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Star Wars: The Old Republic Forum » General Discussion » GDC - James Ohlen - Voiceovers didn't drive the cost up, it was getting the engine to work right that drove costs (through the roof)

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205 posts found
  Sevenstar61

Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/22/12
Posts: 1686

"But it was so artistically done..." - Grand Admiral Thrawn's final words

4/08/13 7:00:23 PM#101
Originally posted by Karteli

Pleasure to read your posts. Always learning something. Thank you

It's not always good to side with someone who admits to never bothering to install the game in question, in this case SWTOR.  The points brought up are mostly fillers for the mastermind plot: convince someone you know what you are talking about! (when you don't).

Uhh, Hero Engine?

http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/367/view/forums/post/5569232#5569232

 

Wouldn't you like to discuss the matter with someone who understands other player concerns?  Real players .. actual players =D

 

LOL :)

Actually players are usually not very objective, while people who possibly did not play game, but discuss issues from different perspective might give inside which we... fanboys and haters usually don't want to see.

I've read many of Quizzical posts and although I do not presume to understand most of what he's saying (I am environmental engineer not computer geek) I am impressed with his knowledge and coolness :)

 

 


Sith Warrior - Story of Hate and Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxKrlwXt7Ao
Imperial Agent - Rise of Cipher Nine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBBj3eJWBvU&feature=youtu.be
Imperial Agent - Hunt for the Eagle Part 1http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQqjYYU128E

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

4/08/13 7:17:13 PM#102
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by Sevenstar61
Originally posted by Quizzical
 

Size of the company has nothing to do with it.  An NFL team that hires 10 mediocre quarterbacks doesn't have the position settled.  You only need one starter, but you do need a good one.

You don't need 50 people tinkering with the DirectX and HLSL portions of a game engine.  You don't want 50 people tinkering with it.  That will just make an enormous mess.  You do, however, need one good one.  And it's not something that just anyone can do.  The overwhelming majority of computer programmers simply don't have the math background to do modern computer graphics.  The background needed for DirectX 9.0c is substantially less, but still, most computer programmers wouldn't be able to do a good job of it.  You really only need one person to deal with that part of the game engine--but he needs to be good at it.

And how do you find out if someone is good at it?  Well, you hire him, let him try, and see what happens.  A past track record can only tell you so much, as hardware capabilities have greatly increased as time has passed.  Someone who is very good at having 2D sprites move around on a screen isn't automatically good at rendering 3D models.

Even if you do get someone really good to work on the graphics part of your game engine, if he leaves the company before the product is done, you're in trouble.  If he didn't document things all that well so that the next guy to come along can decipher it, then you're in really big trouble.  I'd imagine that getting bought out by EA isn't great for employee retention, either.

-----

Furthermore, you don't get to make fundamental game engine decisions the day that your game launches.  You have to make those decisions years ahead of time.  If each model uses this many vertices, this many textures, this many uniforms, they get shared with other data this often, and so forth, then how many frames per second would you get if you have 20 characters on the screen running on hardware that will launch 3 years from now?  You can't just fire up a time machine and go check.

Hardware not going where you expected it to go is a real concern, too.  My favorite example of this is EverQuest II, which was built around needing high single-threaded CPU performance.  Even when the game launched, Intel was still promising that they were well on their way to a 10 GHz Pentium 4.  Then physics got in the way, and a 3.8 GHz Pentium 4 that launched that year was the highest stock-clocked desktop processor that would launch until 2012.  Even today, the highest stock-clocked desktop processor ever is only 4.2 GHz.

Or to take a more recent example, just a few months ago, Nvidia surprised people by announcing that Tegra 4 wouldn't have unified shaders.  Rather, it only has a handful of vertex shaders, so if you wanted to have a lot of vertices in your models, it's going to completely choke on a Tegra 4.

-----

It's never a case of "this game engine has everything you need", unless you're trying to make a really generic clone.  You can pick between a bunch of different game engines that have a lot of the capabiilties that you need, but nowhere near all of them.  And then you have to guess which engine is easiest to modify to get exactly what you need, taking into account that "build your own" may sometimes be the correct answer.  But you don't actually find out how hard it is to change a game engine to do what you want until you try it, as it depends on a zillion little details that don't make it into the marketing literature--and don't necessarily even make it into the code comments.

