Next-Gen Call Of Duty, Last-Last-Gen Engine

The next Call of Duty game, Ghosts, will be the first to appear on an entirely new generation of hardware. Despite this, it's still built on an engine that's over 10 years old, though the game's developers would like you to think otherwise.

Sure, the engine has been heavily modified since then — Modern Warfare 3 vs Quake III isn't even a contest — but as any Call of Duty fan can attest, there are places, especially when it comes to the geometry of levels, where the engine is kinda showing its age.

Infinity Ward’s animation lead Zach Volker tells OPM “When we’re talking about a new engine we’re talking about upgrading significant systems within in that engine. We’re not talking about throwing it all away and saying we’re starting from the ground up”.

The reason they're still using the same engine, as opposed to an all-new one, is about what you'd expect given the annual release cycle of the series. "[It's] impossible to develop a new engine from the ground up in a two year cycle”, he says.

“What we do is we say ‘OK what are the things that are significant and that we would say that are encompassing of the engine or its visual quality?” he adds. “Are those being upgraded in a significant way? Alright, then I think that warrants that we’ve got a new engine on our hands”.

Well, no, you don't. A new engine is a new engine. As he explains, the decision to stick with the old one makes complete sense, especially when you consider that most copies of this year's game will still be sold on "old" hardware. Not sure why they need to stretch the label to make up for that.

Hopefully next year's game can make the break. Be nice to see what the series can do with some new horsepower under the hood.

Call Of Duty Ghosts next-gen engine explained: “We’re talking about upgrading significant systems, not starting from the ground up” [OPM]


    And this is why it is just now starting to look nearly as good as BF3 does.
    Lazy buggers they are.

    So when are they going to find the time to develop a new engine then? It certainly won't be in between the yearly releases. Will next years (the one after this) release also be on the PS3 and 360? If so then that'll be at least one more game without a new engine. CoD continues to not be revolutionary

      Sledgehammer haven't been involved in this or the last one... maybe they're building the new engine?

    This is a joke. Surely with the amount of money the COD series is pulling in they can afford to expand the team enough to dedicate resources to building a new engine?

    I don't see a problem with calling it a new engine. The majority of long lived software projects change over time, sometimes becoming unrecognisable when compared to their original versions.

    One way to think of it is to compare with evolution and biology. We know there are multiple species of animals, but we also know that animals change gradually through evolution rather than in discrete jumps. If you didn't observe how they evolved, you might say that two species are obviously separate. If you do see how they evolve though, it can be hard to say where one species ends and the next begins.

    So when you have yearly releases of a game with an evolving engine, you have the same problem defining whether one year's engine is different from another year's engine. If you do decide that they are multiple engines, you run into cases like this.

    The only alternative is to decide that the distinction is meaningless, and doesn't actually matter (which seems to be what Valve have done with their Source engine).

      Right. I don't think the Half-Life 'engine' bore much resemblance to the parts of the Quake 1 and Quake 2 engines it cannibalized.

        Indeed. Almost all engines in use today are evolutions in one form or another of older ones. Nitpicking over the meaning of 'new' seems kinda pointless when 'what the engine does' is the only thing that actually matters.

      References to a 'Source 2' and 'HL3' were found when they released the movie maker.

      All engines eventually wear thin.

        Right. But do you think the differences between the first and last games advertised to use the "Source" engine share more code than the last using "Source" and the first using "Source 2"? They've been adding to and upgrading the engine all along.

      so, if i change the spark plugs and maybe the alternator in my car, i can sell it saying it has a new engine?
      sweet. wonder if setting the odometer to zero is going too far

        I think you've missed the point I was trying to make.

        Taking your car analogy, changing the sparks and alternator doesn't make it a new car. But if you continue to gradually replace parts until nothing of the original remains, do you have a new car? If it is a new car, at what point did it become a new car? Is it really fundamentally different to the version prior to that last part replacement?

          That's presuming no one buys the cars proceeding 'the original', therefore, those that buy the new COD won't be buying something with a 'new' engine, versus those who have not played the series since since say, MW3.

          It should not be classed as a 'new engine' because games journalism is all encompassing, meaning they report based on the most recent developments of games, which in this case includes Black Ops 2, and from what it sounds like, nothing much has changed since that game (understandably so).

          So, this is not a 'new' engine. Merely 'modified'.

    Source Engine is a heavily modified version of the Goldsrc Engine. That's the kind of upgrade people expect when they hear "new engine".

    I love Call of Duty. There, I said it.

      your parents will be proud

        They'll be even prouder once he hits puberty.

          Im 30 and puberty is a very distant, highly unhappy memory. All that acne! Your clever joke has left me in a foul mood. I demand satisfaction, pistols at dawn!

    So it's still running on modified idTech 3? Jeez.

      Modified idTech 3 isn't really an accurate description though......

      The original game used a modified id3 engine [we're talking CoD1 here], and since its been modified to the point where yes, there are probably still some functions and code fragments from that engine, but enough of it has changed that it is a totally different engine now.

      With physical objects as an analogy, lets say you have a BMW, and you start replacing one part at a time with parts from a Ferrari, once a day, every day [except the steering wheel]. At the end, with only the steering wheel remaining, you would hardly call it a BMW still...

        No would call it an abomination.

          That I would agree on :p

    How about they hold off for a cycle and give us a new engine for a change, rather than recycling it with minor changes to release what has always felt like the same game in a new skin? They mention having changed significant areas in order to be able to classify it as 'new', but all I've seen is minor face lifts; if they released an actual groundbreaking change I'm sure it would not only excite present fans, but also entice back those of us who are growing a bit tired of full-price reskins. :-/

      I'm waiting for them to spice it up a bit and release a WWII shooter.

      You all seem to be under the impression that Activision gives a damn about gamers. Why should they upgrade properly, when copy-pasting from the previous release results in a billion dollars profit, and they have shareholders?

    this is the problem, far cry 3 ran like SHIT on my xbox but looked absolutely gorgeous. call of duty games never goes below 58fps and look well above average. is it really worth it..?

    It's not like the devs know what to do with a "new" engine:

      The light refracted off of Venus, into some swamp gass, causing the optical illusion you see before you.

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