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The Order: 1886 Preview - Exploring Ready At Dawn's PS4 Engine

The game won't quite be ready at dawn.

While the release of The Order 1886 may still be a long way off, I must admit it was somewhat disappointing not to see something more of the title than I did in an exclusive preview session last week.

The game is set in an alternate history London, in a darker and very transformed 1886. Electricity is far more prevalent here for one thing, the tube more advanced (and probably more reliable than it is even today), weapons thoroughly more imaginative and inventive compared to reality, and there are hints at mystical or inhuman beasts with whom humanity is at war with.

In order for the team at Ready At Dawn to craft this setting, they went on an extensive research and reconnaissance trip to London. It wasn’t just about taking photos of the grand scale of the place, but also getting very close in to the specific materials and intricate details. Of the thousands upon thousands of photos taken, many were actually of close up brickwork and the sophisticated ironwork on gates.

Needless to say, this kind of strange behaviour, not to mention a little play acting of cover systems and other game mechanics, occasionally attracted strange looks and a bit of attention from the local coppers. However, it was necessary to tie their vision to what is a lovely bit of engine technology that they have been working on.

RAD Engine 4.0 is their own internal development system, and sees them taking a fresh look at the new PlayStation 4 hardware, without the legacy of thinking and without the existing systems which many teams would be porting across from PlayStation 3 development.

In particular, they have created a materials system, which combines just a handful of basic core textures in various permutations to recreate everything from leather and stone to wood and metals. They’re crafting their world without covering models with textures and it’s a system capable of some stunningly realistic effects. It is, however, quite a similar concept to what was been shown recently for Unreal Engine 4, considering that they are coming from such a different position.

It goes hand in hand with a new physics engine, entitled ABEL, which uses soft body physics as its basis, compared to the current standard of rigid body physics. Materials will have their own specific properties, such as the deformability of metal or the buoyancy of a ball.

It’s worked in such a way that destructible objects are able to break apart and stay within the world with ease. The demos showed a wooden fence being blown to shreds and a teddy bear being taken to pieces. In both cases, what was initially a single physical body within the physics system would easily break apart and continue to exist in the world separately. No shards of wood disappeared and everything stayed interactive for further bullet impacts and forces.

Further to this, they showed off their metal deformation systems, and how a single force of wind in an area would affect hanging flags in an individual and different manner.

This was all very nice and impressive technology, and it looks as though it might go some way to fulfilling Ready At Dawn’s goal of pushing past the uncanny valley, with regards to objects and physics interactions. I just wish they’d been able to show a little more of the actual game, though it’s clear they aren’t quite ready for that just yet.

9 Comments
  1. Klart
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    Interest sparked.

    Comment posted on 26/08/2013 at 10:15.
  2. Gamoc
    Member
    Since: Forever

    I’m pretty excited for this. Anything with an amazing physics engine will get me interested and that sounds particularly impressive.

    Comment posted on 26/08/2013 at 10:24.
  3. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    I’m amazed how much progress has been made in rendering environments in the last 15 years. Back in 97 everyone was raving over Half-Life’s clever lighting, basic enemy AI and intricate levels, now we have a wooden fence that isn’t just polygons, it’s a fence that splinters! These little things probably go unnoticed by a lot of players who just race through their games, but it’s nice to see the industry still getting excited about the little things. Now, I wonder whose going to really nail snow and sand next generation…

    Comment posted on 26/08/2013 at 10:25.
  4. elpablo79
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    This title certainly is intriguing, it really will depend on how they approach the gameplay itself. If they can marry an interesting story and style to it, this could be a real winner

    Comment posted on 26/08/2013 at 10:48.
  5. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    The new engine sounds promising, looking forward to hearing more about this as it goes on.

    Comment posted on 26/08/2013 at 11:18.
  6. yiddo
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    Sounds utterly divine.

    Can’t wait for this! Ready at Dawn haven’t disappointed thus far, and it’s nice to see them take the next step up and work on bigger things.

    Comment posted on 26/08/2013 at 13:36.
  7. bigchrissyc
    Member
    Since: Aug 2013

    The theme makes me think of Dishonored. Does sound very impressive though.

    Comment posted on 26/08/2013 at 16:39.
  8. tomtom22
    Member
    Since: Nov 2013

    My friend gave me this link. Get The Order: 1886 (PlayStation 4) at target.com and receive free $10 gift card:http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=6u8GgEN4Bi7ZGZE6ZMgc4A%3D%3D

    Comment posted on 14/11/2013 at 11:00.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      I don’t trust you. You appear dodgy to me. Character reference?

      Comment posted on 14/11/2013 at 11:38.