Pleasure to read your posts. Always learning something. Thank you

It's not always good to side with someone who admits to never bothering to install the game in question, in this case SWTOR.  The points brought up are mostly fillers for the mastermind plot: convince someone you know what you are talking about! (when you don't).

Uhh, Hero Engine?

http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/367/view/forums/post/5569232#5569232

 

Wouldn't you like to discuss the matter with someone who understands other player concerns?  Real players .. actual players =D

I'm not coming in here saying "this class needs to be nerfed because it's way overpowered".  Having not played the game, I wouldn't know about that.

But if the discussion is on the difficulty of modifying a game engine to do what you want, do you really want to exclude someone who has made his own 3D graphics engine in favor of random rants by people who have never messed with the inside of a game engine?

  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

 
OP  4/08/13 7:20:56 PM#103
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by Sevenstar61
Originally posted by Quizzical
 

Size of the company has nothing to do with it.  An NFL team that hires 10 mediocre quarterbacks doesn't have the position settled.  You only need one starter, but you do need a good one.

You don't need 50 people tinkering with the DirectX and HLSL portions of a game engine.  You don't want 50 people tinkering with it.  That will just make an enormous mess.  You do, however, need one good one.  And it's not something that just anyone can do.  The overwhelming majority of computer programmers simply don't have the math background to do modern computer graphics.  The background needed for DirectX 9.0c is substantially less, but still, most computer programmers wouldn't be able to do a good job of it.  You really only need one person to deal with that part of the game engine--but he needs to be good at it.

And how do you find out if someone is good at it?  Well, you hire him, let him try, and see what happens.  A past track record can only tell you so much, as hardware capabilities have greatly increased as time has passed.  Someone who is very good at having 2D sprites move around on a screen isn't automatically good at rendering 3D models.

Even if you do get someone really good to work on the graphics part of your game engine, if he leaves the company before the product is done, you're in trouble.  If he didn't document things all that well so that the next guy to come along can decipher it, then you're in really big trouble.  I'd imagine that getting bought out by EA isn't great for employee retention, either.

-----

Furthermore, you don't get to make fundamental game engine decisions the day that your game launches.  You have to make those decisions years ahead of time.  If each model uses this many vertices, this many textures, this many uniforms, they get shared with other data this often, and so forth, then how many frames per second would you get if you have 20 characters on the screen running on hardware that will launch 3 years from now?  You can't just fire up a time machine and go check.

Hardware not going where you expected it to go is a real concern, too.  My favorite example of this is EverQuest II, which was built around needing high single-threaded CPU performance.  Even when the game launched, Intel was still promising that they were well on their way to a 10 GHz Pentium 4.  Then physics got in the way, and a 3.8 GHz Pentium 4 that launched that year was the highest stock-clocked desktop processor that would launch until 2012.  Even today, the highest stock-clocked desktop processor ever is only 4.2 GHz.

Or to take a more recent example, just a few months ago, Nvidia surprised people by announcing that Tegra 4 wouldn't have unified shaders.  Rather, it only has a handful of vertex shaders, so if you wanted to have a lot of vertices in your models, it's going to completely choke on a Tegra 4.

-----

It's never a case of "this game engine has everything you need", unless you're trying to make a really generic clone.  You can pick between a bunch of different game engines that have a lot of the capabiilties that you need, but nowhere near all of them.  And then you have to guess which engine is easiest to modify to get exactly what you need, taking into account that "build your own" may sometimes be the correct answer.  But you don't actually find out how hard it is to change a game engine to do what you want until you try it, as it depends on a zillion little details that don't make it into the marketing literature--and don't necessarily even make it into the code comments.

Pleasure to read your posts. Always learning something. Thank you

It's not always good to side with someone who admits to never bothering to install the game in question, in this case SWTOR.  The points brought up are mostly fillers for the mastermind plot: convince someone you know what you are talking about! (when you don't).

