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Kest

Recycling the engine

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This is more or less a rant. Read at your own risk. Also, to moderators, feel free to move this thread if it would feel more comfortable somewhere else. I put it in game design because the concept moves most of the development to designers. Why do developers not reuse game engines, models, textures, etc, to create sequels and seperate games more often? Why do they not just bring in designers to construct new buildings, villages, cities, levels, characters, etc, while mostly using resources that are already made? I like seeing unique things in games, and I like having graphics hardware and physics being pushed forward, but it seems as though there is a lot of other aspects suffering because of the insane emphasis on it. It seems as though every new decent game that comes out needs to push hardware to new levels, usually to the point where the gameplay is laggy with the best hardware out there. And resources are rarely ever shared between games. I'm guessing that would be frowned upon since it never happens, but people would get used to it. Half Life 2 recycled to some degree with its multiple episodes, and I've seen a few other games do it. Zombie Shooter used many elements from Alien Shooter 2. Fallout 2 used a slightly modified Fallout 1 engine, and many of the graphic and sound resources were used again. If I had the chance, I would have bought several more similar sequels to all of these games. Seeing the same chair or wall pattern in a new game does nothing to bother me. I see the same objects in several places in real life the same way. I'm not wanting the exact opposite to what's happening now. I'm just wondering why developers aren't leaning a little more in that direction. Taking some of the pain (and money) off of that side to allow developers to put more effort into level design, scripting, interactive maps, character AI and dialog, etc, making the actual game more intense instead of the effects and visuals.

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Original post by Kest
This is more or less a rant. Read at your own risk. Also, to moderators, feel free to move this thread if it would feel more comfortable somewhere else. I put it in game design because the concept moves most of the development to designers.

Why do developers not reuse game engines, models, textures, etc, to create sequels and seperate games more often? Why do they not just bring in designers to construct new buildings, villages, cities, levels, characters, etc, while mostly using resources that are already made?

I like seeing unique things in games, and I like having graphics hardware and physics being pushed forward, but it seems as though there is a lot of other aspects suffering because of the insane emphasis on it. It seems as though every new decent game that comes out needs to push hardware to new levels, usually to the point where the gameplay is laggy with the best hardware out there. And resources are rarely ever shared between games. I'm guessing that would be frowned upon since it never happens, but people would get used to it.

Half Life 2 recycled to some degree with its multiple episodes, and I've seen a few other games do it. Zombie Shooter used many elements from Alien Shooter 2. Fallout 2 used a slightly modified Fallout 1 engine, and many of the graphic and sound resources were used again. If I had the chance, I would have bought several more similar sequels to all of these games. Seeing the same chair or wall pattern in a new game does nothing to bother me. I see the same objects in several places in real life the same way.

I'm not wanting the exact opposite to what's happening now. I'm just wondering why developers aren't leaning a little more in that direction. Taking some of the pain (and money) off of that side to allow developers to put more effort into level design, scripting, interactive maps, character AI and dialog, etc, making the actual game more intense instead of the effects and visuals.


Games don't sell if they don't look new.

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Well, the first game would look new. It could also create a fanbase. The ability to reuse most of the resources would have the second out very quickly, so it would still look pretty new. The development cost and time would also be cut in half. Probably more than half. It seems reasonable from a business perspective, and more than reasonable for indie developers.

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Game engines are reused a lot.

Game content is a lot harder - typically you'll need new environments at least, and that already involves a huge amount of effort.

Overall though, I think I agree with you. Episodic games especially are a great place to take advantage of existing content.

John B

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Original post by agi_shi
Quote:
Original post by Kest
This is more or less a rant. Read at your own risk. Also, to moderators, feel free to move this thread if it would feel more comfortable somewhere else. I put it in game design because the concept moves most of the development to designers.

Why do developers not reuse game engines, models, textures, etc, to create sequels and seperate games more often? Why do they not just bring in designers to construct new buildings, villages, cities, levels, characters, etc, while mostly using resources that are already made?

I like seeing unique things in games, and I like having graphics hardware and physics being pushed forward, but it seems as though there is a lot of other aspects suffering because of the insane emphasis on it. It seems as though every new decent game that comes out needs to push hardware to new levels, usually to the point where the gameplay is laggy with the best hardware out there. And resources are rarely ever shared between games. I'm guessing that would be frowned upon since it never happens, but people would get used to it.

