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IOI ile Glacier, Project 007, Project Fantasy, Hitman ve daha fazlası hakkında konuşuyoruz

In this new interview with IO Interactive we get techie as we talk with Glacier experts lead core engine programmer Álvaro Fernández and senior technical executive producer Cris Vega about the studio's engine and its intricacies making it different to other alternatives. This includes crowds, AI, CPU/GPU performance, motion matching, and more.

Ses deşifresi

"We're at Gamelab 2023 in Barcelona, and it's so nice to catch up with the guys over at IOI, as one year ago, if you remember, we visited their new offices here in Barcelona in City Centre, it was really nice, and they've been running these sort of community events for developers in Catalonia and all over Spain to come by your offices, and you guys share technology, share knowledge, and that's so nice, and so Nordic, I have to say, so thank you so much for joining us."

"In this year, we can talk many things, you know, tech mostly with you guys, but in this year, of course, you've progressed in several projects that you guys are working on. We know about 007, origin story type of game, we know about a fantasy project that as of late we've heard rumours about being platform specific or exclusive, what can you tell us about this?
Not much, actually, because this is not our domain, basically, this is also there's nothing clear for us, so I don't think there's any word came out about any specifics about this, so we cannot comment on it. It's not confirmed that it's exclusive to any platform at all, but it is an RPG multiplayer fantasy game. Yeah, RPG multiplayer online, and likely will be like any other game, probably will be in console and PC, but nothing is confirmed, it's still some years until it will release, so yeah. And we also can't get sort of a window to learn more about 007? 007 is under development, it's looking very cool, it's going to tell the story of the firstborn and how it becomes the secret agent that he is, but that's what we can comment on."

"All right, now let's talk a little bit about tech. At that time at your office, we got this very interesting panel by you guys and some work colleagues of yours, telling us how us, I mean the press and also other developers, how Glacier is your very own thing, and it's different in several ways, and it's sort of, there are things that you can only achieve, or at least you say so, you can only achieve with Glacier. So more for our viewers and for people who in the end end up consuming the games, what can you guys do with Glacier that they kind of find with games that are based on, for example, Unreal Engine?
First and foremost, it is ours, so we can change anything we want with it. We also have the expertise to do so, because we have a very senior team that's been working on that engine for a long, long time. So yeah, I mean it's ours, we can do whatever we want. This is fantastic, this is not something you can do with some other engines. I mean some others you might have access to the code and stuff, but it's not yours, and so we can make it what we want it to be basically, and we can tailor it to our needs. We're not trying to be anyway a commercial grade engine or anything like that, so that also means that we can focus on delivering the features that we think we need instead of features that are for everyone, right? That means that we don't care that much about customer experience, we focus on power users. We want to have our users creating the best games they can, and they are usually very technical and very good, and we just want to give them the most so that they can do the best they can."

"One staple of you guys, of IOI Games, and I remember speaking with Eduard about this a year ago, are crowds. And one of the things I love personally about Hitman is that's always been the case, that's a staple of the series, that you can sort of interact with big crowds doing their thing, and a lot of things going on behind the scenes. So is that, would you say, is that some of the trademark of Glacier as well?
Yes, Glacier, when we designed it, one of the principles was productivity."

"So we focus very much into empowering our users and to make them like the iteration, crash handling, what you see, what you get, the access packing. But then one of the things that is custom to our games is the AI. Most engines, like commercial engines and even proprietary engines, hit a lot the GPU and they make sure that there is like the rendering and they are very optimized. In our case, in the Hitman series, easily there is more than 200 NPCs plus the crowd and computing at all times. So we are very CPU bound and we hit it like hard. We are very much performing and optimized and like the last Hitman series would not have been possible in some other commercial engines out there. They would not perform, it would just crash. So we're very optimized like that when it comes to CPU. It's a very particular game. Like most games are not built like that. So I can imagine, I don't know, a fantasy RPG with big crowds and a James Bond game with big crowds as well. Yeah, that's actually like the one of the things that Alvaro said, it's our engine. We want to be good at certain things that we need and that's it. So for very long, we've been very good at third person shooters, sandboxes and then all in a sudden, project fantasy. So now we want to be the best at that, which is actually, I mean, it's a challenge that we also like. We've been like for many years optimizing performance, AI and solving the same problems to a limit of perfection. So now we have new challenges and that's also fun for us, right?
It's like, okay, now a RPG and this new technology. So it's fun for the game creators or content creators, but for us in the engine, it's also super fun. And you mentioned AI and of course, you mean AI in terms of NPC behavior, et cetera, but not AI in terms of generating assets for your games, which is a topic here at Gamelab and before we've had Sloy, CEO, talking about generating 3D assets via AI. Is that something that you guys are sort of fiddling with? Is that something that you're considering or you're more traditional in the way that, you know, we have these artists and we want them to design from scratch to the variant asset we're using in the 3D engine?
I think that's pretty much it. We're actually trying to go for a more conservative approach there because we know it works, you know, it worked for us in the past, you know, so it should work again in the end. That means, that being said, I don't think we are completely closing down that door, you know, but I don't think we're actively looking into that at the moment."