Uhh, Hero Engine?

http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/367/view/forums/post/5569232#5569232

 

Wouldn't you like to discuss the matter with someone who understands other player concerns?  Real players .. actual players =D

I'm not coming in here saying "this class needs to be nerfed because it's way overpowered".  Having not played the game, I wouldn't know about that.

But if the discussion is on the difficulty of modifying a game engine to do what you want, do you really want to exclude someone who has made his own 3D graphics engine in favor of random rants by people who have never messed with the inside of a game engine?

It might be helpful to experience the game engine before you praise it, or defend it.  All I'm saying.

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.

  gervaise1

Elite Member

Joined: 1/17/07
Posts: 1486

4/08/13 7:23:36 PM#104
Originally posted by papabear151

This game was a cash grab on a popular IP and it wasn't even a very well hid attempt either.

That's all, nothing else matters, game is shit and was never intended to be good, only appear as serviceable enough to play for "OMG STAR WARSSS HURR DURR" types.

"All" games are a cash grab to a greater or lesser extent - the issue is about the value that customers believe they are getting.

In a very real way however SWTOR was a huge success. Bioware created a beta Star Wars game, presumably touted as "the next big subscription based game" and that must have helped get the $620M in cash and c. $240M in performance related stock options to various employees that EA paid in the takeover.

Coupled with the IP cost this probably saddled SWTOR with some very challenging financial targets: its budget, sales targets etc. For at the end of the day games are EA's only source of revenue. 

 

 

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

4/08/13 8:28:32 PM#105
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by Quizzical

I'm not coming in here saying "this class needs to be nerfed because it's way overpowered".  Having not played the game, I wouldn't know about that.

But if the discussion is on the difficulty of modifying a game engine to do what you want, do you really want to exclude someone who has made his own 3D graphics engine in favor of random rants by people who have never messed with the inside of a game engine?

It might be helpful to experience the game engine before you praise it, or defend it.  All I'm saying.

Since when did I praise the game engine?

  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

 
OP  4/08/13 8:30:28 PM#106
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by Quizzical

I'm not coming in here saying "this class needs to be nerfed because it's way overpowered".  Having not played the game, I wouldn't know about that.

But if the discussion is on the difficulty of modifying a game engine to do what you want, do you really want to exclude someone who has made his own 3D graphics engine in favor of random rants by people who have never messed with the inside of a game engine?

It might be helpful to experience the game engine before you praise it, or defend it.  All I'm saying.

Since when did I praise the game engine?

Plese, for the love of any and all Sith gods, just install the game and see for yourself!

 

Begging you!

 

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.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

4/08/13 8:31:47 PM#107
Originally posted by gervaise1
Originally posted by papabear151

This game was a cash grab on a popular IP and it wasn't even a very well hid attempt either.

That's all, nothing else matters, game is shit and was never intended to be good, only appear as serviceable enough to play for "OMG STAR WARSSS HURR DURR" types.

"All" games are a cash grab to a greater or lesser extent - the issue is about the value that customers believe they are getting.

In a very real way however SWTOR was a huge success. Bioware created a beta Star Wars game, presumably touted as "the next big subscription based game" and that must have helped get the $620M in cash and c. $240M in performance related stock options to various employees that EA paid in the takeover.

That's an interesting point.  The game doesn't have to be successful to EA to be successful to Bioware as it was before they got bought by EA.  If the goal is to sell your company for a ton of money, then that succeeds or fails when you get paid, regardless of what comes afterwards.

And that points to a more general issue with licensing game engines:  licensing one lets you get started faster and look like you've done a lot, even if it backfires by the time launch day rolls around.  While EA is surely aware of that, people funding games on Kickstarter may not be.

  ktanner3

Master

Joined: 3/19/06
Posts: 4152

Trolls will be ignored

4/08/13 8:51:25 PM#108
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by Quizzical

I'm not coming in here saying "this class needs to be nerfed because it's way overpowered".  Having not played the game, I wouldn't know about that.

But if the discussion is on the difficulty of modifying a game engine to do what you want, do you really want to exclude someone who has made his own 3D graphics engine in favor of random rants by people who have never messed with the inside of a game engine?

It might be helpful to experience the game engine before you praise it, or defend it.  All I'm saying.

Since when did I praise the game engine?

