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
acerace
Blame the game (consoles), not the player (develepor).
Posted on Reply
#2
FierceRed
acerace said:
Blame the game (consoles), not the player (develepor).
Like I said, it isn't just that. People have a valid reason for being upset because the status quo smells fishy. See below.

FierceRed said:
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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#3
Prima.Vera
Look at the bright side. At least I can play this game on my old laptop with no issues.
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#4
Calin Banc
Sure, but just like it has been said before, the gameplay will remain the same and it will look the same. After all, a game can be as complex and beautiful as it's engine allows it to be.
Posted on Reply
#5
Prima.Vera
Calin Banc said:
a game can be as complex and beautiful as it's engine allows it to be
I think the story and gameplay is much more important than ultra visuals and stuff. Just look at the Blizzard engines, pure crap quality, but the games are most popular ever. Graphics isn't everything. ;)
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#6
AphexDreamer
They obviously don't want to risk doing anything else or change to much and end up not making the grossly largely sum of money they have been.
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#7
D007
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.
And that went very badly imho. It took the entire modding community to fix it.. I hate how vanilla skyrim looks, modded it's amazing..

Prima.Vera said:
I think the story and gameplay is much more important than ultra visuals and stuff. Just look at the Blizzard engines, pure crap quality, but the games are most popular ever. Graphics isn't everything. ;)
Proving once again, 12 year olds just love shiny lights and flashy, loud things, no matter how ugly they are.. XD

Game may look great however, never know. Just depends on the finished product.
Posted on Reply
#8
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Prima.Vera said:
I think the story and gameplay is much more important than ultra visuals and stuff. Just look at the Blizzard engines, pure crap quality, but the games are most popular ever. Graphics isn't everything. ;)
Story and gameplay are equally as important when it comes to games. But intense graphics will draw people more into the game and make it a more immersive experience especially for the people that have a powerful enough system to get the most out of the visuals.

Im more likely to play a game even if it has a shit storyline and mediocre gameplay just because I can walk around the scenery and get totally lost in it and not some game that has turd brown textures for most of scenery throughout 99% of the game - even if it has amazing gameplay and storyline.

I wouldnt be able to bring myself to play it or at least concentrate long enough to even get far into the game
Posted on Reply
#9
Fourstaff
D007 said:
And that went very badly imho. It took the entire modding community to fix it.. I hate how vanilla skyrim looks, modded it's amazing..
Moral of the story: release modding tools and any shit looking game will become pretty given enough time :)
Posted on Reply
#10
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Fourstaff said:
Moral of the story: release modding tools and any shit looking game will become pretty given enough time :)
very true.

remember back in the early days when IW/Treyarch used to give the community dev/mod tools for CoD games?? the communty added all sorts of mods and ported maps in from OTHER GAMES into CoD specially with CoD1 and MW4. I saw maps from medal of honor:AA and maps from quake and loads of other games ported to the game.

same thing can be said about earlier Battlefield games and other games where the they gave the community dev tools.


but publishers and developers want more money so they stopped giving out dev tools and in effect forced the community to buy map packs as there was no other choice if you wanted to keep playing the game.

CoD4:MW1 on the PC still has quite a large group of active players purely because you can play on modded servers or on servers with a crap load of custom maps.

Those days are long gone, as they think the community isnt 'smart enough' to use the dev tools they provide... Or isnt that what EA said about BF3???

who knows anyway. all i know that giving the community SDK tools only adds to the popularity and longevity of a game as vanilla gets boring after a while.

I personally was sick of the stock maps of MW1 after playing it non stop after 2 weeks and i never touched stock maps again after that until i eventually stopped playing the game entirely
Posted on Reply
#11
Calin Banc
Prima.Vera said:
I think the story and gameplay is much more important than ultra visuals and stuff. Just look at the Blizzard engines, pure crap quality, but the games are most popular ever. Graphics isn't everything. ;)
For me, all of them are important. TW 2 it sure has some fine story and characters, but the gameplay, graphics (LOD system and "shiny" stuff in general), all of them fall behind. Alan Wake has an awesome feeling due to graphics, especially in Eyefinity. Sadly, the boring gameplay mechanic and linearity had manage to destroy almost all of it.

