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What Uninmplemented Features Would You Like in a Game Engine


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#1 samgj   Members   -  Reputation: 385

Posted 20 September 2013 - 03:59 PM

I've been working on an engine for awhile and was wondering what features developers would want that have never been implemented. These aren't just things that don't exist at all, just things that haven't been put in a publicly available engine yet.

 

For me I would like:

  • A framework for creating procedural environments. Where you can define important parts and have the rest filled in automatically.
  • Collaborative map editor
  • Dynamic sound

What would you like?


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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19011

Posted 20 September 2013 - 04:38 PM

There are already many procedural world generators for Unity, so that's over-done.

 

Collaborative map editing can be done by sharing your screen, so that is done. We do that all the time when working with remote people.

 

What do you mean by dynamic sound? Something like DirectMusic offered a few years back, and the marketplace rejected because procedural music stinks for anything but the simplest ambient music? Or something else?

 

 

There are very few 'must have' missing features in the big engines like Unity or C4. They have had a lot of people working on them for several years, and missing features have been contributed by the community.

 

Unity could improve on the 'edit and continue' integration with Visual Studio, I suppose. That would be nice.


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#3 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4585

Posted 20 September 2013 - 05:42 PM

How would one know what all the features in all publicly available engines are?  Has someone made a feature comparison chart of this kind of thing?  That would be a handy object.


Edited by sunandshadow, 20 September 2013 - 05:42 PM.

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#4 Matias Goldberg   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3010

Posted 20 September 2013 - 05:53 PM

Cross platform shaders is still an open problem and a highly demanded one. Personally, I would like to see proposed solution #2 (a shading language that outputs hlsl & glsl) becoming popular, but proposed solution #3 & #4 also works (#4 looks interesting).



#5 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 27892

Posted 20 September 2013 - 08:07 PM


What do you mean by dynamic sound?
There's been some very interesting papers and tech-demos published on real time sound synthesis, for object interactions.

One of the best I've seen was a water flow soundscape generated by a real-time SPH particle system, reproducing sounds of trickling water, glugs of tipping a bucket in a pond, or beach waves. There's also a few demos showing different kinds of materials hitting and scraping against each other, which are convincing for some situations, but poor in others.

I think trespasser is the only game that's tried to use this kind of tech.



#6 kburkhart84   Members   -  Reputation: 1573

Posted 20 September 2013 - 09:30 PM

The catch is that about every single possible feature we can think of(to an extent) has been implemented in some engine.  There is NO engine that has all the features, and some features are more rare than others, at least out of the box.  Destructible terrain is a big one.  I think it is C4 that has it, and no other engine as far as I know(at least of the big names) has it.  With UDK, it is supposed to be impossible, though with the source licence(Unreal 3) it is much more possible.  Unity doesn't directly support it, though they give access to a low enough level that it has been made possible, but not by default, rather coded in.  Unity just recently (4 beta) allowed a normal mapped shader to apply to terrains(as in the internal splat-map terrain) without having write a special shader on your own, while UDK already had that one.  Other engines may or may not have it.  Animation systems are similar, while UDK has had IK for a time already, Unity "relatively" recently got it with the addition of the Mechanim animation system.  Most other engines don't have IK at all.

 

Those aren't the only examples.  Like I said, at least to this point, there is no engine that has every single feature yet, although almost every single feature has been implemented in SOME engine.





#7 Oolala   Members   -  Reputation: 711

Posted 21 September 2013 - 05:46 AM

I want the engine to ship with the game I was intending on creating already finished, so I just need to call 'RunGame()'.  I am pretty tired of implementing that part over and over, and feel it really should be a standard feature.



#8 samgj   Members   -  Reputation: 385

Posted 21 September 2013 - 08:56 AM


Collaborative map editing can be done by sharing your screen, so that is done. We do that all the time when working with remote people.

 

What I mean is that you could have people working on different parts of a map at the same time.

 


Cross platform shaders is still an open problem and a highly demanded one. Personally, I would like to see proposed solution #2 (a shading language that outputs hlsl & glsl) becoming popular, but proposed solution #3 & #4 also works (#4 looks interesting).

 

I didn't know about how much of a problem this was, I figured everything could use GLSL. I'm going to look into this.


Edited by samgj, 21 September 2013 - 09:10 AM.

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#9 Koobazaur   Members   -  Reputation: 688

Posted 22 September 2013 - 12:15 PM

Oooh, how about a "verify" button at the end of the project with several checkboxes like "Includes sufficient Fantasy tropes?" or "Is artsy enough?"