You didn't, but some people here are so set in their ways they can only see posting through the prism of "for" or "against." 

Currently Playing: Star Wars The Old Republic

  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

 
OP  4/08/13 8:59:17 PM#109
Originally posted by ktanner3
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by Quizzical

I'm not coming in here saying "this class needs to be nerfed because it's way overpowered".  Having not played the game, I wouldn't know about that.

But if the discussion is on the difficulty of modifying a game engine to do what you want, do you really want to exclude someone who has made his own 3D graphics engine in favor of random rants by people who have never messed with the inside of a game engine?

It might be helpful to experience the game engine before you praise it, or defend it.  All I'm saying.

Since when did I praise the game engine?

You didn't, but some people here are so set in their ways they can only see posting through the prism of "for" or "against." 

Well you have to realize that when the SWTOR graphics engine sucked ass, it's a little irritating when someone comes by and says its not that bad, then gives pages upon pages of the story of why it isn't so bad, then admits to never playing the game.

 

Maybe you didn't read anything and were not paying attention?

 

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.

  ktanner3

Master

Joined: 3/19/06
Posts: 4152

Trolls will be ignored

4/08/13 9:14:26 PM#110
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by ktanner3
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by Quizzical

I'm not coming in here saying "this class needs to be nerfed because it's way overpowered".  Having not played the game, I wouldn't know about that.

But if the discussion is on the difficulty of modifying a game engine to do what you want, do you really want to exclude someone who has made his own 3D graphics engine in favor of random rants by people who have never messed with the inside of a game engine?

It might be helpful to experience the game engine before you praise it, or defend it.  All I'm saying.

Since when did I praise the game engine?

You didn't, but some people here are so set in their ways they can only see posting through the prism of "for" or "against." 

Well you have to realize that when the SWTOR graphics engine sucked ass, it's a little irritating when someone comes by and says its not that bad, then gives pages upon pages of the story of why it isn't so bad,

He didn't say it wasn't that bad. He was merely trying to explain how engines work. Learn to read.

then admits to never playing the game.

 Ironic considering you love to argue with me over Vanilla SWG, a game you know nothing about and obviously never played. When posters start asking "why can't this be done to the engine?" it's nice to have someone come along and explain the basics. 

Maybe you didn't read anything and were not paying attention?

 Of course I read it. The difference is I took it for what it was, an explanation on how coding for engines work. You took that explanation as a defense of the game which is exactly what I was referring to. Once again you pop in talking smack on something you are totally clueless about.

You played the game? Good for you. So do I. Doesn't make either of us experts in coding engines. 

 

Currently Playing: Star Wars The Old Republic

  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

 
OP  4/08/13 9:31:00 PM#111
Originally posted by ktanner3
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by ktanner3
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by Quizzical

I'm not coming in here saying "this class needs to be nerfed because it's way overpowered".  Having not played the game, I wouldn't know about that.

But if the discussion is on the difficulty of modifying a game engine to do what you want, do you really want to exclude someone who has made his own 3D graphics engine in favor of random rants by people who have never messed with the inside of a game engine?

It might be helpful to experience the game engine before you praise it, or defend it.  All I'm saying.

Since when did I praise the game engine?

You didn't, but some people here are so set in their ways they can only see posting through the prism of "for" or "against." 

Well you have to realize that when the SWTOR graphics engine sucked ass, it's a little irritating when someone comes by and says its not that bad, then gives pages upon pages of the story of why it isn't so bad,

(1) He didn't say it wasn't that bad. He was merely trying to explain how engines work. Learn to read.

then admits to never playing the game.

 (2) Ironic considering you love to argue with me over Vanilla SWG, a game you know nothing about and obviously never played.

Maybe you didn't read anything and were not paying attention?

 (3) Of course I read it. The difference is I took it for what it was, an explanation on how coding for engines work. You took that explanation as a defense of the game which is exactly what I was referring to. Once again you pop in talking smack on something you are totally clueless about. 


(1) In your haste for a rebbutal you glossed over any key point.  He is saying the engine isn't that bad because Hero isn't that bad and some work went into it via EA to make it alright, so how could it be bad?  EA is saying their engine was horrible from the start.  Then it comes out that Quizzical never ever played SWTOR.