Half Life 2 recycled to some degree with its multiple episodes, and I've seen a few other games do it. Zombie Shooter used many elements from Alien Shooter 2. Fallout 2 used a slightly modified Fallout 1 engine, and many of the graphic and sound resources were used again. If I had the chance, I would have bought several more similar sequels to all of these games. Seeing the same chair or wall pattern in a new game does nothing to bother me. I see the same objects in several places in real life the same way.

I'm not wanting the exact opposite to what's happening now. I'm just wondering why developers aren't leaning a little more in that direction. Taking some of the pain (and money) off of that side to allow developers to put more effort into level design, scripting, interactive maps, character AI and dialog, etc, making the actual game more intense instead of the effects and visuals.


Games don't sell if they don't look new.


Explain the Wii, then.

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Original post by JohnBSmall
Game content is a lot harder - typically you'll need new environments at least, and that already involves a huge amount of effort.

If the concept is in mind as the game is first developed, the map editor and other development tools could be emphasized a little more and made easier to use.

Some type of module setup would help a lot. Similar to what's used in Oblivion. Complex and specific objects and areas can be made up of many common models and textures, defined to be together through a parsed text file or editor file. They can then be plotted easily around the game world with the map editor. This would allow copying the modules, modifying them, changing the materials on them, etc, streamlining world creation. Using modules also makes dynamic, interactive, and destructible environments much easier.

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There are companies that reuse their existing technology. Take the Dynasty Warriors series, for example, or how Firaxis seems to have reused a lot of material in making its Civilization games, down to favorite music and ambient sounds.

I think one of the big problems for mainstream developers is that publishers typically take the rights to everything-- models, code, textures, sounds, everything. So a team that doesn't sell a blockbuster game starts over.

I think independent game makers have more of an edge here. Although their audience is microscopic in comparison, they can at least leverage everything they've learned over time. The guys who made the impressive Evochron and related games is a great example of this.

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IIRC, Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, Sonic Heroes, Shadow the Hedgehog, and maybe the "new" Sonic the Hedgehog all used the same SA engine (not sure on the last one).

It might have been fine if they bothered to fix the bugs the original engine had in abundance.

GTA III, Liberty City Stories, Vice City, San Andreas, and Vice City Stories not only shared the same engine, but a lot of the resources as well. The Stallion remained unchanged practically in all 5 games.

Still, they failed to address the bugs in the engine, and even added more issues as time went on.

I believe X Men Legends 1 & 2 and Marvel UA also used the same basic engine, but unliek the prior two, it was actually fairly solid. No bone headed, vexing, or stupid bugs that could make the game unplayable. Then of course there's Resident Evil, which shared a lot between it's games, and the unending slight revisions to mediocre sports titles by EA. They all share the same engine as well, though they get 'new' textures which look the same as the old ones every two weeks for the latest version.

Then there's an unknowable amount of games off Quake 3's engine. And Unreal.

I could probably find more, but I don't feel like digging past the first row in my collection.

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Sports games, especially the Madden series, would be a bad example of how well it could work. Most sports are forcibly seated in a specific type of area, and areas would be one of the most vital things to change in a sequel or spin-off that shared resources. Fighting games would suffer the same way, where a sequel would need to include new models and animations to be worth buying.

There are a great many games that I would have quickly bought sequels to, even if the only thing to change was the environments and people. Deus Ex (new missions, new main plot), Fallout (new world area), Operation Flashpoint (new continent), Star Control II (new quadrant of space), etc. Some action-heavy games, like Half Life 2, don't even need new people or weapons. They just need new area layouts and new scripted enemy behavior, strung out into a decent plot to enjoy. That's essentially what the episodes are, and it worked as well as any normal game sequel. I'm not sure if they used the same textures or models anywhere, but the fact that I don't know shows how much I would care.

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Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
Explain the Wii, then.


Games don't sell if they don't look new, but Wii does look new. It's just something other than graphics that makes it so.

Moreover, Wii is not software. Software for Wii is unimpressive (and that's an understatement) in itself. Wii Sports on a PC with keyboard controls? Good luck.

Quote:
Original post by Kest
There are a great many games that I would have quickly bought sequels to, even if the only thing to change was the environments and people. Deus Ex (new missions, new main plot), Fallout (new world area), Operation Flashpoint (new continent), Star Control II (new quadrant of space)


Things like that are best left to the modders. Neverwinter Nights, Elder Scrolls and Total War series thrive on the modding communities, with a million and one handy mods to add, and some rather successful total conversions. They basically reuse the game material to create new games.

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