Today, on HLF debate, Suicide Mission, Brumisator and the returning hero Retro X, discuss the possible future graphical engines for Valve games. Should they trash it all and license a 3rd party engine, Should they reinvent a new engine altogether, or should they keep iterating on Source? Come in and voice your opinion.
Source has been out in the wild for many years now. Debuting with CSS, then the amazing Half Life 2. They've worked on it, improved it a lot and it has really shown how well it can handle different types of games such as TF and, DOTA2. As with old game engines it's starting to show its age. With engines like CryEngine 3 and Unreal Engine 3, developers would rather look to those than Source. At least it seems that way. So the questions is, should VALVe start Source 3 from scratch and start licensing it or include another engine in their future games?
Surely they have the resources to create a new engine from scratch, but is it worth it in the end to have a brand new engine from the ground up, keep trying to improve an aging engine or use something else?
Thank you Retro for the lovely intro, let being with my point of view, first off, when you ask me what comes to mind when you say the word Source, the first thing that pops into my head is blocky!
Yes, source is a nice engine, it runs on older systems, is well supported, has improved lighting, blah blah, yes, yes I know, but even from its start, all games that have been made with it have been characteristically squary, levels that still look like they should exist only in 1998, that is why I propose Valve should drop the core of Source and begin licensing other engines, like CryEngine 3 or ID Tech 5 for example. They have the money and the know how to do it.
I wouldn't consider it a smart move for Valve to completely abandon their own engine. They have years of experience working on it, and even so, borrowing someone else's engine would limit their capabilities with it.
Doing something as unique looking as TF2 needed entirely new shaders, and a level of familiarity with the engine that's nigh impossible to achieve by licensing another engine.
And nobody wants to see a homogenized aesthetic for all games, like UE3 is bringing us. Bioshock looked great, but you could plainly recognize the unreal engine powering it
@suicide_mission: The problem with licensing other engines is that all their games might look like all the other games that license the same engine, as Brumisator points out. Which is a big problem, things will start to feel generic. This is what made Half Life 2 shine above other games of the time (also, it was HL2!!), it was on the Source engine and looked great. Physics being a big part of it.
VALVe definitely has the resources in terms of time, money and man power to develop a new engine from the start. They already 'repurposed' it for console with the 360 first and PS3 later on. Yes they did wonders with Team Fortress 2 with a completely new aesthetics, but think how much more they can do with a new engine with different style of games in mind. They can build a more focused engine and license *some* technologies from other companies rather than full blown engines.
I doubt Valve would be interested in a building a new engine from scratch, it took 6 years for them to build the first version of Source and another 3 years to implement better lighting & shaders. Just to get a new engine to modern times would take 10+ years to get back to where they are currently at.
I have to say that I believe the "plastic" look of other engines (UE3, etc) is due to developers not dedicating enough time to properly design textures & lighting normals and other goodies that make a game differentiate graphically from another. Its a matter of time & cash (or a lack there of) that makes most other games look so similar.
Source is getting old, and crysis et all demonstrates that its on a path to being a relic in a few years. If valve wont adopt a new engine, then I cant see them creating new titles that match the potential of the latest games with it, worse, I see them porting Source to iPhone or some other portable device and putting their back catalog there, at that point, Valve will be purely a game distributor than a developer.
Valve is continuously hiring and maintaining very talented game creators, I can't see them going anywhere than continuing to make top quality games for the PC, and major consoles for many years.
We're currently pretty much plateau'd on graphical engines. Source is not the shiniest diamond, bit it's dragged its butt this far, why would it stop now? Even John Carmack said about ID tech 5, powering the game Rage, that it's not the mad race for graphical superiority it was when 3D was in its infancy.
Pretty much all game engines are built on top of older technology. Source is based on Goldsource, is based on Quake 1's engine, which probably still had elements of Doom 2 in it.
Starting everyting from scratch would be a serious waste of resources, resources that should be used to make HL3, and are being used to fill Valve's snack bar.
I honestly wouldn't be surprised if VALVe is currently working on either a major update to Source, or a semi-brand new Source engine (Source3), they do have the time and resources. But they cannot last forever on the current Source code base. I'm still a firm believer that in some cases, starting from scratch is the best way forward instead of tweaking and reworking an aging project.
I'm sure if given the time, VALVe could do wonders with Unreal Engine or CryEngine for their next few titles. With only two major engines out in the market, games would start to feel generic, even if it is the developer's fault, we won't see that much variation. DICE is doing wonders with their Frostbite 2 engine and I'm hopeful gaming companies would look at that too instead of just UE3 or CE3 to give us some variation. And this is why I want VALVe to push out a whole new version of Source, not only to give their current and future games a nice update, but to give developers a choice for game engines and give us some variety.
Finding common ground with your enemies is a sure sign of weakness, I SHALL NEVER BENT MY WILL TO THE GODS OF COMMON SENSE!!!
With that, no doubt that Valve will milk Source for all its worth, but there simply isnt enough to make a tasty bowl of corn flakes, look at developers, you had a plethora of mods for gldSource, but so little for Source, not that there aren't, but the amount of work needed with the tools to make something nice becomes insurmountable, and thats the crux of my position, the people who made valve, the modders, have in a certain way been forsaken now that valve no longer needs them to make their fortune.
Not saying that Valve doesn't love modders, just that their needs are no longer #1 given the capabilities and tools for Source. A new licensed engine will open up the community, bring in people from different corners and provide the tools they need from a company dedicated to game engines and not game distribution.
The source engine sees a whole lot of mods being made for it, but modding in general is not the powerhouse community it used to be. Nowadays, it's easier for serious people to pick up a cheap or free license (unity, limited UE3, etc.) and make your own game, with all the tools included.
So, we're all in agreement with my original point, then? Source is alive and well, and will continue to be improved and built upon for years to come. Well then. I rest my case.
Well then, those were our views, what do you think, reader?