All About sethfrost
... you don-t know me, unless we met in person. I killed my Twitter & FB accounts TWICE! Public Steam ID: buckybit.
Meat World Real ID: https://www.google.com/profiles/BuckyBit
Artsy stuff from the past: http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckybit
"The 4A Engine is a graphics middleware engine developed by 4A Games for use in their video game Metro 2033, published by THQ. It supports Direct3D APIs 9, 10, and 11, along with NVidia's PhysX, and also NVidia's 3D Vision."
"The engine was developed in Ukraine by a set of people who split off from GSC Game World a year before the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, notably Oles Shishkovtsov and Aleksandr Maksimchuk, the programmers who worked on the development of X-Ray engine used in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video game series."
"The game is multi-threaded in such that only PhysX had a dedicated thread,and uses a task-model without any pre-conditioning or pre/post-synchronising, allowing tasks to be done in parallel. When the Xbox 360 iteration had been measured during development, they were running it at "approximately 3,000 tasks per 30ms frame on Xbox 360 on CPU-intensive scenes with all hardware threads at 100 per cent load". Shishkovtsov also said that the NV40 architecture of the RSX in the PlayStation 3 proved to be very useful during development noted that there were many "wasted cycles". The engine can utilise a deferred shading pipeline, and uses tesselation for greater performance, and also has HDR (complete with blue shift), real-time reflections, colour correction, film grain and noise, and the engine also supports multi-core rendering."
"The 4A Engine implementation of Metro 2033 features volumetric fog, double PhysX precision, object blur, sub-surface scattering for skin shaders, parallax mapping on all surfaces and greater geometric detail with a less aggressive LOD(s)."
(Sorce: Wikipedia - engl. version)
- The gamma-correct, linear colour space renderer
- High dynamic range rendering (HDR) Using floating-point buffers, allowing for tone mapping, exposure adaption, and blue shift, for camera/eye perceptual rendering
- Advanced deferred shading - allows hundreds of lights in frame, in huge, complex scenes
- All lighting is fully dynamic (including sun and skies), ability to use light-shaders, with dozens of special effects
- Umbra and penumbra - Correct soft shadows, including shadows correctly curved on bumped surface. Shadows from semi-transparent objects like particles.
- Weather and day/night model, including light scattering model and god-rays
- Volumetric fogging and lighting, even in animated, non-constant density media
- Global illumination effects and real-time reflective lights
- Parallax occlusion maps and real (geometric) displacement mapping
- Hierarchical per-pixel occlusion culling
- Real-time colour correction, film grain and noise, correct depth of field
- Velocity preserving motion-blur on a scene with millions of polygons and complex shading detail (including object blur)
- Deferred reflections - allows a lot of planar real time reflections in a single frame, like water, glass, etc.
- Ambient occlusion calculated on both the global scale (pre-calculated) and in real-time in screen space (SSAO)
- In addition to standard MSAA, the engine features analytical anti-aliasing (AAA) and "deferred super-sampling" modes which have much lower impact on frame-rate, while correctly ant-ialiasing all surfaces and not just edges
- Renderer is highly multi-threaded for multiple CPU cores.
- Plus: per-pixel lighting, bumpy reflections and refractions, animated and detail textures, shiny surfaces, cosmetic damage using albedo and bump blending, soft particles, etc.
Powered by nVidia PhysX technology, can utilise multiple CPU cores, AGEIA PhysX hardware, or nVidia GPU hardware.
- Tightly integrated into the content pipeline and the game itself, including physical materials on all surfaces, physically driven sound, physically driven animations
- Rigid body and multi-jointed constructions. Breakable fences, walls , sheds and other objects. Thousands of different physical entities simulated per frame.
- Cloth simulation, water physics (including cross-interactions)
- Destruction and fracturing, physically based puzzles
- Soft body physics on selected special game entities
- On hardware-accelerated PhysX platforms engine implements full physically correct behaviour of particles such as smoke, debris, etc.
