Monday, May 14th 2012

Treyarch says Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Doesn't Need a New Engine to Advance Graphics

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 doesn't need a brand new game engine to improve the graphics over previous games in the series, Treyarch has insisted. Black Ops 2 is built using the latest, most advanced version of the engine that Call of Duty developers have used to build the first-person shooter series since 2005's Call of Duty 2: a heavily modified version of the id Tech 3 engine. Some fans have called on Activision to invest in a brand new graphics engine in order to spruce up Call of Duty's visuals. But Treyarch chief Mark Lamia said continuing to upgrade the current engine was enough to meet the development team's design goals. "People always ask me, 'Is this a new engine?' he told One of Swords. "I liken it to people who live in an older house that has been remodelled. Just because you're remodelling the house and it will look new or it will have a new kitchen, you don't tear out the foundation, or break out some of the framing. You might even go as hardcore as replacing the plumbing, and we will do that sort of thing, as an analogy. It's a gross simplification, but it's one way to say that. There's a lot of good still in that foundation that you wouldn't get rid of, and we don't. We look to advance in the areas that support our game design.

"Engines, each time they get touched, they change. The creators alter them; they don't modify what they don't need to, and then they alter what they need to. You can't make a competitive product if you're not upgrading that engine along the way." He added: "I think the whole thing about a new engine... sometimes that's a great buzzword. Well, I have a new graphics engine - is that a new engine? Where does it start and stop? Elements of the code, you can trace back for a very, very long time... but whole parts of the code are entirely new. Two areas we did focus on for this game were the graphics and the lighting - a pretty significant amount of work is going into that."When Activision announced Black Ops 2 earlier this month it promised a "visual overhaul", with graphical upgrades a mix of "tech and technique". In a demo to press played on an Xbox 360 build of the game, an unpopulated level set on Socotra Island in Yemen showed HDR lighting, bounce lighting, self-shadowing and a new texture technique called reveal mapping - all running at 60 frames per second.

"I think what people are asking for is for us to push," Lamia explained. "They want us to make a better-looking game; they want things. I don't think those are things people can't ask for. We asked ourselves that very same question - we wanted to advance the graphics. I think the questions are valid. The answer may not need to be an entirely new engine, but you might need to do an entire overhaul of your entire lighting system. "The trick is, we're not willing to do that if we can't keep it running at 60 frames per second - but we did that this time. So this is the Black Ops 2 engine."Source: Eurogamer
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95 Comments on Treyarch says Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Doesn't Need a New Engine to Advance Graphics

#1
Fourstaff
FordGT90Concept said:
...because most engines out there are still designed to run on 7 year old consoles. You won't see tesselation in PC games until consoles support it too. Sure, there's a few exceptions but they're mostly half-assed.
Indeed! There is absolutely no need to upgrade engine if you can't use the newer features! :roll:

FordGT90Concept said:
FO3/F:NV engines really weren't meant to involve guns and they compensated using silly VATS. F:NV is at least passable.

Skyrim...I really don't like the direction they took it. It feels like more action and less RPG.
Lets not sidetrack by complaining about gameplay, shall we?
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#2
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Fourstaff said:
Lets not sidetrack by complaining about gameplay, shall we?
Yes, I realized that the moment I hit submit. :laugh:

On topic: Skyrim could benefit a ton from tesselation on all those trees, bushes, flowers, etc. Yet, they didn't because as long as it is playable, people just don't care. The only benefit, really, is higher average FPS.

It boils down to a simple question: is it worth fundamentally changing the engine to support Direct3D 10/10.1/11 features or are we okay with what we can do without? Answer is always the latter unless you commoditize the engine (like Epic and id software).
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#3
Fourstaff
FordGT90Concept said:
Yes, I realized that the moment I hit submit. :laugh:

On topic: Skyrim could benefit a ton from tesselation on all those trees, bushes, flowers, etc. Yet, they didn't because as long as it is playable, people just don't care. The only benefit, really, is higher average FPS.
Skyrim can be so much better with DX11, but they didn't and still managed to produce such a good game (well, at least according to the reviews and fanbase anyway). I would rather see Skyrim in DX11 than COD with DX11, setting everything at max and watch the slideshow (the best my pc can do lol) of weather changing from the top of a mountain.

Skyrim has a very poor data save system, the game slows to a crawl when your savefile becomes too big (and has nothing to do with the graphics). That needs to be fixed before TES VI
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#4
TheMailMan78
Big Member
Kreij said:
Market domination, or better yet market saturation, in the gaming industry has nothing to do with the engine you use.
Yeah? Let them keep with the same engine into the next gen and see how long they last. DICE didn't get the memo I guess. I mean if that were true then they could have used the BF2 engine for BF3.

