PCGH Technical Q&A: Far Cry 2 (Dominic Guay)


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1) When licensing the Far Cry brand you purchased the Cry Engine and it seems logical that this powerful peace of technology will be the technical base of Far Cry 2 too? Is that correct?

DG: No, I understand the reasoning but it is incorrect. The engine was licensed mostly for use on the console adaptations of the original Far Cry. On Far Cry 2, we had a mandate not only to build an ambitious sequel to Far Cry but also to build a new cutting edge in-house technology. We started building that new technology in 2005. Our engine is called Dunia and was built from the ground up to support the scope and goals of Far Cry 2.

2) Was it necessary to reprogram or even add code to the engine? If so what parts were altered what kind of technical features were integrated into the engine? What were the reasons behind these alterations?

DG: Well, Dunia was built from the ground up. It was developed during the last 3 years in our R&D effort for Far Cry 2. We had a few major goals in mind as we built the technology. First, we wanted to get rid of the concept of levels. Levels have been used since before the Pac Man days to manage progression and content and are, from a technical standpoint, a very safe way of managing things. However, FC2 is a truly open world game and we couldnt do with such a limitation anymore. A change of scale like that one changes a lot of thing in a technology.

Also, we wanted to have a very dynamic game environment. We worked hard on physics simulation systems and enabling a lot of destructibility and interactivity. This also includes an arbitrarily destructible and physically simulated vegetation system codenamed RealTree. Also, we wanted to make sure our graphic technologies permitted a very high quality recreation of a realistic Africa with a real-time 24 hours day-night cycle.

Finally, another big focus from the beginning was the online. We wanted to have excellent online technology: not just quality net code but also things like matchmaking services and map editing.

3) In general what according to your personal experience makes the Cry Engine so special for the development of Fps games? Why do you decide against developing a new engine from scratch for Far Cry 2?

DG: Wellwe did make a new engine. Cry Engine had some strong qualities but it was suited for another generation of hardware.

4) One part of the Cry Engine is a very powerful renderer that guaranties a very modern visual presentation including rendering techniques like Parallax Mapping, Soft Shadows, a HDR lighting model. Besides this are there other graphical highlights that require a revision of the code? If yes could you please give examples and explain in technical terms how this new visual features are realized?

DG: Dunia supports all those graphical features and many more. One big evolution that we brought to our graphic technology is the fact that our lighting model is completely dynamic, including the sun. That means that the sun can move in realtime during game time and the whole scenes lighting adapts accordingly. Also of note, we implemented a dynamic ambient lighting algorithms that manage the radiosity component of the lighting in the environment: basically what is also referred to as indirect lighting.

Another feature I like a lot is our procedural sky rendering system. We can basically manipulate the meteo according to our wish and the sky adapts in real time.

5) First impressions of the game show that Far Cry 2 will offer a dynamic day and night cycle as well as a very detailed weather simulation? Were you able to realize this with the original version of the engine/renderer? Could you please give technical details how they are rendered? What makes them so special compared to other titles of the genre?

DG: Games have simulated weather changes for a long time. However, to be able to see the clouds gather in the sky gradually, to see the trees bending more and more with the force of the wind, to see the grass folded by the gusts of wind, we had to develop a few key technologies. Key among those is the RealTree system. This technology lets us move away from having the typical very limited physical reactions of the vegetation to wind to a much higher quality physical simulation. So its one thing to have the weather system feature, what we wanted to do was push the simulation, push the immersion and push the gameplay potential of the idea further.

Likewise for the dynamic time of day. Many games have had dynamic time of days and that for quite some time. However, most would bake discreet time of days and shift between them or just compromise the graphic quality to get the feature in. We didnt want to do either one of those things. So we needed all of our lighting features to be fully dynamic and that was an interesting challenge.

6) The renderer of the Cry Engine scales quit well with multiple GPU settings? Will this be the case in Far Cry 2 too? If yes could you already give details about the benefits players with a SLI or Crossfire System will have?

DG: We have the intention of supporting a relatively large range of GPUs. We have not nailed down the exact minimum requirements. Also, Far Cry 2 will ship with DX9 and DX10 support. We also plan on supporting SLI & Crossfire systems.

