Bungie’s next engine using Umbra

Umbra Software, a Finnish middleware developer, has released the latest version of its rendering optimisation solution, Umbra 3.1, Edge reports.

Scratching the ol’ noggin’? Here’s why this matters – Bungie is listed as one of the company’s clients. One of the engine’s features, named Incremental Bake, allows developers to basically cut down on the time taken to build and move around environments.

Chief technology officer Otso Mäkinen said: “These days rapid content iteration is a key thing for developers and this is something that Bungie was pushing for. You need to be able to build huge game worlds and have very fast turnaround times – artists and designers traditionally have to wait for hours and hours to generate, for example, lightmaps and visibility data, which they have to do manually.

“[With Incremental Bake] you can do a lot of changes to your scene and not worry about having to wait for hours for those changes to take place.”

Meanwhile, senior graphic artist at Bungie, Hao Chen, has spoken to Game Developer Magazine about the of building the team’s new engine. “The challenge is selling a dynamic world,” he said. “In terms of what we think is important, we will even lower some of the quality in order for us to have a more dynamic world.

“This means dynamic time of day, lots of things that move in the wind, lots of things reacting to players moving through them, and when you walk on soft surfaces like sand and mud, you leave footprints. So basically everything we do to sell that this world is moving and dynamic is important to us.”

On the subject of middleware companies, he later said: “We see more and more roles played by middleware these days. I think good use of middleware allows us to get a feature earlier than we could if we were to engineer it ourselves, and that means the content people will get mature technology and more time to produce content.

“So that longer iteration time will translate to higher quality that will offset whatever engineering advantage you would have by writing your own. So in a lot of these places where it makes sense, we use middleware.”

The focus on scenery change and dynamic worlds certainly creates some interesting points about Bungie’s next. But we just really, really want to see what it is now.