Deep Down’s engine will impress you

3 min read
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DeepDown

Capcom’s then-unnamed Deep down was one of the more interesting things shown at the Playstation4 reveal event in February last year. With a fantasy setting, and some incredible visuals  ( and that fire!) many though it might be a next generation Dragon’s Dogma. It isn’t (for better or worse!), and it’s going to be a free-to-play game, but it’s going to impress the hell out of you.

In an interview, published by…uh…Capcom, Capcom’s Senior Manager of Technology Management Masaru Ijuin says that the company’s Panta Rhi engine is going to knock the socks right off your feet.

The players of “deep down” will be surprised to see realistic fire rendered by fluids. Traditionally, fire is rendered by arranging a large number of so-called billboards, but this method fails to depict the motion of fire. We can now make fire look more realistic by using fluids and simulating the flow of the flames. Imagine a T junction at the end of a narrow corridor. The fire rendered through the use of billboards ends at the wall of the T junction. On the other hand, the fire rendered with fluids fans out to the left and right when it hits the wall.

He says that’s not just about pretty though, and that the effects also have a profound effect on actual gameplay.

The effects staff were extremely excited when they discovered this was possible with “Panta Rhei” (laugh). I think this change will also affect different elements of gameplay. For example, in traditional games a player can run away to safety by turning at a T junction, but in the future that fire might actually chase them around the corner.

Panta Rhei is designed to use hardware to its maximum, says the Capcom guy, and it’ll do so while reducing the amount of work developers have to do to produce like effects.

“Panta Rhei" is designed to unlock the full potential of hardware and maximize the rendering power of next-gen consoles. It also reduces the iterations in developing games for next-gen consoles. To make games more exciting, we need to go through a process of trial and error, such as adjusting parameters and considering how games are played. This process needs to be completed in the shortest amount of time possible. Reducing the iteration time from ten minutes to one minute delivers a tenfold increase on the amount of work we can do.

One of the things that allows the engine to make such pretty things, he says, is Global Illumination.

We’re also focusing on this concept of “global illumination”. Basically, this is the idea of the colors of objects reflecting off of their surroundings. For example, when intense light hits and reflects off a blue board, the floor turns slightly bluish. Global illumination is not possible with conventional computer graphics, but we’re now able to reproduce realistic details like this in “deep down”.

I’m glad the company’s got a new engine to work with, to be honest. The MT framework the company used last generation was getting a little long-in-the-tooth. Are you excited for Deep Down? I’m certainly intrigued…but I worry about it being free-to-play, which usually means a wealth of microtransactions.

I’m more interested in the engine that powers it, and what other sorts of games Capcom could make with it. ones that aren’t microtransaction-riddled free-to-play nonsense.

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Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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