What’s new in CRYENGINE?
In the last major CRYENGINE update we put in more features and more optimizations, for designers in particular. A major addition is a new visual scripting system called Schematyc which allows you to build levels and full games without much, or without any, coding at all. Schematyc also introduced entities and components to the engine. This allows for a more modular workflow, and steps away from unnecessarily hardcoded content that we’ve had with CRYENGINE in the past. It’s a big step forward. Schematyc is one of those features that initially emerged from an internal game project and was then ported over to the engine. That usually works out great, because we get a proof of concept through the games, and many workflow issues are sorted out before the tool reaches the community. We’re always evolving the engine so we can deliver the most flexible and robust development tool which enables rapid iteration and doesn’t just must meet but exceeds the various requirements indie devs have. Schematyc is a good example of how we’re pushing the engine forward.
Speaking of the developer community, are you planning any features to support projects from within the community?
In addition to the forums and various feedback options, our community has created a specific message board where they vote on the features they want to have in CRYENGINE. A lot of people have opinions on the terrain systems, so we’re actively evaluating those. An initiative directly requested by the community is updating the documentation. CRYENGINE has been perceived as hard to learn in the past so we’ve been working on improving the documentation and other learning materials such as video tutorials and in-depth guides.
We also want to be able to bring in more user input, which is already reflected in the engine source code that we’ve put on GitHub. We’re able to access pull requests, access GitHub issues, and generally have another voice-box for our community to request exactly what they want. Not just features, but also any issues with code or anything else on our platform. Additionally, users can now upgrade their engine version based on the code they’ve got from the launcher or GitHub itself. Some of our more experienced coders have actually been taking from the main branch that we use in-house, too. They’re basically getting the newest version of CRYENGINE every day which is no different to what we use at Crytek to develop our own games such as The Climb or Robinson.
By making the source code available we have given more control to users and they’re already coming up with great additions to the engine. When we released a simple plugin prototype, community members worked with us together on Slack and actually extended that plugin to allow for Scaleform splash screen support. That was kind of a game jam hobby project between internal devs and community members. It resulted in a product that’s sitting on CRYENGINE Marketplace for everyone to use today. We’re actively focussed on encouraging more of this.
Your plan is to make CRYENGINE more attractive to indie developers. Are there any initiatives going beyond the engine that help indie teams ship a game?
One of the most important things we’re working on is the sharing of content and version control. In a team you have developers that want to share their content and make sure that they’re in sync with each other. That is most important, because I don’t want to be working on an old version, and I don’t want you to be upgrading an old version and giving it back to me. So we’ve been looking at how to integrate version control into the editor and possibly into the platform. We want to provide a place to store projects, be able to lock or expose files to specific contributors, and manage your project in a more uniform sense, like we do in the studio.
In the following months we want to go even further and get to a platform where you can not only control your media, but you can also manage the issues and how exactly team members are tasked. We plan on making CRYENGINE a fully-fledged development experience where you can go from the concept phase to a point that you’re actually delivering a game. Looking even further ahead we want to create other services that help young, new or inexperienced developers with things like royalties, achievements, and monetization. Nobody has complete knowledge of the entire realm of production, especially when they’re just starting to make games. That’s why we want to enable developers to abstract this information from a simple menu. Then they’ll be able to actually create a stable framework on the backend to make their project a success.
Any other plans for the engine?
We’ve said openly that we want to support more platforms, specifically integrating Vulkan support. This brings in tons of opportunities, not only for platforms you could deploy to, but also platforms that you could develop in. At the moment you can develop CRYENGINE games with a PC and deploy software to PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. When we have Vulkan support you’ll be able to deploy to numerous Android devices. In recent updates we’ve built the foundation for that to happen and in the coming months we’ll be working on opening up the potential of CRYENGINE to new platforms.
Will you be at Quo Vadis and what will you be doing there?
Yes, we’ll be at Quo Vadis. I wasn’t there last year so it’s all new for me. I’ll have a workshop that goes over the animation pipeline in CRYENGINE. Animation is an area that many people find complicated, but it’s so important for a game. We’ll take animation files on a character, bring them into the editor, and have the player moving around, all within a couple of hours. Everybody knows that you can go and paint trees and make levels that look amazing in CRYENGINE, but my goal is to show how you connect the player to the game world through a custom character. If you know how to do this, within a week you can have a game on Steam.
Collin Bradford Bishop, Product Manager CRYENGINE
Collin has been immersed in the entertainment industry his entire life, and he began his career as a camera assistant for Sam Raimi at Ghosthouse Pictures in Los Angeles. After several years working on commercial productions in the United States, he moved to Dubai to oversee instructional content for JSOC and to train special operatives for predeployment. Throughout his career, he has focused on pushing the boundary between film and games with real-time rendering. He is currently the CRYENGINE Product Manager at Crytek, where he facilitates engine development with a direct impact on the community and maintains a close connection with the CRYENGINE user base.