GDC 2003: Far Cry engine details, movie

Crytek, the studio behind Ubi Soft's upcoming first-person shooter Far Cry, demonstrates the impressive engine technology that's now available for other developers to license.


Far Cry

Little has been seen recently of Ubi Soft's Far Cry, but Crytek is showing off the game's engine at this week's Game Developers Conference. As the movie below illustrates, the engine has a number of cutting-edge features, including support for vast landscapes, extremely long view distances, realistic physics, and real-time lighting and shadowing.

Since its debut under the name X-Isle, the engine has often been shown rendering very large tropical island landscapes packed with lush vegetation, and the gameplay footage indicates that we can expect such detail in Far Cry. The engine's terrain scaling makes it practical for a game not to add arbitrary fog in the distance, and it's possible to zoom in on very distant objects up to 2km away. Additionally, a now-familiar demo demonstrates that the physics and lighting can work together by creating dynamic, spinning shadows when a hanging light is shot.

The Crytek engine also supports a feature called "polybump," which includes a development tool to make it very easy to create normal-mapped objects. Normal mapping, a feature seen in upcoming games like Doom III and Doom III , helps models look very good in dynamic lighting situations without requiring extremely high polygon counts. Polybump uses two models--for example, one made up of 250,000 polygons and another that's just 1,500 polygons--to produce a texture that represents the 3D relief of the object. Unlike static bump mapping, normal maps can produce model details with dynamic shadows, resulting in realistic-looking contours for things such as human ears or folds in clothing.

The Crytek engine demo includes a look at the current state of Far Cry, a PC first-person shooter, but the engine is said to be ready for Xbox, PS2, and GameCube development, although not all features are available on all platforms.

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