A sharp weapon for game development
Since the emergence of electronic games in the 1960s and 1970s, they have been deeply loved by people. The huge market and sustained strong consumer demand bring huge profits to game manufacturers. The well-known game “glory of the king” attracted $2.35 billion for Tencent worldwide in 2020 alone. Every day, a large number of games go to the market from the studio. With the unprecedented prosperity of the game market, the demand of game players for the scale of the game, the quality of the game picture and the difficulty of game design is increasing day by day. Driven by the market, the game engine, the core tool of game development, has produced a great role in the prosperity of the game industry.
The process of game development is roughly that developers design game projects according to the game story line on the computer, audio, display and other hardware equipment, based on the program development environment, using development tools, and display the game scene and the real world to players. In the early stage of video game development, due to the limitations of equipment and environment, various program functions required by the game can only be developed by the game development team. With the increasing scale of games and the increasing complexity of game design, it is difficult for small and medium-sized game developers to quickly complete game development manually. Then came the middleware of game development, that is, developers who are good at specific fields provided a simple and convenient tool program that can be used across machines to realize the specific functions required by the game, such as 3D modeling, texture or sound data production, etc. When these scattered functions converge into a “game development content production line”, the game engine came into being.
Game engine refers to some compiled editable computer game systems, or the core components of some interactive real-time image applications, for developers to design and write game programs efficiently and conveniently. The game engine organizes all the elements in the game orderly, so that the game designer can design the game program efficiently and quickly, rather than starting from scratch. The game engine consists of hardware management, development environment, scene construction and game design.
The hardware and development parts prefer back-end management, that is, they are mainly responsible for the management and use of the hardware resources of the game engine and provide support for developers to use the engine and flexibly assemble functional components. Game design is mainly to design the logic and level of the game through mathematics library and artificial intelligence. The core part of the game engine is mainly the rendering engine and physical engine in scene construction.
The rendering engine realizes optical effects such as light and shadow projection and reflection through subsystems such as lighting, shadow, animation and particle special effects. It is the key component of the game to reflect realism and interactivity. For example, in the model animation system, the rendering engine realizes the free manipulation of human or animal activities on the basis of model deformation through pre implanted design code, or renders highly characteristic things, such as hair and fur. Due to the complex organic structure composed of colored hair with certain characteristics of hair and fur, it has unique translucent and reflective properties, and also reacts to external forces such as gravity or wind, and the number is large. Therefore, it is difficult for ordinary computer equipment to generate realistic images, and high-performance rendering tools must be used. After the 3D model is made, the rendering engine integrates animation, light and shadow, sound and special effects according to the needs of the game, and renders all effects into the game according to the code written in the background to produce the final output picture quality.
Physics engine is a real simulation of the virtual world environment following the laws of real physics to improve the realistic effect of the game, including collision detection system, physical simulation system and so on. Collision detection system is mainly used to reasonably describe the physical relationship between models in the virtual world, so as to improve the interactive realism of the scene. For example, when characters encounter obstacles while driving, they will “roll over”. In order to highlight the fidelity of the game, the collision detection system needs to detect the edges of various virtual object models in the game, so as to produce realistic touch and physical response. The physical simulation part, including gravity, rigid physics, flexible physics and so on, further enriches the simulation of the real world in motion in the virtual scene.
Metaverse’s authoring tools
Because of the existence of game engine, the once professional game production link is gradually instrumental and operable, making the creation of games more simple and efficient. This means that in metaverse, ordinary people have the opportunity to use relevant software or tools to build a virtual world in their hearts.
From the current situation of game engine, the development of game engine technology has been very mature. At present, whether it is host games, PC games or mobile games, they all leave the development of game engine. Because of its strong modeling and rendering ability, game engine has gone out of the game industry and expanded to film and television production, industrial design and other multi market fields. On the supply side, a large number of excellent game engines have emerged in the world, such as unreal engine, unity, frostbite engine, cry engine, source, IW engine, etc. Among them, the more popular and thunderous game engines are fantasy engine and unity.
Take unity as an example. Unity is a multi platform comprehensive game development tool developed by unity technologies that allows players to easily create interactive content such as 3D video games, architectural visualization videos, real-time 3D animation and so on. Some well-known games such as king glory, call of duty national uniform mobile games, legend of hearthstone, Temple Escape and so on are developed by unity.
