DSFISHLABS | COMPANY AND GAME NEWS

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10/12/2016 | 12:50 pm | 5 comments

The road to ABYSS Engine 4.0: Ten years of developing our proprietary mobile games technology, pt. 1

ABYSS Engine 4.0 by Deep Silver FISHLABS (Games Development Engine Technology Mobile Smartphone Tablet iOS Android 3D Graphics High-End Performance)

Welcome to this tech blog by our Head of Core Tech, Johannes. It has originally been published in late September on Develop Online and introduces you to an asset that has been playing a key role in our studio’s history for no less than a decade. We are talking, of course, about our proprietary ABYSS® Engine. It has brought more than a dozen games to life in the past decade. And it has just been upgraded to version 4.0!

ABYSS Engine 4.0 by Deep Silver FISHLABS (Games Development Engine Technology Mobile Smartphone Tablet iOS Android 3D Graphics High-End Performance)
Two screenshots of the first Galaxy on Fire game from 2006, running on Java phones and brought to life by the first iteration of our engine.

Introduction – A brief outline of the usage of ABYSS® Engine 1 to 3

Developing and building upon a proprietary in-house game engine has a long tradition at Deep Silver FISHLABS. We have been working on our ABYSS® Engine since 2006. By now, it has gone through a number of versions and iterations; each time improving on the previous version by applying new lessons learned and incorporating novel technologies.

It all started back in the Java "dumb" phone era with the first ABYSS® Engine for the original Galaxy on Fire (powered by JSR-184). Both the game and the engine were eventually ported to C++. Today, a full decade after its initial release on the App Store, you can still download and play the first Galaxy on Fire title on the iPhone. From there, we went on to develop ABYSS® Engine 2, which powers Galaxy on Fire 2 – a title many fans and reviewers still consider a benchmark for space action gaming on mobile. Next up was ABYSS® Engine 3, which served as the underlying technology for a variety of titles, including Galaxy on Fire - Alliances, Sports Car Challenge 2, or Snowboard Hero.

ABYSS Engine 4.0 by Deep Silver FISHLABS (Games Development Engine Technology Mobile Smartphone Tablet iOS Android 3D Graphics High-End Performance)
The x-ray mode helps to identify areas suffering from an abundance of overdraw, i.e. too many triangles layered on top of each other.

Milestone 4.0 – How we created an all-new engine rather than an update

If you look at the launch dates of the afore-mentioned apps, you see that they were all released in 2013 or earlier. That is three years or more – an eternity in today’s swift and agile mobile games market! When we realized where Galaxy on Fire 3 - Manticore was headed and what this game could become, we knew that we would need a new generation of our engine to push the limits once more. After all, our studio has always been known as a forerunner and innovator in the field of high-end 3D gaming “on the go”. Needless to say, we were very eager to continue that tradition with the next installment of our flagship series.

In 2013, we set out to rework core systems and substantial parts of the engine to be able to leverage all the power the mobile devices of future generations would offer. To achieve the ambitious goals we had set for ourselves, we needed a completely new architecture and a stronger focus on performance as well as more flexibility. Today, we are happy and relieved to proclaim the reach of the major milestone we had set for ourselves almost 36 months ago: Our ABYSS® Engine has reached version 4.0!

Compared to the previous version, we have replaced or removed around 95% of the source code, which makes version 4.0 more than just an update. Instead, we like to think of it as an all-new engine. With all the stuff we added, customized and optimized, ABYSS® Engine 4.0 is not only a perfect fit for Galaxy on Fire 3 - Manticore but also a very good foundation for our future endeavors.

ABYSS Engine 4.0 by Deep Silver FISHLABS (Games Development Engine Technology Mobile Smartphone Tablet iOS Android 3D Graphics High-End Performance)
The built-in profiler shows how much time each function takes. It helps us identify areas that would benefit from optimization.

What to expect from next week’s follow-up blog?

For reasons of brevity, I would like to make a cut here. But don’t worry. Our engine’s story is far from being over. I will continue it next week with another tech blog focusing on select features and capabilities of the brand-new version of the ABYSS®. In the meantime, feel free to post any questions you might have in the comments.

