An in-depth look at the IW Engine
The Call of Duty franchise has been one that has spanned many console generations. The first Call of Duty released in 2003 by Infinity Ward used the popular ID Tech 3 engine known for its state of the art graphics, AI and all around framework. Many developers have a branch of their early editor based off one of the Id Tech engines and it’s with good reason. The earliest Id Tech Engine was used to power one of the most popular games in the early computer days, Doom.
Now 16 years later it’s led to this, the new IW Engine present in Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019).
Titans of Gaming
We’ve come to expect that every couple of years we’ll see a new Call of Duty game, whether it’s from Treyarch or Infinity Ward the two studios have been passing the mantle between themselves for some time now, even Sledgehammer Games is involved in the development of later games as the production size grew.
It came the time to develop a new engine, an in-house engine, one that the teams could all build together and refine the key features that they might need in their games. Custom Animation Frameworks, Intelligent Server Scalability for the many hundreds of thousands of concurrent users joining daily to play Call of Duty. The engine has to do it all, and this is where the IW Engine comes into play.
Originally Call of Duty 2, was the first time we heard of the IW Engine v2.0 – it was basically just an improved version of the id Tech 3 engine with custom proprietary features. Between 2005 and 2017 we have seen 5 new versions of the IW Engine develop up to what the probably call the IW Engine v8.0 Next-Gen (Assuming v8.0 since v7.0 was the current build-number Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare).
Thinking into the Future
The engine compared to Infinite Warfare has a few changes, many of which are designed more for the inclusion in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Next consoles. Raytracing has been the word on everyone’s lips this whole year and it’s not surprising that they included their own take of it in the new Modern Warfare title. RTX has allowed for real-time raytracing making reflections render correctly, bounce lighting to accurately be calculated and displayed, basically, it’s made to help simulate real-life occurrences, which I guess, is the point we are trying to reach in-game engines, for them to be so real that we are tricked into real life.
This leads me to the next inclusion of this year’s IW Engine and it’s Photogrammetry. This one is massive.
Photos to Meshes
Photogrammetry has been another hot topic this year in the game development community and with good reason, the results are stunning and for the time taken to take a series of photos, analyze them and convert them into a 3D model are probably 1/100th the time it takes to full hand 3d model the same thing in a 3D Application.
Looking at the gallery above, I’m sure you’ll agree that the first-night vision shot is almost convincing life-life, the subtle sheen on the clothes, the metallic look of the MP5 it all looks right, this is because it’s practically a scan of a real weapon and clothing sample, so all the real-world information is baked into the PBR textures from the start.
I will come back and continue my write up of this story once I finish Modern Warfare’s story campaign. I can delve into more of my thoughts after experiencing the whole intended game.