 

(2) I'll argue SWG where facts exist.  It's a weak argument to say I know nothing about a topic.  Your own SWG bias is to blame here.

(3) The information provided was rudimentary at best, with some fluff thrown in.  Basic material is what you were provided with, enough to make it seem like EA had a really good engine.  Either way, it impressed general SWTOR fans, so credit given.  The gaming community was the ones left without a game.

 

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.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

4/08/13 10:39:49 PM#112
Originally posted by Karteli


(1) In your haste for a rebbutal you glossed over any key point.  He is saying the engine isn't that bad because Hero isn't that bad and some work went into it via EA to make it alright, so how could it be bad?  EA is saying their engine was horrible from the start.  Then it comes out that Quizzical never ever played SWTOR.

I never made that argument.

The question of whether Hero Engine is good as an engine available for license is a question of how hard it is to modify it to be able to do what you want and do it well (runs fast, minimal bugs) as compared to other engines available for license.  Ideally, you'd want it to be able to efficiently do a lot of things that you need for your game, and you'd want it to be relatively easy to modify the engine to be able to do what you need that it wasn't built to do when you licensed it.

But the Hero Engine as available for license is very different from the the game engine that SWTOR uses.  They have a common ancestry in that they both came from the Hero Engine as it was a long time ago.  But then EA forked the code base as you inevitably have to do if you want to make a serious game.

The question of how good SWTOR's game engine is for SWTOR has a lot more to do with how good the EA employees who modified the engine after forking the code base than how good the Hero Engine that they licensed was.  Playing SWTOR today won't tell you much about how hard it was to make modifications to a game engine years ago.

Furthermore, even for SWTOR's game engine, just playing the game doesn't tell you as much as you might think.  If a game engine absolutely cannot do something that whoever makes the game doesn't want to do anyway, that isn't a problem with the game engine.  Game design decisions that you disagree with may make the game bad, but if the engine can efficiently do everything that the company wanted it to do, then it could be a good engine for a bad game.

Another important feature of a game engine is how hard it is to make content work with it.  If two different game engines let you make graphics that look just as good, and the first gets you 5% higher frame rates, while the latter makes it only cost 1/3 as much to create content and add it to the game, then there's a pretty strong argument that the latter game engine is better.  But that's not something that you can tell just from playing the game.

The quotes from James Ohlen make it sound like he thinks that the game engine is bad.  And he might well be right.  But blaming it all on the Hero Engine is ridiculous.  If you buy and use tools that can't do what you want, it doesn't automatically mean the tools are bad (though they might well be).  It means you're an idiot for buying and using them.

A perfectly good screwdriver doesn't necessarily make a good hammer.  If you have a screwdriver and are trying to use it as a hammer and it's not working well, the problem is with the user, not the tool.

Hero Engine might well be a great engine available for license.  It might be terrible.  It might be a sensible choice for some games and a terrible choice for others.  It might have some very good code for some of its features, and other broad swaths of code that are complete junk and should be scrapped in their entirety.  But you can't tell just from playing SWTOR, or any other game that uses the Hero Engine for that matter.

  ktanner3

Master

Joined: 3/19/06
Posts: 4152

Trolls will be ignored

4/08/13 11:16:40 PM#113
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Karteli


(1) In your haste for a rebbutal you glossed over any key point.  He is saying the engine isn't that bad because Hero isn't that bad and some work went into it via EA to make it alright, so how could it be bad?  EA is saying their engine was horrible from the start.  Then it comes out that Quizzical never ever played SWTOR.

I never made that argument.

I already told him this so at this point he's just arguing for the sake of arguing. 

The question of whether Hero Engine is good as an engine available for license is a question of how hard it is to modify it to be able to do what you want and do it well (runs fast, minimal bugs) as compared to other engines available for license.  Ideally, you'd want it to be able to efficiently do a lot of things that you need for your game, and you'd want it to be relatively easy to modify the engine to be able to do what you need that it wasn't built to do when you licensed it.

But the Hero Engine as available for license is very different from the the game engine that SWTOR uses.  They have a common ancestry in that they both came from the Hero Engine as it was a long time ago.  But then EA forked the code base as you inevitably have to do if you want to make a serious game.

