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SimBin Introduces its Next-Gen Lizard Engine

by Rainier on April 12, 2007 @ 4:16 a.m. PDT

SimBin, known for GTR Racing, today unveiled its in-house developed next-gen (X360, PS3, PC) engine, Lizard. The new engine is tailored to handle racing games, but due to its module structure it will allow SimBin to adapt for any type of game, giving them the possibility to expand their portfolio with other genres, for example a First Person Shooter.

To use an in-house developed, reusable, game engine is a very cost effective solution that gives SimBin a lot of flexibility to handle new projects, both its own IP’s or assigned productions. The concept is the same that has been used the last decades within the car manufacturing industry, In order to create cost efficient and competitive new cars, several car models from the same group is built on the same platform. The basic architecture is the same, but the experience is totally different since the interior and exterior is unique.

The Lizard-engine contains all basic components that are required in order to develop game products: simulation, physics, rendering, networks, animation, sound, user interface, data pipeline, editor and tools. It is mainly written in the portable C++ programming language.

Reusable game engines (sometimes referred to as “middleware”) are no news in the game sector. However, there are a number of companies that offer their middleware to game companies. Lizards big advantage is that it is to 100% developed and owned by SimBin, which means that SimBin has all necessary knowledge and can use it to pursue products that are desired without having to pay external parties.

Simulation & Physics

  • Reality-based simulation of racing cars.
  • Takes aerodynamics, propulsion, tires, traction, wheels, brakes and suspension into account.
  • It simulates even the minute details such as weather conditions, tire wear and temperature, fuel consumption and a long list of realistic mechanical failures.
  • Included are also driving aids, such as traction control, antilock braking system, steer and stability help.
  • The AI supports different driving personalities and behaviors.

Rendering Engine

  • Support for both HDR and LDR rendering.
  • Full use of hardware shaders.
  • DX9 and Xbox 360 compatible.
  • Cascaded shadow maps with smooth edges utilizing percentage closer filtering (PCF).
  • Advanced per-pixel lighting model with support for dynamic time of day and fully dynamic shadows.
  • Real-time reflections.
  • Dynamic ambient occlusion.
  • Advanced post processing pipeline (for example; full screen motion blur and bloom).
  • Static PVS.
  • Animation with skinning.
  • Deformable meshes.
  • Undergrowth system.
  • Weather effects.

Network Engine

  • Advanced client side prediction.
  • Bandwidth-throttling.
  • Replay functionality, i.e. the recording, synchronisation, and playback of data streams and input.
  • True delta compression of data to minimize network traffic.
  • Accurate automatic time synchronization.
  • Peer to Peer as well as Client / Server connectivity.
  • Stats reporting.
  • Match-making and LAN host discovery.
  • Voice-support.
  • Only uses a single UDP port to easily pass through firewalls.

Sound Engine

  • Written in C++ and intrinsics (SSE). All sound is generated by software running in its own thread, the hardware is only needed to playback the already fully processed 2 or 6 channels (5.1).
  • The sounds are created using custom made graphs with each node acting as a (multi-) sample player, panner, low-, high-pass filter or volume envelope etc.
  • Has complete doppler support and makes use of spatial information.

Menu System

  • Layout is stored in XML files, which makes editing easy.
  • Support for Lua 5.1, a very efficient scripting language. The Lua support makes it easy to expose game functionality to the GUI system. It also makes it possible to embed Lua scripts in the XML files, in order to control the game or the GUI system itself.
  • Efficient rendering, which makes the system suitable for both in-game and front-end GUI.
  • Highly portable, only the rendering part is platform-specific and that is already abstracted by Rendering Engine.

SimBin works continuously with the development of Lizard focusing mainly on X-Box 360 and PC but will be adapting it to other consoles such as the PlayStation3.

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