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GDC 09: The CryENGINE 3 is next-gen ready

12:00 PM on 03.30.2009 // Hamza CTZ Aziz

Shortly before attending GDC 09, I learned that Crytek announced the CryENGINE 3. I’m not a big PC gamer, so I didn’t really look into the announcement. It’s Crytek, so I knew it was going to be bigger and badder than ever … and you’d most likely need a rig like this to run it. Needless to say, I was quite shocked when I walked into my appointment with Crytek to see an Xbox 360 sitting on the ground running the CryENGINE 3.

Read on to find out how the CryENGINE 3 is going to make developing games easier then ever and what this means for PC and console gamers.

I sat down with Cevat Yerli, the president and CEO of Crytek, and Jens Schafer, PR Manager, as they walked me through the CryENGINE 3. The video above shows off everything that I got to see happening all in real time. Crytek really wanted to drive home the point that this engine can work on the consoles so they ditched the PCs and all of the content shown last week at GDC was through the PS3 and Xbox 360. The engine looks exactly the same running on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Typically, one version will suffer, but Cevat wanted to make sure the engine runs the same on both systems. It wasn't that hard to make happen, as Cevat told me: “People always say the PS3 is a bitch to work on [laughs], but it’s not actually.”

The tech demo started off in the room you see in the video starting at the three second mark. The purpose of this room was to show off how advanced the lighting system has gotten. With the CryEngine2, three to eight light sources could be used at a time. Now, as you can see in that first portion of the video, over 300 lights are being shown.

A little later in the demonstration, we take a visit to a level from Crysis. Yes, thanks to the CryENGINE 3, Crysis is possible on the consoles. It doesn’t mean we’re going to see a Crysis port, but it’s a realistic possibility now.

I want to remind you again that I saw this all in real time as we toured the different locations on the Xbox 360. Not once was there a loading screen through these different portions of the demo. The transition from each scene was instantaneous and I had to remind myself several times that this was on the Xbox 360.

The CE3 was built with a top down approach. The priority is of course, for the PC. When a company puts out a game using the CE3 on multiple platforms, it’s going to look the best on the PC. But now it’s easier than ever for a developer to bring their game over to the consoles and not have to put in a ton of work to get their game to run on the console when developing a multiplatform game. On top of all that, CE3 is ready for whatever the next big systems Microsoft and Sony are working on. The engine is next-gen ready.

The beautiful part of the CE3 is how developers will be able to edit their games almost instantly. Say you just completed a level and want someone to have a quick run through of your creation. While the player is going through the level, you’re going to be looking at everything to make sure things are running smoothly. If you something wrong, you can go fix the problem and immediately update the game across all the platforms it’s being developed on. Usually it can take hours, but now, developers won’t have much of an excuse to fix bugs other then plain laziness. 

It's ridiculous the potential Crytek has laid out here and it's going to be really interesting to see what comes of all this.

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