Crytek did a big splash at GDC16. With the announcement of Cryengine V the company made it’s technology available to everyone everywhere completely for free. Probably it’s one of the biggest game engine releases this year, which sounds just as tempting as Lumberyard (which is actually powered by Cryengine rendering technology).
During the past years Cryengine remained one of the most technologically advanced engines out there. It could rival easily with UE4 and Unity 5 in terms of visual fidelity, but it definitely lacked the community support. You had an engine, which was great, but was too difficult to use by the average Joe. That’s all about to change, thanks to the efforts from the internal team at Cryengine.
At GDC 2016 at the amazing Cryengine booth we had a pleasure to meet with creative director at Cryengine Frank Vitz. We talked talked about the current focus on the community, the main features of the new engine and some other interesting stuff.
Priority on the Community
Cryengine V is a new way for us to present a lot of new things that we’ve been working over the last couple of years. First of all, we still proud ourselves in being the most powerful engine. We made changes to support DX12, we have a whole number of features that really show the power of our technology. However, there’s not much point in all this power and technology if people don’t have access to it.
Our community have pointed it out several times: while we were working on adding new great features to Cryengine we’ve lost focus on ease of access, understandable user interface and documentation. This time we’ve making things completely different: we’ve put a lot of effort into making wonderful tutorials, compiling detailed documentation for the developers.
We’ve also completely rewritten our user-interface. This was a direct response to our dev requests. Also there’s a new platform for sharing and communication. This will help people to solve their questions with Cryengine V faster and easier.
“Free” or “Pay what you want”
Basically our new business model “pay what you want” is a variation on giving the engine away for free. It was designed in its core to support that feeling of the community. You feel like you pay what you think this technology is worth.
Our free licence is complete, we’re not holding anything back from the developers. Anyone can get all the features. But if you’re an enterprise customer with a huge project and deadlines, and a lot of other expenses, Crytek has a different approach. Not in the sense of giving them some new features, but in organising support, helping with the technical questions – that sort of thing. These services are still paid.
Assets are still there
Cryengine V still ships with a lot of sample assets, so you can grab them and start learning our technology. There’s also our own Marketplace , where you can find additional meshes or plugins. We’re definitely going to share some of the assets from our previous games. Some of them are already at the Cryengine Marketplace. Some are still bound up with IP rights, but we hope to get them there eventually.
I would say the biggest feature in Cryengine V is DX12 support. DX12 is ideal for VR, which is one of our focuses. You get higher frame-rate and direct control of the GPU resources. Our new low-overhead renderer also makes it a lot faster under DirectX 11. We also have a new particle system. There’s a completely new user-interface with QT. It’s user extensible, re-configurable. Volumetric clouds are very cool as well. We’ve also upgraded our audio-translation layer, now you can use Fmod tech with Cryengine V. Audio is also very important for VR, so we’ve made sure it works great with our engine.
Oh, and now we have C# which is very cool. The guys who wrote the C# framework actually had some extra time before GDC16 and they made a couple of very impressive demos. They build an entire side-scrolled in C#. It’a a super retro project. And on the other side of the spectrum is a VR-editor for Cryengine V. It’s a prototype/tech-demo for HTC Vive. You can now create VR in VR. It’s a fabulous example of what you can do with C#.
We don’t have yet a universal plugin architecture. I’ve never big a big fan of them, cause very often plugin architecture can reduce performance. On the other hand the plugin architecture, for example with physics, might actually be very useful. There’s a lot of software out there like Substance Designer, Simplygon, which game developers really benefit from.
Here’s a brief look at some of the biggest features of Cryengine V:
A New Sandbox Editor: We have been focusing heavily on Editor workflow, and with this first version we are aiming to provide solid foundations to our new User Experience. If you were familiar with the old Sandbox Editor, then don’t worry, all the features are still available although many things have been redesigned to fit in better with the overall vision. This first version still includes some legacy tools, but we are planning to upgrade the entire workflow to match our new User Experience standards. We are confident that this new interface gives you a more intuitive window into the powerful tools of CRYENGINE and we are eagerly awaiting your feedback.
CE# Framework: A new API that allows developers who are familiar with C# to start scripting straight away in CRYENGINE V. While C++ is the industry standard in the traditional high-end game development space, it can seem daunting to aspiring developers who are just starting out. So to this end we are introducing a C# layer to CRYENGINE that allows a wider range of programmers to achieve their vision.
DirectX 12 Support: Utilize the latest branch of DirectX to take greater control of hardware resources. Introduced alongside Windows 10, Microsoft’s new DirectX 12 low-level API allows developers to get tomorrow’s performance out of today’s hardware. Thanks to CRYENGINE V’s newly introduced DirectX 12 support, developers will be able to work close to the metal getting the most out of CRYENGINE’s famous performance and state-of-the-art visuals.
Reworked Low Overhead Renderer: Significantly increases the performance of today’s hardware in graphically intensive applications. CRYENGINE V comes with a completely redesigned and rewritten core Renderer that allows submitting draw calls with minimal overhead. The new Renderer architecture enables us to get the most out of modern graphics APIs like DX12 and also greatly improves performance under DX11.
Advanced Volumetric Cloud System: Optimized for VR to give clouds full 3D spatial rendering for higher quality with a minimal performance hit. In CRYENGINE V we introduce an entirely new cloud system that enables users to create stunning volumetric clouds that integrate seamlessly into CRYENGINE’s advanced lighting models and with performance that can even fulfill the strict frame time requirements of VR apps.
New Particle System: Create stunning real-time fluid effects, handled almost entirely on the GPU. With a new Particle System that will optionally offload particle management and processing to the GPU, developers can achieve significantly higher particle throughput for expensive effects, further improving performance while building stunning worlds for gamers to explore.
FMOD Studio Support: Tight implementation of yet another professional Audio middleware that allows for greater flexibility in Audio middleware selection.
Improved Profiling: Profile your code with the power of advanced external profilers such as Brofiler (shipped with CRYENGINE), PIX, GPA and/or VTunes.
Visual Studio 2015 Support: CRYENGINE is now compliant with the MSVC 11.0, 12.0 and 14.0 compiler.