PCGH interview with Spark Unlimited about Legendary: The Box
PCGH was able to meet Craig Allen, Spark Unlimited's Chief Executive Officer, and ask some questions about Legendary: The Box. We got a lot of interesting answers, which you can find in the interview below.
Craig Allen: We evaluated other engines and came to the conclusion that if we were to develop a multiplatform FPS that Unreal was the strongest candidate. Having a strong renderer, physics engine, networking aware architecture at the start of the project is invaluable in removing the engineering bottleneck for our design and art teams to create content for the game. One of UE3's strongest selling point is its editor's WYSIWYG functionality and user friendliness. This was one of the key deciding factors since in order to deliver the massive amount of content for a Next-gen game you need to have a solid content pipeline that artists and designers can iterate quickly. From day one, we were able to ramp up and train our content teams to start producing the massive amount of content it takes to make Legendary the game that it is today.
On PC the term "Next-Gen” is not as clearly as defined as it is on console. Unreal Engine 3 is a large step up from many technologies that are available because of not only its potential in making great looking games but in its developer support and toolset. Unreal Engine 3 has fewer bottlenecks in delivering the graphics quality, AI, physics, and online experience that we want to give gamers.
PCGH: Why do you decide not to develop your own engine? What are the advantages when developing a title with a powerful middleware like epics Unreal Engine 3?
Craig Allen: As a medium sized independent game studio, the cost and length of time it would have added to the project was prohibitive. The engineers at our studio have worked in environments where they have created their own engines and have used other middleware solutions. Developing the creatures of legendary is taxing on any engine. The flexibility and scope of UE3 has given us the ability to create the variety of creatures that would bring other engines to their knees. The physics differences between say our Griffon and Werewolf are daunting and created thousands of manhours to get to the point now where they both look great, are fun, and behave so distinctly different that it feels like you are playing a different game each time you run into one of our new beasts.
PCGH: You develop your title for PS 3 and Xbox 360 too. Will the engine then be a pure cross-platform product or will there be an optimized version for the PC? If there is a special built for the PC what technical feature can't be realized with the console version or in other words are there any features the PC is the ideal platform to develop for?
Craig Allen: PC is our developmental platform where we test and play the game most often. The engine is entirely cross-platform, however it is tuned for each platform individually. Controls, audio, and gameplay elements are modified across platforms to ensure that playing the game on either console or PC feels right. The major difference PC gamers will notice is the higher resolution textures we included solely for our PC audience.
PCGH: Which parts of Epics technology do you modify and which elements of the Unreal Engine 3 do you keep? Why did you have to alter parts of the Middleware?
Craig Allen: We have been very happy with licensing the Unreal Engine and have modified it mainly to support the game play requirements of Legendary. As such we've supplemented it with Kynapse and Speedtree to achieve the AI and graphics targets we were shooting for. Kynapse was a large necessity as our game's main feature is the player and world's interaction with the creatures. A large amount of our systems were expanded off Kynapse's framework to give our creatures the ability to react to destructible objects, wall walking, flight, and the ability to phase through objects.
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