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Old 2012-04-23, 12:36 PM   [Ignore Me] #1
Saieno
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The Origin of Forge Light (Speculation)


TL;DR Version
Project Offset, an amazing graphical game engine is shown in 2005. Intel buys them out in 2008, cancels the project in 2010 but rumors of a development framework exists. Early 2011 SOE closes The Agency, three studios, 205 jobs, and states they want to focus on Planetside and EverQuest. Weeks later Smed confirms Planetside Next was moved to a new internal game engine, which is later revealed as Forge Light. Because of the power of this engine, its sudden presence at SOE, and similar features plus rendering to Project Offset, I believe Forge Light is Project Offset reborn.



Detailed Version
A company called Offset Software launched in 2005, and was formed by several former members of S2 Games who created Savage 2 and Heroes of Newerth (and happen to be my favorite small developer). The company released videos of Project Offset, a graphically rich first person shooter set in a fantasy world. In 2008 Offset Software was purchased by Intel but development on Project Offset continued. In 2010 the project was cancelled by Intel, with the founding Offset Software members creating a mobile games company called Fractive LLC. So what does all of this have to do with SOE, and more importantly, Planetside 2?

Back in late 2009 rumors on development of Planetside Next started to appear, and nearly a year later in 2010 it was announced that Planetside Next would be releasing in the second quarter of 2011. In March of 2011 there were three studios and 205 jobs closed down at SOE, cancelling The Agency to make a new focus on the Planetside and EverQuest properties. A few weeks later on these very forums, GarbageGnome brings up the fact that SOE is saving a bunch of money by 'axing' The Agency and some studios to provide more resources to Planetside Next and EverQuest Next. The interesting tidbit is the response from Smed on the comment:

Originally Posted by Smed View Post
Recently (a few weeks ago actually) we made the call to update the game to a new internally developed engine. Doing that meant delaying the game, but we thought it was in the best interests of Planetside Next. It also means delaying releasing further info for a little while.

Smed
Notice the section highlighted in bold, where he states "we made the call to update the game to a new internally developed engine". It didn't cross my mind at the time, but recently I've been thinking about this fantastic new engine that SOE has and the the events that lead up to this point. My first concern is why a company that is developing an internal game engine would start Planetside Nexts' development on an inferior one, only to change their entire game engine and development plan a year later. Secondly, where would SOE suddenly obtain an extremely powerful game engine that is capable of running on 7 year old hardware? It didn't hit me till I thought about Project Offset again.

Keep in mind this is from 2005

Intel bought Project Offset and devoted a significant amount of energy towards positioning Offset as the showcase engine for what Larrabee, their first-generation GPU, could do. With Larrabee, if you recall, Intel was pushing the idea that real-time raytracing (RTRT) could replace traditional rasterization in 3D gaming. ATI and NVIDIA never took too kindly to the idea; the result was quite a bit of back-and-forth posturing about what could and couldn't be done with near-generation hardware. After Larrabee was cancelled, it was widely rumored that Intel was offering the Offset Engine as a potential development framework in its pursuit of the next-generation PS4/XBox 720. I believe that Sony Online Entertainment obtained the Offset Engine through their connections and partnerships at Intel, thus Forge Light was born.

I'm not making this claim simply based on the coincidence that all the events line up to fit my theroy, just one look at the Project Offset demos compared to Planetside 2 footage and you begin the see the similarities. Every engine has certain quirks that make them stand out, even through all the unique art styles and development, which is why you can tell when you're playing a game on Unreal Engine 3. Little things like the rendering style for models, lights, and effects, even how things load when you enter the game world. Lets make a quick comparison though so you can see what I mean.

This is the Planetside 2 Announcement Trailer we all know and love. When you're watching it this time however, try to focus on the little details, such as the first person perspective view, subtle motion blur effects, and the phsyics. Look at the animations, how everything is moving, and the number of enemies on the screen at one time. Remember, Planetside 2 is looking to have 1,998 players on a map at one time, so the engine has to be able to render that flawlessly for Planetside 2 to be successful.



Now lets look at a Crowd Test from Project Offest. Keep in mind this is from 2005 (nearly 7 years ago), and even back when ATI 9800 Pros and Nvidia 7800s were the great cards, we have hundreds of fantastic looking characters on screen with physics, motion blur, and ray-tracing in real time. This was an unbelieveable achievement in game engines, just imagine how it would look and perform on todays hardware.



So there you have it. From the beginning of Project Offset to the mysterious new engine that SOE seemed to pull out of thin air, Planetside 2 rises from the flames to bring us an unbelievable visual and game play experience. Again this is all speculation, there is no official word on the origin of the Forge Light engine, and unless a blue name could confirm my suspicions then I would take them with a grain of salt. However if Forge Light is the Offset Engine reborn, I can't wait to see what happens with EverQuest Next.
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