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Thread: Most suitable modern day engine for a remake

  1. #1
    Moderator
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Australia

    Most suitable modern day engine for a remake

    In my opinion, two of the main factors which have resulted in the failure of all Underworld remakes to date is that they have almost all been solo attempts, and remakes that have attempted to recreate an entire game engine and level editor from scratch. If a remake is ever going to succeed, I feel that it will probably come about as a result of group collaboration using an existing engine with a proven and highly supported tool set.

    One engine that comes to mind is the Doom 3 engine. It seems perfectly suited to creating the dark, claustrophobic environments of the Underworld games and allows for substantial modification; as can be seen by mods such as the DarkMod.

  2. #2
    The Architect
    Registered: Dec 1998
    Location: Lyon
    If The Witcher's engine can be changed to 1st person, I think that may be a good bet. It's got the editor!

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: Germany
    Doom3 would be a good choice. Still a decent amount of work though, recreating the interface and inventory, redoing all the textures, 3D models of all items+characters...

  4. #4
    Moderator
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Australia
    I haven't played around with the Witcher editor but methinks that an Underworld remake would really need to use an engine that was designed for 1st person from the ground up. The Aurora engine has never been used for that afaik. On the plus side however it does have a built-in conversation and inventory system that would be well suited to the Underworld games.

    The Doom 3 engine has a suitable renderer that I feel could be used well to capture those dark, claustrophobic Underworld environments that are vital to the feel of the game. Fully agree with MustardCat that it would still be a hell of a lot of work though.

  5. #5
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    I would be inclined to suggest that the main reason that remakes haven't worked is because the biggest hurdle with the underworld games is not the graphics - it's the game engine as a whole. Ultimately you have to support:

    1. Decent 3d graphics environment including at least basic physics
    2. Immersive sound - especially dynamic battle music
    3. Independant and group AI mechanics
    4. Inventory management including nested storage (e.g. boxes / containers)
    5. Scripted converstaion structure with peristant state storage
    6. Trade interface
    7. Character skill progression mechanics
    8. Overall story progression including unlocking certain areas upon trigger events.

    Very few remakes that I've seen have concentrated on much more than the first point. The graphics engine is actually the easiest part these days and although the original was revolutionary for its time it was actually the rest of the equation that made the game special.

    Would the doom3 engine work? Quite possibly for the first three points although I'd guess that the rest of it would take up 99% of the time if it were to happen.

  6. #6
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Why not check out one of the open sourced Quake 3 projects? Xreal has come the farthest in terms of graphical updates. I believe it can even read IdTech4 models and whatnot.

    Beyond graphics, everything else should be easy to mod provided you have the programming knowledge to back up your ideas. Since it's open source, the sky's the limit on what you can change.

    Also, check your PMs.

  7. #7
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    Beyond graphics, everything else should be easy to mod provided you have the programming knowledge to back up your ideas. Since it's open source, the sky's the limit on what you can change.
    That's the problem in a nutshell. It's not the graphics that's the problem - it's implementing all the other factors that are difficult. AI, Scripting, Conversations, trading, etc. if those are easy then go for it - Implement them first. Once you've done those then look at the graphics, not before.

  8. #8
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    I agree. That's one of the reasons why I'd recommend a good open source engine. The graphics are already there, you just need to bang out a few cool models to inspire you, then go about doing the programming thing.

    I've been toying with the idea of remaking bits and pieces of UW myself, mostly to teach myself a little programming. I wanted to make a few neat looking rooms, then go about figuring out how to make a frobbable door. Mostly I planned to do a few of small things slowly and build from there, so I wouldn't overwhelm myself.

    Ultimately, if Twisty is serious about this, that's what I recommend he do. Good programmers are few and far between, so if you want to get anything done, you'll have to start things off yourself.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Al_B View Post
    I would be inclined to suggest that the main reason that remakes haven't worked is because the biggest hurdle with the underworld games is not the graphics - it's the game engine as a whole. Ultimately you have to support...
    You may be right, but I think that most of the things on your list aren't that big a deal. The problem I had with my underworld-inspired game was not having any graphics to work with. Even though I'd use placeholders, I knew that down the line I'd have to make some real graphics myself, and I knew that I'm just not good enough.

