Computer Graphics World

July / August 2016

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40 cgw j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 6 G aming has always had its practical side. The somewhat tortured sobriquet "serious games" has been used to describe non-game applications such as training tools, simulators, configurators, and those for VR and AR development. The field has been a relatively small and specialized sub-segment of the gaming community. In general, it's not a big moneymaking field compared to the crazy money that can be made (and lost) in commercial games. Frequently, organizations cobbled together their own game development tools, built from scratch using C++ or assembly code for performance, or used simple open-source game engines. Game engines have been around for a long time, but they could be expensive and difficult to use, and good engines usually charged royalties. In fact, sometimes developers had to pay royalties for the individual components of game development, such as physics, real-time rendering, facial animation, and so forth. F R E E - F O R M The advantage of game engines is that they offer a united development environment and a consistent UI from game to game. Middleware is included or perhaps bolted on as needed. But most important, game engines provide real-time interaction and feedback, and with the steady march of Moore's Law, performance just gets better and the rendering gets prettier. Unity changed the game when it arrived on the scene in 2004. The company offers a limited personal version of its game engine for free, and even a full license is royalty-free and can be used for multiple applications. Such a plan encourages experimentation, and as a result, the Unity Engine has been downloaded millions of times for multiple purposes – the company claims four million registered users. And a look at the Unity site reveals a wide variety of non-gaming applications. The opportunity has not been lost on other companies in game development, CRYTEK'S CRYENGINE IS BEING USED TO CREATE SHORT FILMS AND VR EXPERIENCES SUCH AS (INSET, TOP TO BOTTOM) "SKY HARBOR," "THE CLIMB," "BACK TO DINOSAUR ISLAND" AND (LARGER IMAGE) "WARFACE ANUBIS."

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