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Legend - Hand of God: Developer Diary

by Gorath, 2007-03-28

Master Creating´s Creative Director Jan Beuck gives an insight into the development process of their upcoming action-RPG Legend - Hand of God.

The Master Engine

As a game designer I might not necessarily be a tech wizard, yet technology has always been of utmost concern to me.

The way a computer ‘thinks’ is incredibly exciting, at least for me. Being the first one to discover a groundbreaking way of outsmarting a machine is rather stimulating, especially when it is all about achieving better results than in previous games.

Of course a project like LEGEND is subject to economical pressure; the first question asked will never be ‘Do we want to develop a new engine?’, but : ’Is it expedient to develop a new engine?’. To my great surprise, the answer was: ‘YES!’

We tried out many different engines, including Unreal3, but none seemed to be suited for LEGEND. Not because the engines were bad, but all of them were optimized for first- and third person games only – not for action RPGs. We’re not alone in this opinion: no known action RPG or strategy game uses a licensed engine, while it is quite common among shooters. This shortcoming spawned the idea of creating more than just a technological base for LEGEND; we wanted to develop a well-rounded engine with the additional goal of being able to use it in follow-up projects or even seeing it used by other developers: the MASTER ENGINE!

The advantage for LEGEND was that we were able to invest far more time and work in technology than usual – and the result is rather convincing! Passages concerning game speed were written in Assembler, thus the engine is one of the few not limited by CPU speed. This means that a computer with an older CPU can get high frame rates – it all depends on the video card! Those of you who tinker with the idea of upgrading your video card instead of buying a new PC will be able to enjoy LEGEND in all its glory. At this time, we can’t tell you the exact specifications of the computer you’ll need to enjoy the highest detail settings, though – we’re still in the process of optimizing the game.

The MASTER ENGINE is DirectX 9.0c-based. For shaders, it uses Shader Model 3 which enables highly realistic effects. High Dynamic Range Lighting is responsible for realistic lighting and spectacular fading effects. Unified Per-Pixel Lighting, Normal Mapping and Blinn-Phong Specular Mapping are used to give objects their vivid optics and realistic shine. We were supported by Paul Campion, creator of many of the monster textures used in the ‚Lord of the Rings’ movies (the wonderful Balrog, among others). His support was instrumental in avoiding the dreaded ‘plastic look’: a new method was applied which had been used in creating the LotR special effects, but never in a game before LEGEND.

From the Master Engine: a Wolf

We’re especially proud of the unique shadow system which took us several months to develop; it was created in cooperation with employees of the Max Planck Institute of Applied Computer Science, and it’s so precise that even the tip of the hero’s nose does cast a soft shadow on his face! This is especially cool because we attached great importance to the display of light and shadow, gameplay-wise, because of our glowing fairy. [The glowing fairy is both NPC and mouse cursor.; Ed.] We also attached some popular components: SpeedTree for vegetation, AGEIA PhysX für physics and FMOD (of World of Warcraft fame) for sound.

Now that we have a really good engine, one question remains - how do we make the game? Well, I’ll tell you next time…

Technical details of the MASTER ENGINE: www.master-creating.com

Box Art

Information about

Legend: Hand of God

Developer: Master Creating

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Action-RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: 10-20 hours
Voice-acting: Full

Regions & platforms
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2007-09-28
· Publisher: dtp

North America
· Legend - Hand of God
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2008-08-01
· Publisher: THQ

More information

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