    Back to the interface, I was really happy with mine. It was very similar to Diablo's gui; for example, you hit the 'i' key to bring up the inventory pane, but you could still see what was happening in front of you. When the inventory panel was on the screen, the mouse would control a cursor instead of mouselooking. You can rearrange things easily, even drag items from your equipment/inventory to the left side to throw or drop items. It worked really, really well.



    If I were going to remake UW, I'd use Crystal Space or Ogre3d. You'd want to spend as little time as possible programming the graphics engine, but at the same time you shouldn't be hassled with learning and modifying a commercial game's source. Plus, people will need to own the game.

    So twisty, are you thinking of remaking UW?

  10. #10
    Moderator
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Australia

    I am indeed ChickenMcOwnage. In fact, I've been dreaming of doing that very thing for years.

    Al_B raises some very valid points about some of the challenges that face any Underworld remake project. Many of these obstacles would need to be addressed early on in the design phase if there is any chance of the project coming to fruition. I do believe that some of these things could be solved by reinterpreting some aspects of the game such as the main UI and trade interface, for example.

    In the coming 1-2 months my partner will be working overseas for 3 months and I will have a little more time on my hands than what I currently have. I have been toying with the idea of launching a remake project whilst she is away as this would be an opportune time to do so.

    My role in such an operation would be more along the lines of design, project management and some scripting here and there, however. Any serious programming would be best left to a more talented programmer.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Location: New Jersey, USA
    Why not use the Dark engine? System Shock 2 pretty much meets all the requirements necessary to do a remake.

  12. #12
    While I'm sure that the Dark Engine can indeed manage a great deal of the required behaviour, everyone knows it's a pig to work with, and you can guarantee that there are things it just won't do (how many branching conversations with NPCs do you recall having in Thief/SS2?), which makes the lack of source code a huge issue.

  13. #13
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2010

    How about the Arx engine?

    Since Arcane just GPLed the source code to Arx Fatalis, would it be a suitable engine for a remake? I heard the two games were quite similar.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2005
    Location: Prague
    I think it should be considered a "sin" to start yet another rewrite if abysmal is in such good shape and waiting for talented coders

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2009
    Location: Damp cavern
    Well that's true. But seeing as the game has fallen to the wayside in modern times, and is not easily attainable these days in a legal form, I don't see why a absolute remake using a modern engine would be bad.

    And the Arx Fatalis engine would be perfect for a remake of Ultima Underground.

    PS: Why does everyone go all cross-eyed and gush over the Doom 3 engine? It may be old, but it still demands a pretty good system. Why not use the Source engine? It's available for both PCs and macs, and works well through wine.

    EDIT: Though maybe I'm just biased for the Source engine. To counter it's fairly low system requirements and fairly good graphics, it is rather clunky.
    Last edited by Albert; 18th Jan 2011 at 19:01.

  16. #16
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2011
    The Arx Fatalis Engine (especially in light of the fact that it is now open source,) would be the absolute best choice all around because it was designed originally to be the third ultima underworld game. It also can run even on older OSes, so people with older computers would be able to play it. It is really disappointing when a really great fan project can't be run because your computer is too old.

    I've looked extensively at all of the various ports of Ultima Underworld, including the PocketPC version and most recently the PSX version. The full screen view in the PSX version with the small bits of the interface around really enhances the experience.

    For a remake, I can't help wondering if it can be taken a step further...

    In looking at all the ports and taking mental notes on things like item placement, item properties, event triggers, and such, I think it would be a GREAT thing to create not just a remake, but an editor that lets users create their own dungeons, items, monsters, spells, etc. based on properties of those things from the original game.

    I know several fan projects of this type have been made for several games already, such as Zelda Classic for The Legend of Zelda series, rom editors for various console games such as the Metroid series, and so forth.

