Friday, October 9, 2015

Update 44: Splitting the Engine

XCOM is obviously a huge influence to this project, both the 1994 and 2012 versions. In a recent interview, XCOM designer Jake Solomon talked about a "Cinematic" piece of the XCOM engine. This was a really insightful and interesting way to think about how the player is immersed in the game via movie like cuts that are interlocked throughout game play. The idea is that when you have a move, the engine, (I'm going to call this the "Interaction" engine, as this is where the player makes choices and then observes the results), calculates the result of, essentially, the next 15-20 seconds. This is then fed into a "Cinematic" engine, which moves the camera around to create a movie like feel. This is what puts the camera behind the player to shoot, moves the camera to see an enemy when a overwatch action occurs and helps to show the 'killcam'. This also helped to explain a few glitches that happened where you would sometimes shoot through cover, probably because the engine considered the cover to not be in the way.

For example: A player decides to move to another location. The interactions engine figures out along the players path if anything will happen (enemy overwatch) and predetermines all results. (perhaps in this case, an enemy will have an overwatch event, shoot at the player and kill them mid path). This information is all passed to the Cinematics engine which controls the result. The camera would start by showing the players movement until it reaches the point of the overwatch event, where it would move the camera to show the enemy firing and then move again to show the player dying.

I really like this idea and think there are a lot of benefits in implementing it. You are essentially making it easier to test, (as you can setup the same set of events and reply them in the cinematic engine), as well as really separating the core mechanics of the game from the visual representation.

I'm really leaning towards trying to implement my own version of this, and this is the perfect time to integrate it in. Anyone else thought of an idea like this before? 

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