Star Wars: The Old Republic - Bioware considering Direct X 11 in the future
Fans hope that Star Wars: The Old Republic from Bioware will become the best Star Wars game so far. PC Games Hardware had a chat with Matt Shaw und Bill Dalton from Bioware to cover technical details.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is supposed to launch in Q1 2011 and offers space batlles besides the typical quests and terrain fights. Bioware is still a bit shy about technical details so PC Games Hardware sat down with Matt Shaw und Bill Dalton from Bioware.
The responses come from:
Matt Shaw, Chief Technology Officer, BioWare Group
Bill Dalton, Studio Technical Director, BioWare Austin
PCGH: We know you utilized Simutronics Corporation “Hero”-Engine. Did you rework or enhance this engine for SWTOR?
Bioware: HeroEngine provides an excellent platform upon which to prototype our game. During the course of development we have modified HeroEngine as required to support the broad feature set of the game we have undertaken, and to scale to the level of usage we hope to achieve.
PCGH: On one hand, there will be quests and missions on the planet surface; on the other hand there will be fights in outer space: Did you modify the engine or do you utilize even different engines?
Bioware: We modified the HeroEngine so that ground and space combat are possible.
PCGH: We know “Hero”-Engine features middleware like PhysX, Speedtree or FMOD. Why did you decide to use these middlewares?
Bioware: The HeroEngine offers all of those as options. We however chose not to use Physx or FMOD. We do utilize Speedtree, it was quite capable of generating the trees we needed for the Star Wars universe. Physics in the game is our own and for our cinematic sound design, we utilize Wwise.
PCGH: If you had to advertise the visuals of SWTOR what would you mention? Can you list some very modern and advanced rendering techniques that your renderer utilizes (SSAO, Parallax Occlusion Mapping, Depth of Field, Global Illumination or other post effects)?
Bioware: Like any modern MMO, we want The Old republic to run well on a good range of machines. For the more powerful machines we do have normal mapping and lots of post process effects such as depth of field and bloom, cascading shadows, and cloth.
PCGH: By now multi-core CPUs have become very popular and the number of players with such machines is growing rapidly. Did you integrate multi-core support into the engine / your game and what Fps benefit can we expect if we take a Quad-Core-CPU instead of a Dual-Core-CPU? Will there be even a performance boost for AMDs X6 Hexa-Core-CPUs?
Bioware: The Old Republic greatly takes advantage of multi-core. Multi-core both improves frame rate and smoothness by offloading work to the extra cores such as disk IO, rendering or audio.
PCGH: We guess locations like Coruscant show a lot of details, especially in case of the draw distance. Do you use a special kind of streaming or Level of Detail to render these scenes without a heavy performance drop?
Bioware: Many different techniques are used, based on how powerful a consumer’s machine is in regard to number of CPU cores, video card power, etc.
Our artists have also done a great job of making these scenes as efficient as possible art wise.
PCGH: As far as we know the “Hero”-Engine offers support for Direct X 9 only. What are the reasons for this? Are there any existing plans to patch in support for DX10/11 later?
Bioware: For the largest compatibility base for our consumers, Direct X9 is the way to go. We are considering plans for DX11 in the future. That’s all we can say at this time.
Thanks at Bioware for answering our questions.