Unity technologies was founded in 2004. Its predecessor was a game company called over the edge Entertainment (otee). Although otee has not launched any game works that can be sold, the polishing of a variety of games has accumulated a lot of experience in game technology development for otee and promoted its strategic transformation. After its name was changed to unity, unity technologies developed an application suitable for Mac OS X operating system and won unanimous praise. Subsequently, unity successfully covered almost all ports such as PC, mobile phone and host. Unity always implements the principle of popularization of development, provides the most efficient development tools to game developers, and solves the difficulties encountered in development in time. As of June 30, 2020, unity has about 1.5 million active users per month in more than 190 countries and regions around the world. In 2019, the applications developed by these developers were downloaded more than 3 billion times a month on more than 1.5 billion independent devices. In the Chinese market, more than 70% of mobile games are developed using unity.
In 2020, unity was successfully listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The opening price of unity was $75, up 44.2% from the issue price, and the market value once exceeded $20 billion. After the closing, the share price of unity was $68.35, up 31.44% from the issue price, and the market value was $18 billion. Unity no longer positions itself as a game engine, but a platform for creating and operating interactive real-time 3D content, including real-time content creation of VR / AR, which is applied to many industries, including games, 3D art, architecture, automobile industry, film production and so on. For example, unity officially released a warm animated short film windup about love and growth with Chinese traditional aesthetic elements in January 2021. The short film won 19 global level Film Festival nominations, 5 awards, and officially won the Oscar candidacy in 2021. The biggest highlight of the animated short film is that the whole film is rendered in real time. The rendering time of a single frame is less than 33 milliseconds, which is millions of times faster than that of traditional animated films. At the same time, the WYSIWYG function of real-time rendering can enable the animation team to repair and adjust in real time once any problem is found in the production process, and complete the production efficiently with the concerted efforts of different departments. Unity, an efficient and collaborative virtual content production software or platform, is an essential tool for metaverse construction.
Cloud games and accessible metaverse
Metaverse in the future must not be a carnival for a few people, but a virtual world that anyone can easily enter. This is bound to face a problem, that is to enter the virtual space with overloaded information and build, create, socialize and play in it, which has high requirements for users’ hardware equipment. This is bound to block a large number of users from metaverse. With the maturity and wide application of 5g and cloud computing technology, cloud games are becoming an important development trend of the game industry, which is also a very beneficial exploration and attempt for metaverse.
The so-called cloud game refers to the game mode based on cloud computing. In the operation mode of cloud game, the calculation and rendering of all games run on the server, and the rendered game picture is compressed and transmitted to users through the network. In the traditional game mode, the game runs on the local computer. For the “3A game masterpiece” characterized by high cost, high volume and high quality, it often needs higher hardware configuration to match the excellent image quality and complex action design of the game. Cloud games transfer the storage, calculation and rendering of content to the cloud. All game logic and rendered game pictures will be compressed, and then decoded to form a real-time game picture stream to the terminal for display, and finally presented to the eyes of players. The operation of the game is not on the player’s own equipment, but on the remote server. It is equivalent to that thousands of players jointly raise funds to buy a super powerful computer, and then share it. Therefore, as long as there is a smooth network, users can not buy high-end game hardware configuration, but also experience wonderful game effects, so that more players can enter the wonderful game world. The same goes for metaverse.
Cloud games have become one of the development trends of games in the future, which not only lies in the stronger accessibility of players, but also lies in the change of people’s living habits. With the continuous improvement of the performance of smart phones, the increasing pace of life and the fragmentation of daily time, people prefer mobile game devices. Mobile games provide sufficient space for the cloud game market. According to the 2021 global cloud game market report released by foreign research institution newzoo, the total number of paid users of cloud game services will reach 23.7 million by the end of 2021, and this number will increase to 60.7 million by 2024. Its spending on cloud game services will be about $1.6 billion in 2021 and will increase to $6.5 billion by the end of 2024.
From a market perspective, the rise of cloud games is a new growth point of the game market. The construction of cloud game platform requires huge financial and technical support, which has attracted the participation of technology giants such as Microsoft, Google, Tencent and NVIDIA, as well as the participation of network infrastructure operators such as China Mobile and China Unicom. For example, NVIDIA is not only a leading computer graphics and semiconductor company, but also several major cloud game companies leading the global market. Its cloud service geforce now is deeply loved by users. It is said that NVIDIA’s next-generation cloud game platform geforce priority runs at a speed of up to 120 FPS on PC or Mac computer systems, which can bring players a better game experience.
In fact, after some players actually experience cloud games, they think that the delay of cloud computing can never be better than local computing. It is still difficult for cloud games to become the mainstream of the game in the short term. Network delay, peripheral adaptation, decoding ability, frequent jamming and cost mode are still problems to be solved. When these problems of cloud games can be solved, metaverse will be within reach.
Special statement: the above article only represents the author’s own views, not Sina’s views or positions. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact sina.com within 30 days after the publication of the work.