Technical Q&A: Hunted: The Demon's Forge
Bethesda is publishing Hunted: The Demon's Forge. The action adventure will arrive for Windows PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. PC Games Hardware presents a technical Q&A with the developers.
Hunted: The Demo's Forge is a cooperative action adventure starring warrior Caddoc and female archer E'lara. PC Games Hardware talked with the developers from inXile. Matt Findley, president of inXile, is answering our technical Q&A.
PCGH: You announced that the technical base of your game is Epics Unreal Engine 3. Why did you decide to utilize this technology instead of developing your own engine? What makes the Unreal Engine 3 so suitable for your title?
Hunted is a dark-fantasy co-op action game. When looking at engine technology we decided that the Unreal Engine 3 would allow us to take the concept we had for Hunted and make it a reality. We found that by using this engine we could focus on making the best game experience possible without having to also focus on creating a game engine from the ground up.
PCGH: Hunted: The Demon’s Forge will be developed for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 and it is no secret that Epics Engine is the ideal technical base for a cross platform development. Can we nevertheless expect that the game is not simply ported for each platform but separately developed for the consoles and the PC?
Although the game will be the same across all platforms, we are building the game specifically for each platform.
PCGH: Assuming that you develop a special PC built of Hunted: The Demon’s Forge what features can only be realized with the PC as technical platform? Are there technical/visual differences between the PC and the console version of the game?
Although Hunted looks great on the console, there is a general upgrade of texture resolutions and shading that can occur on the PC because of the ability to scale performance based on hardware. We plan on taking every advantage of that.
PCGH: Do you heavily modify Epics technology? If yes which parts of the Unreal Engine 3 were replaced/altered/modifies to tailor the technology to the requirements of the game? Which parts remained untouched and why?
Our melee needed to be much more visceral in Hunted than other Unreal games we’ve seen. We’ve spent a great deal of time refining the melee combat to enhance this experience. We’ve also spent a great deal of time on the AI. The buddy AI will react to what the player sees and does, so that if a player makes smart choices the buddy AI will too. We also had to make significant modifications to how Unreal manages its memory on the PS3.
Most of the streaming code that exists is untouched, as our game contains many linear components, which is suitable for Unreal Engine games.
5) Unreal Engine 3 comes with a powerful and modern Renderer. Where you satisfied with the rendering technologies Epic’s engine has to offer or do you have to add certain technologies that were not available with the current version of the Unreal 3 Renderer with for example Lightmass?
We are using our own lighting system that reduces the amount of development and processing time while gaining an equal if not better visual look and feel.
6) Benchmarking and testing various games with Epics technology we found out that the Unreal Engine 3 is optimized for multithreading, especially dual core CPUs. By now Quad core CPUs have become affordable and popular. Do you take this into account and try to improve multi core support in the PC version of Hunted: The Demon’s Forge?
We do not utilize any additional multi-core optimizations aside from those that come with Unreal.
• If yes how many core are supported and what is the expected performance gain from 2, 4 or even 6 or 8 cores?
You should not expect a significant performance boost for increasing the # of cores, beyond the normal amount gained from being able to manage several threads at once. A bigger increase could be expected from upgrading your processor speed.
• What different systems run in separate threads? What kind of scheduler do you use?
The biggest systems that run in separate threads are those related to Unreal's Gemini (separate threads for rendering and the game), and physX which is inherently multithreaded.
• Does your engine profit from SMT/Hyper threading or do you recommend turning it off for maximum performance?
We have not seen evidence to encourage disabling of hyperthreading on your CPU.
PCGH: Did you utilize the Physx-SDK that comes with the Unreal Engine 3 or do you develop your own physic libraries for the game? If you utilize the PhysX Engine (former Novodex SDK) will the game support Nvida PhysX where special effects are calculated on the GPU/Physx Card? If yes, can you give some details; if no why did you decide against Physx-support?
Yes, we utilize the PhysX SDK integrated into Unreal Engine 3. We do not support the Nvidia PhysX acceleration for anything in our game. This was because there wasn't a large need for it within the context of our game, and we wanted to maintain consistency across all three platforms.
PCGH: Will you offer support for EAX? Is this feature already integrated into the sound engine of UE3? Do you have to exchange the sound engine for the console version?
No, we do not offer support for EAX, and that feature is not integrated within UE3. Unreal also comes with platform specific sound engines (XAudio2 for PC and Xbox, and a custom implementation for PS3).
PCGH: Will you make use of the ability of UE3’s renderer to display DX10 visuals in the PC version of the game? If yes, will the DX 10 visualization differ substantially from the graphics that are rendered with DX 9 hardware or will DX10 just speed up the rendering process? If no, what are the reasons to develop without DX10 support?
We have no plans to support DX10 in our game. Again, we were looking to maintain consistency across all three platforms that we were developing on, to reduce the number of platform specific issues that could appear.
PCGH: Playing Games on the console becomes more and more popular. On the contrary PC Gaming becomes less interesting and developers concentrate more on developing the console version than a special PC version of a game that utilizes the technical qualities of the PC to full extend – especially in the field of rendering. Will PC Gaming slowly fade out in the next years?
This is highly doubtful. Development of games always start on the PC, and while consoles are much more accessible to mainstream audiences, one can always write stronger algorithms on the PC, which can translate into better, more robust AI, physics, and larger more immersive environments. PC games have always had peaks and valleys; but as long as PC’s continue to grow in terms of processing power, they will always lead the way for future technology.
PCGH: Does the PC as Gaming platform become less and less important? Could one reason be the fact that Crossplatform development is simply more profitable than a console or PC only version.
As long as PC technology assists ever expanding design ideas, PC will always have a place in the market and can be utilized in any number of ways.