They haven't made a new engine because they do not have the talent in house with Treyarch to do so. Treyarch is living off the scraps of IW original crew.
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#5
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Fourstaff said:
Skyrim has a very poor data save system, the game slows to a crawl when your savefile becomes too big (and has nothing to do with the graphics). That needs to be fixed before TES VI
Yeah, I noticed that a long time ago (Oblivion, I think it was at least respectable in Morrowind). They literally use | to delimit their save file. I bet if you delete just one of those, the entire save becomes worthless. Of all the save files I've examined, Bethesda's are the silliest.
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#6
n-ster
CoD looks like crap on consoles lately IMO, but their graphics on PC are fine
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#7
caleb
Shouldn't this be read as "Its still good enough for consoles anyway" they need to downgrade the game for PS3 anyway so...
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#8
MxPhenom 216
Corsair Fanboy
Fourstaff said:
Its really sad that people nowadays are bothered about how good a game looks rather than how good the gameplay is (COD fails at both counts though, unless you are playing with your friends pwning noobs). Humans are so superficial
Well how a game looks is the first thing that will catch someones eye during all the pre release videos and stuff like that. A person would be lying if the first thing they notice is gameplay. Now a game doesn't nessarily need top notch visuals, for instance Diablo 3. It doesn't have crazy high res textures or a high poly count but the design of it and the art is was makes it looks great.
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#9
Jurassic1024
Some fans have called on Activision to invest in a brand new graphics engine in order to spruce up Call of Duty's visuals. But Treyarch chief Mark Lamia said continuing to upgrade the current engine was enough to meet the development team's design goals.

Translation: Ask, and you shall not receive. We know what's best for you.
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#10
Jurassic1024
Fourstaff said:
Its really sad that people nowadays are bothered about how good a game looks rather than how good the gameplay is...
No, it's sad that people automatically assume those same players would want them at the expense of degraded gameplay.
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#11
xenocide
People can pull analogies up with other companies all they want, but the major difference will always be as follows. Each year Activision releases a game, that is basically identical to their last. The development time is about 12-16 months, and the game hardly changes from the previous entry whichever development studio made.

You look at companies like Bethesda, they went from Oblivion to Fallout 3, which have similar gameplay elements, and run on the same engine, but they are nothing alike. They are both games that you can sink hundreds of hours into as single-player adventures. The games Bethesda made took a couple years for each team to develop, and each one introduced quite a few new elements, either to gameplay or visuals.

Sure, Engines are just code, but they must have limitations as time goes by--inabilities to adequately multi-thread, poor resource usage, etc. There is always improvement to be made, and if you could just get by with heavily modifying your last engine, why do Epic and id keep releasing new and better engines?
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#12
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
FordGT90Concept said:

It boils down to a simple question: is it worth fundamentally changing the engine to support Direct3D 10/10.1/11 features or are we okay with what we can do without? Answer is always the later unless you commoditize the engine (like Epic and id software).
^^ This is why Epic and Id create new engines all the time. It makes them money.

TheMailMan78 said:

They haven't made a new engine because they do not have the talent in house with Treyarch to do so. Treyarch is living off the scraps of IW original crew.
Perhaps, but the "scraps" are feeding them pretty well, no?
Don't get me wrong, TMM, I'm all for new tech in both hardware and software, but if from a business standpoint a major investment will not result in a better ROI (because they are already selling tons) then would it be a high priority? No, it wouldn't and that's how they obviously view it.
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#13
NC37
Fourstaff said:
Skyrim used a heavily modified Morrowind Engine and that is about 10 years old, so I guess I am fine with this decision.
But Quake 3 Arena engine is much older. It is very limited in terms of what you can really do with it compared to engines nowadays. They have heavily modified it to this point but the foundation is still crap.

Black Ops 2 will just be a rehash with better graphics. You can do better effects but the core gameplay will not change because they are limited via the engine itself.

All this time taken using this crappy archaic engine should have been done developing their own engine while the crappy engine brought in the development funds. Now DICE is at 2.0+ on Frostbite and CoD can only keep rehashing.
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#14
Fairlady-z
Cant wait for Black Ops 2 for my 360 lol.... Ahhh what ever guys I got a massive 65"TV with a kicking surround sound I love those single player campaigns lol.
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#15
techtard
As long as the current gen consoles are around there is no need to upgrade their engine. They can't use many of the new features of newer game engines or newer graphics APIs because they are stuck to what the Xbox 360 can utilize.

Also, the PC market has access to much better FPS games than the COD series. That is another reason they don't cater to us.