If you want to stay in the loop regarding the development of our ABYSS-powered sci-fi epic Galaxy on Fire 3 - Manticore, pre-register via http://bit.ly/gof3-signup-blog. And if you want to join our R&D team and help make the ABYSS® even more powerful and performant, check our open vacancies and apply!



Comments

"Developing and building upon a proprietary in-house game engine has a long tradition at Deep Silver FISHLABS" Deep Silver Fishlabs did not exists prior to Koch Media purchasing the original bankrupt Fishlabs company, stating you have a long tradition is exaggeration. "If you look at the launch dates of the afore-mentioned apps, you see that they were all released in 2013 or earlier. That is three years or more – an eternity in today’s swift and agile mobile games market!" What has DS Fishlabs accomplished in that period? Your new game GOF3 is now infinitely delayed. It was hyped as having much content and being much more intertwining than GOFA, yet a substantial majority of the soft launch review state that the game is awful. GOF Alliances has had arguably far more bugs and undesirable issues added to it than properly fixed. Carriers have been getting stuck for numerous reasons for many years now, the sound becomes inoperative for a couple of years now, push notifications do not display, and a host of other reasons cause the game to crash, freeze or otherwise become unplayable all the while we hear from representives "you have to give us more patience" "Our engine’s story is far from being over. I will continue it next week with another tech blog focusing on select features and capabilities of the brand-new version of the ABYSS®." Frankly who is interested? When you have syatematically destroyed what was a game with great potential (GOFA) and produce something you say is fantastic when it is anything but and hype the heck out of it while you are in damage control mode because those who actually have experience with it are giving it failing marks who would be interested in anything else about it. What I think is this. You are continuing to stall for time and trying to bury any and all negative critique in the process with blog posts such as this. After all it only a regurgitated story from elsewhere. "It has originally been published in late September on Develop Online"

Galaxy on Fire 2 was a big win for you in my opinion, its an amazing game, fun to play and totally worth to buy those "expensive" add-ons. From my point of view you guys are running out of Ideas. From what i've heard about Manticore, its pretty close to GoF 2. So my question is, why dont you build up on GoF 2? You already have a good base and just like you added Supernova you could add more features. If the time has come you can make a bigger update to implement your new engine, get better Resolutions etc etc. I'm sure people would pay for another add on. Instead you're trying to get out a new game, you do your best to make it slightly different than GoF2 with features like you have to repair a damaged ship or more various missions but at the end of the day the fans just want the freedom to fly around and do missions whenever they want (how in GoF2) Just give us more missions, more stuff to do and revive Galaxy on Fire 2 again. Some little ideas, - it can't be too difficult to add more "Most Wanted" People with special ships. (Most of the time would be needed to design new ships" - I'm not sure how the code for the galaxy works but I think its not a big deal to enlarge the already existing Galaxy map and add some new areas. Why not come up with a new sector? - This might be a bigger thing to do but... why not add a completely new Galaxy? And with a special Blueprint you can build a thrust that can boost you over there and then start a new story in this galaxy with different sectors, different technologies etc etc? There are sooooo many things you could add to Galaxy on Fire 2, I'm 100% sure if you ask the community then you'll get another 100000 ideas on what you could add. In my opinion and from what I've heard about Manticore, you would have more success when you pimp up GoF2 to a new level instead of struggling getting a new game that has very high expectations after this excellent release of GoF2. Its probably too late anyway since you're almost finished with Manticore... I just wanted to get my Ideas out and maybe it helped somewhere :)

There's very little in common between GOF2 and GOF3. Really, GOF3 plays more like GOF1 with better environments and a more responsive flight model. It sorely needs more mission variety and some form of free-roam, and if mining and trade can be implemented, that would be great. I just don't think we can get a proper GOF2 successor at this point - GOF3's base isn't well-built to support an open world game. It's mission based rather than open world. GOF3 is the Star Conflict to GOF2's Freelancer. Still a good game, but it has an entirely different focus.

Just wanted to say +1 to this idea. I thouroughly enjoyed GOF2 and think the above idea is great. Why not develop and release something like Walking Potato suggests and hold your fan base over while you polish GOF3.. and generate some revenue in the process with add on sales. Could keep both products going for awhile and gives the users the option of which they want to play. Just a thought

When is the soft launch in the Netherlands coming to android? I know it's out on IOS here, but I'm waiting for android.

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