“I think the whole thing about a new engine… sometimes that’s a great buzzword,” says Treyarch’s Mark Lamia.
Originally a heavily modified version of the Quake III engine, the IW engine has powered every console-based Call of Duty game since Call of Duty 2‘s release back in 2005 (Correction: with the exception of Call of Duty 3). Despite the engine undergoing heavy modification between titles – though exactly how much is unclear, because Treyarch and Infinity Ward tend to be vague with engine titles – grumpy e-critics are still ridiculing the upcoming Black Ops II on the basis of its frumpy, out-of-date engine. Treyarch, however, couldn’t care less.
While talking to One of Swords, Treyarch studio head, Mark Lamia, compared working on a game engine to working on a house.
“Just because you’re remodeling the house and it will look new or it will have a new kitchen, you don’t tear out the foundation, or break out some of the framing,” he said. “You might even go as hardcore as replacing the plumbing, and we will do that sort of thing, as an analogy.”
“It’s a gross simplification, but it’s one way to say that,” he continued. “There’s a lot of good still in that foundation that you wouldn’t get rid of, and we don’t. We look to advance in the areas that support our game design.”
It’s worth noting that Valve is still releasing games that use the Source engine, which is one year older than the IW engine.
“I think the whole thing about a new engine… sometimes that’s a great buzzword,” Lamia continued. “Well, I have a new graphics engine – is that a new engine? Where does it start and stop? Elements of the code, you can trace back for a very, very long time… but whole parts of the code are entirely new. Two areas we did focus on for this game were the graphics and the lighting – a pretty significant amount of work is going into that.”
Lamia goes on to add that expecting noticeable graphical enhancements between games isn’t unreasonable, but that Treyarch won’t any implement changes that prevent the game from running at 60 frames-per-second.