Multi-threaded high dynamic range Audio system with constant memory usage and data-driven design
- 3D sound positioning, spatialisation and attenuation
- Sound path tracing and transfer approximation for correct occlusion and obstruction perceiving.
- Reverb, low-pass/high-pass filtering, pitch shifting - all auto-calculated based on sound-path and adjustable by multi-layer environment zones, scripting or programmatically
- Dynamically reconstructing audio graphs
- OGG-vorbis compressed with adjustable quality, multi-threaded decompression
(Source: Eurogamer.net article)
I would say, the 4A Games Engine can hold its own against DICE's Frostbite 2 Engine or the Crytek Engine, in its state. Wouldn't you agree?
The Metro 2033 game is still used around the world by video game and tech-magazines for benchmarking graphic cards. The latest version of their renderer, featured in Metro: Last Light feels more polished (I can only speak to the DirectX 11 version) and it already proved how their engine can run in parallel and concurrency, utilizing the most out of your CPUs and GPUs. Running at nearly 100% on all cores. The emphasis is on "ALL" cores. Unlike in the past, when a game engine - especially rendering frames - ate up all your CPU/GPU cycles was a bad thing, because it almost froze your Personal Computer (sound stuttering, not responsive input/controls, etc), the modern day, multicore world, is one, in which the problem is upside down: "how can we make the game run on every core available, balancing the load?"
Only in the recent few years the game developers made the jump from "somewhat" parallel to truly parallel programming. Something that is especially hard to accomplish, if you are making video games and video game engines. Developers had to adopt to the "new ways" and avoiding the "old tricks" from the past, which often included shortcuts and optimizations, based on someone's genius, having to juggle dozens of "game systems" and "spaghetti code" and other forms of highly delicate code pasta, which could break at any moment, if somebody in the office caughed, or looked at it in a funny way.
Their state-of-the-art engine does a fine job in Metro: Last Light. Deferred Shading, Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, Sub Surface Scattering can compete with Battlefield 3 or Crysis 3. If you have quadcores, the engine will use them all. If you have 6-cores, it will adjust and scale. The engine in the game still has some room for optimization, though. If you switch from Analytical-AA ("Very High" Settings) to 4x SSAA (Supersampling Anti-Aliasing), you can see a significant performance hit, reducing the framerate. Even on high-end GPU's.
Though, this is a minor point. In comparison Crysis 3, still does a lot of CPU (geometry) computation, that could have been shovelled over to the GPU. Every game engine has its ups and downs. It's weak and strong points.
As always, a game or just rendering engine has to serve their pragmatic purposes - it has to provide a robust system, to run all (games) systems. Most of all, it has to scale, it has to be flexible, turning features on and off without creating blue-screens or red-rings-of-death. I personally do not see the importance, nor do I know anyone, being able to see the difference between 3x or 4x SSAA. But, depending on your hardware and TV/Monitors (the latter, mostly size, but not only), you can see at least minor differences, while you are playing. It is a curse for people, who professionally have to deal with these things, since once you start paying attention to those tiny details, you cannot turn your eyes off. You start actively looking for certain "effects" and starting to read the tea-leaves. Terms like "ugly" enter your vocabulary more often, yet there really is nothing "ugly" - it is just not optimized beyond a certain, pragmatic(!) degree. Especially consistency between platforms (Consoles/PC) becomes a factor. On PC, 4x SSAA is not automatically "better" than MSAA vs TXAA or FXAA - it is different.
4A Engine (engl. Wikipedia)
Older article (from 2010) on the orig. Engine & Metro 2033
Performance comparison btw 360, PS3 and PC on Eurogamer.net (incl. some technical analysis)
No. I am not biased. I never bought a Sony Playstation, nor a XBOX (or any other console in the past 25 years).
