Ghost Recon Future Soldier: A technical showcase for PC gamers
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is coming to PC on June 14th - two weeks after the console release. Fortunately Ubisoft hasn't neglected PC gamers so you can expect DirectX 11 support including Tessellation, Displacement Mapping, more effects and a higher framerate too due to Compute Shaders.
Ghost Recon Future Soldier is the fourth part in the Ghost Recon series, primary developed by Red Storm Entertainment and the well-known author Tom Clancy. After Advanced Warfighter and Advanced Warfighter 2 (made by GRIN) the current developer and publisher Ubisoft offered us the chance to talk to Alexandr Dudin, Lead Coder for Ghost Recon Future Soldier - thank you guys!
PCGH: You have announced that PC gamers will get a visually enhanced version of Ghost Recon Future Soldier for their platform rather than a simple port. Can you give us details about the technical as well as visual features that can only be realized with PC technology?
Alexandr Dudin: The PC version includes more complex materials (e.g. parallax occlusion mapping, gloss and specular maps), a lot of dynamic lighting, volumetric lighting effects (god rays and smoke), soft shadows and improved post-processing (better HDR, motion blur). In addition to that we've implemented DX11 allowing adding stunning amount of visual details on characters through displacement mapping, as well as some global illumination effects.
PCGH: The PC Version of Ghost Recon Future Soldier will be released a little bit later than the console version. What is the reason behind this?
Alexandr Dudin: The development for console and PC versions were done in parallel, PC version being upgraded with new render features. This was the main reason why PC version will be release a bit later after console release.
PCGH: It can be read in the system requirements of the PC version that you recommend a quad core processor for the PC version. Have you optimized the engine for multithreading so that it takes advantage of at least four processor cores? Will the technology be even able to utilize more than four cores?
Alexandr Dudin: Indeed we have our own task manager that can utilize up to six hardware threads. This means shorter loading times and better frame rate, as many tasks (like character animation or shader compilation) are done in parallel.
PCGH: Do you still use "traditional" forward rendering or have you switched to a deferred rendering system to take the full advantage of DX11 features?
Alexandr Dudin: Yes, we have switched from forward rendering on consoles to deferred rendering on PC. We can use more complex algorithms since computations are done just once per pixel.
PCGH: What do you think are the deciding advantages of DX11? What makes the API so suitable for your game?
Alexandr Dudin: Aside from exposing a lot of hardware features, we like DX11 for advanced debugging capabilities that Microsoft has built into the runtime. Which allows shorter development time and less bugs.
PCGH: How does DX11 allow you to optimize or simplify the rendering in your game? From which DX11 feature does you game profit the most?
Alexandr Dudin: We're heavily focused on DX11 build. DX9 is of course included for back compatibility. The DX11 feature that profited the most is tessellation and compute shaders. It allowed us to implement displacement mapping, which produces highly detailed characters. We also benefited in terms of Global illumination effects which are done on compute shaders.