Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Factor 5: Wii engine "does everything that the PS3 did and then some"

Julian Eggebrecht, president of Factor 5 (´Turrican´, ´Rogue Squadron´) has commented on the graphics engine they are developing for Wii. Speaking to IGN, he said that "it does everything that the PS3 did and then some."

Eggebrecht appears to be saying that their current Wii project, which had only just been revealed, will look at least as good as the studio´s recent PlayStation3 game ´Lair´ or better. Here is the context:

We want to push the hardware. (...) I mean, on the graphical side, we're going to try and do everything to outdo everything else on the platform, the same as we did for the Star Wars games back on the GameCube. (...)

We're pretty much at a state where we're almost done with the engine. At the same time, we've also been working on content quite a bit because we had enough running very quickly on the platform that we were able to. But the biggest milestone or mark right now is that we're almost done with the engine and it does everything that the PS3 did and then some, quite frankly. So we're pretty happy with that.

It's not just what a lot of people were expecting. 'Oh, we're going to cash in on what we had from Rebel Strike.' Which we actually also did. That was a fun experience just to bring that game over and play it on Wii. Nevertheless, we said, well, weighing the pros and cons, why don't we do something completely new based on all the experience we had back then? So, that's almost done.

While it is a given that Factor 5 will indeed push the Wii´s graphics, possibly even beyond ´Metroid Prime 3´ and ´Super Mario Galaxy´, I can only assume that Eggebrecht was misquoted.

Comparing any graphics engine running on Wii hardware to their own ´Lair´ engine on PS3 seems nonsensical. Eggebrecht once praised the ´Lair´ engine´s advantages over ´Unreal 3´ technology. While the latter engine is being ported to Wii, it is certain to deliver less visual quality than on the PS3, due to the Wii´s relative hardware limitations.

I am trying to get some clarification directly from Factor 5. Unfortunately, I am at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and my PDA phone has been stolen on Sunday, so please be patient.

EDIT Last October, Eggebrecht spoke to Revogamers in great detail about the Wii hardware and possible graphics engine development.

I mean not that you would meet a 20 million dollar budget like on the PS3, but if you want to get really, really advanced graphics out of the Wii, then you have to spend probably more money than basically going for the cheap solution, so that might be an inherent problem, so it might actually not be the laziness of certain developers, but it might be the... inability or the non existent willingness of the publishers to actually give them in a budget to do better graphics. (...)

The one thing which makes it probably harder for developers who are coming from the traditional direction is that the shader system inside the hardware works quite differently, you have something more right about that than the traditional AGI and the video pipelines. Because the thinking back when the basic graphics hardware structure was developed was to get very, very efficient, that hotwired a lot of things. But there're many possibilities in terms of how to use that hotwiring and actually rewire it, if you're clever about it. If you connect you can get a lot of shader effects which would've been on the 360 or the PS3. (...)

Aside from the shaders, our main limitation which we always found on the GameCube was the memory: the memory was a struggle the whole time; it was a very hard struggle. That was actually our biggest struggle. When we got the Wii specifications we were excited because we said "wow, this is actually the amount of memory which we needed"

Eggebrecht goes on to say that they would probably approach a Wii engine in a way that would allow for the technology to be licensed to other studios. The ´Rogue Squadron´ engine was simply not built that way.

Source: IGN
Thanks to: IALS, CaVaYeRo


Anonymous said...

i'd buy the rogue squadron 2 port for 20$ no problem. hope the project they're working on gets officially announced soon.

factor5 pissed me off to no end when wii hardware specs were announced and they ran off to ps3 like a bunch of blushing little schoolgirls, but everyone deserves another chance. i'm willing to completely forget that ever happened for a AAA quality effort out of them.

here's to hoping that they also release that star wars port as a budget title, though. i'd like that in widescreen 480p with wiimote pointer controls.

-"superfan" tactics.

Unknown said...

Truly amazing!! Fantaaaaaaaastic!!
i'm very intrigued by the rest of story coming..
If only they could make a more decent graphics that the bu****ing we've seen before!
Viva factor5!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Fal,

Great to see that you are still the only one able to break the great news. Concerning this story I believe that Factor 5 would be the only one committed to accomplish the task of getting up to date graphics on WII. Raf

Anonymous said...

Factor 5 is talking awfully big, I hope they can back it up.

Anonymous said...

then again...I guess it depends on the scale of the levels in the game....if they make small levels....who knows maybe they can pull it off yet maintain the detail of Lair. The labor complex in Resident Evil 4 sports what I consider some of the best visuals of the last generation. Also note 2001 Rogue Squadron still holds its own against many Wii games(tragically I should add)).

I think in terms of what you can get out of a console theres a big big gap between the results you can get through fully exploiting the potential thats in there somewhere in contrast to just barely scratching the surface without
digging deep like most lazy Wii devs tend to do. A year or two ago Criterion's own Alex Ward stated in an interview that they only managed to squeeze out about 60 % of the theoretic potential of the last generation of consoles before before the next wave emerged.

