Bet on Soldier Designer Diary #2 - Bet on Technology
The designers discuss how and why the Bet on Soldier engine is geared to take full advantage of current and future PCs.
Bet on Soldier is a first-person shooter with a style all its own. It doesn't look like most other shooters, namely because it's being built on an entirely new graphics engine developed by the game's designer, France's Kylotonn. In this futuristic shooter, you play as a mercenary out to get revenge against the evil corporations that did you wrong. Your road will take you through this world's most popular form of entertainment, war. You take on missions for cash, and during the battles you can bet on the chances that you can defeat certain opponents within a limited amount of time. But between these highlighted skirmishes, you'll also battle it out with armies of regular grunts, some armored in giant robotic exoskeletons. In this edition of our designer diaries, Kylotonn's Roman Vincent explains some of the technology behind the game. Bet on Soldier, meanwhile, ships this summer.
Bet on TechnologyBy Roman Vincent
CEO and Producer, Kylotonn
Welcome to our second developer diary. In this entry, we'll speak about the technical aspects of the game, and we'll focus on the engine we're using for development, as well as the physics engine we’re using to create an ultrarealistic world.
Bet on Soldier uses our proprietary Kt engine, the final product of six years of research and development. It has been tried and tested over a long period and has now become a stable and efficient pipeline of production. This enables the team to focus on the game itself, as they already know the engine inside out and know without any doubts that it will perform impressively. We wanted to bring a unique feel to our game, and we think that using our own engine is going to help differentiate ourselves from the competition.
The Kt engine is based on two main ideas. The first is that it can run on modest PC specs. To play Bet on Soldier, you don't have to buy a brand-new, state-of-the-art PC. In order to reach the widest possible number of players, the engine has been developed with that idea in mind. The second idea is that the engine can evolve quickly. We can easily extend the performance of the engine from one hardware generation to the next. With that aspect we can maximize the engine’s performance with what the latest hardware can offer. At the beginning, the engine supported DirectX 8, but moving to DirectX 9 never posed a problem because of this future-proofing aspect.
Kt is now fully DirectX 9 compatible. We use every type of graphical effect at our disposal: light-mapping, dynamic lightning and shadows, bump-mapping, cubemap reflections, specular effects, and particle effects. Bet on Soldier even uses vertex shaders, as well as pixels shaders. To stay compatible with older PCs, most of the time we use shaders 1.1, but the game also supports shaders 2.0 for the most advanced 3D cards. We also use normal maps for all the characters and the objects in the game. This allows us to have a highly realistic level of detail.
Another idea behind Kt is the editor and the creation of mods. It is completely integrated into the engine and features an advanced text editor. In a similar fashion to the CryTek engine that powers Far Cry, the editor can switch to game mode instantly in order to test a level. We're planning to release these tools soon after the release of Bet on Soldier so that the modding community can easily create add-ons for the game, as well as entire mods.
Another big technological aspect we hope will shine in the game is our use of physics. We really want to take advantage of how far the physics tools have come by creating a believable gameplay experience that gives players a deeper, more realistic world. Real worlds open up the possibility of a different game experience each time, since the world changes differently with each unique interaction. All that adds up to a much more involved and engrossing gameplay experience that might otherwise be lacking if the reliance is simply on graphical performance.
For gamers, the experience is more immersive and visually more appealing. Imagine running through a canyon, and you have thousands of boulders crashing around you. That will get your adrenaline pumping. This is why we are using the Novodex engine by Ageia. Basically, as a stand-alone engine, it is comparable with the best Havok has to offer. Add the PhysX chip to the equation, and we can create more challenging levels, with gameplay that has never been seen before in games.
The unpredictable manner in which real-time physics occur on a huge scale is just mind blowing for gamers, and it adds something new and innovative to the experience. This chip is the world's first physics processing unit that allows the CPU and the GPU to be fully discharged from the complex renderings of a physics engine, and thus the game will make full use of the power of the latest 3D cards. Bet on Soldier is the first game to use this revolutionary technology, even before Unreal Engine 3.0-based games.
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