But not only that. If we look in general, except for Battlefield, Red Faction, Hydrophobia, the fire propagation in Far Cry 2 and the easy map creator in MP, euphoria in GTA 4, the open vast environment of Just Cause 2 and some other minor exemple, there aren't any truly new gameplay features out there. Skyrim is pretty much the same as Oblivion, with some simplified things. There aren't any "epic" battles like in Mount and Blade with tens or hundreds of soldiers on screen. Todd said something in line of "more hardware power will only give us a better looking game 7 feet away, where the player doesn't see much anyway. Nothing more". But in some short clips prior to Oblivion, he argued about the dedication of Bethesda to reinvent TES every time and how the new hardware helped them to achieve such a goal. Now, being no new console, he's view suddenly shifted. I'm not surprised.

Going back to CoD, the gameplay is actually the same as before. Just some new story and new maps. Nothing a moding team can't do in a year or two, which rises the question for me: how come people buy this game in such large numbers? :)

PS: Think how the original Deus Ex for instance, would look on the version of UE that was used for Samaritean demo or on Cry Engine 2/3; how the atmosphere, animations, characters and world detail, could improve the game.
Posted on Reply
#12
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Calin Banc said:
<<>>
Going back to CoD, the gameplay is actually the same as before. Just some new story and new maps. Nothing a moding team can't do in a year or two, which rises the question for me: how come people buy this game in such large numbers? :) <<>>
Because people are sheep.
Posted on Reply
#13
Prima.Vera
FreedomEclipse said:
Im more likely to play a game even if it has a shit storyline and mediocre gameplay just because I can walk around the scenery and get totally lost in it and not some game that has turd brown textures for most of scenery throughout 99% of the game - even if it has amazing gameplay and storyline.
Phantasmagoria fan? ;) Yeah, me to. :rockout:
Posted on Reply
#14
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Prima.Vera said:
Phantasmagoria fan? ;) Yeah, me to. :rockout:
The band or the game?
Posted on Reply
#15
_Zod_
No point in creating a new engine (which they aren't capable of anyway) when your target platform is several year old consoles. When the time finally comes then they will license ID Tech 5 and repeat the cycle again.
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#16
Morgoth
its a pain in the ass to get addapted to a new engine and the new tools that comes with it.. i do rather stick to 1 engine that can do the job what it needs to do an upgrade it trough time when it needs to
i wished if valve released source sdk base 2012...
Posted on Reply
#17
Calin Banc
For a professional it shouldn't be that difficult. After all, they receive support from the engine's developer if they don't want to or can't make they're own.
Posted on Reply
#18
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
Morgoth said:
i wished if valve released source sdk base 2012...
Since the regular SDK Base isn't any different from what they use now. The point is, as technology gets better, old engines can't keep up. Example: Do you see any Source and COD engine games using DX11? I don't think so. Do you see these games using modern graphics technology? Not really. The point is, Treyarch has gotten so lazy that in addition to barely touching the engine, they're reusing levels and then charging you money for a half-assed job. I'm done supporting a company that keeps selling the same game and I will consider getting CoD again when they actually put work into making it significantly different, but until then, shame on them.
Posted on Reply
#19
Morgoth
Aquinus said:
Since the regular SDK Base isn't any different from what they use now. The point is, as technology gets better, old engines can't keep up. Example: Do you see any Source and COD engine games using DX11? I don't think so. Do you see these games using modern graphics technology? Not really. The point is, Treyarch has gotten so lazy that in addition to barely touching the engine, they're reusing levels and then charging you money for a half-assed job. I'm done supporting a company that keeps selling the same game and I will consider getting CoD again when they actually put work into making it significantly different, but until then, shame on them.
there is a large difference in Source sdk Base 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, ect
Posted on Reply
#20
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
it is interesting to see how long companies can stretch out a game engine. obviously you dont need to have great graphics to have a great game but it doesn't hurt either. and with the right art team behind a project, a game can look amazing even with 5 year old tech.
Posted on Reply
#21
de.das.dude
Pro Indian Modder
TheMailMan78 said:
Tech 3 engine is from 1999.......its 2012.........let the engine die.
if it aint broke dont fix it.



just because they arent naming this engine different doesnt mean its exactly the same engine as 7 years back.

and this engine is pretty efficient, resource wise.
Posted on Reply
#22
theoneandonlymrk
de.das.dude said:
and this engine is pretty efficient, resource wise.
it is on modern ,drastically over specced for this engine hardware , i can turn every IQ setting to max 24 x enhanced AA(in catalyst) blah blah blah and these games still do 60fps

they are really starting to show their age to me, the blocky shite textures and low detail worlds actually starting to put me off playing at all.... and its as simple as this the AI ,in game physics, lighting and texture detail dont just need upgradeing id start again if i were them its very poor compared to the frostbite engine

im not buying another thing from Treyarch till they put some damn effort in
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