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Capcom Talks MT Framework 2.0

Find out how the company's award-winning multiplatform engine is evolving.

 
Lost Planet 2 showing off some of MT Framework 2.0's fireworks.

MT Framework appears to be one of the prides of the Japanese game industry. Capcom's internal multiplatform game engine has produced some of the finest-looking games thus far this generation, and it's done so consistently on three platforms for the past few years.

The engine will be turning the big 2.0 with Lost Planet 2. So what's new? Zenji Nishikawa answers that in his latest 3D Game Fan Lecture article at Impress Watch

The article provides a look at the origins of the engine and where Capcom plans to take it from here, with commentary from Resident Evil 5 producer Jun Takeuchi, Capcom programmers Satoshi Ishida and Masaru Ijuuin, and Capcom graphic designer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi.

Although MT Framework is just now turning 2.0, it's actually been through a number of iterations. The first version was used for Dead Rising in 2006. This was followed by version 1.1 for Lost Planet, version 1.2 for the PC version of Lost Planet, version 1.3 for Devil May Cry 4, and version 1.4 for Resident Evil 5.

Development on MTFW2.0 started in January 2008 with just two people. They really did start from zero, as the engine couldn't even display a 3D model at first and was just able to output text to a window.

With MTFW2.0 being so relatively young, it may come as a surprise to see Lost Planet 2 be so far along. In fact, LP2 first started development on MTFW1. Midway through, development was switched to MTFW2.0. The result is that the objects and materials in Lost Planet 2 are MTFW1-level.

However, the real point to watch for, according to Nishikawa, is the dynamic interaction between characters and vegetation. This particular area has advanced beyond Resident Evil 5. Plants and vegetation will sway based off wind caused by gun blasts and explosions.

Another major point of difference between the two revs of the engines concerns target users. The MTFW1 series was designed exclusively for internal use. It was basically Capcom's strategy for game development, with no consideration for the engine possibly being used outside of the company. According to Takeuchi, Capcom received inquiries about the engine from a variety of external companies. With MTFW2.0, while Capcom does not necessarily plan on going into the engine business, it does plan on having the engine used by its external contract studios.

Capcom's strategy for MTFW2 isn't totally unheard of amongst Japanese publishers, Nishikawa writes. Namco Bandai has its "NU Library," a middleware that's used in games like Narutimate Storm. This tool is now used widely by third parties.

Ijuuin describes the process of creating MTFW2.0 as basically starting from scratch. The first MTFW was built around the Xbox 360, as it's the system that came out first. The new engine is built to take full advantage of all hardware.

It seems that the specifics of the hardware will be well hidden from programmers. Nishikawa writes that one could look at the specs and come to the conclusion that the difference between MTFW1 and MTFW2 is that MTFW1 supported PS3, Xbox 360, DirectX 9 (shader model 3.0) and DirectX 10 (shader model 4.0) while MTF2.0 supports DirectX11 (shader model 5.0). However, there's more to it than just that. Internally, MTFW2.0 has a new architecture which can take care of differences in shader models and GPU specs between generations, reducing the burden on programmers.

The original Nishikawa article has more details for those who can understand the blend of Japanese and tech talk, and lots of pretty Lost Planet 2 screens for those who can't.

If you're into such things, Capcom provided Nishikawa with a screen capture of the MT Framework 2.0 development environment. I've put it up here next to two grabs of the original MT Framework environment which Capcom distributed last September when the engine was given an award at CEDEC.

MT Framework pics (left and center) and an MT Framework 2.0 pic (right).

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