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Posts tagged ‘Genie’

12
Aug

Matt Pritchard in classic Gamasutra Age of Empires interview archive

age_of_empires_coverart

Gamasutra has lifted the lid on a classic interview with Ex Ensemble graphics engine programmer Matt Pritchard. Matt joined Ensemble in the early days of Age of Empires development, so early that the game was called “Dawn of Man” before being renamed “Age of Empires” later on. The archived interview is an excellent read for Ensemble and Age of Empires fans. Reading the article you should recognise many names including Tim “timotron” Deen who has worked at Ensemble since Age 1 right up until Halo Wars and the studio disbandment. Tim Deen is now working at Robot Entertainment. Matt Pritchard went on after Age of Mythology to work on BlackSite: Area 51.

The interview talks about some of the choices made at Ensemble about the games design, multiplayer and testing along with details about how the game was programmed. Matt’s primary role was developing the “Genie” graphics engine which powered Age of Empires 1 and 2. Matt’s efforts with the engine managed to increase the initial framerate of 7-14FPS right up to 55FPS. The remainder of the interview discusses things that went well such as the games database driven design, staying in close contact with the publisher (Microsoft) and how Ensemble’s management truly respected its employees. Many of the good points that Matt talked about in the article remained true right up until the end of the studio including the database driven design and employee morale, maybe not so much the publisher relations aspect, though.

Of course a large scale game development like Age of Empires comes with its bugs and these are also talked about in the article. A late beta test, lack of multi player testing on residential modems and not planning for a patch rank highly. In the original release of the game some players found online play unsustainable due to lag time and drop outs over slow 56k modem speeds. Due to the whizzy and fast equipment at Ensemble Studios the testing which took place internally did not necessarily reflect the speeds players would get on the outside. Luckily the good communication with management at Ensemble and Microsoft allowed for the creation of the 1.0a patch which duly rectified most of the multiplayer issues.

Alongside a retro article comes a retro picture of Ensemble Studios staff in 1997. See if you can spot some familiar faces in the picture below:

ensemble team 1997

Looks like Christmas!

I encourage all fans to have a read of the Gamasutra article below, delving into some history of the studios early days. Ensemble Studios is sorely missed. :(

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=24767

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28
Jul

Robot Entertainment chooses the Trinigy Vision Engine for next game

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Robot Entertainment’s lead programmer  Vijay Thakkar has today revealed that Robot Entertainment has signed an agreement with Trinigy to use the Vision Engine for the studios next original IP game. The licensing agreement with Trinigy grants Robot Entertainment the rights to develop a multi-platform game for its new IP using Trinigy’s Vision Engine. Robot’s Vijay Thakkar had this to say on the matter:

“The Vision Engine has clearly been designed with a focus on a powerful set of engine features that do not compromise full developer flexibility,” said Thakkar, in a statement. “Throughout our evaluation of the industry’s premium engines, the Vision engine consistently stood out in terms of performance and how quickly our developers could see their ideas running in game. The stellar level of support, integration of third-party technologies and robust architecture made choosing the Vision Engine an easy decision for our studio and has allowed us to quickly build momentum on our new project.”

One might wonder why Robot is choosing to go down an external engine route. In the past Ensemble Studios has written engines from scratch including The Age 1 & 2 Engine “Genie”, Age of Mythology and Age 3 engine “Bang” and the Halo Wars engine. With the closure of Ensemble Studios it is not known how much support Robot and other studios have been given with regards to the old Ensemble engines the team has created. As Microsoft own the rights to all engines and designs under Ensemble it is presumed that Robot would need to have reached an agreement with Microsoft to use these old tools.  However using a 3rd party engine is certainly not a bad thing as it reduces the time Robot has to spend developing a new engine. Instead they can get stuck right in with existing tools and framework allowing them to get the game ready more quickly than from scratch. – And we’re all looking forward to that!

