Democracy Now: An Interview with Torque X Developer GarageGames
August 29, 2006 Page 2 of 3
GS: With the imminent release of Vista and Direct X 10, there's going to be a lot of interesting stuff going on in game development. Where do you see GarageGames taking Torque next?
MF: Our continued focus is going to be on making the experience of developers working with all the Torque technology's easier to get in to. We're going to be refining our tool pipeline as well as taking advantage of Direct X 10 and it's graphical advantages.
GS: What are some of the more interesting features we can look forward to in Torque X?
MF: What we have up and running so far is our complete suite of 2D game building functionality, as well as work for arbitrary polygonal meshes and sphere collisions, and we're looking at what other features of the engine we're going to try and bring over before the actual XNA launch. That could include things like our particle engine technologies. Really the biggest feature of the Torque X is going to be that it's a full featured 2D/3D engine that's going to be much more accessible to those who haven't exactly had a lot of C++ experience.
GS: What do you think that coders will get most excited about with Torque X?
MF: The real advantage of the managed environment is that it just takes away from the super low level, incredibly challenging to deal with bugs and issues you have if you're coding direct to the metal. So, it really makes developing stuff a lot quicker in terms of rapid prototyping of game ideas. It's a much less painful environment than coding direct to C++. As far as having the Torque X foundation on top of that, it's just going to be a really fun rapid development environment for experienced programmers and new programmers as well.
A simple 2D shooter, developed quickly with Torque X
GS: What do you see artists get most excited about with Torque X?
MF: Well, on the 2D side we have our 2D game builder tool, the Torque Game Builder, and it's a direct content pipeline into Torque X. It's a very drag and drop experience for laying out game design assets in 2D. Torque X will also, longer down the road, have support for our new 3D game building tool, Constructor, will eventually have support as well. Aside from the work that we're doing on the Torque X side, the XNA Team has very detailed plans for their whole content pipeline that's going to make it quite a bit easier to bring art into the whole experience.
GS: Why is working with managed code easier? Will it slow down the games?
MF: The main advantages are that you don't have to deal with things like pointers, memory overwrites because of not checking the boundaries on arrays, just the kind of low level programming gotchas. It's a managed environment, so it manages your access to the hardware resources in such a way that it can save you a lot of stupid errors that we all make in the C++ world. That's the major advantage. The common criticism in managed code is that it's slow. In our experience, however, we've been able to figure out ways to make the managed code to perform at almost the same level as our native code.
GS: Will we see a 2D game renaissance using the tools, since you have 2D elements to your toolkits?
I think so, and the reason I think so is that we departed from the
world of 2D game mechanics world happened, in my mind, because of the
hardware. For instance, we had platformer 1 and platformer 2 that were
2D games, but now that we have 3D cards we'll do platformer 3 in the
full 3D experience. In many cases I think that was a detriment to the
overall play experience of the game.
There are games that are very well expressed in 2D that lose something in the translation to 3D.
I think that as people start looking at what you can do with 3D hardware in the building of 2D games, such as taking advantage of shader effects, whether it's displacement mapping, bump mapping or whatever, you can make games that look completely different than any other 2D game you've ever seen before. People are going to have a lot of fun exploring in those directions, but aren't going to have to take the substantial hit that it takes to develop all the content for a 3D game and yet they can make game experiences that look completely new. They can also go down paths like “What is Super Mario Brothers like in a network world?” That sort of thing. Just in terms of games I'm noticing myself playing, coming from a pretty hardcore Quake and Tribes gameplay background, I'm now gravitating towards experiences that are quite a bit simpler in terms of interface and those are often more naturally expressed in 2D.
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