It’s hard to believe that the two biggest engines out there are now outdated. Yes, you read that right, the two biggest middleware game engines out there are outdated. How? Well, it’s simple a middleware company called Euclideon, run by a chap named Bruce Dell, and they have an engine called the Unlimited Detail 3D Engine. It’s a simple name that suits its purpose well. The real fact is that NOTHING, and I really do mean nothing, the Unreal Engine or CryEngine can produce can even remotely compare to what this engine does (or will do). Folks, you’re about to learn more about an engine that will represent the future of graphics fidelity as we know it.
Okay so here’s the basic outline of Euclideon’s Unlimited Engine: It does away with polygons altogether. No polygons. Let me repeat that: this engine does away with polygon counts. Instead, the Unlimited Detail Engine uses Voxels, or 3D atomized sprites that compose of the world and object’s constitution. This means that instead of a tree being made of several hundred polygons it would instead be composed of several million 3D atoms. The integrity of the engine offers enough graphical density to actually render every single pebble and rock in the dirt. If it sounds bizarre or too futuristic to be true, you haven’t read the best part yet.
In a rather detailed interview with Game Informer, CEO of Euclideon, Bruce Dell, explained how the Unlimited Detail Engine can convert polygons into atoms or atoms into polygons. He also explains how the engine is scalable, and that MineCraft creator Markus Alexej Persson, a.k.a. Notch, is way out of his league hating on Euclideon’s engine because it really is as great as it seems.
It’s probably difficult trying to properly explain how the engine works and what all it can do, but if you haven’t seen the GamesCom tech demo yet, you can take a look at it here.
Impressive right? Well, John Carmack [via PC Perspective] was talking about voxels some time ago but basically said it was all theoretical and not quite possible just yet for real-world application in 3D-based games. However, Dell and crew seems to have proven Carmack and friends wrong. Not only is the technology advancing rather quickly but the SDK is expected to be released by the end of next year. Heck, even Crytek's Cevat Yerli was impressed with the demo, and definitely thinks it's the way of the future.
If that news isn’t interesting enough for you, Dell has been approached by a leading console manufacturer about the tech and is working with other middleware and GPU companies for integration purposes (Hello Havok and NaturalMotion). For some reason I’m betting that Microsoft is the console manufacture they met with…something tells me that Microsoft’s iron-grip on the industry will propel them to adopt the tech first given that it would cut development cost and production time on many next-gen games considerably.
If you still aren’t convinced, take into consideration that LOD scaling would no longer be required using tech like the Unlimited Detail Engine. You know all that time devs are locked away “optimizing” a game for a lower-end system? Yeah well, that whole line of bollocks gets tossed clean out the window. With an engine like this there will no longer be any excuses about graphics optimization.
Euclideon’s Unlimited Detail Engine really is the future of software graphics technology, and what’s more is that this actually works with existing 3D tools such as Lightwave, Maya and 3DS Max to name a few.
However, it’s not all candy canes and roses. The engine still lacks viable current-gen lighting techniques and the shadows and volumetric effects still aren’t properly clarified. That’s not to mention a lot of other snazzy features we’ve seen from Unreal or CryEngine are missing from Euclideon when it comes to DirectX 11 support.
Still, the most important part of the engine’s functionality is well in place and I would love to see what the first project will be that runs on Euclideon’s new engine.
You can check out the lengthy new interview over at Game Informer’s Official Website or drop by the Official Euclideon Website. We’ll definitely keep you posted on any additional information regarding the new engine.