ALL ACCESS THREAD - How Video Games Are Made



  • @el-shmiablo

    “Frostbite is full of razor blades,” one former BioWare employee told me a few weeks ago, aptly summing up the feelings of perhaps hundreds of game developers who have worked at Electronic Arts over the past few years.

    Frostbite is a video game engine, or a suite of technology that is used to make a game. Created by the EA-owned Swedish studio DICE in order to make Battlefield shooters, the Frostbite engine became ubiquitous across Electronic Arts this past decade thanks to an initiative led by former executive Patrick Söderlund to get all of its studios on the same technology. (By using Frostbite rather than a third-party engine like Unreal, those studios could share knowledge and save a whole lot of money in licensing fees.) BioWare first shifted to Frostbite for Dragon Age: Inquisition in 2011, which caused massive problems for that team. Many of the features those developers had taken for granted in previous engines, like a save-load system and a third-person camera, simply did not exist in Frostbite, which meant that the Inquisition team had to build them all from scratch. Mass Effect: Andromeda ran into similar issues. Surely the third time would be the charm?

    As it turned out, Anthem was not the charm. Using Frostbite to build an online-only action game, which BioWare had never done before, led to a host of new problems for BioWare’s designers, artists, and programmers. “Frostbite is like an in-house engine with all the problems that entails—it’s poorly documented, hacked together, and so on—with all the problems of an externally sourced engine,” said one former BioWare employee. “Nobody you actually work with designed it, so you don’t know why this thing works the way it does, why this is named the way it is.”

    Throughout those early years in development, the Anthem team realized that many of the ideas they’d originally conceived would be difficult if not impossible to create on Frostbite.


    Yeah... it sounds like a complete disaster. I can see why using the engine was brought about but at least when you license Unreal Engine 4, you can call Epic and ask them for support. There clearly wasn't the unity across studios as they imagined when people just hacked the engine to fit the specific needs of their games. Years later, you have what is basically the Madden code of video game engines - new jank built upon the legacy old jank which nobody understands how to remove or why it exists.



  • @dipset And yet when DICE uses it, you get games that look Iike the second coming.
    Like fuck me BFV with RTX on doesn't even look like it should exist for another 5 years.



  • @el-shmiablo

    No kidding. Battlefield looks phenomenal, but I think DICE just has it all figured out, they know how the code works, and its equipped for their games. By contrast, what I've read about Inquisition and what I've read about Andromeda and now Anthem, it seems like they just needed to go forward with development and couldn't wait on the Frostbite team to help them through every issue. It could take days or weeks to get help on simple things.

    In this case, they say that EA prioritizes Frostbite support teams for what franchises make the most money. Mass Effect and Anthem weren't as valuable as FIFA and Battlefront for EA. Therefore, Bioware can sit on their hands waiting for help or they can make band-aid solutions so they can keep working.

    The silver lining in all of this is that Bioware might have learned something here. Edmonton should have listened to the warnings from Austin about storytelling in an online game. Edmonton has their leader back to helm Dragon Age 4. Also very important - Dragon Age 4 will build upon the code that Anthem uses instead of starting from the ground up like Anthem did (ignoring Andromeda and Inquisition). It means that Bioware is probably getting better at using what works, and eliminating some of that confusion in the ideation phase as well as implementing their ideas much easier.

    I have hope for Dragon Age 4. I have beyond no interest in Anthem and maybe one day I'll try Andromeda (likely not), but at the very least, I think Bioware has learned a lot this decade and I think they can reel it back in with Dragon Age 4. I wish them well.



  • It is very concerning that yet another EA game has been harmed because of Frostbite's development complications. I hope that BioWare will figure out the kinks and make Frostbite production more efficient for Dragon Age 4 (The Dread Wolf Rises), instead of restarting engine adaptation like they've done recently. If The Dread Wolf Rises uses Anthem code, then that probably means BioWare has scrapped their previous code used for Inquisition and Andromeda. That's kinda odd to me, it seems easier to re-use some of Inquisition's code, as it was their previous Dragon Age game. But it may be a creative decision that fits the game's mechanics, who knows



  • If anything I hope this lights a fire under EA and they start allowing thier devs to use whatever engine is most appropriate for thier game. Or maybe EA will remember they own a second engine (Renderware) and make a new revision of it for next gen, as the only current gen game using it is Burnout Remastered



  • Footage of early versions of Spider-Man taken from GDC panels. The very last thing shown creeps the heck out of me.
    Youtube Video





  • Uncharted 4 cut content: a cooking minigame!
    Youtube Video



  • @bam541 Unsalted: Among Chives



  • Cool facts about inFamous. There's a hoverboard-esque mechanic once, that would be fun to include in future games.



  • @bam541 Very few games are as fun to simply move around in as Infamous. Hope we get another one after Tsushima.



  • @el-shmiablo It's unlikely if Tsushima does well, but I would want a new Infamous too. Still lots of potential there, especially with new kinds of powers being thrown into the mix.



  • Bluepoint dev talking about SoTC remake.

    Youtube Video

    Check out the other Audio Log videos too. More cool stuff in there.



  • I still have to catch up on the other things people have been posting above, but in a short (30 min) E3 episode of Kotaku Splitscreen, Jason talks with Larian and Wizards of the Coast about Baldur's Gate III.

    They also talk a lot of insider baseball of Divinity Original Sin II and reference a GDC talk which I'll also add here:

    https://art19.com/shows/kotaku-splitscreen/episodes/1f188c51-4594-42d9-a255-7d2f528ad8bc
    0_1560804441822_cc14bba2-bbd4-4cac-8106-fbba351c8e71-image.png

    Youtube Video

    FYI, there have been some other good E3 2019 episodes of Splitscreen with CD Projekt and more.



  • The New Animations Of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare

    Youtube Video

    I actually love ground up animation work that doesn't just reference video or mocap to a tee so this is pretty awesome. COD has always had some top tier animations.





  • Joe Rogan Experience - JOHN CARMACK

    Youtube Video

    Legendary game developer, computer programmer, co-founder of id Software, and all round pioneer in the world of technology; JOHN CARMACK has a very lengthy conversation with Joe Rogan.

    This is extremely interesting. A lot of it is speculative about the future, but a lot of it covers the past and present of technology including video games.

    • Programming at id Software
    • History of Quake, DOOM, Wolf development
    • VR technology
    • Explaining issues in designing VR software and hardware
    • more... so much more

    I feel like conversations like this are few and far between. How often is a big time company executive this honest about the tech industry while still in a position of power? I know we all want to hear about DOOM and Quake, but I think his perspective on tech companies positioning their businesses in the market is the most interesting. Like how he talks about VR companies giving him pitches in the early-90s or how 5G companies aren't offering much value to the market, etc.

    Its a marathon, but we are the crowd who still wants that 5 hour Frame Trap soooo...



  • Bandai-Namco Studios office: While this is a very general piece just to show those that don't know anything about programming a brief inside glance at the subject matter, I still found the working environment and social structure bits interesting.

    The game/console library is cool

    Youtube Video



  • @tokyoslim I like how the guy just casually meets the directors of Code Vein and Tekken 7.



  • Thanks for introducing me to that channel, it has other interesting videos about daily life in Japan.