In case your wondering what types of games have been developed using this engine here’s a brief sample:

Helldorado Spellbound / dtp & Playten PC
The Show 16Tons / Take 2 PC
Dungeon Hero Firefly Studios PC, Xbox360
ZedCity Zed Group PC (MMO)
Warlord Neowiz Corp. PC (MMO)
CrossRoads Nassons Entertainment PC, Xbox360
Wii Relax Frame Studios PC, Wii

One might notice there is alot of PC titles in the list! Perhaps a hint? You can find more details about the engine on the companies official website. They are handily have an office located in Austin, Texas – perfect for Robot Entertainment based near by.

The whole press release can be found below and a link at the bottom to the GamesIndustry.biz article – well worth checking out for those interested!

Austin, TX – July 28th, 2009 – Trinigy, an industry leading 3D game engine provider with over 100 licensees and offices in Germany and Austin, TX, today announced a licensing agreement with Robot Entertainment, Inc., a world-class independent entertainment software company located in Plano, TX. Robot Entertainment will use the Vision Engine on a new, undisclosed IP currently in development.

Started by many of the original founders of Ensemble Studios, Robot Entertainment has a staff of 45 developers comprised entirely of former Ensemble employees. The new company’s team developed the hit franchise Age of Empires™, which sold over 20 million units worldwide, and the recently released hit Halo Wars for Xbox 360™. Robot Entertainment recently announced it will continue working with Microsoft Game Studios to create additional Halo Wars content and support online gaming and communities for both Age of Empires and Halo Wars. The company also announced ambitions to create its own original IP, though no specifics are available yet.

The licensing agreement with Trinigy grants Robot Entertainment the rights to develop a multi-platform game for its new IP using Trinigy’s Vision Engine. In doing so, Robot Entertainment joins a growing list of outstanding developers worldwide that have licensed the Vision Engine, including Ubisoft, Take 2, Firefly and the recently announced MunkyFun, Nitro and Spellbound.

“The Vision Engine has clearly been designed with a focus on a powerful set of engine features that do not compromise full developer flexibility,” said Vijay Thakkar, lead programmer at Robot Entertainment. “Throughout our evaluation of the industry’s premium engines, the Vision engine consistently stood out in terms of performance and how quickly our developers could see their ideas running in game. The stellar level of support, integration of 3rd party technologies and robust architecture made choosing the Vision Engine an easy decision for our studio and has allowed us to quickly build momentum on our new project.”

“Robot Entertainment has the experience and talent to make groundbreaking games that set new standards in the industry,” said Daniel J. Conradie, president and CEO at Trinigy Inc. “Our success and momentum continue to be validated by distinguished AAA teams like the one at Robot Entertainment. We are excited to support this extremely talented team on their next eagerly awaited title.”

About Trinigy

Based in Southern Germany, and with an office in Austin, TX, Trinigy is a privately owned company committed to selling groundbreaking game engine technology and first-class support to video game and serious game development studios across the globe. Engineered to provide more creative and technical freedom, the company’s Vision Engine is currently in use in more than 100 commercial game productions by well-known companies such as Ubisoft, Take 2, Dreamcatcher, NeoWiz, Spellbound, Nitro Games and more. The Vision Engine has proven its versatility in a multitude of game genres, including real-time strategy, racing, first-person shooters, role-playing games and massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. It is available and optimized for performance on PC (DX9, DX10), Xbox360™, PLAYSTATION®3, Nintendo Wii™, XBLA™, PSN™ and WiiWare™. For more information about Trinigy, its Vision Engine or its technology partners, please visit: www.trinigy.net.

About Robot Entertainment

Based in Plano, Texas, Robot Entertainment is a world-class independent game development studio owned and operated by many of the founders of Ensemble Studios. With a team that has proven experience and expertise in creating games that appeal to massive audiences, Robot Entertainment is focused on titles that set new standards for their respective genres as well as groundbreaking original IPs. Robot can be found on the web at www.robotentertainment.com.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/robot-entertainment-selects-trinigys-vision-engine-for-new-ip

Looking forward to hearing more about the games development!!

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