Crytek has showcased its new CryEngine 3 cross-platform development tools at GDC Europe with a superb demonstration showing how content makers can sculpt gameplay and levels in a single creative environment, while the changes play out in real-time across all three major HD platforms.
You can check out high definition videos of the content creation system in play over at Voodoo Extreme, and for those intrigued by the development tools being used for the forthcoming Crysis 2, it's essential viewing. However, don't expect to see any hints on the form or performance of the new sequel: from what we can see, the entire presentation is based around a tweaked version of an original Crysis level, and there is little actual gameplay within the videos.
However, what you do get to see is the power and flexibility of Crytek's deferred lighting solution, and the ease with which levels and artwork are created and tweaked, with almost instant "what you see is what you get" previewing on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. New terrain and features are created with minimum fuss and even texture tweaks made in Photoshop are quickly transitioned over to the target platforms.
The ability for content creators to work in this manner has obvious positive implications for cross-platform development, with CryEngine users able to "balance" their levels to work equally well on both systems – something we feel will be of crucial importance for the upcoming Crysis 2.
In terms of the engine's performance on console, the original GDC 2009 trailer posed many questions about whether the PS3 and Xbox 360 are capable of coping with Crysis-level visual sophistication, and the results shown were inconclusive. Despite still looking very impressive, effects were clearly pared back compared to the PC version, mip-map cascades were far more obvious, shadows had lower refresh rates, and the overall frame rate itself was variable on both consoles, operating at anything between 15FPS to 30FPS depending on what was being displayed on-screen.
However, a demo of CryEngine 3 locked into gameplay mode was evident at the new event, running the same Crysis assets as the initial GDC reveal, and it was clear that many changes had been made, and performance certainly appeared smoother. Fingers crossed we can get a closer look at the tech at gamescom to confirm the good news.