Please support Game Informer. Print magazine subscriptions are less than $2 per issue

ces 2014

Stardock And Oxide Give Us A Peek At Stunning New Engine

by Ben Reeves on Jan 15, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Update: A new video of the Star Swarm demo highlights the Nitrous engine in action, and you can watch it right here.  

Original Story

Sins of a Solar Empire and Galactic Civilizations publisher Stardock are helping fund a new engine from a small studio called Oxide. We got a glimpse of the engine at CES, and it only made us more excited for the future. 

A small team of designers at Oxide studio designed the new 64-bit game engine for strategy games, which is being called Nitrous. The demo we saw featured two massive battalions of starships as they engaged each other in a massive space battle. The demo was entirely real-time and from a distance it looked like the the fleets were schools of fish quickly zipping in and out of cannon fire, but as we zoomed in on the action we could see that each ship was detailed enough that even the muzzle flashes from their cannons would illuminate their deck. 

"The simulation is all an example of real gameplay," said Stardock's mysteriously familiar brand manager Adam Biessener. "Each one of these ships is its own entity with its own AI, its own firing solutions, and is tracking its own hostiles. Each shot is individually modeled. Basically we wanted to build an engine that opened new doors for strategy developers. There are a lot of great engines out there, but a lot of them are built for FPSs. We wanted to build an engine that could display thousands of units at once."

And Oxide has achieved just that. The demo we saw featured nearly ten thousand units and hovered around 30 frames per second the whole time. 

Stardock already has three games in development for the new engine. One is a new Star Control game from Stardock itself, but Oxide will also be using it for an unannounced title, and Soren Johnson (lead designer of Civilization IV) will be using the tech at his new studio Mohawk Games. 

This new engine might not just affect PC players either. "We're actively pursuing console development," said Biessener. "We're fairly confident that we'll be able to get this kind of performance on PS4 as well."

Check out the screens in the gallery below to get a sample of the action. Oxide may also be releasing the demo to the public for free sometime later this year, so hopefully you'll be able to see it in action for yourself soon.

Check out the video below at the 26 minute mark for a showcase of the new engine.