The question of how good SWTOR's game engine is for SWTOR has a lot more to do with how good the EA employees who modified the engine after forking the code base than how good the Hero Engine that they licensed was.  Playing SWTOR today won't tell you much about how hard it was to make modifications to a game engine years ago.

Furthermore, even for SWTOR's game engine, just playing the game doesn't tell you as much as you might think.  If a game engine absolutely cannot do something that whoever makes the game doesn't want to do anyway, that isn't a problem with the game engine.  Game design decisions that you disagree with may make the game bad, but if the engine can efficiently do everything that the company wanted it to do, then it could be a good engine for a bad game.

Another important feature of a game engine is how hard it is to make content work with it.  If two different game engines let you make graphics that look just as good, and the first gets you 5% higher frame rates, while the latter makes it only cost 1/3 as much to create content and add it to the game, then there's a pretty strong argument that the latter game engine is better.  But that's not something that you can tell just from playing the game.

The quotes from James Ohlen make it sound like he thinks that the game engine is bad.  And he might well be right.  But blaming it all on the Hero Engine is ridiculous.  If you buy and use tools that can't do what you want, it doesn't automatically mean the tools are bad (though they might well be).  It means you're an idiot for buying and using them.

A perfectly good screwdriver doesn't necessarily make a good hammer.  If you have a screwdriver and are trying to use it as a hammer and it's not working well, the problem is with the user, not the tool.

Hero Engine might well be a great engine available for license.  It might be terrible.  It might be a sensible choice for some games and a terrible choice for others.  It might have some very good code for some of its features, and other broad swaths of code that are complete junk and should be scrapped in their entirety.  But you can't tell just from playing SWTOR, or any other game that uses the Hero Engine for that matter.

We'll see in the next few years how well the engine really is. Both TESO and Repopulation are using it in some fashion

TESO

 

You licensed HeroEngine a long time ago. What role did the Hero Engine play in the development of ESO?

We started ZeniMax Online from scratch, with no employees and no technology. We had to build everything ourselves. It takes a long time to write game engines, especially MMO engines, which are inherently more complicated than typical single-player ones. So, we decided to license the HeroEngine to give us a headstart. It was a useful tool for us to use to prototype areas and game design concepts, and it provided us the ability to get art into the game that was visible, so we could work on the game’s art style. Our plan is for ESO to be a world class MMO, with the most advanced social features found in any MMO to date – so while we were prototyping the game on HeroEngine, we were simultaneously developing our own client, server, and messaging layer that were specifically designed with ESO in mind. Think of HeroEngine as a whiteboard for us – a great tool to get some ideas in the game and start looking at them while the production engine was in development. 

 

 

Currently Playing: Star Wars The Old Republic

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

4/08/13 11:24:31 PM#114
Originally posted by ktanner3

You licensed HeroEngine a long time ago. What role did the Hero Engine play in the development of ESO?

We started ZeniMax Online from scratch, with no employees and no technology. We had to build everything ourselves. It takes a long time to write game engines, especially MMO engines, which are inherently more complicated than typical single-player ones. So, we decided to license the HeroEngine to give us a headstart. It was a useful tool for us to use to prototype areas and game design concepts, and it provided us the ability to get art into the game that was visible, so we could work on the game’s art style. Our plan is for ESO to be a world class MMO, with the most advanced social features found in any MMO to date – so while we were prototyping the game on HeroEngine, we were simultaneously developing our own client, server, and messaging layer that were specifically designed with ESO in mind. Think of HeroEngine as a whiteboard for us – a great tool to get some ideas in the game and start looking at them while the production engine was in development. 

That makes it sound like they used the Hero Engine basically as scratch work, but little to no code from Hero Engine will actually make it into the game they release.

  JKwervo

Novice Member

Joined: 6/27/12
Posts: 140

4/08/13 11:27:38 PM#115
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by ktanner3

You licensed HeroEngine a long time ago. What role did the Hero Engine play in the development of ESO?

