For several years the Cogwheel Chronicle Universe (CCU) has been built out using a custom engine (for fun I came to call it the ‘Cogwheel Engine’) that evolved from the Game Guru engine source code that Lee Bamber of ‘The Game Creators’ company made available on GitHub.
I rewrote parts of the engine and totally redeveloped the PBR shaders and lighting along with adding dozens and dozens of features required to help the vision for the Cogwheel Chronicles game world and game play to become realised.
I was spending as much time on changing and building out the engine as I was on environments, models and game play logic. If not much more time in reality, it became a very enjoyable ‘time sink’, but also a distraction if the overarching goal was to actually ship a decent steampunk video game.
Nevertheless I have learned a huge amount about the underlying mechanics of game engine development, HLSL shaders and the more technical aspects of game build that will always hold me in good stead for future work.
At the start of 2020 The Game Creators (TGC) decided to launch a completely revamped Game Guru game engine called ‘Game Guru Max’ (mainly by adding the rendering capability of the ‘Wicked Engine’ and adding/extending terrain build capability). At first flinch I thought this would help Cogwheel Chronicles in that I could use the additions being made to Game Guru to make Game Guru Max for the ‘Cogwheel Engine’ (as a huge portion of the c++ code base is Game Guru).
Alas it was not to be as TGC decided to close access to the source code. At one point during early 2020 they did say it would be opened up again once the main dev work was complete, but later in the year stated it was highly unlikely it would ever be made public again.
Game Guru Max – as good as I hope it will eventually be for everyone, will still not provide the features I need for the game I want to release – and with closed source I can’t add them. Lee has stated the shader pipeline (from Wicked Engine) will also remain closed to developer update which is absolutely no use for Cogwheel Chronicles requirements.
I’ve also been truly staggered, it’s literally unreal, what Unreal are making available for game developers with Unreal 5 in 2021, both from a technical point of view and the lifting of the commercial take they get to only those projects accruing over $1M. Unreal 5 is simply a paradigm shift in game making tech that can’t be ignored. And their source code is completely open for modification if in the unlikely event it was needed.
It’s hard to leave the Cogwheel Engine behind after years of development, indeed I still use it for fast prototyping of ideas, but the visuals of Unreal can’t be ignored, nor can the capabilities that underpin the engine and its performance.