The Order: 1886: Impressive Screenshots, Renders and New Details on its Powerful Engine Revealed at GDC

By Giuseppe Nelva

March 21, 2014

One of the most interesting panels at GDC 2014 was about the upcoming PS4 exclusive The Order: 1886. Graphics programmers Matt Pettineo and David Neubelt Spoke about the “Next-Gen Material Pipeline” created for the game.

While some elements were similar to the panel held at Siggraph last year, there were some very relevant new pieces of information and images that show the engine used for the game in all its glory.

We learn that work on The Order: 1886 began in early 2011, and it originally only had two graphics programmers. Now the team has five. The game employs a total of about 100 developers.

The latest version of the in-house engine used by Ready at Dawn is compatible with DirectX 11 and PS4, but it’s heavily geared towards PS4, and it includes physically based rendering from the start. it also involves fine-grained task scheduling, Low-overhead, multithreaded command buffer generation and relies on the “PS4 Secret Sauce™” (no, I’m not inventing this one).

Memory is allocated in the following way (MiB doesn’t stand for Men in Black but for Mebibyte, which is pretty much an equivalent of a Megabyte used in technical literature):

  • 2 GB textures budget
  • 128 MiB sound budget
  • 700 MiB level geometry
  • 600 MiB character textures
  • 250 MiB global textures (FX, UI, light maps, etc..) – Even characters have lightmap data
  • 700 MiB animation

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We also learn that Environmental art is mapped at 512 pixels per unit and standard environment tiling textures are 1024×1024 pixels.

More (and very technical) information can be found directly on the slides of the panel, that can be downloaded here.

The slides also include some extremely interesting pictures, starting with an environment rendered in four different lighting conditions (sunset, overcast mid-day and ambient):

Below you can see a render of the game’s arc gun shown with reflection occlusion (above) and without (middle).  Reflection occlusion is a technique used to give realism to specular surfaces reflecting an environment. You can also see the mapping of the reflection occlusion itself (bottom).

We also get a glimpse of one of the game’s more mundane guns:

The pictures below showcase the dynamic Ambient Occlusion rendered from “capsules” (two half-spheres connected by a cylinder) skinned to the character models. With the effect (top), without (middle) and a representation of how it works (bottom)

The following two pictures showcase the shading used in the game for the hair of Galahad and Igraine.

Below we can see a scene from the game (probably the Subway of London), and a showcase of its material layers.

Finally, we get to see two gameplay scenes and the components that form their lighting and shading.

It’s definitely intriguing to see how the impressive visual fidelity of The Order: 1886 comes too life through layer upon layer of effects, light and shadow.

While we still don’t have a firm release date, The Order: 1886 should release this fall Exclusively for PS4.

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Giuseppe Nelva

Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.

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