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Norman Barrows

Unity can a generic engine do something like skyrim?

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can a generic engine do something like skyrim?

 

generic engines - simply by dint of begin generic - will be slower than one-off custom engines built on low level graphics and audio APIs.

 

are generic engines like unity and unreal capable of something like skyrim, or does it really require a custom engine?

 

i'm considering generic engine use for future projects as an easy way to get multi-threading and DX12 capabilities into my games (assuming they have it or will add it).

 

unfortunately, i have a passion for building large open world sandbox FPSRPG "living world" simulations, with perhaps as many as four  games of this type planned for the future, after Caveman v3.0 (priate, fantasy, scifi, and western).

 

my two basic choices are to either add in-house multi-threading and dx 12 capabilities to my bag of tricks, or switch to using an engine of some sort.

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Don't underestimate the third option: modifying a prebuilt engine.

Saves the up-front cost of building an engine, avoids the problems of genericity for the most part, and generally gives you fine-grained control over the build-vs-buy decision.

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I think the generic engines could handle it, though it would not be as efficient as a custom engine.  Unity for example....they recently added some features that make bigger worlds easier, and there are assets(or you could code your own) that let you stream terrain and world pieces in and out of memory.  I also think I remember seeing something similar in UE4, but I can't confirm that one.

 

I think these things can be done this way, but I will also say that the previous generation of generic engine, as in Unity 4's generation, wouldn't be able to do it very easily, though with coding I'm sure it could be done even then.

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Unreal and Unity out of the box could come close enough for hobby work, where you also are not going to do as much world processing.

 

You would need lots of assets, lots of custom shaders, lots of programming work.  Performance-wise such a system would struggle on a brand new machine. You could not reach the raw performance numbers without modifying the engine's source and fixing up a few things. Both engines are fairly poor at multiprocessing out of the box, and neither is designed to take advantage of the most modern video cards like Skyrim does, but the engine can be modified easily enough.  

 

It would still need a couple thousand development-years of effort, and a 9-digit dollar cost.

 

If you're paying hundreds of millions of dollars for people's salary, paying five or possibly six figures for engine source is cheap, then you can fine-tune as you see fit.

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neither is designed to take advantage of the most modern video cards like Skyrim does, but the engine can be modified easily enough.  

It does? Skyrim was released very late 2011 and it uses D3D 9 (and nothing else). Doesn't has any occlusion effect (5 years after Crytek introduced it), nor atmospheric scattering, nor volumetric lighting. Supports up to 4 shadow casting lights, they're really bad quality and they're all selected by hand (so the level designer has to mark which lights cast shadows, which meshes cast shadows, and pray it doesnt has more than 4 in the same scene, no dynamic LOD of lights or anything, just distance based).

 

All water in the game is represented with a flat plane and watery normal maps on top of it (again, Crytek in 2007 did it much better). Most of the things in the world dont cast a shadow, like clutter and medium sized rocks, which CryEngine did in 2007, also GTA IV in 2008 did actual ocean waves AND the whole open world shebang, procedural cluttering, real dynamic shadows, you name it.

 

Whatever animation system or blending system it has is straight from 2006 (or new but very badly used). Most "advanced" part is that feet accommodate along the floor, a bit, so most of the time everything looks as if its floating on the terrain.

 

It apparently can use multiple threads, but it keeps one or two to 80% utilization, rest unused.

 

Unity/UE4 can do any of those with ease. Skyrim was anything but technically advanced for its time. Default UE4 shooter scene thingy already looks better and is better animated than Skyrim.

 

The places where you are going to have a problem arent the big "systems" (rendering, physics, sound, animations), those are well covered. You're going to have issues with other things. Managing the world data, LODing systems, daily AI routines (did any game had that before Oblivion in 2006?), and also a very important thing: Modding API.

 

UE4 and Unity are really hard to mod. Skyrim's engine is practically made to be modded. It has its own versioning of world references, so plugins that modify the same things can overwrite eachother depending on some order and keep working. Literally the game updates are stuffed in an additional plugin, like any mod, that applies over the base game and the engine just fucking picks it up and makes everything work. Its awesome. Last time I checked they also implemented hot reloading of plugins, in the shipped game!

 

Also load times are really tiny. No clue how they do it, but quick save and quick load work really well.

 

EDIT: Oh and they have their own seemingly asynchronous scripting system, works really well, and a huge event system to fetch data from and run those scripts. Very nice stuff.

Edited by TheChubu

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can a generic engine do something like skyrim?


Given that Skyrim is a (heavily-modified) fork of the generic Gamebryo engine...
 

generic engines - simply by dint of begin generic - will be slower than one-off custom engines built on low level graphics and audio APIs.


