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View Full Version : Should Ubisoft stop using in house engines for AAA titles?



Carfax83
01-15-2015, 09:02 PM
The problem I have with AC Unity, and all Ubisoft games in general really, is that their engines aren't top tier, when they should be for a AAA release..

Ubisoft makes second class rate in house engines that offer very poor LoD management, have egregious pop in and stuttering, short draw distances, faulty or dysfunctional SLI/Crossfire support and other wacky issues.

This is common across nearly every Ubisoft AAA title in some form or fashion, and I'm getting tired of it. Playing Dragon Age Inquisition and AC Unity on my PC just reinforces how poor Ubisoft's engines are in comparison to Frostbite 3, a real top tier engine.

Dragon Age Inquisition has EXCEPTIONAL LoD management and ridiculously long draw distances in comparison to AC Unity, and it also runs at constant 60 FPS maxed out with 2x MSAA V-synced 1440p with no stuttering or hitching of any kind..

AC Unity runs at a constant 60 FPS frame rate as well, but only with FXAA and is luckily pretty much stutter free on my rig with a few minor exceptions like the first few seconds after loading a save. But, the LoD system is God awful, and pop in is very noticeable; although the last patch improved it a bit..

Looking at resources being used, AC Unity uses more VRAM than DAI, but less system RAM. DAI on average uses about 3GB of VRAM and 3GB of system RAM. AC Unity uses about 3.5GB of VRAM, and 2.5GB of system RAM.

Such a strange discrepancy, because AC Unity is completely seamless whilst DAI isn't, so you'd think that it would use more RAM. AC Unity is also far more dense than DAI. But this has always been a weak point for Ubisoft in house engines. Their games use the lowest amount of system RAM it can get away with, which is a major reason why I think their streaming system is so weak compared to elite engines like Frostbite 3, CryEngine etcetera..

Far Cry 3 and AC IV for instances both used only 700MB of system RAM, which is absurdly low for such large games if you ask me. Their games access storage far too often, which results in hitching, stuttering and overly obvious LoD transitions and pop in..

So basically, Ubisoft should drop these craptastic in house engines of theirs altogether and license a more capable engine like CryEngine or Unreal Engine 4 or something..

To be fair, Snowdrop engine is looking to be much better, but we won't know until we get our hands on the Division.

Reytime
01-15-2015, 09:08 PM
I think the updated Anvil engine for Unity looks tremendous and I hope they keep adding on to it.

The AC IV and prior AC games were using the same engine AC1 did, which at the time looked impressive. Unity has some of the most imrpessive visuals I've ever seen.
Beautiful sceneries and the cutscenes are unlike anything I've ever see, including the animations.

Carfax83
01-15-2015, 09:14 PM
Yes the engine can pump out some very impressive visuals, but they are blunted by the horrible LoD management and streaming system. Playing Dragon Age Inquisition and AC Unity, one gets the distinct impression that the AnvilNext engine just isn't up to par, which I think is because it is pulling too much data from storage rather than from RAM.

It's a MASSVE improvement over previous versions of the engine like you said, and is on a whole other level compared to that God awful Watch Dogs engine..

Ansellbwoy
01-15-2015, 09:39 PM
I always kinda assumed this would be the last AC using AnvilNext, due to them developing Snowdrop. I'm guessing it takes a whole lot of work to develop a brand new engine, and with Snowdrop looking good (so far at least) for The Division I'm guessing they'll switch to that for brand new games. But with Victory already in development, who knows. Anyone have any clue what engine is being used for the next AC?

Also, I'm guessing using third party engines would be more expensive. If you have the resources to create an engine, it would help financially in the long run.

I'll stress though, that all of this post is just assumptions. I'm far from an expert.

Reytime
01-15-2015, 10:13 PM
According to the leaked AC Victory video the next AC will be using the Anvil engine, completely. And don't forget as it's an inhouse engine they can keep adding features way faster than they could with 3rd party engines.

Anykeyer
01-16-2015, 09:46 AM
Short answer - no
Game engine is way more than just graphics. First and foremost its a framework to glue everything together. Most of the engines features are dictated by gameplay, using 3rd party engine will be way too restrictive.
Also, things like LOD distances and RAM cache sizes are actually easy to tweak for developers. Most likely wont require any coding at all. There's absolutely no reason to develop or buy a new engine for minor stuff like this.


Dragon Age Inquisition
Looks no better than AC3 and has nowhere near as much stuff on the screen. Its easy to have "exceptional LOD" if your game's visuals are so outdated and simple.




The AC IV and prior AC games were using the same engine AC1 did
No. Depending on how you look at this each game runs on it own engine or they all use the same.
Anvil (AC2-ACR as well as AC3/4 MP) is heaviliy modified Scimitar (AC1), while AnvilNext (AC3/4, Rogue and Unity) is heavily modified Anvil.
But they also update it for each game they release.

Wrath2Zero
01-16-2015, 01:14 PM
Dragon Age: Inquisition looks no better than AC3? LMAO.

Anykeyer
01-16-2015, 03:18 PM
You think it does? ROFL
Its more colorfull, almost cartoonish. But its just as empty as AC3 frontier. And its not a bad thing, bc not every game should be set in a big dense city, but it means you cant compare DAI to Unity. Agressive LOD or not, ACU engine still draws way more polygons.