    Has anyone done any design work or outlines for this lately?

  17. #17
    Moderator
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by xorxif View Post
    The Arx Fatalis Engine (especially in light of the fact that it is now open source,) would be the absolute best choice all around because it was designed originally to be the third ultima underworld game...
    ...I think it would be a GREAT thing to create not just a remake, but an editor that lets users create their own dungeons, items, monsters, spells, etc. based on properties of those things from the original game...
    By all accounts, creating a decent editor is an enormous task in itself and is why I asked Digi if Arkane were able to release their tools as well as the source code. If we take into consideration all of the failed UW remakes over the years and the reasons for it, as succinctly stated by Al_B, then I'm sure that a successful remake would be that much more feasible if dedicated modders were left to spending most of their energy modernising and remaking assets such as textures, maps and character models rather than coding core engine mechanics from scratch. Granted, a lot of coding to do with the UI and other features would still have to be heavily modified though.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Doom 3 engine is terrible for fantasy games, it is not suitable to create proper athmosphere. See The Dark Mod. And I think Ultima Underworld has perfect graphics and doesn't need a remake, except the interface.

  19. #19
    Moderator
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Australia
    Creating atmosphere is more of a design challenge rather than an engine restriction, and I don't believe that Doom 3 has anything in it's make-up that would restrict capable designers with the right tools and assets from implementing atmospheric scenes.

    As previously mentioned in this thread, the real challenge would be to implement all the core engine game stuff.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by twisty View Post
    Creating atmosphere is more of a design challenge rather than an engine restriction, and I don't believe that Doom 3 has anything in it's make-up that would restrict capable designers with the right tools and assets from implementing atmospheric scenes.
    It usually does unless modders are very hardworking and are going to remake everything. They usually depend on some graphical stuff that is already made in the engine, like textures and models. Next thing are features that are hard to modify, and this is stuff like color palettes, texturing techniques (plastic bump mapping) and lighting ambiences. We could just look at the games made on Doom 3 engine, they all look similiar, especially early titles on it were lazy to modify it. Artists in Wolfenstein (2009) tried really hard to make something out of it, and had much talent, which resulted in quite nice game, but still much of the athmosphere is characteristic, for example dark and gritty textures, color pallettes and lighting. And they probably modified the code a lot. It still doesn't suit series feel set by Wolf3D and Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
    Last edited by Kethoth; 4th Jan 2013 at 03:51.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    With the release of the New Dark engine, it pretty much means that someone out there has the source code for System Shock 2 - thus creating a complete remake of the Ultima Underworld games is possible. The planets can potentially align.

    I kind of hope that happens, as playing Ultima Underworld is a bit obnoxious when it comes to the interface, inventory management, and trading with NPCs.

  22. #22
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Not sure I understand what you mean. The System shock 2 engine is completely different to the Underworld engine.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    System Shock 2 uses the Dark Engine, and resembles Ultima Underworld when you look beyond the sci-fi trappings. For example, there is a number of abilities accessible through psionics that allow telekinesis, healing, creating barriers, teleportation, and so forth. We also got an inventory system, a paper doll for worn equipment, skills, stat terminals, weapon degradation, swimming, ect. Through hard work and a lot of time, it would be possible to reflavor and rework these elements to closely resemble Ultima Underworld - with one exception: Conversation. There is no such system for the Dark Engine, but with the source code it could be possible to add such a system.


    The underlying foundation for a Ultima Underworld remake is there in my opinion. To be sure however, it would take a considerable amount of work and time to get something like this off the ground, for any engine.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    That would take a hell of alot of work to do. If it were even possible. Getting the interface up and running alone would take a fair while. And then you have enemy AI (which for UW was extremelly basic from memory) + the magic system.

  25. #25
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    The other big thing that seems to kill a lot of remake projects, other than the coding, is the enormous task of creating/texturing/rigging new AI models. That's a rare skill in the amateur modding community, and anything less than an excellent job of it can single-handedly ruin the perception of a mod.

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