We started ZeniMax Online from scratch, with no employees and no technology. We had to build everything ourselves. It takes a long time to write game engines, especially MMO engines, which are inherently more complicated than typical single-player ones. So, we decided to license the HeroEngine to give us a headstart. It was a useful tool for us to use to prototype areas and game design concepts, and it provided us the ability to get art into the game that was visible, so we could work on the game’s art style. Our plan is for ESO to be a world class MMO, with the most advanced social features found in any MMO to date – so while we were prototyping the game on HeroEngine, we were simultaneously developing our own client, server, and messaging layer that were specifically designed with ESO in mind. Think of HeroEngine as a whiteboard for us – a great tool to get some ideas in the game and start looking at them while the production engine was in development. 

That makes it sound like they used the Hero Engine basically as scratch work, but little to no code from Hero Engine will actually make it into the game they release.

That's how I took it. Don't know why people think Hero Engine is remotely even being used coding wise and developmental wise for the actual engine that's going to be used for the game. 

  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

 
OP  4/08/13 11:29:14 PM#116
Originally posted by ktanner3
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Karteli


(1) In your haste for a rebbutal you glossed over any key point.  He is saying the engine isn't that bad because Hero isn't that bad and some work went into it via EA to make it alright, so how could it be bad?  EA is saying their engine was horrible from the start.  Then it comes out that Quizzical never ever played SWTOR.

I never made that argument.

I already told him this so at this point he's just arguing for the sake of arguing. 

The question of whether Hero Engine is good as an engine available for license is a question of how hard it is to modify it to be able to do what you want and do it well (runs fast, minimal bugs) as compared to other engines available for license.  Ideally, you'd want it to be able to efficiently do a lot of things that you need for your game, and you'd want it to be relatively easy to modify the engine to be able to do what you need that it wasn't built to do when you licensed it.

But the Hero Engine as available for license is very different from the the game engine that SWTOR uses.  They have a common ancestry in that they both came from the Hero Engine as it was a long time ago.  But then EA forked the code base as you inevitably have to do if you want to make a serious game.

The question of how good SWTOR's game engine is for SWTOR has a lot more to do with how good the EA employees who modified the engine after forking the code base than how good the Hero Engine that they licensed was.  Playing SWTOR today won't tell you much about how hard it was to make modifications to a game engine years ago.

Furthermore, even for SWTOR's game engine, just playing the game doesn't tell you as much as you might think.  If a game engine absolutely cannot do something that whoever makes the game doesn't want to do anyway, that isn't a problem with the game engine.  Game design decisions that you disagree with may make the game bad, but if the engine can efficiently do everything that the company wanted it to do, then it could be a good engine for a bad game.

Another important feature of a game engine is how hard it is to make content work with it.  If two different game engines let you make graphics that look just as good, and the first gets you 5% higher frame rates, while the latter makes it only cost 1/3 as much to create content and add it to the game, then there's a pretty strong argument that the latter game engine is better.  But that's not something that you can tell just from playing the game.

The quotes from James Ohlen make it sound like he thinks that the game engine is bad.  And he might well be right.  But blaming it all on the Hero Engine is ridiculous.  If you buy and use tools that can't do what you want, it doesn't automatically mean the tools are bad (though they might well be).  It means you're an idiot for buying and using them.

A perfectly good screwdriver doesn't necessarily make a good hammer.  If you have a screwdriver and are trying to use it as a hammer and it's not working well, the problem is with the user, not the tool.

Hero Engine might well be a great engine available for license.  It might be terrible.  It might be a sensible choice for some games and a terrible choice for others.  It might have some very good code for some of its features, and other broad swaths of code that are complete junk and should be scrapped in their entirety.  But you can't tell just from playing SWTOR, or any other game that uses the Hero Engine for that matter.

We'll see in the next few years how well the engine really is. Both TESO and Repopulation are using it in some fashion

TESO

 

You licensed HeroEngine a long time ago. What role did the Hero Engine play in the development of ESO?

