I think I can say a little about CryEngine in general and what i think of the implementation in MechWarrior Online.
I have a little blog over at Crydev, in which i talk about some new tech features which come in the latest SDKs, and I often times help artists with their work.
I worked in CryEngine for quite some time now, but not as a professional. Nevertheless, I think my knowledge of the engine is pretty good.
In my spare time I sometimes do some screenshots, but they never take longer than an afternoon: (If you like Mechwarrior check it out!)
So first of all, let me make that clear - CryEngine 3 is superior to CryEngine 2, even though some shots might look better in CryEngine 2.
But make no mistake, from a technological point of view, nothing of significance has been lost, while many essential features have been added, while overall performance has increased.
Now, I like MechWarrior Online, but I surely don't like it for its graphics. Or let's better say its looks.
I know this is a controversial post and I hope we get some discussion on this.
There are several things, which feel to me like either art direction is not completely determined, or some people did not really find an optimal solution and just settled with some so-so stuff. Or they just have a different taste than me.
First about the looks in general.
-> An overall lack of contrast. Forest Colony or Frozen City would look a lot better and feel a lot more real if the shadows were a bit deeper. The lack of black is very apparant. Shadows are so bright, it's often times not worth enabling them. This could look a lot better.
Also by now CryEngine 3 has some brilliant SSAO modi, which essentially combine several SSAOs into one, not having too much unrealistic looking halos, while still doing a fine job of making the scene feel much more integrated. (r_SSAO 5 with multiple radii).
-> River City Night is a mess. How can it be so dark, while the sky is so bright?
Of course it is a night scene, but why not make it coherent looking?
There is a big BIG problem with HDR_eye_adaption in the implementation of Mechwarrior online. I feel like in many cases the scene has been darkened, not by making the sun and sky lights darker, but by turning down the blacks in post-processing. If the HDR eye adaption would work as usual, the eyes would slowly make the scene brighter until at least some contrast is given. At least that is the intention, but it can be modified in various ways.
You can see the effect work when you get hit by something, which in 99% of the case is some overly bright effect, which makes the eye_adaption go crazy and blacken your whole screen for a few seconds.
Also - NightVision/Heatvision can be controlled very easily by parameters which can be set individually per Level. Why not adjust Night Vision for RiverCity alone? It clearly fails there.
-> Assets in general look very flat. CryEngine 3 has, like many other engines, stuff like Environment probes, which add cubemaps to each element in a part of a level. I don't see that used really. It brings out beautiful reflection which makes shadowed objects still have some structure and depth to them.
Also why not add more reflections to windows of buildings? I can see how that would make a difference in how Frozen City would feel
So I did the work and checked through the assets. And there are actually several environment probes for Rivercity for example. But the windows are often times not glossy! They don't reflect!
-> Mechs have predefined environment maps in their material files. Why not have the mech reflect their actual surroundings? Also make them a little little bit more reflective
For you to illustrate my points, I show you what i mean with some assets in CryEngine. And maybe the Artists use some of the effects, but to a very little extend. I am prone to blindness, so if someone steps in and says - hey that's clearly in game! Then ok.
I don't want to show off, or try to humiliate the devs or anything (hell no! You are awesome), but here is some stuff which i mean could be improved.
I launched the editor and just threw together some buildings, i was not trying to create a city, just show some effects. Don't judge the scene because of the arrangements of buildings etc. That took me 5 minutes only.
I might look into making some beautyful scenes later on.
This is the level without any reflection.
This is the level with environment probes used in a way I like
To make the point of cubemap reflections clear: (And this looks a million times better in motion)
Don't get it wrong - cubemap environment reflections are in game. But they are used with so little effect that one has to ask whether it's worth the computation cost. Or maybe it's just me.
Now the Scene with GI. GI means global illumination, which calculates the way light is reflected off of objects.
It seems to me like the GI in Mechwarrior Online is not really configured for the game. The stock GI in CryEngine works good for first person shooters, and the maximum distance for which this is calculated is default 100 m. But in Mechwarrior Online we look from a much higher point of view.
See how flat it looks without and with GI:
Apart from that little rant, I have really noticed how awesome the assets actually are.
The buildings are really imaginative and have a unique style. I really love that. The River City assets in particular have a "Bioshock" Steampunkie/Future feel to them. I like it. Never noticed ingame though
Apart from that, the Ice cave is a masterpiece. With all the laser reflections in the ice it just looks awesome.
So yeah, I don't know maybe someone found this useful. The guys who use CryEngine already especially
Edited by TheUncle, 21 February 2013 - 04:37 PM.