Everyone wants to play the perfect MMO, but no one seems capable of creating one. BigWorld Tech's commercial MMO Engine attempts to aid developers in their quest to move designs off of paper and onto the computer. The BigWorld engine was demoed last month at GDC Austin, and we got to use the tool's level editor and map layout functionality. After what we did with it, you can smell the Fillet MignOrc from miles away.
Some environmental effects from the BWT demo
On their site, BigWorld pushes the lukewarm concept of turn-based MMO's (like the majority of MMOs now) out the window and aims to fuse designflow with creative freedom. Currently used mostly in Chinese and Asian games, their engine and content creation tools are moving along at a healthy pace, and if we are lucky, will break into the Western market soon (other than Stargate Worlds, which failed epicly).
In my 30 minutes with the level editor, with no prior experience (and with the guidance of Phillip Joyce from BWT), I was able to lay out a simple comedic scene starring two roasted Orcs and one fire-breathing behemoth. It should be noted that I received minimal help, only asking when thoroughly stumped. That in mind, I was able to quickly adapt to movement, object placement, folder architecture, and implementing pre-built models and animations. The movement is very intuitive and incorporates several of the finer nuances from 3D modeling programs, making it easy for people with some development experience to jump right into.
Orcs in kilts, scarier than men in tights?
With an armory of pre-defined generic textures, characters, objects, and buildings, I set down a non-descript building in the middle of a non-descript desert. This build would soon be join by a, you guessed it, couple of non-descript orcs. The orcs were positioned atop the building, a cobble road placed in front of it, and some vendor carts and apple baskets ontop of that. That's when I accidentally discovered a character model named something along the lines of "Beast" or "Demon" (can't remember exactly), whatever it was, it caught my attention. That's when Phillip showed me how to assign the 'roar' animation to this Godzilla-sized devil from the depths of Hell. Kicking his hooves, the demon leaned forward, reared his head, and blasted my poor orcs with saliva. After rofling and lollerskating at my now-drenched orcs, I stumbled over a particle effect called MEGAFIRE. I think you can see where this is going. Yup, no more building, and back to where the story started, roasted orcs.
Needless to say I was pumped about the editor, and having little time to try the other tools, this was enough to get me interested in the product. BigWorld says that their indie development kit will be released "sometime soon," and they also noted that, unlike the current version, the indie release will not have source code packed with it. Regardless, it's a suite that any developer shouldn't miss out on. The ability to shrug off the old turn-based combat and take on something like an MMOFPS (see: APB) is something I hope they succeed with, because few other companies have successfully made an MMOG that does not feature the all-too-popular letters "R" and "P." Speaking of RPGs, here's a fantasy demo of their tool.
~Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke