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What's your favourite engine?

polycounter lvl 17
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adam polycounter lvl 17
Which engine have you worked with in the past that you wish you could develop for from here on out? I know every engine has its problems but lets keep this thread positive.

It doesn't have to be a major player (Unreal, id, Source). To be honest I'd like to hear more about the non-major engines out there that were fun to work with. We've got quite a collection of company employees that post here at the boards so hopefully there will be some good information that comes through.

TonyHawk, BloodRayne, DarkSector, GTA's, Doom, Unreal, Homeworld, Company of Heroes, Battlefield, Oblivion, Halo... these are all games that at least one PC regular has worked on. I'm sure theres SOME good qualities about these engines and their pipelines.

Why'd you like it?
What's the main feature you liked about it that you wish all engines could adopt?
How were the tools? Or how about the pipeline?


Of all the engines I've had to work with the past year and half my favourite has been Unreal 3, and a close second being any engine that was 90% 3D application (Halo, Shadowrun, etc.) for art, lighting, and design.

UnrealEd just has something about that, to me, encourages creativity. Particularly on the material side of things. Any engine with a GUI for shader setup, scripting, particles, is A-OK with me. I'd rather have my face in an intuitive setup then notepad. It was a lot less stressful to try out ideas when the feedback is nearly live and the information input is a breeze than it was to go through a text editor then wait, compile info, review changes, repeat.

The reason I've enjoyed the 90% 3D app engines in the past is that most of the work can be done from 2 applications: Max and Photoshop. The rest is up to the programmers to define entities based on Max helper names. It was awesome, easy, and fun. Granted the final aesthetic results weren't as impressive as a lot of the other engines out there, but it was a blast to develop for.

Replies

  • hawken
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    hawken polycounter lvl 16
    This may sound odd, but I will always remember the days of QWTF and the original Quake engine with a certain romance. I spent most of my waking days playing team fortress back when I was 17~19.

    Runner up is the first Unreal engine, followed closely by the Quake3 engine. Only for the ambience they brought to my screen at the time.

    Ofcourse there are more powerful engines these days, none that I've spent a considerable amount of time in. The first unreal engine had fantastic water and lighting for its day, something that will always stick in my mind. Quake3 had a really robust chunky-ness to it, moreso than Quake2 to some degree, although Quake2 had it's own feeling of satisfaction for making maps and so on.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 17
    Dude... QWTF for the win. I've got too many fond memories of playing it @ a friends house while I was networked to his computer and leeching his 38k connection. LOL... man :\ *sheds a tear*

    Half-Life 1 was my first real experience with any engine from a development stand point. It holds a tiny, tiny sliver of a spot in my heart (I didn't enjoy it much) but wouldn't be here without it!
  • John Warner
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    John Warner polycounter lvl 14
    I've only worked with a few engines here and there. there's been bits that i liked about various ones.
    the COH engine can make some lovely looking stuff, and we're making it even more robust for the upcoming expansion pack, adding weather effects and transitions, etc. in that sense, it really seems to be artistically geared. the world builder is very easy to use and has all sorts of great functionality available to make stuff pretty. the tools that we work with are very robust and I can't really think of something offhand that we haven't been able to make, but i sure as hell wouldn't want to pick them up un-documented. they give a lot of control, but some of the less-technical types find them frustrating.

    i gotta say, this crisis world builder looks pretty damn impressive.. I enjoyed tinkering with oblivion as well.. and remember it being easy to create environments and such in morrowind.

    quite frankly i'm all for quick and dirty usability. i don't give two flying shits about how much shit the engine can rip through. i think we've gone far enough towards realism and it's time to take the step into impressionistic games.

    edit.. er.. not 'expansion pack'.. "companion product."
  • rawkstar
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    rawkstar polycounter lvl 16
  • Jesse Moody
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    Jesse Moody polycounter lvl 15
    Oh man QWTF FTW... I made some pretty shitty square looking shotguns for that game. They looked terrible but that was more during the days of my coding stuff. I picked up the good ole quake demo disk that you could crack. Man those were the days. I ended up installing it on like 20 of my high schools computers and we locked it down after school to play team fortress. Wow it's been so long.

    I've messed with quake 2(never messed with Quake 3), used a c&c editor, messed with oblivion, Battlefield 2, Doom 3 a little, Quake 4 a little as well, Milo, and a few others.

    Recently (past 3 years) I have been using the Unreal engine a lot. I think it opens up a lot of stuff for artists and it's pretty easy to use as well. Now that I am working on some Unreal 3 titles though I'm really starting to like it even more. The material editor has some awesome features and can really push things to look better than in the past. (atleast with the stuff i have been doing.)

    It still has it's quirks though. Collision meshes can create some interesting results if you have intersecting geometry for the collision cage.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 17
    [ QUOTE ]
    idtech5 ?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Haha.. well you're the only one who should be bringing this up.

    Can you say WHY? Or is it too early for that (re: nda)?
  • sonic
    HL1 was the easiest to work with just because there was documentation everywhere and things were so much simpler back then. Simple skeletal animation you could even do in Milkshape3d, awesomely low res textures, easy to export...

    Those were the days smile.gif
  • Joshua Stubbles
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    Joshua Stubbles polycounter lvl 17
    I used Renderware and Gamebryo, and I'd have to say Gamebryo was much better. Quick pipeline integration, and everything just worked. The tools plugged right into 3dsmax, and with a custom plugin from our team, one of the max viewports could be set as a realtime previewer.
    It had better world animation support, better shader support and better lighting systems. It's tri-stripping algorithms were also a billion times better than Renderware's.
  • steady
    QWTF
    I remember loading the pak files that changed the weapon models, player skins, sentry gun models, and also a pack that changed the font to a brighter shiney version. They were pretty sweet. I remember practicing my conc jumps and trimps after I got home from school for hours. Clan matches was the best, so intense. Checking our rankings on the strongerfortress, league website. I miss it. :~(
    Next up is Quake 3 for its RGB skins for easy editing
  • flaagan
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    flaagan polycounter lvl 16
    The Chrysler Hemi or the Chevy LS7...


    oooohh.. you meant game engine. In that case, the Unreal Engine. All around good to work with.
  • JKMakowka
    http://sauerbraten.org/

    Sauerbraten, Jawohl!

    Coop-mapediting FTW wink.gif
  • notman
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    notman polycounter lvl 17
    [ QUOTE ]
    The Chrysler Hemi or the Chevy LS7...


    oooohh.. you meant game engine. In that case, the Unreal Engine. All around good to work with.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Damn, you beat me to it smile.gif

    I've been working with the torque engine. It's not too bad, but the Unreal engine beats it IMO as far as offerings. Price wise though, Torque is a better indie option.

    I've also been eyeing Ogre3D, but it's a graphics engine. You still need physics, sound, ...
  • Lee3dee
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    Lee3dee polycounter lvl 12
    *cough* Unreal

    after having used torque for a year, and finding myself completely lost in hammer, the Unreal engine is probably the one im most comfortable.
  • rawkstar
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    rawkstar polycounter lvl 16
    well... since i don't really get to work with any of the terrain or environment stuff i can't really talk about that, but as far as the character pipeline goes... its pretty standard, its surprizingly easy to rip normals without any kind of preliminary setup, just export 2 models and run renderbump, then its also very easy to get things in the game and see how its all going to look and just update the textures in the game. I've worked with engines where you'd have to recompile the whole entire map in which ur character was in just to update the textures... that was a pain in the ass, and there were engines that required you to export like 12 different files just to put the model in the game, everything is alot easier here. I also like the fact that you can pretty much use whatever program you want to get things into the game, it doesn't force everyone on the team to use the same app. And i guess thats about everything i CAN talk about, which is really the same as what the previous generations of id engines were like as well.
  • Richard Kain
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    Richard Kain polycounter lvl 14
    The importing process for Half Life 2 is a pain. But the faceposer and lipsync tools for that game are easily the best in the business. The level of characterization and expression possible on the in-game avatars is nothing short of incredible. And the fact that it uses the Microsoft Speech SDK 5.1 to time the phonemes automatically makes it a lot faster than most other lipsync systems.

    At the moment, I'm playing around with DXStudio, and having a pretty good time of it. It supports .x models, as well as Collada. So it is pretty painless getting fully skinned, boned, and animated meshes into it. And the scripting system for it features a lot of natural object orientation, kind of like Flash in a way. You can apply scripts to specific objects, but still create top-level methods if you need to. (and even code up your own classes)
  • StrangeFate
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    StrangeFate polycounter lvl 16
    Well i guess we'd all like to work with whatever engine we are the most familiar with. Our engine makes it rally easy to get things in the game, and all the properties are easily tweakable from there without any confusing stuff.

    On the downside I've learned to hate engine editors that work with boxes, ie. extrude your path in BSP/CSG and lame 90 degree corners or don't offer much help besides moving and rotating things by hand... You want to snap, rest things on the ground or the surface you're marking etc to speed up things. The best engine doesn't help if the editor is a handicap that limits what you can achieve in a decent amount of time.
    While some things don't matter if you're making boxy interestions anyway, in ruins everything else if you put limited tools in even more limited hands.