7) Far Cry was released with a 32 and 64 bit version. Will there be a 64 bit version of Far Cry 2 too. If yes what are the practical advantages this version has to offer to the player? Can you give examples?

DG: I cannot give a definite answer to this a this time.

8) Dual and multi core Processors are yet another topic currently discussed in the gaming industry and the majority games will profit from CPUs with more than one core. As far as performance in Far Cry is concerned will the engine profit from dual core CPUs? Does your engine even scale with more than two cores?
a) If yes what different calculations can be or are split up into different threads and what is the expected performance gain resulting from two respectively four or more cores?
b) Have you already utilized the Intel Core 2 Quad or AMD 4x4 platform? What is your personal opinion about these products?

DG: The engine definitely benefits from multi core systems. While we plan to support single core CPUs, it will be recommended to use multi core computers to benefit from the higher quality settings. While I cannot give detailed and definitive information on all those elements at this time, I can say that I already best enjoy playing the current highest quality setting of FC2 on a 4 processor system. ;)

9) According to early reports Far Cry 2 will have a realistic fire simulation. Could you explain, what is so special about it? Could this be realized with the original physics part of the Cry engine or do you have to reprogram Cryteks technology? Are there other highlight as far as the physics simulation in Far Cry 2 is concerned?

DG: Well, fire simulation is a challenging technology but at the core it is also a gameplay challenge. The amount of interaction with other system is large and its actually those interactions that are fun. We built this feature from the ground up for FC2 and are very excited with the amount of control that we have over our fire. Basically, its a high level feature that builds on all our other technical key features: dynamic environment (burning things causes mayhem!), graphic engine, AI systems (AI needs to react intelligently to fire), RealTree system (burning vegetation), etc.. I mentioned some of our physics innovation above. We have destructible environments. The RealTree vegetation is also destructible in a completely arbitrary manner. If you are patient enough, you can cut a big bush in the shape you like. ;)

10) In General, do you utilize the very powerful physics simulation to add more than eye candy or will it have an impact on the game play? Does the game support hardware accelerated physics like Ageias PhysX or Havok FX? What is your personal opinion about that topic?

DG: We always favour technical innovations that will feedback in the gameplay, and vice-versa. Being able to create your own path, to break things has a significant impact on gameplay. Moreover, FC2 is a game where you spend a lot of your time in nature. By having a highly detailed vegetation physics simulation model, we can create a system, a tool, that the player can use to his own advantage. Improving immersion is important, but we never loose the focus on the fact that we are making a game, so our efforts should also make the game more fun.

11) John Parks Ubis Marketing Director said that Far Cry will have a very progressive AI. Could you please give some detail what makes your AI so smart? What are the advantages of your AI routines?

DG: One thing that FC brought forward was AI that were not scripted. There is a lot of shooters out there where if you play a section and quick load back and replay it, AIs will pretty much redo the same thing. They are scripted to react in a constrained manner. Far Cry wanted to let the player use varied strategies so it offered a systemic AI that fed on what was happening in the world to take decision, not what a designer wanted it to do at the time the game environment was built by predicting what the player would do. FC2 pushes further in that direction. Now with an open world game, we need our AI to be even more systemic and we are working at enriching the things it can do in the world. In order to do that, we need to feed our AI with a lot of information on what is happening around them.

Also, the AI in FC2 lives in the world, they are not just waiting to be shot at by the player. They have basic needs that they need to satisfy and they go about their business satisfying those needs. Obviously, those needs change according to the time of day or weather: for example most people like to sleep at night. ;-)

Questions concerning the support of Direct X 10:

12) Your title will not be released before 2008 and by then many players will have changed to Windows Vista and PC hardware that supports the new DirectX 10 API. Will your engine support DX10? If yes, what are the technical advantages of that API?
If there will be no support for Direct X 10 what were your reason to do without?

DG: Yes, Dunia supports DX9 and DX10. DX10 has all sorts of interesting advantages from a developer point of view but in a simplistic manner, among other things, you could say it brings extra performance as the API layer has less overhead then DX9. For the player, it can translate in having more detailed graphics and/or a better frame rate. The impact is not so big that it means games must only support one or the other: it is possible to build a game in a manner where it can run under both APIs with different settings.