"And on that note too, like AI can not only generate assets, they can also generate code.
So you can go to AI and say, like, give me a class or a piece of code that sorts a string or something, but that also has copyright problems because AI learns from other code that is out there and then if you copy certain, there are licenses that will mean that we have to distribute our code or how we distribute, like, open source, and that's something that we are very cautious about. So we actually, like, we have a policy that we shouldn't be using these technologies as of now. We, I mean, we recognize that they're very powerful, we recognize it might be something for us in the future, but as of now, our games are done by us. Yeah, and they are everywhere."

"They are there for coders, they are there for artists, they are there for writers, they're there for everyone. So we have to sort of learn how to deal with them, right?
I mean, one thing about AI is that now it's a big thing, right? But we've been, for instance, we have motion matching, you know, and motion matching has an intrinsic AI component. What is motion matching, please tell me. Motion matching is a technique to animate lifelike people, basically, and it's based on the fact that you have a large database of animations, like, you know, people just get shot, you know, in video with all of these markers and stuff, you know, and they do things, you know, and they do their thing, and it's like, okay, now you do this, you do that."

"And it's kind of unstructured data, so what motion matching does is like, okay, you have this NPC or this character that wants to walk in a straight line and has this kind of mood or whatever, you know, so motion matching will actually look at the current frame you're in, and it will try to find in that database the best fit for the animation at that point, you know, and there's a big component of AI there, or there could be, you know, one of the... Sort of matching for now, but there could be AI sort of understanding a context. Exactly, so actually matching, one of the solutions to actually do this kind of pattern matching problems is using AI, and it's not using anything outside of what we are using. It is our own animations, exactly, so we have this big AI now thing, but there's a lot of other uses. Yeah, of course. Are you telling young developers here gathered at Gamelab later today, during your panel, are you telling them about this? What sort of... And what makes the difference compared to your sort of regular open door sessions? What are they going to learn today? Today, I mean, we're very proud of our engine and some of the architectural designs that it was built on, and we're going to share three very cool topics. We're going to talk about entities, resources, and we're going to talk about processes, because it's very simple, and actually, technology, when it's simple, it's pretty, and we want to show that beauty, hopefully, and share it with the people today here."

"And now that I mentioned these open doors sort of sessions you guys have, you've been running those for a year now, so what's the takeaway? What's the feedback you got from both those who come and then you afterwards? How do you feel about sharing this space and this knowledge with other developers, which of course goes both ways, right? You also absorb from them, I guess. People love it. I mean, it's always a full house, and there's always people outside waiting and wanting more. That's because of the patio. Maybe, yeah. Wait for the pool."

"What? We don't comment on rumors, you know. The pool is not announced yet. Okay, okay.
And you also opened, now that you mentioned the house is full, you also opened a new house.
So, when we talked last year, it was Copenhagen, it was Malmo, and it was Barcelona, and now we have another studio in Turkey. Yes, we just opened, I'm not sure, like one or two months ago, we opened in Istanbul, and we are very excited, because that opens the door to new talent, and the new ideas, and yeah, it's just starting. Actually, we have our first programmers starting now, so it's very exciting. And the structure is the same as with the rest of IOI. It's going to be, you know, no matter where you are, you can be leading a project, you can be, even if you're sitting in Istanbul or in Barcelona, right? That's it, yeah. That's one of the main ideas behind IO, is that we are a single studio with three different offices. So, everyone, I mean, the teams are actually distributed across all of the studios, you know, and it works, it works very well, you know. We don't have, in other companies, you know, you have this kind of satellite studio idea, so you have the idea, like some studios are more than others, and stuff. This is not the case at all with IO, you know. We're all equal, you know, and everyone can be a lead or whatever, you know, in any team, so that's super cool. And you also jump from city to city, for example."

"You guys are Spanish, but you, for example, are based in Denmark now, so you can do that with Turkey as well, okay. All right, so closing one. We've talked about fantasy, RPG, multiplayer, no platform confirmed game, James Bond origins story, and we haven't talked about Hitman that much. It's still ongoing, right? It's still getting more content, and we can expect to see more from the bald guy. There is also a lot of cool ideas, a lot of things in there. We love Hitman. Hitman 3 is still putting out content. Again, I don't know, I know there is stuff coming, but I don't know what is announced or not announced, so I'm not sure. Will you keep doing the updating or sort of improving the VR version of the game?
As it is now, right now, no, but in the future it might be, actually, so we'll see."

"We'll see, all right. Thank you so much for your time, guys. Enjoy your panel and enjoy the show.
Thank you. Thank you."

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