    That said, I've played with the 'old' Farcry engine which was already great, and the videos from the new editor look AWESOME (go find them) toolwise. I don't know how easy it is to import things but i'd kill for tools like that.
  • Tulkamir
    Given that I've not had extensive experience with many engines (only 2 really), definitely UE2.

    Despite the bugs, which were fine once I learned the work arounds, it's tools were great, was very fluid to work with, etc...
  • McIlroy
    My personal favorite right now based on graphics would have to be the Crysis engine though Unreal 3 and the Bioshock engine run pretty neck and neck in abilities as the Cry 2 engine .

    As far as user ease goes I would have to say that from what I have used Never Winter Nights 1-2 engine is pretty much universally regarded as the best engine to work with . Those engines are made with modding in mind were as with most other engines it is just an after thought .
  • Jesse Moody
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    Jesse Moody polycounter lvl 15
    Isn't Bioshock a UE3 based game? So it would be the same engine. With just some in house additions.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 17
    Bioshock is Unreal3+, yes.
  • swampbug
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    swampbug polycounter lvl 12
    Battlefield engine. It's just fun to have planes and people all in the same giant map.
  • flaagan
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    flaagan polycounter lvl 16
    [ QUOTE ]
    Bioshock is Unreal3+, yes.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Wow, really? Somehow I've missed that tidbit all this time. confused.gif
  • ElysiumGX
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    ElysiumGX polycounter lvl 16
    I love playing with the engine tools that don't require exporting anything from Max.
  • skankerzero
    I like our character pipeline.

    We just export out of max or maya and texture using our engine as the viewer. It refreshes textures in real time and you can edit shaders in a nice flowchart viewer.

    We create normal maps with our normal map generator through max or maya. No exporting meshes needed. It also creates ambient occ maps too.

    You can turn parts on and off, create animation strings, alter soft body physics, and attach objects to tags all in the character viewer.
  • Sean McBride
    Unreal 3 without a doubt!

    Why'd you like it?

    Because of its ease of use and stability. Getting a character from max into unreal3 is easy as pie. Reimporting textures and updating models in your scene is equally as easy.

    What's the main feature you liked about it that you wish all engines could adopt?

    Node based material system, oh my god. It blows my mind and i just about giggle every day i get to sit down and use it all day. *sigh*

    How were the tools? Or how about the pipeline?

    Absolutely great. Yes, there are the occasional crashes like every other program but its so minimal... at least with the builds the artists get at our company.

    ok... i'll stop being a fanboy...

    worst engine to work with?

    Source... screw batching every damn model and texture you need to compile! 'nuf said.
  • Jesse Moody
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    Jesse Moody polycounter lvl 15
    Sean... Gotta agree with you on the node based mat system. So many times I just make a small adjustment or play with a few things in the mat editor and I just sit back and look at it and I'm like. DAMN That looks good.

    I also second the fact on how easy it is to work from max to unreal. No compiling crap. I do have to use SHTools though. I'm sure a lot of you guys that use UE3 use that as well. It's not too bad now that I have 3 computers networked running it. It cranks out my normal maps pretty quickly.

    Yeah I was excited to do some work with Source UNTIL I learned of all the extra stuff. No thanks...
  • Lee3dee
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    Lee3dee polycounter lvl 12
    [ QUOTE ]
    there are the occasional crashes like every other program but its so minimal

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Ue3 crashes, never!. we had a competition every 2 months all the way through development, the one with the most crashes got a free lunch cool.gif
  • Sean McBride
    it crashes about once a week for me. =p

    The most common problem for me is that the mip levels will get corrupt sometimes so you'll have crazy party confetti face man. laugh.gif

    Just noticed, your a level designer. I'm talking from the artists perspective. I know our LD's pull their hair out. wink.gif So... the tools I'm exposed to while getting my assets into the game work well. smile.gif
  • aesir
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    aesir polycounter lvl 13
    lol yea, UE3 crashes so goddamn much. I've been making some MP levels for a game and it drives me insane. One day, it crashed every 10 minutes until I deleted all the decals from the level.

    Overall I like UE3, just wish it was a tad more stable.
  • Ott
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    Ott polycounter lvl 13
    Dude, that sucks to hear. UT03/04 crashes half the time just opening it. And how easy and often you lose packages because of the crashes is probably the worst part of it. Getting to re-import everything...fun.

