Summary: We get some info about the graphics engine behind Elders Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
FiringSquad: First, was the transition for the company from the previous NDL smooth in the end?
John Austin: The transition was surprisingly smooth. Emergent and NDL were well positioned to come together, and the integration of our leadership and the product development teams has progressed well. I think you’ll see at GDC just how far we’ve come. We’ll be announcing the first of a range of new products that we think are going to change the way games are made, tested, and operated.
FiringSquad: Game graphics engine and tools continue to be more and more popular for game developers. How does Emergent see the future use of middleware product like your own Gamebryo expanding in the near future?
John Austin: As long as developers are racing to create more innovative game content, we see the middleware market continuing to grow. It’s as simple as that. Nearly all of today’s most successful studios are using middleware extensively, and we think that’s no accident. They’re totally focused on great content, and they’re a lot less worried about the tools and technology side.
FiringSquad: The Gamebryo engine is being used for a variety of games, including the best selling Civilization IV and Elder Scolls IV: Oblivion. How does Emergent work with game developers like Firaxis and Bethesda Softworks to help them get the most out of the engine?
John Austin: These are two great examples of how flexible our technology is – Gamebryo can be used on a wide range of titles and so studios can adopt our technology across multiple titles. Our engineers have worked very closely with both Firaxis and Bethesda to make sure their games look great and make the best use of Gamebryo. It’s a rewarding experience for everyone involved—especially when the games are released to the level of acclaim that those titles received. And for us, the feedback we get from our top developers helps drive future features and tools.
FiringSquad: There are quite a number of other middleware engines out there (Unreal, Source, Doom 3, etc). How do you feel the current Gamebryo engine stacks up to the competition?
John Austin: Gamebryo is one of the best engines on the market. It stacks up quite favorably against each of those engines. For us, the difference has always been ensuring that Gamebryo is the most flexible engine out there. We believe our technology should fit within our customers’ development pipeline, and not the other way around. So we’ve taken great care to keep it from becoming a rigid solution, and we’ve loaded it with a rich set of tools to give our customers the power to really get the most out of our engine. We’ve also built a great reputation for customer support through the years—we believe we have the best support in the business.
Frankly, one obstacle we’ve run into is this perception that Gamebryo is primarily a PC engine. That’s because some of the biggest hits from our customers have been PC games. But I think that perception is starting to change, especially here on the eve of the launch of Bethesda’s Oblivion, which is a major Xbox 360 title.
Finally, we’re on the eve of launching a range of new technologies. I think once people see how Gamebryo fits as part of our new product line, it will really force them to rethink what a game engine can be, and what it can do.
SIDEBAR: Gamebryo has been used to develop over 70 games with 50 more in development, according to Emergent's web site
FiringSquad: Recently the company announced plans to support the AEGIA physics engine. How will this support Gamebryo in becoming a solid game graphics tool?
John Austin: We believe the AGEIA PhysX SDK provides the best physics solution for game developers. Integrating AGEIA PhysX technology with Gamebryo gives us a potent cross-platform physics solution that will work with PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the PC, especially those equipped with the AGEIA PhysX processor. And customers who are developing PC games will be able to create games that are even more realistic.
John Austin: We’ll be launching a powerful new set of modular game development tools that brings together stand-alone metrics, automation and 3D graphics technologies into a flexible, integrated framework. These new tools enable developers to focus on the craft of game development, arming them with new tools for building, testing and managing their games with more flexibility and control than ever before.
This is the first time such a comprehensive set of tools has been offered by a single company and we’ve already seen a lot of interest and excitement from beta customers and others who have previewed our technology. We’re really excited about how the market will receive these products.
FiringSquad: How does the company feel about the next generation consoles (PS3-Xbox 360-Revolution) and Emergent's role in creating tools that will work on those consoles?
John Austin: Titles for the next generation are going to require a tremendous amount of effort to truly take advantage of the power in the console. We’re glad to finally be seeing next-gen consoles hit the market, after doing so much work in advance of their release to ensure that Gamebryo is completely optimized for developing games for them. It’s just as gratifying to see a beautiful game like Oblivion hitting the market on a next-gen platform—Xbox 360.
FiringSquad: How will the release of Windows Vista and DirectX10 later this year affect how Emergent will improve Gamebryo and its other products?
John Austin: We put out two new releases each year that continually evolve and add new features to Gamebryo – so in that respect it’s not a great impact. Windows Vista and DX10 have some features that will make it a great gaming platform and Gamebryo will be there to support it. .
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Emergent and Gamebryo's plans for the future?
John Austin: You’ll see us dramatically expanding our offerings, building on the solid foundation of new technologies we’ll announce at GDC. Simply put, we’re redefining the craft of game development. We want to see developers excel at their craft, and we think we’re giving them the tools and engines they need to do just that.
On behalf of FiringSquad, we’d like to thank Emergent’s John Austin for participating in this interview. For more info on the Gamebryo engine, visit Emergent’s website here
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|