PCGH: Technical Q&A Mythos
PCGH had the chance for a hands-on with Mythos, the upcoming basically free action RPG. And we also had the opportunity for a technical oriented interview. Check our Q&A below.
PCGames Hardware Technical Q&A: Mythos
1) In your presentation at our office tour you told us that Mythos utilizes the Hellgate Engine. Beside financial interest, why did you decide to use that engine? What makes this engine so suitable for Mythos as far as technical aspects are concerned?
The Hellgate engine was built with randomization in mind, and the core gameplay elements of Hellgate and Mythos are quite similar underneath it all. The functionality to assemble random 3d levels on the fly is complex, and was a definite advantage to us when sharing the Hellgate engine. Going forward, it also means that technical advancements made for Hellgate ( or vice-versa ) are available to the other game almost immediately, which is very nice indeed.
2) You as well told us that you had to modify the engine for Mythos. Can you please give some details? Which parts of the engine did you modify? What were the major technical modifications? Were there any technical features that could not be realized with the original engine?
The primary modifications for the engine for Mythos centered around the movement system ( since Mythos is based on pathing for player characters, whereas Hellgate is not ), in features like Line-of-sight, and graphics optimizations for an isometric view. Hellgate is generally played from over the shoulder, or first-person, which in general requires an entirely different approach to view culling. A great deal of the UI functionality for Mythos is also separate, with our stacking pane system and the ability to play with your menus open.
3) Even in the Online RPGs Genre visuals become more and more important. How have you dealt with the topic visual presentation while developing Mythos? Did you sacrifice very modern graphics to playability on Low End Machines? Was it the main goal during development to keep the hardware requirements of Mythos very low?
It was one of the goals to keep hardware requirements low - but we also selected a simpler visual style so that we would have the ability to display a LOT of enemies onscreen at the same time. We want the player to be fighting hordes of monsters, not just 2 or 3. We still have a lot of work that we would like to do to further lower our system requirements, and it is currently a big focus for us.
4) The renderer of the Hellgate Engine does support modern rendering techniques like Parallax Occlusion Mapping, Soft Shadows, a HDR lighting model, Ambient Occlusion, Deferred Rendering, advanced particle effects, post effect and others. Do you use all this features in Mythos too? If you had to promote your title by enumeration the visual highlight including technical highlights of the renderer, which would you list?
We primarily use some of the post effects - but our simplified art style doesn't really take advantage of most of the newest modern techniques, nor are we using any Direct-X 10 features yet. The beauty of sharing engines, however, is that when we're ready, we'll have features to select from.
5) If the player wants to run the game with very high resolutions and a high level of FSAA and AF would the performance increase remarkably by buying a second graphics card (SLI/Crossfire)?
We support SLI and Crossfire and are continually working on improving the performance. Gamers who already have an SLI or Crossfire rig should definitely see a frame rate improvement.
6) Testing Hellgate London we found out that the engine scales well with Dual or even multicore CPUs. Will that be the case in Mythos too? While developing Mythos have you tried to split up different calculation into different threads? Will there be a measurable performance gain for players with dual or multicore machines?
We definitely notice improved performance on dual and multicore machines - we really receive the same benefits that Hellgate does.
7) What is your personal opinion about the new generation of CPUs with two or four cores? Can they seen as a real benefit for the gaming industry?
I think they definitely can - the multitasking capability alone is worth it in my opinion. I think as they become more and more ubiquitous, game developers will take increasing advantage of them as well.
8) Correct me if I am wrong but Mythos comes with nearly no physics simulation. Do you have an explanation for that? Was one of the reasons that it is generally very difficult to program an online game that offers a very detailed physics simulation?
The primary reason we don't have physics simulation in Mythos is one of time and cost. From the beginning we have tried to keep the Mythos project small and lean, and licensing physics engines is expensive, so it was decided that we would opt for animating deaths and using straightforward particle effects for destruction.
9) The success of an Online RPG is tightly connected with a network engine that works very efficiently. What are the advantages of your technology/the technology used in the Hellgate engine?
On the Mythos project we really get to take advantage of the expertise of everyone on the Hellgate team, and Ping-0's engineering savvy. The back-end server has proven very robust and stable, and their tireless efforts have really paid off for us on the Mythos project.
10) Although the Hellgate Engine comes with DX10 support you did not utilize Microsoft's new API. Can you please explain why you decide to do without? As a developer what is your personal opinion about the topic? Can DX10 be seen as a milestone in the development of PC Games? Can the new API simplify rendering?
At present, given our small size, we determined that it would be best if we focused on creating Mythos for DX9 given our resources, the install base of WindowsXP and the art style we were going for. It is something we might switch to in the future, however. DX10 is a ground-up rewrite of the API, and I look forward to taking advantage of the clean new architecture in the future.
11) In the above mentioned presentation we were told that you will adopt all technical improvements and updates of the Hellgate Engine that Flagship has to offer. What are the important improvements and updates you utilize so far? What more is about to come?
We have been working on basic performance optimization across the board, and are reaping the benefits of that. A lot of the features we will be incorporating are not necessarily graphics or performance related, but in-game Mail, a Marketplace, and new PVP modes are game features that we incorporate from Hellgate as well.
12) Finally, what rig would you recommend that Mythos can be played with all details and a reasonable resolution of at least 1.280x1.024? Will the hardware requirements increase rapidly if the player prefers to play with very high resolution and FSAA and AF turned on?
My laptop is a 2GHz Core Duo with a Quadro FX 2500M and it runs game very nicely. Higher resolutions definitely increase the hardware requirements. I'd recommend a video card with at least 256MB of RAM, and 1GB of system ram.
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