    Sucks to hear the new one is crashing a lot as well ><
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 17
    aesier & Ott, what're your favourite engines you've developed for?
  • aesir
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    aesir polycounter lvl 13
    UE3 is the first one I've seriously worked on (I have an internship btw), so i guess I have no choice but to declare it my favorite smile.gif

    I dont hate it or nothin. Overall its pretty cool.
  • Richard Kain
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    Richard Kain polycounter lvl 14
    Wow, skankerzero...that sounds kick-ass! What engine is Terminal Reality using? Is it an in-house engine you guys designed yourself. If so it definitely sounds like you built it with ease-of-development in mind.
  • skankerzero
    yeah, it's our own engine, dubbed 'Infernal'.

    It has it's problem areas, but they're working to get the kinks out.

    It's come a long way in the past couple years.
  • vahl
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    vahl polycounter lvl 14
    I second mario's comment (since I worked on the same engine) it's cool to be able to edit stuff on the fly and see it updated directly in the editor/game without sucky compilation or gay packages

    that said, I looooove unreal engine 2 and 3, HL was a pain in the ass to map for, Aurora (neverwinter nights) was cool, but only if you don't add anything (the dialogue editor in there is quite awesome) I liked the warcraft3 editor a lot too, very easy to prototype stuff in.
  • poopinmymouth
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    poopinmymouth polycounter lvl 17
    I've worked with:
    Gamebryo (the Oblivion flavor and the Daoc/mythic flavor)
    Infernal (before the current tools though)
    The Titan Quest engine
    Torque
    Tony Hawk engine
    And a few proprietary ones.

    The TH engine (not even sure it has a proper name) was definitely my favorite. Not only was exporting and updating a single button press away, but adding the character to the game to begin with as an entity was a line copy+paste away.

    You could also make any character entry the main character, so you can run it around, put it through the animations, move it in and out of the shadows, put it on a skateboard, a horse, etc. And when you updated, it didn't even reset the animation, so you could jump the character, zoom in to a bad skin weighted area, fix it in max, export, and the verts would pop to their new better weighting location in the game. Lurved it.

    poop.gif
  • Jesse Moody
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    Jesse Moody polycounter lvl 15
    [ QUOTE ]
    The TH engine (not even sure it has a proper name) was definitely my favorite. Not only was exporting and updating a single button press away, but adding the character to the game to begin with as an entity was a line copy+paste away.

    You could also make any character entry the main character, so you can run it around, put it through the animations, move it in and out of the shadows, put it on a skateboard, a horse, etc. And when you updated, it didn't even reset the animation, so you could jump the character, zoom in to a bad skin weighted area, fix it in max, export, and the verts would pop to their new better weighting location in the game. Lurved it.

    poop.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Damn the TH engine sounds nice as hell. I don't do much character stuff but I can see how that would be really helpful.
  • Lord McMutton
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    Lord McMutton polycounter lvl 15
    The only engine I've worked with is Thief's Dark engine, so that's probably my favorite.
  • oobersli
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    oobersli polycounter lvl 11
    I really started to like ue3, but since I started work at TRI I've begun to love infernal.
  • EarthQuake
    Would have to be the current engine i'm working on now, Marmoset. One of the biggest reasons being the great guys we have here, who are always eager to add to, and improve workflows and understand that a couple days of thier time to improve the art tools will help out immensely in the grand scheme of things. From our constantly improving level editor to our amazingly useful model viewer/shader editor it all just makes dealing with the engine much more of a fun task, than a "chore" task.

    I've worked with q2, q3, d3, reality engine, and nothing has came close to just sheer ease of use as what i'm working with here.
  • monkeyscience
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    monkeyscience polycounter lvl 12
    I like where Crysis is going with their world tools. They have a strong foundation of assets and features for artists to use and build a consistent world off of. You're no longer modeling individual trees, rocks, and cliffs out of BSP brushes. You lay down forests, underbrush, caves, and errosion. Instead of spending hours uving a custom texture onto your road geometry, you lay down a spline in seconds and generate something that ends up looking the same to the player. When an artist can lay down one stroke and accomplish the work that used to take hours, that's a good tool. It lets artists experiment more freely and at a higher level, because they're no longer afraid of throwing away half a day's worth of work.

