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Capcom: Panta Rhei cuts costs to let devs focus on improving games

by Alice O'Connor, shacknews.com, Jan 15, 2014 7:10AM PST

We see so many conservative games from big publishers because video games are expensive to make--even moreso as we enter a new console generation--and they want a return on their investments. So while news about new tools reducing development times may not sound hugely exciting, bear in mind that this makes games cheaper, which should make publishers less conservative, which would mean better games for us.

Huzzah, then, that Capcom is going around boasting that moving away from the old MT Framework engine to its shiny new Panta Rhei engine, the one powering Deep Down, will bring big dev time savings as well as pretty graphics.

"The amount of work involved in making games for next-gen consoles is eight to ten times greater than what is required for the current generation of consoles," Capcom senior manager of technology management Masaru Ijuin said in a recent developer relations interview (via IGN). He explained that Capcom has "run into some problems and limitations" with MT Framework, and so "felt we needed to completely overhaul the development environment to better cope with the increasingly complex hardware."

He explained that, with engine improvements, certain tasks in MT that currently take an hour might be brought down to half an hour, but they were aiming to make it only ten minutes. One big improvement Panta Rhei brings is parallel development, so for example, one member of the team can place characters in a map as another is still making it, rather than waiting.

Panta Rhei also makes it quicker to make small tweaks, which Ijuin says "practically eliminates wasted cost, allowing [developers] to keep testing things out until they find what they want, with no need to worry about the cost." Which is good news for all of us.

Ijuin explains that Deep Down is the "sparring partner" for the Panta Rhei tech team, bouncing ideas and requests back and forth, much as the Dead Rising gang were for MT Framework. It'll continue to improve the engine after the PS4 exclusive launches, of course. Curiously, it seems Capcom MT lumps PC in with current-gen consoles in still using MT Framework rather than Panta Rhei, but one imagines that'll change with time.

We've certainly seen good things out of Ubisoft and its goal to enable faster, cheaper development with the UbiArt Framework. Between games like Rayman Legends, Valiant Hearts, and Child of Light, the 2D engine is powering some of the publisher's most interesting games. Panta Rhei will power far fancier games, of course, but there's hope in cutting costs using tech.