One thing to note is that as far as the GPU itself is concerned, ultimately the raw power of the card is more important then the API that it is running under. Obviously, a high end DX9 board is still much more powerful then a low end DX10 one.

13) Do you use advanced features of Direct X 10 like Geometry Shader, Virtual Texture Management etc.? Can you please give examples how they are utilized! In what way do these features improve or simplify the rendering process?

DG: We do use some DX10 specific features.

14) Will the DX10 visualization differ substantially from the graphics that are rendered with DX9 hardware? What are the visuals that can only be rendered with shader model 4 hardware? Can you supply us with a visual proof via screenshot too?

DG: We are not ready to show our DX10 version yet or give details on it. For sure, we are able to push the graphic details and quality with DX10 hardware.

15) How much of a performance hit will the improved optics of DX10 incur? With all details maxed out is a typical first gen DX10 card already running at its limits?

DG: There is a technical balance decision to be taken. The extra performance can be used to add moreor just to bask in the extra framerate. For Far Cry 2, we are trying to have a balanced approachbut it wouldnt be any fun if we did not push things on the feature side. ;-)

16) Can you at the current state of development already tell our readers what hardware will be required to play the game with all detail in 1.280x1.024 (no FSAA/AF) and 1.600x1.200 (4x FSAA/8:1 AF)?

DG: Not yet - not specifically or in detail. We plan to support a relatively large range of hardware. This said, to play the game under ultra high quality settings, you will definitely need a multi core CPU and a high end DX10 GPU.
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AW: PCGH Technical Q&A: Far Cry 2

Von wegen DirectX 10 sieht besser aus und läuft schneller, hat man ja in Crysis schon sehr gut sehen können, 8 Zahlen in einer config ändern und man hatte "DirectX 10 Grafik" unter Windows XP mit einer besseren Framerate.
AW: PCGH Technical Q&A: Far Cry 2

Von wegen DirectX 10 sieht besser aus und läuft schneller, hat man ja in Crysis schon sehr gut sehen können, 8 Zahlen in einer config ändern und man hatte "DirectX 10 Grafik" unter Windows XP mit einer besseren Framerate.

Nicht so schnell!

Erstens erscheint demnächst ein Patch für Crysis, der die Performance deutlich steigern wird und zweitens ist auch das SP1 für Vista bald verfügbar!

Zweitens setzt man bei Far Cry 2 auf eine andere Engine (Dunia) als die Cry Engine 2. Weiters können die Entwickler sich Crysis zum Vorbild nehmen und gegebenenfalls Schwächen, wie übermäßigen Hardwarehunger ausmerzen.

Drittens: Bis zum Release von Far Cry 2 ist auch die Geforce 9 Serie erschienen, die leistungsmäßig höchstwahrscheinlich über der G8 liegen wird. Zumindest im HighEnd Bereich.

Und wenn Far Cry 2 wirklich so gut für Multi GPU/CPU PCs optimiert wird, wie die Entwickler im Interview sagen, mache ich mir mit meinem SLI-System wegen der Performance weniger Sorgen, als vor dem Release von Crysis.

Ich erwarte mir von Far Cry 2 jedenfalls einen top Titel, der es locker mit der aktuellen Konkurenz im Shooter-Genre aufnehmen könne wird und bin bis zum Erscheinungsdatum guter Hoffnung! Den Entwicklern drücke ich beide Daumen, damit sie meine Erwartungen und die von Millionen anderen Fans erfüllen können!
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AW: PCGH Technical Q&A: Far Cry 2

Dito. :) Wurde alles gesagt von meinem Vorredner.

@ultio ich glaube nicht das man alle DX10 Effekte nutzen konnte. Dann mach mal paar Screens. :ugly: Damals wechselte man auch von DX8 auf DX9 und heutzutage meckern alle die kein Geld ausgeben wollen aber wissen das es sich lohnt. :D
Far Cry 2 sieht wirklich top aus. Habe die Techdemos gesehen. Einfach geil. Hoffe das die 9er Highend Serie früher kommt. Und nicht im März oder ende Februar.