    I think UE3 took the customization thing and multipurpose do-everything engine too far (they sort of had to with their business model). At one point you have so many different options, routes you can take, all involving a ton of nitty gritty work, that it becomes difficult to be creative. And it doesn't matter how slick the tools to do the work are, in the end it's still wasted effort. UE3 probably has the slickest boxes and smoothest lines to program shaders with ever but it's still not something most artists should spend their time using. Customizing shaders per asset makes artwork involve more effort rather than less. The UE3 school of tools will just end up as something like the Maya rendering system: anything is possible, everything is hard.
  • Nilium
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    Nilium Polycount Sponsor
    Quake 3, hands down. I haven't worked with Doom 3's engine much, so I can't say a whole lot about it in regards to likes and dislikes. It's been roughly the same working with it as Quake 3, but since I don't do this for a living it's kind of hard to put Doom 3 up there.

    Anyway, I like Quake 3 because the art pipeline is extremely easy to use. You export your model, write your material/shader, job done, you're set. In the case of animated models, it's pretty simple to get that done too -- depending on your exporter, it may be more complex, however. But anyway, getting content into the engine is a breeze.

    In addition to this, writing code for Quake 3 is by far the easiest I've had in terms of modifying engines and games. The complete C API without any bloat or unnecessary addition of object-oriented crap that doesn't need to be there (I'm not against object-oriented programming, just not a fan of it being used for everything regardless of whether or not it makes sense to use it) is a dream to work with, and the control I have over how things are rendered is great. This is the area I have no experience in Doom 3 with -- I'm not at all familiar with its game code.

    There's no real specific feature about it I love other than its shader system, but that's completely out of date now (fixed-function has pretty much gone out the window these days, it seems). However, for the time, it was a great way to get content working quickly and painlessly with numerous visual effects being allowed by it.

    Tools are described above as well. Also, I love GTK Radiant. Some people love it, some people hate it. Same with UnrealEd. Personally, I don't like UE, but each has its merits and I'm just more at home with Radiant.

    In any case, id's engines have always struck me as the most friendly, and that's what I like about them.
  • Irritant
    Well since I've only made content for Doom1-Quake3 and engines based off of those, I'll make my choice based from a player's perspective:

    UE2. Hands down. It looks great, with nice understated effects and for the love of god doesn't look like a big shrinkwrapped embossed eyesore like nearly every post Doom3 engine made. It plays fast, smooth, and allows for amazing detail in the maps(dm-irondeity anyone?). Nice weapon effects, and while some other effects are faked, it still very pleasing to the eye.
  • kat
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    kat polycounter lvl 14
    Quake 3 for level design and uber lightmapping - spent a lot of time modding the RtCW flavour of Q3.

    Doom 3/Quake 4 for everything else, although it can be an absolute bastard at times, but I love normal maps and dynamic lighting too much to go back.
  • MoP
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    MoP polycounter lvl 16
    kat: You should love the ETQW engine then - non-flakey editor, tons more editing options, better model support... I love it!
    And it'll only get better - we have an in-house tools guy who is also a level designer, so he knows exactly what tools people need, and he takes requests for features and implements them in no time (where feasible). Handy to have around smile.gif
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 17
    Agree with MoP, although the interface makes me stick plastic forks in my eyes.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp quad damage
    i hate all those engines and the nasty little export troubles! they might look cool at first glance but smell all terribly when you dive in a little deeper. i already work around the issues of one beta software (max), don't need another one, thanks. smile.gif

    lucky to be in the first stages of the pipeline, i can focus on how the stuff looks in max and technical artists are handling the export for me. yay! should have been like this at the previous jobs, too.

    i have a test station on my desk but so far all it has developed is a thick layer of dust. still needs some more to hide the nasty spiderman font finally tho. call it a W-I-P.

    sorry to be so constructive. wink.gif
  • Scott_W
    Unreal Engine 3, if not because it's the only major engine I've had experience with so far.

    The material system, importing and exporting... it just works so well. I do wish there was an option to be able to right-click a static mesh to re-import it in place like you can do with textures, however. Beyond that, no complaints.

    It's fun to watch the look on your environment leads' faces when you mention how many instructions are in a particular material.

    My personal record thus far: 107 instructions.
  • kat
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    kat polycounter lvl 14
    [ QUOTE ]
    kat: You should love the ETQW engine then - non-flakey editor, tons more editing options, better model support... I love it!
    And it'll only get better - we have an in-house tools guy who is also a level designer, so he knows exactly what tools people need, and he takes requests for features and implements them in no time (where feasible). Handy to have around smile.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]digiBob? I know he used to do some mapping a long time ago. But yes, I'm trying not to get too excited over MegaTexture and all that because I can't concentrate on what I'm doing otherwise! I have to say I've been impressed with the makeover I've seen in the various vids, about time for that toolset wink.gif
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