ACE7492
01-16-2015, 09:13 PM
You think it does? ROFL
Its more colorfull, almost cartoonish. But its just as empty as AC3 frontier. And its not a bad thing, bc not every game should be set in a big dense city, but it means you cant compare DAI to Unity. Agressive LOD or not, ACU engine still draws way more polygons.

I get what your saying about it being "empty" like AC3 frontier. But for all the stuff they put in the game to make it "not empty", it does not seem to add anything useful. There is no interaction between you and the crowds. And while the buildings are pretty, they don't look very good past a certain distance, and after playing DAI right after ACU, I would trade off some of the useless fluff in Unity for smoother and more polished gameplay. Unity is a very nice looking game though.

Carfax83
01-17-2015, 04:11 AM
Short answer - no
Game engine is way more than just graphics. First and foremost its a framework to glue everything together. Most of the engines features are dictated by gameplay, using 3rd party engine will be way too restrictive.

This is a good point.


Also, things like LOD distances and RAM cache sizes are actually easy to tweak for developers. Most likely wont require any coding at all. There's absolutely no reason to develop or buy a new engine for minor stuff like this.

LoD scaling and draw distance are a function of how efficient an engine is when managing resources. Playing AC Unity, I get the impression that the engine isn't very efficient in how it manages resources, whereas I get the opposite when playing DAI..

Take my examples from my OP for instance. Far Cry 3 and AC IV both used 700MB of system RAM. Considering they are both very large open/semi-open world games, thats paltry. Instead, the games were pulling lots of data from storage rather than using system RAM to cache that data, which leads to ridiculous levels of pop in and sharp LoD transitions..

Resource management in Watch Dogs was completely screwed up, and still is to an extent for people like myself that use SLI.. This is a TREND across multiple titles, and although the AC Unity engine is far better than any of Ubisoft's previous efforts, it still shows the same characteristics in many ways.


Looks no better than AC3 and has nowhere near as much stuff on the screen. Its easy to have "exceptional LOD" if your game's visuals are so outdated and simple.

Well you're entitled to your opinion, but this is a bunch of B.S. DAI has very nice graphics, and uses up to date technology like global illumination, cascading soft shadows, terrain tessellation, physically based rendering etcetera..

The art style may look cartoonish at times, but from a purely graphical perspective, it's a stunning game in my opinion.. It could have looked even better, if it didn't have the legacy consoles to deal with. Here's a few screenshots:

http://imageshack.com/a/img537/5250/IO6kts.png
http://imageshack.com/a/img909/9195/2pyUn1.png
http://imageshack.com/a/img537/1292/UK5KMS.png

Anykeyer
01-19-2015, 09:41 AM
LoD scaling and draw distance are a function of how efficient an engine is when managing resources. Playing AC Unity, I get the impression that the engine isn't very efficient in how it manages resources, whereas I get the opposite when playing DAI..

Take my examples from my OP for instance. Far Cry 3 and AC IV both used 700MB of system RAM. Considering they are both very large open/semi-open world games, thats paltry. Instead, the games were pulling lots of data from storage rather than using system RAM to cache that data, which leads to ridiculous levels of pop in and sharp LoD transitions..


LOD scaling has nothing to do with Ubisoft's ability to make engines. In the end you have a certain budget - total ammount of memory and power you can use. A GPU can handle only a finite ammount of polygons, and since all consoles ship with predetermined specs this is what usually serves as the hard limit for your game. But its up to developers to decide where and when they want to spend those resources.
In open areas it makes sense to distribute your budget evenly across all distance ranges. And in fact its much easier for programmers to not use any LOD at all or simulate it with a similar approach. This is how Oblivion and Skyrim were made, there is no LOD for at least 100-150m (all currenly loaded world "cells"), and then it blends loaded "cells" with smaller model of the entire world which itself doesnt have any LOD levels.
But in a game like Unity (where players view is usually obstructed by nearby buildings) it pays off to have more details up close to the player while having somewhat agressive details degradation at range, with many smaller steps. I believe its nothing but their artistic decision to have it like this, and has nothing to do with the engine itself.
Same with memory. I dont think there is anything that limits them from using more. They just dont for whatever reason.



http://imageshack.com/a/img537/5250/IO6kts.png
http://imageshack.com/a/img909/9195/2pyUn1.png
http://imageshack.com/a/img537/1292/UK5KMS.png

1st screenshot - render distance = 60-80m. Everything else is just background with some really bad textures and 2D trees. Even that statue (?) behind the wall is low-poly and low-res.
2nd - looks great. But ACU has nearly 5x more details in similar shots
3rd - I can clearly see low-poly rocks and terrain

Dellers
01-19-2015, 12:12 PM
I agree with the OP, and have been saying for a while that Ubisoft should just use some of the wellknown engines. The last year has been a nightmare. Watch Dogs, Far Cry 4 and AC: Unity have had major stuttering problems and more, and IMO that completely breaks a game. Patches typically break SLI as well, and Watch dogs is literally unplayable for me now because SLI doesn't work anymore. There are just so many technical problems with Ubisoft games these days, problems that I don't see in other games I'm playing. If things don't get better I'm not gonna buy a single Ubisoft game, since playing with stutter is completely destroying the experience. It doesn't matter how good the gameplay is. I wouldn't watch a movie with stuttering either.