CryEngine 3 is the third distinct game engine from German game developer Crytek. It was announced at the 2009 GDC Expo and was made available to licensees on October 14th, 2009. Unlike previous CryEngines, CryEngine 3 was designed for cross-platform development on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, as well as future hardware. Three games have been officially announced as using CryEngine 3 - Crytek's own Crysis 2, OnNet's Project TGO and Xaviant Game's Lichdom.
CryEngine 3 Sandbox with Live Create
As with previous CryEngines, CryEngine 3 includes the sandbox editor. This allows developers to edit levels and see them in a WYSIWYP (What You See Is What You Play) fashion. With CryEngine 3 this is expanded with Live Create, a feature that a single edited level to be played on multiple platforms simultaneously in real-time using a single development PC. CryEngine 3 Sandbox also features Hot Update, which converts and scales original art assets for each platform; changes to the original assets will automatically update the platform specific assets.
CryEngine 2 was lauded by the press for its graphical abilities, as demonstrated in Crysis, but the engine and game were confined to high end PCs. One of Crytek's main claims about CryEngine 3 is its scaleability in running games featuring graphics of a similar quality on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as well as a wider range of PCs. Crytek touts the following high end graphical features:
- Multi-core optimisation (including specific PlayStation 3 SPU support).
- Real-time dynamic global illumination.
- Deferred lighting.
- Dynamic soft shadows.
- Volumetric, layer and view distance fogging.
- Normal maps and parallax occlusion maps.
- Screen space ambient occlusion.
- Uber shaders (which allows shaders to be written once and converted to other platforms).
- HDR Lighting.
- Low cost motion blur and depth of field post-processing.
- Subsurface scattering.
CryEngine 3 also includes an integrated toolset to manipulate graphics and in-game elements. This tool set allows for real time editing simultaneously on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC on the same network with complete compatibility on those systems. This engine allow the developers to be do more in less time. Some of the specific graphical tools and graphical abilities featured in the engine are:
- Terrain generation using voxel objects.
- Vegetation generation.
- Real-time soft particle system.
- Integrated FX editor.
- Road and river placement tools.
- Vehicle creation tools.
- Realistic 3D water surfaces.
- Time of day systems.
- Volumetric light beams.
- Destructible environments.
- Integrated physics engine.
- Rope physics.
Character animation and AI
As well as the graphics engine, CryEngine 3 features a large suite of character animation and AI technology. A character animation system is integrated into the sandbox and characters can be animated using parametric skeletal animation, which makes use of procedural warping and inverse kinematics algorithms to blend animations in a more realistic way. The built-in system can also be used to automatically lip sync character faces to audio files.
The AI system also integrates into Sandbox, and contains pathfinding algorithms designed to help AI characters navigate destructible environments. Rather than traditional waypoint navigation, the system uses automated mesh layer navigation.
CryEngine 3's sound system is designed to integrate sounds effectively into a realistic environment. It does this in multiple ways, such as hierarchical area shapes for directional, distance-dependent ambient sound. A new feature of its sound systems is the ability for sound effects to be triggered on specific animation key frames (animation controlled audio). The sound system is integrated into sandbox to allow in-game mixing. As with CryEngine 2, FMOD is used for multi-platform compatibility.
Licensees and upcoming games
Although the initial cross platform demos for CryEngine 3 at GDC 2009 were clearly based on a Crysis game, Crysis 2 was not formally announced until E3 2009. It was the first game announced for the engine. On October 29th, 2009, Korean developer OnNet announced the use of CryEngine 3 for their upcoming MMO "Project TGO" and on March 12th, 2010, Xaviant LLC announced the use of CryEngine 3 for their game "Lichdom". It has been rumoured that GSC Game World are using the engine for a sequel to S.T.A.L.K.E.R., but this has not been confirmed. In November 2010 Crytek announced it's making Warface, a free-to-play first person shooter that uses CryEngine 3 and will be released in Asia in 2011.
On April 12, 2010, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli announced that Crytek would be releasing a free, standalone engine that would be "up to speed with" CryEngine 3 for use by independent game developers.