Bull. Just because you made a one-off engine does not in any way imply that you made a _good_ one-off engine. The big generic engines have a ton of money and engineering time poured into them after feedback from hundred or thousands of games.
 

are generic engines like unity and unreal capable of something like skyrim, or does it really require a custom engine?

 
Are those _specific_ generic (haha that sounds weird) engines a good fit for Skyrim? Maybe. Unreal for instance has pretty good large world support these days. The moddability of Skyrim though is built around using file formats that are very modular, which is not necessarily true of Unreal's file formats. Of course, since you get the source to Unreal, you can modify those bits as you see fit. Of course, there's more than two generic engines.
 

i'm considering generic engine use for future projects as an easy way to get multi-threading and DX12 capabilities into my games (assuming they have it or will add it).
 
unfortunately, i have a passion for building large open world sandbox FPSRPG "living world" simulations, with perhaps as many as four  games of this type planned for the future, after Caveman v3.0 (priate, fantasy, scifi, and western).


I daresay that a generic engine is not only going to be easier but also just _better_ than what you can develop on your own. Developing a good engine/game from scratch takes several years (at the least), and building one as capable as Unreal is going to take dozens of top-tier game developers working during those several years.

It's basically a terrible idea to write your own engine for any purpose, unless your goal literally is to have your own engine (learning purposes, licensing reasons, fame/glory, or personal entertainment) or if you're doing something _really_ weird (and no Skyrim is not weird, _everyone_ is making big openworld sandbox games now).

Game engines are a commodity these days, for better or worse.

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Honestly.... The Creation Engine's biggest thing is how well designed it's databasing system was. Which is why it works so well most of the time.

 

Unity in it's current state won't really be able to do anything like Skyrim. However, Unreal Engine with some modifications actually can, and fairly easily.

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can a generic engine do something like skyrim?
 
generic engines - simply by dint of begin generic - will be slower than one-off custom engines built on low level graphics and audio APIs.
 
are generic engines like unity and unreal capable of something like skyrim, or does it really require a custom engine?
 
i'm considering generic engine use for future projects as an easy way to get multi-threading and DX12 capabilities into my games (assuming they have it or will add it).
 
unfortunately, i have a passion for building large open world sandbox FPSRPG "living world" simulations, with perhaps as many as four  games of this type planned for the future, after Caveman v3.0 (priate, fantasy, scifi, and western).
 
my two basic choices are to either add in-house multi-threading and dx 12 capabilities to my bag of tricks, or switch to using an engine of some sort.


I know for a fact that the unreal engine is capable of something like Skyrim and more..... There is this thing called world machine it is great for making realistic environments, when you are done making the world in world machine, import it to ue4, add in your assets(grass buildings etc.) and your world is done. Then you can start work on gameplay and other stuff

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I used to ignore the idea of using generic engines (unity/UE4), but in the past few years they're REALLY stepped up their support for making large changes to the engine and the game code handling, and with it, plugins have emerged that let you do amazing things (Including games scaling to the size of Skyrim) in a fraction of the time it would take to develop it otherwise.

 

For my latest hobby project, I've got something similar to what you're requesting (cell system with LOD's for non-active cells giving the illusion of huge open world, with interior cells being seperate, but taking into account lighting/weather from nearby exterior cells) done in a few weeks work.

 

The reason why it might not seem possible at first glance is because inexperienced devs will try to create something from scratch in these engines, make obvious mistakes (loading whole terrain into memory, or way too large chunks, or no proper LOD), and claim it's an engine limitation.

 

The hard part to create from Skyrim would be it's EXTREMELY data-oriented design that allows fantastic modding capabilities. If you aren't concerned with that, and want to create a living world, Unity or UE's a great choice now adays.

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I think TheChuBu makes a good point. Bethesda games are assumed to be a whole lot more than they actually are. Bethesda is good at making fun games, not high tech games. I was looking at some of the things they were doing in FallOut New Vegas and thinking how easy that would be to put into a game. Their games are really proof that you don't have to have the most technically complicated game to have the most fun game. They also probably get some advantages from things like the mod community producing better textures for the game and such that people forget how the actual game was.

 

But none of those games are DX12 or anything close to it. Seems to me one of the advantages of writing your own is being able to take advantage of the latest tech and tricks. Although, DX12 locks you into Windows 10. All those Windows 7 players won't be able to play that unless you compile it for DX11 or lower. And that doesn't get into the Mac or Linux people. I'm interested in DX12 and especially Vulkan, but there's kind of advantages and disadvantages to everything.

 

The Game Institute is doing a video series where they put together something approaching a Skyrim type game in Unity. It's a zombie apocalypse type thing. Guess that makes it more like Fallout than Elder Scrolls. Looks to me, that if you know what you're doing you can put together some pretty complex things with Unity.

Edited by BBeck

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