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Why Super Evil Megacorp built a proprietary mobile MOBA engine

Why Super Evil Megacorp built a proprietary mobile MOBA engine Exclusive

September 11, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

The San Mateo-based Super Evil Megacorp includes Riot, Blizzard and Rockstar expats who are hoping to corner an underserved market with their debut title, the free-to-play iOS MOBA Vainglory.

The game was played onstage during Apple's recent press conference as a showcase for the company's new iPhone 6 devices, and Super Evil made a point of noting that Apple's new Metal graphics optimization technology (expected to launch alongside iOS 8 later this month) was an integral component of its proprietary E.V.I.L. engine.

The engine was built from scratch to power a mobile MOBA, making it of interest to developers wrestling with the challenges of delivering multiplayer team-based real-time combat experiences on mobile devices.

Super Evil Megacorp says it currently has no plans to license the E.V.I.L. engine out to other studios, but company cofounder Tommy Krul did share some details with Gamasutra via email on how the tech was developed and what value Super Evil Megacorp found in going to the trouble of developing its own engine tech.

"Having our own engine gives us control over our software and the game in terms of performance, capabilities of the engine, and the platforms we run on," says Krul, who went on to state that Super Evil Megacorp sees its investment in proprietary engine tech as a beacon for attracting developers interested in building graphically-intense mobile games outside the bounds of established engines like Unity or Unreal. It also affords the studio more freedom in coding its networking systems.

"For Vainglory we need technology that delivers a smooth experience for networked, multiplayer gaming, and apart from E.V.I.L., there really aren’t any existing engine solutions for running networked games on touch devices," says Krul. "Since we have our own engine we are able to make a game that is properly server-authoritative, meaning that the entire gameplay runs on the server and not on the client."

Apple made a point of calling out how the E.V.I.L. engine utilizes the company's forthcoming Metal graphics optimization tech during the Vainglory segment of its press conference, and Krul says access to the Metal SDK has enabled Super Evil Megacorp to hit higher framerates and cut down the load times in Vainglory.

"On a deeper level, the Metal SDK removes a layer that normally resides between the game and the hardware," says Krul. "That layer is basically what goes in the OpenGL driver, which is the graphic standard that was used before Metal."

Super Evil most recently raised $11.6 million in investment funding from General Catalyst and Raine Ventures in advance of the launch of Vainglory, which is currently being tested in select Southeast Asian mobile markets.

Of course, it's far from the first MOBA title built for iOS -- most recently, CA-based Hammer & Chisel has seen some success with the launch of its free-to-play tablet MOBA Fates Forever, which was built in Unity.

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