Frostbite (game engine)
Current logo used since Frostbite 3
|Developer(s)||EA Digital Illusions CE|
Frostbite is a game engine developed by EA Digital Illusions CE, the creators of the Battlefield series. The engine currently is designed for use on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One platforms and is adapted for a range of video game genres. The engine was first used by DICE to create first-person shooters, but it has been expanded to include various other genres such as racing and real-time strategy and is employed by a number of EA studios. Thus far, the engine is exclusive to Electronic Arts with all titles being published by EA.
DICE used the first generation of the engine for their in-house games Battlefield: Bad Company, Battlefield 1943, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The Frostbite engine launched with the release of Battlefield: Bad Company; subsequent titles employed an updated version referred to as Frostbite 1.5. Frostbite 1.5 was also used for the multiplayer component of Medal of Honor which DICE developed. (The single-player was developed by another EA studio with the Unreal Engine 3.) The next generation of the engine, Frostbite 2, debuted with the release of Battlefield 3. The creation of Frostbite 2 started the first usage of the Frostbite engine by other EA studios other than DICE. Some notable Frostbite 2 powered games include Need for Speed: The Run, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel. The newest version, Frostbite 3, came out with Battlefield 4.
The toolset comprises three primary components: FrostEd, Backend Services, and Runtime.
FrostEd is a desktop program for developers to create Frostbite games. Its unified interface aides in collaboration across diverse discipline groups like artists, designers, animators, scripters, and programmers . The engine is built to support real-time What-You-See-Is-What-You-Play empowered workflows enabling rapid iteration and creative discovery.
Backend Services are a suite of powerful systems designed to support game development teams with growing industry demands in scale, detail, and complexity. Its robust infrastructure can handle thousands of raw assets and hundreds of thousands of individual components. The engine developers have a dedicated data build system called Blizzard and a distributed caching service called Avalanche which work together to bring game developers the latest code and data with dozens of updates on a daily basis ensuring easy access to all latest tools.
Runtime in Frostbite supports a highly scalable model in order to appeal to the diverse array of platforms available on today’s market. Efficiency in both runtime memory and runtime performance are key factors to enable code and data systems to deploy content to diverse targets from Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4 to iOS and Android.
Quoting from the Frostbite 3 official page: "The entire world is alive in Frostbite games, immersing players into deep and dynamic worlds with always changing wind, water, and weather".
It has been used in Battlefield 4 (released October 29, 2013), Need for Speed: Rivals (released November 19, 2013), Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (released February 25, 2014) and the upcoming games Star Wars: Battlefront (set to release the Q2/Q3 of 2015) and the prequel to Mirror's Edge. The game engine has several upgrades including improved tessellation technology. It also features Destruction 4.0, which enhances the in-game destruction over its predecessors. Frostbite 3 powers Dragon Age: Inquisition and will power the next Mass Effect. It was announced that DICE would be including support for the Mantle API in Frostbite 3, with Battlefield 4 being the first game to implement the low-level toolset through a patch in December 2013.
Frostbite debuted in 2008 with Battlefield: Bad Company. It features HDR Audio, which adjusts different types of sounds' loudness and lets players hear important sounds clearly even if there are other noises being generated (for example, gunshot sounds are always louder than in-game music; the in-game music will lower in volume while shots are being fired), and Destruction 1.0, which allows players to destroy certain objects, like walls.
The second version of Frostbite debuted with Battlefield 1943 in 2009. It improved on the in-game destruction capabilities with Destruction 2.0, allowing the player to destroy entire buildings instead of just walls. In 2010, DICE released Battlefield: Bad Company 2 using this version of the engine, which was the first game to bring Frostbite Engine to the Windows platform. The Windows version of the game has minor DirectX 11 shader support; consequently, it does not take full advantage of the entire API. The multiplayer component of Medal of Honor also uses this version of the engine, though with limited in-game destruction capabilities.
The first major upgrade to Frostbite debuted in 2011 with Battlefield 3. It takes full advantage of the DirectX 11 API and 64-bit processors, with no support for DirectX 9 (nor, therefore, Windows XP). It also features enhanced in-game destruction with Destruction 3.0, creating more refined physics than its predecessor and quasi-realtime radiosity using Geomerics' Enlighten technology. Additionally an important distinction on its naming is that Frostbite 2 is not called Frostbite 2.0.
DICE has given several presentations on advances in their rendering technology with primary focus on the aspects of Animation, Destruction, Scale, Rendering, and Audio:
- "Tile-based deferred shading acceleration" via DirectCompute. This is being ported to the PlayStation 3's SPUs.
- Morphological Anti-Aliasing (MLAA), again implemented with DirectCompute, for bandwidth conservation.
- Quasi-realtime radiosity using Enlighten from Geomerics.
- Improved environmental destruction.
- Separable bokeh depth of field
- Tile-based deferred shading on Xbox 360
- Temporally stable screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO)
- GeForce LAN 6:
- DICE's lead graphics guru, Johan Andersson, presents an in-depth examination of Battlefield 3's game engine and visuals.
- Streaming data from disc to memory: "We can have 512 megs every hundred metres if we wanted to."
Frostbite 3 is the most recent iteration of Frostbite. The workflows and runtimes are highly configurable and cover all aspects of development including Audio, Animation, Cinematics, Scripting, Artificial Intelligence, Physics, Destruction, Rendering, Visual Effects, and more.
Frostbite 1.5 games are built using a complicated chain of compilers, version control and distributed caches, making it very difficult to install to a new environment: it took a week for one DICE employee to set the system up outside the company's offices. Frostbite 2 is said to greatly improve this "flaky" pipeline, and DICE has not ruled out the feasibility of releasing mod tools for it.
Games using Frostbite
- "Battlefield 3 to use DX11, Frostbite 2". GameFront. 2010-08-05. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- "Need for Speed: The Run Announced". IGN. 2011-04-28. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
- "A First Look at Medal of Honor Warfighter". IGN. 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
- "Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel launching March 2013". GameSpot. 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
- Makuch, Eddie (2013-03-26). "Battlefield 4 confirmed for fall 2013". GameSpot. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- "Frostbit Official Site".
- "Frostbit 3 Official Site".
- "Battlefield 4: Official Frostbite 3 Feature Video". YouTube. Electronic Arts. 2013-06-24. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
- Ross, Peter (2009-11-16). "11 Days of DirectX® 11, Day Six: DICE". AMD. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
- Zivalich, Nikole (2011-01-03). "Battlefield 3 Will Not Have Windows XP Support". G4 TV. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
- Andersson, Johan, Senior Software Architect in the Frostbite Engine team at EA DICE (2011-04-29). "Dudes, it is "Frostbite 2", not "Frostbite 2.0"". Twitter. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
- Andersson, Johan (2010). "Bending the Graphics Pipeline" (PDF).
- Einarsson, Per (DICE); Martin, Sam (Geomerics) (2010-08-01). "A Real-time Radiosity Architecture". SIGGRAPH 2010.
- Kihl, Robert (2010). "Destruction Masking in Frostbite 2 using Volume Distance Fields" (PDF).
- Barre-Brisebois, Colin (2011-03-07). "GDC 2011 – Approximating Translucency for a Fast, Cheap and Convincing Subsurface Scattering Look".
- "Real-time rendering SIGGRAPH 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-26.
- "Battlefield 3 GeForce LAN 6 Graphics Presentation". Nvidia. October 2011.
- "Battlefield 3 preview". Total PC Gaming. July 2011.
- Kalms, Mikael (2010-09-20). "So how about modtools?".[dead link]
- Fahey, Mike (2010-03-04). "Bad Company 2 Devs Have Nothing But Love For The Modding Community". Kotaku.
- Frostbite's Official Homepage
- Frostbite Rendering Architecture (broken as of 2014-08-11)
- DICE Publications
- DICE's Official Homepage
- Geomerics' Official Homepage