(joke aside, something like that might be actually kinda cool for more quantifiable stuff you could run against a database of tropes/common errors/etc. or something. there's a website where you can copy/paste text and it tells you how "bullshit-y" it is based on several algorithms, which actually worked pretty well)

 

 

Cross platform shaders is still an open problem and a highly demanded one. Personally, I would like to see proposed solution #2 (a shading language that outputs hlsl & glsl) becoming popular, but proposed solution #3 & #4 also works (#4 looks interesting).

 

Didn't Ogre3D do something like that, or at least use some sort of engine-specific platform-independent effects framework? Or am I remembering wrong (never used it, just browsed documentation for ideas)

 

And arguably, UDK does that too where it takes node-based visual material editor and spits out shader code and is cross-platform. 
 


Edited by Koobazaur, 22 September 2013 - 12:21 PM.

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#10 Sik_the_hedgehog   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1495

Posted 22 September 2013 - 01:02 PM

I know that there's a Sonic fangame that has a special mode where people can join and netgame and go into the 3D equivalent of debug mode from the original Sonic games (letting everybody place objects around), and then save the object layout. This was implemented because the level needed too many objects to be placed.

 

Can't get more collaborative than that, I presume?


Don't pay much attention to "the hedgehog" in my nick, it's just because "Sik" was already taken =/ By the way, Sik is pronounced like seek, not like sick.

#11 BGB   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1545

Posted 22 September 2013 - 02:29 PM

more games where the client can connect to an arbitrary server of their choice and have all contents/etc/... streamed down to them, sort of like a web-browser but also a game?...

 

in this case, then users would run game servers in a similar method to how they run Apache, while being able to control nearly all aspects of gameplay from their own local server, and being able to include portals to other servers (potentially with very different gameplay). likewise, without requiring the big centralized server-farms (or service fees) typical of an MMO.

 

sort of like if Steam hybridized with a web-browser and normal network gaming?...

 

also:

destructible terrain (specifics could depend of server-side policies);

user-level multiplayer world editing (could be restricted to users with OP rights);

...

 

likewise: streamed single-player games could also be worthwhile.

 

admittedly, some of this is a goal in my case, but there are still holes and potential security issues limiting this sort of use (many types of assets are not currently streamed, and the security of client-side script-code is still a bit worrying and it will still require a fair bit of work to work before this can really be made "safe"). (the issue is providing enough freedom where the scripts can do what they need, without providing so much as to allow script code to compromise the clients' system, like in the possible case of malicious game assets and scripts or similar...).

 

it could ultimately be made pointless though by the whole Unreal Engine + HTML5 thing though (where the whole engine is pushed down to the client as a big mass of JS code and similar...), which could limit the need for a native-code version of an engine on the client. (even if, personally, this seems like a "big pile of crap" solution...).



#12 markr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1653

Posted 22 September 2013 - 03:42 PM

How about

 

* Complete and accurate documentation

* Working simple sample programs for every single feature implemented

* 100% compatibility with whatever compiler / other engine / platform / language / library I happen to be using today



#13 samgj   Members   -  Reputation: 385

Posted 22 September 2013 - 06:24 PM

I know that there's a Sonic fangame that has a special mode where people can join and netgame and go into the 3D equivalent of debug mode from the original Sonic games (letting everybody place objects around), and then save the object layout. This was implemented because the level needed too many objects to be placed.

 

Can't get more collaborative than that, I presume?

 

Cube and Halo also have something like that. But neither of those are full editors.


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#14 ddn3   Members   -  Reputation: 1251

Posted 23 September 2013 - 02:56 PM

If we're talking about "new" ideas then how about..

 

built in optimizing logic engine - uses genetic algorithms and solvers to data mine and optimize gameplay elements

 

perfect state capture / replay - allows use to jump into a captured session at any point in time and try different "options"

 

built in voice commands - a voice driven interface which allows the user to issue commands to the engine to perform actions for instance

     -reload level 

     -pause level - rewind 5 seconds

     -show me performance metric - level 7

etc..

 

Now that's what i call "next gen"..

 

Good Luck!



#15 herbertsworld   Members   -  Reputation: 276

Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:27 AM

Real-time editing of content and assets without the need to rebuild the whole level again just for 1 asset change.

 

The luminous engine is the closest I've seen.

