Unity Upgrade- A Work in Progress

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RAFTEREarlier this week CRS Senior Producer, Dana 'GOPHUR' Baldwin provided some insight to the long-awaited Unity engine upgrade that we've been working on for several years. The Unity engine is our own proprietary MMO game engine that covers a number of systems such as physics, ballistics, networking and graphics to name a few. The upgrade to these systems is more than simply adding new visuals effects, it's the way all these systems interact and what they deliver. For those of you expecting performance gains in 1.29, you will have to wait for the calendar to turn over.

The Unity engine was originally written in 2000 in large part by John 'KANGO' Lundy and Marty 'VANDAL' Poulin- former Rats who helped launch the original game. Then as now there was no "off the shelf" solution for a game that has such unique requirements.

"Sure we’ve changed a lot over the years but the basic interaction between code modules and the foundations have not undergone major overhaul. This has been a major undertaking over the last three years," wrote GOPHUR in a recent article. "Our game has very specific needs. In order to support infantry level combat in an environment where tanks need to be able to fire on targets at 3000m and planes need to cross vast distances at hundreds of miles an hour require some very specific requirements from an engine."

How is this upgrade best described and how will effect a player's game experience? The goal is to improve game performance while making the code team more productive.

"We’re not just talking about better FPS we’re also talking about the ability of our dev team to integrate new features with out breaking things. We’re talking about taking disparate parts of code and making them one defined module. We’re talking about rebuilding code bases to get rid of errors," wrote GOPHUR.

The upgrade will result in using some of the performance gains being converted into new or upgraded visuals. We plan on implementing the newest version of IDV's "Speedtree" library which contains higher resolution and more detailed trees. Players will see new version of special effects such as water, smoke and explosions. There are even plans to upgrade our infantry with rag doll physics.

Hand in hand with the upgraded code and the use of more modern applications, are new system requirements. WWIIOL, more than many other MMOs has supported older processors and video cards. Shader 2.0 and SSE2 support will be added to the system requirements of the game.

"Video cards more than 4 generations old aren’t going to work. This is really only a problem if you are running on a 6 year old Radeon 9800 or an nVidia MX400 series. As for CPUs it basically means you need a Pentium 4 or better. Once again 99% of you are covered...," wrote GOPHUR.

As to when this new code and some of the features will make it into the game, the answer is definately 2009. The code team would have liked to see it deployed in 1.30 but there is still some work left to do. Our team must complete 1.29, 1.30 and support the release into China before they can tackle the remaining tasks. It's a huge project for our small team but it will allow us to deliver more features faster- a much needed improvement.

Watch for upcoming articles about changing system requirements along with some suggestions for upgrading your older computer.