Dx11 would be a god-send for PC gamers though. You get tessellation, improved shaders, and better multi-threaded performance. Too bad we're second class citizens compared to the console kiddies.
We can hope that the next-gen console refresh will also bring dx11+. Maybe then our CPUs will be able to stretch their legs.
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#16
Disruptor4
I'm surprised how shit the graphics are in the original Black Ops. Going from games like BF etc back to Black Ops, I was like... UGH yuck! Hopefully they actually have done something to the graphics to make it more like a game you can delve into!
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#17
suraswami
Yeah new engine is welcome but if its going to cost me another graphics card then hell no. I haven't played MW3 yet got hooked to BF3 but planning to play soon.
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#18
mastrdrver
TheMailMan78 said:
But Treyarch chief Mark Lamia said continuing to upgrade the current engine was enough to meet the development team's design goals. "People always ask me, 'Is this a new engine?' he told One of Swords. "I liken it to people who live in an older house that has been remodelled. Just because you're remodelling the house and it will look new or it will have a new kitchen, you don't tear out the foundation, or break out some of the framing. You might even go as hardcore as replacing the plumbing, and we will do that sort of thing, as an analogy. It's a gross simplification, but it's one way to say that. There's a lot of good still in that foundation that you wouldn't get rid of, and we don't. We look to advance in the areas that support our game design.
So what happens when the wood frame holding up the house is rotting? Do you keep putting up wall paper to hope people won't notice?

It's not a problem of remolding. It's a problem of the house rotting to the ground. Then sticking wall paper over the holes and celebrating at how much better it looks. :shadedshu
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#19
Zubasa
Jurassic1024 said:
Some fans have called on Activision to invest in a brand new graphics engine in order to spruce up Call of Duty's visuals. But Treyarch chief Mark Lamia said continuing to upgrade the current engine was enough to meet the development team's design goals.

Translation: Ask, and you shall not receive. We know what's best for our pockets.
Fixed :p
The world "you" haven't exist in their minds for a long time now, all they care theses days are $$$,$$$,$$$
Posted on Reply
#20
Fx
erocker said:
doesn't matter what engine they use. They'll sell millions of copies and make lots of money. I don't see the big deal. Besides, it's not up to them whether they use a new engine or not. If their customer base decides it's not worth buying their games anymore, maybe they'll change then. Untill then they'll be swimming in their pool of money and make the same game over and over again.
+1

fourstaff said:
its really sad that people nowadays are bothered about how good a game looks rather than how good the gameplay is
+1
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#21
Jonap_1st
meh... no matter how they explain it, it's pretty easy to read their minds.

if they develop the new engine, the game will runs laggy on current consoles. later, decrease on the experience of gameplay will generate less interest on the market that in the end it hurt the game sales..

i'm pretty sure, COD will get all new looks when PS4 or Xbox720 comes out.
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#22
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
Treyarch just learned how to lose my sale in a heartbeat.
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#23
Delta6326
there is no need for a new engine when your just releasing a map pack...
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#24
FierceRed
Personally, I'm surprised this thread has gone on this long without anyone mentioning the Source engine.

I mean seriously, I don't have any fucks to give to Activision for anything they do, but if anyone needs an Angel Example of how an engine can evolve over time, all they need to do is look at original HL2 vs. HL2 Episode 2, or HL2 vs. Cinematic Mod, or HL2 vs. PORTAL 2. Was I the only one amazed that Portal 2 was still Source engine when I played it?? Some of those faith plate aerial trips and transforming walls were amazing.

If anything, what Valve has done with the Source engine vindicates the fans requests rather than Treyarchs "but we are updating it" stance. That the difference between original HL2 and Portal 2 is so massive while the difference between MW1 and MW3/BlOps2 is so minimal is unequivocal proof that everything Mark Lamia has said is bullshit.

It comes down to respect, both self-respect as a professional and respect shown to the community that bankrolls their bonuses with affirmations that you don't think they're all idiots. Treyarchs "design goals" are X360 compatibility, period. Full stop. Done. While no one should blame them for these outdated hardware limitations, it is entirely expected that people be raising their eyebrow at the reprocessed fecal product they funnel to the store shelves per annum that looks like yesteryears pile. And they should definitely be blamed if the skillset of their staff can't do, with the financial resources that they have at their command, what other staff (like Valve) have been able to do with other engines (like Source).

If Treyarch don't have the creative freedom due to their development cycle length and contract obligations to improve the engine much if at all, even if they have the professional pride to do so, then that's one thing. And we'll never know if that's the case.

To say that they shouldn't be censured over their complete disinterest in pushing the envelope after so many years of fan-funded profit margins and opportunity to do so, is something else entirely. It is what separates a team of developers/a company from being a collection of first-class talent and collective will in the pursuit of excellence for the sheer passion of it, or being a mere tool of the ruthlessly efficient pursuit of the maximum profit:loss ratio of capitalism.

It is what seperates CDProjekt Red from modern day Infinity Ward. And only one of those companies gets my money.
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#25
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
Delta6326 said:
there is no need for a new engine when your just releasing a map pack...
I've seen re-textured maps in CoD. They're selling you the same content you've already bought. Quite frankly, they need to do something completely new for me to be even remotely interested in it.
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