 



#16 Sik_the_hedgehog   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1495

Posted 24 September 2013 - 06:42 PM

Real-time editing of content and assets without the need to rebuild the whole level again just for 1 asset change.

In other words, an engine where it doesn't take ages to build the hierarchy so it can be generated on the fly at load time instead of having to prebake the process when saving the data.


Don't pay much attention to "the hedgehog" in my nick, it's just because "Sik" was already taken =/ By the way, Sik is pronounced like seek, not like sick.

#17 BGB   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1545

Posted 24 September 2013 - 07:17 PM

 

Real-time editing of content and assets without the need to rebuild the whole level again just for 1 asset change.

In other words, an engine where it doesn't take ages to build the hierarchy so it can be generated on the fly at load time instead of having to prebake the process when saving the data.

 

 

some of us have engines that do this at run-time.

 

namely, not only can the data be built at load-time, but can be modified dynamically in real-time (say, a piece of geometry is modified on the server and sent out to any connected clients).

 

granted, this does come at the expense of not having prebuilt light-maps or visibility data, requiring real-time lighting and visibility determination, which does reduce performance somewhat. one compromise here is cached vertex lighting, which is more viable on lower-end hardware, but this generally doesn't really look good.

 

another strategy is periodically using occlusion queries and similar to help rebuild visibility data, ...

(at least, in my tests, tended to be faster than using ray-casts or antiportal-based strategies).



#18 Sik_the_hedgehog   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1495

Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:05 PM

Yeah, I was just mentioning the correlation. And in fact, yes, engines that can build the hierarchy fast enough in load time usually can do it in run time too (because it generally comes from having a simple implementation), which makes them extremely dynamic (something that can affect gameplay greatly, not just improve productivity). In fact, that alone can make up for some reduced or removed features in several cases (because as long as it looks good it's OK, right?).


Don't pay much attention to "the hedgehog" in my nick, it's just because "Sik" was already taken =/ By the way, Sik is pronounced like seek, not like sick.

#19 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 27892

Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:11 PM


Real-time editing of content and assets without the need to rebuild the whole level again just for 1 asset change.
 
The luminous engine is the closest I've seen.
There's two features demonstrated in that video, both are a variation on what Phantom calls "live link" in this thread:

http://www.gamedev.net/topic/647955-total-data-reentrancy-fools-errand/

 

The first feature is you see them tweaking variables in-game. Every game engine should have this to some degree.

Some are better than others -- e.g. one engine I used recently allowed you to tweak values like this, but not save/update them, so you'd have to simultaneously make the same changes in the editor in order for them to be permanent.

There's also different interfaces for doing this tweaking, the main options I've seen are:

  1. An on-screen display, like in the video.
  2. A special mode that launches the game as a window inside an editor tool, with regular windows forms / toolbars / etc for making changes.
  3. An external application connected via a network, which can display the game's internal data and allow you to make changes.

 

The second feature you see in the video is a live-link with Maya. This is a special variation on option #3 above, where you write some special plugin/Mel/Python code, which connects to the game via a network and syncs data between the DCC app (Maya) and the game. This is a great workflow because the artists get to use the tools that they're used to, and any tweaks they make are actually being made to the source art files too, so they're preserved.

I've personally never been lucky enough to work with an engine with this feature, but I know Melbourne House had it in the 90's between XSI and their PS2 engine (before I worked there), and Crytek has it to some degree (animations can be synced between Maya and game for tweaking).

 

 

As mentioned in the above-linked thread though, there's other variations on this idea besides "live linking". IMHO, "live link" should be a mandatory feature in any game engine, to allow for fast iteration on tweaking, and in my experience, it has been present in the last 4 engines I've used.

 

Two out of the last 4 engines I've used have also supported "asset refresh" on top of "live link" -- where the modified asset data can be recompiled and reloaded while the game is running. This is less instant than "live link" -- taking from a frame to a few seconds, instead of instantly -- but is much more general, allowing larger changes to be quickly iterated as well (e.g. a whole texture, a whole mesh). IMHO, this is a required feature for a big engine, as the reductions in iteration time are immensely valuable over the course of a project. Every engine should have this feature going forwards.



#20 JohnnyCode   Members   -  Reputation: 193

Posted 02 October 2013 - 02:35 PM

climbing!

 

... about real time editing, that is how my editor works, at least, since I have dynamicly spawned scene from a global tree, and if you move something and than travel too far and come back it is where you moved it. It is an imediate RAM-> file drop.






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