can spout all these theories you want but it doesn't make any sense to me because of the two machines I use to play it, I have never had an issue.   I'm not just going to blindly agree with you because it may be the popular thing around here to hate on TOR.

I've had fps issues with numerous games over the years when too many characters fill the screen.  What caused that?  Not entirely sure, but I'm not going to make an uneducated conclusion that the engine itself is to blame.

Let me ask you this.  Have you worked with the engine?  I'm not talking about playing games on it.  I'm asking have you worked with its code and actually worked with it on a base level?

 

Release a game with a very large established fanbase from 10+ years of bnet history when the market was still emerging and the casual base had not yet been established, thus ripe for harvesting a momentious self perpetuating playerbase people never leave because they have X hours invested in their characters, and their friends and everyone else plays anyway. Not discounting Blizzard quality... but WoW's success is as much about perfect timing as it is quality, if not more so. - Derros

  keithian

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/20/06
Posts: 2945

9/08/12 6:09:22 PM#15
I found the engine to be fine. Not sure what everyone is whining about..whoops..I forgot where I was. I never ever had FPS problems and I think artistically the game is very smooth and nice to look at. I just wish the world felt more alive. Its too static and I have to admit the day night cycles missing ended up bothering much more than I anticipated after criticizing others for caring. Bad me.

There Is Always Hope!

  NightCloak

Novice Member

Joined: 11/06/07
Posts: 456

9/08/12 6:36:06 PM#16
Originally posted by grimal
Originally posted by mikahr

Really. Sooo, i know nothing of "how to build a car" but when i see malfunctioning car in the street i can easily call it crap, because i dont really care how of why its not working good.

And i looooove claims "i get 30+ FPS most of the time". Here is eye opener for you: when game cannot support 10+ FPS at MOST IMPORTANT times its a deal breaker, standing somewhere on some planet alone is irrelevant. Same as fanbois who claimed at launch they get "constant 100+ FPS" with waaaay crappier hardware.

Here is fun fact for ya:

SWTOR has 2007 graphics. It should run flawlessly on any 2010+ machine with above low end graphic card even with 50/50-100/100 people on your screen. There are MMOs with DX11 graphics out there that run without problems in any situation with bells and whistles that SWTOR can only dream of. Hell, it took em what, 4-5 months just to enable high res textures. Hpw pathetic is that, eh?

Engine is crap, plain and simple, and with "state of the game" SWTOR is in i seriously doubt they gonna rewrite it and fix all that needs to be fixed, so yah.

I'd argue the average person knows a bit more about cars then they do about the fundamentals of game engines.

Listen, I have never had a problem running TOR.  I'm not arguing you or others did;  that sucks and I don't know what else to say.  The bottom line is, you can spout all these theories you want but it doesn't make any sense to me because of the two machines I use to play it, I have never had an issue.   I'm not just going to blindly agree with you because it may be the popular thing around here to hate on TOR.

I've had fps issues with numerous games over the years when too many characters fill the screen.  What caused that?  Not entirely sure, but I'm not going to make an uneducated conclusion that the engine itself is to blame.

Let me ask you this.  Have you worked with the engine?  I'm not talking about playing games on it.  I'm asking have you worked with its code and actually worked with it on a base level?

 

Based on your two posts here I'd bet money you dont work on graphics engines yourself. Nor do you sound like you know much about what you're talking about other than attempting to tear down the arguements of others and sit in a corner covering your ears with your hands going "LA LA LA LA LA". Instead of making an uneducated conclusion, educate yourself and come to the conclusion the best fits the problem. Sometimes its the game. Sometimes its you. Sometimes its a driver. Sometimes its an ISP. Many different problems can have many different symptoms and conclusions to draw from them. But the reality here is you were just presented with an article with source links about how the game engine isn't performing on par to where it should be. It's not the education of the user thats lacking if you refuse to agree on a particular problem even if said problem doesn't appear to be bothering you (even if it affects you and you are quite possibly unaware or you have a higher tolerance to it as it doesn't impact your gameplay as it does others).

The reality here is that there is smoke coming from under SWTOR's hood. People are blaming the engine because of several factors which can be backed up. Also, the absolute overwhelming anecdotal evidence on the forums at launch are testament to optimization porblems. The disabling of Ilum further evidence.

Your two machines might be just lucky to fall into approved configurations that were optimized. It doesn't mean there aren't problems with the engine. And graphics engines aren't some sort of fantastical being that is beyond understanding for anyone who hasn't actually worked in the code.

Hell, the vast majority of programming doesn't need a programmer to understand it, use it or identify problems with it.

Two of the reasons I left SWTOR is the loading screens and unreliabile performance. I don't need to crack open source code for the engine used to understand its the engine's problem when the frame rates are so unreliable. The point of optimization is to allow the game to perform better under the same circumstances with the same hardware.

  nonthal

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/10/06
Posts: 34

9/08/12 6:52:55 PM#17

Wow...someone really hates TOR, must be stuck at home and really bored. I personally almost always averaged over 45fps in the game with the obvious exceptions of Illum (was a disaster..will totally agree there) and the fleet when it starts getting upwards of 250+ people and I happen to be standing in the crowd. Otherwise, always has ran smooth for me on max settings.

GW2 runs around 40-45fps for me at most times, though I have to try WvWvW to see what that will be like. That is one of my plans for tonight and is also a very pretty game. I like the graphics style of both games quite a bit.

It just gets old seeing people bash on a game because they are following the trend. There was no reason to start this old discussion again. The people that like SWTOR are playing it and having fun. The people that don't aren't. The verdict is already out and most have already made up their minds, some love the game, some hate it - so adding yet another rant about a TOR is just silly and a bit childish at this point - let the people who like the game enjoy it and stop trying to start yet another war over it. 

I miss the old days when gamers just compared notes and polite opinions about the games - this new age of flame it to the ground is just sad.

  defector1968

Novice Member

Joined: 6/16/10
Posts: 400

Real Animal lovers are ONLY the vegetarians

9/08/12 7:14:24 PM#18
Originally posted by nonthal

I miss the old days when gamers just compared notes and polite opinions about the games - this new age of flame it to the ground is just sad.

simply cuz the internet was forbbiden for kids due that was too expensive

and not only they arent polite, but also they played the smart asses wihtout knowing shit about the subject or the facts

  noncley

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/16/12
Posts: 619

9/08/12 10:28:51 PM#19
Nice OP analysis, Karteli.
  User Deleted
9/08/12 10:31:51 PM#20
Originally posted by defector1968
Originally posted by nonthal

I miss the old days when gamers just compared notes and polite opinions about the games - this new age of flame it to the ground is just sad.

 

I personally think that that era never existed. Asshats always existed, they just had a hard time finding the right outlet, or existing outlets were too exclusive due to expenses or having basic courtesy that was reinforced by authority, or people just plain ignored them. Of course additionally, it may also be due to people staying in their own groups, cliques and niches and shutting everyone else out, so it always seems nicer by comparison.

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