Thinking about GTA V and the delayed PC announcement (that will hopefully come), I thought about the games I am missing out on, as a (nowadays) PC-only casual gamer. I was compiling a list of PS3 and XBOX 360 exclusive titles and came up with this:
MUST HAVE PS3 ONLY GAMES:
1. ICO & SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS HD COLLECTION
2. METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS
4. UNCHARTED 1-3
5. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
7. LITTLE BIG PLANET 1-2
8. DEMON'S SOULS
9. HEAVY RAIN
10. GRAN TURISMO 5
11. RATCHET & CLANK
12. GOD OF WAR
13. RESISTANCE 1-2
14. KILLZONE 2-3
15. Valkyria Chronicles
16. FINAL FANTASY 12-13
17. MOTORSTORM 1-2
18. HEAVENLY SWORD
20. TOKYO JUNGLE
21. YAKUZA 1-5
22. THE LAST OF US*
23. WATCH DOGS*
24. BEYOND: TWO SOULS*
MUST HAVE XBOX 360 ONLY GAMES:
2. FORZA MOTORSPORT
4. GEARS OF WAR
x-platform console exclusives:
RED DEAD REDEMPTION
Now, there are other games, NOT included. There's a comprehensive Wikipedia page (with some minor errors), if you want the whole picture (Nintendo, handheld, etc). I was looking to list the games I myself want to play. Equally, the numbers are not a ranking - it is just an enumeration.
The lack of XBOX games above, could mean, that all the Microsoft console titles came out eventually on PC. Again - no bias from me. If anything, I would prefer video games to be available on all platforms, for everybody to experience. As a 20+ year long UNIX/Linux user/admin, I do not like proprietary hardware or software.
David Cage "I am the artist" vs Alex Evans "YOU are the artist!"
Watching the Sony PS4 Press Event a second time, without the distractions of snarky Twitter commentary, I was struck by the contrast of two presentations following each other.
Two different apporaches to creativity. Two different 'philosophies', if you like that expression.
David Cage showed a chart of the amount of polygons game developers are able to push into character creation (without turning the console into a 1-frame-per-second device) these days. He followed it by an impressive tech-demo of what he and his team at Quantic Dream were able to achieve on the next platform.
10 seconds later, Alex Evans +Alex Evans from Media Molecule entered the stage. He was generous and aware enough to say something very polite about the previous presentation, from peer to peer.
Yet, another 10 seconds later, we all see the creative process in a stop motion video, explaining the "Tyranny of the Polygon". This was the most amusing - and also, somewhat very powerful - contrast, between creative approaches, between creative minds.
Alex Evans then showed the latest example of what Media Molecule is working on, empowering the creativity in everyone - providing the tools (including lots of polygons) but focusing on letting the users create and nothing getting in their way.
I have no punch-line or further insight to share here. It just struck me, to see how diverse the attempts in video game development can be, following one another in the blink of an eye. Sony did make a point, if they wanted to tell us: "See? We have creative people on our side."
My Recent Reviews
Some people just don't have opinions. Like sethfrost.
May 23, 2013 3:50 pm GMTsethfrost began Following The Warriors
May 20, 2013 10:09 am GMTsethfrost posted a new blog entry entitled Metro: Last Light 4A Engine
May 14, 2013 2:46 pm GMTsethfrost posted a new blog entry entitled End of a Generation: PS3 vs XBOX 360 exclusive IPs
Apr 18, 2013 8:45 pm GMTsethfrost began Following Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine
Apr 11, 2013 11:20 pm GMTsethfrost began Following Abobo's Big Adventure
Apr 8, 2013 2:02 pm GMTsethfrost began Following Project Eternity
Apr 8, 2013 1:51 pm GMTsethfrost began Following Torment: Tides of Numenera
Apr 6, 2013 11:17 am GMTsethfrost posted a new blog entry entitled 1 min thought on Bioshock Infinite, Pynchon and 30 Flights
Apr 3, 2013 2:44 pm GMTsethfrost began Following Gary Grigsby's World at War: A World Divided
Apr 3, 2013 2:34 pm GMTsethfrost began Following Making History: The Calm and the Storm