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Monday, December 05, 2011

Bethesda Owes Gamers Truth on "Creation" Engine (hint: It's still Gamebryo)

I'm not even going to go back and drag up all the posts I've made about Fallout: New Vegas and what a horrible bugfest it was.

The important thing here: it's still broken for some players, even today.

Now, like myself, many other gamers who experienced the nightmare which was Fallout: New Vegas were delighted to hear that it was going to use an all-new engine.  And when I say it was reported to use an all-new engine, I mean: Bethesda themselves stated that the engine for TES V: Skyrim would be all-new.

I'm not even paraphrasing here, not even a little bit.  Now, if you read through that recent FO:NV forum post, you'll see that the user is stating that the game becomes unplayable after the save file reaches a certain file size.

Gee, I dunno?  Sound familiar?  Yup, it's the exact same issue that everyone is talking about with Skyrim on the PlayStation 3.  And what is the most technical explanation for the problem that has been released to date?

It's the one offered by Obsidian, the developer of Fallout: New Vegas.  It explains how the Gamebryo based games use a file strategy to track the changes throughout the game world, and how consoles can have problems loading and managing those changes into memory.  No memory = no performance.

Now, I've been lucky.  I've had a few quest bugs and the occasional performance issues.  I've had two crashes.  I've had maybe a handful of lockups.  From my time with the game, I would say that I'd stick to my guns in that compared to Fallout: New Vegas - it is a godsend, and compared to normal games it is only slightly buggy.

But - that's me.  There's now plenty of video evidence that other players of Skyrim are experiencing what I experienced with Fallout: New Vegas (and to a slightly lesser degree, Fallout).  I don't know why I'm one of the lucky ones - but that isn't really the point.  The point here is that I bought Skyrim because I thought it was an all-new engine, as did many other people.

But how is it that an "all-new" engine has the same fundamental problem as the last engine, with apparently the same save file structure and loading concepts as well?

How is it that items in the world are rendered and handled in almost the exact same manner as the old engine?  Sure, the textures look nicer and Bethesda has cranked up the pretty in all sorts of ways, but someone who has played all the Gamebryo games can't load up Skyrim and deny the fact that the game looks and feels just like the old games did.

All-new engine, my ass.  All new graphics pipeline, perhaps.  Kicking Speedtree to the curb and implementing your own plant-life, sure.  New ways of loading textures, maybe.

But at the end of the day - the so called "Creation" engine is just lipstick on a pig.  Bethesda hasn't even been able to fix the problems with their last game, but they continue to march on with the same core technology ... only this time with more of PR spin to give gamers false confidence.

That's pretty shameful, and there are a lot of Skyrim players ... especially on the PS3 ... with plenty of righteous anger at the company right now.

I really don't know if I'll buy the next Bethesda game.  I can't trust the Gamebryo engine, and I can't trust Bethesda when they say they aren't using it.