I mean just compare any first generation Playstation 2 title to a God Of War 2 for example. There is a HUGE difference .Or first generation Gamcube titles like Eternal Darkness to Rebel Strike and Resi4. It's a completely different ball game.

Generally speaking though like Factor 5
stressed numerous times they have become much cleverer in making engines in pushing limits and overcoming hurdles throuh all their expirience. Remember Factor 5 has years of expirience with the Nintendo architecture. They did not have to start from scratch like on Playstation 3. Thats a crucial point. That reinforces my confidence in Factor 5s engagement. A 2001 game still looking good by todays standards(on Wii) speaks volumes about a developers capability and integrity. I think their expirience with the Wii hardware go a long way in making such statements!

Also, to tell you the truth I am not too keen on normal mapping these days. Particularly in games that go the realistic route. I don't like how many characters and their clothes in 360 and Playstation 3 games tend to have a plastic sheen to them. Doom 3 started off this whole thing. I don't know. It just looks kinda unatural to me. Now I understand normal mapping has it advantages and creates a ceratin depth that is otherwise missing but I doubt that it is the end of all things in its current utilization.


Anonymous said...

He doesnt necessarily mean graphics wise that its superior to the PS3. I think he just means what they were able to accomplish with the engine,

Anonymous said...

So to conclude, I am positive that Factor 5 will deliver a game that is designed in a way that plays to the strengths of the Wii hardware. I do believe they can pull off a game that looks "better" than Lair with the right design choices(sorta like galaxy). And it will certainly put all other Wii games to shame to begin with. That's a given.


Falafelkid said...

Hey Anonymous.

He doesnt necessarily mean graphics wise that its superior to the PS3. I think he just means what they were able to accomplish with the engine,

How could a graphics engine possibly be superior without the graphics also being superior? Clearly Eggebrecht´s comments suggest that their Wii project will look every bit as good as ´Lair´ - providing he was not misquoted.

Anonymous said...

How could a graphics engine possibly be superior without the graphics also being superior? Clearly Eggebrecht´s comments suggest that their Wii project will look every bit as good as ´Lair´

Its simple really, the graphics engine is not superior. I think you are reading too deeply into Eggebrecht´s comments. Remember this is the guy who still believes that the controls for Lair are fine and the people complaining are too ‘hard core’. So I would take anything he says with a grain of salt.

Also Unreal Tournament 3 is graphically (and gameplay wise) far superior to Lair so how he came to the conclusion that the Lair Engine was better then UE3 is beyond me.

I think he is trying to get the hype train going early on his next project after the failure that was Lair.

This is just my opinion so I could be wrong.

Lair Review

Anonymous said...

theres nothing out the ordanary there the fill rate resolution ratio wii operates on is very very good in terms of fill rate to burn wii is CONSOLE optermized its no pc or fake pc cough ps3 it can pull of all sorts of greatness WEN DEVELOPED CURRECTLY if i can use fillrate and other such things more EFFECTIVLY/EFFICENLY THE wii way then why not

wii has ovious advantages data streaming from disc data streaming from flash drive compression on the fly de-compression easy to code ultra fast ram and then theres the ovious wiimote/nunchuck wiimote speaker etc etc etc etc etc

imagine pro logic 2 X 7.1 optermized sound engine plus surroud fading wiimote speaker sound (i bet factor 5 do it)

high fillrate low resolution= bags and bags of effects and screen fill and lets not forget 16 stage shaders and 8 stage textures per pass

not only can this new game look great it can sound great and play great

lets hope factor 5 polish the experiance aswell as the tech side of things

Anonymous said...

some guy, you're right, it's entirely possible that Eggebrecht´s is misunderstood.

As for him declaring the Lair engine better than Unreal 3 engine, I dont think he meant that the game Lair itself was better than Unreal 3. He was talking about the engine itself.

I think a lot of people don't have a clear idea of what a game engine is. For those who don't know, a game engine does not = graphics alone. A game engine is a software that allows developers to bring in all the assets they create (like sound, 3d models, textures, animations etc.) and allows for real time rendering of those assets in a game environment.

A basic engine should allow for world building, bringing in models and textures created with other software like 3DS Max and Photoshop, support for audio implementation, basic phsysics effects and other fundamental features that you need to build a basic game.

Having said that, a GOOD engine also has good usability and documentation. And unfortunately Unreal engine is NOT known good usability and good documentation (You don't have to be a developer to get your hands on the Unreal 3 engine by the way). I've worked with the Unreal 2 engine,and it is not the most user friendly. You can't even UNDO at sometimes! For those of you that worked on terrains in the Unreal 2 engine know that if you undo, it crashes the software. How messed up is that! There are a lot of bugs.

Soooo, coming back to my initial point, when Eggebrecht said the Lair engine is better than the Unreal Enginge, I think he was talking about the overall engine and not the visuals from the games he mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Hi nef,

Thank for the response.