We started ZeniMax Online from scratch, with no employees and no technology. We had to build everything ourselves. It takes a long time to write game engines, especially MMO engines, which are inherently more complicated than typical single-player ones. So, we decided to license the HeroEngine to give us a headstart. It was a useful tool for us to use to prototype areas and game design concepts, and it provided us the ability to get art into the game that was visible, so we could work on the game’s art style. Our plan is for ESO to be a world class MMO, with the most advanced social features found in any MMO to date – so while we were prototyping the game on HeroEngine, we were simultaneously developing our own client, server, and messaging layer that were specifically designed with ESO in mind. Think of HeroEngine as a whiteboard for us – a great tool to get some ideas in the game and start looking at them while the production engine was in development. 

The hero engine is solid. (I mean the real version, not the alpha).

 

Just a correction, TESO used Hero for early development / prototyping .. but they designed their own in-house engine, since.  They will not use Hero for the final product.  TESO is not using it in any "fashion".

 

 

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.

  tiefighter25

Novice Member

Joined: 7/30/12
Posts: 949

4/08/13 11:49:01 PM#117

It's was a hot topic for TESO (Hero Engine). Because of the bad press from SWTOR, Zenimax had to issue statements that Hero was only used for rough blocking. (I believe them when they say they built their own engine, their game will support Macs from launch, Hero doesn't do MAC.)

As to SWTOR and Hero, there is a ton of disconnect of some sort going on.

Simutronics stated Gordon Walton had to have the Hero engine despite their warnings that the engine was still, for lack of a better term, "Alpha". According to Simtronics, Walton stated that he had to have it specifically so hundreds of developers could work on the game simultaneously. As to the "Alpha-ness" of the engine, Walton said Bioware (not EA yet) had enough engineers to handle any blips that might come up. This was at the begining of a 6 year development process.

Now, according to Ohlen, Bioware's version of the Hero engine didn't let multiple teams work on the game at once for 5 years. (which was supposed to be the entire point of using Hero in the first place.)

Ohlen further states that the bulk of Bioware's effort (which would eventually include EA's deep pockets), which included over 300 engineers, were spending their time trying to alter and optimize the engine for SWTOR's needs.

For further head scratching, Ohlen statees that Bioware/EA had 300 engineers working on the engine problems (with what I think most can agree with lackluster results) whereas Simutronics, in the same time, came out with their commercial ready to go Hero engine 2.0, with their 25 full time employees and 100 contractors in the entire company.

Either the truth is being twisted somewhere, or ToR's development is more tragedy then anything else.

  Deivos

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/14/04
Posts: 1716

Iarð skal rifna, ok upphiminn.

4/09/13 12:01:13 AM#118
Originally posted by Karteli
Originally posted by KaiserPhoenix
imagine how great swtor would've been if they made it on the Unreal Engine 3...

One could only wonder ..

 

Although design issues are worthy of a new topic..

Just noting the Unreal 3 engine woulda been a bad choice. It's networking layer is not built for MMOs and at the time of development and launch they would have experienced similar issues to other previous UE3 mmo projects in terms of instability, glitshes, etc.

 

It'd effectively have been the same song and dance with a different engine.

As the size of an explosion increases, the number of social situations it is incapable of solving approaches zero. - Vaarsuvius

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

4/09/13 12:28:40 AM#119
Originally posted by hikaru77
Originally posted by papabear151

This game was a cash grab on a popular IP and it wasn't even a very well hid attempt either.

That's all, nothing else matters, game is shit and was never intended to be good, only appear as serviceable enough to play for "OMG STAR WARSSS HURR DURR" types.

Thats your point of view. By the way what MMo are you playing? 

tu quoque anyone?

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

4/09/13 12:36:22 AM#120
Originally posted by tiefighter25
Originally posted by ignore_me
The engine was also responsible for the packaging of overvalued real estate properties, unintended acceleration in Toyota cars, and Richard garriot being insensitive to others.

While it's correct that the engine isn't the single factor which explains all of Tor's woes, it is certainly a major player.

Just as an example, it has now been over a year since Ilum has been temporarily shut down.

I know this post preceded Quizzical's epic dissertations, but I had to amend this by pointing out how it appears that Bioware attempted to build the 400 mph golf cart using Hero and their own super-powered programming skillz.

It would seem like the pre-pubescent Hero version was just one piece in an assembly line of suck, and Ohlen is attempting to Lee-Harvey-Oswald the Hero engine.

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

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