I fully understand what a game engine is and that it does not directly mean superior graphics. I was merely using the two titles listed as benchmarks of what we have seen on the consumer end. Comparing the Lair engine to every game based of off UE3 would not be fair to Factor 5 since Lair is of course the only title to use it. So I used UT3 for PS3 as a comparison since it uses UE3 v1.0 for the PS3. Also because both of these project were in-house by there respective developers.

Of course Eggebrecht´s comments referred to the engines and not the particular games but when the only title to utilize this engine had so many issues beyond gameplay and graphics I would find it difficult for him to brag/pitch the Lair engine by saying that it surpasses that of UE3.



Anonymous said...

I strongly assume that Eggebrechts is referring to the graphics when he talks about "the biggest milestone" so far.
If not what else would he allude to!?

Maybe he meant that in terms of effects etc. the engine can do eveything the Lair engine can do although not so many
things all at once....

But if they opt for smaller scaled levels without thousand objects on screen at once they will certainly be able to render everything with higher detail/better effects and thus achieve higher quality.

I mean you just need to visualize how much engine performance/recources Factor 5 save when they do not have to render all these vast surroundings and armies/battleforces of Lair all at once and instead concentrate all off the engines power on closed environments like a mansion for example.


Anonymous said...

It's not a misquote or interpreted incorrectly.
Listen to the IGN's Wii-k in review podcast. It's from Julian Eggebrecht himself.

And to the whining little bitch who is pissed that Factor 5 went and developed Lair for the PS3. Listen to the Podcast.
To put it simply it was a business decision.
They have employees to pay so they could not sit around waiting on Nintendo to reveal what exactly they were doing with the Wii.
They did the next logical thing, took up a project for the PS3.
As he said, Sony was aggressively pursuing them to make a game.

Nintendo doesn't OWN Factor 5.
They can make games for whichever platform they chooses to.
Both companies have a good relationship and that hasn't changed because of Lair.

Anyway, this didn't started off as a rant but I guess it turned into one.

As for Eggebrecht comments about the game engine for the Wii doing what Lair's did for the PS3 and then some...
Think about it..Lair is pretty much a 1st gen(ish) PS3 game. They had no previous experience developing for the PS3 thus they did not have the time to fully exploit the hardware. You can push the hardware all you want but if the game is not polished you get Lair.

On the other hand, what is Wii exactly? A really suped up and tweaked Gamecube.
How amazing did Rogue Squadron 2 looked on GC?
And there you have it, they're pretty familiar with the system architecture so they're better equipped to exploit it.

Don't call the guy a liar just yet.
He should know what he's talking about, seeing he has first hand account of both engines running.

IALS last post pretty much sums it up I think.

Should be exciting to see when they do release something.


Anonymous said...

Hey Some guy,

sorry, I wasn't talking directly about you when I said a lot of people don't have a clear idea of what a game engine is. I only wanted to clarify that because some people seem to think Eggebrecht could be talking about the graphics itself. I was just talking in general cuz, I myself didn't know what exactly a game engine until recently.

I also see your point about how skewed Eggebrecht's view that Lair engine > UE3 is considering the quality of Lair on PS3. But I can't help thinking that the faults of the Lair game could be blamed more on the PS3 hardware than the engine itself. Maybe they had trouble outputting the engine to that platform. Maybe that's why Eggebrecht finds the Wii platform much easier to work with and more suitable for the engine. It's true, comparing the track reccord of both UE3 and Lair engine, no one would buy into Eggebrecht's pitch. But I'm giving him the benefit of doubt, because I know that Factor 5 is one of the more technically savy developers out there....more so than Epic Games. I dunno, that's more of a gut feeling, than an opinion, I guess. :P

Anonymous said...

sorry, I wasn't talking directly about you when I said a lot of people don't have a clear idea of what a game engine is.

No need to apologize, you didn’t do anything wrong. I just hope my response didn’t come off as being confrontational because that was not my intent. Sometimes things don’t come across very well in text :) .

Anonymous said...

factor 5 is, and has always been extremely close to nintendo. saying that made a "business decision" because they "didn't want to wait around for nintendo" is a crock of shit. don't give me that. they knew exactly what the wii could do, but decided they wanted to go with the platform that had the "best" technical specifications. they've said it themselves many times-- they prefer to develop for the technologically superior platform-- and if sony's hype at the time was to be believed, the "cell" was it. this is the exact reason why they developed for the n64 and the gamecube (before the xbox came out). superior platforms.

fast forward, and maybe now they realize that their familiarity with the platform and their dedicated nintendo fanbase might just be what keeps them as profitable as they can be, so they come crawling back. it's not a surprise, and as i said, i ain't mad at them any more. i'm looking forward to their next project.

-"superfan" tactics.

Anonymous said...

some guy,

naah, it's all good. I didn't take it as confrontational at all. Just wanted to make sure I didn't step on your toes.

Anonymous said...


Factor 5 can't do that! They need to develop more powerforce games onto the PlayStation 3, so that I can suck their dicks!!!!!


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